From pathology to representation

Yesterday, while speaking at the National Republican Congressional Committee dinner, the sitting US President had some interesting things to say about wind energy. As you can watch for yourself on C-SPAN or many other places, he said:

  • “if you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations: Your house just went down 75 percent in value”
  • “they say the noise causes cancer”
  • “it’s like a graveyard for birds. If you love birds, you’d never want to walk under a windmill because it’s a very sad, sad sight. It’s like a cemetery. We put a little, we put a little statue for the poor birds. It’s true. You know in California, if you shoot a bald eagle, they put you in jail for five years. And yet the windmills wipe ’em all out. It’s true. They wipe ’em out. It’s terrible.”

He previously told a story about how upset a wife would be that she could not watch TV because the wind was not blowing and how susceptible wind turbines are to damage at times of war. I am uncertain which is more disturbing; the POTUS spreading falsehoods and inaccurate information about renewable energy as we cook our planet burning fossil fuels, or the people attending who hoot and applaud. One thing is becoming more and more clear, years from now when scholars and humanity reflect back on the Trump presidency, his pathological lies and false claims are likely going to be the central pillar of what people remember. There are many sites tracking and documenting all of it in an effort to challenge dishonesty, and many are closing in on 5,000 false claims to date. With attacking wind energy, it is easy to reconcile his position due to sour grapes of his lost Scottish lawsuit about the impact on offshore views at his golf course, how he is engrained with the coal lobby, how wind impacts his hair, etc. Other lies are easy to tie to his ego or ‘art of the deal’ negotiating. But many of his lies and baseless claims seem to lack a clear motivation; like why does he repeatedly say his father was born in Germany when his birth certificate clearly shows he was born in NYC? Imagine if the CEO of a company behaved in such a pathological way.

This truly is an embarrassing time for America and while the POTUS and his lies are a contributor to that, the real root cause is corruption and lobbying money in politics. Regardless of which party you align more closely to, hopefully you agree that it is time to shift to a country for and by the people as we are very far from that. Check out https://represent.us/anticorruption-act/ if you want to learn more. This bottom up effort and the wins that are happening at the local and state scale are mildly inspiring.  Hopefully some day people look back on the late 1900’s and early 2000’s and wonder why we let this happen and applaud that we made a course correction by getting the money and corruption out of politics.

Global perspective on waming, yes waming

As you may have heard, the other day the President of the United States (POTUS) tweeted the following: “In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!” While few things POTUS does surprise anyone anymore, seeing someone broadly spread false rhetoric about science is worthy of a response.

Implying that it being cold in parts of the U.S. disproves global warming is like me saying because I am hungry there must be a regional food shortage. It is illogical but most accurately, it is a reflection of a self-centered view that fails to look at the big picture. That inability to look at things from a global perspective is one of the core shortcomings of the current POTUS. In response to the tweet, several have tried to educate POTUS on his level, including these kids on Jimmy Kimmel as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with this cute cartoon.

noaaglobalwamingresponse

For some real perspective, the University of Maine has the Climate Reanalyzer project which has tons of awesome data and graphics. In the image at the top of this post, it demonstrates how stepping back and looking at the full planet shows how while it is colder than normal in some areas, the majority of earth is warmer than normal.  In fact, temps in South Australia’s capital of Adelaide hit 115 degrees Fahrenheit last week, breaking an 80 year old record as one example.  I would also recommend spending less than a minute and checking this annual global temperature compare out from NASA.

I will close out with an analogy from Naomi Oreskes in Merchants of Doubt:
Imagine a gigantic banquet. Hundreds of millions of people come to eat. They eat and drink to their hearts’ content—eating food that is better and more abundant than at the finest tables in ancient Athens or Rome, or even in the palaces of medieval Europe. Then, one day, a man arrives, wearing a white dinner jacket. He says he is holding the bill. Not surprisingly, the diners are in shock. Some begin to deny that this is their bill. Others deny that there even is a bill. Still others deny that they partook of the meal. One diner suggests that the man is not really a waiter, but is only trying to get attention for himself or to raise money for his own projects. Finally, the group concludes that if they simply ignore the waiter, he will go away. This is where we stand today on the subject of global warming. For the past 150 years, industrial civilization has been dining on the energy stored in fossil fuels, and the bill has come due. Yet, we have sat around the dinner table denying that it is our bill, and doubting the credibility of the man who delivered it.

This is not a drill

At my church our value and mission statement talks about how we ‘welcome without exception’.  This past weekend this statement was put to the test.  As a congregation we voted on whether or not to become a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) community; one that explicitly welcomes people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.  This vote was a true test of our mission statement and a timely moment to find out who we are as a congregation.  In a time when there is a lot of uncertainty for minority groups and emboldened hate crimes are occurring, knowing that my local congregation passed this with 95.2% of the vote brought tearful elation.

The results of a different vote the week prior brought me confusion, concern, and disappointment.  As someone who believes that the number one priority of every nation should be moving away from fossil fuels, the whole US election cycle was a disappointment.  The debates did not have any direct climate change questions and the topic was touched on for less than 2 minutes.  It appeared as though something that is incredibly important to me had virtually no prioritization with the candidates or moderators.  I empathize with Trump voters and agree that a shakeup in Washington would be beneficial.  It would be great to see term limits for politicians and having less “Washington insiders” in leadership roles.  To me, the views documented by Trump on his own website and his treatment of humans created a scenario where the ends would never justify the means.

The president elects website indicates that he intends to open onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands for fossil fuels and “Unleash America’s $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves.”  I think it is generally understood that there is no such thing as “clean coal” and I truly cannot imagine any scenario where increasing our production and use of fossil fuels will be a long term benefit.  Despite being white, heterosexual, male, Christian, and born in the US, I am afraid of the president elect.  I can only imagine how an undocumented lesbian tree hugging minority must be feeling at the moment.

This is a critical moment in history in my opinion, one of those moments where I think about a futuristic conversation with my children and grandchildren asking me what I did to protect human rights as well as the habitability of our planet.  While I have day dreamed many times recently about moving off of the grid and completely escaping the society that seems to be gaining a voice, I realize that I need to help shape it.  I need to Testify.  One other great thing happened at church this last Sunday was a well-timed sermon that I strongly encourage you to give a listen to, you can skip to the 9:03 mark and go from there.  It is important that we as a society, as human beings with compassion, and as citizens of this planet recognize this opportunity to Testify and stand up for ourselves and others.  We need to ensure our elected leaders understand that they were actually elected to follow (the will of the people).  The wonderful and timely sermon concluded with a great rendition of Leonard Cohens’ Hallelujah which of course only added to the tears already rolling down my face.