Convincing meteorologists that climate change is real


You can see from the above photo the challenge our president faces in convincing, of all people, our meteorologists, that climate change isn’t simply cyclic, but ongoing, posing devastating consequences for America, with no region spared. Further, we humans are its driving force.

The National Climate Assessment came out yesterday, only to be immediately dismissed as “alarmist” by–imagine my surprise–Mitch McConnell (R-Ky). Guess he must think the same about the recently released  UN Panel’s 40 volume plus study conducted by leading climate scientists. I’m reminded as a former prof of Victorian lit just what it must have been like for Darwin in the outpouring of public vitriol that followed upon his perceived tampering with hallowed establishment assumptions. By the way, I never cease to be amazed at the gall of politicians assuming equal footing with reputable scientists.

But it isn’t just the Republicans we have to worry about in Washington when it comes to taking climate change seriously and initiating immediate steps to at least mitigate its effects. You see this most pointedly when it comes to the Keystone XL project. Presently there’s a bipartisan effort to get a two-thirds majority in the Senate in favor of the project, assuring veto proof passage.   So far, 11 Democrats have shown willingness to join 45 Republicans in such a move, with one Democrat optimistic of getting several more.

As always, it’s the old song-and-dance scenario of jobs, when the fact is that if we were to put environment on a war-footing we’d have universal employment in harnessing the forces to slow global warming.   Solar energy has considerable promise, for example, and is already a key component in countries like Denmark. Instead of constructing pipelines with their potential for spills–and sabotage–we’d do better in shoring up our coast lines.

How wonderful it would be to see Republicans and Democrats give priority to long term public welfare rather than short term corporate interests and their reelection prospects. (Once again, a good point for term limits. If it exists for the Presidency, why not for Congress?)

As for the meteorologists, a George Mason University survey in 2010 showed only 19% of them accepted human activity as the primary contributor to global warming.  Some deny climate change period! ( ) While good at short term forecasting, they fall considerably short at the long term. Public icons, they can be given to a narcissism of overreach. Unfortunately, 62% of us trust our TV weather forecasters more than we do climate scientists!

The greatest proofs of climate change lie not simply in natural catastrophes, but in their ever increasingly frequency. We have computer models for that!




Trans Pacific Partnership: Corporate Mayhem Alive and Well


Despite President Obama’s spirited pledge to reduce the growing gap between rich and poor, his administration has been covertly involved in negotiating a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement whose potential fallout would only exacerbate, not lessen, the economic divide, consolidating what is essentially an oligarchy of Wall Street interests.

You may be unfamiliar with the TPP, as it’s not played up in the media, unless you’re a rare aficionado of the marketplace.  Briefly, 14 nations bordering the Pacific, controlling 40% of the world’s GDP and 26% of its trade, have been at work for more than a year, hammering out the final details of a complex agreement that would eliminate tariffs on goods and services.  Composed of 29 chapters, its scope would include not only the area of finance, or banking, but telecommunications (i.e., the Internet), and even food services.  It would have devastating consequences for those of us committed to environmental concerns that include global warming.

Ominously, it includes proposals that would curtail consumer protection across a wide spectrum.  According to Republican Reports, leaked TPP negotiation documents reveal the Obama administration’s attempts to stymie other governments from implementing financial regulations, believing they could mitigate another bank collapse.

These leaked documents (see indicate proposals allowing corporations to sue governments under the auspices of “foreign tribunals,” thus circumventing domestic courts and local laws.  Corporations could even demand financial compensation for “tobacco, prescription, and environment protections” that undermine their profits.

As Senator Elizabeth Warren–I like her more everyday–warns, such provisions allow “a chance for these banks to get something done quietly out of sight that they could not accomplish in a public place without the cameras rolling and the lights on.”

Alarmingly, even without the TPP, over $3 billion has already been paid out to foreign investors under current U.S. trade and investment agreements, with another $14 billion pending, “primarily targeting environmental, energy, and public health policies” (

Representing the U.S. in the negotiations is Obama appointee Stefan Selig, a former Bank of America investment banker nominated to become Under Secretary for International Trade at the Department of Commerce.  Since his nomination, he’s received $9 million in bonuses.  (He had received $5.1 million incentive pay the previous year.)

Slated to join him in the negotiations, pending Congress’ approval, is Michael Froman, presently U.S. Trade Representative.  He received $4 million from CitiGroup as an exit payment in addition to $2 million in connection with his holdings in several investment funds.

This practice of banks lining the pockets of their former cohorts upon joining government is pervasive in the banking industry, pocket money for establishing influence in contexts affecting public financial policy.

Unfortunately, for all the pretty rhetoric coming out of the White House, the oligarchy of the one percent remains entrenched, and even abetted, while the TPP, added to its already formidable arsenal of financial peddling, poses a potent means to intimidating the common citizenry, here and abroad, opposed to its hegemony of privilege.

It certainly doesn’t contribute to economic parity.  According to a study by the Center for Economic Policy and Research, as reported in the Washington Post, the economic gains would largely accrue to the wealthy.


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