Posts tagged ‘Global Warming’

Global Warming You Dilts!

MOBILE HOMES IN THE KEYS DON’T DO SO WELL IN STORMS

I am back from a round of losing golf balls and feel disgusted with myself. I shouldn’t really. I have to buy a new sand wedge because I hit a ball into the rough and when I pitched it out, I hit a rock. That stimulates the economy. Also if you count the number of balls I sliced, and then hooked off the Tee, well, the economy is humming making golf balls. So I take an ibuprofen for my back and turn on the TV and we are now seeing the total destruction in the Keys and I am thinking why or why do we build houses in hurricane country out of wood (or mobile homes like the above)?

Sure it is cheap (relatively speaking), until you figure in the number of times we will have to rebuild it. Of course maybe insurance companies (backed by our government) or government bailouts will dry up and quit subsidizing this stupidity. What is good is that Republicans in Florida are starting to say the GW word (Global Warming). I wonder if we can finally have a rational discussion about reality, the waters are rising, are warmer, and the storms are stronger, and it is going to get worse. Miami got a major wakeup call. So did Jacksonville. Houston has to rethink flood plains and drainage.

This may seem extreme, but here would be my criteria:

  1. Flood Plain – Take whatever it is now and add at least 6 feet. That might driving raising foundations on compacted fill or build the house they way they did along the Mississippi before the Corps built levees. That is having the first story abandonable and fairly impervious to flood damage. Houses built on hills have to look at sliding issues (saturated soil and pushed off their foundations).
  2. Wind – Winds were gusting to 180 mph and were sustained at 150 mph when Irma was a Cat 5 hurricane. That would be my design minimums. If you are raising the house for flood and facing the winds, you might want semi open lower story to reduce wind load and yet a foundation that can resist the shear (horizontal loads)
  3. Water and Power Storage – Back up power is a must. It would be nice if we could go with solar with backup generator (I have a generator to run my house and that is not that expensive). Solar can’t be the usual installations that feed power back into the gird when the gird is dead. That would say battery storage which is very expensive and where we should be sending tons of R&D dollars. Water will be critical and if you have a well, not only will you need backup power, but it could be contaminated. So some kind of maybe 5 day water storage backup system (drinking, flushing, and washing only).

That says to me that stick houses (usual wood frame house) are a bad investment not only from water damage, but resisting the wind loads. Now there are all kinds of concrete houses from cinderblock, pre-cast panels, and insulated form systems. Clearly if you are going to build in this environment we need some innovative building methods to make houses and buildings more resilient. Note that many architectural styles including rock and brick simulated finishes are available. Carefully designing the interior could allow for large open spaces that then could be configured with easily moveable walls as your needs changed. Try moving a wall in a stick house and find out what the word load bearing means. Roofs will probably also have to be concrete with carefully designed singles/waterproofing.

Okay, all that is a structural engineers dream, but can we really afford to ignore it at this point? Note there is still very little questioning by reporters about aid that simply allows us to recreate the scene of the crime before the crime. Miami and Houston are screwed. They are already built on too low elevations. Rebuilding in those environments without raising the minimum elevations for flood clearance is insanity. Yet, do you hear any discussions? Key West looks like a total disaster. Maybe in the future, we might consider some of the criteria I described above. In many ways they have a clean slate. Is it not time to rethink how and where we build. Oh wait, that would be government regulations* and we can’t have that can we, but we will still demand they bail us out when our planning sucked. Idle thoughts of an engineer.

*Just don’t insure them unless they comply. Then they have the freedom to roll the dice, but don’t hold your breath for a bailout. One thing that did get me was all the wrecked boats. I am still thinking how we could build to protect them.

Irreverent – Texas and Harvey or Lessons for the GOP

First of all before I say all kinds of irreverent things, let me said that I contributed to the Mayor of Houston’s fund for helping the victims. This is a tragedy of immense proportions and we have not seen the real suffering and struggles yet. They are our fellow Americans and all of us could have something similar happen to us, whether it is a fire, earthquake, tornado, or flood, and we all need to help each other. Okay, now for some hard and maybe unfair observations:

  • People were devastated by the flooding. Why was that when the forecast for this storm was just that, devastating? Did they just not believe it?
  • Many people were not in flood zones so flood insurance was not required so if they did not have it, and they are at risk for the whole cost of repairs, rebuilding. Should they rebuild with tax payer money if a storm similar is likely to come along again next year and do the same thing?
  • The Village Idiot in Charge visited again today for another photo op and reported, “They’re really happy with what’s going on,” he told the reporters. “It’s something that’s been very well received. Even by you guys, it’s been very well received.” Isn’t it way to early to high five, with the fact that the real recovery hasn’t even started yet, nor has the reality of the real loss set in?
  • There is an interesting story today in the NYT about the frustrations of one home owner with trying to figure out what to do next. In this case the house was flooded about halfway up the first story walls and now mildew and other fungus were setting in. Wouldn’t you think there would be a checklist for this? After Katrina wouldn’t the lessons learned tell them what documentation or inspection/pictures were necessary for help, and then what needed to be done with the drywall walls to stop the mildew, remove the damaged materials (floor, floor coverings, walls), and get on with the recover? Wouldn’t there be instructions that tell you when the water height dictates total rebuilding? I would think that.
  • Then there is the issue of recover money. Congress will have to appropriate it. When the Texas delegation demands fast money, Congress as a whole should comply, but not without reminding them how stingy they were with Sandy and made all kinds of excuses including mostly made up claims of pork. Their hypocrisy and sad cruelty should be pointed out every step of the way.
  • There will be a major rebuilding effort and there is already a shortage of workers in those trades, and many of them are filled by undocumented workers. Again, Texas and the Trump Administration’s policy on immigrant should be challenge as we have a real in your face example of how stupid and counterproductive their policies are.
  • The same might be asked about their disregard for global warming and rational planning and land use based upon global warming projections. The United States military is trying to plan for Global Warming, but “Republicans in the House of Representatives added language to Defense Department spending bills prohibiting funds from being spent to plan or prepare for climate change.” Houston with its lack of land use controls and planning for proper drainage certainly contributed to the misery there. Note that the link was written before Harvey.
  • We haven’t yet seen how the stingiest people on the planet are going to fund and pay for real recovery (Republicans in Congress). Remember that the Village Idiot in Charge went out pushing for a tax cut a day after he did a pseudo visit of the flood. We have not seen how mad people get at the slow progress that will be the reality. We have not seen the real environmental damage yet and the possible impact on living down there. And we have not seen the recriminations when people figure out they trusted their government to protect them and Republicans have ignored their responsibility to use science, not greed or ideology, to plan and develop living space.
  • Trump pledged $1M for Harvey, but he has a history of not coming through and we do not not where that is coming from. Oh, and his net worth has been estimated at $10B. So if your net worth is $1m and you give $100, you are equal to the Village Idiot in Chief. I gave $100 so am I a great person?
  • On this one I will take some heat.  People who are wading through flood waters or out there in their boats to help others are not heroes.  They are what we all are, citizens willing to pitch in.  Hero is such an over used word and demeans its real meaning.

So the bottom line here is that people should have known this was coming, Global warming and its predictions are mainstream science. Texas has had 3-500 year storms in the last year, firmly signaling the impact of a warming planet. The storm itself was well forecast so when the monumental rains came, well they were forecast. The result was just waiting to happen and people ought to be made as hell that their government allowed that they put at that kind of risk. And I think they will be. As the real recovery, not the fake photo ops, drags on, funding becomes a political football, there are going to be angry people and finger pointing through lawyers.

Then there is the GOP reckoning. Let’s just check out what they have wrong:

  • Global Warming and its impacts
  • Immigration hysteria and lack of policy to get a flow of immigrants to feed our economy
  • Debt Ceiling, Federal budget (don’t forget they wanted to slash $1B from agencies that respond to this kind of stuff), and deficit spending
  • Tax cuts
  • Government regulations to control responsible planning and growth

So here we are and the disaster in Houston and East Texas was not only predictable, but could have been so much better prepared for. But from the masterminds of Donald Trump we have ignorance and stupidity as public policy. How is that working out for you. Texas was a wakeup call. Did anyone wake up? Oh, and one last thing. Remember Republicans are in charge and the Democrats already said we should pay for recovery. This is totally on the Republicans. Can they govern.  Not so far.

De Flood, De Flood (De plane, De plane)

You remember that show, Fantasy Island, where Tatoo announces the arrival of the plane and rings the bell. Then there is de flood, de flood. I have many questions about this one. Foremost is that the flood was forecast and few seemed to get out. Maybe they couldn’t. Maybe it was not practical. One thing I do not see is indepth aftermath planning. You are going to have tens of thousands that cannot go home, or can go home, but can’t live there. What are Texas and the Feds planning? If we had a competent President, he would have convened a task force to plan this and another for lessons learned. Oh I know! What was I thinking.

This is a president who has proposed to cut FEMA’s and other disaster response agencies budget in his plan to afford tax cuts for the wealthy:

The proposed cuts would include programs run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose new administrator was praised by Trump in a tweet last weekend for “doing a great job”; the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which helps rebuild homes, parks, hospitals and community centers; the National Weather Service, which forecasts extreme storms; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, whose research and community engagement help coastal residents prepare for disaster.

Certainly Congress will change its tune after this, right? Sandy only happens to those East coast elites right. How short their memory is. I would bet if California ever gets the big one (earthquake) we would see Ted Cruz screaming pork and fat again. Even Chris Christie called this one (for Sandy) detestable lies and reprehensible. If you are wondering, this is typical Republican conservative bull shit. If it is funding for someone else, it is waste, pork, and graft. He will sing a different tune for Texas.

But it gets better. The Village Idiot in Chief and his Republican cohorts have petitioned and successfully removed an Obama era rule to do more cautious flood plan planning:

Just 10 days before Hurricane Harvey made landfall, the White House rescinded one of the most progressive flood-risk management tools on the books, an Obama-era executive order that added caution when building structures in flood-prone areas.

 

This issue was handled deftly by the Obama administration. In January 2015, Obama issued Executive Order 13690, which established the new Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS). In brief, this standard called for a more cautious approach to construction at the boundaries of flood hazard zones. The approach was flexible and didn’t even require an admission of climate change as being the cause—just more caution.

 

Within days, eight Republican senators sent a letter opposing the new standard as an impediment to land development and economic growth. Among the signatories was John Cornyn of Texas. Within three months of sending that letter, large areas of Cornyn’s district were underwater, including damage to new buildings that may not have been there had the FFRMS been in place earlier. Then severe flooding happened again in 2016 on the Brazos River. And now Harvey is wreaking havoc.

Oh, don’t you just love these people? But it is cheaper with less “gov’ment regulations”! And dumber than a rock. I get this reaction all the time as people who hate government because it interferes with their life style and taxes their hard earned money. Yet when shit happens, and it will, they squeal the loudest. Small government is really nice when we were a rural nation with a small population, oh, and before global warming an global market places, but now we really need it to be effective and Republicans and conservatives continue to try to gut it.

Let’s face it, Republicans are not long term planners. They look for short term cheap. See our investments in infrastructure (Democrats also have played this game, but any infrastructure bill in the last 9 years had to get past the filibuster and Mitch McConnell). When everything is fine and dandy, works out well, but when shit happens and it always will, it leaves us exposed. Sure there are dumb rules, but that does not mean that regulations are bad, just not smart. It would be easy to put together panels of stakeholders (small and large business, scientists, and workers) to review and adjust, but it is so much easier just to rant. Government is bad! Regulations are bad! Well those two might have saved some lives in the past and certainly are saving some today.

So let’s look at Houston. Did they use global warming warnings and data to project future floods and regulate growth and plan for water runoff? Ha! Right now a chemical plant is blowing up because of the unforeseen flooding and loss of power. Will Texas put into effect regulations for the future that take these new trends into effect. Oh, that would be the government messing in business. North Carolina and Florida, two states who will be greatly impacted by rising oceans have banned the use of global warming data in planning. Yes Virginia, not only are they evil but stupider than a rock. Even our military plans for global warming, but out Village Idiot in Chief and his brethren continue to deny it, even though it is smacking them in the face.

Maybe they will learn something and change their ways? Ha! Why would you leave people in charge who are this ignorant? I wouldn’t and neither should you. So let’s watch what happens when they actually have to spend money and do the responsible thing. I will give you a hint. What was the Village Idiot in Chief out selling yesterday? Unrealistic tax cuts for the wealthly. At least I live on high ground.

Holy Mackerel, or Republicans are Evil

I don’t know what to tell you. I started this blog to write about policy and the failed logic of conservatives and some Democrats and now I am reduced to trying to explain insanity. Oh, and I would have titled this particular blog Holy Shit, but I am trying to clean up my language. I listen to the news now and must say holy shit at least 50 times a day. Oh what I would give for a slow news day.

I have spoken of the fire and fury and then the doubling down, the myriad of contradictory messages coming out of the government, but the one that got me the most was the Village Idiot’s comments about the 755 State Department employees told to go home, actually thanking Vald:

“I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll, and as far as I’m concerned I’m very thankful that he let go a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll,” Trump said. “There’s no real reason for them to go back. I greatly appreciate the fact that we’ve been able to cut our payroll of the United States. We’re going to save a lot of money.”

So people who have dedicated their lives to foreign service are just dead weight on a payroll? Now you know how he really feels just about all Americans, they are a means to an end and when they are no longer necessary, kiss your ass goodbye. If you did not think there was Russian collusion or some kind of a Russian hold on the Village Idiot, this should give you pause.

Republicans are living out a self-fulfilling prophesy. They claim government is incompetent and now, by cracky, they have instituted one that makes incompetent look absolutely first-rate. I have said many times, and been accused of hyperbole, that Republicans are evil. But step back for a moment and think about it. The Village Idiot is not an aberration, but the result of a long campaign to dumb down and lie to the American people. Then they are shocked, shocked I tell you at the monster they have created. Then when he got elected, they all fell in line.  How’s that for evil?

The critical evidence in their evilness was the failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. They only needed 50 votes in the Senate and lo and behold, some of them figured out they had no solutions for the replace part of the replace and the repeal, and at least for some, was too cruel (and maybe career ending which is the only thing most politicians respond to). In fact Republicans have no workable solutions for almost any of our critical challenges we face today. They never had to have any as they opposed Obama and became ever more ideological, and now their ideology is a dead-end with no space to turn around. The difficult problems like economic inequality, global warming, failing infrastructure, education costs going through the roof, and loss of high paying middle class jobs are not solved “by the miracle of the market place”.

But we are faced with an increasingly insane* approach to North Korea which could kill millions and destroy much of the world’s economy, and no approach on the “nonexistent” global warming, both will have dire consequences for it now turns out, us, and our children, and we have insanity and evilness at the helm. Had we elected the establishment Hillary and a few progressive Democrats, both situations would have been in good hands.

And all of this makes no mention of a federal budget or the debt ceiling crisis looming. Once again ideology is going to get in the way. The Republicans will scream deficit, deficit, deficit and they will not authorize any more debt, except we already incurred it when they voted for things so now what they are doing is welshing on paying their bills. An it has become an article of faith with many Americans that debt is just bad and we should balance the budget. There is an element of truth herein controling our debt, but in general both are wrong and I have written copiously about why they are wrong so I won’t go into it again.

So they are poised to destroy America as a leader in the world, maybe start WWIII, do nothing about global warming that will destroy much of the world as we know it, destroy our economic standing in the world, and have no workable solutions for any of our domestic challenges except less government and cutting taxes, and you wonder why I know they are evil? They enabled everything we see before us. The people who pride themselves in believing hard work and discipline is all that is required to succeed, have been selling us a free ride for the last 50 years and nothing is free. Government leveling the playing field and making investments in our future, not our rich is what it is going to take. That would be heresy in Republican land.

One final thought. I watched the Village Idiot claim that Manafort is a nice man, but basically who knows. He knows. He put him in charge of everything for two months. He now knows that the government has the goods on collusion and illegal financial dealing and he is trying to distance himself, with the defense, “I had no idea.” It won’t wash which is why we should be very afraid about North Korea. It is the ultimate subject changer. Have a lovely weekend. I am stocking up on survival rations. That would be wine and lamb. Oh, and some beer and wings when I play my DVD recordings of all ball games. I already have a generator.

*You know I do have one crazy thought. While North Korea is crazy and unpredictable, maybe if they see that Trump is the same way, they might actually fear him. Then again they might actually engage him in a war. We will see.

Surprise!

North Korea is not a surprise, yet it captured the news yesterday, whether true or not. Sooner or later they were going to get there and like Trump the President, who they are is no surprise from who they have been. China and the United States, the two parties that could have solved this together, have failed to, looking to their own selfish needs and kicking the can down the road. The can has now arrived. No more road to kick down. And North Korea is no Soviet Union of old. Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) may not force people to be rational. I have argued for years that North Korea is a living hell on earth and that China and the United States could not or would not force regime change was a political and moral failure. Now we have saber rattling with a moron for President.

Make no mistake, the United States could not solve this without China. And China in its own self-serving needs for trade and a firm border to keep immigrants out and buffer to US backed South Korea, could not bring itself to deal with a painful problem. And too many times we have thrown our hands up and just said well, maybe the government will fall. In North Korea, falling means taking everyone with you. That is the critical understanding we have failed to understand. So now we have entered very dangerous times because we refused to do the hard things when we needed to. Now the hard thing is unimaginable. And we have a moron for President.

Oh, and global warming is happening faster and may be more drastic than anticipated. Surprise! Not. We have known about global warming since the 1980’s. We have seen our impact on the planet, not just its weather, but its species for hundreds of years and we do nothing. Oh there are little movements around the edges, but business must come first. Now we are faced with the reality of once again kicking the can down the road, and the road is coming to an end. No more kicking. But like the North Korea problem, we have a moron for a President (not to mention a whole Party in charge of the country whose litmus test is not believing in science).

There has been some debate about whether the latest government report on the rapid increase in the impacts of global warming might force the moron President to change his stance. Sometimes I wonder what planet these people are on. Donald Trump got here illegally by laundering money for the Russians and he certainly colluded with them in the election. The investigation is tightening and he needs his base to terrify Republicans into not impeaching him when the other shoe drops, as it most certainly will. So he is not going to change on global warming, and we are going to see it it full force, and like the Korean thing, the outcome will be disastrous.

Meanwhile in the world of economic inequality, the inequality grows. And sooner or later the markets will come crashing down because the part of the pie that goes to the majority of consumers will be too small to sustain it. The markets are at record highs this week, believing that our moron President will cut regulations and taxes so they can further increase their profits with no concern for the damage they are doing. We have legitimized economic inequality by believing a high tide lifts all boats, except it hasn’t, and we have also kicked this can down the road, and sooner, rather than later, the market is going to crash.

Are you sensing a trend here? We Americans, who can do anything, have done nothing. When things got hard, we went looking for easy simple answers that ignore reality. Enter the Republican Party, facilitated by the Democrats, who know how to pander to Americans looking for the easy answer. Ronald Reagan, the prince of government is the problem, told us to be selfish and seek out gains for ourselves and everyone would prosper. Kiss “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” goodbye. We got tax cuts pay for themselves and the private sector will solve all problems. Driven our roads lately? We are starting to look third world. But don’t forget their main message, investing in government through taxes is a waste of money. Now look at us.

We are reaching a point where ignorance is considered a virtue (remember the rural wisdom of Sarah Palin?),where the ignorance of the base chose a leader that could finally push us over a cliff. We are approaching a critical turning point in the history of our world, conservatism has run its course and almost destroyed us, and we have a moron for President. I don’t think we can wait four years. If Trump continues his “fire and fury” (remember how well shock and awe worked out?) rhetoric, we may not have to worry about global warming as the aftermath of a nuclear war could be much worse. But if we somehow get through this, will we have learned our lesson? Or will we go looking for the next easy answer and not doing the hard things that make life and our country great? I am not optimistic after watching the last 50 years.

America really does have some amazingly hard working and smart individuals and we could solve these problems if we had a leader that made Americans aware of their failures and showed us a path forward.  Even the mindless base of Donald Trump might be led out of the wilderness of ignorance if they understood the challenges before us and a leader who inspires sacrifice.  But where is he/she?  Right now the one we got thinks the solution to jobs is to bring back coal which is never coming back and backed up by a pack or sience and reality deniers.  Hey! Bring on the fire and fury! All we need is a leader who can one again inspire us with, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” and get on with it.  So far we got the moron President and his scared shitless Party.

Willful Ignorance

I think that about describes where we are.  I was watching Vice News (HBO) yesterday while trying to lift weights (Vice is about the only place where news is actually news, not political reporting and they report on what is happening in the world).  Vice was reporting on rising sea levels and how many of Cheeto-Heads properties will be affected and may be he ought to get on board.  Then they interviewed some old lady walking along the water front near one of his properties that thought it was all nonsense.  I literally shouted at her willful ignorance.  The anger I felt toward her was not healthy.  I think it is a reaction to watching willful ignorance being acted out today by Cheeto-Head and his cronies as they gut a government they have no clue how it works or what they are doing.  Willful ignorance is what got us here and my tolerance for it is now nonexistent.

Paul Krugman gave us this this morning to maybe understand how willful ignorance has been cultivated and grown to support Republican ideology, and now it is bearing fruit, sour fruit:

Think for a minute about the vision of government and its role that the right has been peddling for decades.

In this vision, much if not most government spending is a complete waste, doing nobody any good. The same is true of government regulations. And to the extent to which spending does help anyone, it’s Those People — lazy, undeserving types who just so happen to be a bit, well, darker than Real Americans.

I have heard a version of this where I live (conservative country) for years. Now they are trying to “fix” Obamacare and cut all that “waste” in government, except they don’t have a clue how to fix anything and their concept of waste is way out of proportion to reality.  Once you start believing your own lies, then there is no way to understand what does need fixing.

Thanks to these misperceptions, carefully nurtured by right-wing media, politicians can often get away with running on promises of drastic spending cuts: Many, perhaps most voters don’t see how such cuts would affect their lives.

But what will happen if anti-big-government politicians find themselves in a position to put their agenda into practice? Voters will quickly get a lesson in what slashing spending really means — and they won’t be happy.

I guess the real question is how many people will be killed, lose everything, and how much damage can the country sustain before willful ignorance gives way to enlightenment?  Willful ignorance is how ideology gets firmly rooted in place.  Willful ignorance has a long history in human civilization in our belief in religion.  So I guess you can see we have maybe an innate gene that tells us to selectively pick out the facts supporting what we want to believe instead of looking at the whole body of knowledge and asking uncomfortable questions.  The former is comfortable and quite frankly lazy.  The later can be disturbing and require mental work.  It is called critical thinking and what really makes us human.

I guess that is why cults survive.  They give everyone something very simple to believe in that answers all the questions and you can just go mindlessly through life assuming you have found the path.  That is embodied in the Republican worship of the market place, all government is bad, and if we just got our freedom from government (the libertarian branch) all things would be peachy.  But Global Warming does exist, caused by man, and you are soon going to be up to your ass in water.  Government is clunky, but mostly does good and things we need.  Now Trump and his willfully ignorant followers are trying to dismantle government based upon ignorance and false assumptions.  This is not going to turn out well.

Oh, and if you did not have enough to fret about with Cheeto-Head running amok, his Secretary of Defense, Rex Tillerson has just threatened Korea with military action, and we are not willing to negotiate.  I have to tell of my understanding of the North Koreans (spent a couple of years flying in and out of South Korea and doing reconnaissance missions along the DMZ), that is music to their ears.  It is not posturing for a better negotiation deal.  It is providing fuel to allow Kim Jong-un to rally the troops and maintain his control. He is North Korea’s version of Cheeto-Head.  It is exactly what he wants.  I hope I am wrong, but I don’t think this is going to turn out well.

This is not entirely Cheeto-Heads fault as North Korea has not been dealt with effectively in the past and now things are really dangerous.  In many ways we have ourselves been willfully ignorant about the horror of that country and not doing the hard thing way back when it would have been less hard. But talk of repealing Obamacare and budgets that hurt most Americans may become small potatoes if Cheeto-Head is left to his own devices.  Happy Friday.  I think this is why wine and beer were invented at the dawn of civilization.  At least we can go out in an inebriated haze.

Miscellaneous

Well this week ought to be a doozy.  First there is the Korean thing, and we will see if President tough guy starts a major war.  As one foreign policy expert described it, we have a couple of choices.  Sanctions, which is what we have done before to little effect, increase the pressure on China to do more, or take military action.  Actually there is one more, and that is ignore it.  That I think, is the spectrum of choices.  I have argued before that North Korea is going to have to be dealt with and the longer we wait, the worse the options.  They are truly crazy and there are reports (but who knows) that country may be on the brink of collapse, and as Henry V knew well, nothing unites a country like a war.

China fears a collapse of the North Korean regime and massive refugees.  My guess is that is the fear of South Korea also.  And the country will fail eventually, but why wait until they are armed to the teeth with nukes.  No there are no good options here, and sanctions just seem to kick the can down the road.  Really, really smart people have a hard time figuring out what to do so there is no telling what Cheeto-Head will do.  In a perfect world where North Korea (in an imperfect world) is a living hell on earth, we would go in as a world community and rebuild it.  That is not going to happen.

Next up is the ban on refugees and immigrants.  A fool would continue to fight it in court.  A cleaver fighter would recraft it to pass most tests and then dare the courts to ban it.  A strategist would throw the whole thing away as nothing but a political ploy to satisfy a campaign promise while making our security from terrorists much worse.  No telling what Cheeto-Head will do, but this is the week to do it.

Then there is General Flynn.  I don’t happen to think his contacts with the Russians was a flying solo.  Cheeto-Head’s own statements make that far too unlikely.  But there is that throw them under the bus thing, and that is probably what will happen.  Even as incompetent as Cheeto-Head is, he knows superbly well how to blame others, so we will get the General Flynn was a loose cannon and will be dismissed.  I have to wonder though if they were really that good at covering their tracks and does the FBI and NSA have other evidence.  We know that AG Sessions will do the right thing, don’t we?

Oh, and I see where auto makers are beseeching Cheeto-Head to reduce the mileage standards established by President Obama.  It will cost too much.  Hmm.  Have we heard this argument over and over when these companies, saved by the Obama administration, dig in their heels at change, any change?  It is a sad story we see over and over again and of course, Cheeto-Head will do “what is good for business”, not what is good for the country.  No Virginia, they are not the same.

Meanwhile in the states, Republicans are moving quickly to destroy more lives, attacking public unions, women’s right to choose, voter suppression, and of course, providing more and more business friendly environments (read screw the workers).  When Democrats finally get back in, there is going to be a whole lot of damage to repair.

Speaking of damage, I have been glued to my TV as Oroville Dam (the highest dam in the country) almost collapsed and we are not out of the woods yet.  The almost collapse was not at the highpoint but at an emergency spillway after the main spillway cratered.  We are still not out of trouble yet and watching the water flows is to marvel at nature’s power, which we only play at controlling.  It is another giant warning that we should not tinker with Mother Nature, yet Cheeto-Head ignores global warming.  If this is a sign of what she can do to us, we should all be very, very afraid.

Well, just another Monday morning where we are going to make America Great Again.  Glad I live on high ground and can grow my own food (grapes for wine).

Flooding in Louisiana

We got a problem Huston and it is called ignoring reality.  Or maybe I should say there are two realities.  The first is La La Land where this is not part and parcel of global warming and is going to happen more and more frequently.  Oh, and in Donald Trump land he is down there to show his concern and show that the President is ignoring the issue, like that does nothing but detract from the rescue effort.  Of course that is patently false and the head of FEMA is on the ground and the state itself had said please wait for a visit because it does redirect resources needed for rescue and recovery. Oh, and who does not want to fund Flood Insurance?  That would be Republicans.

Now let’s enter reality land instead of partisan twist the facts and never face reality land.  Flood insurance is a federal program because “the market place” could not bear the risk.  And it can’t afford anymore floods, but there will be more.  Here is where politics failed us when reason said we have to quit subsidizing building where it is going to flood.  People would be unhappy and vote for the guy who will bail them out, but how many times do we have to bail them out?  Given the changes in weather patterns brought on by global warming, the program is no longer viable. From the above referenced article:

The White House issued a disaster declaration for 20 parishes in Louisiana following flooding that killed 13 people and damaged an estimated 40,000 homes. Almost half of the people in Louisiana’s high risk flood zones have insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, and more than 85,000 people have registered for federal disaster aid with FEMA. The problem is, the flood insurance program is billions in debt.

…When Congress passed the program, they passed extensive subsidies and the intent was that those subsidies would last for about 20 years, and they haven’t,” she said. “They’ve lasted for more than 50 years.”

Moore said federal policy should stop encouraging and paying for people to rebuild their homes in flood zones. And lawmakers should make information about flood damage and flood risk readily available to home buyers.

Well, so far we have seen political cowardice (authorize a program and not fund it) and we have neither recognized the true flooding threat due to global warming or had the nerve to say we can’t subsidize your risk building in flood prone areas anymore.  Even before global warming was widely known, I worked in the New Orleans District Corps of Engineers, basically designing flood walls along the Mississippi*.  Even then it was well known that the real solution was to not rebuild or build flood walls along the river, but to get people to move back from the river (not rebuild) so the rivers had places to spread out in high flows.  It would be less costly and more healthy for the environment.  But politics being what it is, short term keep them happy is what drives the train. So we built levees and flood walls along the river and created a multitude of other environmental problems.

Now we simply can’t afford it.  It’s a free country and you can build where you want, but you are on your own.  Harsh?  Isn’t that the market place at work?  And in this case true reality?  So what to do about the current crisis in Louisiana?  These are our fellow Americans.

First some snark.  Isn’t Louisiana redder than red in Congress?  Aren’t they the ones who hold back funds on say Zika research and prevention, funding anything to fix the Flint Michigan lead contamination, or deny global warming.  Who wouldn’t fund Sandy relief? Who was in charge during Katrina when FEMA was a hopeless mess? But when they are up to their asses in alligators they cry wolf?  We are a village?  You hypocritical asses. Your problems are everyone’s problem, but their problems are, well, their problem.  Welcome to the world of conservatives and the Republican Party.    Okay, back to being a nice rational person.

Yes, we have to help them.  But we have to do it in a responsible way.  Only about 45% actually have federally funded flood insurance.  So let’s start with them.  Be clear the fund is broke and their representatives probably won’t fund it in the future or even fund it now.  So if they get their money and can rebuild there has to be a disclosure.  This is going to happen again unless we fund and build infrastructure to prevent it, and next time you are on your own.  Global Warming exists and these storms are just the beginning.  You voting Republican is a great part of this problem.

Second, what about all those that lost everything with no insurance?  Well they are not going to like this.  FEMA and the Red Cross will work for temporary relief and housing, and offer them low insterest loans to build again, but it is a loan, another debt.  We will get you through this tough time, but then you have to accept the responsiblity for your choices.  And if you rebuild in the same place, you will not get flood insurance anymore and next time you are on your own.  We can’t keep doing this over and over again.

Tough love.  Not really.  We need to help those who have been hit by a disaster, but the disaster was predictable if you did not ignore science and data.  Politicians and especially Republicans have facilitated this kind of denial, but not funded the results of that denial.  And unless we change our ways, get in touch with science and data, and do planning for our future with that reality in mind, this is just a reoccurring nightmare.  In other words the future is not a Republican one, but one based soundly on science, data, and a balance sheet that says we can’t afford to continue to do stupid things.  It is called being progressive.  Who knew Progressives were more fiscally responsible than Republicans?  Anyone who has been paying attention since the disaster of the Reagan years.  Look at the data.  Oh wait! I forgot!  They have their own data and facts.

*No, during Katrina none of mine failed, but neither did any other flood walls fail.  What failed was the assumptions about the soils beneath the flood walls that allowed them to be pushed over.  Sadly as a structural engineer you rely on the subsurface data given you and apparently a lot of it was simply bad.

Wyoming

There is a thought provoking article in the NTY this morning about the coal industry in Wyoming and how it is being supplanted by wind farms.  Now remember Wyoming has a population of 584,000 people and yet has the same representation in the Senate as California so little changes in their economy have a big impact on how their Senators vote.  Right now the coal industry in Wyoming has laid off 592 coal workers which is a fairly large impact on the state’s population.  Coal’s real enemy is cheap natural gas, but since coal is the primary contributor to global warming, further rules on carbon emissions further restrict coal mining.

Coal, like the horse and buggy or vacuum tubes are going away, but in Wyoming, there aren’t many alternatives to employment so the state is denying Global Warming and it is big government that is destroying their jobs:

“We have reached the point where the restrictions and regulations for the industry are past our ability to adapt. It has put thousands of hard-working people out of work and is devastating families.  Give us a chance,” Jillian Balow, the Wyoming superintendent of public instruction, said last month in a public hearing by the Interior Department in Casper to gather input on the current halt on new coal mining on the state’s public lands.

Yet, coal is a goner.  The argument of course is that we have no choice assuming you actually understand science.  So there are two things going on here.  The first is how our economic interests determine how we view facts, and the second is how we must not forget the human element.  In the first case, the very market place conservatives so love is killing coal.  Yes, regulations on carbon emissions will even make coal less competitive, but the nail is already in the coffin, and that is if we ignore the real cost of coal to the environment, not just from burning it, but from digging it up.  So global warming must be a farce, and big government is the problem.  If it is all I know or doing the responsible thing for my children, well, screw the future.

The second issue is the human one.  Again, against the conservative grain, but they need help to learn new skills.  On this one I realize I come from another planet.  In my life as an Air Force brat, we moved every 3 years.  Relocating is an adventure, not a tragedy.  Second, there was no question I would go to college and my engineering degrees taught me how to be disciplined and how to learn.  So a changing world is not as threatening to me as it would be to someone who has lived in Wyoming all their lives and have limited skills.  Just moving to places where there are more jobs could be daunting, much less learning a new trade.

So in the end the market place which they worship is screwing them.  First it is taking away their jobs (both mechanization and natural gas), and second, the market place will not help those displaced.  So the reality is that need government to help them transition because progress moves on.  Because we have a Republican Party in charge that worships the market place, and ignores reality, these people are screwed.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

Stephen Hawking’s Real Warning

This is from Think Progess this morning which of course the major Media is ignoring because we all know that there are two sides to global warming (not):

A lot of people consider astrophysicist Stephen Hawking to be the smartest man in the world. His research and theories have explained some of the deepest mysteries of time and space.

So it’s understandable why, on Tuesday, people sort of freaked out when Hawking said there was one thing he could not explain: The popularity of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

“I can’t,” Hawking responded, when asked to explain Trump’s rise as part of an exclusive interview with British news station ITV News. “He is a demagogue, who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.”

But here’s the thing: in that same interview, Hawking also said he didn’t believe Trump was the greatest threat facing America, or even the world. The greatest threat, he said, is human-caused climate change.

“A more immediate danger is runaway climate change,” Hawking said. “A rise in ocean temperature would melt the ice-caps, and cause a release of large amounts of carbon dioxide from the ocean floor. Both effects could make our climate like that of Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees.”

Stephen and I are on the same page on this one as I have opined recently that Global Warming and Economic Inequality are the two major issues in this election if you care about our survival. So since Stephen and I are on the same page, maybe you ought to read more of my stuff and think seriously about it.  I might have a lot of other stuff dead right, no pun intended.