Monthly Archives: October 2016

NEWSFLASH: Earth Just Had a Not-Record-Hot Month!

It had to happen sooner or later. After sixteen consecutive months of record monthly global heat since record-keeping began, September 2016 fell short of the prior September’s heat by a scant 0.04 degrees Celsius, making it only the second hottest September in the last 137 years.

That is, if you believe the National Oceanic & Aeronautic Administration (NOAA). If you prefer NASA’s analysis, the record heat continues, with this September edging out last September’s record heat by a razor thin margin.

NASA's global temperature has been this color for many, many months

NASA’s global temperature map has been this color for many, many months

Of course, we still run into people who remind us that temperatures go up, and they also go down. So with all these record hot months recently, we looked for the most recent record low month, and found it! It was February 1929, eight months before the stock market crash that ushered in the Great Depression.

Facts are stubborn things. It’s been a long time since the earth has been cool, and the string of record hot global temperatures is becoming downright terrifying. The politicians who control Congress may wish they could hide it, but they simply can’t cling to “I’m-not-sure” any longer, without condemning our children to a dismal future.

My own congressman (Scott Garrett, Republican NJ-5th) is one of these climate-science deniers. I beg him, as I hope you will beg yours: It’s not too late yet. God’s entire creation is in peril from our reckless carbon binge. You may hate the solutions that have been proposed to date. Fine. Propose your own. But we’re not the only ones who have children. When we are dead, and answerable to the Lord of Creation, all of our kids — yours included — will inherit whatever world we have left them.

Isn’t it time we decided to do something to spare them from the chaos we are leaving behind?

How Our Coasts Will Disappear

They say that doom and gloom is sure-fire method of driving away readers. But if sea levels are rising, as seven in ten Americans acknowledge, then it’s worth asking just how – and when – my favorite coastal spot might be gone. Believe me, I know you’d rather not wade into this swamp. But it’s important. Please, take a second to look.

Just this August, Louisiana suffered historic flooding, causing more than $10 billion in damage, 80 percent of it uninsured. It was dubbed the most destructive storm to hit the country since Super Storm Sandy.

Hardly a month later, another storm barely grazed the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, and left behind comparable damage, still being assessed in the range of $6-9 billion.

Big storms, no doubt. But here’s the thing: Neither one involved a hurricane making landfall on U.S. soil. Louisiana merely suffered from an intense rainstorm. And American Easterners nervously watched an advancing hurricane’s trail of destruction and death in Haiti, but breathed a sigh of relief as it sliced eastward into the open Atlantic.

Still, the storm wreaked many billions of dollars of damage, and more than fifty fatalities.

Of course, these storms produced the usual claims and denials about the connection to climate change, as always. But more instructive to me was the picture of what coastal inundation will look like in an age of climate chaos. Here’s why:

For the large majority of Americans who accept the findings of climate science, I suspect we tend to view sea-level rise as a linear phenomenon. Mapping websites abound where you can zoom in on your home, select a hypothetical level of ocean rise, and see whether you’re safe or not. For Louisiana, here’s what it looks like for two feet, well inside many estimates for the current century.capturelouisiana

Look! The blue incursions make New Orleans look pretty dicey, but Baton Rouge and Lafayette are still okay, right? And here’s a look at the Carolinas at two feet. Sure, the Outer Banks, Charleston and Wilmington are all gone, but Goldsboro, Wilmington and Raleigh are pretty good.capture

Okay, admittedly it’s bad, but we can find a way to manage, right?

Actually, no, we probably can’t. Here’s why: These maps may be accurate, for what they’re being asked to do. One a calm, sunny day, the communities shown in the green may be, in fact, above water. But take a look at what happened during the Louisiana non-hurricane – before any further sea-level rise at all:

picture1

Lafayette was inundated. Baton Rouge was a virtual island, with flooding on all sides. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way, was it? New Orleans would slip away first, and Mardi Gras would set up shop Baton Rouge. Except Baton Rouge was flooded out first. (And that’s with today’s sea levels, not an extra couple of feet.)

The Carolinas tell a similar story. After Tropical Storm Matthew slipped past, Goldsboro and Lumberton – each about 80 miles inland from the Atlantic beaches – were completely awash, together with hundreds of other inland communities.picture2

For nearly ten years now, we’ve been warning our fellow beach-lovers: Visit as often as you like, enjoy the sun and surf. But please, please, don’t invest the nest egg in sea-side property. Even now, that’s probably sound advice. But the picture is actually much worse. In a world of increasingly dire climate chaos, you’re hardly safe in low-lying inland communities either.

What should you do? Well, what if we started by living like people who understand that the future of our world, and especially our children’s, depends on lower carbon emissions. Cut our carbon footprint, and offset what we can’t cut.

But whatever our individual efforts, there are many things that we can only accomplish together — as a country, or as an entire world. We can each drive smarter, but most of us can’t develop our own electric car. We can insulate the house, but most of us can’t build our own wind farm. These things depend on concerted national action. So find out what your Congressional representative is doing about climate change. And look at where the Presidential candidates stand.

The consequences of ignoring climate change may seem to be a long way off. But for many on our lowland coasts, they’ve already arrived.

My Congressman’s Belated Conversion on Trump

Note: This article contains uncensored quotes of American politicians, and may be unsuitable for polite company or children.

Dear Congressman Garrett (R-NJ-5th):

I was curious to find your name on the growing list of Republicans who have jumped ship on Donald Trump. Finally, after The Washington Post released video recordings of him boasting about sexually assaulting women. Digging a little deeper, I found only a vague statement from you calling his conduct “inexcusable.” Specifically, it appears you said:

“I am appalled that he would brag about violating a woman’s physical boundaries. As a husband and father of two daughters, I denounce his comments and the behavior that it incites.”

On October 7, the Washingotn Post release video footage in which Donald Trump boasted of sexual assault against women

On October 7, The Washington Post release video footage in which Donald Trump boasted of sexual assault against women

Well, that’s good. Here in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District, I suspect that just about everyone with daughters or granddaughters (like me) would say no less. And most people who care for any woman or girl would surely agree.

So, bravo, congressman! I guess.

I’m assuming this means you’re no longer really supporting Trump. Am I right? To be sure, you’ve been willing to stand with him through a lot. Until now, nothing he’s done has cost him your support. But then, why now? Please, sir: How is this so different from the litany of outrages that you’ve tolerated to this point?

  • Mexicans are criminals and rapists (June 16, 2015). Trump kicked off his campaign with this shocker. Not a problem for you, Mr. Garrett. Right?
  • POWs, like John McCain, are not war heroes (July 18, 2015). A little awkward? But you went along.
  • “I know more about ISIS than the generals do” (November 12, 2015). I guess we’ll just call that political hyperbole, right? All good.
  • “Now this poor guy, you ought to see this guy” (November 24, 2015). Trump flailed his arms to mock the disability of a reporter who had debunked his scandalous claim that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11. But this somehow didn’t bother you?
  • “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” (December 7, 2015). You remember? Trump’s absolutely shocking call to violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Sure, it wasn’t your religion he was talking about. But it was too much for your fellow NJ Republican, Christie Whitman.
  • Cozying up to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin (December 18, 2015). That cost Trump a few GOP endorsements, but you were still good.
  • PolitiFact gave Trump the 2015 Lie of the Year Award (January 1, 2016). 70 percent of Trump’s public statements were Mostly False, False, or Pants-on-Fire False. Only 16 percent were either True or Mostly True. You, a religious man, were unmoved. At least he isn’t Hillary (whose PolitiFact ratings bear absolutely no resemblance to Trump’s).
  • “Knock the crap out of them, would you?” Trump’s many instances of incitement to violence against opponents (this example, February 1, 2016) were a bit awkward for people who favor peaceable discourse. For you, not so much.
  • Torture as American policy is a good thing: “I would bring back waterboarding, and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” (February 6, 2016). It was way too much for many of your GOP colleagues. But despite all that stuff in the Bible, the Constitution and the Geneva Convention about the dignity of human life, not you.

    PolitiFact rated 70% of Trump's statements in 2015 to be false

    PolitiFact rated 70% of Trump’s statements in 2015 to be false

  • KKK Grand Wizard David Duke endorsed Trump, and the candidate refused to disavow the endorsement (February 28, 2016).  Practically every Republican with the word “Former” in his title condemns Trump at this point. Any reaction from you, Mr. Garrett? Hmm.
  • A candidate who boasts to the country about the size of his penis (March 3, 2016) is probably something our nation’s founders probably never really thought much about. Mitt Romney flipped out. Still no word from you.
  • My wife is prettier than your (ugly) wife (March 23, 2016). Trump’s Twitter post to debase Ted Cruz’s wife based on her appearance shocked women everywhere. Despite your love for wife and daughters, no comment from you.
  • A judge can’t rule on my Trump University fraud case because his parents were Mexican (June 5, 2016). Mr. Garrett, this didn’t bother you? You still didn’t speak up?
  • We just might renege on our treaty obligations and abandon our NATO allies: “Congratulations, you will be defending yourself” (July 20, 2016). Even the prospect of a Free World without solid alliances didn’t bother you, Mr. Garrett?
  • Let’s ask Russia to hack into the Democratic Party’s computer records (July 27, 2016). Cyber warfare may be a serious threat, but let’s keep our priorities straight: Beat Hillary at any cost, right?
  • Bereaved Muslim Gold Star parents have nothing to say, and it’s because of their barbaric religion (July 30, 2016). The trickle of GOP defections from Trump swells to a torrent, but still no word from you, Mr. Garrett?
  • After the election, NRA allies can still stop a future President Hillary Clinton, implicitly by assassinating her (August 9, 2016). Well that was awkward. Jack and Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan – all great leaders tragically shot. But I guess we’ve got to find some way to stop our political opponents in this country of ours. Still no word from you?
  • “He’s the founder of ISIS” (August 10, 2016). Interviewers virtually begged Trump to say he was joking about President Obama, but he held the line. And you went right along. A torrent of GOP defections ensued. No problem yet for you, Mr. Garrett?z1aj7ceqopjtftpbiflgptm_cmiobey5ovqq4xbavwfn-wiqdt8uxf4xw_l9lxoj3lrw5swoojhfyvaexdttr8xkqcf58toz5batt_ph-zxreoflclsqeoxmgzbzmqe6gs2yoacg
  • “I’m not a big believer in manmade climate change” (August 11, 2016). Eleven times, Trump called climate change “a hoax” or “bulls**t.” He even promised to kill all American and global efforts to save our children from a chaotic climate future. Still no problem for you, Mr. Garrett?
  • Trump asserts that five black men who languished in jail for 13 years for a crime they did not commit were guilty anyway, even though their innocence had been conclusively proven (October 6, 2016). Still nothing there to lose sleep over?

So far, no problems. Trump is still your man, Congressman Garrett. But there’s big trouble just around the corner. We’re about to learn – finally – something about this otherwise good man that you simply cannot abide:

“Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything.” On October 7, 2016, headlines all over the world scream out Trump’s obscene boast. If you’re a rich and famous star like Trump, “you can do anything” you want to a woman.

Now that’s different. You are shocked. Shocked! Talking disrespectfully about women. Bragging about committing a vile crime. Boasting about being so powerful that you can force American women to have sex with you. Beautiful women. Women whom you can picture looking like your own daughters, perhaps?

Well, golly. Now that’s inexcusable. Do we have this right Mr. Garrett?

Just to be clear, then, it was okay that Trump vowed to kill the world’s last and best hope for saving our children from catastrophic climate change, right? It was okay when he trashed Mexicans, Muslims, blacks, women, war heroes, disabled people, and grieving Gold Star parents? It was okay when he admired dictators, advocated torture, incited violence among supporters, and hinted at assassination of an American president? And you didn’t mind when he threatened to break faith with our closest allies, and suggested they get their own nuclear weapons?

But now, he’s finally done something that bothers you. Well, sir, we welcome you. We, too, were horrified with what Trump dismisses as “locker room talk.”

But I just can’t contain my curiosity: You had no problem with all this other stuff? Really?

Digging deeper:

  • Trump’s PolitiFact dishonesty record: Here
  • Scott Garrett finally speaking up on Trump: Here
  • Trump’s statements about the “climate change hoax”: Here

Editor’s note: Beloved Planet comments exclusively on matters related to caring for God’s injured world, and especially matters related to climate change. We do not endorse candidates for public office. But this election cycle has featured very little meaningful debate on the threat of manmade climate change, one of the greatest threats faced by our world and the global Christian church today. Republican Donald Trump has vowed to kill the Clean Power Plan (as has Libertarian Gary Johnson), the centerpiece of America’s crucial contribution to the global Paris Climate Accord, signed by more than 170 countries. Such a move would almost certainly spell the Paris Accord’s complete failure.  Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein have vowed to implement the Clean Power Plan and comply with the Paris pact.