How Climate Change Affects Vacation Priorities


So, when the climate change poop hits the fan, who is going to be in for the worst ride? What parts of the world should I vacation at now because they will be uninhabitable in the future? Exactly where will be the safest place for the gringa and the caveman to diddle away their golden years?

Well, we better get busy and visit all the beach hotspots that are alive and kicking right now. With sea levels rising, the coastal cabanas of today will be reef material tomorrow. And, considering that climate change creates erratic and extreme weather patterns such as: heavy rain here, drought there, devastating tornadoes everywhere; well, there is no uniform model of what’s going to change where or when. The only concrete expectation right now is what models predict about low elevation islands and coastal beachlands. They are pretty much going to be history, some maybe within my lifetime.

Other areas scientists expect to change dramatically are regions that have a delicate ecosystem balance and are already experiencing hyper-sensitivity to environmental stressors. These areas include:

  • Arctic, specifically the tundra region
  • Boreal forest belt – This is the conifer forest that stretches across North America, particularly dense in the Pacific Northwest
  • Tropical Rainforest
  • Alpine regions
  • Steppes of Asia and the Americas
  • Prairies of Asia and the Americas
  • Deciduous forests of South America and Australia

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the Earth. The permafrost layer is melting. Glaciers are getting smaller and sea ice is disintegrating. The wildlife of the Arctic will probably be a loss to the world. They depend on a habitat that is going to grow too warm to support their needs. The indigenous people of this region will experience a loss of their culture that is strongly dependent on the wildlife and natural geography. The humans will have the adaptation advantage that the wildlife and fauna do not have. But the loss of their culture is still something to mourn over.

The boreal forests of North America are important carbon sponges for the earth. What will a degree or two warmer mean? As temperatures warm the center of the United States, the boreal forest will shift northward. Predictive models sees the United States losing its boreal forest as it relocates to Canada and Alaska. So, we won’t lose them, they will relocate. That’s good news in the aspect that at least the Earth will retain a critical carbon filter.

Researchers in tropical rainforests mark trees and track them for years, measuring them to see how they are responding to climate change. A group in the Bolivian Andes are studying a swath of diverse trees and plants that thrive in a limited temperature range. As temperatures rise, so do the trees. New, baby trees are growing uphill. Just as the North American model predicted a forest migration, the same is expected of the tropical rainforests. They will abandon the lowland jungle regions and migrate up the mountainsides, seeking cooler temperatures.

Alpine regions are going to experience the same forest creeping phenomena. As glaciers continue to recede, alpine plants will continue to move upwards looking for cooler temperatures and water. However, eventually, when all the glacier water has melted and run off or evaporated, this critical component of the annual water budget will be gone forever. Plants and trees dependent upon it will eventually be extinct. So Alpine ecosystems will not only migrate, they will migrate to a slow death.

The upside of forest migration is that the Earth is trying to compensate and save herself. The downside is that the migration process is slower than the warming process. This means there will still be catastrophic loss of tropical rainforest and alpine habitat. This will affect the wildlife dependent on these ecosystems as well as their indigenous people.

Experts predict the possibility of losing over half of the steppe habitats due to the effects of climate change. They are not modeling a migration of fauna, but a loss. Steppes are critical grazing areas. As the steppes experience habitat loss, growing smaller, overgrazing occurs on the remaining areas. The effects then are coupled: climate change related drought and overgrazing. Things look dire for the future of the steppes and the animals and shepherds and ranchers who depend on them. The steppes could become the Earth’s future Sahara’s.

Unlike a conifer boreal forest or tropical rainforest that are green year round, a deciduous forest becomes barren in the winter season as the trees lose their leaves. Deciduous forests exist in tropical and temperate climates. Climate change models predict warmer winters affecting deciduous forests. This could lead to tree loss from pests and disease. In regions where devastating drought occurs, there will be higher tree loss. When a tree dies in the forest it also becomes fuel. In regions experiencing drought related tree loss, the dry conditions and increased fuel of more dead trees makes conditions ripe for voracious wildfires. So, if the drought or the bugs don’t wipe out the deciduous forests, the wildfires probably will.

The gringa thinks the list of vacation priorities should go something like this:

  • Arctic expedition
  • Steppe pack-mule trip
  • Deciduous and Alpine forest camp outs
  • Beach parties around the world
  • Tropical rainforest excursion
  • Bigfoot safari in the boreal forests of the Pacific Northwest

I don’t think climate change is going to sound the death knell for planet Earth and mankind. The gringa does believe it will be the end of many species of animals and plants that are with us today. It is also highly likely that entire cultures will be wiped out when they lose the habitats they rely upon. And usually species loss does not mean a gaping hole is left behind. Usually, another species fills the gap or a species evolves and adapts. So, the key word to focus on is “change”. It’s climate “change” not climate “loss”. But the change is as significant as the past disappearances of entire civilizations such as the Maya or entire animal classes like the dinosaurs.

At this point, I believe the consensus among scientists is that we have passed the tipping point. There is no going back and “fixing” things. We simply have to ride the lightning and deal with it. So, if a person is able and so inclined, they need to enjoy the world as we know it today and document it for the children of the future.

 

Source:  www.nasa.gov

Image Credit: http://www.notenoughgood.com

 

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Amazing Grace and the Conveyor Belt


Is there a way to stem the tide of sea level rise due to climate change? I mean, if we can’t build a seawall around the coast of every continent and island, what other option is there other than an eventual mass human migration inland? Well, NASA thinks there very well may be a solution.

The Earth may be saving herself. Climate change researchers have been collecting data from NASA satellites to determine where all this extra liquid water from melted ice sheets and glaciers is ending up. It seems the Earth has absorbed over three trillion tons of water (that’s about the equivalent of what’s in Lake Huron) that are replenishing depleted lakes and underground aquifers. Now, this is great news but not a permanent fix. Researchers estimate this temporary band-aid will slow sea level rise by about twenty percent. Earth is buying us Earthlings some more time to get our you-know-what together and fix this mess we have created.

So, how does this “band-aid” work? The Earth’s regular water budget is provided by annual amounts of water evaporated from the oceans. This becomes precipitation that returns to the Earth through rainfall or snow. It then recycles back into the oceans as runoff or through rivers. As mankind’s use of groundwater has dramatically increased, the Earth has become quite thirsty as reservoirs are depleted. It has become a sponge, compensating for this unprecedented loss by absorbing what is melting from ice sheets and glaciers. This has served to curb rising sea levels despite the fact that glaciers and ice sheets continue to melt.

Now scientists are scrambling to recalculate future models and adjust previous projections of sea level rise as a result of the Earth’s warming oceans. So, although sea levels are still expected to rise, Earthlings have a little bit more time to solve the problems that will cause. But, once the Earth has slated her thirst, all that meltwater will then become a problem.

NASA is using a twin satellite system, GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment), to measure how much water is being stored within the Earth. Since scuba divers can’t delve into these underground reservoirs, just what kind of digital dipstick is being used? The satellites use gravity to measure liquid. The gringa scratches her head and says, “Um, what? A gravity yardstick? How does that work?”

As the twin satellites orbit the Earth, they measure the distance between themselves. Their measurements are so accurate and precise, they can get as close as a strand of human hair. Amazing! But, I digress. GRACE then transmits the data to Earthling researchers who use the information to measure any gravitational change in the Earth that is the result of any change Earth’s water distribution.

By using this method, scientists have measured how much water has been stored within Earth’s continents as a result of ice sheet and glacier melt. This is the first study of its kind. And, according to NASA’s mission to use technology to safeguard the future of Earth and the lives of Earthlings, the agency has shared this knowledge with other scientific communities around the world.

And GRACE is proving her mettle in other areas of climate change data as well. The satellites are tracking circulation and current patterns within the Atlantic Ocean. The typical current pattern of the Gulf Stream carries warm, tropical water northward to Greenland. By the time it arrives at its northern destination, the water has cooled significantly. Colder water is denser so the water that originated from the tropics, and was riding at the surface. has sunk as deep as two miles within the ocean by the time it gets to Greenland. The colder, heavier, bottom water is then dragged back South.

In this way the waters of the Atlantic Ocean are consistently agitated, cooled, oxygenated and nutritionally refreshed. Oceanographers call this pattern the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). However, the gringa prefers the common name, the “Conveyor Belt” of the Atlantic.

The Atlantic’s “Conveyor Belt” effect is like an air conditioner for the world’s oceans. It is critical to modulating the temperature of the Earth. Data collected from GRACE has revealed that the “Conveyor Belt” is slowing down. Researchers are uncertain if this is directly caused by climate change or if other factors are at play.

GRACE is going to help answer these questions. One way is by measuring gravity data from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Changes in the ocean’s currents will result in pressure changes that GRACE can detect with gravitational measurements.

And GRACE is also contributing to the development of practical solutions that can be implemented right now, helping the people of Brazil. 2015 was the worst year in over three decades for drought in Brazil.

Hydrologists were able to use data collected from GRACE to calculate that in a three year period Brazil lost about fifteen trillion gallons of water each year. Water levels of aquifers and rivers were also analyzed.

Brazil is heavily dependent on the country’s rivers to provide water for their people, electricity production and for critical agriculture. The data provided by GRACE enables the Brazilian government to create models that will simulate future expected droughts. This makes it possible for the nation to plan effectively, monitor their water resources responsibly and continue to provide for the water needs of over 200 million Brazilians.

And those are just some of the facts about “Amazing GRACE”.

 

Source:  www.nasa.gov

Image Source:  www.nasa.gov

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rub A Dub, Dub, Nelson Needs A Tub


It’s pretty common for researchers and common man to first think about the coastal dwellers who will be displaced by rising ocean levels due to climate change. Thoughts also quickly turn to coastal species of plants and animals that may fare even worse, having nowhere to turn, and thus possibly becoming extinct.

One thing that is rarely considered are national treasures that sit seaside or within a harbor. What will happen to the likes of the Statue of Liberty or Nelson’s Column? What of the Doe and Stag columns that welcome sailors into safe harbor at the island of Rhodes? How many wonderful works of art will possibly be swallowed up by the seas and lost to landlubbers because of climate change?

the-statue-of-liberty-stands-high-and-mighty-in-new-york-harbors-liberty-island-the-305-foot-statue-from-ground-level-to-flame-tip-was-created-in-france-with-giant-steel-supports-before-being-assembled-in-america

Statue of Liberty, USA, image source:  www.pamojasisi.blogspot.com

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The Doe and Stag, Rhodes, image source: http://www.superstock.co.uk

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Unconditional Surrender, San Diego, CA, USA, image source:  www.yelp.com

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Annie Moore (first registered Ellis Island immigrant), Cobh, County Cork, Ireland, image source:  www.friendlysonsofpatrick.org

The.Little.Mermaid.original.2558

The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen, Denmark, image source: http://www.thousandwonders.net

And these are only a few that the gringa was able to search for and find. There are very few land-locked nations. Every country with a coastline has something to lose. We all have some artistic skin in the game. Beautiful, historic works of art are destined for watery graves, sooner or later, because of climate change. There may be a few heads bobbing above the waves but most of them will be forgotten by future generations except for adventurous scuba divers on photo safari.

Experts indicate that fossil fuel pollution accelerated climate change will continue to affect our planet even if we switched tomorrow to alternatives. We have passed the tipping point. It’s possible we have caused enough damage to affect significant change for the next 100,000 years. Over that period of time, as global temperatures continue to rise, sea levels will, too. Possibly as much as fifty meters (150 feet).

That means that timeless works of art that look out upon the seas and oceans of this world will definitely be inundated to oblivion. But to understand the true scope of the course our lifestyles have plotted for our planet, consider Nelson’s Column which is located well inland, at Trafalgar Square in London. Models of climate change predict that by the time this cycle has run its course, only half of the column will be visible above the water line.

nelsons-column

Nelson’s Column, Trafalgar Square, London, UK, image source: http://www.scottish-country-dancing-dictionary.com

Before these dramatic events reach their fulfillment, mankind will have undergone dramatic migrational upheavals. As much as one fifth of the world’s population is expected to be affected. Rough estimates put current world population at about seven billion. That means that about one billion and four hundred million (1,400,000,000) people are going to have to move.

Dear readers, consider the strain Europe is undergoing right now with a Syrian refugee migration.  The United Nations reports that over nine million Syrians have fled their homes since the civil war began years ago. Estimates put the numbers spilling into Europe at about one million, but those numbers are questionable. Imagine if the refugee numbers Europe had absorbed had been one thousand fold. That’s the kind of numbers scientists are talking about where climate change migration is concerned.

There is no technology available to build any seawall adequate to protect the populations of coastal cities. They will have to relocate. Eventually. Period. There is no going back. The best we can hope for is that if we start tomorrow with zero carbon emissions we might be able to spare future generations from a worst case scenario (as if).

And, since that’s not going to happen, the gringa says invest in some scuba gear, sturdy suitcases, and quality maps of inland locales if you are a coastal dweller. If you live on secure high ground, perhaps you should build a guest house or two, or three, or maybe even forty. It may be the humble beginnings of a future hotel and housing empire for your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren.

 

Source:  www.uk.news.yahoo.com

 

Image Source: www.news.yahoo.com

Who Are The Real Entitlement Whinebags?


The gringa has been distracted with concerns about current war migrations and the possibility of future climate change migrants that I haven’t even noticed that my own countrymen are migrating as well. It seems to have been going on rather significantly for about three years now. A little over 4,000 did so in 2015. When I look back to the year 2006 the gringa discovers only 300 people bailed on the country. Why are so many more Americans renouncing their citizenship now?

Apparently, it all comes down to taxes. Now, the gringa hasn’t been on a political crusade and ranted and raged for a cause in some time so, perhaps now is the time. Especially since it’s an election cycle and the you-know-what is getting thick. So, be prepared for a clarifying earful about subjects such as “entitlement whinebags” and “propaganda hounds” aka, the GOP, aka, “compassionate” conservatives, aka, the Republican party. And get comfy because, clocking in at over 3,000 words, you, dear reader, are in for a long read of a long rant.

So, back to the original question… what kind of Americans are giving up their American citizenship and why… Many Americans expatriate to live in other countries. Many of these are Americans who are still working and earning. It is not just retired folk who expatriate. However, even though they live in another country, in the past, they retained their American citizenship because of all the benefits and security the nationality afforded them. Now, it’s just one big tax hassle to be an American in another country. So, they renounce their citizenship. Rather than work to change what’s wrong with their country, they take their ball and go home. Boo hoo.

You see, it doesn’t matter where an American lives. They still have to pay their income tax so that money can be used by the nation to maintain the country’s infrastructure, protect its citizens, and care for its less fortunate at home as well as vulnerable populations around the world. Apparently, these turncoats don’t want to contribute to the well-being of the nation, they only want to reap the benefits. I think that’s the description of an “entitlement whinebag”, someone who expects that they deserve something for nothing.

I mean, the gringa pays her taxes. The caveman pays his taxes. We don’t complain. For our contribution we enjoy lots of good stuff.

I can drive across the highway to the grocery store without the freeway bridge collapsing and killing me because the highway funds keep that bridge in good operating condition.

I can sleep peacefully in my bed at night, without a loaded pistol within reach, because taxes pay for an adequate police presence of law enforcement in my neighborhood.

I enjoy the luxury and safety of clean water running right out of my tap at a dirt cheap price (and so should the people of Michigan).

I don’t have to worry about airplanes falling out of the sky and squishing me flat because my country can afford to have proper safety management controls where air travel is concerned.

And the gringa can go on and on but I’m sure the dear reader has sufficiently gotten my point.

So, what about these renouncers. Who are they? Who are the most likely people to move to another country for work or retirement? Um, they are the people who can afford to. They are not the poor, working class, or even the middle class, American. They are the very people who live a life of comfort and luxury and point their fingers at the indigent and poor and berate them for having an “entitlement” attitude because they are asking their nation to provide such things as living wage protection, affordable healthcare, and affordable housing. Hmmm.

So, the privileged of the country want to enjoy more bang for their abundant bucks by living in another country where their dollar stretches farther. Bully for them but the poor, working folk are stuck back here in the States still eating beans. And, since the corporatists and wealthy are not pitching in their fair share to the household budget, the middle and working classes are the only ones supporting the household.

That is why our economy is suffering. That is why there is not enough money in the budget to do what should be done. If the corporatists and wealthy actually paid their legitimate taxes rather than hide their money in offshore accounts and enjoy the tax loopholes they are rewarded with for big dollar campaign contributions, there would be much more money in America’s household fund. We could easily afford to adequately fund our schools, care for our veterans, provide affordable healthcare for everyone, etc., etc., etc.

But the corporatists and wealthy continue to rob their country of what it is due. And, they use their “propaganda hounds” to convince others that expecting them to pay their fair share of taxes is something very evil called “socialism”. Um, that’s a lie. It’s actually called “obeying a taxation law that is fair, just and undiscriminatory”. You earn, you pay your fair share of taxes, EVERYONE, no matter how much you earn, even if you are a corporation. Period. That is not socialism. That is taxation is a capitalist democracy.

These privileged people are fully aware that they will still be taxed by their homeland even if they live outside its borders. But, they make the decision to do it anyway. Then they complain about the consequences when tax payment time rolls around. They bewail their condition of being double taxed, by the land of their birth as well as their new host country. The gringa doesn’t want to hear their crybabiness. They knew it going into it and made their bed. Now they need to lie in it and suck it up like big kids. Nobody made them move to another country.

So, for all the big money “entitlement whinebags” in and outside of my country, this rant is for you:

With regard to a nation as great as the United States providing healthcare for all of its citizens, let me ‘splain something to the selfish critics who have “got theirs” and don’t care about the working class people who have, for years, been employed by companies that did not offer health insurance and did not make enough money to afford their own health insurance but made too much money to receive Medicaid:

For the first time in over forty years, thanks to Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the gringa has coverage for my pre-existing condition that usually lands me in the emergency room 2-3 times a year. This epileptic also doesn’t qualify for disability because I WORK. Which means I had a revolving door of uninsured healthcare debt averaging about $10-20 grand every year except for now. Because of convulsions and recovery periods, my work cycle was usually work about three months, recover for a month, so I RARELY even made $10,000 annually. I was often out of a job after a health crisis. How in the heck could I possibly afford my medical bills?

In 2015 my medical bills were less than $2000. Thank you Obama and kiss my patootie those who have never walked a mile in those shoes yet want to deny those who have and offer no alternative. That is the GOP’s solution – no solution, simply ignore the need of Americans like me.

So, the real “entitlement whinebags” are those people who are simply too stingy to let a tax dollar be spent for a neighbor in need. “Entitlement whinebags” who resist any effort of the government to create a public benefit attempt to use “propaganda hounds” to protect their dollars by telling lies in an effort to convince everyone else that the benefits are only for undeserving people who don’t want to work and want something for free. That is a big fat lie.

The greed of the wealthy and corporatists, and their arrogant belief that the working poor are undeserving of any public benefit, are the biggest “entitlement whinebags” the United States supports. They live a life of indulgence that has divorced them from empathy and compassion.

Their selfishness leads them also to an argument of erroneous ignorance. All those past years of outrageously high medical bills, the gringa, being conscientious and responsible, always desired to be able to pay them. When you have people who are unable to pay for the medical services they receive, the doctors and clinics and hospitals have to absorb that loss. They do it by spreading the money owed them around, which basically means the cost of services go up. So, one way or another, the bill is paid whether it comes out of a tax funded benefit or an individual’s pocket paying for something at an inflated price to cover a loss. And, the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but at least it’s a step in the right direction which is something that the Republican party has never done or even offered to do.

Many corporatists and wealthy Americans commit another error of ignorance. They believe that all the poor receive free healthcare. And, I might add, they resent that fact. They actually resent that they have to pay taxes that provide any benefit for the poor. They would rather keep their money and let every single poor American never have medical access. But, I digress, their error in believing that all the poor receives free healthcare is proof of how divorced from reality they are. Most of the poor in the U.S. are the working poor. The working poor make too much to qualify for Medicaid.

If they would take the time to educate themselves, rather than believe the “propaganda hounds”, they would learn that during the Clinton Administration the threshold for qualifying for government benefits was lowered. That created a situation where many poor people who were receiving public benefits were thrust off the dole and into the working arena.

You see, there was a big business boom during the Clinton years and he was scratching the backs of the corporatists who helped him get into office by creating a huge pool of low paid workers available. The ranks of the working poor swelled with an on-slought of unskilled, untrained labor which meant wages stayed low. Most of these were single mothers and the elderly.

We now have people that are pushing eighty-years-old in America working low wage jobs, barely able to feed themselves because corporatists and the wealthy do not believe a nation has any obligation to care for those unable to care for themselves. That is not “compassionate” Conservatism. Whether Conservatives want to admit it or not there are certain people who simply should not and cannot work and they are the Americans the other Americans should be caring for. That would be our old folks and medically disabled (however, I will share a dirty little secret – most Republicans do not believe that anyone is really medically disabled. They believe that every chronically ill person should be doing some sort of job and accepting their lot in life even if that means they can barely afford to feed themselves. Better they live a miserable quality of life than receive a taxpayer provided benefit).

As for single mom’s, don’t even get me started. Not only are they needing to feed, clothe, house and provide medical care for their children, if they work they also have to pay for childcare. How in the world can a mom do it on a forty-hour work week even if she makes $10 hourly much less the average $8 hourly that many actually work at? Huh? Please, answer me that?

Where are they going to find the money and time to manage the needs of their household and get a college education in order to better their conditions? Is it possible? Sure, anything is possible. Is it likely? We all know that many of the mom’s are absolutely exhausted simply by caring for their children. A full-time job on top of that often takes what little bit they’ve got left to give. So, the reality is that most of these moms devote themselves to their children, placing all their hopes and dreams in their future, determined that their children will become college educated and they lay their own dreams aside.

Does that thinking really work for single moms? Take a look at the statistics. It doesn’t. The high school drop out rate in the United States is shameful. The majority of these children are being raised by single parents. The college enrollment rate for children of single parent households is equally shameful. Every single mental health professional tells the truth. Children of single parent households are simply not getting the attention they need. It’s not necessarily the divorce factor that is the problem. The problem is that when only one parent is bearing the burden of financial and time responsibility, they simply can’t provide enough of either.

If we want to preserve the greatness of our country’s future, it begins with securing a future for all of our nation’s children. Giving them the best opportunity to receive the nurture and attention they need to thrive and meet their potential. Children of single parent households need a country who recognizes that need and is willing to invest in assisting that household so that parent is not robbed of critical time with their child because they have to work a 50-60 hour workweek just to put food on the table.

And, you know what, if we would spend more money on our kids here at home rather than spending money to prepare them to go overseas with weapons, our country might just become a better nation. If this political party that is so resistant to caring for its own citizens in need would consider their hypocrisy of calling themselves “pro-life” when, in actuality, they are really only “pro-birth” because they don’t actually give a hoot about that “life” until it becomes old enough to join the military. Then, once that “life” has been exploited by the war for profit greed hounds of the Republican party and comes home damaged and in need of care and unable to work and care for itself, the party that exploited them is no longer so “pro” about their “life”. It makes me sick. But, I digress. Back to Clinton and his changing of the poverty qualification dynamics.

So, after Clinton’s revamping of welfare, many working class people became underemployed, thus underpaid, unable to even get a full 40 hour work week at times because the working class job market was swarmed with more people looking for jobs than jobs were to be had. Bad news for the working class, good news for the pro-Clinton companies who were getting paid back for their support with an opportunity to exploit the working class for their labor at dirt cheap wages.

And, because there were more working class people than their were jobs, the fierce competition created a desperation where anyone was just glad to have a job no matter how crummy the pay, few the hours and absolute lack of benefits. And, because the poverty line had been lowered, people who would once receive medical, housing and food benefits, now received nothing, despite the fact their earnings had not increased and may have very well decreased. And, poof, like magic, with the stroke of a pen, overnight, the poverty class in America seemed to almost disappear. It was only an illusion. In fact, the quality of life of these people was worse than it was before.

It didn’t matter what numbers a government official scratched on an official document, claiming that’s the minimum income to qualify as poverty class and entitled to a benefit. The reality was that the actual poverty level of real life stayed the same. So, more and more Americans showed up and work and toiled 40, 50, even 60 hours a week but still lived with a poverty income and absolutely no help from the government who had betrayed them and lied about their wage and living conditions. And many working class people couldn’t even find a 40 hour work week job. They settled for whatever they could find. Sometimes that meant two or three part-time jobs. And this problem has never even been admitted openly much less addressed and solved.

There have been a few years when I was unable to work at all. The caveman was the sole supporter of our family. He is a truck driver. Our income tax returns for those years was, well, I won’t say the number but most of you probably know that a truck driver does not make much money. For a family of four, he made too much to qualify for any benefit the government had to offer to “the poor”. We had to pay for housing, food, utilities, keep cars on the road, and, because the company he worked for did not provide health insurance, we also had to pay every single dime of medical expenses we incurred. And the epileptic gringa is expensive.

Now, a corporatist or wealthy person would be arrogant enough to feel entitled to criticize and say, “Why didn’t the caveman get another job with a different company that offered insurance?” Well, actually, he did get laid off once and got a job with a company with full benefits. But, my pre-existing condition wasn’t covered. So, alas, it really did us absolutely no good.

So, “entitlement whinebag” corporatists and wealthy who want to enjoy all of your wealth and not contribute to the upkeep of this great nation and be a good steward with your overabundance by helping those less fortunate, here’s some food for thought for your hateful, selfish, arrogant minds:

I am the working poor. And we are legion. Let me introduce you to us. We’re the people who press your suit and shirts at the dry cleaners. We are the ones who scrub the floor of the salon where you get your nails done. We wipe snotty noses in daycare centers and nursing homes. We pick the veggies and truck them to your supermarkets. We’re the folks who trim your lawn and give your dog a haircut. We change the trash bin liners in the hospital where you were born and dig the grave where you will be buried.

We live in barrio apartments surrounded by other working poor families who are all doing their best to feed their families. There are usually two parents here, working together to raise their children and find a way to take unpaid leave from work to see their programs and games while still managing to pay the bills.

We usually have only one very old car that is paid for. We can barely afford the liability insurance. Forget about a warranty and full coverage. If the alternator goes out or there is a minor accident, the repair cost comes out of our pocket. It may be way too much that a working class Joe can afford. Looking under the hood, a working class Joe scratches his head wondering how he is going to pay for the parts to get the car back on the road because he has to be at work at 6am in the morning.

Fortunately for working class Joe, his neighbors know exactly what’s up. We’ve all been there. Soon, all working class Joe’s neighbors have pooled some money together, driven him to the auto parts store, and several are working by his side with flashlights well after midnight until the car is finally fixed.

You see, “entitlement whinebag corporatists and wealthy”, the poor working class enjoy something you don’t understand. We enjoy freedom. We are not slaves to the latest fashion trends. We have learned to live without them because we cannot afford them. We have learned to live without the manis and pedis. We have learned to live without the brand name can of green beans. We have learned to live without the vacations at the resorts. We have learned to live without the mall and high-end supermarket. We have learned to live without beef or chicken or any kind of real meat on our dinner tables every night. That is how we are able to pull out the last twenty bucks from our pockets and give it to our neighbor in need without complaining and resign ourselves to beans and rice for a week.

You see, the working poor understand and accept that we are our brother’s keeper. We don’t feel entitled to that last $20 even though we earned it. We see our neighbor’s need and understand it and can meet it so we do, even if it means personal sacrifice.

The working poor have a humble dignity the “entitlement whinebag corporatist and wealthy” will never understand. We do not have an “entitlement” attitude. We only ask that our opportunity to send our kids to college not be ruined by a broken arm, appendectomy or serious bout with the flu (or recurrent episodes of seizures).

And if the “entitlement whinebag corporatists and wealthy” want to continue to turn their backs on this nation so they can keep all their wealth rather than contribute their fair share to the nation’s needs, easing their consciences with the delusion that the poor are not worthy of help, the gringa’s okay with that. Because, we don’t need them. We’ll do just fine without them. In fact, we’re better off without that kind of attitude. So, please do say “Bye, bye” to America and let the true, hardworking patriots have their damn country back, because we can fix it.

 

 

 

 

The U.S., Migrants & Climate Change


 

It’s easy to be academic and read reports on climate change and nod your head in agreement. It’s easy to be concerned and realize that if we don’t get our crap together, world, and make some meaningful changes fast, our grandkids are going to inherit a planet and lifestyle we will not even recognize. But, truthfully, despite our academic acceptance and realization of the future, has anything actually happened close enough to home to truly motivate us to make significant change in our own personal lives?

I am not a faithful recycler. I live a minimalist consumer lifestyle but that’s probably because I’m poor. I don’t drive that much but that’s probably more to do with my work-at-home lifestyle and epilepsy. I keep the house warm in the summer and chilly in the winter mainly because I want to save money on my utility bill. So, really, despite all of my opinionated bloviating on climate change, I feel like I’m not actually walking the walk. I don’t think I’m alone in this. What would really have to happen to inspire drastic action for the average person?

What about a mass migration occurring right in your neighborhood? What if you lived in a small, rural town that had a very small conclave of immigrants from a tiny island in the Pacific ocean? What if this island is facing a very real threat of being inundated with devastating storms and floods because of climate change? What if the 50,000+ population’s primary connection to salvation lay in their friends and family living in this small, rural, U.S. town? What if they expect to be “run aground” within ten years at the current rate of rising sea levels? What if many decide to get the heck out of Dodge starting now?

Guess what? All of those “what ifs” are the real deal for Springdale, Arkansas and the Marshall Islands. And the Marshallese consul general in Arkansas is already preparing for this very real and very near possibility. We could very well be entering the era of climate refugee migrations. And it could all begin in the Pacific Ocean and Heartland of America.

The 7,000+ Marshallese community of Springdale, Arkansas is the largest community of Marshallese within the U.S. mainland. About 12,000 more live in the northwestern region of Arkansas. Honolulu is the only place on Earth, other than the Marshall Islands, with a larger Marshallese population. And, if the Marshallese are fleeing from climate change destruction on their islands, it is unlikely they will migrate to other Pacific islands (Hawaii) for refuge. So, it looks like the open arms of friends and family in Arkansas will soon receive an influx of the first climate change refugees.

The Springdale population is around 75,000. Could they handle taking on another 10 or 20 or 30 thousand over the period of ten years? What if the entire 50,000 show up? The town already has the nation’s only Marshallese newspaper written in their own language. They also have a radio station. Is that enough? What else would such a vast cultural community need to adjust to new migrants?

Over the years, the Marshallese that have immigrated and settled in Springdale have proven to be good citizens, getting educated, finding work and behaving themselves as good citizens. The history of the Marshall Islands connection with the U.S. reflects a close relationship. That was where the country tested out nukes in the 1940s and 1950s.

Perhaps the name “Bikini Atoll” sounds more familiar to most mainland Americans than Marshall Islands. That little atoll was inhabited and those poor people had to abandon their homes because of the nuclear tests. Even today that little atoll is uninhabitable because of the nuclear contamination. It is then no wonder that in the 1980s the U.S. attempted to right this wrong by creating the Compact of Free Association which allowed indefinite, visa-free immigration to the U.S. by Marshallese citizens. Many of these “Bikinians” made their way to Springdale.

The Tyson Foods plant was one of the first employers of the immigrants. It did not take long for word to get back home about job opportunities at the chicken plant. Very soon many more Marshallese were arriving in Springdale looking for work.

Despite the opportunities for work and education on the mainland, most of the Marshallese want to return to their homeland. Unfortunately, it may now disappear. Because of this history of displacement and longing for home, the Marshallese have become strong advocates regarding climate change. And the gringa is listening.

Arkansas is practically right next door! I know I live in Texas, but, still, Arkansas is my neighbor! I have an aunt and uncle that live there. My family and I have vacationed there. And it could be the first state in my country to receive the first climate change diaspora. And it could happen within my lifetime.

If the Marshallese Islands become uninhabitable within a decade, how many other island nations are facing the same stark reality and looking at the possibility of the extinction of their homeland? Where are they planning to escape to? Could it be in your own backyard? How could this affect you and your own?

These are things the gringa wants to know. And, the gringa has to really change.

Source: http://www.unfccc.int

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com

 

 

Jason & the Argonauts… and NASA, Too


Who remembers the story of Jason and the Argonauts? You know, that ancient Greek myth of seafaring Jason and his crew, the Argonauts, who embarked upon the high seas in search of the Golden Fleece. Well, Jason is back! And this time he is orbiting Earth’s high seas and measuring their levels.

SpaceX may have had a bitter disappointment a couple of days ago, but the gringa prefers to focus on their accomplishment that went unnoticed. Sunday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched Jason into outerspace, well, the Jason-3 spacecraft, that is. Jason-3 is the product of NASA collaboration with France’s CNES and Europe’s Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites. Jason-3 is on a mission to track the rise of sea levels all around the world.

The goal of this intelligence gathering is to improve forecasting of Earth’s weather, climate and oceans. The data will also help scientists expand their knowledge on the ocean’s role in the world’s climate. Jason-3 will be working in tandem with Jason-2 that is already in a locked in orbit. Jason-2 has been in operation since 2008. Jason-3 will officially clock in and report for duty after a six-month phase of calibration and system checks. Once on duty, every ten days Jason-3 will report precise measurements of the height of 95% of Earth’s ice free oceans, this is called ocean-surface topography.

The Jason duo measurements will provide information about coastal tides, shallow seas, open ocean tides, currents and eddies. This type of topography also tells scientists how much energy from the sun is stored within the ocean which is the key to understanding how sea level rise affects climate change.

Jason’s official mission began in 1992 along with Topex/Poseidon. Since then scientists have discovered that the world’s seas are rising, on average, about 3 millimeters every year. As humans continue to make industry and lifestyle decisions that cause global warming, mankind is actually reshaping the surface of our home planet.

The gringa wants to know exactly what kind of shape we are getting ourselves into. What the heck is going to happen if sea levels keep rising?  But first, the gringa needs to know how this happens. What I’ve found out is:

  • Climate Change Causes Thermal Expansion: Water heats up, it expands, therefore it occupies more space
  • Glacial & Polar Ice Cap Melts: These natural ice formations experience a natural summer cycle of ice melt that is usually replaced in winter by evaporated seawater that creates snow. Climate change creates consistently warmer temperatures. This creates warmer Summers where more ice than usual melts. Summer usually lasts longer, Spring arrives earlier, thus winter is shorter and unable to keep up with replacing all the extra ice that is lost. Thus, all of this extra melt runoff causes sea levels to rise.
  • Greenland & West Antarctica: Climate change creates warmer temperatures that is causing the accelerated melt of massive ice sheets in these critical regions. Meltwater & seawater may also be seeping beneath these ice sheets which is causing them to slip out to sea quicker. Warmer sea temperatures are compromising the stability of underwater ice shelves causing them to weaken and break. All this contributes to rising sea levels.

Here are some of the things that happen as sea levels rise and the geography and coastlines of Earth transform:

  • Coastal habitat erosion
  • Coastal wetlands flooding
  • Contamination of coastal aquifers and agricultural land
  • Habitat loss for coastal fish, birds and plants
  • Larger, more powerful storms
  • Vulnerability to flooding for coastal dwelling people
  • Eventual mass migration of island and coastal dwelling people

The gringa wants to know, “What can we do?” Scientists seem to think that it’s a done deal with a relatively slow timeline (depending on how you look at it). So, mankind has until about the year 2100 to relocate folks from the future swamplands of the world’s coastlines. That’s the year they predict the world’s oceans could be about six feet higher than they are now, or possibly even 20 feet higher if the Greenland ice sheet bites the dust.

The gringa, however, has a plan. I’m near enough the Texas Gulf Coast that, by the time I’m in my golden years, my low rent apartment could be prime ocean front property. Sweet. My one hour drive to the beach could become a ten minute stroll when I’m too darn old to drive. So, over the next couple of decades I’ll be stocking up on fishing supplies and sunblock. I tell ya, timing is everything!

If you want to know more about Jason’s mission and follow along with the tracking of the seas, visit www.nesdis.noaa.gov/jason-3.

Source & Photo Credit: http://www.nasa.gov

 

 

Improving The World Has Gone Glam… GEOGlam That Is


Food security in the world is critical to the security of the world in general. When populations become vulnerable due to famine and food shortages, terrible things can happen. Things like wars, massive migrations, malnutrition related disease epidemics, etc. With climate change posing a real threat to the future of food security worldwide, what the heck is being done about this problem?

The international community has come together to go “glam”. No, there is nothing glamorous about hunger. Rather, a group of government leaders, as well as NGO leaders, have formed and call themselves the Group on Earth Observation’s Global Agricultural Monitoring, or, to avoid saying that mouthful, GEOGLAM. They plan to take full advantage of Earth images provided by NASA’s satellites, along with data provided by the space agencies of other nations, to monitor weather and how it will affect the security of crops.

Satellites are not the only hi-tech hardware being put to use. While out in the field, GEOGLAM workers collect data on smartphones and relay it via the internet to GEOGLAM partners. This makes data collection much more efficient and stream lined. No more need to do all that pesky paperwork. The gringa likes that. The gringa likes even better the name for this mobile system of data collection, “MAGIS”. The gringa looks at her smartphone, smiles, and says, “It’s MAGIS!”

Rice is first on the list of crops GEOGLAM monitors. It is the staple grain for not only the largest portion of Earth’s population, but also it’s most vulnerable populations. And it is no easy grain to cultivate. Flood or drought could cause a worldwide starvation catastrophe. Other key crops being monitored are wheat, corn (maize), cotton and sugarcane.

Orbiting satellites provide thermal images of crops that enable GEOGLAM agricultural experts to determine if crop stress is occurring. These hi-tech images can relay such details as moisture and temperature levels of the surface of the land the crop is planted in. This can help create models to protect the viability of critical crops.

Images also provide data that help scientists predict weather patterns. This enables measures to be taken to protect crops in the event of the approach of severe weather. Although it is fine to love your local weatherman who reminds you to take an umbrella with you to work, GEOGLAM’s weathermen are the weathermen that are helping to save the world. The gringa holds them high upon the meteorological pedestal.

GEOGLAM’s eyes in the skies have begun their rice monitoring projects in the nations of Pakistan, Indonesia, Vietnam and Java. In the U.S., Arkansas, and agricultural areas such as Sacramento Valley in California, are also being watched because their water resources are rapidly being depleted. Data processed by GEOGLAM is used to create growing season plans as well as help farmers in these areas manage their local resources, primarily the precious resource of water that is used to irrigate the crops.

A visit to GEOGLAM’s website puts a smile on the gringa’s face. There’s nothing the gringa likes more than solutions. The gringa’s a fixer, a problem-solver, a get ‘er done kind of gal. It’s okay to complain but then you’ve got to get off your bum and FIX IT!

GEOGLAM officially launched in Paris, 2011, with the participation of 20 Agricultural Ministers from the world community. This group is setting out to monitor regions that “… are responsible for over 80% of global crop production…”. As data is gathered regarding these areas, GEOGLAM uses proven scientific methods to analyze weather and other evidence to create consensus based models that work toward the most favorable outcome of crop production and yield.

Although many countries have their own agricultural monitoring systems, GEOGLAM aims to lead the way into the global era. This is the future. Nations no longer live as islands but, rather, as part of a world community. Data is shared. Technologies are shared. Standardized methods are being implemented. It is the recognition that one nation’s food security is the concern of every other nation. The gringa loves this philosophy.

Never before has the world needed scientists and agricultural experts like it does today. These are the fields philanthropic, young students should be encouraged to pursue. If your child wants to change the world, encourage them to be a farmer or meteorologist!

 

Sources: www.nasa.gov and  www.geoglam-crop-monitor.org

Photo credit:  www.en.wikipedia.org