COMMUNITY CONCERT – 3 p.m. Oneonta Community Band presents live streamed performance of works looking back on the pandemic year. Includes spirituals, ‘Sea Songs’, Amazing Grace, and the performers favorite Souza Marches. Performance is free, open to public. Performed from the stage of The Foothills Performing Arts Center. 607-432-7085 or visit the facebook group www.facebook.com/groups/169533834979
How can a warming climate lead to a “frozen Texas”?
Media coverage of freezing conditions, power outages and millions of desperate Texans summarizes the life-threatening conditions brought on by freezing temperatures and snow that are foreign to that part of the country.
It may seem contrary to “climate change,” but in fact that’s exactly what is causing this and other extreme weather; but how can that be? A warming atmosphere should bring warmer weather, not polar conditions!
The explanation is actually pretty straightforward from the perspective of meteorologists and those who study conditions responsible for climate to change, and it’s all related to the “jet stream.”
The science gets complicated, but can be expressed in a simple four-step explanation that summarizes scientific publications of the past decade. None of this involves seasonal summer/winter changes.
Here’s the explanation:
STEP 1 – Atmospheric circulation is generated as the earth rotates during normal daily changes that bring day and night.
STEP 2 – This circulation causes regions of the atmosphere to constantly shift in a meandering pattern (the jet stream), which accounts for daily weather changes.
STEP 3 – During climate warming (as has been measured and reported for decades) layers of the atmosphere expand, which pushes meanders further south and slows their movement.
STEP 4 – This in turn brings polar weather into non-polar regions, like Texas and other southern states where polar conditions linger.
Likewise, exaggerated meandering of the jet stream causes drought conditions and heat waves during summer months when air masses from equatorial regions move northward.
As with all complicated issues, an overly simplified summary does not explain why all changes occur. Hopefully, this letter condenses a complex scientific issue for non-science readers.
Oneonta Sculptors ‘Terrible Beauty’ Opens At Munson-Williams-Proctor
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
As 2010 arrived, Richard Friedberg was feeling “dispirited, unhappy that we did not have a great chance of solving our environmental problems, our climate problems.”
“I needed a change,” said Friedberg, who has a studio in a Harpersfield barn, halfway from Oneonta to Stamford.
Then, on April 20, change arrived: BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded; 11 workers died, 17 more were injured. After two days of billowing flames, the rig sank into the Gulf of Mexico, and oil – 60,000 barrels a day at the peak – began to pour through a ruptured riser.
What resulted was the largest oil spill in history.
The artist had found his muse.
Friedberg had watched “the incredible fire.” He was “compelled by the awesomeness of the catastrophe.”
In the Atrium of Utica’s Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute the other day, where his show, “Terrible Beauty,” will run from Saturday, Feb. 27, through May 30, he searched for the right word to describe the disaster.
SUNDAY PROGRAM – 3 p.m. Presenting ‘2020: Science, Policy, & Capital Converge on Climate Change – What Will Happen?’ talk with Paula DiPerna. Cooperstown Village Library. 607-547-8344 or visit www.facebook.com/VillageLibraryOfCooperstown/
Some of you may have heard our Adirondack neighbor Bill McKibben’s NPR interview a year or two ago.
Unless all buildings in the U.S. are made energy-efficient by 2030, the war against Global Warming will be lost, he said.
The interviewer asked, is that possible? No, said McKibben, who is among the nation’s foremost
advocates of stemming greenhouse gases. In different words, McKibben is saying, we’re lost.
Too much of the discussion of the future of the earth is fear-filled and hope-less.
In reality, much research is underway not just toward creating a sustainable future, but into cleanly burning fossil fuels.
If that’s possible, we would preserve a huge investment in infrastructure that today provides 81 percent of the nation’s energy needs, and it’s portable and convenient.
Living here in Otsego County, we forget the scale of the energy challenge. But visit New York, Chicago or Miami – it’s a big, energy-guzzling world out there, friends.
Still, with fracking, the U.S. has achieved energy independence in the past decade for the first time since the end of World War II. This is desirable, but, of course, not if it destroys us.
Perhaps it doesn’t have to. So today, at the bottom of this page, we begin an occasional series, “Can Fossil Fuels Save Us?”, with a report from Stanford University of what its scientists are doing to emeliorate greenhouse effects.
Many similarly credible reports are available from research universities across the country, and the series will tap into them. And this newspaper has many credible readers that assess these inputs independently, and provide a counterbalance if necessary.
All but a tiny fringe of our fellow citizens accepts that Climate Change is real. That debate’s over. The focus is shifting to how much, how soon, and amelioration.
With Governor Cuomo proposing a $33 billion five-year green energy plan (despite the $6 billion budget), with the Otsego County Energy Task Force planning our local energy future, and with four-mile-square solar farm proposed at West Laurens (and many more to come), is it likely that renewables alone don’t need to be the whole solution?
Travel with us. Let’s not succumb to McKibben’s despair.
CLIMATE TALK – 6:30 – 8 p.m. Learn about global warming, species loss at talk ‘Climate Crisis: Heading for Extinction (And What To Do About It)’ by Dr. Art Weaver. Templeton Hall, 63 Pioneer St., Cooperstown.
Science reveals the truth about many things and can be trusted. It explains things we take for granted, such as why the seasons change, why flowers blossom in the spring and leaves fall at the end of summer, and even why water runs downhill. Indeed, science explains much of what we see in our daily surroundings – it can be trusted.
We tend to take it for granted because they are within our normal daily realm. All of these are obvious parts of the “balance of nature.” Within the science community this is what is known as “systems in equilibrium,” where everything depends on everything else to stay balanced. When the balance is upset, the system reacts and adjusts to the change. That’s how science works and a balance is maintained.
The same can be said of polluting the atmosphere.
Because our global society pumps pollutants into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, the atmosphere adjusts, which is what contributes to the documented trend of rapid climate warming currently in progress. These changes involve forces of energy that we are just beginning to understand and are difficult to accurately gauge, such as how a warming climate influences ocean temperatures and the well documented currents that move through the oceans like a conveyor belt.
To complicate matters, the non-scientist may hear different opinions from different science sources.
What is the lay-person to do – who to believe? One obvious tipoff is that scientists who accepted funding from energy companies are much more likely to offer an opinion less objective than others. This is certainly the case for scientists who deny any anthropomorphic influence on climate change. Once again, money talks.
I think we are beyond our ability to completely stop what has already been initiated, but it can be altered. To change the energy momentum of the atmosphere and oceans will require centuries, not decades.
That’s how long it will take to stop or reverse the warming in progress.
However, if we don’t try to reduce the warming the outcome will apply even greater stress on the global society. We must try even if our efforts appear ineffective to start. We all recognize areas impacted by extended draughts, excessive heat waves, more intense storms and the incessant upward creep of sea level.
All of which are examples of the “system” adjusting to climate change. The system is the environment we live in and experience every day.
All of this is within the realm of science. So, why then are elected officials, including the White House ignoring science? If they would acknowledge science and dwell less on satisfying big money donors, our local and global society would benefit. Without responsible leadership there is little hope to reduce the devastating effects within the foreseeable future.
Let’s face it. There will never be a time when fossil fuels won’t be an essential energy source. After all, airplanes will never be powered by “green energy.” No serious scientist thinks our global society will ever stop using some fossil fuels. But, that’s not the point. We should be working toward reducing our dependence on fossil fuels by vigorously developing alternate energy sources now. I doubt if anyone seriously thinks Green Energy will replace all other resources.
Climate change, along with all of its ramifications (and there are many) is causing serious stress within our global society. We can trust science to reduce the impact of these stresses and help find solutions to protect and preserve the quality of our living environment. This is the time of year to be thankful for our blessings, including reliable science.
P. JAY FLEISHER
A concerned scientist
Town of Milford
CLIMATE DISCUSSION – 10 a.m. Presenting ‘How to Solve Climate by 2030: We CAN change the FUTURE’ with Eban Goodstein, Ph.D. who will lead discussion on energy technologies, engagement in climate solutions. Red Dragon Theater, SUNY Oneonta.
On this week’s “Morning Headlines” on WAMC/Northeast Public Radio, Jim Kevlin, editor/ publisher of www.AllOTSEGO.com (and Hometown Oneonta & the Freeman’s Journal), reports on Cooperstown’s Paula DiPerna returning to the Vatican for a conference preparing reports for the United Nation’s Sept. 23 Climate Change conference at U.N. Plaza in New York City, “Climate Summit 2019: A Race We Can Win.”
COOPERSTOWN – Back in Vatican City, Cooperstown’s Paula DiPerna looked around the Sala Regia Friday, March 8. There was a turbaned Sikh. There was Muslim. There was a shaman from the far reaches of Greenland.
“All these different societies have a need to protect nature,” said DiPerna, special adviser, CDP North America, a non-profit that helps companies, cities and nations manage their environmental impacts. “There’s ice melting in Greenland, deforestation in Ghana – all have seen and are living the problems of Climate Change.”
COOPERSTOWN – Failing to do so two months ago, the county Board of Representatives today voted 12-2 to enact a state-sponsored “Climate Smart Community Pledge.”
County Reps. Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, and Kathy Clark, R-Otego, who had questioned it last time, when it was referred to the Solid Waste & Environmental Concerns Committee (SWECC) for further study, opposed it again.
ONEONTA – Saying the language “was softened,” County board Vice Chair Gary Koutnik, D-Oneonta, today voted against sending a “Climate Smart Community Pledge” resolution, as revised, to the full board for action March 6.
However, his colleagues on the Solid Waste & Environmental Concerns Committee nonetheless agreed to forward the adjusted resolution, 4-1, for the full board’s consideration.
“The language did reduce the sense of Climate Change being a crisis,” Koutnik said. “My vote was largely a symbolic one, so it would be in the public record for future generations to see.”
ENERGY SUMMIT – 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Explore energy, climate change, our region’s economy with area industry leaders, policy makers from across New York State. Learn, network, more. The Otesaga, Cooperstown. 607-432-4500 ext. 104 or visit otsegocc.com
Those who oppose using fossil fuels to provide the bulk of our energy needs without offering viable alternatives are depriving this and future generations of job opportunities. When our country attempts to keep our illegal immigrants seeking to enter our country illegally in pursuit of jobs, Nancy Pelosi and those aligned with her call it “immoral”. What should we call doing that to our own citizens?
When those opposed to fossil fuels argue against them, they point to their environmental impacts, especially their contribution to “climate change” and laud renewables as being “pure” when it comes to the environment. Is that really the case?
Democrats Can Rebuild Around Climate Change, Economic Justice
Now that the Democrats have made a comeback by capturing the House of Representatives, they are faced with how to use their new power. Up to now, they have been obsessed with Trump, and split on how to address the problems of the day.
We’ll get to Trump in a moment. But first, let’s look at what the Democrats have to say about the big issues of the day.
These boil down to two super-problems: runaway climate change for all and increasing economic insecurity for many. It’s hard to think of any major issue which isn’t entangled in one or both of these, or that wouldn’t be greatly alleviated by progress on either of them.
Status quo Democrats (the Clinton-Obama tradition) have become the party’s conservatives. They’ve been running the show for a generation, and have failed to rein in either climate change or economic insecurity. There’s less and less reason to think they can deal with these mounting problems.
Progressive Democrats, by contrast, are largely defined by the Bernie Sanders movement, which, revealingly, calls itself “Our Revolution.” They are also influenced by the Green party, particularly by its call for a Green New Deal, recently endorsed by Bill McKibben.
The Green New Deal is remarkable in its focus on the twin problems of climate change and economic justice. So far, it’s the only alternative this writer has seen to business as usual (just Google “Green New Deal”).
The Green New Deal calls for closing overseas military bases and using the savings to help finance domestic renewal. It demands an end to subsidies and tax breaks for fossil-fuel related industries. It insists on an immediate transition to 100 percent renewables.
It identifies the financial system, led by too-big-to-fail private banks, as the main obstacle to economic restructuring. It proposes an alternative public banking system to fund infrastructure, guarantee employment, transition to renewables, offer free education through college, and provide single-payer, comprehensive Medicare for all.
Revolutions are risky business.
Can revolutionary excesses be avoided? Climate change and economic insecurity are increasingly catastrophic. Is a Green New Deal what we need to cope? Is it practical? Can it gain broad support? Can it hope to overcome its formidable opponents? Can its goals be achieved without chaos and abuse of power?
A lot will depend on the answers to these questions.
But, like it or not, the Green New Deal takes seriously our most intractable problems, and gives us a sense of what it will take to deal with them. If we’re going to have a revolution, this is the one the
Progress on big issues is unlikely, however, unless Democrats (and Republicans) learn to deal with Trump. We all know his faults. He has also become the voice of social grievances his critics have mostly, to their peril, ignored. Perhaps most important, he denies climate change and takes extremes of wealth for granted.
Whatever collusions and financial ripoffs might be pinned on Trump, even if illegal, blend all too easily with what many corporations and governments do routinely these days. In these ways, he’s as American as apple pie.
He should be impeached if impeachable offenses can be established. But for impeachment to stick, to avoid the appearance of political vengeance, it has to be part of a larger sense of renewed justice that speaks to the revolutionary changes which seem to be increasingly in the air.
That means getting serious about climate change and economic insecurity – two items not on Trump’s agenda.
Adrian Kuzminski, a retired Hartwick College philosophy professor and moderator of Sustainable Otsego, lives in Fly Creek.