The Witness Chronicles June 26, 2023: A Lot of the Country is Unlivable, Trump is Too Old, and Deadly Tourism
And I’m not touching the situation in Russia
My Medium feed is filled with stories about what is going on in Russia. The problem is it is all speculation- no one actually knows what the hell is really going on. So, I’m not joining that bandwagon.
This issue once again offers some of my political and climate writing from Medium and a rant about calling those wealthy tourists on the imploded sub ‘researchers’. A story that took over the media while the loss of an estimated 500+ refugees in a boat capsize in the Mediterranean barely hit the news. Shameful.
A Huge Part of the Country is Not Safe to Live In
There are a lot of hard choices to be made
We have had some pretty terrible weather years lately, but 2023 is shaping up to be a doozy. And it’s hitting us earlier than usual. There are two named tropical storms in the Caribbean, the earliest on record for that. Much of Texas is experiencing 100+ temps, failing electric infrastructure is leaving thousands without lifesaving AC, concert goers in Colorado were hit with tennis ball sized hail, injuring many, the Texas town of Matador was destroyed this week by tornados, and there are more all over Tornado alley.
In Canada fires have been burning for weeks and their smoke has been measured at toxic levels hundreds of miles away. Major insurers are refusing to issue new homeowner policies in Florida, California, and the southwest, leaving many with no financial protection for their biggest asset.
Droughts are still limiting access to Colorado river water, the main source for the entire southwest corner of the country, including our second largest metro, LA.
None of this is temporary. Let that sink in. Huge areas of the US are rapidly becoming unlivable and rebuilding is no longer an option for many. It’s not rocket science to predict a massive population shift as entire areas see populations being forced to seek safer places to live.
A lot of this is striking because there has been a myth that we had more time. Everything was going to happen in 2030 or 2050, comfortably far-off dates. There’s just one problem with that- it’s not true and never was. Someday we may learn the extent of the fake science and lying the fossil fuel companies have been flooding us with for decades, as they pursue never before seen profits.
Frankly, it is the crime of our lifetimes and it did not have to happen. Legitimate scientists have been warning us that this crisis was imminent for those same decades and offering up solutions to help deal with it. But those solutions take more decades and we ignored them.
And it was all based on short term greed and desire for political power, power funded by those same fossil fuel lobbies. You might say it is the perfect storm of global disasters and it was engineered by massive businesses by intent.
Unfortunately there’s not a damn thing we can do about it. The damage is done. Even if there was something to be done, there is no political will on the right to even admit the problem exists, even though many of our problems today are hitting their red states the hardest.
If you live in the regions I’ve mentioned you should be planning on leaving. This is not a precaution, this is reality. Look around you and ask yourself what you will do if your family is hit by one or more of these catastrophes. Because they are coming and that will not change.
It’s a brutal reality and it’s here.
Actually there are things being done about it, despite efforts to keep us on our wasteful and irresponsible consumption and destruction habits. Electric vehicles are becoming normal. Farmers are learning how to combine solar farming with agriculture, and there is an upturn in rail travel, a far more efficient way to get around the country.
The people are gradually making changes on our own, some of us anyway. I’d like to think it is most of us. But a wealthy friend of mine just bought a bigger SUV just because she liked it, without thinking about the impact. It’s not my role as a friend to lecture her. Or is it?
In an ironic turn, it barely fits in her garage.
I’m in the northeast, one of the quieter parts of the country, weather wise. And I’m surrounded by fresh, clean water in huge quantities. Lake Ontario is a few miles north of here. If you’ve never seen the Great Lakes, they are huge. Ontario, the smallest of them, is 85 miles across at the point where I grew up and 600 feet deep. And clean, because in the seventies we worked to stop companies from dumping waste into it.
We cleaned up an inland sea. Think about that.
There is a viable future but it will require some major changes in our collective attitude about the small planet we live on. The first is to stop the fossil fuel gouging for profit and their buying off of politicians. We need to send younger people to Washington, people who understand that their generation and their children are their political responsibility.
We tend to think that change requires sacrifice. But buying an electric vehicle or bike doesn’t require sacrifice. My state, NY, no longer allows the use of disposable plastic bags in grocery stores. The world didn’t end.
These are small changes. But they add up in big ways. I’m a writer and avid reader, but I no longer buy physical books. Digital reading required a minor habit adjustment but it likely saves zillions of trees. That tech was not developed to save trees, it was to make more money by cutting production and distribution costs. But it had the collateral effect of keeping important carbon sinks (trees) at work.
That may seem minor except it is not. Incremental change works. But when we become more conscious about the choices we make, we become change engines, whether we know it or not.
When it comes down to it, it is about awareness. If you live in dangerous areas like those I talked about at the beginning of this article, you have a choice, but it is not what you might want to hear.
Rebuilding is a myth and businesses like major insurers know it. Your choices are more difficult than mine, but you still have choices. There are safer places to live. The dream of a paradise like retiring to Florida or Arizona is over. That’s just reality in this world.
We have changed this planet and now we have to live with what we have made and remake it into a better place.
That’s not an awful thing.
Reality Check Part 2: Trump is Too Old
He looks terrible and the pressure is aging him
Yesterday I published an opinion piece stating that Joe Biden was too old, despite my admiration for him and his accomplishments as President. Today I’m looking at its obvious parallel with his likely opponent, at least for now.
Biden is eighty, Trump is seventy-seven but those three years are not really a factor. Most medical observers believe Trump is in far worse physical shape, overweight, rarely exercises other than cart golf, and has terrible dietary habits. But there is another factor here.
The man is under intense stress and he appears to be cracking up mentally, which is not surprising given the indictments he faces with more likely to come. As each new piece of evidence is revealed, he explodes with desperate invective. It is said that when presented with evidence of testimony against him by former loyalists yesterday, he completely lost it.
Given that he has continued to incriminate himself almost daily in public interviews, this is not surprising. But there is something else out there that I thought should get more attention when the Fox hosts and other cable news pundits go on and on about Biden age.
There is a recent candid photo of Trump on the golf course without his trademark orange makeup and he looked terrible. Pale, wrinkled, with sagging skin. In other words, a lot older and looking like he had not slept in days. Given his middle of the night rants on Truth Social, that seems a distinct probability.
By comparison Biden could be called spritely. Yes he has had the occasional stumble but if you're anywhere near his age you know that is something any older person has to be careful of.
The right latches onto Biden’s muted speech but the right never mentions the fact that he has had an impediment all his life. He stutters and he has learned to mute it, but that results in some slurring. There is nothing senile about him when you consider his amazing governing successes against relentless opposition in Congress. Or his brilliant rallying of NATO in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
So, what’s my point in this exercise? That both are too old and that we need new blood in the White House, younger blood. This is true of a lot of government elected officials. Still too many old, white, men who are out of touch with many young voters.
Disclaimer: I am a sixty-eight year old white male.
Trump we need gone, because having a Presidential candidate who faces serious federal felony charges, including espionage charges that if proven, show us a disdain for national security, a President’s number one responsibility. We actually do not know if one of the many thousands of Mar A Lago guests could have accessed the classified documents stored in public areas.
The man is dangerous, both to himself and to the people he claims to want to represent. And he is under pressure most of us cannot fathom, facing serious jail time and an implacable special prosecutor who has convicted perpetrators of war crimes in the international court at The Hague. He is known as a pit bull who will not let up.
So, yes, I think we need new blood on both sides, but for very different reasons. One to keep a likely criminal out of the White House, and the other to recognise a graceful exit from long service to the American people, leaving while his successes are not eclipsed by aging and undeserved criticism.
They Weren’t Explorers or Researchers, They Were Tourists, Rich Tourists
Should the world have spent millions trying to find them?
I am sorry for their families. I am particularly sorry for that young man who didn’t want to go but wanted to have a special time with his dad on Father’s Day. He had a long life to live and it was snuffed out in an instant when a substandard submarine imploded far beneath the ocean’s surface.
It’s sad. But we need to be clear, no one on the sub was an explorer or a researcher. They were not there to learn things or improve the world. The sub’s owners were there to collect a three quarters of a million dollars for a day’s work. The passengers were there for a thrill.
That is the extent of it.
The sub was made to make money, period. Corners were cut, regulations ignored, untested materials used repeatedly until they failed. No new places were explored, no research was done or even considered. The only goal was to create a new tourist destination for bored wealthy people and charge a pretty penny to get them there.
I am fascinated by those who have climbed Mt Everest, but not because of the mountain. It is the people who spend small fortunes to be able to say they climbed it, even when they know one on ten die on the mountain.
I know two people who have climbed Everest. One almost died on their first attempt but came back for more. I respect their achievement, to a point. Both of them are wealthy men who were checking off a bucket list item. And you might say they had run out of things to get excited about.
That is their prerogative and their money. But the loss of this sub involved the resources of multiple countries doing the search and rescue, resources that might have been used in a real emergency.
Like the capsized refugee ship in the Mediterranean last week where hundreds of desperate people lost their lives as the Greek Coast Guard looked on. Where was the news coverage of that event, easily the greatest human tragedy in recent memory?
There were no billionaires on board. They were poor people trying to find a better life while escaping one that was no longer tolerable. Yet we barely acknowledge their brief existence.
Someone might want to add up the hours of media coverage devoted to the loss of two monkey grubbing engineers disguised as ‘explorers’ and three monied victims of what can only be seen as a scam designed to fleece bored wealthy people.
It dwarfs the coverage of the tragedy in the Mediterranean.
Brutal? Yes. In the aftermath of this loss, the media are now rethinking what actually happened. The story is now one of corners cut and careless disregard for endangering the lives of others, simply to make money.
The game continues. Meanwhile families mourn as do the families of those refugees and the mainstream media look for another sensational story of rich people doing stupid shit because they can.
We should be disgusted. Or not. It’s your choice.
Nothing like a good rant to clear out the cobwebs. We’re finally getting that hot, humid, and unstable weather that defines summer around here. The other night, walking home from a concert, I saw fireflies and bunnies. The city is full of them this year and they are too cute.
I kept waiting for a unicorn to join the dance.
The next sign of summer I’m listening for is the cicadas singing in the trees at night. But I think the nights need to be a little warmer to bring them out.
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