Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Grandpa’s Land

It’s pretty much doctrinaire GOP politics: man-induced global climate change is not real (Trump calls it a “hoax,” Cruz calls it unsupported “by the facts”). It cannot be used, according to their platform, to stop economic “growth,” including areas like allowing industrial plants more freedom with emissions (we have to shut down EPA regulations), allowing unrestrained coal-mining and coal-fired electrical power generation.
The U.S. military – particularly the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) – is charged with being prepared for dealing with natural disasters, at home or what might face our troops in overseas combat zones. And rather officially and without political bias, our admirals and generals is all our services have uniformly embraced dealing with climate change in the formulation of what equipment and training the military will need going forward, from ships able to navigate the melting channel that constitutes the Northwest Passage to preparing for disaster relief as coastal storm surges and flooding take their expected toll domestically.
After careful review, USACE determined that it needed an official overall military policy on climate change.  In June of 2014, a policy statement, USACE Climate Preparedness and Resilience Policy Statement,  states that "Mainstreaming climate change adaptation means that it will be considered at every step in the project life cycle for all USACE projects, both existing and planned… to reduce vulnerabilities and enhance the resilience of our water-resource infrastructure."
But the military isn’t the only governmental agency that is designing its future based on that climate change reality. “In January, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced grants totaling $1 billion in 13 states to help communities adapt to climate change, by building stronger levees, dams and drainage systems.
“One of those grants, $48 million for Isle de Jean Charles [Louisiana, pictured above], is something new: the first allocation of federal tax dollars to move an entire community struggling with the impacts of climate change. The divisions the effort has exposed and the logistical and moral dilemmas it has presented point up in microcosm the massive problems the world could face in the coming decades as it confronts a new category of displaced people who have become known as climate refugees.
“‘We’re going to lose all our heritage, all our culture,’ lamented Chief Albert Naquin of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw, the tribe to which most Isle de Jean Charles residents belong. ‘It’s all going to be history.’” New York Times, May 3rd.

The Department of Housing’s response is very-well illustrated by the harsh changes experienced by Isle de Jean Charles cited above, where the brackish water is slowing flooding the land: “Each morning at 3:30, when Joann Bourg leaves the mildewed and rusted house that her parents built on her grandfather’s property, she worries that the bridge connecting this spit of waterlogged land to Louisiana’s terra firma will again be flooded and she will miss another day’s work.
“Ms. Bourg, a custodian at a sporting goods store on the mainland, lives with her two sisters, 82-year-old mother, son and niece on land where her ancestors, members of the Native American tribes of southeastern Louisiana, have lived for generations. That earth is now dying, drowning in salt and sinking into the sea, and she is ready to leave.
“With a first-of-its-kind ‘climate resilience’ grant to resettle the island’s native residents, Washington is ready to help… ‘Yes, this is our grandpa’s land,’ Ms. Bourg said. ‘But it’s going under one way or another.’” NY Times. Trouble is, the government doesn’t know where to move these folks. Politics is making the implementation of this governmental intention very difficult. Traditional Native American rights and folks just not wanting to leave their homes, even as their homes, trees and crops slowly disappear. But move they must.
“Around the globe, governments are confronting the reality that as human-caused climate change warms the planet, rising sea levels, stronger storms, increased flooding, harsher droughts and dwindling freshwater supplies could drive the world’s most vulnerable people from their homes. Between 50 million and 200 million people — mainly subsistence farmers and fishermen — could be displaced by 2050 because of climate change, according to estimates by the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security and the International Organization for Migration… ‘The changes are underway and they are very rapid,’ Interior Secretary Sally Jewell warned [in late April at a conference] in Ottawa. ‘We will have climate refugees.’ NY Times.
Climate change is real, and man’s hyper-acceleration of environmental pollution has been the biggest contributor producing these horrific results. Over 95% of the scientific community supports these observations. It is irresponsible for an American political party, almost alone and isolated in global opinion (popular, governmental and scientific), to justify continued damage to the environment to foster false “growth” that will cost current and future generations trillions and trillions of dollars… and more than a small number of lives and livelihoods. How is climate changing impacting your own life?
I’m Peter Dekom, and nature doesn’t much care if humans ignore the obvious; she will adapt a lot faster than the lives that climate change will threaten and perhaps extinguish.

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