Saturday, September 15, 2018

Hurricane Florence & The Canary Chorus

Commentators and anchors on CNN and MSNBC seem determined to somehow blame Hurricane Florence on President Trump and his climate denying cohorts. It would serve the American public so much more if at least one or two of the commentators would take a bit of time to digest a bit of the science put out on the subject. Like much of reality that does not translated well to sound bites, the consensus is shades of grey.

There does not appear to be a consensus that global warming will (or has) increased the number of hurricanes but there does appear to be a consensus that global warming will (and does) increase in the  rainfall in each storm.

The objection that many of us have to President Trump's policies on lifting all environmental regulations are that those regulations were put in place to protect the public and the removal of those regulations only results in economic benefit to a particular industry. While it is that complying with regulations may indeed cost jobs, such compliance also creates jobs. The net effect over time has been seen to be nil.

The GOP (Republican or Grand Old Party) has taken a stand that all or at least most regulations on industry are bad and should be eliminated. Take a look at the regulations which this administration has rolled back here.

The effects of this can be seen here in #Florida where Governor Rick Scott cut back by 30% on the water monitoring stations which measure the pollution outflow in and out of our central Lake Okeechobee. Not that such monitoring would have eliminated the toxins in the lake, but they should would have altered us sooner to the impending danger, allowing perhaps for more water to be released from the lake earlier.

There is now a toxic red tide closing the beaches on the west coast of Florida. While red tide is a natural occurring phenomenon, pollution from agricultural and residential run-off makes it worse. There is now also an ugly spill of blue green slime on both the east and west coast coming out of the mouth of the rivers from the lake on both sides of the peninsula. This algae is now rated 10x too toxic to touch.

Big Sugar, federally subsidized, is primarily in the hands of the Fanjul family who also own the bulk of the sugar production of the Dominican Republic. They has repeatedly blocked efforts by the State to move forward in the acquisition of land south of the lake to restore the Everglades. While the sugar cane industry in Florida is primarily mechanized, that is not true for that in Dominican Republic. There the practice is to use Haitians either brought in annually or kept for years near the plantations. Father Christopher Hartley helped those workers for years as seen in this film about the neighboring plantations owned by the Vincinis.  (yes, that is Paul Newman narrating).

Opening up the land south of the lake is on the books. Plans proceed very slowly. There is an offer to buy up some of the land from US Sugar. But that is another story.

For now we deal with the fact of the storms. Not that there will be more of them. But that they will be wetter. And with wetter storms there will be more floods. And with more floods come more toxic run-off. From hog farms in North Carolina. From increasingly polluted lakes and rivers.

For many of us who support environmental regulations, who decry the "Climate Change Deniers", to roll back the environmental protection regulations is to cut off one's nose to spite one's face.

But the Fanjuls, like President Trump, live on the Atlantic side of the waterway and do not have to see the green slime.

And the coal mine owners do not go down in the shafts.

Where the canaries are singing in chorus.