When I look back on my days growing up in suburban Kansas City, I can recall TWO major ice storms, ONE +12″ snow event, ONE 1000 year flood, and an historic drought. Since my first son was born in 2005, my children have experienced ALL of these except the 1000 year flood.
In Kansas, everyone is acutely aware of the weather. To Live where the Twisters Live, knowing the weather is a matter of life or death… there is NO MONTH in the year that we can safely say, “THAT storm will not produce a tornado.”
We know EVERY dark cloud could hold a surprise.
Beyond the “weather warfare”… our State is dependent on the weather for life. Without the storms, the “Breadbasket of The World” DRIES UP and our economic security BLOWS AWAY. It is a cruel double whammy. We watch the crops whither, then we pray for the storms that took our homes the previous year. But I’ve learned, in the most painful way, NEVER curse the rains. When they are gone… NOTHING lives. No one thrives.
For nine months in 2012, no rain fell in KCK. Crops died. Lawns died. Gardens died. HOT DUST throughout the summer, THAT was our export that year.
To break the drought, the remnants of Hurricane Issac blew north and drenched the city. 10″ fell in less than 24 hours. The dirt was SO DRY, it soaked it ALL up almost as soon as it fell.
I remember coming home after dropping the kids off at school, and sitting in the driveway for almost an hour, listening to the sound of raindrops on the roof of my van. The smell of WET air…
NEVER curse the rains. It is MUCH worse when they are gone.
The intensification and mutation of tropical storms, from Superstorm Sandy, to Hurricane Katrina, is amplifying and becoming MORE DANGEROUS. Consistent weather patterns seem to be a thing of the PAST on EVERY continent as we witness deserts in Saudi Arabia FLOOD, then BLOOM with a carpet of purple flowers. Lakes drying up, leaving rusted relics. Snows falling in cities that haven’t recorded snowfall since Biblical times. And I think we ALL get the feeling that this is only the TIP of the iceberg.
We are experiencing a change that, certainly no human alive today has ever experienced, but more so- no human in recorded history has ever experienced. The shape and scope of the dangers posed from a shifting global climate have been experienced in localized events, experienced in every historical civilization. In Peru. In the Middle East. In the Sahara Desert. In China and in India.
In more recent memory, The Irish Potato Famine could be seen through the lense of a climatologist. The issues we see TODAY on the front pages and discussed on news panels… of IMMIGRATION, but due to CLIMATE CHANGE. I’m thinking of families in the Mediteranian Sea, packed HUNDREDS on a boat, or off the coast of Florida.
HUNGER drives a man to do INCREDIBLE things! The hunger of his child will, too, even more so.
To know this, because you have experienced this… it humbles everyone who has seen it. In Joplin, MO, to come out of the basement and see NOTHING where a community once stood. With trees stripped and homes gone… then the SUN comes out and the SKY TURNS BLUE. Where the beauty highlights the horrors… the people who survive are presented with the SHARPEST CONTRAST. Where there is LIFE, there IS death. It is HERE we can see where our priorities should lie.
NO ONE DOUBTS… our climate IS changing. Many question the CAUSES. Many question the SOLUTIONS. Answers are presented, as if we could STOP, to quit COLD TURKEY, and avoid ANY CHANGE AT ALL.
Al Gore said we would see changes happen by 2100. Many were seen by 2010. Since 2010, heat and drought have intensified and shifted. Now we see an intensification in cold that inversely matches the heat. BOTH temperature extremes happening AT THE SAME TIME… so much so that they cancel out. Depending on the frame of reference used, the heat and the cold records have paused the warming trend witnessed for the last 20 years. To say “well, that means it’s NOT happening” is misleading, because the division of the temperature extremes STILL EXISTS. And they are intensifying.
The stable atmospheric conditions we’ve experienced since the end of WWII are rapidly changing. All of our scientific advancements in the field of agriculture have brought us to the pinnacle of food production. We are able to do more with one acre of land than ANY OTHER civilization in history because of the gift of a stable climate. Kansas Farmers are a testimate to these achievements.
The farmland of the Midwestern United States feeds THE WORLD. Because of our knowledge, because of our ability to adapt to a chaotic environment. The STRONGEST of that group, that bunch, survives another season… that makes us ALL STRONGER.
That era is fast becoming geological history. That time, like the image of the sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square, is now just a snapshot in time. Where one marked THE END, of a war, of hostility traded for leisure. The other marks A BEGINNING, of a New Era, of change THRUST upon us… just as it ALWAYS seems to go!
We will no longer be able to return to the stable climate enjoyed by our parents and grandparents. When we look at the geological record, the deep ice cores, the samples taken at the bottom of the oceans, we get a much fuller picture of the situation we’re in. There is only ONE certainty in life- EVERYTHING CHANGES. Count on it!
THAT is the mindset of a Kansan. “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute… it’ll change.” Literally ALL FOUR SEASONS can occur in 24 hours, and it does so regularly! There is no other way to live than to BE PREPARED for all of it. It is time to introduce that idea to every State in The Union. To BE PREPARED is to LIVE.
To THRIVE, we must have Energy Security. To LEARN, to forecast the changes we face, and communicate the knowledge necessary, our National Security is inextricably linked to our Nation’s Energy Independence. In order to achieve that lofty goal, we MUST commit to Residential Energy Independence as well.
Every advancement in alternative energy production, from geothermal electrical production, to solar and wind, must be utilized and incentivized to bring security to citizens in every State. When everyone in a community is co-operatively generating the electricity, devestating power failures will end. Less coal will burn. Less pollution created.
We stand at a time in human civilization, where we hold our SHARED DESTINY in our own hands. As it happened in the 1940s, in Los Alamos, with the atomic bombs, RIGHT NOW we have the SAME situation.
POWER. The need OF IT. The lifeblood of our Nation’s economy. The modern-day “wood in the fireplace” that keeps us warm in the winter and gives us light to read at night.
We should avoid, AT ALL COST, the further developement and construction of Nuclear Powered Electrical Production. The benefits of Nuclear Power are tempting, but the COST OF FAILURE is substantial. Even the price we pay for SUCCESSFUL Nuclear Powered Electrical Production is HUGE! Consider:
— Plutonium239 has a half life of 24,000 YEARS.
— Every bit of spent Nuclear Material we produce TODAY will be LETHAL for 24,000 years.
— Everyday we make MORE WASTE.
— Everyday these reactors risk failure.
— Climate Change INCREASES the risk involved.
How would YOU communicate to a child, living 24,000 years in the future, that this substance is lethal due to Radioactive Nuclear Decay? It would be like trying to understand the thoughts and emotions of a human living 24,000 years in the PAST.
THAT responsibility rests in our hands RIGHT NOW. And WE are failing the test! St. Louis. Fukushima. Hanford. Chernobyl. The Marshall Islands… disasters and unsafe waste disposal, and it has not even been 100 years! How can we isolate such a VAST AMOUNT of dangerous waste, on a geologically active planet… for 24,000 years?!
It is seemingly impossile, to be honest. But we MUST TRY. And, therefore, we MUST END ALL Nuclear Powered Electrical Production. Our efforts will be appreciated by nations yet unknown… praise spoken, in tongues not yet conceived.
I believe we should STRONGLY reconsider our intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. We should stand with our allies around the globe as partners, sharing the risks inherent in investing in a better future, and the rewards that come from a stable and successful community. These challenges are shared by everyone, in every country.
I do not support a carbon tax.
I do not support a gas tax.
I do not support subsidizing oil companies.
I do not support deep water drilling.
I do not support off shore drilling.
By shifting our goals toward an Energy Independent Nation, we will need to subsidize CITIZENS as they invest in new equipment. We will need to support research and development of existing technology as well as emerging technology. All of these new ideas and new designs will create new opportunities.
If our future as a successful Nation can happen WITHOUT our addiction to FOSSIL FUELS… why would we NOT start NOW? For the benefit of THE PEOPLE.