Cold wind blowing today in the North East, fitting for the first day of winter. The whole country is having a bit of a cold spell. Even the poor folks in Palm Beach might see a frost (raises hell with the begonias).
I was feeling a bit sorry for the folks in the sun belt before I saw that it was down to –55F in Siberia. That’s cold, a fifty year low.
The topic of weather gets me to a story I’ve been following – the continuing drought in the mid-west. The odds say that two years of severe drought is unlikely, but that is what’s happening. The 30/90-day rainfall is a fraction of normal:
The lack of rain has many negative side effects. One is the water level on the Mississippi. The water is so low that ships, sunk and lost twenty-five years ago, are now visible.
A number of emergency steps are being taken to keeps the river navigable. Thirty miles south of St. Louis there is a rock formation that was once deep below water. Now it’s a risk to barge traffic, so they’re blasting it apart.
A more controversial step was taken to drain water from Lake Carlye. The hope is that the extra water will raise the northern Mississippi by six inches. Not a big deal considering it's already down by 20 feet. The water drained from Lake Carlye will keep the upper Mississippi navigable for, at best, another twenty days.
The river is already impaired; it’s getting worse by the day. There will be economic consequences to this. There are not enough trains and trucks to pick up the volume of goods that go by barge. Everything that goes up and down the river is going to get a fair bit more expensive in the very near future. A hell of lot of “stuff” gets floated up and down the Mississippi, so this is one to watch out for.
There is no connection between this weekend’s weather and climate change (It’ll be back in the 80s down in Boca next week), but I’ll jump to that topic anyway. For those of you who have strong feelings (either way) on matters of climate, there was an important development this week.
It appears that a significant motivation for Obama to nominate John Kerry as the next Secretary of State is that Kerry is going to lead a global effort to “Confront Climate Change”. The Hill has the story on this today (Link), some snippets from the article:
“Confident John Kerry as state sec is good news for climate. Cross fingers his dedication will make climate a strategic priority. ” Hedegaard – E.U.’s commissioner for climate action.
“One of the most pressing challenges is to reverse potentially devastating climate change. Kerry understands the need to work closely with allies on the most pressing topics – including climate change.” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)
“I have absolute confidence that Secretary Kerry will be committed to action on climate change as he, is the most knowledgeable, passionate person to break the international logjams on this existential threat.” Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)
“Sen. Kerry will bring vital expertise and knowledge on the issue of climate change as we endeavor to work toward a meaningful, balanced international agreement in 2015,” – Eileen Claussen, the president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.
“As Secretary, Senator Kerry will face numerous issues that are crucial to both the security of our nation and the future of our planet, including critical decisions on the Keystone XL pipeline.” – Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.
“Senator Kerry could certainly teach the President a thing or two about how to make a clear and compelling case for climate action. That starts with saying no to the Keystone XL pipeline and then continuing to use the powers of the presidency to regulate emissions and promote clean energy.” – Jamie Henn, co-founder of the climate advocacy group 350.org .
“We need a leader with John Kerry’s experience and talent at the helm of the State Department. There is much more to do on all of these crucial challenges, from nonproliferation to climate change.” – Hillary Clinton.
I thought it was interesting that Obama did not mention Kerry’s role as "Climate Defender" when he announced his nomination. I guess Obama understood that this is a very hot topic, and if the plan is for his new Sec. State to put the nix on the Keystone pipeline; he had better keep his mouth shut until after Kerry's Senate confirmation.
Anyone have any thoughts on this?
-Should the Secretary of State be leading a new global charge directed at climate change?
-Is there anything that might be done to influence the climate?
-Are humans responsible for climate change? Are Americans responsible for climate change?
-Does your opinion of Kerry, as Sec. State, change, now that you know that one reason he is getting the job is to push a climate agenda?
It’s cold out, I’m just trying to turn up the heat.