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Climate Change

Grassley, Ernst Proudly Vote Stupid

Climate change? You got a campaign contribution?

Climate change? You got a campaign contribution?

Republicans vote to deny climate change caused by human activity.

In a little reported amendment offered by Sen. Brian Schatz (D- Hawaii) our nation’s senators voted on whether climate change was caused by human activity.

This has been settled science for a couple of decades with the exception of some highly bribed scientists. Seems like for most people in the US that deny climate change has any connection to human activity, you can find a paycheck written to them by one of the Koch brothers or someone else in the oil business.

So here are a couple of America’s top decision makers who occasionally have to make decisions based on some understanding of facts. Facts being things that are demonstrably true. In this case, facts that have been proven over and over and over. Scientific facts are facts which allow us to not only show how they were true based on experience, but can also be the basis for predictions of what will come.

Climate change science has allowed us to predict with some amount of accuracy the rise in temperatures on earth and the disruption it will cause. These predictions are currently starting to come true and the forecast for what is to come is frightening.

So Grassley and Ernst are 2% of one of the most powerful groups in the world that is tasked with, among other things, dealing with climate change and its effects. AND THEY DENY IT IS HAPPENING AND DENY THE SCIENCE. They proudly vote to deny the science, to deny facts. Their denial only serves to make consequences of climate change worse as the US continues to bury its head in the sand – pushed in there by Republicans who only serve their donors and ignore the general good.

We knew Joni Ernst was bought lock, stock and barrel by the Koch brothers. No one ever tried to hide that.

Whatever Grassley’s motivation for voting to loudly proclaim his stupidity it is a more than sufficient reason for Iowans to loudly proclaim that we need a senator who is grounded in reality. Climate change will soon enough claim the corn and soybean industries in Iowa as temperatures become to hot to grow those plants here. Now is the time to remove Grassley and get started on turning climate change around.

You don’t need to worry about Chuck by the way. He has done plenty of favors for his “campaign contributors” that they will make sure he is taken care of.

joni ernst the perfect Koch investment

Hard To Believe Americans Accept This

Cheaper to fix while they are still up

Cheaper to fix while they are still up

We come to the end of another year and my biggest single take on the country is the things that Americans are now willing to accept. It is hard to believe that the generation that fought and defeated the military machines of Germany and Japan at the same time would accept this sort of stuff without a fight:

Americans going hungry, even dying in the richest country in the world while congress cuts funds to government aid programs.

– Infrastructure that they built being neglected to the point of decay and ruin while tax cuts are given to the wealthy.

Public schools, once the pride of America and especially Iowa, now beg for funds while tax cuts are awarded to businesses or funds for public schools are funneled to corporate charter schools.

– Students coming out of college with a lifetime of debt and low job prospects.

– Jobs continuing to be “off shored” with little regard to the effects of such policies on the American economy.

– America unilaterally handing over its sovereignty under the guise of “trade agreements.”

– The world plunging headlong into climate disaster while companies that pollute continue to be subsidized by congress.

– Americans working full time jobs for below poverty wages.

– Temporary hiring agencies and payday loan companies are not only legal but doing a brisk business screwing fellow Americans over with the blessing of state legislators.

– Continuing to be involved in foreign wars for oil rather than making the harnessing of wind and sun a national defense and domestic priority.

Citizens openly carrying weapons that could wipe out a 3rd world village because of perceived demons with the blessing of state legislatures.

– State legislatures passing laws written by corporations under the name of ALEC.

– Congress openly working to deny poor Americans access to health care simply because they are poor.

As you know, the list goes on. As you also know, this is simply the most important election year ever. The downward spiral that began with Reagan must be reversed. Voting Republican will only accelerate the spiral. To reverse the spiral we must identify, nominate and work our butts off not just to win the presidency but to give the next president a congress that will pass progressive legislation. It is time to send Chuck Grassley packing, let Steve King stir in his fantasy world in Kiron and get Rod Blum and David Young out of congress before they can do too much damage.

Every bit as important is to return a Democratic majority to the Iowa legislature to blunt an out of control governor who seems to see his duty as paying off donors with our tax money.

Resolve today to give a significant amount of your resources (time, money, ideas) this election year so we no longer have to look at problems such as listed above as “normal” in America anymore.

Will The Texas Rich Get Richer And Iowans Get The Shaft?

Bakken Pipeline Proposed RouteThis article by Elaine Tweedy Foley was published on the Opinion page of the Daily Gate City, serving the Keokuk area since 1847.

“I don’t have millions of dollars to print half-truths in Iowa newspapers. But to the Texas billionaires, spending millions of tax-deductible dollars is simply the cost of doing business. It’s a win-win for them. And for the Iowa property owners it’s lose-lose.”

Friday, December 18, 2015

by Elaine Tweedy Foley

I am so tired of the lies. It is time for some truth.

“We’re signing easements with landowners.”

Truth: About 25 percent of landowners have not sold out.

“Fifty percent of all labor will be sourced from union halls in states along the route.”

Truth: Experienced oil field workers are in the Dakotas’ union halls.

“D.A. [Dakota Access] is committed to benefiting Midwestern communities.”

Truth: Ask my friend in Valley City, N.D., how they have been affected. Besides, we’re not talking about communities, we’re talking about rural fields and woodlands. Ask the resistors how this lunacy is benefiting us. Ask us about the threats, the lies, to get us to sign away our rights.

“D.A. will bring our country closer to energy independence.”

Truth: D.A. has not denied that the oil will flow into huge tank ships bound for China and India.

“It takes … decades of experience to safely source, construct and operate a buried pipeline.”

Truth: At the Nov. 23 Iowa Utilities Board hearing, D.A. admitted they have never constructed or operated a buried pipeline.

“Long-Term Commitments to Iowa.”

Truth: D.A. will provide a mere $250,000 bond in Iowa to “help” with oil clean up when a pipe leaks, a clean up costing Iowa taxpayers millions more. They are Dakota Access, LLC. That means Limited Liability Corporation. When, not if, a pipe leaks it’s on us not them. So I guess the “long-term commitment” means watching us for as long as it takes to clean up after them: Energy Transfer Partners, LP, dba Bakken Pipeline, LLC, dba Dakota Access, LLC.

I don’t have millions of dollars to print half-truths in Iowa newspapers. But to the Texas billionaires, spending millions of tax-deductible dollars is simply the cost of doing business. It’s a win-win for them. And for the Iowa property owners it’s lose-lose. Kelcy Warren assumes Iowa rubes will grab his money. He expects the Iowa Utilities Board will rubber-stamp his plan to bend the intent of eminent domain – not to provide a public service to Iowa – but to increase his corporate profits.

The Iowa flag boasts, “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.” But I am fearful how this struggle will play out. If the IUB betrays us, maybe our flag should read, “The Texas rich get richer and Iowans get the shaft.”

In the Monday DGC, Dakota Access bought a colored 2/3 page feel-good ad suggesting their proposed crude oil pipeline under Iowa is a good thing.

They claimed: D.A. is coming to Iowa “to deliver domestically extracted energy.”

Truth: Read that “North Dakota fracked oil” through Iowa soil to Illinois.


You can help. Here is an Action Alert from Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is considering a Sovereign Lands Permit for the Bakken Pipeline, which includes the crossings of the Big Sioux, Des Moines, and Mississippi Rivers, as well as the Big Sioux Wildlife Management Area.

Tell the DNR they have to deny this permit to protect our land and water!

Iowa DNR Director Chuck Gipp has the authority to deny this permit to protect our state from the proposed Bakken Pipeline. The public comment period ends January 5, so tell Director Gipp and Iowa DNR to reject the permit today!

Add your voice to the one hundred Iowans who stood up for a Clean Energy Iowa on Wednesday night at DNR’s public hearing on this permit. We know the DNR has a poor record of protecting our water and they must be held accountable.


ICYMI: What Exxon Knew

In case you missed it: One of the biggest climate change stories of 2015 has to be the uncovering of documents that showed that Exxon Mobil were quite aware of the damage their company and other fossil fuel companies were doing to the world’s climate. As a matter of fact Exxon scientists were often among the first to realize the coming disaster.

If you think this doesn’t relate to Iowa think of some of the ‘500 year floods’ we have had in the past couple of decades; think of corn burning up in tremendous drought; think of temperatures in the past week in the 60s in Iowa in December and what the consequences of a mild winter may be. Also think that this is just the beginning and our children and grandchildren will be paying greatly for the lack of political will to face these problems. Also understand that the lack of political will to face the coming crisis was greased with billions of dollars of “campaign contributions” to politicians who suddenly lost their political will with the huge dollars from the polluters.

We are facing a crisis of unknown proportions simple so that a group of billionaires could make more money.

The video was posted last Tuesday as news of Exxon’s complicity was revealed. As I seldom consume major media news I must say I have no idea if the story got much play. My guess is it didn’t, even as the Paris Climate Talks were under way at the time.

From the entry for this video here is the list of corroborating documents:

Published on Dec 8, 2015
Newly released documents show that scientists at Exxon Oil Corporation conducted research on climate change and the greenhouse effect in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Their conclusions were in accord with mainstream scientific groups in academia, NASA, NOAA, and the Department of Energy, showing that global warming posed a serious problem, with potential “catastrophic effects.”

Read the documents here:…

Read the Inside Climate series here…

Read the Los Angeles Times reporting here:…

Read the letter from Columbia Journalism School Dean Steve Coll to Exxon:…

ALEC Meets; Who Knew?

just in case legislators forget what to do

just in case legislators forget what to do

Corporate funded creator of state and local legislation goes largely unreported and ignored.

Last weekend ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) held its annual pre legislative session meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona last week. ALEC is funded by corporations and billionaires headed up by the Koch brothers. Like so many right wing organizations they tout a government friendly motto while undermining the very principles of democracy. ALEC is now one of the major vehicles used by the oligarchs to steer state and local governments to the liking of its corporate funders.

Of course, ALEC would be nothing without the useful idiots known as Republican lawmakers throughout state legislatures and county and city governments of the country. These folks are under the delusion that handing corporations their wish list of legislation is somehow good for our country. One need only look at the widening income inequality or the worsening climate to understand that it is truly bad policy.

Every year just before Christmas, corporations have a big fling for their useful idiots. At this event legislators have a chance to act like a bizarro Santa Claus as they get the wish list from companies and wealthy individuals who already own it all. These wish lists are designed for the wealthy to get even more while taking what little the poor and middle class have left. Sort of like Richie Rich goes to the inner city and steals the residents blind.

Since our corporate owned media never covers this event – heck they are there presenting their wish lists, too – and security is extremely tight so no outsiders can get in we have to rely on reporting by the one reporting entity that takes the time and effort to keep tabs on this under the rock lobbying group. Once again we turn to to try to ferret out what the rich kids want this year.

Here is an abbreviated list. Please go to the link to read the whole list. But be warned – it may make you puke when you think of the implications for you and your children and grandchildren:

ALEC Energy Task Force Working to Derail U.S. Climate Action
The “State Withdrawal from Regional Climate Initiatives” pulls states out of regional programs to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, which ALEC called “son of Kyoto” programs, and an agenda embraced by some ALEC politicians, like then-Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona (an alum ALEC) who did just that in 2010. The Environmental Priorities Act would establish a “council” made up of industry representatives–such as state chambers of commerce–to consider likely costs to corporations if a state implements new environmental policies; it’s basically a way for corporations to veto the public’s will and trump the votes of citizens to protect their air, water, and climate from corporate pollution.

The Environmental Priorities Act would establish a “council” made up of industry representatives–such as state chambers of commerce–to consider likely costs to corporations if a state implements new environmental policies; it’s basically a way for corporations to veto the public’s will and trump the votes of citizens to protect their air, water, and climate from corporate pollution.

ALEC Civil Justice Task Force Protecting Corporations from Consumers

In Arizona, ALEC will be proposing a resolution which states, “the civil justice system should be reserved for individuals who have experienced real injuries and actual losses.” This is rhetorical code for legislation restricting claims and damages for Americans who have suffered emotional harm like pain and suffering or future increased risk of injury or who may have to undergo medical monitoring after exposure to potentially harmful materials.

One of ALEC’s most notorious tort bills would bar Americans from suing if their loved one is killed or injured by an FDA-approved drug unless they could prove fraud, but defective drugs are routinely recalled because the FDA relies heavily on testing and assurances by drug companies. Big drug companies and their trade associations have been big ALEC funders.

ALEC is also scheduled to hold a secret vote on a “Statement of Principles on State Workers’ Compensation Reform.” ALEC’s proposed changes to worker’s compensation laws would make it harder for workers to get compensation for injury and narrow their medical and legal options. The resolution promotes legislation to limit which treatments, drugs, medical costs, and doctors are legally allowed through worker’s compensation programs.

ALEC is pushing legal changes to require workers to overcome a higher burden of proof in worker’s compensation cases and to remove any no-fault provisions in worker’s compensation laws—meaning workers that lose a compensation claim would be required to pay their employers legal fees.

This is just a starter list. Please read more at the link.

Remember these folks are working out of sight, behind closed doors, as anonymous as possible while they change the very fabric of our laws and our society. If we had a truly free press the reaction to such a group would be loud and negative. The very silence of most of our media tells us that they too are owned by the owners of our society.


Getting Much Hotter Still

October A map of temperature anomalies during October. Red shows the biggest deviation from the standard (temperatures recorded between 1951 and 1980). NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

A map of temperature anomalies during October. Red shows the biggest deviation from the standard (temperatures recorded between 1951 and 1980).
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

October was by far the hottest October on record. This follows a September that was the hottest on record by far. Without a doubt this is a bad trend.

Those who deny that climate change is happening are simply either total fools or their income depends on denying climate change. Sadly there are enough people in high position in our government whose income depends on climate change denial that they can totally stop any real action to stop let alone reverse climate change and its effects.

The effects of climate change will be devastating. They also appear to be coming sooner than scientists had anticipated. The Pentagon issued yet another warning a year ago that climate change will be a major security risk as it forces mass disruptions across the world.

The United States has already seen early effects of climate change on its agricultural industry. Two of our largest agricultural state, California and Texas have both endured devastating droughts with Texas having follow up flooding. Predictions have California expecting flooding rains with the onset of the strongest El Nino ever.

It is only the political will that stops us from addressing climate change. With the horrific effects that climate change portends, finding and electing candidates who will work to end climate change should be a priority.

Plus there is the unwritten benefit of tons of jobs that will be created as we end our dependence on fossil fuels and go to climate friendly solutions.

Real Scares For Halloween

happy halloween

Who could pass up the opportunity to post a column on things to be truly scared of Halloween? Not me for sure!

stop climate change denial
Earth’s survival
We are crapping badly in the only nest we have and refuse to clean it up! Also known as climate change. Reality is hard for those who believe that some magic man in the sky is going to save us from our own filthy habits. We only have so much water, so much oxygen, so much diversity of life and so much of a shield from our own sun. We are in the process of destroying all those yet many among us think nothing is wrong. Humans have some choices – they can start cleaning up their mess, find a new planet to move to really quickly or evolve as no species has before them.

Income and wealth inequality.
So what if all the earth’s wealth ends up in a few hands? Something like 80 individuals own over half of the earth’s wealth. But humans have an innate sense of fair play and at some point there will be a cataclysmic change to bring things back into line. Or we could do it through processes we have set up already, peacefully.

reagan on guns
Gun violence
Did you ever think that your neighbor may be the guy with a cache of guns and an axe to grind? Or maybe even closer to home maybe it is your spouse. But mechanisms for helping to defuse the stresses that could cause someone to go over the edge and use their guns have been pretty much destroyed in our society. Mental health screenings, gun registrations, counseling and other societal interventions have been defunded and destroyed leaving individuals on their own to act out on their problems. Add the NRA in its capacity as dealer of weapons and it is a toxic soup.

fox socialist threat
Destroying Social Safety Nets
Republicans are set to vote to destroy Obamacare once more next week or so. Medicare, Social Security, food stamps, unemployment insurance are all in their sights. Since they currently own two houses of congress all they need is to add the presidency and the long held wish of destroying these programs can be achieved. Sure it may end of killing lots of people but that is the price of regressing to a fantasy world that never existed. Republicans have greatly damaged the safety net over the past 3 decades. One more chance and they may be able to finally do it in.

protect voting rights
Rigged elections
But wait you say, Republicans could lose congress next year. They could, but not without doing everything they could to rig the elections in their favor. Throwing voters off the rolls who are valid voters across the country, setting up electronic voting machines across the country that can be easily hacked and gerrymandering districts such that Democrats can never win a majority in the US House nor many state houses. Perverting the system like this has led to some strange election results such as in Kansas and Kentucky last year.

Cheaper to fix while they are still up

Cheaper to fix while they are still up

Failing infrastructure
Ever drive over a bridge and wonder if it could collapse underneath you? If you don’t you may want to start thinking about it. Our predecessors built some great cities with sewer and water and electric and transportation systems. They also built in the necessary funding to keep it maintained at that time. But they did think that we would be smart enough to also follow their lead and maintain and replace as needed as a society. However our personal greed and prejudices have let that great work descend into a pit of problems that actually poses daily danger to Americans. Or maybe you have worried about our way overtaxed air traffic system might just fail someday when you are on a trip?

go vote
At the base of all the scary stuff in our country is the apathy of our citizens. By not showing up to vote they allow the wealthy to buy politicians, they allow officials to be elected that will hand the running of our local state and national governments over to those who work only to better the lives of those who fund their campaigns. Apathy gives us politicians like Joni Ernst who owes much of her campaign funds to the Koch Brothers and their subsidiaries. We get politicians like Chuck Grassley who is owned by finance and insurance companies. He did all he could to kill Obamacare and now is stalling all judicial appointments. We get politicians like Terry Branstad who has singlehandedly given away our tax dollars to Orascom and paid off political donors with huge contracts to run our Medicaid program.

Apathy, it’s the worst.

There are lots of monsters in our current political system and society. We can ignore them and they will eat us. or we can put up a fight.

Scary Numbers Just Before Halloween

prayer won't solve climate change
As this is written Hurricane Patricia is about to make landfall in Jalisco state on Mexico’s west coast. This hurricane appears to be one of if not the biggest (worst?) ever in the western hemisphere with wind speeds sustained over 200 mph, gusts over 250 mph and what appears to be the lowest air press ever at 880 millibars. Just for comparison on wind speeds, here is the Fujita tornado intensity scale:

Category F0: Gale tornado (40-72 mph); light damage. Some damage to chimneys; break branches off trees; push over shallow-rooted trees; damage to sign boards.
Category F1: Moderate tornado (73-112 mph); moderate damage. The lower limit is the beginning of hurricane wind speed; peel surface off roofs; mobile homes pushed off foundations or overturned; moving autos pushed off the roads.

Category F2: Significant tornado (113-157 mph); considerable damage. roofs torn off frame houses; mobile homes demolished; boxcars pushed over; large trees snapped or uprooted; light-object missiles generated.

Category F3: Severe tornado (158-206 mph); Severe damage. Roofs and some walls torn off well-constructed houses; trains overturned; most trees in forest uprooted; heavy cars lifted off ground and thrown.

Category F4: Devastating tornado (207-260 mph); Devastating damage. Well-constructed houses leveled; structure with weak foundation blown off some distance; cars thrown and large missiles generated.

Category F5: Incredible tornado (261-318 mph); Incredible damage. Strong frame houses lifted off foundations and carried considerable distance to disintegrate; automobile sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 yards; trees debarked; incredible phenomena will occur.

More scary news on the weather front comes from Dr. Jeff Masters of on his blog. Climate change is real and headed in the wrong direction:

September 2015: Earth’s Warmest Month in Recorded History, Says NOAA

By: Jeff Masters , 3:40 PM GMT on October 21, 2015

September 2015 had the largest departure of temperature from average of any month among all 1629 months in the record that began in January 1880, said NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) on Wednesday. (Note that since July and August are typically the warmest months globally in absolute terms, September was not Earth’s warmest month in that regard.) NASA rated September 2015 slightly cooler, as the 2nd warmest September on record, falling below September 2014’s mark. September 2015’s warmth makes the year-to-date period (January – September) the warmest such period on record, according to both NOAA and NASA. September 2015 was the fifth consecutive month a monthly high temperature record has been set in NOAA’s database, and the seventh month of the nine months so far in 2015. A potent El Niño event in the Eastern Pacific that crossed the threshold into the “strong” category in early July continues to intensify, and strong El Niño events release a large amount of heat to the atmosphere, typically boosting global temperatures by at least 0.1°C. This extra bump in temperature, when combined with the long-term warming of the planet due to human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide, makes it virtually assured that 2015 will be Earth’s second consecutive warmest year on record–with 2016 a good bet to exceed even 2015’s warmth.

NOAA’s top ten warmest global monthly departures from average
1) 0.90°C, Sep 2015
2) 0.89°C, Aug 2015
2) 0.89°C, Mar 2015
2) 0.89°C, Feb 2015
2) 0.89°C, Jan 2007
6) 0.87°C, Jun 2015
7) 0.86°C, Feb 1998
8) 0.85°C, May 2015
8) 0.85°C, Mar 2010
10) 0.84°C, Dec 2014

top 1% own more than half of the earth's wealth

top 1% own more than half of the earth’s wealth

In the economic area comes this scary news:

Goodbye Middle Class: 51 Percent Of All American Workers Make Less Than 30,000 Dollars A Year
-38 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000 last year.

-51 percent of all American workers made less than $30,000 last year.

-62 percent of all American workers made less than $40,000 last year.

-71 percent of all American workers made less than $50,000 last year.

That first number is truly staggering. The federal poverty level for a family of five is $28,410, and yet almost 40 percent of all American workers do not even bring in $20,000 a year.

Finally this true scare from Oxfam:

Credit Suisse’s findings are in line with Oxfam’s prediction that global wealth inequality is only becoming greater. Last January, we predicted that the richest 1 percent would capture more than half of all household wealth by 2016. It looks like our prediction was right, but that we were too conservative, since it has happened a year early. Alas, our forecast was confirmed, but it’s nothing to celebrate.

When you look at the very top of the global wealth pyramid, the situation is much more alarming. When we first calculated in January 2014, the 85 richest individuals own more wealth than the poorest half of the planet. This trend has also worsened since that time. Last January, it was down to 80 people.

The implications of rising extreme wealth inequality are greatly worrying. The highly unbalanced concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer and fewer people impacts social stability within countries and threatens security on a global scale. It makes poverty reduction harder, threatens political inclusion, and compounds other inequalities.

Findings such as Credit Suisse’s are awaking wide publics to the huge economic disparities that define the modern world. And people are increasingly calling attention to government policies that only work for the wealthy. For instance, in a recent Pew survey respondents from 34 emerging and developing economies indicated corruption was the second biggest problem facing their country. The links between corruption, crony capitalism and inequality aren’t hard to find. A study of India’s new billionaires found that nearly half made their fortunes in ‘rent thick’ sectors, meaning their wealth depended on exclusive government giveaways (such as permission to build on public lands or control over the telecom spectrum). Corruption and bribery are often behind such exclusive privileges.

Are we screwed?

occupation Halloween costume: bankster

Senator Cruz And The Sierra Club

The exchange between U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Sierra Club president Aaron Mair during an Oct. 6 Senate judiciary subcommittee hearing was a brief flash in the news cycle. Was it also a debate about climate change?

The subject was to have been the impact of federal regulations on minority communities. The junior senator from Texas turned it into something else — a desultory grilling of Mair in which he brought out some old sawhorses from the climate denial tool shed. Here is the exchange:

Sierra Club board member Donna Buell posted this on Facebook after the hearing:

Donna Buell FB Snippet 10-09-15

Mair was quick to reply on behalf of the Sierra Club:


View the entire two-hour hearing if you have the stomach for it here.

Cruz asserted in an Oct. 7 press release he “proved, contrary to liberal assertions that man-caused climate change is ‘settled science,’ that there is still a healthy and vigorous debate about the causes and nature of climate change based on the data and scientific evidence.”

So does Cruz picking a fight indicate debate? Decidedly not. In fact, as Mair pointed out in his video response, Cruz’s claims during the hearing have been debunked by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency over which Cruz has oversight in his role as chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

What’s this about?

It is about the attempt of right wing politicians like Cruz to hijack reasonable discussion among people with differing opinions in favor of a personal agenda.

On Oct. 12, I was part of a Sierra Club panel of presenters in which I suggested attendees could continue the discussion Cruz and Mair started by bird dogging Cruz in Washington, Iowa Wednesday morning.

Miriam Kashia, a veteran of the Great March for Climate Action, raised her hand and said, “I’ve done that.”

She reported the incident in an Oct. 13 guest opinion in the Iowa City Press Citizen,

Then, during a media interview with Sen. Ted Cruz speaking about the terrorist threat, I jumped in and asked him, “What is your response to the fact that the Pentagon tells us that climate change is the biggest threat to America’s security?” His response, “You don’t have the right to ask any questions, because you’re not a member of the media.” The media, meanwhile, was not doing its job.

Statements by Cruz and his ilk so often go unchallenged. People agree with him, and in Texas helped elevate him to power in 2012. His supporters are vocal and much of what is said serves the conservative agenda or it doesn’t get heard. I don’t doubt there is a Cruz community that buys into his world view, even though it appears to be based in something other than reality.

What becomes clearer each time people like Cruz are examined is nothing is behind the verbiage but vapidness. Sarah Beckman pointed this out about Cruz in an Oct. 13 post on Iowa Starting Line.

If you spend enough time with Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, you start to get the feeling that there is something “off” about him. His long pauses, his forlorn looks out into the audience, his deep crescendos and trailing whispers, his odd pop culture references. They all paint the picture that Cruz is maybe not as honest and authentic as he lets on while campaigning.

Never is Cruz talking about what we have in common, about how we can live better with each other, or how we solve the greatest problems of our time, like mitigating the causes of global warming.

Elections matter, and when the electorate elevates people like Cruz to positions of power over NASA, NOAA and the government’s scientific bodies, we are doing ourselves no favors.

If readers plan to move to Texas to sort out this mess, and elect someone who will enter the arena to fight for all of us, then God bless. I don’t see that happening.

Cruz gives us reason enough to engage in politics. Leaving important political work to others helped produce Senators Cruz, Ernst and Grassley, and the troubled time in which we live.

There is a better way, and it’s up to us to find and follow it.

Pope Francis On Climate Change And Our Common Home

Pope Francis by Ralph Scharnau

As the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics and the first to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress, Pope Francis’s recent visit drew large enthusiastic crowds in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia. In Washington, he devoted more of his address to climate change than any other topic.

While the Pope also addressed issues like poverty and immigration, Church teachings on opposing abortion, contraception, and same sex marriage received only fleeting mention. And his doctrinal orthodoxy extended to women when he clearly rejected the notion of female priests.

Focusing on climate change followed the Pope’s issuance in mid-June of a sweeping and unique environmental encyclical. He described the relentless exploitation and destruction of the environment and blamed denial, apathy, the reckless pursuit of profits, excessive faith in technology, and political shortsightedness. His words ranged from pastoral to political.

Relying on scientific studies rather than theological documents, he cited the burning of fossil-fuels (oil, coal, and gas) for overheating the planet and unleashing destructive and deadly storms, droughts, heat waves, wildfires, and other extreme weather. Pope Francis sees the emissions of greenhouse gases as primarily a result of human activity.

Humanity has changed the environment with unprecedented speed. Climate change is occurring just about every place in the world. The environment, the Pope stated, cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces.

Francis warns that the world is facing widespread crop failure, economic ruin, mass migration, and the destruction of entire ecosystems. He embraced the Obama administration’s efforts to combat climate change, including the use of renewable energy such as solar, wind, and biomass. The Obama administration proposed the first greenhouse gas limits on existing power plants in US history.

The Pontiff declared that humans can adopt strategies that help preserve the planet and lessen the further degradation of the environment. Rather than attempting to settle scientific questions or replace politics, the pope encourages open and honest debate on environmental issues that cross political, scientific, business, and religious lines.

Distancing himself from centuries of theological interpretation that regarded nature with outright hostility, the Pontiff asserts that nature has value in and of itself. The “green encyclical” thereby connects with another Catholic tradition that sees the earth as a sacrament, represented in canonical terms by his own namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi. At the same time, he embraces ecological insights to meet the challenges of sustainable and diversified agriculture, managing marine and forest resources, and universal access to drinking water.

The papal letter puts Francis firmly on the side of the world’s climate scientists, an overwhelming number of whom document warming of the earth and acknowledge that humankind bears responsibility for a substantial portion of the temperature rise. Climate change no longer is just a scientific issue, but increasingly a moral and ethical one too.

Pope Francis wants to enter into a dialog with all people about our common home, earth. He urges individuals, families, local communities, nations, and the international community to engage in an ecological conversation about how to address our task of caring for our common home. His call for environmental care extends not only to believers but to agnostics and atheists as well.

The fair management of the global commons presents one of the most important tasks of our time. Pope Francis sees the natural environment as a collective good, available to all and necessary to human welfare.

We do not have all the solutions needed to limit climate disruption and live sustainably. Transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy, for example, requires a complicated and lengthy process. The biggest question is do we have the social, political, and economic will to change?

Ralph Scharnau teaches U.S. history at Northeast Iowa Community College, Peosta. He holds a Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University. His publications include articles on labor history in Iowa and Dubuque. Scharnau, a peace and justice activist, writes monthly op-ed columns for the Dubuque Telegraph Herald.