The headline from this morning’s Des Moines Register was that residents of 5,000 Cedar Rapids homes were asked to evacuate in advance of the flood crest predicted to arrive Tuesday morning. The height of the crest has been revised downward to 23 feet, however, damage is expected to be severe.
Cedar Rapids fire officials plan to ask for the names of next of kin of residents who refuse to leave the flood zone.
City officials say government has been preparing for a major flood since the record-breaking 2008 event.
There is bravura in the execution of the local preparations indicating the city knows how to mobilize to prevent anticipated damage — better than it did in 2008. It is always good to see people coming together in times of natural disaster to help each other.
At the same time, almost everyone in government, in news media and in other accounts of the disaster fail to consider the root causes of the heavy precipitation events driving record flooding. The world continues to annually dump more than 38 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere like it was an open sewer. That’s 2.4 million pounds per second.
News media and politicians may be enamored of the story of human resistance to the forces of nature, but failure to address the root cause of increased levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere through proper governance should be unacceptable.
Government plays a significant role in mitigating the effects of climate change. Perhaps it’s time we changed the current crop of politicians who fill elected office seats from those who are cheer leaders for reaction to natural disasters to those who will take action to prevent them.
Without action, the chart above from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will continue to map a direction that puts people and assets in jeopardy.
We should know better and do something about global warming and climate change as a society.
Godspeed Cedar Rapids. May your elected officials who don’t do so already perceive tomorrow’s flooding as a wake-up call to action.
(Editor’s Note: When this guest column ran in the Cedar Rapids Gazette on Wednesday, Sept. 21, its abstract nature became real as heavy precipitation events pummeled Butler County and other parts of northeastern Iowa, disrupting lives there and downstream. Living in an environment where rain damages crops instead of nurturing them; where rivers jump their banks, close schools and displace people; and where Cedar Rapids must protect the city from record amounts of floodwater multiple times in eight years, something’s wrong. We must take action that includes electing a government that will address the causes of global warming and nuclear proliferation, not just deal with the actuality we have created).
Protect environment; stop nuclear weapons
By Paul Deaton
Guest column for the Cedar Rapids Gazette Sept. 21, 2016.
Reprinted with permission of the author
If we accept the premise articulated by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, that we are stronger together, there is a lot in society requiring our collective attention.
There are no lone wolves in human society, although a number of people want to get away from the pack. Can we blame them? Being stronger together is a fundamental characteristic of Homo sapiens. It’s what we do as a species.
What should we be working on?
It is hard to avoid the primacy of following the golden rule. We should be applying the golden rule, better than we have been, to everything we already do. This is basic.
Two other issues call for our attention, the threat of nuclear weapons, and mitigating the effects of climate change.
Today, on very short notice, nuclear powers can unleash a holocaust ending life as we know it. Nuclear war is not talked about much in the 21st Century; however the threat is as real today as it was when President Truman authorized the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings. The United States should take the lead in eliminating nuclear weapons. We need a transformational change in our nuclear policy that recognizes these weapons are the gravest threat to our security and must be banned and abolished.
We are wrecking our environment and should stop. Just 90 companies are to blame for most climate change, taking carbon out of the ground and putting it in the atmosphere, geographer Richard Heede said. If that’s the case, the move to eliminate fossil fuel use can’t come quick enough. These companies should be targeted for regulation by governments. Companies say they are not to blame for the demand from billions of consumers that drives fossil fuel use. Technologies exist to eliminate fossil fuels, and we should adopt them with haste. One purpose of government is to act as a voice for people who have no voice. Regulating business to protect our lives in the environment would serve that purpose.
After the 2016 election these issues will remain. The first can gain wide support easily. It is time the other two gain parity.
~ Paul Deaton retired from CRST Logistics in 2009.
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This blog is a labor of love. A chance many folks don’t get to give a perspective on things that others may not have thought about. But trying to decide what stories to comment on is very hard. Ideas pass through my mind all week before I finally sit down to gather my thoughts into something coherent and worthy of your time.
This week has been especially tough. The coming election and the outsized candidacy of Trump and his constant hate machine spewing vileness all over the place is hard to ignore. I think most on the left given the chance could go for hours on Trump and how he has divided America and rekindled hate that seemed to be slowly, very slowly dying. No doubt folks would tire of anti-Trump rants as much as they have tired of Trump himself.
The Clinton campaign has offered some uplifting messages of inclusion, some great ideas of solutions to real problems that real Americans face daily and a candidate who has been tested in trying role after trying role. Sadly our media only follows the train wrecks and car chases. Inspirational messages and inspiring leadership is not a car chase. So once again Democrats across the country can barely even get covered by their local radio stations.
I should be talking more about Iowa legislative races. They are extremely important this year simply because Terry Branstad and his one man assumption of power needs to be squelched. His takeover of the Medicaid administration, the line item vetoes on educational spending, his unilateral closing of the mental health facilities, his squandering of state dollars on Orascom and many lesser manifestations of his disdain for our form of government must be stopped in his last couple of years.
We need to put the legislature in the hands of Democrats. At a minimum we need to keep at least the senate in Democratic hands. If control is shifted to Republicans in both houses with Branstad as governor, we can expect a headlong rush into becoming the next Kansas or Wisconsin. Both of those states have seen budgets drained to give huge tax cuts to the rich causing schools to close and jobs to go elsewhere. Both are considered to be Republican success stories because the rich are getting richer and everyone else is getting screwed.
How about the environment? As I write it is a Friday morning in late September and the overnight low temperature is warmer than the average daily high should be. The temperature is much more like late July or early August. The earth has just come off the two hottest months ever. The year will be, unless a sudden ice age breaks out, the hottest ever by far. Yet our congress sits hogtied thanks to bribes, yes bribes, from the fossil fuel industries. Congress critters like Grassley, King, Blum and Young are more than happy to sell off our lives for a few silver shekels.
Even as torrential rains flood northern Iowa and make it difficult to get crops in, Republicans deny, deny, deny climate change handhold their hands out.
Republicans claim to be the party of foreign policy. Mike Pence says Dick Cheney is his role model. Hey, Pence, two words about Cheney: “Valerie Plame.” Maybe Pence just admires the way Cheney made hundreds of millions as his (Cheney’s) company (Haliburton) scored major government contracts due to the war (Iraq) that Cheney helped start. For a Republican that must be admirable.
Another morning that I turn on WSUI as we breakfast. Two minutes in and I am wondering if I am listening to FOX and shut it off. NPR anymore sounds like a stenographer for Republicans. Nothing else in my range is worth listening to. So the demise of NPR makes all the radios I own worthless. We already have one internet radio. Looks like we will need another soon. Hopefully low power FM KICI will be starting up soon, but we may be too far out to get them over the air.
The chances of being killed by the dreaded refugee terrorist? 1 in 3.64 billion. The chances of getting killed by almost any other means is far greater. I am not telling you to not be scared of getting killed by a refugee terrorist. What I am telling you is that if you are scared of the refugee terrorist then you should hide yourself in a closet, roll into a ball and shiver from fear because so many things in daily life are more likely to kill you. And demand your Republican candidate protect you from the dangers of guns, water, electricity and all the other killers out there.
And once more, working people have been snookered out of real discussions on income inequality. From the early days of this campaign when an old guy from Vermont caught fire talking about real life economic issues to today when the corporate owned and controlled media have all but disappeared the issue. Clinton adopted many of Bernie Sanders positions on economic issues but even when she makes a major economic address our media ignores it and concentrates on her health, bogus email story or bogus charity story.
Our media also pretends that Trump has economic policies that will help workers when in truth his policies make current conditions much worse for workers. Lesson? People are easily fooled.
Lastly, once more we are seeing the effects of money, money, money. Money = power = bad policies. It is a never ending cycle. It is depressing. I have never heard of a solution for this that won’t be reject by those in power and who have the money to buy power. Very depressing.
Early voting starts Thursday. We plan our biennial trip to the county courthouse to vote that day. I do not want to take any chance that one of us will be sick or get called out of town or any one of a number things that may cause us to miss voting on November 8th. This one is too important.
And…. Progress Iowa puts up a website to help voters find out how to vote early.
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There was a lot to make one cranky as summer ended yesterday, including the weather.
Extremely heavy rains are flooding parts of Iowa and the impact will soon be felt downstream.
The Cedar River is expected to crest at 24.1 feet next week in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the highest level after the record 31.12 foot crest on June 13, 2008.
“We have four days to get ready, and now is the time to start,” Mayor Ron Corbett said Thursday.
We’ve had a lot more time than that to get ready.
During Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training, conducted in Cedar Rapids in May 2015, Mayor Corbett made a presentation about the 2008 Cedar River flooding, how it impacted Cedar Rapids, and what actions were taken and being considered to mitigate damage from potential future floods. The next week will determine whether the plans and discussions were enough to prevent serious damage.
Senator Joni Ernst has been pushing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite completion of the Cedar Rapids Flood Control Project, recently in the Water Resources Development Act.
“This legislation includes my work to direct the Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the completion of the Cedar Rapids flood control project,” Ernst wrote in a Sept. 15 press release. “The provision emphasizes to the Army Corps of Engineers that Congress wants this project to remain a priority. I will continue working to ensure the Army Corps of Engineers understands the great need for this long-standing project to be completed in a timely and efficient manner.”
These efforts seem well intentioned, but too little, too late.
The connection between this flood and global warming is clear. When the atmosphere is warmer, its capacity to store water vapor increases. When it does rain, it can do so in heavy precipitation events in which a large amount of rain falls in a brief amount of time. The frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation events has increased since World War II and that appears to be what happened in northeastern Iowa over the last few days.
Here’s an excerpt from a WHO-TV news article about flash flooding in Butler County. It tells the story:
BUTLER COUNTY, Iowa — Storms in northern and northeastern Iowa overnight caused some damage as they spawned tornadoes and dropped heavy rain – up to 10 inches – in some areas.
“We expect the crest this evening what we’re being told around 7 p.m. probably water levels similar to 2008 or more so,” said Jason Johnson, Butler County Sheriff.
Flooding from the Shell Rock River has cancelled classes in the North Butler School District for Thursday and many students gathered at the high school to help fill sandbags. Highway 14 on the way to Charles City is impassable because of water over the road.
Butler County Sheriff Johnson says there isn’t a widespread evacuation in Greene but some residents are moving to higher ground.
In Floyd County, 7.55” of rain was reported and Charles City saw 6.35”. The Little Cedar River is at moderate flood stage at Nashua and near Ionia. The rainfall total reported for Ionia is 6.24″.
Work will remedy the crankiness of summer’s end. One didn’t expect it to be sand bagging levies, homes and businesses to prevent damage from what is projected to be the second worst flood in Cedar Rapids history. It will get us through the weekend.
The newest flood begs the question of what’s next to mitigate damage from future flooding? Government involvement in a solution is necessary but it must be implemented faster than it has been. We also have to connect the dots between our personal actions, global warming and climate change more than we have.
For now, we’ll just have to deal with the existential reality of the flood, something I recall doing since the 1960s. It’s a way of sustaining our lives in a turbulent world, but we can do better.
Last week, Al Gore reflected on the ten years since he founded The Climate Reality Project. Following is an excerpt from an email he sent to the Climate Reality Leaders he trained.
Ten years ago, I trained the first group of Climate Reality Leaders in my barn in Carthage, Tenn. I asked them to join me in spreading the word about the urgency of the climate crisis, and I was impressed by the commitment and passion they demonstrated. I’m even more impressed now as the work they’ve done in their own communities and beyond has helped to spark a global movement for action on climate change.
In the decade since that first group came together, I’ve trained more than 10,000 Climate Reality Leaders who are just as committed to making the world a better place for future generations. The Climate Reality Leadership Corps is active in more than 130 countries around the world and represents people from all backgrounds and walks of life. I’ve enjoyed working alongside teachers, scientists, community leaders, business owners, students, and so many others who all share a dedication to promoting solutions to the climate crisis.
Ten years of concerted action by the Climate Reality Leadership Corps came together last year when 195 countries committed to working together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions planet-wide as part of the Paris Agreement. Now, it’s time for us to continue our work together and push countries to strengthen and implement their commitments so we can make the promise of Paris a reality.
Even as we look to the future, I want to make sure we take a moment to appreciate the last 10 years and all of the amazing work that you’ve done to help share the truth about the science and solutions of climate change with your friends, family members, colleagues, and everyone else.
I want to thank each and every one of you for what you’ve done in your own communities to bring attention to the most important issue of our time.
It is easier to play a role in the global effort to mitigate the causes of global warming and climate change when thousands of others are doing the same thing, each in their own way. That’s been my personal benefit from The Climate Reality Project.
I joined in Chicago (August 2013) and have no regrets. I learned the story behind Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth, and the science behind it. Gore presented a broad mix of information about what is happening in our environment because of global warming and how it impacts communities.
Since then, I’ve presented my story to individuals and groups in the area and seek opportunities to do more. I served as a mentor at the Cedar Rapids training last year and have written about the need to act on climate change in my blogs, and in letters to the editor of our local newspaper. When I worked as a freelance correspondent, climate change informed my world-view and was a context in which I framed stories whether they were about farming or forestry, the school board or city council, or about new business openings or individual achievements.
Talking about global warming and climate change has become part of my life.
If the Paris agreement was the culmination of ten years of work, as Gore said it was, the work is not finished.
With a sharp focus on identifying the impact on our climate of CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels, Gore and many allies made the point about seeking alternatives. As solar and wind-generated electricity reach price parity with fossil fuels (and they are doing so faster than anyone imagined) the coal industry is in disarray and nuclear power is waning.
There is a cloud on the hopeful horizon of renewable energy. Buoyed by exploration and discovery of oil and shale gas reserves, companies like British Petroleum, once green washing us with their interest in renewables, divested their interests in solar and wind energy this decade to focus on oil and gas.
I predict declining prices of solar power will help it dominate the future of municipal and regional electricity generation. Already companies like Central Iowa Power Company (CIPCO) are changing their tune. Not so long ago they were promoting nuclear power at their annual shareholder’s meeting. Today, they are building solar arrays.
If there is a blind spot in Gore’s laser focus on burning fossil fuels it is the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from other sources. He acknowledges them, but they have not taken the spotlight. There’s work to be done regarding manufacturing, agriculture, mining and other aspects of our industrialized global economy.
Every time I talk to an Iowa farmer Gore’s work can be heard in the conversation. Not so much from me, but from farmers. They’ll tell you the hydrology cycle seems different even if they dislike Al Gore and don’t acknowledge it is related to global warming. They don’t have to and I don’t need ratification of my own beliefs.
Like so many others I am focused on the work of mitigating the causes of climate change. You may not know it, but it is baked into everything I do.
What have you done lately to create a better environment for all of us to enjoy?
Too hot to work too hard today:
– Congratulations to Patty Judge on her nomination to defeat Chuck Grassley this fall. Judge has always outperformed expectations. Let’s hope she can do it one more time. Grassley, you have obstructed your last Judge!
– Note to Robb Hogg. Congratulations on running a great race. Now that you have time to think a little, think about a job opening coming up in Des Moines in 2018. The current occupant of Terrace Hill has been there way too long. If it is not Branstad, then Reynolds is way too right wing for Iowa.
– Paul Ryan called Donald Trump on his (Trump’s) racist remark concerning the judge in the Trump University case. Ryan then said he would vote for Trump. Does Paul Ryan have a clue what that last statement meant? After a while one begins to wonder if the Republican Party has a full deck among the lot of them.
– Trump’s remarks have Republican office holders at all levels seemingly playing a game of dodge ball trying not to get hit with the slime of Trump statements while trying to look like a party loyalist. For the most part the Republican office holders just can’t seem to say “I quit you, Donald.” Thus they have become oddly pathetic creatures that can’t seem to stand up and are afraid to say anything. Certainly not worth a vote.
– Tuesday night we watched Clinton’s speech. She hit all the right notes. For me, suddenly I got it. I thought about my daughters and how great it must be for them to see a woman, just like them, to be preparing to run for the presidency. And a tear crept out of my eyes. This is huge.
– America deserves a presidential campaign that lives up to the historic occasion. Unfortunately on one side we will have a candidate with the mentality of a 5th grade boy who wants lots of attention.
– Now that Trump woke the press up by nastily insulting them directly to their faces at his so-called press conference, one has to wonder if if he (Trump) still feels that “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” It’s, like, incredible.”
– Last week Physicist Stephen Hawking got oodles of press when he answered a question on how to explain Donald Trump , he said ” “I can’t. He is a demagogue, who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.” What was little reported was the remainder of the comment where Hawking said, “A more immediate danger is runaway climate change,”
– BTW – do you remember in 2008 when Republicans reported that Britain’s National Health System would abandon people with illnesses like Dr. Hawking?
– As we sit here sweltering in yet another record or near record heat, don’t forget that one transcendent issue must be climate change. The earth won’t go way if we don’t address it, just most of the inhabitants.
– What is the word that Republicans will be using when they are jumping the sinking ship named Trump? De-endorse? Unendorse? Disendorse? Never heard of the guy?
– Don’t forget that all that billionaire money – especially the Koch brothers money – will probably not be going to Trump. Therefore it will most likely be showing up in state and congressional races. Expect some to show up in all of Iowa’s congressional races, the senate race and certain state races. Mike Gronstal is one of the major targets so I think we could expect Koch money over there.
May 4, 2016 — The IUB has requested that Dakota Access produce justification to begin construction BEFORE the Army Corps of Engineers permit is issued. The company has repeatedly fed us the line that “delays will impact farmers over two growing seasons instead of one.”
If they are genuinely worried about impacting farmers, then they need to do the right thing and wait until next year to commence construction instead of arguing that delays will cause them to work during two growing seasons.
No one asked them to jump the gun on “pre-construction” clearing and cutting. No one asked Dakota Access to stockpile materials throughout our state. They are using these activities to pressure public servants, farmers, and elected officials all over our state. The IUB needs to stop rewarding Dakota Access for behavior that is far from “Iowa Nice”.
Please file a complaint at https://iub.iowa.gov/
Within the form choose “other” and say “Dakota Access is NOT a utility” then tell them that it benefits no one to allow construction to begin early.