Pollinators Passing On

20 07 2017

I was on vacation on Minnesota’s north shore last week. One mid-morning, this beautiful, large moth was hiding in the shade next to the hostel where I was staying. I coaxed it onto my hand and moved it to a large shady tree nearby.

It’s worthwhile to try to save as many of these beneficial insects as possible. At least, it feels good. If nothing else.

mothI have firsthand experience with the dramatic drop-off in bees, butterflies and moths. About 12 years ago, we installed native gardens at my former residence.  For several years, we thrilled to a riot of the most amazing diversity of pollinators of all kinds.  Then, suddenly, variety and abundance took a death dive.  And remained at that depressingly reduced level.

What has caused this?  Experts cite various reasons.  Fence-to-fence factory farms, with no room for the wild plants the insects need is clearly part of the reason.  Dittos for humans destroying ever more natural habitat.  And for one of the most famous – and once ubiquitous – beneficial insects of all, the monarch butterfly, habitat loss coupled with extreme winter weather in their seasonal home in Mexico is surely a big factor as well.

But I think we – all of us, even scientific experts who should know better – are dancing around the chemical truth. If you don’t know about neonicotinoid pesticides, you should.  A study was recently done in Germany.  The European Union – which is considerably less sold out to massive corporations than the good old US of A – banned these chemicals on flowering plants several years ago.  Which means this new study was a controlled one.  Here are the results.  Note that Syngenta and Bayer – the agents of this death in Europe – are determined to spin the results, but did not have any control over the experiment.

I am loath to quote Trump, but . . . “Sad.”  You see, those damned chemicals continue to rule the fields here in the American corporate paradise that’s just getting cozier and cozier for massive planet wreckers – in this case, Monsanto.

And BTW, to paraphrase Pete Seeger, “Where have all the fireflies gone?” Dear reader, how many have you seen this year?  Everywhere I have lived – New York, Wisconsin and Minnesota, the Fourth of July has been peak season for these beautiful bioluminescent bugs.  This year, I have seen exactly one.  Connection?  Who cares?  Apparently, not us. Not enough of us, anyway.

If you read through that Treehugger article, you saw more of that careful dancing around the truth.  Sure, light pollution is a factor, along with habitat destruction.  But that word “chemicals” appears once, almost furtively.

My prediction: we will realize – too late – that agricultural chemicals (perhaps those very dastardly neonics) produced by Monsanto and pals will ultimately be found responsible for firefly decline as well as the documented destruction of bees, butterflies and moths. Too late. Enjoy your glowing summer memories, friends. They ain’t coming back.

Which brings us around to the real problem that not enough of us care enough about.  That is, the way big money rules our politics and policy. Why? Because we let it happen. But at least some organizations are working to solve that thousand-pound gorilla of a problem.  Here is one.

“Get Him Outa Here”

19 05 2017

The quote, of course, comes from Trump exhorting his followers and security entourage to deal harshly with a heckler at a campaign rally.  We’ll leave aside the immediately following quote – “Knock the crap out of him!” because it does not really apply here. No way do I support such treatment of the current occupant, but based on recent events, his odds of completing even a single term in the office grow longer by the day. Could the reality TV boss from hell actually hear “You’re fired?”

Angry Trump 2The nation today seems more willing to give President Trump the heave-ho. A recent survey suggests that 48% of Americans support impeachment.  This though is unlikely, even as suspicion and revelations about the administration mount daily. Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan have come out against the idea, and are most likely unmovable. They still believe, hyper-partisans both, that Trump is a key factor in pursuing their corporatist agenda. And nothing stands between them and their corporatist agenda. This Dylan Matthews piece effectively explains why the two Republican leaders are very unlikely to reverse course and hold Trump accountable.

But impeachment is not the only way we will be rid of the habitually dishonest, mean-spirited huckster who now holds the presidency.  And I am not talking about waiting for the 2020 election.

Just watch Trump lately. Do you think he is having a good time?  I see less and less of the uber-confident, swaggering bully, and more and more of the angry, self-absorbed, would-be victim.  Just listen to him whine about how tough his new life is in comparison to his old. And now his sob story becomes flagging himself as the most mistreated politician ever, poor boy. See this cartoon for a sick laugh. This Slate piece makes the obvious case debunking this latest self-absorbed lie of Trump’s, but remember that even his most recent successor suffered poor treatment and obstruction at every turn.  If Trump is reviled by many – and he certainly is, including this blogger – it is because of what he has done and promises to do.  Most of the vitriol and bile hurled at Barack Obama was more because of who he was – an African-American, smooth-talking upstart who had the audacity to become president.

I believe a far more likely outcome of the growing crisis is not impeachment, but Trump’s resignation.  Yes, I know he has always sold himself as a never-quit fighter, but everyone has a breaking point.  I believe he might have resigned by now except for his committing to carry out favors for “them what brung him,” both domestic and foreign.  And remember that he may owe large sums of money to creditors domestic and foreign.  Why do you think he steadfastly thumbs his nose at decades of precedent regarding presidential tax returns?

Nevertheless, I believe the mounting pressure will break him, and sooner rather than later. But when he resigns, don’t expect anything like what the disgraced President Nixon delivered on resignation.  Say what you will about Nixon – and I am no admirer – his farewell speech was a model of class as he put the nation’s interests ahead of his own. Yes, a Democratic-controlled Congress forced his hand, unlike Trump’s, but really – can you imagine Trump delivering anything like such a speech?  Or even remaining on script long enough without descending into spontaneous blaming, bullying, threatening and whining?  Of course not.

No, when Trump resigns – and he will – we will hear a bitter, angry, extended rant in which he blames everyone – media, “elites,” “illegals,” Democrats, disloyal Republicans – for his spectacular failure. And his unswayable supporters – they are out there, maybe 35 % of voters overall – will eat it up.  This example from PRI’s The World gives an indication of the extreme, seemingly undiminished support that these voters have for Trump, despite all the outrageous behavior and growing evidence of wrongdoing.

Trump’s recent speeches build a case for his resignation as a poor, thwarted good guy who has been prevented from doing good for the American people.  The fallen hero fable will suggest that he would have done so much to help those working class people who supported him, but the __________ (fill in the blank with your favorite villain group) just would not let Donny be Donny. Ludicrous, yes, but it will sell. Mark my words.  And it will further divide this fractured nation.

Will this be the end of Trump the public figure? Hell no. This master of “truthful hyperbole” has long shown in word and deed that he believes any publicity is good publicity.  He will become a highly-sought-after pundit on some right-wing network (Fox?) and rake in Limbaugh-esque sums. He won’t have to worry about prosecution if the current investigations into his campaign’s and administration’s collusion with Russia lead to his palace at Mar-a-Lago.  You see, his successor (Pence? Ryan?) will see that the good of the nation is served by pardoning the ex-president. Whew.

But when Trump resigns, the desperation, anger and dissatisfaction with the status quo that motivated so many to vote for this unqualified deliverer of empty promises will remain. And fester.

“Getting him outa here” will be only the beginning of a new era of divisiveness in American public life. Believe me.

ReAction Jackson

15 03 2017

In these dark days of Trumpian travail, I seek bitter humor wherever I can find it.  I hit a vein in an Associated Press story picked up by my StarTribune. Coupled with a widely publicized picture of Trump looking “tough” at his desk, making a “deal” under a portrait of Andrew Jackson, it explains the comparisons being drawn between our post-factual, post-modern president and the seventh leader of the United States. Comparisons drawn by whom? Well, naturally, Trump himself. Just as naturally, the idea does not even originate with the notoriously poorly read chief exec.

If you read the article, you will see the portrait, and find the source of the comparison.  It’s Trump’s own “brain,” that unkempt, untruthful cross between Karl Rove and Rasputin, Steve Bannon. The hate-filled white supremacist lie merchant of Breitbart infame made the connection after Trump’s inaugural address. You remember – the one that was so negative it has acquired the informal title “American Carnage.”


OK, so Trump may resemble Jackson in that both were unconventional outsiders pursuing the presidency.  It also looks from portraits that Number Seven had a pretty impressive shock of hair. But it was gray, and probably natural.  And that’s about as good as the comparison gets.

Jackson was a commoner, and a true populist. Unlike Trump, who can best be described as a faux populist, more a huckster, a snake oil salesman and self-promoter in the P.T. Barnum tradition. And whereas Trump has become notorious for impulsiveness – how did you like those recent Saturday morning Tweets about wire tapps (sic)? – Jackson, before he became president, actually showed remarkable patience when a prior presidential election was stolen from him through unethical horse trading. Can you imagine the Donald standing by while something like this happened? Depriving him of the spotlight? Not gonna happen.

But where the comparison really breaks down is here. Every time Trump wraps an XXXL (estimated size) faux-military jacket around his ample gut and appears before genuine officers and enlisted personnel, talking tough and flashing his best Dirty-Harry squint, those in the know are reminded of just what a charlatan this guy really is.

And of course there is that privilege thing, though Trump would have us believe he is the ultimate self-made mogul. The AP piece tells that story succinctly.

“There are fundamental differences in the paths they took. Trump is a real estate mogul who came from wealth. Jackson was born into poverty and rose to become a wealthy lawyer and national hero after the War of 1812.”

Enough said. Why is this important? That’s easy. Chief strategist Bannon may be evil and devious, but he is no dummy. And after all, he is the thoughtful brain behind Trump’s bumbling id. And we know what Bannon has in store for America. And part of Bannon’s master plan is to continue to pass off Trump as some kind of champion of the little guy. This is easier if enough people are foolish enough to see him as the reincarnation of the tough-guy populist seventh president.  This would be a real hoot if it weren’t so real, and so fraught with real danger.

As Bannon’s agent – because that’s what he is – President Trump threatens, and has already begun, to take the country down a very dangerous path.  He is dismantling most of the federal government, and trying his damnedest to roll back countless regulations that make life safer, protect the public from rapacious behavior by greed-mongers (like the guy in the mirror at Trump Tower), and maintain a clean environment. He and his regime are hell-bent on replacing reality with “alternative facts.”

Unlike Trump, I read books – lots of books. And unlike some of my friends and allies, I think it is important to learn as much as we can about this dangerous self-dealing sociopath. The better to stop him before he achieves his destructive goals.

I recommend two reads.

The first is a book I merely have on order right now. That is David Cay Johnston’s The Making of Donald Trump. This book has new prominence with the revelation that Johnston is the source of the two pages of Trump’s 2005 tax return.  Note – Johnston says it was delivered to him. Speculation is that this little snapshot – which from some perspectives is quite positive for Trump – was leaked by someone very close to Trump.  Perhaps even DT himself.  Unable apparently to avoid every opportunity to display his clueless disingenuousness, Trump called Johnston “some reporter no one knows about.” Right. A consummate narcissist pretends no one knows about the  author of the most critical biography of said narcissist. Right.

The second book is one I’ve read and can strongly recommend.  Timothy O’Brien’s TrumpNation was actually completed in 2005, after the author had spent years closely observing Trump’s wild behavior, shady self-dealings and self-promotion. Trump actually sued O’Brien for libel – 5 billion dollars’ worth of libel – and lost. It has ample doses of wit, and the 2016 paperback edition includes a new introduction by the author.

If you read either of these critical biographies, you will not be able to escape the conclusion that we have been had. Bigly. Yoogely. And he who had us needs to be stopped before he causes more damage than he has already wrought.

But back to the dark humor, and the ludicrous effort to compare this self-aggrandizing, bullying son of privilege, this disingenuous destroyer of all breaks for the little guy, to  Andrew Jackson, a genuine populist and champion of commoners.  A prominent biography of “Old Hickory” is Jon Meacham’s “American Lion.”

A new biography, of the latter days of Donald, including his unlikely climb to the Oval Office, is waiting to be written. Here is the title, free of charge to anyone taking up the challenge:

“American Lyin’: The New Trail of Tears”

Gonna be terrific. Tremendously terrific. Believe me.


22 02 2017

On Feb. 22, a fellow on the radio reads tomorrow’s forecast for the Twin Cities.  “Colder,” he says, “high around 48.” Colder? Huh? Average high for Feb. 23 in the Twin Cities – 30. Colder?!

These globally warmed days, my inner voice responds with a John Lennon lyric almost anytime I hear a forecast.  “Just gimme some truth!”

Here’s the weather forecast I would deliver, given the chance.  “Continued very warm for this time of year tomorrow with a high of 48. That’s only 18 degrees above average, nothing like most of the last week. Especially compared with last Friday, when we broke the long-term record (going back to the late 1800s) for the date by eight freaking degrees! That temperature, if you are keeping score, kids, was 34 degrees above the old average. Hope you had your winter suntan lotion on!”

Who would have ever thought that humanity’s ongoing project, destabilizing the climate with our greenhouse gases, could be so much fun?

And the truth is, the fun is just beginning, folks. I have not yet read through the new EPA wrecker, er, uh, director’s emails – just made public – but the headlines say that Scott Pruitt is bed buddies with the oil industry. Surprised? Me neither.  After all, he has practically had a full-time job for many years, suing the EPA.

Evidence of our warping the climate is all around. A recent study described overall effects of man-made climate change on wildlife.  Not pretty. We are rapidly knocking natural processes way out of sync, and the critters can’t keep up with the pace.  Not that anyone in the oil-drunk Trump administration gives a good goddam.

But you don’t have to look very far to see the evidence.  This morning, I spotted, way up high, a flock of 30-40 geese, migrating northward. On Feb. 22. Over Minnesota.

februaryblossomsAnd back down on earth, this afternoon, I spotted open tree blossoms on the ground in my backyard. I collected a few, then looked up. There they were – many confused blooms in the preternatural February warmth. That’s what you see in the picture.

We can pretend all we want, trusting fairy tales from the likes of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (Sure, he says, climate change is happening. But it is an engineering problem with an engineering solution. Right.) Or we can believe the happy-talk hogwash from the Heartland Institute (“Climate change is good for us!”), or the lying blowhard Marc Morano – chief data cherry picker if there ever was one.

But these are facts – and not alternative facts either. Global temperatures are steadily rising. Says who? Says NASA. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is rising, at an increasing rate. And the new administration is hell-bent on reversing virtually every environmental protection going back to Nixon and even Johnson.

We can feign pignorance (pretend-ignorance) to eternity, but scientific fact trumps (sorry) corporatist fantasy. We need a carbon fee and dividend system, and now.  We can’t wait four years (or, god forbid!) eight years for an administration that respects science.

As for right now, I gotta go.  Must batten down the hatches for those “colder” conditions tomorrow.  Only 18 degrees above average?  Brrrrrrrrrr!

Pignorance Ascending; Big Brother Not Required

28 01 2017

At a Goodwill store today, I thought I would have a little fun with the 30-something cashier. I told her there was a book published in 1949 which, just a few weeks ago, could no doubt be found in multiples among the store’s stacks of worn paperbacks. But of course currently there were zero copies. And I told her the book had suddenly shot to number one on the Amazon best-seller list. Did she know the book, I asked.

She did not. I strongly recommended she get herself a copy of George Orwell’s 1984 and read it. It would help her understand more clearly some things that are happening in Washington right now.

I plan to re-read my personal copy soon. Meanwhile, this Alternet piece taught me some things about Orwell’s historical context.

trump-teamI am more convinced than ever that we must fight the Trumps, the Conways, the Spicers and maybe especially the Bannons – the liars and bullies and truth-twisters and fact-suppressors.

Damn them all to liars’ hell, along with their smokescreens, diversions and “alternative facts.”

We must fight these democracy-destroying bastards so our outcome does not resemble the fate of 1984‘s protagonist, Winston Smith. His unforgivable crime? To think for himself and respect the truth. But in the end, he was broken by the authoritarian force of pignorance (pretend-ignorance), so that in the end, “He loved Big Brother.” After all, one of the guiding principles of Orwell’s dystopia was this ominous and prescient slogan – “Ignorance is strength.” Indeed.

If you have never done so, do yourself and the country this favor in the Era of Trump. Get your own copy of 1984. Shut off your pocket “telescreen.” Read the book, start to finish. Do so even if, like me, you have already read it more than once.

You will understand more clearly how the bullying bullshit merchants are trying to destroy our faith in the truth, and consolidate their authoritarian power. If they succeed in their obvious strategy to destroy the credibility and the very legitimacy of the media in the eyes of enough of the public, then they will be in control.  People will not know what is true – we are already well down that road – and they will be much more malleable and maybe, compliant. In other words, more inclined to believe the outrageous nonsense the Trumpsters spew, and buy into their destructive schemes.

We can’t let that happen.

Springing into Winter

6 01 2017

I write this post as a public service for anyone trying to survive our radically changed Northland winter, and as a (no doubt unheeded) wake-up call to anyone still inclined to believe the anti-science spewing from the Hired Liars who make up the lion’s share of Congress’s right wing.

On December 26 – nearly two weeks ago – I took my canine buddy, Dooley, on a customary trip to an off-leash dog park. We drove about four miles to Battle Creek, the largest park in our area – large enough that a stroll in normal conditions around its perimeter takes us about a half hour.  I knew the trails would be slippery, owing to the re-freeze of melted snow that followed our dreadful daylong Christmas rainstorm. So I sported my most reliably grabby galoshes.

As soon as we entered the park, I realized things were much worse than even I had expected.  I struggled to keep from slipping and falling on the refrozen slush and glare ice – the trails lacked even crusty snow remains for traction.  And this is no joke – the park’s back reaches are quite remote. A hiker with a broken knee, ankle or worse would be in deep trouble. Dooley, of course, cruised on his four legs. But the only way I avoided a slip and a cracked elbow or skull was to cling to the perimeter fence. And of course I loudly swore for the entire hour at our utterly wrecked winter, and our stubbornly pignorant (pretend-ignorant) corporate lords and politicians who have kept us on this ever-worsening path of destabilized weather and degraded environment. I don’t know if the swearing helped keep me safe, but it felt mighty good.

As I slipped/slid/swore to our start/finish point, a fellow cruised by me.   I stopped my tooth-gnashing to call to him, asking for his traction secret.  He said it was something called “yak tracks.” I asked, “What are those, $300 boots?“ No, he showed me, they are coils, or horizontal springs, that strap onto your boots and dig into the icy surface.  $20 at the hardware store, he explained.

Next day, I headed to my local Ace Hardware, and picked up the pair you see here attached to those galoshes.
Problem pretty much solved – they take away about 80-90 percent of the slippage, even on glare ice. Oh, and they are actually spelled YakTrax. And they are more effective than swearing.

Now why would I share this tale of woe and resolution?  Easy.  First, I am betting that many of my fellow Northland denizens are unfamiliar with these nifty little devices. Second, I have lived in Minnesota for 30 years, and spent a lot of winter time outdoors hiking, skiing and walking with my various dogs.  Somehow, I never needed YakTrax.  Now, I say they are the best $20 investment I have made in some time, and I would not do without them. Just a week after the Christmas storm, followed by re-freeze, we got a New Year’s rainstorm, which refroze with even nastier ice conditions.  And a minor snow event looms in our forecast for early next week, with the possibility of a mix with – you guessed it – more freezing rain.

Why would I be so worked up about this?  A few reasons. First, winter rain events here in the Twin Cities are perilous because winter, even its pathetic, globally-weakened present version, is still capable of temps that are plenty cold. And when the mercury plunges – it’s going to -10F tonight – in the immediate wake of rain, you know what happens. Glare ice, traffic accidents and broken bones. Second, winter rain events used to be rarer than a true statement by Donald Trump. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist. My admiration for him is yuge. Yuge.) Rare?  Don’t believe me.  Look here at the long-term climate records for the Twin Cities and see for yourself.  Random checks of winters long past (say, before 1990) show that rain in the winter hardly ever happened.  And now, winter rains occur every single winter, with most winters featuring multiple such events. I heard a quote on the radio from Mark Seeley, a highly respected  University of Minnesota climatologist, to the effect that wintertime rain events have increased FOURFOLD since 2000.  That’s right, a 400% increase! Anytime now, that would qualify as a trend methinks. Third, we humans just normalize every bloody thing.  Even otherwise observant, intelligent people, say things like, “Oh, this kind of thing is common.” But it’s NOT. Or at least it WAS not until the cumulative effects of our 100 million tons of daily CO2 emissions really started adding up. I grab these people by the lapels and say, “Pay attention, will you?!!!” (Just kidding about the lapels. So far.) And then there are the people who see the ice – itself a climate change symptom, at least in these parts – as evidence DISPROVING human-caused climate disruption.

Sometimes all you can do is slap your forehead and go take a strong drink. The drink eases the forehead pain, I have found.

So what is the point of all this?  For the long term, we really have two major tasks.  The first is adaptation to the changes we have already wrought to the climate system.  My YakTrax are just a minute individual example, but adaptation includes sea walls, storm water management systems, more efficient crop irrigation, etc.  And the second – the task that is in grave danger with Trump’s team of pignorant “dealmakers” and science-deniers about to take over – is to stop causing further damage to the climate by drastically reducing greenhouse emissions.  We have needed a carbon fee and dividend system for many years, but for the next four you can pretty well stick that idea in your exhaust pipe.

I started this post by calling it a public service. It truly is that – I am receiving no compensation, kickbacks or favors from the makers of YakTrax.  That’s more than you can say for the Hired Liars in Congress and the incoming Trump team of climate wreckers and their ties to Big Oil and Big Coal.

There will be lots more of this sort of pignorance, corruption and dirty dealing to write about, sad to say, in future posts. But for now, I have to head off for a strong drink.

Hail Hail the Fossil King

25 12 2016

And so it is Christmas.  A time of celebration and rejoicing.

A big, nasty blob of rain with embedded thunderstorms (!) now approaches my Twin Cities home. I can imagine no better time than right now to celebrate the legacy and future contributions to the destruction of winter as we knew it by a powerful “player”, “dealmaker” and “tough guy”who has done more than most to bring us to where we are right now.

I speak, of course, of our soon-to-be Secretary of State, ExxonMobil’s mogul supreme, Rex Tillerson.

Those descriptions in quotes, naturally, are the accolades that our volatile, petulant and self-dealing president-elect, Donald Trump, routinely heaps on his Cabinet nominees. Those are the essential job qualifications for Cabinet appointees. Those, plus the willingness to bow, scrape and kowtow to the Donald.  And explain away his wildly intemperate tweets. And then there is probably the most critical qualification – hostility to the mission of the department you are called to lead. Whether Tillerson meets that crucial requirement remains to be seen.  And if you think about it, he is probably the rare exception. State in Tillerson’s hands will rather be something valuable – a platform from which to be an even bigger “player” and “dealmaker.” For the United States? Maybe. For ExxonMobil? Hell yes. But I digress.

My beloved Minnesota is but one location on the globe. And what really matters is the overall change to the climate we have been unwittingly “engineering” with our over 100 million tons of CO2 emissions per day. But winter has utterly changed in these parts. Wintertime rain events in the state were formerly rare.  Now, they occur regularly.  Even when I first moved here in the mid-80s, winter was a reliable season. The snows would arrive somewhere between Halloween and Thanksgiving, and, give or take a few thaws, not recede until mid-March.

Now, I characterize our winter differently. It’s five months of March-like freeze and thaw, interrupted by occasional outbreaks of what used to be winter.  (And perhaps a summerlike thunderstorm on Xmas!)

I will save you further details in this post, but will say this – it ain’t just Minnesota, folks. As of this winter, temperatures at the North Pole have been spiking to a freakish 40 to 50 degrees above long-term averages – flirting with the melting temperature of 32 degrees. In winter.  If that’s not man-made climate disruption, nothing is.

But back to Tillerson’s contributions. He has spent his entire career (since 1975) with oil giant ExxonMobil. Starting as an engineer, he steadily climbed the ranks until his appointment as Chairman and CEO in 2006.  This is important information. It was not long after his arrival at the firm that the top execs of that era funded world-class scientific research on the relationship between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.  Those scientists told them the inconvenient truth – that man-made greenhouse gases were indeed warming the planet and destabilizing the climate, and the problem would get much worse if business as usual proceeded.  And what did those execs do?  We know now that they not only suppressed the truth, but used those very findings to craft and fund a masterful, devious anti-science propaganda campaign.  And despite a few funding shifts and public denials, that program continues to this day.


Does Tillerson get the blame for the creation of this shameful- planet endangering, 40-year campaign?  Of course not. But note that it has continued, with a few adjustments, on his watch. That’s 10 years if you were counting. And here is what is really interesting. Unlike the corporate lackeys in Congress whom I call Hired Liars – most prominently Senator James Inhofe and Representative Lamar Smith – Tillerson is wily enough to admit that man-made climate change is indeed a problem, and poses risks – though he does cavalierly dismiss them. Even more interesting is that he makes this admission while his massive oil company continues to sponsor lies and disinformation. So you have to ask, “What gives?”

ExxonMobil had a tremendous opportunity around 1980. They held the well-researched truth in hand. They might have announced the truth, and embarked on a strategic initiative to lead the world toward rapid transformation of the energy infrastructure, dramatically increasing the use of renewables – solar, wind, geothermal, wave, etc. They chose a radically different path instead.  And I think we know what Rex Tillerson will continue to do “instead,” despite his acknowledgment of the risks of man-made global warming.

How do we know this?  He is an oil man through and through.  While he admits the reality of man-made climate disruption, he dismissively labels it “an engineering problem, with an engineering solution.” That, my friends, is hubris on a monumental scale.  Clearly, mitigation – higher sea walls for coastal cities, moving key infrastructure to higher ground, building flood handling systems for increased torrential rain events – is part of the solution.  And other “engineering solutions,” of the geoengineering variety, are regularly discussed – but are dangerous soot-in-the-sky ideas at best. (Aside from as-yet undiscovered ways to suck CO2 from the atmosphere, I think they are crazy, and Michael Lemonick agrees.)

Tillerson and his club clearly intend to keep developing and burning fossil fuels at an ever-increasing rate.  And if you analyze his remarks, you see that he even uses a “humanitarian” angle. That is, it would be unfair, even inhumane, to deny developing countries the “low-cost” comforts of a fossil-fuel economy. Such a humanitarian, he is. You can read all about the nuances in his stance in a new article by Elliott Negin.  He suggests that Tillerson’s apparent grudging respect for science might itself be a con, a distraction to divert our attention from the real goal – find ever more fossil fuels, and burn them up, producing massive profits, damn the long-term consequences (and life on the planet for that matter) to hell. And if it is just a public-relations sham, isn’t that all the more reason to include him in the administration of our incoming president, who may prove to be the most consequential con artist of all time?

I believe a titan like Rex Tillerson merits an honorary title – something befitting his impact on the planet, today and far into the future.  I propose this – Petrosaurus Rex. The lord of the fossil-fuel dinosaurs.  And may he, or his work at least, soon suffer the same fate as the giant flesh-eating dinosaur that inspired that name.

Extinction is the well-deserved end of those who refuse to evolve.

Rejection by the Senate would be a mighty good start.