Trump and the blowing wind

Clete Wetli, Contributor

“If Hillary got in you wouldn’t have that stat, I can tell you right now. You would be doing wind, windmills and if it doesn’t — if it doesn’t blow you can forget about television for that night. [Laughter] Darling, I want to watch television. I’m sorry, the wind isn’t blowing. I know a lot about wind. I know a lot about wind.”- Donald J. Trump, MAGA Rally, Grand Rapids, Michigan – March 28, 2019

Yes, if Trump knows anything, he is undoubtedly an expert on blowing wind. Many people are saying that, believe me.

He has blown wind for his entire life and he knows more than his generals and scientists about it.

So, here we are. Two years and thousands of lies later. Our debt at historic levels and our institutions under a constant, corrosive attack by people whose only motivation is preserving their power and increasing their personal ill-begotten wealth. In truth, that is where we are.

In science, every human eye has a blind spot that corresponds to the placement of the optic nerve within the retina where there are no photoreceptors. In all their wisdom, the Founding Fathers never anticipated the blind spot of Trump in our democracy. It seemed that they thought that the electorate would never choose someone who was so hell bent on wreaking havoc on our political norms or who was so uniquely and blatantly unqualified to lead. In fact, it was never even considered that we might elect a leader who was intrinsically incapable of coherent thought or formulating complete sentences. Yet, here we are.

Listening to the blowing wind and suffocating on the stench it brings.

This week, I spoke with gleeful Trump cult followers that were simply drunk on the idea that Barr’s shameful initial synopsis of the Mueller Report seemed to clear Trump of Russian collusion.  I listened to their cacophonous illogical explanations and obtuse justifications of Trump’s obvious lies and unethical conduct. Ironically, without exception, each Trump zealot would reluctantly admit that they thought he was a terrible person in one capacity or another. They would cite his continual lies or his infidelity or his lack of ethics or his obvious criminal financial self-dealings. Yet, they would always circle back to supporting him because they thought he was on their side.

They were overjoyed to suck his wind.

Yes, a third, to perhaps half of our country gleefully breathes the foul air that blows from Trump’s rank wind-hole. They seemingly can’t get enough. They find it liberating, intoxicating, and elevating. They are like addicts who make any excuse for another hit of Trump; no matter how insane and no matter the consequence.

We’re two years in and I’m not exactly sure how to fight this effectively. Initially, I thought the truth might be an antidote, but it has sadly failed.  I am slowly coming to the realization that this is less about changing them and more about galvanizing those who refuse to breathe in the wind he blows. That, maybe, we need to put aside our single issue causes and learn to fight together for a greater good. The Republicans figured that out when they employed Grover Norquist’s strategy of, “We know what direction to go. We just need a president to sign this stuff. Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to be president of the United States.”  Well, he may have small digits, but they got exactly what they asked for. A useful idiot who can blow wind and sign decrees.

So, I write this tonight because I feel it’s imperative that we continue to resist and continue to fight for what we know in our hearts is true and right and American.

Trump may know a lot about blowing wind, but we know a lot more about truth and what it will really take for America to find its soul again.  2020 is coming and, soon, a fresh invigorating wind will blow from a different direction and it will bring a new season of hope and desperately needed change.

Anti-vaxxers Ignorance Causing Irreparable Damage and Needless Deaths

Jerry Waters, Contributor

One of the unfortunate consequences of the modern conservative movement’s war on science and facts is that it has given credence and legitimacy to people who think that they shouldn’t be legally required to vaccinate their children from diseases like the measles. It’s part of the bizarre, deep-state conspiracy, politically evangelical mindset that believes that climate change is a hoax and that the acceptance of scientific facts are dependent on one’s personal beliefs and religious convictions. They believe their rights supersede the common good and they are causing irreparable damage and needless deaths, especially as they spread false and inaccurate information about the safety and effectiveness of medical vaccinations.

Right now, we’re seeing the effects as their actions are directly responsible for the enormous spike in measles cases (200 and counting) in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington. It’s getting so bad that a state of emergency was declared by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

This has happened because medical geniuses like model and horrible B-movie actress Jenny McCarthy went on Oprah in 2007 to claim that the MMR vaccine caused her child’s autism. Other celebrities with no medical background like Alicia Silverstone, Rob Schneider, Robert DeNiro, and Charlie Sheen have spread similar misinformation. Well, if you’re taking your medical advice from Charlie Sheen, you’re in for a bumpy and ride that may leave you with a burning, itching rash that just won’t go away!

To address these false claims and concerns about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, the scientific community has done tons of research to determine the validity of these claims. Without the smallest doubt, numerous studies have shown that the anti-vaxxers are simply wrong. The most recent longitudinal study followed 650,000 children over a span of years and showed no correlation between MMR vaccinations and autism. In fact, they found that unvaccinated kids were 17 percent more likely to be diagnosed with autism than vaccinated children.

Yet, people are still taking the word of Charlie Sheen and Jenny McCarthy over studies that rely on facts, the scientific method, and rigorous, professional peer-review. Sheen, who thinks he’s made of, um, tiger blood, once said about his life, “It’s perfect. It’s awesome. Every day is just filled with just wins. All we do is put wins in the record books. We win so radically in our underwear before our first cup of coffee, it’s scary. People say it’s lonely at the top, but I sure like the view.” Isn’t this the guy who lost his sitcom job in an epic drug-fueled meltdown and then announced he was HIV positive? Is this a guy who should be using his celebrity to dispense medical advice? In all fairness to Sheen, he’s gone a year sober now and he’s not making an embarrassing spectacle of himself anymore, but his misguided public remarks on vaccinations have already caused serious damage to public health.

This is why educated, fact-based leadership matters. The right-wing is guilty of giving the anti-science crowd a platform with a megaphone and the devastating effects are becoming palpable in public policy and health.

The Trump administration’s war on science is destroying our environment and remains largely silent on important issues like vaccination so that they don’t lose the ignorant, bat-shit crazy folks that make up their cult-like base. It’s also a wink-nod approach that’s designed to line the pockets of their donors who have no sense of ethics or public responsibility because they prefer short-term profit and political power regardless of the human cost.

It’s time to start publicly denouncing these ant-vaxxers and to enthusiastically support science and facts. The stakes are too high to ignore these fools who do their damage daily on social media.

If only we had a vaccine that prevented ignorance and idiocy. Oh, wait, we do- it’s called education.

Catastrophic loss of bugs should really bug you

Contributor, Clete Wetli

A new study released in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Biological Conservation, predicts that 40% of the world’s insects face extinction over the next few decades due to global urbanization and corporate agriculture. The research took empirical data from over seventy reports around the world that have been tracking the alarming decline of insects, notably dung beetles, wasps, bees, and butterflies.

Folks, that’s Mother Nature’s primal scream to stop the exploitation of natural resources.

It’s the gravest warning yet for mankind to change its destructive ways.

And, yes, this is very political and highly controversial. It’s why some Democrats are pushing for a New Green Deal and why Republicans are giddy that America pulled out of the Paris Climate Change Accords.

Notably, the 1 out of 6 species of bees that have recently become irrevocably extinct were not registered as Republicans or Democrats or even the Green Party and they certainly didn’t see the need for the massive concrete parking lot that took the place of their once pristine natural habitat.

Hey, so long as some entitled rich guy gets to make another billion, it’s worth it, right? Besides, as resources get increasingly scarce, it just means more dollars for some folks, what’s wrong with that?

Well, it’s bugging the hell out of me that people aren’t taking this seriously. It’s bugging me that this story isn’t dominating the headlines. Instead, we’re contemplating whether the Bloviator-In-Chief is going to shut down the government again if he doesn’t get to build his absurd border wall.

So, why should the loss of a few pesky bugs bug you? I mean, who the hell cares if mosquitoes or gnats become extinct, right? Well, the truth is that bugs are an integral part of our food chain and they are key players in necessary global functions like pollinating crops and ensuring carcasses end up becoming fertilizer. You may not like them, but a lot of animals on the planet eat some Honey Bunches of Bugs for breakfast. No bugs, no coffee… no coffee, no peace. Don’t even get me started on how important bugs are to the production of chocolate. Seriously.

Often, we focus on the plight of cute mammals, like pandas or spotted owls, becoming extinct, but insects are a vital part of the Earth’s ecosystem and actually outnumber other animals.

Americans don’t realize the peril they are in with Trump in office. It’s wasn’t just his rejection of the Paris Accords, it’s his administration’s unwavering, insane commitment to roll back all types of sensible environmental regulations. Frankly, I’m shocked that Trump’s White House didn’t serve dismembered spotted owl instead of ‘hamberders’ to championship college football teams.

That’s the real problem with the Republican Party’s incestuous embrace of the science deniers and the fossil fuel barons- for them it’s only about making a buck; for the rest of us, their willfully ignorant and prejudiced rejection of climate change evidence is a clear and present existential threat.

Republicans and their ilk are literally laying waste to our planet. They are killing the pollinators and destroying the bugs that are vital links in our fragile ecosystem. The evidence is all around us and it’s heartbreaking and overwhelming.

It’s why we’ve got to get behind people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Yes, she’s young and rough around the edges, but she is absolutely right when it comes to the environment. We are running out of time for incremental policy change and it’s time for drastic, corrective action. This is especially true as Trump tries to undo decades of beneficial environmental regulations and safeguards. AOC is plainly telling us the inconvenient truth and that’s why the establishment wants to silence her.

Yeah, it’s fossil fuels and toxic waste and landfills and polluted aquifers and oil spills and deforestation and, yes, the extinction of the bees and butterflies.

It matters.

We can still stop this zombie-like march toward our deliberate self-destruction, but it’s going to take more than just remembering to use the office recycle bin and avoiding those stupid coffee pods. It’s going to require comprehensive legislation and policy initiatives that are truly big and genuinely prescient.

We’ve got to figure out a way to get folks to care about the creepy crawlys because they are key to the survival of our planet. They really matter that much.

When 40% of the Earth’s insects are gone, it may be too late.

I hope this bugs the hell out of you, just like it’s bugging the hell out of me. d���_��

“Mo on the Rocks” sung to the tune of Neil Diamond’s “Love on the Rocks”

Franklin, Contributor

Mo on the rocks

Ain’t no surprise

Just add stones for the ocean to rise

It ain’t strange if you hate climate change

All the time

Gave you my silt

Gave you my slag

You left me in Congress without much to say

Pandering’s done

Now all I want are some bucks

First, they say they love you

Then, they get to know you

Suddenly you find you’re out there

Sounding like a fool

When they know they have you

All that science, so true

Nothing you can do or say

You’ve got to leave, just get away

We all know you’re wrong

You need that science screed

You can say what you want

Not much you can do when you’re making it up

May be blue skies above

But it’s cold when your Mo’s on the rocks

First, they say they love you

Then, they get to know you

Suddenly you find you’re out there

Sounding like a fool

When they know they have you

All that science, so true

Nothing you can do or say

You’ve got to leave, just get away

We all know that you’re wrong

Mo on the rocks

Ain’t no surprise

Just add rocks for the ocean to rise

It ain’t strange if you hate climate change

All the time

We’re Watching the EPA get Neutered

trump, epa, pruitt, neuter

Jerry Waters, Contributor

Proving that it’s much easier to destroy than to create, EPA Chief Scott Pruitt has directed the agency in charge of protecting our environment to eliminate Obama-era gas mileage and emissions regulations for automakers. Maybe, next week corporations can just dump poisons in our drinking water and… oh, wait, he already did that.

Okay, so the new pro-pollution policies come after Pruitt has gutted clean water regulations and allowed corporate farms to spray produce with all sorts of horrifying insecticides and herbicides. Pruitt, like other Trump cabinet members, is on a mission to neuter to the agency he’s been tapped to lead. So, why should anyone be bothered that he’s been crashing at a condo paid for by natural gas lobbyist? What the frack, guys?

Ah, Pruitt, the asshat, who as Attorney General for Oklahoma, took money from the fossil fuel industry and sued the EPA fourteen times. Pruitt, the scholarly genius, who publicly declares that mankind’s pollution has absolutely nothing to do with global climate change. Just chew it all over with a second helping of chlorpyrifos, Pruitt’s favorite insecticide- you know, the one that’s only responsible for about 10,000 deaths a year.

Trump knew that Pruitt despised the EPA and that’s why he put him in charge of it. In fact, Trump made most of his cabinet choices ensuring they were in direct conflict with the agencies’ missions, in order to ensure that corporations could get away with figurative and literal murder.

The downright dangerous and unethical actions of Pruitt are merely symptomatic of a greater problem in the American psyche. It’s the idea that common sense regulations designed to keep businesses from ruining our environment or engaging in practices that are exploitative are somehow too onerous a burden. Conservatives continue to peddle the myth that businesses cannot be good stewards of the environment and make a profit simultaneously.

Trust me, the polluters are making obscene profits. They can afford to do the right thing, but their unquenchable greed is celebrated by many, rather than being recognized as a diagnosable obsession or a malignant evil. These observations are not an indictment of wealth or success. Instead, it’s a recognition of a corporate world that increasingly only gives lip service to ethics and puts short-term profit and shareholders ahead of everything else.

As Pruitt guts environmental regulations, we are left to hope that companies will make choices that protect us. Instead of dumping raw pollutants wherever they see fit, they’ll invest in technologies to limit their toxic waste or dispose of it in a way that doesn’t harm people or the planet. Yes, hope for that because their track records show that they’ll do just that, right? Hmmm, isn’t that why we needed the EPA and regulations in the first place?

Pruitt is also allowing our public lands to be sold or to be exploited for their natural resources. He could care less about ecosystems or habitats. His focus is pleasing the lobbying groups that fill his campaign coffers and give him under-the-table sweetheart deals. That’s why he constructed a $43,000 sound-proof and hacker-proof bunker in his EPA office- because doing the people’s business of protecting the environment, requires the utmost secrecy? Apparently, it also requires a full-time security detail and first-class flights. As head of the EPA, he sure wouldn’t want to be confused with a tree-hugger!

An oil spill happens in hours and the clean-up takes years. Air pollution doesn’t just magically disappear, nor do toxins in our drinking water. You’d think we would have learned from Superfund sites or rivers that used to catch fire. It’s going to be easy for Pruitt to destroy the decades of hard work and research that led to the EPA formulating regulations that have kept America’s polluters at bay.

Pro-business conservatives will idolize Pruitt, but the next generations, regardless of their political leanings, will suffer his polluted, soot-filled legacy as he neuters the EPA into impotence and tragic irrelevancy.

The Disconnect is Real

twentytwentynews, surreal times, trump, politics, climate change

Jerry Waters, Contributor

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling pretty disconnected lately. Disconnected in the sense that I don’t understand the hostility and self-righteousness and fear that’s screaming at me from conservatives. I used to be able to disagree without it becoming personal. Hell, we used to be able to find some small middle ground on which to discover mutual respect, but that’s nonexistent now.

Normally, I write about science and the environment. Usually, those are safely nerdy topics that don’t generate a tsunami of political heat. But lately, that hasn’t been the case. I’ve been threatened and ridiculed over things that I never imagined would be controversial politically. I mean, clean air and water? Space exploration? Conservation of natural resources? Yeah, I get that there are conflicting sides and different interests at stake, but I don’t understand the vitriol from the right.

We all still live on the same planet, right?

I mean, why is the head of the EPA hell bent on rolling back every regulation that protects the beautiful country we live in? Do people really want coal ash, fracking byproducts, and other chemicals in their drinking water with no legal means of recourse against the companies doing the polluting?

Why, again, are we drilling for oil off our coastlines? Why are we unnecessarily hastening environmental reviews for major construction projects destined to kill endangered species and lay waste to natural landscapes?

More importantly, why are Trumpsters and conservatives so mad at me for caring about the environment or worrying about the consequences of space exploration and research? They love to hurl insults and threats, but they’re very thin-skinned if you push back at all.

I’ve been amazed at watching them make excuses. The “tax cut” fiasco which explodes our deficit and exacerbates wealth inequality. Ignoring the fact that the Russians definitely and calculatingly interfered with our elections. Their stunning failure to fix healthcare and their laughable plan to repair our nation’s infrastructure. They worship Trump as infallible and excuse his every ignorant, crass, and dangerous remarks. They live in a toxic, mind-numbing, non-permeable bubble of misinformation and propaganda.

Perhaps, I’m not the one who is so disconnected after all. Indeed, “the Russians are laughing their asses off” because we suffer such an ignoramus, who is systematically dismantling our government and squandering our diminishing natural resources for his own profit and self-aggrandizement.

I will continue to write about the environment and science, but I had to get that off my chest. Each day, I’m sickened that Scott Pruitt is in charge of the EPA and that our children’s education is in the comically incompetent hands of Betsy DeVos. While we were distracted by the dizzying displays of perpetual White House scandal, Trump presented a budget that eliminated funding for public broadcasting and for NASA’s education programs. I mean, this shithead wants to get rid of the TVA and defund any efforts to produce renewable energy.

It’s exhausting keeping up with Trump’s destruction of our beloved country. It’s heartbreaking watching this greedy buffoon and his cronies get rid of necessary environmental regulations and reviews so that they can make a few bucks in the short term.

I’ve no doubt that America will survive this, but it’s clear that every day that Trump is in office that our nation becomes diminished, sicker, and unstable. The anti-environment and anti-science fervor that has swept the Republican party must be stopped in its tracks because the consequences will be deadly.

Forgive my rant, I’ll get back to writing about the things I love, but in the era of Trump I find myself banging my head on my desk regularly.

Do we need more off-shore drilling (except off Mar-A-Lago, of course)?

oil, rig, maralago, trump, zinke

Jerry Waters, Contributor

If you say, “Drill, baby drill” around a Republican, it appears to have the same effect as an illegal, highly addictive aphrodisiac that’s almost as potent as, “I dig coal”.  Conservatives were elated when Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords and downright giddy as his administration took a wrecking ball to environmental regulations that were designed to keep us safe.

Although the world has made monumental strides in developing and producing a multitude of clean energy sources, the Republicans insist on prolonging their dirty affair with oil and fossil fuels for as long as possible. No matter how many pipelines burst an d pollute drinking water or supertankers spill millions of gallons of toxins into the sea, they truly believe that oil and coal are the fuels of our future.

Recently, the Trump administration announced that it intended to open most US coastal waterways for expansive oil drilling, except for Florida.  The new policy doesn’t care if the drilling takes place near endangered species or fragile ecosystems. Yet, it seems that drilling off Florida’s coast could be a bigly distraction to Trump’s weekly, tax-payer funded golf game, so that was quickly nixed.  Other states are applying for the same exemption as Florida, but it depends on whether they are red or blue and how much they are willing to kiss Trump’s ass.

The big question, though, is do we need more off-shore drilling?

The short answer is “No.”

Right now, US oil production is at an all-time high while demand has remained fairly steady. Prices are low. Also, the Trump administration let the oil-spill clean-up tax expire and have no plans for renewing it, which is a huge financial boon to oil companies as supply exceeds demand.  Fracking has turned out to be cheap and profitable. Under Trump, they can now get away with polluting, creating flammable tap-water, and causing earthquakes to their heart’s content.

It’s 15 to 20 times cheaper for US oil companies to drill or frack on land than it is to for them to do off-shore drilling. Even with the stunningly stupid roll-back of drilling safety regulations, there’s not a good business case for increased off-shore drilling. They just want to have that option for the day that they are in direct competition with clean, renewable energy. They want to get every dime possible out of the fossil fuel infrastructure they’ve spent decades creating before it becomes wholly obsolete. Who cares if a few people or some fish die in the process? It’s all about the money, baby.

“Drill, baby, drill” is the ancillary to Trump’s Golden Rule- “Whoever has the gold, makes the rules.” It’s why he put his nefarious minion, Zinke, in charge of the Interior Department. Zinke has flip-flopped on most major environmental issues, but he’s clearly a Trumper today. He has lifted bans on trophy hunting imports, rescinded the ban on bullets that cause lead contamination, and reduced national monuments.

In the spirit of Roy Moore, Zinke rode a horse to his swearing-in. Even better, when he’s not chartering private jets at tax-payer expense, he demands that The Flag of The Secretary of the Interior be flown after a small ceremony whenever he is in the building. I promise, I’m not making this stuff up!

Zinke is hell-bent on destroying our public lands and water-ways to ensure that big business can exploit them any way they see fit. Besides, now that he’s raised the price of admission to most parks, you can’t afford to go there anyway.

His love of the “Drill, baby, drill” mantra isn’t necessarily practical, but it’s brazenly political. Zinke wants big business to know that he’s got their back and that he’s not going to let something like a protected or endangered species get in the way of making a few bucks. I mean, fuck the Greater Sage-Grouse, really!

So,with all of Trump’s focus on eliminating safety regulations, and pesky Greater Sage-Grouses, for Big Oil, what could possibly go wrong?

I’m sure Zinke has the stable, genius answer and will point us to that over-used scripture that he has marked with a Post-It in his Bible about “Man having dominion over the earth” while he’s loading his gun to kill some big game animal to decapitate and put on his office wall.

By the way, that Flag of The Secretary of the Interior better be flying when he comes back to the office with his new trophy, or there’s going to be some serious Hell to pay!

Like coffee? You better save the killer bees

coffee, killer, bees

Jerry Waters, Contributor

I was recently horrified to discover that man-made climate change is threatening the very gasoline that fuels human existence: coffee. These dreadful tidings are enough to move the hands of my personal Doomsday Clock rapidly forward to display a quick two seconds to midnight. Folks, this is a DEFCON 5 situation that requires immediate attention and the kind of rapid global action that can only occur after unhealthy abuse of espresso.

So, the problem is that rising temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns have already begun to affect the Latin American coffee crop. The biggest pollinator of coffee crops happens to be the killer bee whose work is vital for high commercial yields. Aside from temperature and precipitation changes, the killer bees are also losing habitat quickly due to humans destroying their homes.

Compounding these issues, killer bees really don’t much like humans messing with them and beekeepers aren’t exactly fond of handling critters with “killer” as their descriptive moniker. As all these compounding factors threaten coffee production, it is feared that if some major corrective measures aren’t taken that the industry could have some very rough times ahead.

As I write and sip my very bold Colombian morning blend, it drives home the point about how interconnected we are as a planet. I never thought that I would be thanking a killer bee for my morning joe, nor did I imagine that I would suddenly be very concerned about her survival. In fact, too many Americans are blissfully oblivious to the rampant global destruction that’s caused by their unquenchable consumerism.

As my java kicks in, I think that all coffee-loving Americans need to start doing their part to ensure that the international companies that bring us all these products we desire are doing it in an environmentally responsible way. This revelation about the contribution of the killer bee to my caffeine addiction brought home the reality of the fragility of our ecosystem.

From the Pacific Trash Vortex to the earthquakes caused by fracking, the selfish human desires for profit and self-indulgence are wreaking havoc on our planet. Of course, it is politicized because it costs more money to ensure that the utilization of natural resources doesn’t result in their depletion or become the catalyst for a chain of events that harm other living things and biomes.

Somehow, we all keep forgetting about our symbiotic relationship with the killer bee.

In this age of seemingly infinite consumerism with the carcasses of plastic bottles and K-cups seemingly everywhere, I can’t pretend to know any quick fix or magical solution. I think it simply begins with awareness followed by a personal commitment to think about the consequences of your lifestyle choices. Maybe, it starts with finding out if your coffee is produced by a responsible grower who doesn’t exploit his workers in the fields and understands the great value of the killer bee to the yield of his crop.

So much of this debate over man’s impact on the climate is absurdly obvious as we continue to pave and clear-cut and mine and try to force nature’s hand. As a species, we’ve got to become much more aware of our footprint and we must commit to preserving the delicate balance of our planet. We have no choice but to inject politics into the debate or we risk more profiteers, like Trump, shredding global agreements to curtail pollution.

I can probably live without my iPhone and certainly don’t need a toaster connected to WiFi, but when you start talking about coffee shortages, you have my undivided attention. So, let’s make sure we do everything we can to help the killer bees keep killing it.

Stand in solidarity with us. tea drinkers, because you may be next. Maybe, this is what folks mean when they say I need to get “woke”…

Read more on the Coffee Loving Killer Bees

New mysterious signals from outer space: Are Earthlings ready for alien contact?

alien, signals, stephen, hawking

Jerry Waters, Contributor

The Stephen Hawking and Yuri Milner Breakthrough Listen project recently announced that they have received over fifteen fast radio bursts from an unknown galactic source and that they have no idea if they are intentional. The signals were first detected in 2012 and appear to emanate from a source 3Bn light years away. It could be waves from neutron stars, black holes, or possibly intentional communication from extraterrestrial life. Scientists across the globe are giving their opinions and unsurprisingly arguing about the origin of these unexplained transmissions.

Ironically, some scientists and writers, like Nadia Blake, are showing extreme bias by saying, “Invoking aliens as a potential solution to an ongoing mystery is lazy” while others are convinced without much supporting evidence that this is undeniable proof of alien contact. Of course, most people understand that while it’s appropriate to speculate, it’s also way too early to sign off onto any type of conclusion until more research and irrefutable evidence can be gathered.

The most intriguing question is that if these signals are definitively proven to be from an intelligent alien source; are humans ready for alien contact? Do we have a planned coordinated international response? Surely, if they ask to be taken to our leader then we’re not going to let them tweet with Donald Trump…

It’s easy to dismiss these questions out of skepticism or arrogance, but that would be imprudent and potentially disastrous for our species and our planet. Scientists just proved that it’s raining diamonds on Jupiter and Saturn. Luckily, they didn’t say that was happening on Uranus or no one would ever take them seriously again! Well, joking aside, the point is that so many discoveries and advances seem so far-fetched and impossible at the time until they become hard facts or everyday common knowledge that is indisputable and invaluable.

It’s deeply troubling to think that we might miscommunicate with alien life. It’s equally frightening to think that we’ll react aggressively simply out of ignorance. There’s also the possibility that their intentions may be to deliberately destroy or colonize our planet. Yet, much like our heated intra-planetary debate about the pros and cons of artificial intelligence or the manipulation of genes and chromosomes, we have not reached universal consensus.

We can’t even get universal agreement on the science of climate change and the we’re already feeling the measurable negative effects. We currently have the resources to ensure that no one our planet goes hungry, yet hunger and starvation persist across the globe.

Although, as a species we continue to fail to address so many urgent and critical challenges, our technology and knowledge base seems to be advancing almost exponentially. Our cell phones have become powerful computers. We can access information from across the world instantly. Our inventions and breakthroughs are happening so fast that most of us can’t acknowledge or comprehend their current impact or long-term consequences. Many of the people reading this article had a Commodore 64 as their first computer and remember when cell phones were unbelievably expensive and the size of a shoe box.

So, are we ready to have any kind of meaningful discussion with alien life? Ready or not, they may be calling and it’s time we figure out what we’re going to do when that happens. The odds are ever in our favor that one of neighbors is going to come calling sometime soon.

For the skeptics, perhaps it’s time to contemplate the juvenile vanity inherent in the belief that humans are the only sentient beings in the universe. For the folks who watched one too many episodes of the X-Files, it’s time to put down the PlayStation controller and get involved in helping craft a global policy to address this contingency. Yeah, I’m talking to you, nerd.

If you ask me, I think we’re ready. For all our faults as a species, I still think we’re mostly good, decent, and curious in a healthy way. I just hope that their first contact isn’t with a Trump or a member of the Freedom Caucus, If that happens, I hope I can afford a seat on the next SpaceX flight off this rock to go collect diamonds on Uranus, I mean Saturn…

Stephen Hawking’s Signals from Space

New climate change policy: Don’t ask, don’t tell

climate change

Jerry Waters, Contributor

While the EPA Chief Scott Pruitt is busy dismantling every sensible environmental regulation he can get his oil-soaked hands on, he has simultaneously launched a new strategy to ensure that the fossil fuel industry wins its public opinion war over the realities of climate change. This last week, the EPA disbanded the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment which is the fifteen-member federal agency in charge of helping the government, the military, and big corporations deal with the practical and tangible issues arising from climate change. They are also supposed to guide the production of the National Climate Assessment Report which is supposed to be produced every four years. Well, that just got thrown into a landfill.

So, the new EPA strategy for dealing with climate change has now become ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ In fact, policy has changed so that even saying things like ‘global warming’ or ‘man-made climate change’ just might get you fired if you work for the EPA. Well, they may not fire you, but you could end up being another research scientist that’s been recently relocated to the accounting department.

The thing that’s stunningly stupid about this is that even if you harbor the insane delusion that mankind has absolutely nothing to do with climate change, it’s obvious to every person on this ever-warming and polluted planet that it is, indeed, happening. You can debate the causes all you want, but there’s no arguing about the measurable fact that temperatures and ocean levels are rising. The destruction of rain forests isn’t dependent on anyone’s opinion, it just a fact. The list of endangered and extinct species is real regardless of what anyone thinks or believes.

Having said that, wouldn’t it be in the best interest of scum-sucking fossil-fuel lovers and champions of industrial pollution to know how climate change affects their bottom line? I mean, what’s the point of destroying the environmental habitat of a beachfront to build condos if rising sea levels or fierce tropical storms are going to endanger your investment in a few short years? You’d think these profiteers would at least like the facts about how climate change will impact their businesses even if they believe mankind didn’t cause the problem.

That’s not how our new EPA or the geniuses in the Trump administration see it. They just want everyone to believe that the majority of the world’s most respected scientist are engaged in a liberal conspiracy. Those Birkenstock-wearing hippies are trying to kill the coal industry and they’re always bitching about water pollution. Didn’t they read that part in the Bible about man having dominion over the planet? Besides, if we don’t acknowledge that there’s a problem, then there won’t be a problem anymore. Obviously, that approach worked with gays in the military and Pruitt is hoping it can work with climate change, too!

All joking aside, this is something that Americans should be outraged over. This is a global problem that transcends politics. Mother Nature isn’t going to care about your political leanings as coastlines deteriorate, our water becomes increasingly toxic, and summer temperatures get so high that commercial jets are grounded.

This new policy of deliberate ignorance is nothing more than a short-term strategy for the fossil fuel industry to squeeze every penny out of consumers before their industry becomes obsolete. The damage they are doing to our planet is horrific and, in some instances, irreversible. Hopefully, clean and renewable energy will continue to flourish before it’s too late. As Americans, we can’t allow the destruction of the EPA.

Pruitt may be thinking that the EPA’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy will work, but just like the military discovered, reality can be a drag queen with an assault rifle.

Inconvenient Truth: More Information on Climate Change