Thursday, February 4, 2016

Loads of hot air

At 7:45am this morning, the temperature was already 45 degrees Fahrenheit. While this may not seem remarkable, it is not the normal order of things in Vermont in February. The snow and ice from the only snow which has had accumulation so far this winter is just about gone. In February.

It is political season in the U.S. (when isn't it anymore?). The Republican party, which controls both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Congress still denies climate change. Although, to be fair, some in that party are now beginning to admit that it is happening - they just don't think that humans have played any part in it. So, there is no need to address pollution, carbon emissions, how we supply our energy needs (meaning don't mess with big oil or nuclear power), or do anything to address the situation. Other than provide more tax cuts and legal protections to the corporations which have played a major role in creating this mess.

Bernie Sanders is a U.S. Senator from Vermont, the state in which I live.
He is running for the Democratic nomination for President.
This is the kind of plain, direct statement he usually makes.
In December, an international accord was reached in Paris to lower greenhouse gas emissions. While it is nowhere near what is needed, it is at least a start. It's taken close to what, 40 years, to get this far? (It was in the mid 1970's that scientists gave up on the idea of aerosols as possibly creating global cooling and more or less agreed - and published - that global warming via the 'greenhouse' effect was actually happening. Climate change theories that incorporated a human causal factor go back to the late 1800's.)  The Paris accord hasn't been signed yet - that won't happen until April.
This is one of the nicer responses to Senator Sanders
from the conservative right. So far, the money source
funding "Rebooting Liberty" has not become public.

The agreement had barely been announced when Republicans in the U.S. government made it clear that they did not support it, and that they would work to prevent the President of the United States from being able to deliver on promises made to other countries in the negotiations (in which our country and our Secretary of State, John Kerry, played a major role). The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is against it. That committee is chaired by Lamar Smith, Republican form the state of Texas, who believes that climate change not only doesn't exist, but is based on data that was intentionally manipulated to produce this result for some nefarious purpose. Lamar Smith, by the way, has received well over $600,000.00 from the fossil fuel industry during his years in office. (Although he hasn't stated it explicitly, he has made statements which could easily be interpreted as rejecting the concept of evolution. It plays well to his base. Something like 47% of Republicans in one survey stated outright that they do not believe in the "theory of evolution".) The House Committee chaired by Representative Smith began new hearings on this subject yesterday, February 3rd. The hearings have a title - “The Paris Climate Promise: A Bad Deal for America".  The Chair's opening statement included the thought that the deal would help destroy the U.S. economy without  producing any appreciable result.

As the primaries for the Democratic and Republican nominations for the office of President of the U.S. are underway, one might wonder about the candidates' respective positions regarding climate change. The two Democratic candidates consider the issue real, and one that needs immediate responses. The top three Republican candidates (as of this writing) all either deny climate change outright, or deny that mankind has had a hand in it.

Shirley Temple and Eddie Cantor

My radio show last week was about a different U.S. President, as the program took place on January the 30th, the birthday of Franklin D. Roosevelt. When he was 39, Roosevelt contracted infantile paralysis, a disease so old that it is depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphs. It left him crippled. As he searched for a way to deal with it, he discovered the healing effect of the Warm Springs spa in Georgia. He won the Governorship of New York after campaigning in a wheelchair. When Warm Springs fell on hard financial times, he bought it and opened it to anyone who needed it, regardless of ability to pay. By the time he was elected President, it had eaten up 2/3 of his fortune. His first year in office, at the height of the Depression, he held a Birthday Ball whose proceeds would go to his new Warm Springs Foundation. It raised over one million dollars in one night.

In 1934, the Presidential Birthday Ball concept went national. Any community which held one would split the proceeds with the President's foundation. The foundation also began to fund research for a cure for the disease, which was becoming known as 'polio'. One night, during a radio show, entertainer Eddie Cantor asked all of America to contribute, to send any spare change they had, even a dime. He wanted to see a march of dimes from every town to the White House. It wasn't long before the President's foundation became known as the March of Dimes. Roosevelt died in the Spring of 1945, just before the fall of Germany in WWII. That January, the Birthday Balls contributed $18.9 million to the foundation. After his death, the U.S. Congress requested the U.S. Mint honor Roosevelt by putting his profile on the dime.

The research funded by Roosevelt's foundation resulted in Jonas Salk's vaccine, which became available in the mid 1950's. Polio was, for the most part, wiped out. Sadly, it reappeared a couple of years ago in war torn Syria.

This week's radio show also took note of Eddie Cantor's birthday, which is on January 31st. Far too few pieces were played for jazz trumpeter Roy Eldridge, whose birthday was on January 30th. As a finale, there is the January 30th, 1946 broadcast of the Old Gold show, better known as "Songs By Sinatra". The Benny Goodman sextet appeared in the guest slot.

As always, I hope any listeners enjoy the show.