Weekly Letter to the President
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ofthisandthat.org. All rights
INAUGURATION, January 20, 2009
Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape
To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.
The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.
Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.
--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
--- Native American proverb
September 20, 2019 (posted September 25)
Mr. President: To say Greta Thunberg is a remarkable young girl is to understate her
accomplishments. She is phenomenal. She has successfully exploited social media
and through dogged persistence -- including a trip across the Atlantic on a sailing
yacht to make a point about the very high pollution per passenger on a commercial
jet. Given the 20,000 planes in service serving three billion passengers the sum total
is a serious problem.
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, jets emit "staggering amounts of
CO2", representing 11 percent of all US transportation emission and 3 percent of total
US CO2 emissions. Like cars, they also emit nitrogen oxides which being discharged
at high altitudes are deadlier and more effective than ground level emissions.
Ahead of the UN Climate Summit that runs September 21-23 in New York, Greta has
mobilized record numbers of youth climate activists to persuade their parents, friends
and relations to join them on Friday, September 20 in a climate protest numbering
more than 2500 strikes in 117 countries. Organizations, businesses, workers and
their unions (including the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) the world's
largest with 207 million members) are all involved in this global effort.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is clearly on the same page for the UN effort
was planned to commence with a youth climate summit on Saturday, September 21
that brings together young activists with change makers. This was before the strike
was set for the day before.
The climax of the UN climate summit is on the following Monday when world leaders
convene to "put climate action into a higher gear" as Mr. Guterres phrases it. The
current Paris agreement limiting warming to 2C above preindustrial levels needs to be
updated to its more ambitious goal of a 1.5C rise, he says, as climate related risks for
natural and human systems is lower and likely to be intolerable at 2C.
The young climate activists have not forgotten the Trump administration's blindness
to scientific reasoning and its obstinate refusal to act on climate change. On Monday,
they descend on Washington and their protest is expected to bring the city to a halt.
Once can admire the young who are putting their hearts and souls into their
campaign. But what next when they return to school? Greta wants a "Fridays for
Future" campaign. More importantly we have to change our own lives and lobby our
For our habits and the world to change, new jobs must replace the old, and
government must allocate resources for retraining and re-employment to help the new
industries that spring up as manufacturing restructures in a waning fossil fuel
economy. It will take time. And there is time, despite the frenetic urgency of the
The year 2040 is not doomsday. Nothing will happen and the world will go on as
usual. It happens to be a date in the IPCC report that is cited at which the earth can
be in trouble and possibly fall into an irreversible heat loop. But the work is loaded
with qualifications and probabilities and levels of confidence in the statements made.
It also assumes no carbon removal from the atmosphere.
Prognostication is peril laden for in fact carbon removal and sequestration
technologies are fast improving with pilot projects and others in several countries.
These, plus changes in our habits, and a shift away from fossil fuels should keep our
earth safe in the future ... at least until the next asteroid comes our way. Life as they
say is precarious.