Category Archives: National Geographic

Righteousness or Reality?

Righteousness

Just when I thought I’d heard everything possible from the Trump Administration’s attack on our environment, including doing all they could possibly dream up to deny that man’s use of fossil fuels to power our cars and utilities and lives contributes to our planet’s climate crisis, comes this headline:

Energy chief Rick Perry says fossil fuels can prevent sexual assault

Wait.

What?

It will not surprise anyone that Perry, the former Governor of Texas and 2016 Presidential Candidate who is now President Trumps Energy Secretary, is a loyalist to fossil fuels given that his home state is filled with the stuff and that most of America’s biggest oil companies are based there. But now it appears that we’ve learned he is not only deeply biased but perhaps delusional too.

At an event sponsored by Axios and NBC News Perry explained that on a recent trip to Africa a girl there told him that electricity was important to her because she wanted to avoid using a lamp that produces noxious fumes to read at night, to study. He then went on in the interview to say:

“electricity also was important from the standpoint of sexual assault. When the lights are on, when you have light that shines the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts.”

When I read the word righteousness I immediately think of its use in the context of religion or morality. To hear the United States Energy Secretary, a member of the President’s Cabinet, use it to tout the use of fossil fuels or to seemingly suggest that fossil fuels serve a righteous purpose is alarming. Could he be trying to suggest that God supports the use of fossil fuels? Or that the distribution and use of fossil fuels hold some moral purpose? You can decide for yourself by reading the article that caught my attention here but such a statement is troubling on any level (sickening really) and to read his comments that there is a link, or what he called a ‘positive role’, between fossil fuels and preventing sexual assault, is deeply disturbing. 

REAL NEWS FLASH To Secretary PerryElectricity is generated all over the world by all sorts of power sources other than fossil fuels including clean, sustainable sources such as the sun (solar), water (hydro) and wind.

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I’ve been to Africa but I’ve not yet been to India. Thankfully former late night TV host and comedian David Letterman traveled to India as a Correspondent for the Season Two Premier of National Geographic’s Years of Living Dangerously entitled ‘A Race Against Time’ where he reported finding children studying at night by noxious kerosene burning lamps. He also reported that some 300 Million people in India (nearly the equivalent of the entire population of the United States) have no electricity of any type and that solar power is being used to provide electricity to change their lives for the better.

If you’ve not seen Years of Living Dangerously, a show that’s been called ‘must watch television’, then click here and start with David’s excellent episode and while you’re at it catch the episode entitled Saving Miami to learn about Miami’s plight.

Reality

I believe that our planet’s climate change crisis is the most significant issue that my generation will ever face. Of that I am certain and while I don’t know Jeff Dorian I sure do agree with what he wrote in a Letter to the Editor in the November 2nd edition of the Miami Herald and want to share it as a dose of reality.

DENYING REALITY

I smoked cigarettes for 30-plus years. I ignored the warnings — liked them too much; kept thinking they wouldn’t affect me. The odds were in my favor. There is no family history of cancer, and my diet and exercise regimes were excellent.

Then came the heart attack.

I quit smoking, but the damage was done: irreversible loss of functioning capacity. If only I’d quit sooner, surely my health would be much better today.

All of us face a similar dilemma today. We must give up fossil fuels. Most Americans don’t think carbon emissions will affect them. The threat seems unsure and far in the future. We enjoy cheap fuel and fast cars too much. We don’t know how to give them up.

The warnings, again from scientists, again are clear and easy to understand. The deniers in Congress are once again denying and supporting business interests over protecting the public interest.

Once again, the damage is irreversible. My heart is not going to get stronger, and the ocean is not going to recede. People are now dying from effects of carbon emissions and associated climate change.

The solution, though not easy, is exquisitely simple: Just Google carbon fee.

– Jeff Dorian, Plantation

The debate on whether man has impacted our climate is long over97% of all scientists agree that that’s exactly what has happened and that carbon in our atmosphere has never been higher and that earth’s temperatures have, in 137 years of recorded data, never been hotter. And if we set politics, and ridiculous statements such as what Secretary Perry said last week aside, even the Trump’s Administration knows the truth and just published it on Friday November 3rd in America’s annual National Climate Assessment.

Hundreds of experts from 13 agencies in our federal government and the academic world researched and wrote the report which was then peer-reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences. You can find the report here and once you’ve read it, or read one of the many articles published about it in recent days like this one, we should all ask ourselves whether we, as citizens of this planet, will continue to allow politicians and their puppets to lie to us, to disrespect us, or do we decide to elect leaders who are serious about solving this well documented problem?

IF the Trump Administration’s goal is to truly do what’s righteous for our country’s future then allow me to suggest that the President announce that the United States will quickly become the world’s leading manufacturer of solar panels and that America will install solar power any and everywhere in our Country as well as in places such as Africa and, for that matter, India too. Make it our generation’s ‘trip to the moon’ as President Kennedy did in the early 1960’s when he made sending men to explore the moon our national focus. The reality is that such an inspirational initiative would create millions of jobs while changing people’s lives and our environment for the better at the same time.

Now that is a reality that I can support and one that would be truly filled with righteousness.

The MAST Makos’ Sustainable Future: Kid’s Get It

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If you’ve ever wondered whether today’s youth understand that our warming planet is causing a growing crisis, or whether my peers are serious about solving the problem then you only needed to be with me last week when I spent a day with 1,500 Middle and High school students at MAST Academy.  And if you’ve ever been concerned about whether kids can quickly swing into action to create those solutions then you sure would have been impressed by the kids that I met on campus that day.

MAST Academy is a nationally recognized school, the only maritime and science technology magnet middle and high school in the Miami-Dade County system and has a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) focus.

It also happens to be located on Key Biscayne, a beautiful barrier island just off the coast of Miami, that is only one of the most susceptible places on earth to a future of sea level rise. In fact, at the rate we are going it’s likely that MAST and much, perhaps all, of Key Biscayne will be under water in a few decades unless those kids and others like them join me in solving this problem.

IMG_7273I started my morning with presentations to two groups of high school students that filled the school’s auditorium. These young people were very engaged, had excellent questions, and were eager to learn more about what they could do to help.

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I then spoke to the school’s environmental clubs and we discussed ideas to help make their school and community more sustainable. Prior to my visit I was asked to help the children think of new projects, to inspire and motivate them. We talked about their recycling initiatives, beach cleanups and campus greenhouse. And we talked a lot about solar power, a topic that the students were fascinated with.

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While my time with the high school students and clubs was amazing, perhaps the highlight of my day was the enthusiasm of the middle schoolers that packed every seat in the auditorium after lunch. In fact, after my lecture these students had over an hour of questions and comments about climate change, sea rise and solutions to these problems.

IMG_7302The children were so enthusiastic that day that the school’s leadership was spontaneously inspired to create a school-wide sustainability committee. Over 50 children volunteered on their own volition to participate and then joined me to discuss how they could raise money, approach local political leaders, design, plan and implement a range of projects on their campus and in their community.

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When I say that these children were motivated, I really do mean it. They were hungry to  learn and become involved and, most importantly, to solve the climate change crisis with one another. As I have said and seen many times before, Kids Get It and that sure is true at MAST Academy.

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Thanks to Michele Drucker for kindly inviting me and being so enthusiastic towards the children as well as me and my work.

Thanks also to MAST’s Principal Ms. Otero for allowing me to visit her school as well as supporting the children’s excitement for the future.

I’ve promised to return to MAST and help the children in any way that I can and I look forward to doing that so as to build on their enthusiasm. It’s exactly that type of enthusiasm that gives me great hope that by working together my peers and I will, in fact, solve the climate crisis.

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Jack Black Stars In “How To Take A Selfie”

I never knew my selfie picture technique needed so much improvement until the day that I spent with Jack Black filming for Years of Living Dangerously.

When it came time to take selfies, I naturally used the same technique that I have had since I first owned a smartphone in 6th grade. The picture below is me using my tried and true technique:

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After just a couple of shots, it was clear that Jack was tiring of my amateur selfie antics:

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And thus, he insisted he take the selfie operation over by announcing that he wanted to teach me his patented selfie technique, the best approach to selfies ever created:

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Notice Jack’s use of the index finger curling around the top, and the phone resting on the pinky finger below, and the two middle fingers cradling the phone like only a professional selfie taker can do. And what you don’t see is the rapid fire use of his thumb. I have to admit that Jack’s technique changes everything:

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Clearly, his technique was that of a professional selfie picture taker and his pictures, including this one, came out fantastic:

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He also taught me the same technique can be employed to not only take “serious” selfies, but silly ones too:

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And if this world class selfie taking technique was not enough, Jack was also generous in teaching me what he called “The Clint Eastwood Squint”?! Here he is taking the shot, and below it, the outcome: IMG_0136IMG_0134

In case you were worried, following our fantastic selfie teaching session, Jack did return my phone to me having blessed it with his own technique, which for all I know may have come from The Land of Kickapoo:

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To see more of Jack, as well as yours truly, please tune into the Miami Episode (Gathering Storm, Saving Miami) on Wednesday November 2nd on The National Geographic Channel for Years of Living Dangerously. And don’t forget to watch the first episode starring David Letterman from India, which premieres tonight, and to set your DVR for the entire series of Years of Living Dangerously. It has been called “the most important television series ever” for good reason and while Jack does not cover his selfie technique in our episode, he sure does explain what’s happening to South Florida and why we must all work together to solve the climate change crisis before it is too late.

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