Things Are Changing And That’s Okay

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There was a time when people had to walk to get to their destination.

Until riding a horse became the norm.

Until folks began riding in a wagon or buggy pulled by a horse or mule.

Until the gas combustible engine and the automobile was invented.

And so it went and continues to go. One transition after another and all the while society and the economy did not collapse. Things changed and everything was just fine.

And now that’s happening again. Things are changing right before our eyes during our lifetimes and it’s an important change. It’s one you and I should support and accelerate. One that might just save a good many people on our planet and the places they live if it happens soon enough.

The change I am talking about is the world’s shift away from fossil fuels and towards sustainable solutions such as electric cars and solar power. And why do I know things are changing? Well, as they say, just follow the money.

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ExxonMobil has dominated the world’s economy for generations and for nearly 100 years it has been one of the ten largest businesses in the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Stock Index, an index of the 500 largest businesses. In fact, for six years straight, just a decade ago, it was the number one ranked company. Six years in a row as the largest. As number one. But, like I said, things change.

Today, as the world shifts away from the core products it sells, ExxonMobil is now number 12. Still a gigantic company, and one whose products are killing our planet by causing temperatures to rise from the carbon pollution those products emit, but it’s no longer number one or even in the “top 10”.

Today the top 10 is dominated by high tech, financial and healthcare businesses. Apple, Amazon, Google, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Visa and so forth. Not an oil or energy company amongst the top 10 these days. Here’s the list as of August 30th, 2019 according to S&P Dow Jones Indices:
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And it’s not just ExxonMobil that is being impacted by the changes being made all over the world. The entire energy sector has been greatly diminished. Four decades ago 25% of the S&P 500 Index was comprised of energy businesses while today it’s just 4.4% as of August 30th. As of December 31st, 2018 that figure was 5.8% and while there are many business reasons (you can read about some of them by clicking here and here) related to the short term decline, the price of a drum of oil or such, the evidence is clear that oil’s dominance is on the decline and not likely to greatly rebound. And that’s OK too.

Here is what Sumit Roy wrote in July in EFT.Com (click here to read the entire article):

“Going forward, it’s hard to imagine that the fortunes of the energy sector are going to improve in any sustained way. OPEC’s production cuts over the past three years have merely been a bandage over a market awash with oil.

On the demand side, consumption in developed countries peaked more than a decade ago, though total global demand continues to be carried higher by emerging markets. As electric cars become more prolific, emerging market demand may peak too, marking the official end of the oil era.”

People don’t generally like change and changes take time. A transition of the size that’s happening with our global energy market will fully take a decade or longer, but I believe that it has begun. People my age increasingly want sustainable energy, electric cars and other solutions to our climate crisis and don’t understand why anyone would debate or delay their benefits.

So, I say embrace the changes.

Accelerate them.

And don’t listen to the oil and coal and utility companies whose fat profits they and the politicians beholden to them want to forever protect. Tell them that things are changing and that it’s OKAY.

Everything, just as history has taught us time and time again, will be just fine.

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Quit Obsessing About Climate Change? Does What You Do or Don’t Do Matter?

Hi everyone, I hope you had a fantastic summer filled with fun and adventure! Mine has been a blur of activity that’s included a few week-long shark tagging and marine science trips out in the Atlantic Ocean; a month long coastal geology expedition to Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada in which we studied everything from marine environments to glaciers; work as the Director of Sustainability for the new Miami Beach Pop Festival (wwww.miamibeachpop.com) and more. Much of the time during my travels I’ve not had internet or much in the way of cell service, but the lessons and experiences have been incredible.

School starts on Monday and I’ve been on campus a great deal in recent days getting ready for what will be a full semester (18 credits), in addition to my work here at The Sink or Swim Project, the Festival, our ongoing climate lawsuit and more. I have a few new blogs headed your way soon but with the arrival of my dear friend Richard Jacob’s own blog post today I hope you won’t mind my setting them aside in favor of sharing his newest, and certainly timely work entitled “Quit Obsessing About Climate Change? Does What You Do or Don’t Do Matter?” as a guest blog:

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Glen Hendrix is a designer, writer, inventor, and entrepreneur. And he has a blog worth checking out.

In his A Timeline for Climate Change Hendrix points out the difficulty we have recognizing the effects of climate change because we lack historical comparisons. A scientist commenting on Hendrix’s blog suggests:

“It is because we are right at that instant where you have cracked an egg on a hot pan, and it’s not cooked yet because the heat from the pan has not transferred into the proteins in the egg to denature them. We are living the infinitesimally small second or two before the egg turns white. You are making an observation which is so difficult for people to understand and thank you for making it.”

I wasn’t too surprised when Hendrix followed up with another blog, “Quit Obsessing About Climate Change. What You Do or Don’t Do No Longer Matters.”

Hendrix starts out:

“Quit worrying about going vegan, or recycling, or riding a bicycle to work, or buying a Tesla instead of that Ford F-650 pickup you’ve always wanted in order to save the planet. You’re off the hook. It’s out of your hands. You can do these things if it makes you feel better, but they are not going to change the big picture. Whatever you do does not matter.”

He concludes:

“So tell your children you are sorry for what is going on with the climate, but it’s not their fault or yours. Tell them some bad people made it too hard to do anything until it was too late. Tell them you will vote for people that might help with the problem. Maybe if we elect the right leaders, and they do the right things there is still time.Tell them to study science and engineering so that someday they might help with a solution or figure out adaptations to deal with it. Or you can put that whole talk off for later. I won’t blame you. You are only human.”

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Hendrix’s comments about our obsessing were quite timely.

I had just received emails from three friends regarding climate change articles I had sent to them, including, A letter to my fellow boomers about climate change.

• One responded, “I am frightened.”
• Another, “It’s hard not to be discouraged. I don’t know what to advise my kids and grandkids about how to prepare themselves for the future.”
• The third, “My wife agrees we have environmental problems, but that it’s hopeless. I don’t agree and want to go down fighting to the end no matter the end. How do we deal with those who have given up hope?”

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We can accept Hendrix’s fatality. We can tell our offspring we’re sorry.

Many well-meaning people have accepted the fatality of our circumstances.

• Too many of us don’t vote since we are convinced our vote doesn’t matter, or there’s really no best of the worst choices. The result is that 29% of us who could vote elected the President for all 100% of us who could vote. And most of us agree that hasn’t been the best result.
• Many of my generation – our “senior” generation – are too willing to say: “We’re too old to worry because the worst won’t happen in our lifetimes.”

But I have trouble with that, with Hendrix’s conclusion:

“What You Do or Don’t Do No Longer Matters.”

That’s contrary to the message Jane Goodall gave us:

“What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

And it’s contrary to what Margaret Mead said:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Yes, we’d like to have leaders that would solve our problems; we’d like leaders who are inspiring, moral roll models for us all, not just conformations for extremists.

But necessary change doesn’t come from top down; it comes from the bottom up. It comes from folks like you and me. It comes from concerned young folks, like 16 year old 2019 Nobel Peace Price Nominee, Greta Thurnberg from Sweden, who told NBC News:

“Instead of worrying about how that future might turn out, I’m going to try to change that future while I still can.”

And from 19 year old Delaney Reynolds from Miami, who reminds us:

“My generation must decide whether we want our planet to sink or swim.”

Delaney, a star student at the University of Miami, is the lead plaintiff in Our Children’s Trust lawsuit, Reynolds vs. Florida.

Some three decades ago, Bruce Courtney wrote a book about these sorts difference makers: “The Power of One,” which became a great movie in the late 1990s. It’s still available on Apple TV and Amazon Prime Time.

The film closes with our hero challenging us:

“Changes can come from the power of many, but only when the many come together to form that which is invincible . . . The power of one.”

So, decide what kind of difference maker you want to be.

What you do or don’t do matters.

Choose. You can come together as part of the invincible POWER of ONE!

I Vote For Humanity

In my recent post, Business As Usual, I expressed frustration over how silent so many in the Republican Party are over the outrageous, incompetent and increasingly inhumane behavior that President Trump, Vice President Pence and their Administration are subjecting our country to every day of our lives.

Only days after that post we are faced with yet more dire examples of why our country is at a monumental cross roads and needs to decide whether the inhumane behavior that’s taking place while his fellow Republicans remain so often silent in a way that only condones what is happening is who America is or aspires to be. Are we not better than what we are watching and what Republicans far too often support with their silence? Are the offices they hold so selfishly important to them that they are afraid to speak up and take issue with the attacks on America’s foundational values that we witness every day and night these past two plus years?

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Case in point: this week a reputable writer shared a story of rape in a department store dressing room by Mr. Trump. I’d think that an allegation of rape against a sitting President should concern all Americans, yet despite a picture showing the two of them together at a party his response that he’s never met the woman and that she’s “not my type” seems acceptable to Republicans given that only two in Congress have as of yet expressed any public concern. Where is the humanity and concern we should all have to determine if this serious allegation is true?

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Case in point: the horrific, vivid picture of a father and his young daughter washed up on the shore of a river on the Mexican/American border, having drowned while seeking the promise of freedom that America was founded on. Or for that matter, stories that are pouring out into the public domain about children being maliciously separated from their families, forced to sleep outside or without bedding or with the lights on all night in concentration camp type facilities. The immigration related atrocities just go on and on and none of it strikes me as humane or the way we Americans should want to treat our fellow man.

smkVx5dR-720Or case in point: the recent interview Vice President Pence gave about climate change in which he stated that there are “good scientists on both sides of the ‘debate'”.

First off, there is no longer any “debate” by unbiased and even slightly educated folks that our climate is warming and seas are rising, much less that it’s caused principally by man-made carbon dioxide from the fossil fuels we use. 98% of scientists agree on these facts.

Secondly, his comment about “good scientists on both sides” reminds me of his mentor, the President, saying that there were “good people on both sides” of a peaceful demonstration that turned deadly when white supremacists, key supporters apparently of Trump, Pence and the rest of the “R” crowd, invoked vile, racial mayhem that has rippled across America ever since. His words and the silence of nearly every Republican only served to condone what the racists did that day and because of their lack of action we see a growing element of that hatred building all over America. Surely that’s not who America is or aspires to be and become.

I realize that democracy is not always linear, nor painless. Progress ebbs and flows over time as our society and culture evolves, but I also know that many patriots have fought and died for our values. Many brave Americans have spoken up and out to make our country truly great.

For our freedoms.

For women’s rights.

For racial and gender equality.

For cherishing and protecting our environment so as to leave it in better shape for the next generation than the last.

There is a deep humanity in these achievements and their aspirations that defines who we, as Americans, are and who we want to become. But that humanity is lost everywhere I look within the Trump Administration and that loss seems to be growing like a cancer in need of a cure.

And so with our country beginning to contemplate our next Presidential election, starting in earnest with last night and tonight’s Democratic debates here in Miami, I hope that you will join me in seeking a cure and by supporting a change in our nation’s highest office before it’s too late. Consider your options starting tonight and spread the word to your friends and family.

Together we can fix the terrible mistake America made in 2016. And for my part, I vote for humanity in 2020 and will happily support anyone not named Donald Trump.

 

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