The Monday Memo.

June 5, 2017 | Posted in General

I am pretty sure it was the following email via my website that is the proverbial straw the broke the camel’s back.

“You are just another stupid liberal tree hugger that is trying to tear America down and turn it into a liberalist state of chaos. If you were as smart as you prove to be then you would know that climate science is a made up science and not real. This is the home of the free and land of the brave not some experiment that you and your kind think they can just step on and have the way you want it. Glory be to God!”

I rarely read through some of the stuff that comes my way anymore, after two decades in the media, most of it behind a microphone on live talk radio, my skin has gotten pretty thick.

But at this point, I am not on radio and for a few reasons that follow, this email was a gift in disguise.

First, I’m not stupid. I have a degree in Environmental Interpretation and Communication from an accredited four year university. My core competency is to take massive amounts of information, data and trends, then distill it down to bite sized, digestible chunks for public consumption. After creating and producing 300 episodes of “Earth Matters with Bill Kurtis” along with hundreds of research hours,  I have come to the conclusion that we are late in the third quarter when it comes to our involvement in contributing to climate change.

I see what most people miss, because I look in places most people cannot see. Politics and religious beliefs often cause blind spots.

There was a time, not long ago when the hole in the Ozone layer was discovered, a gaping wound in the “sunscreen” protection of the planet that congress and industry acted, CFC propellants were banned (that were a major factor in creating the hole) and the damage has mostly been repaired as the the natural systems began to heal.

The threat was recognized, the cause we determined, actions were taken and more harm to humans was averted.

Those days are long gone for the most part.

Secondly, that “liberal tree hugger” thing. My biggest influence has been Theodore Roosevelt, who despite his many shortcomings epitomized for me the best political stance that can be taken. 110 years ago TR was the reformer that “walked softly and carried a big stick.” He blocked an attempt to allow strip mining in the Grand Canyon and was a visionary when it came to environmental issues.

Today TR would be considered a liberal tree hugger too, so I am good with that.

The rest of that note, climate science not being real, “home of the free and land of the brave” being transposed for effect (I guess) America not being an experiment and somehow the greater glory of the Almighty is exalted by this sort of email is for me a clear sign to get out of the game…

I should really know better by now.

Denial is deeply embedded in our DNA.

To me trying to convince someone that humans are in part responsible for the changing climate is akin to talking with a life long smoker who takes off their oxygen to have a cigarette. Since 1966 there has been a big warning label on the side of the packs since totally ignored by everyone that lights up.

Cigarette Smoking May Be Hazardous To Your Health.”

One half century later, millions still fire up despite clear warnings, wracking coughs and repeated warnings from their doctors.

The CDC estimates that 430-435,000 people in the United States die each year from smoking related disease.

Self-inflicted death otherwise known as suicide…over a very long period of time.

The tobacco companies spent billions trying to convince their customers that smoking was “healthy” and seeing ads with doctors lighting up was the norm. They created ultimate male in the form of The Marlboro Man who would fire up a ciggy, round up some cows and turn his weathered face into the sunset.

Four of the actors that portrayed “The Marlboro Man” all died from smoking related disease.

I had forgotten that old adage ” To those who believe no more evidence is needed. To those that do not, no evidence could ever be enough.”

As I watch the unending name calling in the face of facts, I am reminded that the way each of us sees the world is basically in place by the time we are ten or twelve. Our core beliefs become galvanized over time, for better or for worse and it takes a some serious maturity to confront the rudder that steers our course, much easier for most to simply say “ You’re stupid.”

Because they are scared and reacting takes no thought.

That email was a serious wake up call for me…a reminder.

I have a terminal condition called “Life.”

With the average age in the USA being 78.6 that equates to about 28,689 days to be alive if I am lucky.

I have already used up 21,170 of my allotted chits.

Remaining balance of 7,519…as of today.

So that “gift” in the form of an email, came at the right time, confirming that its time for me to stay out of the virtual landfill of the internet for an undetermined amount of time.

That time thing.

I have a book project about to begin, mentoring a burgeoning author who at the age of 88, lived through Nazi Germany as a child and wants to tell her story to the world.

I won’t have enough brain space to wade through the landfill looking for something of value buried in all the garbage and build out a book this important at the same time. As I type these very words, the “right” is batting the “left” on a post I wrote two days ago. Humans who are on opposite sides pushing any common ground to the side, creating more cracks in our already fractured spiritual infrastructure.

Might continue with Sacred Sunday Songs on Facebook, which for the most part hasn’t elicited any name calling but after five years of virtual concerts, even that might need to be on hiatus.

I drive past a cemetery near where I live quite often. Sometimes when I need perspective I walk among the headstones, looking for evidence of how important it is to define and divide ourselves along political lines.

Can’t find any.

Never once in all my years of attending funerals was their ever a eulogy mention of how someone voted. Never once standing at a graveside service did I hear about their choice for president and never once in all my wanderings among the dead I have ever seen “Democrat” “Republican” or “Liberal Tree Hugger” etched in stone.

What we think is most important while we are alive turns out to be least important when we die.

Thank you for all your support over the years. Until further notice…

Be well…safe travels.


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The Saturday Morning Memo.

June 3, 2017 | Posted in General

I believe in giving credit where credit is due.

President Trump did the right thing in deciding to end the USA’s involvement in “The Paris Agreement.”

Finally! An historic event at the White House that President Trump can point to and claim victory and for Americans it’s a rare chance to see a campaign promise fulfilled!

It’s a win that the president needed and one that he alone was able to go the distance on, make a decision on his own without those bumbling congress types, and in doing so bypass the failed attempts on immigration, health care, NAFTA, China, “The Wall” which were the signature items that inserted him into the Oval Orifice.

Just a quick review (In case you were at some theater watching multiple screenings of “Wonder Woman” and missed the announcement,) the United States of America (we might need to take a hard look at that tag line) has pulled out of “The Paris Agreement” on Climate Change, and at least for now, has put “America First! ” into a unique category with a couple of other splitters – “Nicaragua First!” and the “Syria First!” teams. For the record Nicaragua didn’t sign the accord because “it didn’t go far enough to combat climate change” and Syria…well…ask Gary “Aleppo” Johnson about that.

They are a little distracted by a an uncivil war.

For me, the biggest problem with this “accord” is the title.


“The Paris Agreement” sounds like a 1963 movie starring Sophia Loren and Omar Shariff that has them wearing berets and riding a little scooter underneath the Eiffel Tower smoking bad ciggys in a light rain and sucking face every five minutes like Pepe LePew and his girlfriend Penelope Pussycat.

From a marketing standpoint, the thing should have been called something like ” EARTH WARS” or “OCEAN WARS” or “HUMAN EXTINCTION WARS” or “SHIT CREEK WARS” (we like shows with “wars” in the title- “Cupcake Wars” & “Storage Wars” etc.)

“The Paris Agreement” or “CLIMATE CHANGE WARS!”

See the difference?

So, 45 can put a W on the board and as he pointed out ” I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” Shortly thereafter, The Mayor of Pittsburgh reminded 45 via CNN that  ” 80% of the vote in the 2016 election went to Clinton.”

The POTUS speechwriter should have written something like “I have been chosen to represent the citizens of Beattyville, Kentucky….”

Beattyville has the distinction of being dubbed “the poorest white town in America” with 57% of its families on food stamps, 19% without health insurance and where 45 got 81% of the vote…because he promised to “bring back the coal jobs and Make America Great Again.”

The coal began to run out twenty years ago and as other forms of energy, like natural gas,  took its place. The residents are waiting for a resurgence promised to them by the new president. At present, the average income in Beattyville, KY is $7.25 an hour.

If I was POTUS I would have been giving serious tax breaks to American based solar and wind companies to build their plants in coal country and put the hardworking, proud people of Beattyville into new jobs that would move them forward, pay them a great wage, give them healthcare and be part of creating technology that is in growing demand.

But I digress.

Most of what follows can be summed up by Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion ” When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body.”

The very moment that 45 made the announcement in the Rose Garden regarding that wimpy “Paris Agreement” an equal and opposite chain reaction began.

In an instant, China went from being seen as one of the worst polluters to the world leader in environmental responsibility…by default. Their efforts on “green” technologies particularly solar have dominated the global market since 2013. With no USA on the document, China becomes #1.

Nicaragua and Syria are now in the same league as the USA on at least this one document…by default. Always good to be on the same list as the country we dropped “The Mother of All Bombs” on last month.

The Mayor of Pittsburgh had the opportunity to remind 45 that 80% of them voted for his opponent on CNN.

One of the most brilliant minds available to Trump (one billionaire to another kinda thing) is Elon Musk who created Tesla. Musk pulled himself off of the elite “Trump Advisory Board” along with a half a dozen hand picked by 45 pals-who disagreed with his decision.

The former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg commits to paying $15 million to UN efforts to tackle climate change.

The President of France Emmanuel Macon (who has a pretty sharp speech writer) stood before the cameras and said ” “I call on you to remain confident. We will succeed, because we are fully committed, because wherever we live, whoever we are, we all share the same responsibility: Make Our Planet Great Again.”

I wonder if they are going to put that “Make Our Planet Great Again” slogan on a nice red beret?

The equal and opposite reaction to Trump’s decision might just be the most important movement since the first Earth Day in 1970, which pushed Nixon to create the EPA as American’s were tired of living with shitty air (like in Pittsburgh) and watching the Cuyahoga River filled with toxic chemicals burn on the six o’clock news. With the EPA now being stripped down and regulations lifted on corporate responsibility when it comes to pollution, this decision from Trump is having a very positive ripple effect.

People who were never involved, are getting involved, (bypassing the diversion of climate deniers to whom 99.9% of scientists still wouldn’t be enough evidence) and are taking action instead of wasting energy arguing.

Ordinary people getting ready to do extraordinary things.

Here is the bottom line.

Climate change has always been taking place on this planet, it’s the rate of increase in the last 150 years that has been induced by human development and progress that is the main culprit. The earth is not in trouble, it will continue on as it has for billions of years. Everything that lives in the biosphere of the planet is connected on some level.

We are no more exempt than any other species.

Without even realizing it (or…maybe he does) By cutting from the accord (which really cannot take place until 2020 anyway) President Trump has put more environmental awareness, protection, action and responsibility back where it belongs.

In our hands.

How do I come to this conclusion?

My research has uncovered a full page ad that ran in The New York Times in 2009 as an open letter calling for then President Barack Obama and members of Congress to push for legislation that would slow global climate change. The ad ran in the days before a summit in Copenhagen where world leaders discussed climate change. The letter was signed by business leaders including now President Trump and his two sons:

“We support your effort to ensure meaningful and effective measures to control climate change, an immediate challenge facing the United States and the world today. Please don’t postpone the Earth. If we fail to act now, it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet.”

I see what you are up to Mr. President. Good move.

Be well.

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