Five Reasons Why Human Activity Has Caused More Hurricanes

Many are beginning to question if there is any correlation between the recent hurricanes and climate change. Although there is no evidence that there is a direct connection between the two, meteorologists at Time online point to five reasons hurricanes have been more frequent and grown in strength. And they argue that climate change has been a contributing factor based on the following observations:

  1. Hot Air – The primary reason for the increase in hurricane activity is an increase in global temperatures resulting from industrialization.
  2. Warm Water – The rise in air temperature has caused the temperature of water to rise as well. Hurricanes are fueled by warm water.
  3. Dangerous Currents – There is s natural rhythm in the rise and fall of temperatures called the AMO, Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. Climate change has disrupted this rhythm, causing a longer and more active hurricane season than expected. Consequently, warmer currents are being driven by the Gulf Stream towards more populated areas.
  4. Deep Oceans – The rise in water temperature has caused the polar caps to melt, resulting in rising water levels. This results in higher storm surges on coastal areas.
  5. Clear Skies – Ironically, the effort to clean up emissions caused by industrialization has been successful. That has created clear skies and warmer temperatures. It is also argued that the 70% decrease in emissions, resulting from recent regulations, outweighs the damage caused by not regulating emissions.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research has confirmed that the Atlantic Ocean normally experiences fluctuations in temperature over time. This results in cycles of increases and decreases in hurricane activity. But, there is an indirect correlation between human activity and the impactful hurricanes we are seeing in Florida and what we saw in Texas. All the more reason to question the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.

 

 

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The Dreamers’ Nightmare

The fact that the president decided to announce he has come to a decision about DACA during one of our country’s most devastating natural disasters has turned the hopeful vision for the future of many Dreamers into a tormenting nightmare. I wonder if Trump considered the impact this could have on those Dreamers who live and work in the area impacted by hurricane Harvey. According to Pew Research, of the 800,000 Dreamers on record, 121,000 live in Texas. So again I ask, what was the president thinking?

I have read too many heart wrenching accounts about those who will be affected by this decision should the president move forward with dismantling DACA. The biggest concern evolves around the fear that immigration officials will use the information garnered against those who willfully registered as undocumented citizens. These are people who were brought, by their parents, to this country as children illegally. But this is the only country many of them will ever know. Now they not only face the prospect of losing access to education and jobs, they might be deported to a country they have little, if any, ties to.

Trump has always been an opportunist. That is how he was able to build such a signficant real estate empire. Did he consider this his opportunity to take another jab at his predecessor? It is more than obvious that dismantling anything Obama created was and still is at the top of Trump’s agenda. Even though he is surrounded by others who disagree with his desire to dismantle DACA, that does not seem to be a dissuading factor for this president.

Fortunately, this president does not operate in a vacuum, and the cries for help from many of the Dreamers after his announcement has not gone unheard. Many Republican members of Congress are urging the president to reconsider. They embrace the benefits DACA renders because it gives members of our society a way to give back to a country that has given so much to them. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, has been joined by others in an effort to save DACA and give those recipients an avenue to pursue permanent and legal residence here should they choose to stay.

As an Independent, I have had little to say about the divided partisanship in our Congress. But, for once I agree with the Speaker and others who believe that the president’s pandering to his base and his obsession with his predecessor are not serving our country well. Nor does his decision to dismantle DACA represent those ideals upon which our country was founded.

Taking advantage of a natural disaster the scope of Harvey in an effort to quickly get DACA dismantled causes me to question Trump’s humanity. We, the people, cannot allow the Dreamers’ hopes for the future to turn into the nightmare they could have never anitcipated. We should also give special consideration to those unfortunate enough to have lost everything to Harvey in the wake of the president’s announcement. The angst those Dreamers must be experiencing is incomprehensible.

Persevering Through the Quagmire

I’m caught in a quagmire of lesson and curriculum planning. Along with the other responsibilities associated with the first couple of weeks of school. I have two classrooms/computer labs in two different locations. I’m  teaching kindergarten through eighth grade Computer Applications classes. But the experience of watching the students acquire computer skills over the next ten months, that can be applied across the curriculum, is well worth the challenges that will undoubtedly ensue.

If this sounds at all familiar, I guess that makes Perseverance the word for the day.  Perseverance is a word used often in the classroom. Children are taught that learning requires that they continue to work through what might seem very tough challenges. Only then, can they experience the benefits that perseverance affords.

We all get caught in a quagmire at some point in our lives. A mire of challenges that only seem to engulf us, no matter how hard we try to escape or resolve them. But with a focused analysis of what went wrong, coupled with what went right, we can find a semblance of balance between the order and chaos by using good old stick-to-itness. Or, perseverance.

The New Faces of the Inner City Classroom

Like most teachers, I look forward to the new year. But I sometimes dread looking into the eyes of the new faces in my inner city classroom. I dread it because I can see the stories of years of trepidations written across their entire countenance like a byline in an outdated magazine. Then I anxiously anticipate many other things.

Like, do they have any computer applications background? Are they victims of the Digital Divide that plagues so many of the urban schools? Do they speak English? But more importantly, how will I gain the trust of so many students from backgrounds so different than my own?

My new assignment will be in a school that is seventy percent Yemeni, fifteen percent Bangladesh, and fifteen percent African American. This new population shares very little in common with the students I taught in Denver who were primarily Hispanic, and where Spanish was the first language spoken for forty percent of them.

In fact, many of my students in Denver were not allowed to speak English at home. And I can understand why. How would you know if your own children weren’t plotting something behind your back if they’re speaking a language you can’t understand? And, that’s what kids do. No matter where they come from.

IMG_0213I know enough about Yemen to know that it’s a country that has been under civil, social, and political strife since the late 1990’s. Once a united Yemen split between it’s respective factions, the country became fertile territory for Al Qaeda infiltration. The struggle between the various factions has forced many out of their homes, and some of those very children will be sitting in my inner city classroom. Once victims of conflict, they are now victims of circumstances beyond their control because they are faced with as much uncertainty here in America as they faced back home.

Unfortunately, the timeline for Bangladesh is wrought with conflict as well. From the time they were liberated from British rule, to the time they fought to be free from Pakistan. Since then, they have been under parliamentary rule. That has lasted over twenty years, along with it’s high rate of poverty. On the other hand, the land is lush with vegetation and the scenery is magnificent.

I was fortunate to be able to teach summer school to a class of Yemeni students, so I promised myself that I would start the year off with blank stickies in strategic places in the classroom, like my computer, so I can learn Arabic from the kids. And, fortunately, the Bangladesh students were raised speaking both their native language and English. So, some of them speak better English than some of the African American students do. Thank God the students in Detroit have English Language Acquisition as part of their required curriculum for all grade levels.

But one good thing about being a Computer Applications teacher, or “specials” teacher, computers have a universal language of their own. And no matter the language and cultural barriers that exist between my students, computers and technology are something they all share common experiences around. And I’m excited to take on the challenge of bringing these children, from kindergarten through eighth grade, together. By offering them the opportunity to learn to communicate effectively and to share their varied experiences through the use of technology.

Let Us Not Forget These Seven Endangered Species

In the midst of the global warming controversy, let us not forget about those that are endangered victims of our reckless disregard for the earth that helped give birth to us all. I’m talking about those victims of climate change.

National Geographic provides a list of seven species most affected by climate change. Interestingly, many live in arid countries. The list also includes species that were recently believed to have gone extinct as a result of global warming.

  1. Polar bears
  2. Orange-spotted file fish that inhabit coral reefs
  3. Coral are declining everywhere, including warmer climates.
  4. Quiver trees, indigenous to the arid west of Namibia and South Africa
  5. Adelie penguins
  6. The Golden and Monteverde harlequin frogs of Central America are believed to have gone extinct as a result of climate change.
  7. North Atlantic Cod

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And for those doubters, NASA provides some profound evidence that atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen precipitously since industrialization. Carbon dioxide that has been trapping heat on earth since the nineteenth century. The greatest impact being most evident after 1950.  Yet, the president questions the validity of global warming, as we saw by his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord.

We, as humans, cannot afford to continue to turn a blind eye to the impact we are having on this planet that is shared by more species than ourselves. Species that we coexist with. Species that provide our livelihood and ensure the balance between all species on our planet. Even though I admire the cockroach for its adaptability and resilience, I would hate to see them take over the world as we know it.

While there are species that can hibernate for centuries, even millennium, could they survive on a planet that could become as hostile as Mars? So let us not forget those species that are most vulnerable, many of which we depend on for our own survival as only one of many species inhabiting this planet.

 

 

 

 

Racism, Xenophobia, Avoidance, and the Possible Consequences

Our president’s response, or lack thereof, to white supremacy in the wake of the Charlottesville incident can be called nothing more than racial discrimination avoidance. Why Avoidance? I use that word because it encompasses many of the reasons why our country is so divided now.

By avoiding the topic of fractured race relations in this country, we have fostered an environment of hate for groups like the Neo Nazis, KKK, and other white supremacists to flourish. Not only are these groups growing in numbers, they have come out of the closet because they feel validated. Especially after the president placed those protesters and the counter protesters on the same moral plane. These are the same counter protesters who were there to let the world know they support inclusion and equal opportunity for all.

When I study the map published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, who monitors hate groups and their location, I was appalled at not only the numbers of such groups, but the foundations from which they have risen. I was more surprised at the fact that many of the hate groups align with religious organizations.

As white supremacists become more emboldened, and the nation continues to turn a blind eye to the rise of hate crimes perpetrated against those most vulnerable in our society, we will not stand idly by and allow occurrences like Charlottesville to take away our rights to peaceful coexistence. Rights that people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X, and Heather Heyer died for.

Most of us are familiar with the Nation of Islam, of which the honorable Malcolm X was a member. But after his trip to Mecca, he separated himself from their extreme ideology. And even though I do not condone violence in the name of race, I cannot deny that I support the premise that when our nation turns a blind eye to enforcing laws that protect our African American communities, we have the right to bear arms to protect ourselves. Rights supported by the Second Amendment of our Constitution.

There is a new generation of young African Americans who are willing to take up arms to defend the communities in which we live. No longer complacent or afraid to fight for our rights, this next generation of African Americans is willing to put their lives on the line for the rights generations before them fought and died for.

Don’t get me wrong. If I can paraphrase the president, “No one hates violence more than me! No one.” I do not want to bear witness to any more bloodshed in the name of white supremacy like we saw last weekend. But if this continues, the marginalized people of color, white empathizers, those whose sexual identity is outside the rest, as well as Jews and Muslims will unite to ensure that we do not go down without a fight. That would be a sad day for our country. And I don’t want it to be our country’s defining moment.

As long as people continue to believe that discrimination is a remnant of our past and not a reflection of the present, we are placing our country in harms way. We must not allow the president to create a moral equivalent between white supremacy  and those who believe in inclusion and equal opportunity. White America must stand with us and acknowledge the wrongs of our past and present. We must all come together peacefully to heal our nation’s wounds, or face the possible consequences; no matter race, religion, sexual identity, or ethnicity.

 

 

 

Paraphrasing Maya Angelou, “Still We Rise”

As an African/Native America I was reminded of the words of Maya Angelou, “Still I rise” after watching the horrors of domestic terrorism unfold this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. However, because of the unfortunate events that occurred, I am heartened. Heartened because the warnings of the persistence of racism and bigotry being alive and well in America have finally been acknowledged by many who have chosen to turn a blind eye to its existence in the past.

We can no longer hide behind the insistence that we are a raceless society because we elected our first black president, Barack Obama. We can no longer ignore the existence of hatred of those who are different than ourselves. No longer can we say that our children live in an America where sexual identity, race, religion, and ethnicity do not define our position in society. Because we, as a nation, watched helplessly as factions of the alt-right spread their vile message of divisiveness to anyone willing to listen.

The people of this country expect minorities to speak out against the “ugly Americans” who espouse superiority, hatred, and separatism. But we, as minorities, did not expect to see so many white Americans stand with us in saying this hatred and divisiveness has to stop. And to all of you who gave voice to our pain, I say thank you. Thank you, because over the weekend you saw the world through the same colored glasses as we do.

For the first time in my life, I feel a part of something that is bigger than myself. For the first time in my life I feel validated by the society in which we must all live as one. I have often said that we must stand together or divided we will fall. And for the first time in my life, I feel as though I am really a part of the United States of America.

My heart goes out to those who felt the brunt of this weekend’s tragic events. And I offer my sincerest condolences to the family of the young woman who lost her life in protest against the few who espouse white supremacy. In my view, she is a martyr for a noble cause. Heather Heyer’s name will be written in tha annals of history among the many who lost their lives in the name of equality, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Thank you America for restoring my faith in a country that has been divided by hurtful political rhetoric. As unfortunate as the weekend’s tragedy was, for once I can paraphrase Maya Angelou and say, ” Still we rise. ” And, I hope this will be a defining moment for this great nation of ours.

Trump’s White House Saga Escalates After Only 203 Days in Office

After only 203 days in office, President Trump and North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un are already escalating their animosity towards one another, resulting in the frightening prospects of war. The most disturbing aspect of this escalation is that our president hasn’t even bothered to find out how the citizens of this nation feel about declaring war against North Korea.

I, personally, find this a frightening prospect, even though North Korea is only the size of Vermont. And their nuclear arsenal cannot compare to that of the United States. Will this precipitate the next world war? Or can China and Russia aid in negotiating a de-escalation before our countries start what might end up as the end of life as we know it on earth?

If Trump listens to anyone, it will be Putin. And Korea has Kim Jong Un’s full attention. That is good and unfortunate at the same time. If Trump had listened to the people of this nation instead of supporting Vladimir Putin, then maybe this escalation would not have happened to begin with.

Because, aside from his base of supporters, I surmise that the majority of Americans would not have endorsed this unnecessary, and possibly deadly, game of cat and mouse. No what matter political affiliation, race, religion, or sexual identity the people align with, I sincerely believe this is one issue we can stand together on.

One thing I can say about this president, every day brings something new. A new crisis, and new policies that rescind everything Obama has done, and new Tweets. Before today I was intrigued by the chaos this administration has created, chaos unlike any other administration in recent history. Now I’m not only skeptical, I am fearful. United we must stand America, or divided we will fall.

 

Bankrupt City Shimmers with Hope for Its Future

It’s been almost a year since I moved to Detroit, Michigan, much to the chagrin of family and friends in Denver, Colorado. “Didn’t Detroit file bankruptcy?” Or “But the crime rate is so high,” were common responses I got when I told others of my plans. Both statements hold more than a modicum of truth to them. But, neither concerns stopped me from moving then, nor will they cause me to leave now.

Forget the fact that the expense of moving half way across the country should be motivation enough to cause me to stay. Forget the largest bankruptcy ever filed by a city, with an estimated value of $18 billion dollars. Put aside a crime rate of 4 out a possible 100 when it comes to safety, and an unemployment rate of 8.4 percent.  I have absolutely no regrets. In fact, this city is more like home to me than one I grew up in.

Many would avoid this city like they would the Black Plague. Pardon the pun. Because Detroit boasts the highest population of African American residents, more than any other city in our great nation. For many, that is reason enough to avoid the Motor City. Especially considering that I came from a city that is predominately white and Hispanic, with much lower unemployment and crime rates than my new home.

I felt I had no choice but to move when I couldn’t get a job interview for the myriad of job applications submitted  for technology, elementary, and business teacher in the Denver school district where the African American student population hovers around 14 percent, and Black teachers comprise about four percent of the teachers there. In Detroit, I had an interview and job offer from a school in Mexican Town within a week of submitting my application.

I also considered the expense of living in Detroit versus Denver, where my rent for a two bedroom apartment with a view of the Detroit River, Belle Isle, and Canada is $400 a month less than my rent in Denver for a one bedroom apartment, in a not so desirable neighborhood near the airport.

Detroit, for me, will become the home I live for and will probably end my life in. Why? That’s simple. Economics aside, the spirit of the people is worth more to me than the popularity of the city I left behind. In Detroit, I feel welcome, like I belong, unlike the city I was born in. People don’t judge me by the color of my skin, or how many zeros are on my pay check.

I have all the comforts of home here. Sports, entertainment, and excellent restaurants. In fact, Detroit has as much to offer in the diversity and quality of cuisine as New York. It’s quickly reclaiming its spot as one of America’s primary tourist destinations. And teachers can get a 50% discount on housing if I stay in the city.

I tip my hat to Detroit and it’s residents. Detroit shimmers now, but will shine like the bright star it is very soon. Thank you, Detroit, for welcoming me, after the city that birthed me turned its back on me.

via Daily Prompt: Shimmer

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