Tag Archives: Hawaii

Good News & Bad News in Hawaii

Good News & Bad News in Hawaii

No, this not about the volcano, but it is about the environment. The bad news, of course, is that the coral reefs are being destroyed all over the world by, among other things, a process called “bleaching.” According to the National Ocean Service, a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce:

When water is too warm, corals will expel the algae (zooxanthellae) living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white…. When a coral bleaches, it is not dead. Corals can survive a bleaching event, but they are under more stress and are subject to mortality. [A scientists way of describing “likely to die”]

In 2005, the U.S. lost half of its coral reefs in the Caribbean in one year due to a massive bleaching event. The warm waters centered around the northern Antilles near the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico expanded southward. Comparison of satellite data from the previous 20 years confirmed that thermal stress from the 2005 event was greater than the previous 20 years combined.

Not all bleaching events are due to warm water.

In January 2010, cold water temperatures in the Florida Keys caused a coral bleaching event that resulted in some coral death. Water temperatures dropped 12.06 degrees Fahrenheit lower than the typical temperatures observed at this time of year. Researchers will evaluate if this cold-stress event will make corals more susceptible to disease in the same way that warmer waters impact corals. [That was 8 years ago – no update]

The NOS site also says: “If the stress-caused bleaching is not severe, coral have been known to recover. If the algae loss is prolonged and the stress continues, coral eventually dies.”

Quite.

Notwithstanding the optimistic views of NOS, the worldwide losses of coral reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, is progressing rapidly. Based on the best available climate change science, to depend on reversal of ocean water temperatures to save the corals is a fool’s errand. There are, however, other measures that can be taken and Hawaii has done so.

As reported in TravelMarketReport.com on July 5, https://bit.ly/2KYM2L6, Hawaii has banned, effective January 1, 2021, the use of two chemicals that contribute to coral bleaching. These obscure chemicals are used in many commercial sunscreens which, of course, are sold in huge quantities in Hawaii. One study found that, on average, more than 400 pounds of sunscreen a day fell on the reef at Hanauma Bay, an area on Oahu that attracts 2,600 snorklers a day. [Hanauma Bay shown in photo at top of post]

Not surprisingly, the legislation was opposed by the makers of commercial sunscreen. https://nyti.ms/2rdFsbR We can only hope that Hawaii’s model of aggressively protecting its reefs will spread rapidly to other states and countries. The oceans are getting warmer, notwithstanding the denials of the Republican science-deniers, and all the reefs are at risk.

While on the subject of Hawaii, I cannot resist the temptation to show a few of my favorite photos from some of the islands.These are typical of what you can see there.

I Am Amazed That Top Government Lawyer in an Office in Washington Doesn’t Understand the Federal Judicial System

By now you have likely seen the remarkable statement from the Attorney General of the United States, the self-declared unbiased non-racist Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, who was educated at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, AL and the University of Alabama School of Law in Tuscaloosa. If not, here it is:

“I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.” http://n.pr/2pLWTxZ

Since UASL is accredited by the American Bar Association, it reasonable to expect that it teaches courses on the federal court system and one would hope that AG Sessions took at least one such course. Constitutional Law is in fact a required first-year course that presumably covered at least some core elements of the structure and function of the judicial system.

Now, to be “fair,” I understand that Sessions has — to use the popular “walking it back” theme of current political discourse (“walk back” means “uh oh, I said something really stupid that reflects what I really think but that is going to be really unpopular so I will “walk it back” – imagine a dog, having pooped on the carpet, slinking out of the room backwards) – walked this back. Here’s what he said:

“I wasn’t criticizing the judge or the island. I think it’s a fabulous place and had a granddaughter born there,” he said. “But I got to tell you, it is a point worth making — that a single sitting district judge out of 600, 700 district judges can issue an order stopping a presidential executive order that I believe is fully constitutional, designed to protect the United States of America from terrorist attack.”

Even in “walking back” his first statement, Sessions still refers to Hawaii, as much a state of the United States as Alabama, as “the island,” as if being an island is somehow a lesser status. When asked if he would like to rephrase his statement, the “walking back” ended: “I don’t know that I said anything I would want to phrase differently.” http://cnn.it/2pLBTXN

In fact, of course, the judge in question holds a law degree from Harvard, so, no, rest assured, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III wasn’t criticizing him. Furthest thing from his mind. He was instead just criticizing the entire setup of the judicial system, which in his mind is apparently just a fine thing to do. He typifies the lawyer who can never accept that he lost the case, that his arguments were simply wrong. Or badly presented. No, it must be “that judge” who did me wrong, who sits on an island somewhere. Who does he think he is, anyway?

This might be amusing if it were not a central element in the mind-set of Not-My-President Donald Trump who is never wrong and who is always being mistreated by those Mexican judges or someone else with dubious credentials. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is the lead attorney in the United States government, the head of the Department of Justice! And he apparently doesn’t accept the structure of the federal judiciary.

The literature on authoritarianism is replete with discussions of the dangers to freedom and democracy that arise when the powerful attempt to delegitimize the core institutions that enable democracy to work. We therefore must not simply write Sessions’ remarks off as more buffoonery from the Trump administration. These types of statements are dangerous indicators of the ideology that drives the administration’s agenda. They must be called out for what they are at every opportunity and resisted in every responsible way possible.

I rest my case, Your Honor. At least for a while.