Bearing Witness to the Pandemic June 2021

Weeks of June 1-12, 2021

COVID cases continue their rapid decline across the country, although states with low vaccination rates are seeing the majority of new infections and deaths. The daily average count is now running 14,000. This is still worrisome as from each new day of infections we can count on 1-2% of those dying. The average daily death count in the US is stubbornly holding around 300-400 with an increasing percentage of younger victims.

The rate of vaccination in the US continues to fall well before we have hit herd immunity levels. We are vaccinating less than 400,000 per day, down from the low millions two months ago. It’s unlikely the country will meet Biden’s goal of having a 70% fully vaccinated rate by July 4. While there are over a dozen states with rates of 70% or more, the country overall is stuck at an average below 50%. And some states, mostly in the deep south, have rates in the 30s. Read More

Bearing Witness to Climate Change June 2021

NOAA reported that in May the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded the highest levels of CO2 in the atmosphere at 419 parts per million.  CO2 levels have now surpassed a staggering 50% higher than in pre-industrial times. The drop in emissions last year due to the pandemic and a near worldwide shutdown of travel and industry was short lived having fallen only about 6%. It is sober testimony to how difficult it will be to slow GHG emissions with a growing population and roaring economy based on perpetual consumption and growth.  Humans put about 50 billion metric tons of CO2 into the air each year that will last in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. There is no time left, and yes, now is the time to panic and take drastic actions. Read More

Bearing Witness to the Pandemic May 2021

May 1-8, 2021

The month begins with over 32.5 million cases and 575,000 deaths from COVID in the US. However, good news keeps coming as daily new case counts continue to fall in the US below an average of 50,000 for the first time in over 6 months. Daily death rates are averaging well less than 1,000, down from nearly 3 times that in the fall.

A renewed since of hope and optimism is occurring across the country as if we have turned to corner. People have returned to the streets, shops, restaurants, theaters, stadiums. and airports. The economy is rebounding and jobs are going unfilled. President Biden’s rating for handling the pandemic is in the 60s as a very painful one-year nightmare is starting to fade. Read More

Bearing Witness to Climate Change May 2021

In the US, Hawaii has become the first state to officially declare a climate emergency. In a resolution the state legislature has declared that climate change threatens both humankind and the environment. A supporter said that “every day we wait to take action is another day lost.” Hawaii joins nearly 2,000 other jurisdictions from 34 countries, including Australia and Great Britain, that have declared climate emergencies. Most climate change activists have now moved to using the term climate crisis. Read More

Don’t talk politics doesn’t work!

Over the past few years we have been instructed that the secret to maintaining important relationships in such turbulent times is to just don’t talk politics with family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. Only if it was this simple!

Have those who offered this advice actually tried to do this themselves? If they would have they might have discovered that it is nearly impossible to do so. Read More

Bearing Witness to Good News April 2021

The best news of the month if not year is that the country as a whole continues to recover from the chaos, bitterness, and trauma of the Trump administration. It’s like we are all suffering PTSD – Post Trump Stress Syndrome – but did not know how bad it was until we were able to leave it and him all behind. No longer are we bombarded by the hostility, pettiness, and vindictiveness from over 50,000 anxiety-provoking tweets from the White House as chronicled in four years of painful Bearing Witness to Trump

President Biden has proven to be Trump’s opposite and antithesis. Just what the country needed to heal. Biden is competent, experienced, kind, measured, thoughtful, empathetic, decent, predictable, caring, focused, deliberate, measured, honest, and likeable not only as a leader but also as a fellow human being. All the things Trump was not and likely can never be. No wonder the new president has an approval rating of nearly 60%, despite being handed a country torn in half by Trump that just faced down an insurrection. And we have experienced the first 100 days of the new administration without a hint of any scandal anywhere, and more importantly without lying or misleading the American people. Read More

Bearing Witness to the Pandemic April 2021

April 1- 10, 2021

The month begins with 30.5 million cases and 550,000 deaths in the US. The average daily death rate is still hovering around 500 from over 65,000 new cases each day. This is still too high but a huge improvement from last fall and early winter.

Nearly 20% of all Americans, over 65 million, are now said to be fully vaccinated from over 150 million shots. A large majority, nearly 70%, of those over 65 and most vulnerable have received at least one dose. Nearly 4 million shots are being administered on some peak days across the country. What an accomplishment that gives us all hope we have turned the corner. Read More

Bearing Witness to Climate Change April 2021

At the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, CO2 levels have for the first time exceeded 420 parts per million. When carbon was first measured in the atmosphere in the 1950s it was 100 ppm lower, at 315. It is now higher than any time in the last 800,000 years based on glacial ice core samples. The world is now more than halfway to a doubling of carbon by the year 2060. Climate scientists warn at this rate the resulting temperature changes would be 4-8 degrees Fahrenheit higher, perhaps double that agreed to in the Paris Climate Accords. Read More

Sorry State of the Missouri State Legislature

Year after year during each new state legislative session the welfare and intelligence of Missouri residents is assaulted by a multitude of offensive bills. When I think they could not do worse than the last session, they surprise me once again.

The list of proposed bills this year includes: undoing the vote to expand Medicaid, scrapping personal property taxes that support schools, discouraging voting in primaries, creating armed militias, nullifying federal gun laws, allowing guns on public transit, ignoring the Clean Missouri referendum, honoring someone so divisive like Rush Limbaugh, denying systemic racism exists,  diminishing powers of cities and health departments during pandemics, reducing minimum wages, limiting initiative petitions, funding private schools over public, limiting inspections of CAFOs,  and much more. Read More

Bearing Witness to the Pandemic March 2021

Week of March 1- 6, 2021

As the month begins the US is averaging 2 million vaccines per day. Over 50 million people have now  received at least one shot. More than 80 million shots have been administered with 25 million people having received both shots required of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Over 15 million doses are being shipped out to the states each week. This is a huge improvement in a short amount of time, but still far short of the estimated 80% vaccination rate that officials say is required for herd immunity to kick in. Read More