Matthew Demands Your Attention

Matthew Demands Your Attention

Time to get your head out of the clouds.

Everyone knows about Hurricane Matthew by now - the tropical cyclone is hitting Cuba, Haiti, and Jamaica, with force not seen since 2007. Hurricane Matthew is a symptom of a bigger problem, however. Recently it was reported that the earth has reached 400 parts per million carbon in the atmosphere. So today you're going to learn what those buzzwords such as climate change and global warming actually mean. Everyone is screaming about global warming, but do you know explicitly what it is?

What really is global warming and climate change? Well, whether you "believe in" factual climate change science due to human activity, I'm just going to say climate change by definition is the climate changing regardless of the cause. Our climate is changing regardless of what you attribute the cause to - natural processes (which admittedly do bring something to the table) or human activity (which also bring something to the table).

So let's talk about solar radiation - I'm not going to get super technical here. A certain amount of solar radiation to begin with is lost before it comes to Earth. So I'm going to focus on solely radiation that reaches earth. Much of solar radiation is absorbed by the land surfaces and the ocean. A certain smaller amount is also absorbed by the atmosphere as well as clouds. However, there is radiation that is not absorbed and bounces back up. That radiation, typically, would go back to space.

Carbon emissions block that radiation from bouncing back to space. Instead, the radiation is kept within the layers of the atmosphere - resulting in warming. That is the jist of global warming and the greenhouse effect, ultimately warming the atmosphere.

So, where does all that heat go? Well, it goes in the ocean. The ocean absorbs much of the carbon emissions we put into the atmosphere, also resulting in warming. Marine life is having a hard time handling this and is getting stressed or possibly dying out. It is no secret the ocean is getting warmer and warmer.

Now, though, we're going to talk about hurricanes. The reason many meteorologists and forecasters deny global warming - especially with hurricanes - is that there are cycles to hurricane development and cycles of the earth's climate in general. Hurricanes in particular are influenced by a few cycles - the Atlantic Multi Decadal Oscillation, the El Nino Southern Oscillation, and the Madden-Julian Oscillation. Let's start big and go small.

The Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation is essentially an oscillation of sea surface temperatures. As the name implies, it lasts decades and goes through active and inactive periods to put it as simply as possible. The Atlantic has been in an active stage since the early 2000s, specifically around 2005, which means warm sea surface temperatures. The El Nino Southern Oscillation is the same El Nino you hear about. The oscillation has two parts - El Nino and La Nina (El Nino is warm temperatures and La Nina is cold temperatures in the pacific). El Nino suppresses Atlantic hurricane development and La Nina encourages it for more complicated reasons. Finally, the Madden Julian Oscillation is a small scale oscillation that influences activity where hurricanes come from (Africa).

So, why did you read all that?

The point is, hurricanes such as Matthew are taking advantage of the current warm conditions once they form. Storms like Matthew can only be made worse with climate change - the conditions will be there either way, but will we make it worse? When Matthew is hitting these small countries which undeniably don't have huge carbon emissions, I cannot help but feel almost personally responsible. We have all contributed in some way, and we need to start making this a center point of our lives. I understand most people don't run factories. Recycle more. Car pool. Buy energy efficient appliciances and cars. Do anything at all that could make your footprint a little bit smaller. Pressure governing bodies for change and investments in clean energy. Matthew is merely a symptom of the disease. While climate change may not influence oscillations that govern hurricane development (the jury is still out), the warm sea surface temperatures will fuel hurricanes and only make them bigger, stronger, and more destructive.

To the critics, I am not linking Matthew directly to climate change. That would be a study I simply would not have funds to do. However, the intensity of the storm could have been influenced by it. I am merely saying climate change could have been a player in Matthew's development, not the sole reason for its existence.

Do anything to reduce your carbon footprint - the world needs it. The people of Jamaica, Haiti, and Cuba need it.

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3 Reasons Why Step Dads Are Super Dads


I often hear a lot of people complaining about their step-parents and wondering why they think that they have any authority over them. Although I know that everyone has different situations, I will be the first to admit that I am beyond blessed to have a step dad. Yep, I said it. My life wouldn't be the same that it is not without him in it. Let me tell you why I think step dads are the greatest things since sliced bread.

1. They will do anything for you, literally.

My stepdad has done any and every thing for me. From when I was little until now. He was and still is my go-to. If I was hungry, he would get me food. If something was broken, he would fix it. If I wanted something, he would normally always find a way to get it. He didn't spoil me (just sometimes), but he would make sure that I was always taken care of.

SEE ALSO: The Thank You That Step-Parents Deserve

2. Life lessons.

Yup, the tough one. My stepdad has taught me things that I would have never figured out on my own. He has stood beside me through every mistake. He has been there to pick me up when I am down. My stepdad is like the book of knowledge: crazy hormonal teenage edition. Boy problems? He would probably make me feel better. He just always seemed to know what to say. I think that the most important lesson that I have learned from my stepdad is: to never give up. My stepdad has been through three cycles of leukemia. He is now in remission, yay!! But, I never heard him complain. I never heard him worry and I never saw him feeling sorry for himself. Through you, I found strength.

3. He loved me as his own.

The big one, the one that may seem impossible to some step parents. My stepdad is not actually my stepdad, but rather my dad. I will never have enough words to explain how grateful I am for this man, which is why I am attempting to write this right now. It takes a special kind of human to love another as if they are their own. There had never been times where I didn't think that my dad wouldn't be there for me. It was like I always knew he would be. He introduces me as his daughter, and he is my dad. I wouldn't have it any other way. You were able to show me what family is.

So, dad... thanks. Thanks for being you. Thanks for being awesome. Thanks for being strong. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for loving my mom. Thanks for giving me a wonderful little sister. Thanks for being someone that I can count on. Thanks for being my dad.

I love you!

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Sociolinguistics Series: Part 50

Language is a powerful tool.


It's part 50--halfway to 100! I'm so glad to still be here writing! In this section, we will talk about Dr. Shikaki's findings on how Palestinians view the state of Israel.

25 years ago, 85% of Palestinians supported a two-state solution. 10 years ago, this number decreased to 70%. Dr. Shikaki believes this was due to an increase in the prominence of Islamism in Palestinian society during the second intifada; Islamists were opposed to the two-state solution. In the most recent survey, the December 2018 one, only 43% of Palestinians supported the two state solution.

In 2000, American President Bill Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PA Chairman Yasser Arafat at the Camp David Summit to come up with a solution to the conflict. It ended without an agreement, but in December of 2000, Clinton once again proposed a resolution: the Clinton Parameters.

The content of the Parameters basically allowed Israel to annex settlements while Palestine to take 94-96% of the West Bank, as well as Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. There were other guidelines regarding territory, refugees, security, and the end of the conflict. Essentially, the West Bank would have been split up by Israeli roads and settlements--which is kind of the reality today.

Both the Israeli government and Arafat accepted the terms with reservations, and Arafat wrote to Clinton a letter asking for clarifications on the terms. Clinton and Dennis Ross, an envoy of the Parameters, publicized that Arafat had refused to accept the terms; they painted Palestinians in a negative light, saying that Israel wanted to accept the peace negotiations but Palestine did not.

American Lawyer Robert Malley was at the Camp David Summit and oversaw parts of the Clinton Parameters. In 2001, he said that three myths had come out of the failure of both negotiations, and that these three myths were dangerous to any future peace processes if people kept believing in them.

These myths are as follows: "Camp David was an ideal test of Mr. Arafat's intentions," "Israel's offer met most if not all of the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations," and "The Palestinians made no concession of their own."

He said that these three statements were not true but very heavily publicized by America and Israel after the negotiations failed; rather, there is more nuance to each of these issues, and America and Israel have just as much responsibility in the failure of the Summit and Parameters as Palestine did. Malley wrote, "If peace is to be achieved, the parties cannot afford to tolerate the growing acceptance of these myths as reality."

Anyway, what does this have to do with Dr. Shikaki? He polled Palestinians not only on the their attitudes to the two-state solution, but the Clinton Parameters as well. 25 years ago, there was 60% support for the Clinton Parameters by Palestinians, but the June 2018 poll showed that the number had gone down to 37%.

The last ten years shows a significant decrease in public support for both the two-state solution and the Clinton Parameters, and it could be a result of disagreeing with specific parts of the proposals (such as how the Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock or Jerusalem is delegated).

I did some further digging when I got home, and I found this data from the UN Division for Palestinian Rights website:

"A 25 December [2000] published poll found that 48% of the 501 Israelis questioned were opposed to the proposals; 57% would object to Palestinian control of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound; 72% were against even a limited return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. A 29 December published poll found that 56% of the Israelis would oppose a peace agreement reached on the basis of the Parameters."

This shows that though public media--especially Western media--may have painted the Palestinian government as the villain (and Israel and America as the "victims"), the proposals accepted by either government had varied support among its people.

The Israeli civilian population did not want to accept the Clinton Parameters because of the way certain things would be resolved; their reservations lie with the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa Mosque because the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in the world for Jews, would have been given to Palestine, while Jews would have control of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount (which is the status quo).

In addition, there was a section in the Clinton Parameters that dealt with the right of return for Palestinians, where there would be a certain number of Palestinian refugees who settled in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while other Palestinians either would become citizens of their host countries, move to a third-party country, or settle back into the land that is Israel Proper (with permission from the Israeli government, of course); many Israelis did not support this.

That was the public opinion years ago. Today, there is even less support for these proposals. Dr. Shikaki outlined three issues as reasons for a decrease in support of compromise, which we will cover in the next section. Stay tuned!

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