Worrying about the weather
Stress, anxiety and sleepless nights over what seems afoot with the weather have troubled many people lately. With unusually heavy and prolonged rains, there are roofs leaking, water intruding into homes, yards turning into swamps. The TVA indicates annual rainfall in 2018 as the highest in 129 years; by Feb. 19 this year, precipitation in Johnson City was close to 80 percent above normal.
As per an Associated Press report, emergency managers in coastal communities face enormous new challenges through major, more frequent flooding. Around here, high waters have collapsed roads and trapped drivers in flooded fields in Hawkins County, and the creeks in many “hollers” became raging rivers that demolished culverts and bridges in Carter County, on Dec. 28.
Two families in Roan Mountain, where the Tiger Creek bridge collapsed that night, incurred the loss of income from B&B vacationers but also an almost $20,000 repair cost for the bridge. A family in Conway, S.C., per the AP report, lives in an RV since their home can’t dry out, after the last flood, because of constant, new rains.
Several studies indicate that sleepless nights will affect more of us, more often in the future, unless climate change is abated quickly. Average temperatures have increased by 1.3-1.9 º F, the scientists note, mostly since 1970. For every hundred Americans, further expected increase and rising nighttime temperatures, they estimate, will bring six additional nights of tossing and turning every month, by 2050, double that by century’s end.
Climate change is a significant threat to human health, both mental and physical, but we can avoid its worsening. In addition to personal actions, seeking our congressman’s support for systemic, national policy to drive down the climate-harming emissions, like the bipartisan HR 763 bill now in the House, is among important steps we can all take.
New bills go too far
Today's edition of the Press (Feb. 27) contained information about two bills making their way through the legislative process. One bill bans abortions after a heartbeat is detected (as early as six weeks) and does not make an exception for rape or incest. The other would raise the age to purchase tobacco products to 21. Both of these bills are just another example of government trying to increase control over its citizens.
While I'm sure the supporters of these measures have good intentions, the fact remains that neither of these bills will have the desired outcome. Abortions will still happen and the women involved will be subjected to dangerous medical conditions and backroom procedures performed by unqualified individuals. Tobacco products will still be used by people under the age of 21, they will just be purchased by an older friend or family member. Have we not learned that you can't legislate morality or good behavior? Surely our legislators haven't forgotten Prohibition. How did that work out?
I also believe that if you are old enough to go to war and you are old enough to vote, you are damn sure old enough to decide whether or not to purchase and use tobacco products. Government’s job is not to protect us from ourselves, it is to create an environment that promotes life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.