Please join me in congratulating Mark Shields, David Brooks, Sir David Attenborough, and Greta Thunberg. They have been selected as 2021's winners of the Annual Bruessard Award. Two of this year's winners are influential spokespersons linked to the USA's political world, and two are influential spokespersons linked to the Earth's natural world. This year's award can be divided into two categories:
Mark Shields and David Brooks, the dynamic duo, were selected as 2021 winners because they represent beacons of civility in the current era of hyperpartisan USA politics as personified by the opposing liberal and conservative political parties. The duo brings a measure of sanity to political discourse. It is a gentlemen's agreement, of sorts, between them to disagree about political matters amiably, cordially, candidly, and collegially without resorting to acrimony, division, name calling, hatred, and violence. Stated simply, much like the fall of the Roman Empire, democracy in the United States potentially could be the casualty of a deeply divided republic. Regrettably, the situation is not helped by the fact that the USA seems to be trending towards a greater preoccupation with gun toting and weed smoking more so than domestic tranquility. The Mark Shields and David Brooks duo has a unique way of surmounting or rising above the hyperpartisan political mire and acrimony.
Planet Earth is the only known habitable home where humans can live, survive, and thrive. Both Sir David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg have made this only-known-habitable-home point abundantly clear over the years. For Sir David Attenborough, conserving and preserving the natural world are his operative words or are his
modus operandi (M.O.). For Greta Thunberg, halting and reversing the onset of climate change are her operative words or are her modus operandi (or M.O.). For these reasons, the two of them, also, were selected as 2021 winners of the Annual Bruessard Award. Their unyielding devotion is without reproach in terms of keeping Earth habitable for the living to enjoy each day—and into the future. Stated simply, without the presence of clean breathable air, fresh drinkable water, and productive arable land, surely, the human species would become extinct. To put it another way, what good is an abundance of water on Earth if humans (and other living things) cannot drink it? What good is an abundance of air on Earth if humans (and other living things) cannot breathe it? What good is an abundance of land on Earth if humans (and other living things) cannot feed from it?
To be sure, there exists no shortage of pundits, scholars, and subject-matter experts who routinely make appearances on podcast, radio, television, and social media news programs. The unique or distinctive thing about
Shields & Brooks was the cool, calm, and collected manner in which they approached, discussed, and debated contentious political topics. The following two videos are representative of their measured approach.
In the current USA environment of hyperpartisan politics, finger pointing, conspiracy theories, and outright lies, the
Shields & Brooks duo stands out as a refreshing beacon of hope. They serve as a symbol to the USA populace. They demonstrate that it is wholly possible to debate controversial topics in a civil manner without walking away absolutely despising one another or filled with any type of lingering hostility or animus.
In their cool, calm, and collected approach to tackling hot-button political issues, Mark Shields and David Brooks represent a shining example for all USA residents to emulate. At the end of the debate, they remain congenial colleagues with no lingering ill will between them. They represent the voices of calm and reason.
NOTE: Mark Shields retired from the program on December 18, 2020. Mark's seat on the PBS NewsHour currently is filled by Jonathan Capehart (as of 2021).
By many accounts, and in the aftermath of World War II, the USA has long been recognized as the
de facto leader of the free world due to its free and open society. With its diverse or heterogeneous population, the USA also has become world renown as the "Great Melting Pot Society" or the "Grand Experiment" whereby a diverse mixture of peoples from all walks of life is assimilated into a broader societal milieu. Will the "Grand Experiment" succeed in fostering a nation where multi-ethnic unity and tranquility prevail?
One test of assimilation often used, whether fairly or not, has been the universal speaking of English in the public arena. If a long-time USA resident routinely does not speak English in public, then it can be surmised that the individual in question is not fully assimilated into the USA way of life. The United States is supposed to be a place where all peoples of the Earth can go and find open arms and a welcoming home despite the ongoing political debate about legal and illegal immigration into the USA, despite feelings of prejudice and distrust harbored by some of its residents for various reasons, and despite the USA's sordid racial subjugation history such as the displacement of the indigenous Native American Indians or the enslavement of black Africans. Regrettably, those 2 ethnic groups (that is, the Native American Indians and the black Americans) still seem to be struggling to overcome their unique American experiences of historical oppression and isolation from the societal mainstream—but breaking out of and overcoming a "slave mentality" and moving in a positive, constructive direction they must find a way to make it happen. For starters, if you are a black American who habitually uses the "n" word, then quite likely you still are trapped in a "slave mentality." By the same token, if you are a white American who habitually uses the "n" word, then quite likely you suffer from a case of "anti-black prejudice."
While the USA endeavors to—and is perpetually striving to—become a more perfect union, it remains something of a less-than-perfect country. Amid this USA imperfection, one of the greatest threats to democracy is that of an ill-informed, inert, disengaged, or apathetic citizenry. Perhaps, in part, (a) due to the realities of contemporary splintered media perspectives; in part, (b) due to malign actors on the World Wide Web who push disinformation in an attempt to manipulate and deceive the naive and gullible; and, in part, (c) due to the easy and quick dissemination of prejudicial viewpoints online often by anonymous parties with concealed identities, sadly to say, USA society has begun to splinter. This fracturing of USA society is further exacerbated or made worse (a) due to a rise in substance abuse leading to addiction, overdose, death, and destroyed families; (b) the rise of ever more lethal firearm ownership and gunplay; and (c) a general decline in public decorum all of which are getting totally out of hand. Given these realities, what better time than now for USA residents to get back to the basics or the fundamentals of civic immersion?
Granted, the USA is a far cry from being a perfect society. However, the consequences of divided government and endless political stalemate are governmental ineptitude and inertia. The consequences of divided government and endless political stalemate are leading the USA into becoming a more imperfect union rather than a more perfect union. For instance, the reality of continual divided government and endless political stalemate has led to an inability of the USA's political leaders to reform some apparent societal weaknesses and shortcomings. Some of these weaknesses and shortcomings include the following:
Practically an unbridled right to own firearms. As I have stated elsewhere, the intent of the Founding Fathers was for citizens to turn their firearms on foreign adversaries during wartime. It was never the intent of the Founding Fathers for citizens to turn their firearms on each other, which is mainly how firearms are being used in the USA during these contemporary times. And, with more open-carry laws being adopted, it increases the prospect of everyone walking around displaying firearms. These open-carry weapons are menacing and provocative, which is not to acquit the practice of concealed-carry weapons in any way, shape, or form. As I have indicated elsewhere, the Founding Fathers must be rolling over in their graves to witness how USA residents, at a moment's notice, now have millions of firearms turned on each other. If other countries on the planet can function just fine without the firearms, then why can't the residents of the USA do the same thing? This whole gun culture sends out bad vibes into the atmosphere, and the resultant bad karma is engulfing USA society. Indeed, this whole gun culture is engulfing the world because everyone wants weaponry parity or weaponry betterment—if they can achieve it.
Although presumed innocent until proven guilty, the inability to provide speedy trials is leading to many (namely, the indigent) residents sitting in jail an inordinate amount of time awaiting trial because they cannot afford to post the required bail money. A compromise, of sorts, to a speedy trial has been to use the tool of plea bargaining to circumvent the accused having to undergo a court trial.
Justice is not uniform or justice is uneven. A broad range of penalties is meted for similar crimes by different jurisdictions and courts. The ability to afford the best lawyers often means the difference between being judged not guilty or guilty or the difference between being set free or sentenced to jail.
Use of the Electoral College as a mechanism to elect the USA President. Without a doubt, the drafting of the USA Constitution was a stroke of genius. However, Constitutional shortcomings, oversights, and weaknesses have been noted. Some of these shortcomings, oversights, and weaknesses subsequently have been rectified by the Amendment process. Perhaps the Electoral College system is one such weakness that needs revisiting. Some view the Electoral College process as a mechanism or tool to be used to turn the loser of a USA Presidential election into the winner against the popular will or majority vote of the electorate. President Donald Trump and his post-2020 USA Presidential election machinations made it vividly clear that the Electoral College process provides a wide-open door for political mischief to occur by those who are undemocratic, who are inclined to engage in mischief, or who are intent on holding onto to political power at any cost. Such an invitation to mischief should not exist as posed by the Electoral College. Much like how political leaders are popularly elected for other federal, state, and local offices (and notwithstanding the introduction of rank-choice voting in a few instances), the simple election of the USA President by a popular vote eliminates all of the shenanigans and opportunities for manipulation or gaming of election outcomes provided by the Electoral College process. Furthermore, a fundamental principle of governance is that the majority vote wins. The Electoral College system has proven to be one in which the minority popular vote can end up winning the USA Presidency. The Electoral College system is proving to provide an opportunity for cheating, stealing, or operating an unequal playing field to favor the loser of the popular vote.
Imagine a possible scenario to have unfolded if Vice President Mike Pence was inclined to bend to or obey President Trump's wishes? What if, during the Electoral College vote certification on January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence had declared certain Electoral votes to be invalid or had stood in Congress and declared President Trump to still be President due to disputed elections in certain states? It is not too hard to imagine that President Trump would have pounced on Vice President Mike Pence's declaration, in turn, to declare the certification null and void. It is not too hard to imagine that President Trump would have asserted that he must remain in office until all election disputes are settled in court or settled by Congress. President Trump likely would not have budged on Inauguration Day. It is not too hard to imagine that President Trump would have remained at the White House and attempted to wage long, drawn-out legal fights in various states possibly for the next 4 years to delay a final verdict on the 2020 Presidential election outcome. The possibility should not exist for these types of Constitutional crises to occur, but it turns out that the Electoral College system provides fertile ground for this type of political mischief and malfeasance to exist if there are those so inclined to engage in it.
Use of the debt-ceiling procedure as a tool to wield political leverage, stalemate, and mischief.
Use of the filibuster as a tool to foster more Congressional gridlock or to stymie the opposition political party from achieving its agenda or achieving its perceived electoral mandate.
Gerrymandering of voting districts, which happens to be little more than a legally sanctioned form of redlining, to ensure that politicians get to pick their voters rather than the other way round where voters are the ones who pick the politicians to represent them. Politicians seem to be quite adept at passing laws, regulations, and rules to tell others what to do, but they are not quite as adept at regulating their own affairs such as the gerrymandering of voting districts. How can it be that redlining is unlawful but gerrymandering is not? Basically, the result is this: On the one hand, you have citizens voting to their hearts' content for their chosen candidates. On the other hand, with gerrymandering, the election outcome is predetermined.
Money has grown to play an outsized role in politics. Without the necessary connections to raise money and without support from wealthy individuals, corporations, and well-connected organizations, promising political candidates often get overlooked due to a lack of money to wage high-cost public-relations political campaigns. There should be a more equitable way to finance political campaigns to level the playing field. In its present form, although money is not a guarantee of victory in a political contest, money definitely has its advantages.
A federal tax structure that is less than ideal or leaves a lot to be desired with its many loopholes and breaks.
The essence of effective political leadership is to identify these various agents of political inertia and gridlock and then proceed to reform or banish them from national life. The situation is akin to having an infected wound. Generally speaking, if you have an infected wound, then you seek treatment to heal or fix the wound. You do not just leave the infection alone and watch it get worse. Similarly, where weaknesses and shortcomings are noted in the political system, political representatives should not stand by idly and watch the problem get worse. Political representatives should take actions to fix the problems. Some cynics would say that the inability of political representatives to take action is because some perceive a political [power-wielding] advantage in not taking action. As a result, these problems, weaknesses, or shortcomings tend to become exacerbated with the passage of time. It becomes a classic case of personal interests taking precedence over the public or national edification.
If the Obama Presidency could be described as a period of political dysfunction in Washington, D.C., then the Trump Presidency has to be described as a period of political cannibalism in Washington, D.C. The pinnacle of the political cannibalism occurred on January 6, 2021 with the storming of the United States Capitol building. The January 6, 2021 Capitol building breach incident represented a clear-cut example of the Executive Branch of government (under the leadership of President Donald Trump) physically attacking another branch (i.e., the Legislative branch) in a bid by President Trump to overturn an election and illegitimately cling to power by all means necessary for an additional 4 years.
Perhaps President Donald Trump was intoxicated by the trappings of wielding power and being viewed as the most powerful person on Earth. Perhaps President Donald Trump was motivated by a desire to remain in office to avoid having to face multiple post-Presidency lawsuits. Perhaps President Donald Trump's almost fanatical desire to remain in office was an ingenious attempt to escape legal accountability or sanctions for any transgressions of the law in the past since it has been deemed that the sitting USA President cannot be convicted while actively serving in office. Regardless of his motives, President Donald Trump clearly was totally out of order and completely out of control in his numerous attempts to overturn the 2020 Presidential election result. President Trump's numerous attempts to overturn the 2020 Presidential election results were way outside the boundaries of Constitutional conduct. The great lengths that President Trump went to overturn the 2020 Presidential election result was nothing short of rogue chaos and sheer madness, plain and simple. In the final analysis—and with a bitter twist of irony—historians probably will conclude that President Donald Trump's blatant and callous disregard for the rule of law turned to embody the very "American carnage" that he railed against coupled with his divisive, inciteful, prejudicial, demagogic, and mean-spirited political rhetoric.
It is hoped that, going forward, President Donald Trump's attempt at political cannibalism whereby one branch of the USA federal government attempts to physically attack and devour or overthrow another branch of government is the exception rather than the rule. It is hoped that President Donald Trump's attempt at political cannibalism is not emulated by future Presidential aspirants and office holders. Hopefully, this sort of lawless political conduct does not become a new USA political norm or standard especially in light of Republican failure to convict and remove him from office for attempting a political coup during President Trump's second impeachment trial. If it is any consolation to the lovers of democracy, despite the fact that the 57-guilty and 43-not-guilty final Senate impeachment vote fell short of a required two-thirds majority needed to convict and remove President Donald Trump from office, the final 57-guilty and 43-not-guilty impeachment vote did represent a moral victory in favor of the rule of law over despotism from the standpoint that the final impeachment vote count was a plural or majority guilty count.
An often overlooked fact is this about present-day USA political discourse as of 2021: When the USA's legislative branch [i.e., Congress] cannot legislate but constantly engage in partisan bickering, when the USA's legislative branch abdicates its legislative responsibilities as outlined in the USA Constitution and cedes legislative decision-making to the USA Supreme Court or to the USA President, then it provides an opening or an opportunity for a strong executive to exploit legislative failures. A do-nothing-but-bicker legislative branch provides an opening for the executive branch of government gradually to erode established democratic norms and to supplant these democratic norms with autocratic norms of governance. An unscrupulous, mischievous, unethical, and overly ambitious executive [President] might attempt to exploit the legislative void and proceed to implement a de facto form of one-person rule simply to get the business of government done.
The two dominant political parties in the USA (namely, Democratic and Republican) are not the only sources of USA domestic disharmony and disunity. There is more than enough complicity or blame to be assigned for the current polarized and toxic political environment. For instance, there are also never-ending opposing print, podcast, radio, and television media forces at work—not to mention the bad actors who propagate disinformation throughout these media sources to further foster societal division. Also, there are never-ending opposing—and sometimes extremist—voices emanating from popular social media platforms. In these other various media arenas, there is endless bickering about race, religion, immigration, abortion, guns, taxes, neighborhoods, school curricula, the role and size of government, and so forth. Taken together, these kinds of unending activities lead to endless feelings of frustration, hopelessness, aggression, and hostility towards the opposing side. These kinds of nonstop activities sometimes have a combined snowball effect of blowing issues way out of proportion. These kinds of unending activities tend to whip viewers, listeners, and readers into a passionate frenzy instead of lowering or turning down the dial on hyperpartisan discourse. All parties involved simply need to pause, take a deep breath, self-reflect, calm down, and proceed in a more measured manner.
The USA's contemporary state of hyperpartisan politics and divided government reminds me of the Humpty Dumpty fable. Humpty Dumpty, in this instance, is a metaphor for the USA itself. Humpty Dumpty is used here to symbolize the broken state of USA politics. The USA has not fallen off the proverbial Humpty Dumpty wall yet, but it is definitely heading down a Humpty Dumpty path. Can USA citizens rise above the hyperpartisan politics? Can Humpty Dumpty USA remain in tact or will partisan demagogues push Humpty Dumpty USA to a Roman Empire point of no return?
Watch (Humpty Dumpty)
How quickly can you put the USA back together again? See the
puzzle challenge below.
Puzzle Image Credit (USA Map): Wapcaplet at commons.wikimedia.org
It's a Wonderful Country: Thankful and Happy to Be Born in the USA
In some circles in foreign countries, the USA is viewed as the Milk and Honey Land of Opportunity whose streets are paved in gold and is viewed as a place where dreams come true. Although the Milk-and-Honey and paved-in-gold designations for the USA are exaggerations, it is possible for anyone to become fabulously wealthy in the USA. Ask
Diddy about the USA's rags-to-prominence character if you do not believe me. As for its street being paved in gold, based on what I have read, the USA is a far cry from being the most modernized country on Earth. Countries such as the UAE, Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, and Hong Kong have surpassed the USA in terms of modernizing their infrastructures—albeit President Joe Biden purports to be on a mission to modernize the USA's infrastructure.
From the perspective of many who do not reside in the USA, the following principles have come to represent their ideal cornerstones of USA society:
its democratic political structure
its Constitutional freedoms (such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom from unusual searches and seizures, freedom of firearm ownership, and so forth)
its largely free-market system of commerce with private property ownership rights.
its diversity with an emphasis on melting-pot socialization and equality of opportunity
its unending quest to foster a "more perfect union"
Given its uniquely diverse and heterogeneous population, and as mentioned above, the USA has become world renown as the "Great Melting Pot Society" whereby, over time, its varied peoples would assimilate into or adopt the broader USA socioeconomic and cultural life to become one united people. Inherit in the "melting pot" is the principle of equality of opportunity, which means all USA citizens should be afforded equal access to its social, economic, and political institutions regardless of race, religion, point of origin, etc.
Has the time come for USA residents to get back to the basic fundamentals of American history and American democracy? The following links offer insights into what civic duties or the duties of an informed and engaged citizenry entail:
Read (Learn About the United States)
Read (Democracy in Brief)
The next map of 13 national historic treasures was inspired by, and is based on, the book
Our National Treasures by Kate Torpie> Her book broadly encapsulates and condenses the American saga. Visit the List Challenges site for a synopsis of 200 national landmarks. As of 2021, the USA's National Historic Landmarks program lists over 2,600 national historic landmarks.
13 National Historic Treasures:
Civics can be viewed as a derivative of the word civil. To be civil is for citizens to behave in a "civilized" and dignified manner where the operative words are courtesy, respect, dignity, honesty, and decency between citizens and respect for the rule of law—in contrast to behaving in a "barbaric" manner. Grievances and disputes generally are redressed by voting, by relying on the majority decision of elected officials, or by relying on the judicial prudence of court rulings. Engaging in civil disobedience to seek redress of grievances means to demonstrate and protest peacefully and civilly without recourse to hatred, violence, rioting, looting, shooting, robbing, carjacking, stealing, vandalism, killing, and the destruction of property. USA citizens must overcome a propensity for hatred, violence, and all forms of
uncivil disobedience and unlawful conduct. If there is a moral to this USA saga, then it is this: USA residents have a good thing going with their democracy and freedoms in a prosperous country; don't blow it but improve it. It is all too easy to retreat into a shell and become disengaged or detached from society and the rule of law.
Watch (Stevie Wonder featuring Prince and En Vogue, So What The Fuss)
Watch (Stevie Wonder, Love's In Need Of Love Today)
When it comes to condemning the contemporary forces at work attempting to overthrow the USA government and destroy USA democracy, if President Lincoln were alive today, then I imagine that his
Gettysburg Address would go something like this:
Watch (Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Love Is)
2021's Winner 3 of 4: Sir David Attenborough
Over the course of his long, illustrious, and storied career, Sir David Attenborough has written, videotaped, and/or narrated a rather voluminous body of enlightening work about the natural world. Through documentary films alone, Sir David Attenborough has thrilled his fellow humans. Sir David Attenborough has entertained his fellow humans. Most importantly, Sir David Attenborough has educated his fellow humans about the importance and urgency of preserving the natural world. Sir David Attenborough's life is one devoted not only in service to humanity but also in service to all living things on Earth. For these reasons, it is an honor to recognize Sir David Attenborough as one of the latest alumni to become a recipient of the Annual Bruessard Award. Welcome new alumnus, Sir David Attenborough. Your great body of work speaks for itself.
Watch (Amid planet's crisis, filmmaker Sir David Attenborough's 'vision for the future')
The next thrilling video is but a tiny sampling Sir David Attenborough's rather voluminous body of enlightening work about the natural world. The next video exemplifies Sir David Attenborough's passion for planet Earth and the many life forms it harbors.
Watch (Sir David Attenborough, Our Planet | One Planet)
Thank you, Sir David "Planet Earth" Attenborough, for watching over Earth. 2021's Winner 4 of 4: Greta Thunberg
Last up among this year's roster of 4 winners but certainly not least among them is the fascinating one. It is none other than Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg. Right here is where the life of the teenager (Greta Thunberg) intersects with the life of the nonagenarian (Sir David Attenborough). In a sense, their intersecting paths represent a passing of the baton from Sir David Attenborough to Greta Thunberg. And, in the style of an Olympic champion, Greta Thunberg has received the baton and is running the climate race with grace, poise, dignity, style, and the ferocious determination and tenacity of a roaring lioness. I, for one, am a spectator in the crowd cheering for her.
At the tender age of 15, Greta Thunberg burst onto the climate-change scene in 2018. In the process, she elevated global awareness of the climate-change problem like nobody else. She is being recognized here for making such a monumental and consequential contribution to humanity. Greta's ascension into becoming a publicly recognized figure began in August 2018. Greta decided to skip school and, instead, to stand outside the Swedish Parliament displaying a protest sign which said, "Skolstrejk för klimatet" (School Strike for the Climate). And, as the saying goes, "The rest is history."
As a child, "little" Stevie Wonder often was referred to as both the "boy [musical] wonder" and also was referred to as the "boy (musical) genius." I do not think that it would be overstating the case to refer to Greta Thunberg as the "girl [climate change] wonder" and also to refer to her as the "girl [climate change] genius" despite Greta Thunberg not being a trained, university-educated scientist (at this early 2021 juncture in her very young life). She is a precocious one, to say the least, for she is wise beyond her years.
Some refer to Greta as a climate activist. In reality, she is more like a climate crusader. Greta Thunberg, too, has a "vision" (a la Stevie Wonder), and she has found her voice (a la Above & Beyond). Did you know that, by changing the G in her first name to H and rearranging the letters, Greta becomes both Earth and Heart?
What more can I say about Greta Thunberg except she is simply
amazing? Greta is Great! She truly is "too legit' to quit" (a la Hammer). She is "the real deal" (a la The Isley Brothers). But, Greta, "please don't hurt 'em" (a la Hammer) 🙂.
In the climate-change arena, Greta Thunberg's young footprint and impact have been unimpeachable and undeniable. The three-part television program titled
Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World stands as a testament to her impact. The three-part television program offers unique insights into Greta's spirit. The next video offers a summation of Greta Thunberg's alarm about—and her passion for—eradicating the human-induced climate problem:
Watch (Lion Roaring)
What exactly is climate change? What exactly is this climate thing that Greta Thunberg is roaring about, and why is she doing it? In a very general sense, climate change represents a transition from typically "normal" climate patterns to an onset of atypically "abnormal" climate patterns. In effect, climate change implies a new reality whereby abnormal climate patterns gradually become the new normal—and for the worse. For instance, climate change means colder winters and hotter summers. It also means more severe weather patterns such as more severe summer storms and harsher winter blizzards. It means an accelerated rate of global glacier melting and rising sea levels as a consequence. The next bloc of images and video encapsulates the climate change problem.
For perspective and to gain a fuller appreciation for life on Earth, the first video below in the next bloc of videos and photos begins by zooming out from Earth to Earth's Solar System neighborhood and even to the larger Milky Way galaxy community to which Earth belongs. The point here is this: Heretofore, Earth is the only known heavenly body in the Universe to harbor life—albeit scientists posit and many believe that many heavenly other bodies besides Earth harbor some form of life out there in the vast Universe. Major factors that contribute to the flourishing of life on Earth are its atmosphere, water, plants, and arable land. The point here is this: In the larger scheme of things, it is not an exaggeration to say that majestic (yet precarious) planet Earth is but a tiny, desolate kernel of sand drifting through the vastness of the eternal Universe.
[While I briefly digress here away from the climate change topic to elaborate on Earth being the only known heavenly body to harbor life, as noted elsewhere, many humans do not realize or appreciate the distances involved in space travel. Although there are allegations that space aliens or alien spacecrafts already have visited Earth, the actual proof of such alien visits always turns out to be a big secret. Perhaps one of the reasons why Earth and humans may not have been visited by any "publicly displayed and officially certified" space aliens yet is because it takes a very long time to reach Earth from outer space, that is, absence a shortcut such as the existence of a wormhole travel path. It would take a mind-boggling feat of engineering for space aliens to construct a vessel that is mechanically capable of safely traveling across interstellar and intergalactic space for trillions (10
12) or quadrillions (10 15) of miles and also capable of sustaining life for thousands and millions of years. Assume those space aliens (a) were capable of traveling at the speed of light (that is, rounded to 186,000 miles per second or 670 million miles per hour), (b) resided in the Milky Way galaxy, and (c) departed their heavenly body for Earth today. Based on these assumptions, it would take those space aliens up to 100,000 years into the future before they arrived on Earth, that is, depending on their route and place of departure. If those space aliens happened to reside in another galaxy and departed for Earth right now, then it would take them well over 2 million years into the future before they arrived on Earth. The speed of light in miles per hour can be derived as follows: Speed of light = 186,000 miles per second * 3,600 seconds in an hour = 669,600,000 miles in an hour. To determine how far light can travel in a year, simply plug the corresponding values for variables r and t into the distance formula [d (distance) = r (rate) * t (time)]. The updated formula becomes: d = 186,000 (miles per second) * 31,536,000 (seconds in a 365-day year) = 5,865,696,000,000 (trillion miles in a year that light travels). Obviously, if the space aliens were not capable of traveling at the speed of light, then it would take them an inordinately longer period of time to reach Earth; it also would speak volume about how many years those space aliens have been in existence. Furthermore, the Universe is gargantuan. Do those space aliens even know that itsy-bitsy, life-harboring Earth exists? To be sure, NASA launched the two Voyager spacecrafts in 1977. Both spacecrafts have exited the Solar System. Proxima Centauri is said to be the star closest to Earth and is said to be approximately 4.3 light years away (or 23.5 trillion miles away). If the Voyager spacecrafts were capable of continuously traveling through space at a speed of 37,000 miles per hour, then it would take another 73,000 years into the future before the Voyager spacecrafts reached Proxima Centauri. When it comes to time, humans are accustomed to thinking in terms of years, decades, centuries and millennia instead of the epochs (or millions of years) that serious space travel might entail. Thus far, as of 2021, regarding in-person space travel, humans have managed to travel no farther than Earth's Moon, which is some 240,000 miles (or some 385,000 kilometers) away from Earth—albeit it is commendable progress. End of digression.]
Watch (Our Milky Way Galaxy: How Big is Space?)
Watch (The Earth's Atmosphere: Up and beyond the sky | Educational Videos for kids)
Generally speaking, learned individuals trace the genesis of the present-day climate-change problem to the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution was represented by period starting from the mid-1700's and running through the late 1800's. It was a period of rapid technological development and economic change. It was a period in which production was reimagined with mass-production assembly lines along with the division and specialization of labor. It was a period that gave rise to mass communications and rapid transportation. It was a period in which machines were king and queen. From a positive perspective, the Industrial Revolution led to improved standards of living and longer average human life spans. From a negative perspective, the Industrial Revolution's ingenious period of mass production in industry, as embraced in the Western hemisphere, led to an enormous amount of pollution being released into the atmosphere.
It turns out that scientists did not begin to systematically and consistently measure global temperatures until around 1880, that is, at about the same time the Industrial Revolution was coming to an end. The measure of an increase of 1.5 °C was adopted as a goal to gauge the extent to which humans were making progress in their quest to eradicate the global warming problem. The measure of an increase of 1.5 °C was adopted at the
COP 21 Paris Climate Change Conference held in Paris, France. Among other things, the COP 21 agreement requires member-countries to devise means for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The long-term goal of the agreement is to aim for "holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change." The following table and graphic summarize average Earth temperatures over the decades from the 1880's through the decades of the 2010's. In the table and graphic below, notice an overall upward trajectory pattern of average temperatures increasing for the period 1880 through 2013, hence, an indication of a warming Earth.
Note that the temperatures in the table below begin in 1880, and they represent a
post-Industrial Revolution temperature level. COP (Conference of the Parties) 21's long-term goal is to limit the temperature increase to no more than 1.5 °C above pre-Industrial Revolution temperature levels. It is assumed here that the temperatures in the table below dating back to 1880 are reasonably accurate. It further should be noted that climate-change reports tend not to define what precisely were the pre-Industrial Revolution temperature levels to gauge the 1.5 °C increase against. The 1880 average Earth temperature can be used as a default measurement standard to gauge changing average global temperatures over time. Using this approach and using the table below, the default temperature becomes 56.82 °F or 13.79 °C. Regardless of the standard used, studies by organizations and individuals such as the IPCC, NASA, and others seem to indicate that the Earth, indeed, is warming.
Celsius / Fahrenheit Temperature Equivalents
Temperatures Fahrenheit (°F)
Temperatures Celsius (°C)
Net Temperature Change (Increase): A Rudimentary Comparison of 2013 to 1880
EARTH POLICY INSTITUTE™
It should be noted that a 1.5 °C increase in the average yearly temperature translates into an equivalency of 2.7 °F. The reason is because, whereas there is a 100° difference between the freezing and boiling points of water on the Celsius scale, there is a 180° difference between the freezing and boiling points of water on the Fahrenheit scale. Hence, 180/100 = 9/5 (or a factor of 1.8). Viewed another way, 1 °C is equivalent to (9/5)*1 °F. Conversely, 1 °F is equivalent to (5/9)*1 °C (or a factor of 0.555555555555556).
Understanding 1.5 °C
Degrees Celsius Change in Temperature (°C)
Equivalent Degrees Fahrenheit Change in Temperature (°F)
If 1880's average temperature of 13.79 °C (or 56.82 °F) was to be used as the standard by which to measure the progress—or lack thereof—that humans are making in the fight against global warming, then the next graphic depicts two things:
Note: In the graphic below, the blue line represents actual average global temperatures each year. The red line represents the base used or standard of 13.79 °C. When the blue line is above the red line, it means average temperatures are above the desired standard (hence, an indication of global warming). If the graph had been depicted using the fahrenheit degrees, then the same pattern would emerge.
The planet is trending towards a warming pattern.
To date, humans are losing the global warming struggle.
Watch [The Industrial Revolution (18-19th Century)]
Watch [Solvay Process Co.'s works, Syracuse (i.e. Solvary)]
Watch (Automobile parade)
Watch (Global Warming 101 | National Geographic)
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Watch (Who Is Responsible For Climate Change? – Who Needs To Fix It?)
The next question to be asked is this: What is solution for the climate-change problem? The solution involves astute land use planning at all levels of government (federal, regional, state, county, and city) to fully take into account and control for adverse ecological and environmental impacts of growth and development. A critical part of the planning process would involve deploying new technologies and phasing out older, less climate friendly technologies.
Reduce, reuse, and recycle are very important operative words within the context of climate-change. Everyday should be treated as Earth Day. On the bright side,
carbon calculators increasingly are being used to foster greater awareness of the climate-change problem. Many large corporations also are adopting carbon-neutral goals, programs, and policies.
Watch (Can We Cool the Planet? | NOVA | PBS)
Watch (The Earthshot Prize)
🦁 A Double Play Nod to Greta "The Great" Thunberg 🙂
The next double-play Above & Beyond song/music videos titled
Miracle are presented here as a special nod to Greta "The Great" Thunberg.
Watch (Oceanlab - Miracle (Above & Beyond Club Mix Radio Edit)
Watch (Above & Beyond Acoustic - "Miracle" Live from Porchester Hall)
Thank you, Greta "The Great" Thunberg, for watching over Earth. It's a Wonderful World: A Place Called Earth (Thankful and Happy to Be a Part of Life on Home Sweet Home)
To conclude this year's 2021 Annual Bruessard Award, I digress again to reflect on life on Earth. Humans have created a rich legacy on Earth. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's or UNESCO's
World Heritage Sites project stands as testament to that legacy. There is so much beauty on Earth. There are so many places to visit on Earth. There are so many fun things to do on Earth. The humans of today must preserve this rich heritage and beauty for future generations to enjoy. After all, Earth is only known habitable home where humans can live and thrive. Think about it. Why must humans be so destructive? Could humans be so destructive due to a universal or global lack of knowledge and wisdom? Much like the case with the existence of nuclear weapons, do too few humans grasp the seriousness of the adverse impacts of human activities on environmental and ecological integrity?
The next video is brought to you courtesy of the
NHK Creative Library. The video is meant to serve as a companion to the next map of the seven continents courtesy of BurningCompass. The 7-continents map contains 9 hotspots. The original source for the 9 hotspots on the map is NASA's article titled Nine Reasons We're Grateful to Live on Earth. Click each hotspot on the map to reveal NASA's nine reasons to be grateful to live on Earth, say, compared to humans having to try to go live elsewhere in the Solar System or elsewhere in the Universe. It should become abundantly clear that it is infinitely easier and wiser for humans to take good care of Earth rather than them trying to go live elsewhere in a inhospitable Solar System.
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🌐 9 Reasons We're Grateful to Live on Earth 🗺
Click the 9 Hotspots to See the 9 Reasons:
1. We can take deep, cleansing breaths
There's solid ground to stand on
The seasons go round and round
Its gravity doesn't turn us into noodles
We can enjoy a pleasant breeze
It’s a sparkling globe of blue, white and green
It’s got clear skies, sunny days and water we can swim in
Dry land exists! And the entire world isn't smothered beneath miles of ice
Cream puff clouds that come and go
Planet Earth Is Just Right to Support Life:
🌎 🌍 🌏
Without pause, reservation, or second thought, I am certain Sir David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg would agree that the world's rainforests are heritage sites worthy of preserving. One such heritage gem is the Amazon rainforest, which happens to be world's largest rainforest. According to
mongabay.com, the Amazon River Basin is "roughly the size of the forty-eight contiguous United States" and "covers some 40 percent of the South American continent and includes parts of eight South American countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, and Suriname, as well as French Guiana..." Here is one photo of the rainforest located in the Amazon River Basin. From Sir David Attenborough's perspective, it can be surmised that the rainforest should be preserved to save from decimation the many plant and animal species that live there. From Greta Thunberg's perspective, it can be surmised that the rainforest should be preserved for its very important role in absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.
The World Heritage image, table, and map below explore the 2020 World Heritage Sites in greater details. These designated World Heritage Sites are among some of the most amazing places on Earth.
World Heritage Image:
World Heritage Table:
World Heritage Map:
Behold, Magnificent and Majestic Planet Earth:
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Globally, a different type of mindset will be required of humans if they are to elevate their species to a higher plane of daily living and if they are to proceed to convert Earth into some type of oasis, paradise, or Heaven for the living to enjoy each day. If there is a moral for this concluding section, then it is this: Humans have a good thing going right here with delicate life on vulnerable planet Earth; don't blow it.
Watch (Pharrell Williams, Happy)
Watch (Jill Scott, Blessed)
The next image represents one of the reasons why life on Earth is said to be precarious—not to mention the precariousness introduced by naturally occurring disasters on Earth such as floods, hurricanes, volcanoes, and earthquakes. The role of humans is to contribute as little as possible to this precariousness. What are humans going to do with their home sweet home known as Earth? What are humans going to do with their short life spans down there on Earth? How are humans going to act or conduct themselves on a daily basis down there on itsy-bitsy but significant planet Earth—albeit, comparatively speaking, itsy-bitsy Earth is bigger than an asteroid and more hospitable to life, too? All of this daily human violence, hatred, crime, and murder have got to stop. The human saga continues to unfold. In the process of unfolding, hopefully, humans will opt to be kind to one another.
Above Image: "Earth's Protective Shield: The magnetic field and electric currents in and around Earth generate complex forces that have immeasurable impact on every day life. The field can be thought of as a huge bubble, protecting us from cosmic radiation and charged particles that bombard Earth in solar winds. ESA/ATG medialab"
Above Image: "Solar Ballet on the Sun: The Earth is superimposed on this image to give readers a sense of Earth's rather puny size relative to the size of the Sun. NASA/SDO/Steele Hill"
Absent the presence of stars such as the Sun, the Universe would be a cold, dark, lifeless, lonely, and empty place.
Note: Please visit the "Credits" page of this website to view the resources used to create this 2021 Winner page.