The Holocene Climate

(Public Input Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, 7 March, 2017)

Figure 1 shows the climate variation over the last million years. The low points on the curve correspond to ice ages when glaciers up to a mile thick covered New York. The high points correspond to interglacial periods such as the climate during the Holocene, the last 10,000 years. As shown in the figure, the Holocene encompasses all of human civilization. Prior to that species and subspecies of humans were hunter gatherers. There are at least four reasons why humans and other animals and plants were able to survive prior ice age/interglacial abrupt climactic shifts.

  1. These were not as dramatic as the current human-caused climate change, unfolding ten to hundred times slower. In fact over any individual’s lifetime there might have generally been no discernable change in many regions.
  2. Human populations were less than a few tens of millions globally or equivalent to the population of one modern city. There was room to move about.
  3. Humans were all hunter/gatherers independent of immobile infrastructure.
  4. There were no artificial barriers to mobility for wildlife which humans depended upon such as farms, roads, cities and pipelines.

Today, there are 7.5 billion humans or one human per every four acres of land, including deserts, mountains and Antarctica. There is no place to go. Humans, especially Loudoun County citizens are highly dependent on immobile and vulnerable infrastructure and global systems of finance, trade and commerce. Because of these differences, human civilization likely could not survive a glacial/interglacial shift much less the climate catastrophe we are now causing. Figure 2 shows that the global Holocene climate within 1? limits has not varied more than 1 degree. This includes the Little Ice Age, the Medieval Warm Period and other climactic shifts. Yet even these modest shifts throttled various civilizations [1] as described by anthropologists such as Jared Diamond in his book “Collapse” and historians such as Peter Frankopan in his recent “The Silk Roads” when there were still only a few 100 million people and only modest dependence on immobile and complex infrastructure and global commerce as compared to today. And these temperature shifts were much slower than what is happening due to human emissions today.

It seem just a little foolish to assume that human civilization, upon which Loudoun County citizens clearly depend can survive such a rapid large magnitude climate shift as we are causing [2].

[1] Michael McCormick, Ulf Büntgen, Mark A. Cane, Edward R. Cook, Kyle Harper, Peter Huybers, Thomas Litt, Sturt W. Manning, Paul Andrew Mayewski, Alexander F. M. More, Kurt Nicolussi, Willy Tegel, Climate Change during and after the Roman Empire: Reconstructing the Past from Scientific and Historical Evidence, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, xliii:2 (Autumn, 2012), 169–220.

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBtehlDpLlU

Figure 1: Source: https://skepticalscience.com/print.php?r=424

Figure 1: Source: https://skepticalscience.com/print.php?r=424

Figure 2: Global temperature anomaly reconstruction multiple data sets Source: Shaun A. Marcott, Jeremy D. Shakun, Peter U. Clark, Alan C. Mix, A Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years, Science, vol. 339, 1198, 8 March, 2013; DOI: 10.1126/science.1228026

Figure 2: Global temperature anomaly reconstruction multiple data sets Source: Shaun A. Marcott, Jeremy D. Shakun, Peter U. Clark, Alan C. Mix, A Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years, Science, vol. 339, 1198, 8 March, 2013; DOI: 10.1126/science.1228026




Choosing To Forgive

By Samuel Moore-Sobel
“Truly forgiving is the ability to say, ‘Thank you for giving me that experience.’” James Arthur Ray vaulted into fame on the Oprah Winfrey Show back in the mid-2000’s. Stunned hearing these words while watching The Rise and Fall of James Arthur Ray on CNN, they began to bounce around my mind, leading towards a contemplation of the concept behind forgiveness.

There are some famous examples of forgiveness that paint the halls of our cultural collective conscious. A particularly poignant example can be found in Germany circa 1947. In speaking of her internment in concentration camps Corrie ten Boom told a crowd, “When we confess our sins, God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever.” Moments later, an opportunity presented itself to practice what she preached. A familiar figure approached — a brutal guard at Ravensbruck. Instead of extending his hand to inflict pain, he made a plea for forgiveness. Her initial hesitation led towards a startling realization. “Forgiveness is not an emotion … forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” 

Forgiveness is not a passive act, but rather an active one — a constant process towards resolving the feelings of bitterness and resentment that can follow us like a ghost. It is a conscious, often daily decision of making the choice to release the aggressor for the pain inflicted in the past. It takes something larger than ourselves to summon up the courage to carry out this act.

Interestingly, forgiveness can lead to positive health outcomes. According to the Johns Hopkins website, making the choice to forgive can reduce the “risk of heart attack” and can even relieve various forms of physical discomfort. Karen Swartz, M.D., director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital said, “There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed.” An emphasis was placed on the journey. “It is an active process in which you make a conscious decision to let go of negative feelings whether the person deserves it or not,” Swartz went on to say. Apparently reaching this place eludes most of us. Over 60 percent of “American adults say they need more forgiveness in their personal lives.”

My own personal journey with forgiveness has been complicated at best. The hurt in my life at times unintentionally built up, causing me to hold onto far more bitterness than one should healthfully possess. Over time, it felt as if true forgiveness had been meted out as I came to a passive acceptance of the past. Upon reflection, the pact made years ago was one of conditional forgiveness — predicated upon the outcome of life. With the achievement of personal and professional success, forgiveness would follow. Lulled into a sense of complacency based upon circumstances, the journey had seemingly come to an end.

Watching James Arthur Ray distort the true meaning of forgiveness, my blood began to boil. True forgiveness isn’t being thankful for being hurt, especially at the hands of injustice. I am grateful that past experiences were used to mold my character, imbuing me with depth and empathy that may otherwise have not been achieved. A different concept entirely than the one articulated in this documentary. 

Ray’s own story has a tragic twist. His meteoric rise was snuffed out soon after it began. Just a few years later deaths at a retreat he led resulted in a prison sentence. His apparent unrepentant attitude towards the pain he caused others was as striking as his inability to explain his actions other than with words cloaked in arrogance. “There is a lot of hubris that comes with being a savior,” he simply offered.

Oddly enough, Ray’s words spoke to a deeper struggle stirring within my soul. A struggle over whether my attempts at reaching this important stage of forgiveness had eluded me. It was a thought that had been building, an idea that had been forming over the course of several months. Researching for answers, a plethora of solutions appear: Write a letter to your aggressor and burn it, keep a journal along with various other ways to move on after loss, conquer the past by moving towards the future. Others counsel that the past must be forgotten to bring about healing. 

A few years ago, while interning at Prison Fellowship, I was given a shirt emblazoned with the words “Forgive/Forget”. The word Forget crossed out emphasizing the logical fallacy lurking behind erasing memories. If the past is forgotten, an experience is rendered a complete waste. Memory offers one of the few avenues to achieve redemption. Great pains must be taken to remember the powerful lessons that can be gleaned from pain inflicted in the past. 

Easier said than done, I know. Forgiveness it seems is a process with a timetable that varies. As of late, forgiveness has come slightly more easily, based upon the realization that relying upon conditional forgiveness can only lead towards a tacit acceptance rather than true healing. The key is desiring true healing and the willingness to work toward that authentically. Do not be mistaken, forgiveness is not offering a blank check; for, despite my newfound attitude, you can guarantee I won’t be thanking anyone for inflicting pain anytime soon. 

Samuel Moore-Sobel is no expert on forgiveness. His own journey has been full of many twists and turns, with plenty of opportunities to both forgive and be forgiven along the way.




Five Key Retirement Questions

Beyond asking yourself where you see yourself and even what your lifelong goal are, effective retirement and longevity planning begs some very big questions. Review the points below and consider how housing, transportation and health considerations all play a role in planning for your future.

Where Will You Live?
Whether you’re bound for a dream home or planning to stay put, housing likely will be your biggest expense in retirement. While aging in the comfort of your own home would be ideal, modifications to the home-or your plan-could be necessary as mobility and transportation challenges arise. Points to consider:
Do you want to stay in your home? Will it need to be modified?
What housing options are available to you, and what will they cost?
Would you want to downsize? Relocate to a pedestrian friendly neighborhood?
87 percent of adults age 65+ want to stay in their current home and community as they age. (AARP PPI, “What is Livable? Community preferences of Older Adults,” April 2014)

How Will You Get Around?
It may come as a surprise, but transportation is the second largest expense for individuals older than 65 and accounts for about 15 percent of their annual expenditures, according to the bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s why we make sure to account for it as a part of your long-term financial plan. Points to consider:
How will you get to your favorite places in retirement?
Who will assist you if you can’t drive yourself somewhere?
What transportation options are available in your area?

How Will You Safeguard Your Health?
Your health and your finances are intertwined in complex ways. Most expect Medicare to pay for their healthcare expenses in retirement. But, in reality, Medicare pays only 60 percent of healthcare costs* you will have premium, copays and deductibles. As you age, healthcare costs can add up. Points to consider:
Do you have an existing condition? What will treatment cost over the long term?
Do you know what costs Medicare will cover?
How will you pay for what Medicare doesn’t?
Have you considered Medigap?

Will You Have Enough?
Giving yourself every opportunity to save enough for a long, fulfilling life requires careful, detailed longevity planning-strategies for saving, investing and taking withdrawals. Making the right Social Security claiming decisions is vital to optimizing your retirement income strategy. Points to consider:
When are you planning to retire?
What sources of income will you have in retirement?
How much income will you need in retirement?

Who Will Take Care of You?
As we all live longer, chances are you may, at some point, provide care for a loved one or receive care yourself. Becoming a caregiver can be not only stressful, but also can have financial consequences if it requires taking time away from work. And long-term care is not covered by Medicare. Points to consider
Do you understand the full impact of being a caregiver?
How will you get the care you need as you age?
Should you consider long-term care insurance?
70 percent of American age 65 in 2014 will need some form of long-term care.
(Department of Health and Human Services)
As you continue planning for your future, your financial advisor can serve as your center point, helping you consider every facet of a long and happy retirement – form healthcare and caregiving to transportation and housing.
*Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2015

The foregoing contains general information only and is not intended to convey investment advice. Amy V. Smith Wealth Management, LLC, an independent firm, CFP, CIMA, offers securities through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Her office is located at 161 Fort Evans Road, NE, Suite 345, Leesburg, VA 20176. (703 669-5022, www.amysmithwealthmanagement.com) Dan Smith is not affiliated with Raymond James.




Work Woes

By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D.

Dr. Mike,

I’m a manager at a large tech company and my boss has directed me to fire someone on my team, but as a Christian, I just can’t do it. It’s true that the employee on my team keeps messing things up and is doing a really bad job. I put him on a performance plan that hasn’t changed anything, but it feels wrong to fire someone when they’re trying to do their very best. The employee in question is also the single bread winner of his family, and he has three young children. I guess it’s true that I do complain to my husband about this employee all the time, and he’s gotten sick of it, and last week we had a stupid fight over my not being able to do what I’m supposed to do at work. Augh! I don’t want to upset my boss, my husband or my employee, but I don’t know how to make everyone happy. Your help is appreciated.

Concerned in Loudoun

Dear Concerned in Loudoun,

While I appreciate that your situation at work is an upsetting one for you emotionally, the answer to your problem is actually quite simple – you need to fire your employee. This task will be less difficult for you when you separate out your emotions from your responsibilities and duties in your role as a manager.

So, let’s think through things together here.

As a manager, you’ve respectfully tried to help your employee stay at the company with a performance plan, but he is still “failing” to meet your expectations in his work. Moreover, you write that your company is a large one, so you may have shareholders and/or board members; and, both your shareholders and board are relying on you to responsibly put the needs of the company ahead of a single employee who is underperforming.

Your position that you don’t want to upset anyone – your husband, your boss or your employee – is not a realistic one, but again, I don’t think you don’t need to feel so alone or so badly about doing the right thing as a manager. Thus, another thought to consider is that you let your boss know how you feel about your employee, and perhaps he or she could help to support you better – maybe you’d benefit from some additional training in management, or by having a professional mentor (if you don’t have one already) or by working with an executive coach.

Know that you are not alone in your struggle. Surveys in this area have actually shown that firing employees is one of the most stressful and upsetting task for managers, however, it goes with the territory. Also, know that you’re not a bad Christian, in my opinion, because you, as a manager, are perforce being placed in the role of having to fire an employee that is unable to adequately do their job.

I leave you with a quote I like a lot on this topic from Colin Powell:
“Good leadership involves responsibility to the welfare of the group, which means that some people will get angry at your actions and decisions. It’s inevitable, if you’re honorable. Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity: You’ll avoid the tough decisions, you’ll avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted, and you’ll avoid offering differential rewards based on differential performance because some people might get upset. Ironically, by procrastinating on the difficult choices, by trying not to get anyone mad, and by treating everyone equally ‘nicely’ regardless of their contributions, you’ll simply ensure that the only people you’ll wind up angering are the most creative and productive people in the organization.” – Colin Powell

Dr. Michael Oberschneider, a Clinical Psychologist, is the Founder and Director of Ashburn Psychological & Psychiatric Services. Oberschneider has been featured on CNN Nightly News, Good Morning America, the WTOP, and several other media outlets. He also received the recognition of “Top Therapist” (July 2009) by Washingtonian Magazine. In 2016, Oberschneider added Ollie Outside, a children’s book encouraging screen-free fun. His office is located at 44095 Pipeline Plaza, Ste. 240, Ashburn. To learn more call 703-723-2999.




Joy or Suffering

By Mary Rose Lunde
No one likes to suffer. When given the chance, many people would choose to laugh rather than cry, to sit in silence with their friends rather than talk through their feelings, because not even their friends “get them.” It’s no surprise that thousands of Americans choose rather to go to an impartial therapist than to confide in their friends, or even to turn to religious God(s) who they feel like are able to solve all of their problems simply because they are God.

I am not here to discredit anyone or to make a point, I’m here to shift the attitude. We all have our demons; we all have our struggles where we suffer. There’s always that one relationship that could be better, always that one issue that could be adding to our stress levels that we wish was gone. No matter what, we won’t be satisfied, even if we were without any problems. There’s always something.

There is a beauty in joy, just as there is a beauty in suffering. We are so quick to judge everything as a potential problem that keeps us from a goal. How often do we overreact about misplacing something or messing up a single detail? Perhaps we need to think about the potential of things. We choose how to react; and maybe we should be choosing joy, instead of supposed suffering. I don’t discredit suffering, but we aren’t always the victims. Perhaps if we choose joy over the idea of suffering, we can choose kindness more often; and the world would have fewer problems. If anything, our lives would have fewer problems, because we are reminded of what we have, and what we should be celebrating.

One of my friends was recently diagnosed with a disease which gives her constant stomach pain. She has to go to the hospital bimonthly for infusions that only lessen her pain. Yet, when I went with her to the hospital, she smiled at me, and said something I’ll never forget. When I asked her how she was faring and if she was hurting, she said, “Yes, I may be suffering physically but that doesn’t mean that this illness can steal my joy.” She chose to stay hopeful, and to make the best of her situation. She chose joy.

As amazing as her response is, she still hasn’t been cured; and by medical diagnosis, probably never will be. I do believe that my friend carries the right idea, she will continue to stay joyful. And I hope that if she slips and falls into self-pity and discouraging thoughts, that she will lean on people that can lift her back up, and help her choose joy rather than suffering.

I often wonder why so many people get entrapped by suffering. And then I realize that I’m one of those people. Choosing joy is something that is continuous. We have to take our thoughts captive, and keep choosing joy despite our circumstances. Suffering may be present, but what we do in the presence of suffering is the key. It’s our choice. Let’s make it count!

Mary Rose Lunde is a senior at Virginia Tech graduating with a double major in Literature/Language and Creative Writing. Lunde tries to find joy even in the simplest things. 




Wage Radio

I will always remember – very fondly – the first time I ever set foot on the property at 711 Wage Drive Southwest in Leesburg, Virginia. It was a warm, sunny July morning in 1997, and I’d driven all the way from Minnesota – stopping along the way only to get my used car fixed and to take a couple of cat naps. I left behind pretty much everyone and everything I ever knew or did, and looked forward to a completely new life in broadcasting in Northern Virginia. As I pulled into the little parking lot at the end of Wage Drive, the image of the one-story, rambler-style building – sheltered under the huge evergreen on the east side, dogwoods out front and gone-to-seed apple trees out in the yard – forever-more created this fantasy for me of the old-time radio station – something out of my hometown in southern Minnesota – yet having the flavor of Mayberry – complete with Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Fife.

My activities – based out of this little brick building within earshot of the football field at Loudoun County High School – put me into contact with amazing individuals at every turn – exceptional people who made deep impressions – whose spirits I hope to carry to the end of my days. I had the great fortune – because of my opportunity as the last News Director at Wage Radio (1997-2007) to at least feel like I knew and served each individual in Loudoun County: The 10’s of thousands of school kids enrolled in public education (not to mention the teachers, administrators and School Board), County employees – from the event organizers to members of the Loudoun Supervisors – all the Mayors in each of our incorporated Towns – as well as their Councils, leaders in business and technology, agriculture – and the growing army of personnel involved in local public safety; those were the larger groups. Others were unique individuals – with no peer in their community – and sadly – they are gone – at least in the physical sense: people like Colonel Michael Grenata (Veteran of World War I), B Powell Harrison (a true Virginia Gentleman who gave the term ‘preservationist’ a great deal of credibility), AV Symington (former part-owner of Wage and benefactor of Temple Hall Farm), and Frank Raflo (an irascible storyteller and local politician).

So now, when I walk the grounds of this little brick building in southwest Leesburg, I hear the voices of those with whom I formed wonderful relationships, and I feel their spirits with every step I take; knowing them has made me a much stronger and resilient person than I was upon arriving here two decades ago; sharing experiences with outstanding personalities changed me in other ways as well: I gained a deeper sense of empathy for others (and their passions – be it love, fear or hatred), and the lesson of the importance of service to one’s community left a stamp on me I’ll carry for the rest of my days. I was able to lead a local theatre company for a span of 10 years (pretty much the same decade as my tenure at Wage) not so much due to my talent in theatre itself, but from many of the school-of-hard-knocks educational experiences I garnered as a very eager news director. Everyone I met taught me, “This is what life can be like!” for better, or for worse.

And today, as I dream (almost nightly) of my former days in local broadcasting, sometimes it’s just the little things that stick out. I tried my best to quickly learn all the important names and faces in Loudoun County – but we all make mistakes; in one of my first stories on the County Board, I got former Supervisor Chairman Scott York’s name wrong (I think I may have called him Dave) and he pointed it out to me at the next meeting – in private – and he simply laughed it off and let it go at that. I never forgot that – and I never got his name wrong again. On the other hand, I could be sitting down for an interview with (former) Congressman Frank Wolf, or (former) Governor Mark Warner, or even (former) Leesburg Mayor Jim Clem (one of the most memorable and colorful personalities in our local kaleidoscope – in the best of senses), and the station would get a call complaining about lack of news coverage on a power outage affecting perhaps one customer, or a traffic jam on Route Seven (traffic in Northern Virginia – you gotta be kiddin’!); but I learned – even more – that things that strike close to home grab people the most.

Now, in our little tour down Wage Radio Memory Lane I’ve neglected everyone whose names we omitted; I have not yet written that encyclopedia-sized volume. It’s not just an empty brick building. It is filled with Spirits: sometimes my own.




Speaking Truth to Power

“With public sentiment nothing can fail. Without it nothing can succeed.” Abraham Lincoln

On Thursday evening, February 23, I requested the Board of Supervisors pass a proclamation resolving to support the March for Science on Earth Day, April 22 [1]. The resolution would be non-binding but would reflect our growing concern with the denial of reality.

Since Thursday I’ve learned that ocean oxygen levels have fallen over the last couple of decades by 2% [2]. This result was predicted by climate models but had not yet been observed. Another troubling phenomena is that though carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and cement manufacture have been stable during the last two years [3], atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen 3 ppmV each year which were records [4]. This suggests either additional carbon is being released by deforestation and other land-uses, or from permafrost or other surface reservoirs, or due to unaccounted fossil fuels emission such as methane leaks from fracking, or simply that oceans and the terrestrial biosphere have become saturated and are no longer absorbing as much of our carbon dioxide emissions as they had been previously. It is likely some combination but none of this is good news.

In the meantime we are like a bunch of drunks who refuse to admit we have a problem which leaves engineers like myself frustrated. I have been asked to talk about solutions but if we continue to deceive ourselves about the problem I find that pointless. In 1980, when there was already enough evidence of human-caused climate change the solutions would have been easy but that is no longer true. I recommend listening to talks by another engineer Kevin Anderson to get an idea what we are up against [5]. One thing we are not going to do is save ourselves by escaping to Mars or the three habitable Earth-like planets recently discovered orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1 Figure 3 [6].

What follows is the e-mail text I sent to the board followed by the attachment which contains a draft proposal for a resolution in support of science. I have a great deal of respect for our county supervisors. Even when we may disagree, I recognize and admire their service to our community. This respect extends to past boards as well. On the matter of my resolution proposal, one supervisor has already privately indicated support. I’m hopeful that they will consider it and support it.

Dear Supervisors and Staff

As many of you know I’m a research engineer and inventor with 37 patents in wireless communications, mostly with satellites. I apply atmospheric physics and radiation physics which works across all spectra from microwaves to light. So I know human caused climate change is real and entirely consistent with physical reality. We are injecting about 1 million years’ worth of sequestered carbon directly into the atmosphere from the lithosphere every single year. Calling it a hoax is the same as calling your smart phone a hoax. Quantum physics tells us that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, radiation physics informs us how it will absorb infrared photons and reradiate them and chemistry tells us that it is long lived in the atmosphere and is non-condensing on a planet like Earth. This is all confirmed by experiment and observation. This same scientific knowledge enables engineers like myself to invent the communications systems you find convenient.

On April 22, Earth Day, citizens will March for Science to encourage evidence-based policy. It is appropriate for the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors to resolve to support this action and thus to support scientific literacy. As Richard Feynman said “Science is what we do to keep from lying to ourselves.”

Attachment

The black curve in Figure 1 shows the global annual (February to January) temperature anomaly since 1970 inclusive of January 2017. These data are normalized to the 1880-1910 average. The dotted grey line shows the forecast I presented to the board of Supervisors in August, 2015. The green line is the linear trend of the data between 1979, the beginning of the satellite era, and 2015 (0.16 degrees per decade). All temperatures are in Celsius or Centigrade.

The claim that global warming stopped in 1998 was always an alternative fact, or fake news. There are other lines of evidence besides the temperature record.

Last December I discussed the plight of the Earth’s coral reefs with the Board. I pointed out that mass coral bleachings were observed for the first time in the early 1980s. I’ve added a dotted orange line at about 0.6 degrees to indicate this threshold. Global multi-year mass bleaching events began in 1997 and I’ve added a dotted red line to indicate that threshold. It appears that we may be permanently above the threshold for global mass multi-year events.

We are therefore experiencing coral mortality much earlier than scientist expected and corals may no longer be able to recover. In 2015 I forecast that a strong El Nino, which we did experience in 2015/2016 would be followed by a strong La Nina and that this would cool the surface somewhat giving the corals some relief. But NOAA is now forecasting a weak La Nina and as shown in Figure 2 is issuing warnings, and alerts for much of the world’s coral continuing through at least June, 2017. Corals are getting no relief and this is occurring with only 1 degree of warming much earlier than the limits agreed to in Paris in December, 2015 of 1.5 and 2 degrees.

Now the earth biosphere is resilient but individual species are not.

On April 22, Earth Day, citizens will March for Science to encourage evidence-based policy. It is appropriate for the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors to resolve to support this action and thus to support science literacy and truth. As Richard Feynman said “Science is what we do to keep from lying to ourselves.”

Possible text for the proclamation:
 
WHEREAS human emissions have increased the Earth’s atmospheric concentration of its non-condensing greenhouse gas by 45% in just 100 years; and WHEREAS the evidence for human-caused climate change shows up not just in the temperature record but also in harmful impact on the Earth’s biosphere; and WHEREAS this impact is evidenced by massive global multi-year coral bleaching events and mortality; and WHEREAS denial of human-caused climate change is baseless and unsupported by evidence; and WHEREAS the same science which provides for us so many conveniences such as smart phones also warns us about dangerous inconveniences such as global warming; it is therefore important that we recognize the value of science and science literacy. American Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman reminded us that “science is what we do to keep from lying to ourselves.” He was also fond of reminding us that nature cannot be fooled. Evidence matters. THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors does hereby proclaim support for science literacy and evidence-based policy and support for the MARCH FOR SCIENCE on Earth Day, April, 22, 2017.

Figure 1.  Global temperature anomaly from NASA GISS http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata_v3/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt

Figure 1. Global temperature anomaly from NASA GISS http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata_v3/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt

Figure 2 https://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/satellite/analyses_guidance/global_coral_bleaching_2014-17_status.php

Figure 2 https://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/satellite/analyses_guidance/global_coral_bleaching_2014-17_status.php

Figure 3 Trappist-1 planetary system 39 light-years away with 9 Earth-like exoplanets; three with liquid water.

Figure 3 Trappist-1 planetary system 39 light-years away with 9 Earth-like exoplanets; three with liquid water.

[1] https://www.marchforscience.com/

[2] Sunke Schmidtko, Lothar Stramma & Martin Visbeck, Decline in global oceanic oxygen content during the past five decades, Nature, 16 February, 2017, Vol 542.

[3] Carbon emissions data from Global Carbon Project http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/16/infographics.htm

[4] Atmospheric carbon data from NOAA https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/gr.html

[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBtehlDpLlU

[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnKFaAS30X8




2016 in the Books

(Presented to the Board of Supervisors February, 2017)

“The last three years have demonstrated abundantly clearly that there is no change in the long-term trends since 1998. A prediction from 1997 merely continuing the linear trends would significantly under-predict the last two years. The difference isn’t yet sufficient to state that the trends are accelerating, but that might not be too far off.” – Gavin Schmidt, director NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies [1]

Tony Noerpel

In Figure 1, I’ve updated the global temperature anomaly using the NASA/GISS data set [2] through the end of 2016. It remains a stark reminder that global warming did not stop in 1998 as many pundits insisted.

In his book The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb recommends we make forecasts, write them down and revisit them so that we can learn from what we got right as well as what we got wrong. He argues that most media pundits have a lousy track record for forecasting. In their book “Superforecasting” Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner make the same point. In the past couple of years, I’ve made some forecasts which unfortunately are holding up. I am thrilled to be in the money and besting media pundits even if they’ve set a rather low bar. But the implications are pretty dire for our children and grandchildren and indeed the earth biosphere, not just the consequences but the fact that our nation’s media, our politicians, lobbyists and other pundits are so clueless.

In September, 2012 [3] I estimated that at least 5 meters of sea level rise was locked in even if we had cut carbon emissions cold turkey. We didn’t of course. I based this on the paleo science research papers on the Eemian, Dansgaard-Oeschger events, mid Pliocene [see for example 4-5] and other Pleistocene interglacials. This forecast was recently supported by a paper in the journal Science by Jeremy Hoffman who is now at the Science Museum of Virginia, Richmond [6].

According to his research, the Eemian was slightly cooler than today globally but warmer at the poles. This is to be expected because of the difference in latitudinal insolation caused by the earth orbit variation. CO2 during this time according to ice cores was never higher than about 290 ppm and yet sea levels were 6 to 9 meters higher than today [7]. We are now above 400 ppm and we know the Arctic is much warmer than the global average and glaciers on the Amundsen Sea, Antarctica are unstable. We do not know how long this will take. Scientists seem to be all over the place on the timing. I really don’t know if the paleoclimate literature would help much since we are conducting an experiment that has never been tried before. Estimates range from 50 to 500 years.

In August, 2015 [8] I forecast that the global temperature anomaly in 2017 would be dominated by la Nina but would still be higher than the anomaly during the record El Nino year of 1998. NASA GISS director Gavin Schmidt came to the same conclusion this past September [9] and In January the U.K. Met Office made the same forecast as shown in Figure 2 below [10].

In July 2014 [11], I made the case that not only has global warming not stopped or paused in 1998 but in fact since then has if anything accelerated. Schmidt, in a recent post on the Real Climate blog cited above has come to the same conclusion [1]. He is not saying that there is enough of a record to confirm this just that an acceleration is more likely than a pause or slowdown.

In some respects these temperature anomalies and sea level rises are numbers we could adjust to if we acknowledged the reality of human-caused climate change, which of course, we are denying. Other species such as coral reefs will not be so lucky. In November 2016 [12] I forecast that the temperature would remain above a threshold for mass global coral bleaching events essentially forever. This is shown by the dotted red line in figure 1. I hope I’m wrong.

[1] http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2017/01/2016-temperature-records/

[2] http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata_v3/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt

[3] Tony Noerpel, Last Tango in Tampa, September 11, 2012, http://brleader.com/?p=9529

[4] Mid-Pliocene climate: Global temperatures 2-3o higher than today:
Robinson, M.; Dowsett, H. J.; Chandler, M. A. (2008). “Pliocene role in assessing future climate impacts” (PDF). Eos. 89 (49): 501–502. Bibcode:2008EOSTr..89..501R. doi:10.1029/2008EO490001. 

[5] Sea levels 25 m higher than today:
Dwyer, G. S.; Chandler, M. A. (2009). “Mid-Pliocene sea level and continental ice volume based on coupled benthic Mg/Ca palaeotemperatures and oxygen isotopes” (PDF). Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A. 367 (1886): 157–168. Bibcode:2009RSPTA.367..157D. doi:10.1098/rsta.2008.0222.

[6] Jeremy S. Hoffman, Peter U. Clark, Andrew C. Parnell, Feng He, Regional and global sea-surface temperatures during the last interglaciation, Science 355, 276-279 (2017) 20 January 2017.

[7] A. Dutton et al., Science 349, aaa4019 (2015).

[8] Tony Noerpel, Not Your Father’s El Nino, August 15, 2015, http://brleader.com/?p=17938

[9] Gavin Schmidt, http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2016/09/predicting-annual-temperatures-a-year-ahead/

[10] http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/2016/global-forecast-2017/?WT.mc_id=Twitter_Content_Science

[11] Tony Noerpel, Open Letter to the Board of Supervisors, July 25, 2014 http://brleader.com/?p=15005

[12] Tony Noerpel, State of Corals, November 20, 2016, http://brleader.com/?p=21562

Figure 1 NASA GISS global temperature anomaly [2]

Figure 1 NASA GISS global temperature anomaly [2]


The U.K. Met Office's forecast for 2017's global annual average temperature. Credit: Met Office [7]

The U.K. Met Office’s forecast for 2017’s global annual average temperature. Credit: Met Office [7]




A Rainy Romance

By Samuel Moore-Sobel

“If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all” – a simple phrase uttered in an acclaimed musical that helped birth a star. The movie’s Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) catches his attention so completely that Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) pursues her. He works his way into her heart; and the rest is history.

With her recent passing, Debbie Reynolds has proven that Don Lockwood wasn’t the only one whose heart had been stolen. The moment seems historic not only because of her storied life, but because of what her performance represented in Singin’ in the Rain. The era of dancing featured in film has been long over. Reynolds was a living symbol of that seemingly modest time.

Reynolds big start at the tender age of 19 turned out to be much harder than expected. “Making Singin’ in the Rain, and childbirth were the two hardest things I have ever done,” she often said. The famous scene involving dancing on couches and singing, “Good Morning, Good Morning” caused her feet to bleed. Reynolds was not the only one struggling with physical ailments. Gene Kelly reportedly had a 103-degree fever when shooting commenced on the unforgettable “Singin’ in the Rain” sketch. Perhaps the largest challenges help reap the biggest rewards.

When moments of doubt enshrouded her, it was Fred Astaire who calmed her anxious nerves. “That’s what it’s like to learn to dance,” he told her. “If you’re not sweating, you’re not doing it right.” I guess my great-grandfather was right when he often described Astaire as “smooth.” Years later, Reynolds reflected on the challenge. “I didn’t know that I couldn’t do it. So, I did it, and I was terrific,” she said.

Terrific she was – dancing her way into the hearts of millions of Americans, including my own decades later. My grandmother introduced me to many classics through her collection of old movies. My love of the song “Just the Way You Look Tonight” came from watching “Swing Time” dozens of times. Fred Astaire was always my favorite, for his elegance appeared effortless. In the words of my great-grandmother, Gene Kelly possessed more athleticism, but Fred Astaire exuded “grace.’’

There is something about watching Gene Kelly dance in the rain. The expressive joy seen on his face is contagious. Magically, something often viewed in our everyday lives as an inconvenience becomes something to be celebrated. The “child-like wonder” exhibited over a natural occurrence captured my imagination. Rain was no longer something to be dreaded, but rather, longed for.

For my brother and me, acting out scenes from this gem was a constant throughout our childhoods. “Make ‘em Laugh” made quite an impression on me, especially Cosmo’s (played by Donald O’Connor) thrashing about as he brought forth laughter from the audience through physical acting. I even went so far as to attempt his routine, continually throwing myself down on the floor, leading my parents to express concern for my future health.

As the final chapter of Debbie Reynold’s life closed, it caused me to reflect upon movies of the past. What was it that so completely drew me to love a film captured in a time from long ago? Things have undoubtedly changed since 1952. No longer does an audience member visit the movie theater to be entertained primarily by dancing and singing. Dialogue plays a much more important role now. Sex and violence do as well. Love stories are no longer acted out; the man, wooing a woman who almost always shuns him at first. Hearts and emotions are exposed, while skin is kept concealed.

A sense of purity emanates from these older love stories, something lost in modern translation. When was the last time you went to a movie where the most physical contact between two lovers was kissing? It would be naive to think that this is how all sitting in those 1952 audiences acted in their own personal lives. One could argue that entertainment today is more true to reality; but, do we go to the movies to be reminded of reality, or to view and enjoy a simpler, more idealistic version of human existence?

This isn’t to say that all old movies are masterpieces. Admittedly, many Fred Astaire movies, while featuring wonderful dance scenes and compelling music, failed to deliver when it came to plot and character development. The beauty of “Singin’ in the Rain” is that it combines the two, delivering a well-rounded picture. Not to wax nostalgic about an era I did not experience, but it is hard to imagine many of the movies churning out of Hollywood in our present day being able to stand the test of time.

Movie theaters around the country are showing this movie, honoring the life of Debbie Reynolds, and commemorating the 65th anniversary of its making. I hope it marks a moment in which the old can be infused with the new. Perhaps it already has – “La La Land” made some unmistakable references to this classic, and Hollywood reportedly has many more in the offing. Either way, I’ll still smile when watching movies that helped form precious childhood memories. And you can guarantee that if raindrops begin falling from the heavens, there will be at least one young man in Northern Virginia who will be “singin’, and dancin’, in the rain.”

Samuel Moore-Sobel is probably one of the few of his generation who appreciates old movies. He plans on forcing his future children to endure hours of watching this classic film.




Concerned Parents

By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D.
Dr. Mike,
Our 15-year-old son is out of control and we don’t know what to do anymore. He smokes pot and drinks, disobeys us left and right, is truant from school often, comes home whenever he wants to and screams at us when we try to correct him. He used to be an amazing kid and athlete, but he quit all sports and he’s no longer himself. We’ve tried therapy, but he refused to go. The crazy thing is that we have no idea why he changed. His problems started in freshman year of high school and have gotten worse this academic year. We are very worried about him and we are also very worried about his younger siblings who are very upset their brother. My husband wants to send our son to military academy, but I am worried that he would hate us if we did that and that he would also probably do something crazy like run away or attempt suicide. The suicide of that freshman boy at Stone Bridge High School last month has really freaked us out. We don’t want that to be our boy and we don’t know what to do. We know we need to act fast and hope you can respond to this letter.
Concerned Parents

Dear Concerned Parents,
I’m sorry that your son is struggling as much as he is, and I appreciate the negative and painful impact his behaviors have had on you all as a family. Not having evaluated your son, my recommendations, as well as my support and guidance, will be limited, but I hope the following is helpful to you.

While I understand your husband’s thinking on getting control over things by sending your son to a military academy, your son is likely not a good fit for that sort of setting given his needs. More specifically, your son seems to be a very angry young man who is acting-out in a number of very concerning ways; his struggles may have an emotional or psychological basis (e.g., depression) and/or may be due to his substance use – irritability, anger and being oppositional and defiant can be symptoms of teen depression and/or substance abuse.

In my experience, military academies are not equipped to treat, and most will not even accept, teens with significant mental health struggles and needs. You should also know that military school tuition isn’t inexpensive, and if your son is dismissed after being enrolled, a lot of military schools won’t refund your tuition. Unfortunately, as a psychologist, I’ve seen many families lose tens of thousands of dollars in these sorts of moments. In addition to losing money, the wrong sort of placement could actually make things worse for your son as well.

In my opinion, your son needs to be thoroughly evaluated and ASAP. There is a possibility that all he needs is increased structure and discipline away from home for things to improve (i.e. a military school or boarding school setting), but unless you get him evaluated, you won’t really know how bad things are for him or what he really needs in order to get better.

If his emotional and/or substance use issues are significant (and it appears they are based on what you’ve written), and if he remains unwilling to get help locally, and if you feel that you’ve exhausted all other options, I think you should then take unilateral action as parents on your son’s behalf. Similar to if your son had cancer and was refusing treatment that would help him to recover, you would override him at 15 to get him the help he needed. Given what you’ve shared, your son appears to be on a very steep downward spiral, and he may be a candidate for a program outside of the home – a residential treatment center, therapeutic boarding school, and/or a wilderness program – and he may need to go away to get better against his will. Yes, he will likely be angry with you initially if you decide to send him to a program, but in the right environment and at the right program he will be evaluated and his needs will finally get addressed; his anger should dissipate as he make progress and improves.

Again, I appreciate the seriousness and the urgency of your moment, and at this point, I strongly recommend that you turn to a professional who specializes in placements in your son’s area of need if your son remains unwilling to address his problems with you at home. The School Counseling Group in Washington, DC has been my go-to referral for these sorts of moments for over a decade now. Peter Sturtevant is the director of the group and a top-shelf professional, and he would be a good person to speak to. He can be reached at: 202-333-3530. I also invite you to call me directly at: 703-723-2999 should you have more questions for me or for additional support and guidance.

Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist in private practice. His new children’s book, ‘Ollie Outside’ is released through Free Spirit Publishing. Go to AshburnPsych.com or call 703 723-2999 for more.




It’s Time To Review Your Estate Planning Basics

Beginners and billionaires alike should refresh their knowledge of these basic estate planning terms and concepts.

The word “estate” tends to conjure up images of billionaires and aristocrats, but estate planning is not just for the wealthy. It’s widely believed that estate planning in one form or another is needed by everyone, and it doesn’t need to be sophisticated, complex or costly to help fulfill final wishes and protect assets. Whether you are a prince or a pauper, refreshing on estate planning basics can help make sure your legacy is left the way you intended.

Keep It Simple
An estate is the net worth of a person at any point, including all land, possessions and other assets. A good estate plan passes on your assets to intended recipients in a manner and timing that reflects your wishes.

A will is not sufficient to protect your assets. Wills are outdated as a form of comprehensive estate planning because they only take effect at death- and with life expectancies higher than ever, the challenge of protecting your assets begins much earlier. An estate plan should ensure that the cost of long-term care for a disability won’t devour your assets, which could occur well before a will would come into play.

Your estate plan should protect your assets from nursing homes. This can be achieved by purchasing a long-term care insurance policy. The IRS considers the insurance premiums for “qualified long-term care plans” to be medical expenses, which means it’s possible to deduct them from federal taxes. Many states offer tax breaks as well. And because benefits paid under long-term care insurance policies generally aren’t taxable, long-term care insurance can help avoid a nursing home laying claim to all your assets until Medicaid kicks in. Check with a tax advisor to be sure.

Power of attorney specifies who will represent you in the event that you’re unable to make or communicate decisions about all aspects of your healthcare. Assigning joint power of attorney to two parties allows one to keep the other in check. The “two heads are better than one” approach acts as a safeguard in case one individual becomes unable or unwilling to make important decisions. Common options include selecting two family members, a family member and a lawyer, or a bank or trust company.

A durable power of attorney differs from a traditional power of attorney in that it continues the agency relationship beyond the incapacity of the principal.

The laws for creating a power of attorney vary from state to state, but there are certain general guidelines to follow. If no power of attorney is appointed, the state appoints guardians, conservators or committees, depending upon local state law. Before you or your loved ones sign any documents, however, consult with an attorney concerning all applicable laws and regulations.

While the most of us will never have huge fortunes to worry about, we should still pay attention to our own legacies, how we’ll protect them, and how they’ll affect our loved ones. A legacy is not just about leaving what you earned- it’s about leaving what you’ve learned.

The foregoing article contains general legal information only and is not intended to convey legal advice. For legal advice regarding estate planning, the reader should contact his/her lawyer. Amy V. Smith Wealth Management, CFP, CIMA offers securities through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Her office is located at 161 Fort Evans Road, NE, Suite 345, Leesburg, VA 20176. Call 703-669-5022 or visit www.AmySmithWealthmanagement.com. Any opinions are those of Amy and Dan Smith and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Raymond James does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete and does not provide legal advice. Dan Smith is not affiliated with Raymond James.




Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: George Marshall Center

I used to wonder why – after an assignment to visit the interior of this place, I’d return feeling exhausted – both mentally and physically worn out – as if I’d been carrying an extra couple hundred pounds or so – and gone sleepless for days – for the duration of my stop. Now – jokes about my waistline aside (I’m no Tarzan, but I’m not that rotund!) – and having studied the enormity of responsibilities placed on the former occupant at this address – I no longer marvel at whether my imagination weighed me down – so to speak – or if I actually absorbed some of the former Secretary of State’s energy while touring his house; either way it makes perfect sense to me that I’d feel a bit like Atlas in trying to identify with the late George C. Marshall at Dodona Manor in Leesburg. I’d notice – upon returning from these trips to the quaint little Newsroom at Wage Radio – that my usually bright, peppy energy level (in those days, anyway) had settled into a more contemplative, ‘grandfather-ish,’ and almost dreamy state after communing with the modern-day stewards at the five-star General’s home.

I recall noticing this effect for the first time after I’d been shown the very desk at which George Marshall had penned what would later be called the Marshall Plan – his design for rebuilding Europe after the destructive (yet very necessary) forces of World War II. I remember having some pretty spooky sensations in going over this sequence of events – and I remind you that I’m more high-spirited – and even spiritual – than one quickly jumping to conclusions about spirits and such!

Now – after the benefit of a more objective viewpoint – almost 20 years later – I no longer really care – one way or the other – whether some of the energy of a military genius reached out and grabbed me, or if I simply (and unconsciously) employed some of the more creative juices from my even earlier times on theatre stages in the Midwest and New York. Whatever the case, I’ve gained – over all the intervening years – an ever-increasing respect for the visionary work performed by the former US Army Chief of Staff, Secretary of Defense and head of the Red Cross.

And whatever I felt inside Dodona Manor – and from whatever source it came – I certainly enjoyed a sharp contrast in strolling around the exterior of the place; the expansive yard, guarded by stately trees and softened by the manicured gardens served only to lift the spirit and inspire the soul. Perhaps this was the whole idea behind the General’s passion for cultivation; we heard – in repeated interviews with everyone connected to his activities – that his time spent out in the flowers, vegetables and other greenery took him away from all the stress of Washington, international affairs and world conflicts – and formed a relaxing and revitalizing tonic to the man. I’m thankful that it did – and I trust that not only Dodona Manor and its beautiful grounds – but our larger world – enjoyed the benefits of his regenerating activities.

Now – when I add all this together – the massive workload undertaken by George Marshall – along with his list of accomplishments – and the legacy of this treasured estate and outside grounds – and even my mysterious energy empathies with the spirit of the man – it leaves me recalling that a synonym for our country’s Armed Forces is ‘the Service;’ and I wish we had more leaders – in 21st Century America – with a bit more – or a lot more – of the type of dedication possessed by the former resident at 217 Edwards Ferry Road Northeast. He was very much a product of his time, but also – that era was greatly affected by his efforts.

On my last visit to Dodona Manor, I took the pleasure of taking a leisurely stroll around the exterior of the home – soaking up the calming energies of all the plant life in the yard and gardens – under the warmth of an early-morning sun – and gave thanks that the General and his wife Katherine were able to spend as much time as they did (in the 1940’s and 1950’s) at this little oasis away from Washington and the wars. This was his only permanent home in a lifetime of military engagement on behalf of his country; it’s easy to imagine a resident of Dodona Manor accepting the Nobel Peace Prize; George Marshall was the first-ever professional soldier to do so. You could certainly say that – in eternity – he rests in Peace.




Meeting the “Other America”

By Nicholas Reid

Ever since the presidential election last November, there has been a lot of talk about the “two Americas”: coastal and continental America. The many differences between these two sections of the United States are numerous and oftentimes divisive. In this article, I shall explore continental America from the viewpoint of a coastal American living in the heart of Continental America, Rapid City, SD.

One of the defining aspects of continental America is an intense patriotism and love of the United States. Most continental Americans are patriotic, and the American flag is prominently displayed in and outside many houses, businesses, and public places. Continental America is a place where the crowds at football games will join the singing of the national anthem after the microphone for the choir cuts out so that everyone can still hear the national anthem. Continental America is also very supportive of the military and most people are, have been, or are related closely to a member of the military.

Another defining characteristic of continental America is that it’s deeply religious. Churches and chapels can be found at almost every block, and many of them are packed so full on Sundays that there are not enough pews for all of the people. Many local businesses are also closed on Sundays, making the city downtown almost like a ghost town.

Continental America, as a whole, isn’t racist, or at least they try not to be. Of course, due to the current practice of accusing people of such myriad transgressions as “white privilege,” “microaggressions,” “implicit bias,” and “cultural appropriation,” many people in coastal America (and some in continental America, too) consider continental Americans to be backwards, racist hicks deserving only of contempt for their rejection of modern, progressive values. These people have obviously never met (or cared to listen to) a continental American. Continental Americans, particularly those near reservations, are acutely aware of the plight of Native Americans in modern America. Many of these people also volunteer their time to try and help alleviate some of the extreme poverty found on many reservations. Far from being nasty, continental Americans are generally quite friendly to complete strangers, regardless of ethnicity. It’s not uncommon for two complete strangers to ask each other how they’re doing while just passing each other on the street.

However, continental America is not in good shape. Years of poor economic conditions have taken their toll on the area. Even in the nicest areas of Rapid City, business turnover is high and many storefronts are empty at any one time. Most of the people in the area live in houses built before 1980, and few are the first owners of their houses. Drug epidemics, particularly the current opiate epidemic, have hid the community hard. Drug related arrests make up a majority of the cases of the Rapid City Police Department, surpassing even DUIs in terms of volume. Continental America has been mishandled, ignored and sometimes openly disparaged (remember the “basket of deplorables”). Maybe it’s time to stop and listen to them.

Nicholas Reid is a graduate of the Loudoun County High School system and is currently pursuing a degree in geology at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. He wants to become a paleontologist.