Earth Day 2017

I’ve tried to maintain a neutral stand on the whole climate debate. Oh, I agree that the planet is warmer than it used to be. Having spent most of my life in this area, I’ve seen the changes with my own lying eyes. Winters were colder in the past, and this year our place was flooded five times. That hasn’t happened in the 60+ years our family has lived at this location.

Having said that, I am not as totally convinced that the scenario laid out by the experts is absolute. I’m no scientist by any stretch of the imagination, but I do see from what I’ve read that the climate can change on a dime if the conditions are right. The eruption of a major volcano could reverse any warming at any given moment. Same with an asteroid or comet, or nuclear war. When all is said and done, what is science besides an educated guess?

Still, one of my favorite cartoons (not mine) asks, what if it’s all a hoax and we cleaned up the planet for nothing? Can anyone living in California deny that the efforts to clean up the air has had real and positive effects? I can still remember when you could drive by the Hollywood sign and be unable to see it through the haze of pollution. Likewise with Sacramento.

But even our best efforts are never enough. Environmentalists are continually suing someone over an endangered amoeba in an effort to return our rural areas to some pristine standard that may have never actually existed in nature. They have sometimes used CEQA as a club rather than a scalpel. Environmental regulation has created a shortage of affordable housing in this state.

The Yuba River is a good example of how things have gone sideways. For years, we worked to protect the river from dams, and to do our best to make it accessible to all. As a result, every swimming hole is packed once the temperature passes eighty degrees, and the garbage they leave behind every season could fill several dozen dump trucks. We have loved it to death.

And there’s the real question: Can this planet sustain this many people? The oceans have become our trashcans. The demand for energy has decimated mountain tops and fouled essential waterways. As the last election shows, people want growth over sustainability.

At some point, liberals and conservatives may come to see the human population as the real threat. It will be interesting to see how they deal with it.

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13 Responses to Earth Day 2017

  1. George Rebane says:

    By all means, if cleaning up the planet costs nothing, then let’s do it! But if there’s a cost to the cleaning, shouldn’t we balance how much of what kind of cleaning we (or they or we all?) should do when with what possible (unknowable?) kinds of results that would leave us poorer by how much?

    • Chris Peterson says:

      So incredibly asinine on so many levels. Sounds like you missed your calling; you should be doing risk assessments on whether fixing a known defect in vehicles would cost more than the resulting deaths and lawsuits. How daft can you get? (Don’t bother answering; I’ve got a pretty good idea.)

  2. Chris Peterson says:

    Bob,
    I’m not sure that science, (or common sense), would tell us that dumping coal sludge into creeks and streams is merely an “educated guess”. There has to be a sustainable answer somewhere between Bruce Dern and Huey, Duwey, and Louie caretaking the last plants in space, and a herd-dwindling epidemic, but I’ll take the latter, any day.

    A little common sense, and the inevitable change to non-fossil fuel energy, would put us back in good standing with our organic space ship, and solar and wind are fast becoming the norm in many countries. But as long as the big money can buy legislation and tax breaks, and control the market, it puts the question of human progress on hold.

    But, once again; my money’s on a microbial pestilence of, (eww, I hate to say it), Biblical proportions. Let the bird flu fly!

    • rl crabb says:

      The educated guess is aimed more at the predictions of doom than the clear and present danger of sludge. I’m not denying that the world will be changed forever by rising temps, but those changes may be completely different than those imagined today. Settled science still can’t decide whether eggs are good or bad for your health. The only thing we know for sure is that there is no status quo in nature. Change is inevitable.

      • Steve Frisch says:

        “Settled science still can’t decide whether eggs are good or bad for your health. The only thing we know for sure is that there is no status quo in nature. Change is inevitable.”

        I have to admit…I don’t even know what that means Bob…are you are essentially saying we can’t know the future? If that is the case …why try? Why act?

        What, me worry?

        We have educated guesses about the future and if we don’t act on them what is the point of science…if you think throwing the I-Ching is just as accurate…well then…what, me worry?

        • rl crabb says:

          Progressives always want to label anyone who doesn’t fall into line as a heretic. My egg reference is only meant to illustrate that science changes as more information becomes available.
          I sincerely hope that the efforts to clean up the planet are successful, and that we haven’t already reached a tipping point of no return. That’s one area that we can’t really know without more data.
          It’s just that sometimes, in the headlong rush to save the future, there is a tendency to ride roughshod over the present. Efforts to house the homeless and the working poor is a prime example. It’s great to have solar panels and sprinkler systems and triple-pane tinted windows, etc., etc. in every new structure, but when they don’t get built due to the cost, people suffer.
          It’s frustrating, I know. If only everyone was on the same page, but that’s human nature for you.
          It reminds me of that old H.G. Wells story, “The Man Who Could Work Miracles.” The protagonist, George Fotheringay, is granted absolute power by the gods and sets out to remake the world. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t respond the way he wants it to, so he commands the world to stop turning.
          Alas, even George can’t repeal physics, and everything on the planet is torn asunder.
          Maybe we can’t fix everything. It’s no reason to stop, just realize that you may have to adjust the agenda from time to time.

        • Steve Frisch says:

          Certainly did not label you a heretic nor am I a “progressive” at least not in the way that label is currently defined.

  3. Michael Anderson says:

    Don’t worry. Be happy.

    The earth will revolve around the sun until the sun explodes. The only question unanswered is whether or not humans will last. Kind of a boring and inconsequential question, given the vastness of the universe.

    Once again, I cite the ongoing problem of taking oneself too seriously. George Rebane of Nevada City is the poster child of this terrible life-endangering affliction, and I tailor my own personal behavior on a daily basis so as not to be like him.

    Funus proce, baby.

    • Chris Peterson says:

      Michael,
      Before we start throwing dirt on the casket, we have to acknowledge that the conversion to sustainable energy, despite the holdings-on of those invested in power sources of the past, is a reality. Arguments on climate change, like those of Rebane for economic reasons, or the likes of Goodnight who argues seemingly to be nothing but contrary, are, at this point, immaterial. The economic reality has taken hold of the market, and it can’t be turned back.

      Just as horse traders and buggy makers suffered in the conversion to automobiles, so is the present day fate of those invested heavily in fossil fuels. When recently driving coast to coast, and back again, I saw first-hand the huge wind and solar farms that stretch as far as the eye can see; typically before each metropolis encountered. Billions, profitably invested by private enterprises, and not part of the much-ballyhooed Obama give-away. (Which, by the way, will go down as one of the most forward-thinking actions by any President to date.) And as the rest of the civilized world races into the future, most of us tire of the wasted effort of arguing the now-irrelevant points offered by those who’s whole existence is based on their knowledge of, or investment in, the past.

      It’s no longer conjecture; it’s a reality, and one that signals not only an end to the main cause of pollution of our planet, but also the end of the asinine pseudo-colonization of the oil-rich Middle East and the wasting of tax dollars and patriotic lives of our young to sustain it.

      So, prattle on Rebane and Goodnight; the market has spoken, to use a phrase repeated ad nausea by the protectors of the status quo; your bloviating is no longer relevant, and your inability to see the future is a drag on our society.

      • Steve Frisch says:

        Absolutely right….the market has been primed….the external costs have been calculated…and fossil fuels will go the way of whale oil.

        BTW that also means the Energy Corporation will also go the way of the dodo. In 50 years you will own the energy generated by your home, building, and other footprint activities, and you will be able to exchange it and trade it through a distributed networks just like the internet.

  4. Steve Frisch says:

    “By all means, if cleaning up the planet costs nothing, then let’s do it! But if there’s a cost to the cleaning, shouldn’t we balance how much of what kind of cleaning we (or they or we all?) should do when with what possible (unknowable?) kinds of results that would leave us poorer by how much?”–George Rebane

    I love that quote because it just fundamentally rejects the idea that there are some things we as people hold in common that are everyone’s property and that no individual interest has a right to “own” or destroy.

    Business does not “own” clean air, clean water, biological diversity, or ecosystem processes, and has no right to destroy them. Thus when we are making decisions about how we use resources the people using them should pay for use…period…and be responsible for stewarding the resources in a way that do not fundamentally change the rights of future generation to use them.

    What George is illustrating is that there are a whole group of people who believe that they “own” the commons, and should have a right to use them without paying fair value, and that they can shit in your front yard if they want to.

    Until we change capitalism to internalize the external social and environmental costs of production we will be suffering from this problem. Yeah, that is going to be tough, and it is going to have to be gradual, and we are going to have to weigh costs and benefits, and apply new technologies and methods to reduce poverty at the same time, in that sense George is right, but if don’t do it we will be paying for it down the line.

  5. BradC says:

    I leave it to the reader to decide if the Alfred E. Newman, “What me worry”, approach is the appropriate response to Trump’s antics. I think people read articles like this and decide that something needs to change. To that end, they do what they can – they march in protest.

    http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/04/dow-chemical-endangered-species

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