Burn Permits Suspended June 1, 2013

CAL FIRE Officials Suspend Burn Permits

TNF Initiates Fire Restrictions

 

Nevada City…..Effective Saturday, June 1, 2013, residential burn permits will be suspended for Nevada, Placer, and Yuba Counties and fire restrictions will go into effect in the Tahoe National Forest announced both Brad Harris, CAL FIRE Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit Chief and Tom Quinn, Tahoe National Forest Supervisor.  “Despite the recent, light rain, conditions in the foothills and the high country remain unseasonably dry for this time of year.  Warming temperatures, dry winds, and very dry fuel moisture levels have prompted this early fire season response,” stated Quinn.    “We have already seen fire activity that is not normally observed until late July or August.  The unusual lack of rain this past winter and spring, prompted the early burn ban and fire restrictions,” said Chief Harris.

 

Beginning June 1, the burn permit suspension applies to areas in Nevada, Yuba and Placer counties that fall within state responsibility area and local jurisdiction under contract with CAL FIRE.  Anyone who burns in violation of the suspension will be subject to appropriate civil or criminal action and could face cost recovery charges for the fire suppression response.  All fires or smoke reported will be considered a wildfire and a full suppression response will be dispatched to the scene.

 

In the Tahoe National Forest, beginning June 1, campfires are not permitted in the backcountry but only in developed campgrounds and other designated sites (in the metal rings/grills provided).  Portable stoves, including those that use gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel are permitted in backcountry areas with a valid campfire permit.  Propane-type Bar-B-Q’s can be used outside designated sites where camping is permitted, but charcoal Bar-B-Q’s can only be used in designated campgrounds.  Smoking is only permitted in an enclosed vehicle or developed recreation site.  Internal combustion engines, including off highway vehicles (OHV’s) can continue to be operated on roads or motorized trails and within the Prosser Pits OHV area.  The personal wood cutting program will continue to operate, as long as individuals have a valid woodcutting permit and follow the conditions on the permit. Campfire permits are free and are available at all Forest Service, BLM, or CAL FIRE offices.

 

Please check with the appropriate agency for current restrictions when planning to visit any forest, park or open space for the remainder of the summer. For more information on these restrictions, visit the TNF website at www.fs.usda.gov/tahoe  or the Forest Service office nearest you.  Offices are located in Sierraville (530) 994-3401, Truckee (530) 587-3558, Camptonville (530) 288-3231, Foresthill (530) 367-2224, and Nevada City (530) 265-4531.

 

Although residential landscape debris burning will no longer be allowed, residents must be prepared as the ever-present danger of destructive wildfires is a reality for many living in California.  Defensible space around your home helps firefighters defend your property.  By simply completing these steps, homeowners can dramatically increase the chances of their home surviving a wildfire:

 

  • Remove all flammable vegetation 30 feet from all structures
  • In an additional 70 feet, create a reduced fuel zone by spacing trees and plants from each other.
  • Clear all needles and leaves from roofs, eaves, and rain gutters.
  • Trim branches six feet from the ground.
  • Remove branches 10 feet from all chimneys.
  • Landscape with fire resistant plants

 

For more information contact your nearest CAL FIRE facility or visit www.fire.ca.gov

Wednesday May 29, 2013

Well, this week’s thought is about thinking. I think we all need to think a little more. It’s hard to do these days, there is so much information to absorb. But do we really absorb it or are we just reading the words without really thinking about what it means or whether there is any validity. Have we all become knee jerk responders agreeing with what we think we know? Have we lost the ability to stop and say to ourselves, “wait a minute that doesn’t make sense”. Is there really a “common sense”? Will my common sense be the same as yours? I’m one who thinks there really isn’t any one “common sense” and understanding how someone else can come to a different conclusion using the same information is important. It isn’t easy to accept another’s point of view but it isn’t that difficult either.  Okay, I am beginning to ramble here, I need to think about it some more.

So enjoy the photo by Sierra City Photographer Mary Davey and be sure to read all your favorite articles this week. Enjoy.

The Mountain Messenger (real paper) 5/29/13

5/29/13

You can subscribe to the Mountain Messenger  and help Don avoid the shame and embarrassment of having to beg for retirement funds. It is obvious from the picture that Don Russell the Editor does not have any shame as he is smiling as if he has not a care in the world. That is such a shame. Please help him by filling out the subscription form below. He is older and getting closer to the golden handshake, well he doesn’t work for the County so that won’t work anyhow… so just subscribe. Please, I’m begging you.

Apparently Don Russell, poor fool, doesn't understand what this sign means about his financial health.

5/29/13 Apparently Don Russell, poor fool, doesn’t understand what this sign means about his financial health.

Send anything you need published to Jill at yesdearyousuck@yahoo.com  Of course you may call directly to 530 289-3262 and talk to Don, (and suggest he give a raise to Jill) or the machine. Keep jobs in Sierra County read the Mess.

For a subscription: send in as below or call 530 289-3262 with credit card in hand.. Tell Don, you subscribed because you read about it on Sierra County Prospect…..

mess subcrip

Time to Think Again 5/29/13

5/29/13

The following is from www.delanceyplace.com and is the daily excerpt. It made me think about the drafters of many documents including the Constitution that we tend to interpret as if the world stopped in 1776 and 1787. I think we all need to think more.

In today’s selection — the paradox between Thomas Jefferson’s authorship of the Declaration of Independence and his ownership of slaves.  When he drafted the Declaration of Independence Jefferson wrote that the slave trade was an “execrable commerce …this assemblage of horrors,” a “cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberties.” Yet when he had the opportunity in 1817 due to a bequest from Revolutionary War hero Thaddeus Kosciuszko, he did not free his slaves.  Jefferson owned more than 600 slaves in his lifetime and at any given time approximately 100 slaves lived on Monticello.  In 1792, Jefferson calculated that he was making a 4 percent profit per year on the birth of black children.  Jefferson’s nail boys alone produced 5,000 to 10,000 nails a day, for a gross income of $2000 in 1796, $35,000 in 2013.”With five simple words in the Declaration of Independence — ‘all men are created equal’ — Thomas Jefferson undid Aristotle’s ancient formula, which had governed human affairs until 1776: ‘From the hour of their birth, some men are marked out for subjection, others for rule.’ In his original draft of the Declaration, in soaring, damning, fiery prose, Jefferson denounced the slave trade as an ‘execrable commerce …this assemblage of horrors,’ a ‘cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberties.’ …

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson byRembrandt Peale, 1800
 Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, 1800 
Isaac Jefferson, ca. 1847, an enslaved blacksmith who worked on Jefferson's plantation.
Isaac Jefferson, ca. 1847
an enslaved blacksmith who 

worked on Jefferson’s 

plantation.

 

 

“But in the 1790s, … ‘the most remarkable thing about Jefferson’s stand on slavery is his immense silence.’ And later, [historian David Brion] Davis finds, Jefferson’s emancipation efforts ‘virtually ceased.’ …

“In 1817, Jefferson’s old friend, the Revolutionary War hero Thaddeus Kosciuszko, died in Switzerland. The Polish nobleman, who had arrived from Europe in 1776 to aid the Americans, left a substantial fortune to Jefferson. Kosciuszko bequeathed funds to free Jefferson’s slaves and purchase land and farming equipment for them to begin a life on their own. In the spring of 1819, Jefferson pondered what to do with the legacy. Kosciuszko had made him executor of the will, so Jefferson had a legal duty, as well as a personal obligation to his deceased friend, to carry out the terms of the document.

“The terms came as no surprise to Jefferson. He had helped Kosciuszko draft the will, which states, ‘I hereby authorize my friend, Thomas Jefferson, to employ the whole [bequest] in purchasing Negroes from his own or any others and giving them liberty in my name.’ Kosciuszko’s estate was nearly $20,000, the equivalent today of roughly $280,000. But Jefferson refused the gift, even though it would have reduced the debt hanging over Monticello, while also relieving him, in part at least, of what he himself had described in 1814 as the ‘moral reproach’ of slavery.

“If Jefferson had accepted the legacy, as much as half of it would have gone not to Jefferson but, in effect, to his slaves — to the purchase price for land, livestock, equipment and transportation to establish them in a place such as Illinois or Ohio. Moreover, the slaves most suited for immediate emancipation — smiths, coopers, carpenters, the most skilled farmers — were the very ones whom Jefferson most valued. He also shrank from any public identification with the cause of emancipation.

“Before his refusal of Kosciuszko’s legacy, as Jefferson mulled over whether to accept the bequest, he had written to one of his plantation managers: ‘A child raised every 2. years is of more profit then the crop of the best laboring man. in this, as in all other cases, providence has made our duties and our interests coincide perfectly…. [W]ith respect therefore to our women & their children I must pray you to inculcate upon the overseers that it is not their labor, but their increase which is the first consideration with us.

“In the 1790s, as Jefferson was mortgaging his slaves to build Monticello, George Washington was trying to scrape together financing for an emancipation at Mount Vernon, which he finally ordered in his will. He proved that emancipation was not only possible, but practical, and he overturned all the Jeffersonian rationalizations. Jefferson insisted that a multiracial society with free black people was impossible, but Washington did not think so. Never did Washington suggest that blacks were inferior or that they should be exiled.

“It is curious that we accept Jefferson as the moral standard of the founders’ era, not Washington. Perhaps it is because the Father of his Country left a somewhat troubling legacy: His emancipation of his slaves stands as not a tribute but a rebuke to his era, and to the prevaricators and profiteers of the future, and declares that if you claim to have principles, you must live by them.

Author: Henry Weincek

Title:  The Dark Side of Thomas Jefferson

Publisher: Smithsonian magazine

Date: October 2012

Art Show in Downieville June 4th

Don’t miss the Kindergarten through 3rd Grade Art Show at the Downieville School on  Tuesday June 4, 2013 from 5:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. Katie o’Hara will be presenting all of the student’s artwork throughout the school year at this fantastic show.

Jesse Eugene Dunnam 1984 – 2013

OBit logo

 

Jesse Eugene Dunnam

Born on a beautiful Monday

While the rain fell lightly

October 1, 1984

He peacefully left us on

May 26, 2013

Jesse was greatly loved

And will forever be missed

Remember me when I am gone, the wind, the sand and the sea

Like a seashell found and tucked away on your shelf

Remember me when I’m gone…

A celebration of the Life and Times of Jesse will be held at the home of Dean and Shelly Fischer on June 1 starting at noon with graveside services around 2 p.m.

Gabby Fringette 5/29/13

Ms. Sasquatch

By Gabby Fringette

First I would like to start this gabby by saying Hi! to all my friends, and: brace yourselves.

Saquatch. Another name is Big foot.  Big foot is a large hairy ape-like creature with large feet.

Three years ago, I never would have imagined that a third name for Sasquatch would be ‘Gabby’.

I knew I had an Italian grandma, and I always wondered why she wore a fur coat under her jacket.  It turns out that she never owned a mahogany fur coat, there just wasn’t wax when those pictures were taken.

When I walked down the street and people began film me and started trying to give me fruit, and saying ‘here Sasquatch, good monkey’, I knew it was time to do something about my hair.

I decided to start with my feet, they must be the root of the big foot delusion, and I figured once I got rid of the hair on my toes, I’d be back to a size eight woman’s shoe.

First I tried a razor. Didn’t work; couldn’t reach the roots of my leg hair.

Then I tried waxing; I couldn’t afford actual wax; so first I melted candles. That didn’t work, it couldn’t get a good grip.    Then I tried glue. I skipped the non-toxic yuppie school glue, and went to super glue.

It worked, but the tubes are so small, and the cashier at the hardware store got suspicious when I bought them out.

So I used what glue I had and made fire breaks in my leg hair, and set controlled burns with a Bic.  Then the wind changed and it spread, I panicked and ran out and set the yard on fire, then the neighbor called animal control on what she thought was a flaming grizzly cub.

Well, the fire department put me out just in time: the fire had singed all the hair off my feet.

This caused another problem: it showed my toenails.  Once the brave firemen saw my long, oddly shaped, greenish, and slightly curved toenails, they suddenly had another fire to put out that was so urgent they forgot to roll the hose up before they drove off.

Well, I knew I had to ‘clip’ my toenails, I hadn’t even known they were like this until the hair was gone.

I tried to clip them with toenail clippers, but the first pair I found broke. Then I found a sturdier pair of bolt cutters. I couldn’t cut them myself, so I had my brother help me.

It took him some struggling, but he finally snapped the toenail.  It went flying off and knocked my monitor over. Then we moved all the breakable things and finished the job.

Next, he went over to the neighbor to borrow her sheep shears.

I couldn’t go since the video of Sasquatch wearing my favorite jeans and top went viral.

After shearing me, we sold the hair and made a nice profit, and half of it went to by my brother new gloves, since he lost one trying to get to the roots of my back hair.

Jerusha 5/29/13

sc004bb0b5
Volume V #257
May 29, 2013
Jerusha,
I have a friend named Pat that told me about your online dating service.  I was thrilled by the news because all my life I have suffered from chronic flatulence which makes it difficult to find someone that I can date and not have a problem with my situation.  I am curious about whether you would ever date anyone that has chronic flatulence?
Thank you, Vicki M., Los Gatos
Dear Vicki:
Do you notice how I address you with the salutation “Dear” rather than just the abrupt way you began your letter, you need to get manners young lady. I, of course, should not be surprised as you even bring up an issue gentle young woman with never discuss in public. I think I mean “genteel”, I’m not sure but anyhow what really matters is bringing this up at all. Once again this is NOT an online dating service, I have not even gotten one date for myself out of this column, not that I am trying and I am single and available, which doesn’t matter, but just so the facts are straight. Meanwhile flatulence is often a genetic issue, so I am sure if anyone in your family like a sister, or an aunt, experiences  flatulence then you do too. Oh… but wait this isn’t about you, it’s about “Pat” right?
Sincerely, Jerusha

Veterans’s Frustration 5/29/13

Vet trax

Monday, May 27, 2013

Often clients call wishing to check on the status of their cases after not hearing from the Department of Veterans Affairs for some time. Now with many claims taking 2 years or longer to resolve, it’s easy to see the frustration our Veterans face. Over the past several weeks I’ve seen a number of vets who have run into problems with their benefits over simple oversights or misunderstandings. Let me take a stab at making the Department of Veterans Affairs more understandable.

Basically, the VA is set up to operate under three administrations: The National Cemetery Administration, Veterans Benefits Administration, and Veterans Health Administration. I’ll leave it at that for now since it becomes more confusing if we speak about the sub groups! I know we all like to complain about bureaucracy, and in spite of efforts to make it “one” VA, it can seem like dealing with one complex beast. To make it more disappointing – one administration does not talk to the other and more often than not, one medical center does not talk to the others unless clearly instructed by the patient to do so. We’re not even going to mention much about computer operating systems that don’t communicate with each other.

Here are examples of some simple errors that take place.  If you update your mailing address at the Reno medical facility, that information does not transfer to the folks in the benefits administration and vice versa. The administrations are very unforgiving, too.  If you don’t communicate with them promptly, often you are removed from the health care roster or your benefit check is suspended. Correcting these errors can take from several hours to weeks. If you’ve been seen at other medical facilities for a particular condition, it is very important to notify the current medical facility of that fact and have your records transferred and updated. Finally, make sure to return correspondence or phone calls to representatives at the VA promptly. Right now the administration is dealing with hundreds of thousands of cases and overall case management can be sloppy at times.

Keeping your information current with the VA is important if you are utilizing services or receiving benefits. Often call volume can lead to long waits or the inability of someone at the Call Center to answer. And while they’ve tried to make it more friendly with computer access, many of our local vets do not have computer resources and the information is not current. However, with the right phone calls and forms, the information can get to the right spot.

Another problem that has become more frequent occurs after visiting one of the medical facilities or clinics. Often the Veteran will get an impression that a claim has been filed or a test performed pursuant to a claim. This is not necessarily the case. Generally, workers at the clinic or medical facility do not file claims for the Veteran and usually refer them to a Veteran Organization or Representative. Also, although a Veteran may be receiving regular care at a clinic or facility, this might have nothing to do with the claim activity. Sure, similar examinations for the Benefits side of the VA are conducted at the medical facility, but an appointment for a shoulder injury may not be part of the claim’s Compensation and Pension (C&P) examination. That can be really confusing to the Veteran and not only add to the confusion, but delay the claim and possible award of benefits. To add to this frustration as well, with the push to resolve claims, the C&P section of the VA is sending out letters for examinations that sometimes occur within days of the letter’s receipt. And I’ve already told you what happens if you miss an appointment.

Finally, the VA Medical Facility in Reno is operating a little differently right now. In many cases they are not scheduling appointments over the phone, merely stating that they will send you a post card with time and date of appointment. Turnover of personnel and physicians has caused some of the complications and scheduling but I’ve been advised that they are working diligently to make it better. Let’s hope so.

I hope this information will help many through the sometimes frustrating quagmire and improve their relationship with the VA and its representatives. The Administration is trying hard to tackle the backlog, provide service, and resolve claims. Unfortunately, it adds some complications to our rural Veterans. Contact me at the office if you have any questions 283-6275.

Bridge Into Troubled Waters 5/29/13

Bridge into Troubled Waters

By Tom H. Hastings

Tom Hastings

Tom Hastings

Tonight another US freeway bridge collapsed over another river, plunging cars and the people in them into the cold rushing water below. This time it is I-5, just north of Seattle, into the Skagit river. At this writing, just an hour after the disaster, there is no announced death nor injury toll.

Last time this happened was in Minnesota, 1 August 2007, on I-35, killing 13 people and injuring 145. Federal officials complained about lack of funds for bridge inspection and repair. Really?

When, if ever, will we begin to take our infrastructure decay seriously in the US? When will we put men and women to work creating and maintaining, constructing and repairing, instead of destroying and wasting in war? Since 2001, the US taxpayer has poured $1.44 trillion into war, every cent of which could have created honest creative, sustainable, helpful, strengthening work here in the US, creating many more jobs than does the military and all their contractors. Trying to be the strongest country in the world has greatly weakened the US and the pieces of our workings which are falling apart are simply the first warnings.

Indeed, the economists at the University of Massachusetts in Amhearst have studied how many jobs are created per $billion spent and the military is the worst investment. It creates the fewest.

Meanwhile, engineers give our infrastructure a D+ (an F for some bridges, obviously) and tell us (on Fox News, no less) it will take an investment of $3.6 trillion by 2020 to get us safe and operating for the public good.

As soon as the sequester hit, most of the complaining came from the Pentagon, with sob stories about how unready America now already is as a result. Seriously? The Pentagon has all the money. They have had all the money for years, under both Ds and Rs. And we see the catastrophic results.

Schools closing. Pensions vanishing. Funds for regular hardworking people or for some who are disabled or otherwise down on their luck all gone. Far fewer advantages for our children; school boards are desperately wrestling with budget cuts from coast-to-coast. And now, even our bridges are falling into rivers. It’s tragic, it’s embarrassing, and only source of power will change this, if anyone can, and that is our regular folks, getting involved.

Civil society will fix this because civil society, in its enlightened self-interest, will stop electing politicians who allow this sort of corrupt militarism to take the lives of our young people, steal directly from the educational system, and erode our mass transit and roadway system. We will finally tell our elites, “Fix it or you will no longer own what you think you own. We will take it back.”

The Gini Coefficient tracks the income disparities between the elites and the rest of us. The higher the Gini Coefficient, the worse the gap. It is now highest in the US since it started being measured in 1967. It is worst in the District of Columbia, where the elites generally reside and where low-paid federal workers do too. The elites there who vote seem comfortable with this system because it benefits them. It does not benefit the rest of us and we are running out of patience.

When our bridges cannot even stand up it is time for the rest of us to stand up. We are due for some massive nonviolent change in our country because we face a massive set of problems and a massive military industrial complex that benefits the very few at the expense of the rest of us. Bridges falling into the rivers? OK, they are getting our attention. Once they have our attention like this and we get organized to change spending priorities, we will have their attention.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings directs PeaceVoice.

The Silver Lining 5/29/13

The Silver Lining

by Winslow Myers

Winslow Myers

Winslow Myers

If the brutal and tragic agony of Syria today has one small glimmer of hope, it is that the great powers are completely stymied, blocked, paralyzed in their ability to resolve anything by military action. Were this 1914 and had we possessed nuclear weapons, the Syrian situation might have led to a war that ended the world.

But now we can see the old realpolitik tactics, supplying arms to the son-of-a-bitch that we thought of as at least our son-of-a-bitch, which never really worked anyway, completely revealed in all their emptiness. So why is this a silver lining?

Let us not oversell. The complete inability of tribes and religious rivals to resolve their conflicts in Syria hardly bodes a future without war. History has not ended.  Potentially there are terrible conflicts ahead, especially over scarce resources like water and arable land.

But there is a possibility that the great powers, first of all the United States, can begin to play a different, more constructive, role—a role of war prevention.  To do that, we must begin from where we are, where we are as a planet, and reconceive our national interest. Along with everyone else’s, our national interest is utterly connected to and dependent upon such non-military realities as that fish stocks in the ocean are close to exhaustion, or that the carbon dioxide in the global atmosphere has now surpassed 400 parts per million, or that global population is expected to continue to rise to between 11 and 17 billion people before it levels off. These are not problems with military solutions.

In this context, the cost of the American-led wars of the past ten years, based in a gross overreaction to terrorism combined with the misconception that terrorism could be eliminated solely by military means and a pure greed for control over oil, has been a colossal lost opportunity for the U.S. Instead we could have invested much more in making the challenging transition beyond fossil fuels, or strengthening the food infrastructure worldwide. Imagine having taken the cost of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and spending it instead on decentralized solar and wind energy, medical help, and education to people in the developing world. It is at least an even bet that this would have been a more robust preventer of terrorism.

Looming behind our thinking about conventional military force is the issue of nuclear war. Here again the amount of money spent for zero increase in real security is appalling, and the emptiness in the rhetoric of national leaders thunderously hollow. With the advent of the computer modeling of nuclear winter back in the 1980s—that only a small percentage of nuclear weapons detonated could cause worldwide climate change, massively shutting down agricultural systems—the whole theory of nuclear deterrence collapsed into dust. A remaining issue is the possibility of a terrorist entity acquiring a nuclear weapon. The only solution to that is to budget not for building or renewing weapons, but to forge treaties to reciprocally bring down the numbers of weapons possessed by the nuclear powers—and to secure existing nuclear materials. This includes pushing for the entire Middle East region as a nuclear-free zone. The alternative is mass extinction, which will include the United States.

The recent disciplining of a group of U.S. military personnel in charge of nuclear ICBMs who had become unacceptably careless with the strict protocols around these weapons underscores the reality that the danger lies as much in the weapons themselves in combination with human frailty as it does with who possesses them. The U.S. and Israel threaten Iran if it crosses a red line, but our double standard, along with the universal bad combination of fallible people and a world-destructive energy, is there for all to see. It is a kind of miracle that disaster has not happened—so far.

On the nuclear level, the obsolescence of war has long been crystal-clear, though world leaders continue to pretend otherwise. The situation in Syria provides an instructive example of that same obsolescence on the conventional level.  It allows any policy-maker who possesses some genuine compassion for the children there, for everyone there, to say: we cannot help by selling arms to any one party, because we don’t know into whose hands they will fall. We cannot help by invading.  All war is civil war and all civil war has a crossborder threat. All war is obsolete for meeting our real challenges as a human family. Therefore the first step, the best step, even if it is only a humble beginning, is to ponder: what else could we do that might be creative and helpful?

Winslow Myers, the author of “Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide,” writes on global issues, serves on the advisory board of the War Prevention Initiative, and writes for PeaceVoice.

 

Planetary Emergency 5/29/13

Planetary Emergency Ahead 

By Kent D. Shifferd

Kent D. Shifferd

Kent D. Shifferd

We humans are facing a perfect storm of crises of our own making that could bring a sudden and ugly end to the way of life we have known, but we are not paying attention.

We are all focused on small things—our jobs, the fate of our favorite sports team, the price of gas, the latest clothing fad, the newest app for our smartphone.  For most of us our view is too limited, too narrow and too confined to the present moment. We are looking down at our feet when we should be looking up and outward to the future. We are happily oblivious to the one big thing that will determine our fate. Without realizing it, we stand on the brink of a planetary emergency brought on by our pride and our ignorance.

We are facing a species extinction crisis on a scale not seen in millions of years; a sudden and unprecedented population explosion; the creation and spread of thousands of toxic chemicals and radioactive materials for which we have no biological protection; a dramatic shift in climate—for the worse; the degrading of agricultural land world-wide; the dramatic depletion of ocean fisheries, and the rise of environmentally induced diseases.  Describing each one of these crises could take a whole book. Each exacerbates all the others.  We also stand on the brink of radically meddling with the basic genetic structure of life.  These crises should be the main focus of education, the media and the government, but instead we go on frittering about with details as if nothing earth-shaking had changed.

The cause of this perfect storm is our pride and our ignorance.  We think we know how to control nature to create an overstocked material paradise.  In fact, nature is far more complex than we can imagine and our efforts so far are not encouraging.  We have made several huge mistakes in the past 150 years, thinking they were “Progress.”  They are: first, the exploitation of fossil fuels, especially coal-fired power plants and millions of automobiles that are bringing on the massive web of changes–fire, flood, storms, drought, extinctions–that we call climate shift.  Second, we learned to split the atom, leading to thermonuclear weapons that could destroy the world in an afternoon, and nuclear power plants that will leave poisons around for tens of thousands of years just so we can turn on a light bulb. Third, we created 85,000 new chemical substances, almost wholly untested for human health impacts, and spread them about in almost every commercial product we use, from fabric softeners to the lining of food cans.  Fourth, we have allowed our population to go from a billion in 1800, a sum that took all of human history to achieve, to seven billion today and nine billion projected by 2050.  So many people eating up so much habitat that we have triggered a massive extinction process.  Our grandchildren will live on a planet with no lions or polar bears, but much more importantly, the very base of the biological pyramid, the plant kingdom, is being radically depleted of species.  And it’s not only population growth that is at fault, it’s our unsupportable belief in unending economic growth.  If everyone alive today lived at the American standard of material consumption we would need at least four planets. How will we cope with two billion more people? We are overspending our natural capital and degrading the ecological base on which civilization rests.  Too many people with too much power and too many toxic things.

Even people who foresee this disaster in the making think we can manage it by geo-engineering and genetically modifying plants and animals.  They think we can act as if we were gods when we weren’t even able to manage coal to keep it from harming the biosphere.  Instead of ceasing to do the destructive things we are doing, they are sure in their hubris that they can invent fantastic ways that will allow us to do even more.  In all probability they will accelerate and deepen the disaster.

We have not done a very good job of maintaining the health of the planet on which our health and our civilization rest.  We fail at far-sightedness and at seeing each of our man-made changes in the larger context of the biosphere.  We ignore the fact that you can’t do just one thing in nature because so much is connected to so much else.  In short, as a species we lack wisdom and humility and so we imperil ourselves and much of the rest of life.

We can have a good future on this planet but only if we greatly reduce our population, replace our tool kit with one that is non-toxic and less damaging, and consume far, far less and do it soon.  We need to invent a new way of life. The alternative is global ecological collapse.  We are facing a planetary emergency.

Kent Shifferd, Ph.D., (kshifferd@centurytel.net) is an historian who taught environmental history and ethics for 25 years at Wisconsin’s Northland College.  He is author of From War to Peace: A Guide to the Next Hundred Years (McFarland, 2011) and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

 

Carol’s Movie 5/29/13

Carol Says:
Doc Martin
We loved the TV series “Doc Martin” on PBS.  Then I learned about the movie and ordered it up.   Martin Clunes plays Doc Martin in the movie (and on TV) but it is a very different Doc Martin in the movie.  In the movie he is warm, friendly, smokes and drinks.  Quite opposite of the TV series and this just shows that Martin Clues is a versatile actor.
Doc Martin lives in London and finds out his wife is cheating on him, and quite often.  He is very hurt and just catches a train to a little town where he visited as a child.  He meets people and starts working on a fishing boat (just for a little while).  There is also a mystery in town – who is leaving jello on people’s doorstep – and you do not want to find a jello on your doorstep!  It means you have been caught doing something you should not have done and the jello person leaves a hint in the jello that you have been caught!
If you followed the series you would enjoy this movie.  It is just a simple little movie, not a “rush out and see” but just for a quiet evening at home kind of watch.
Netflix says:

In this feature-length prequel to the hit series, London-based obstetrician Dr. Martin Bamford leaves his cheating wife and goes on holiday in a quaint Cornish village, where he soon finds himself swept up in a peculiar mystery.

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