WILLITS POISED TO DECLARE DROUGHT EMERGENCY
by Linda Williams
The city has about 100 days of water in its reservoir and January is projected to be drier than normal. The Willits City Council is expected to meet Jan. 8 to address this problem.
The city staff has been examining the alternatives available to the city to weather the drought.
Willits City Manager Adrienne Moore says she is grateful city residents have cutback water usage voluntarily. She says this has made a noticeable difference.
Without rain, a more extreme cutback will be required or an auxiliary source will need to be found, or both to tide the city over until the next rainy season.
The city is considering pumping water from either the city owned wells or other wells and treating the water with a temporary treatment facility. This treated water would then be mixed into the city's water system.
At this time city staff has ruled out the use of Wente Lake on an emergency basis due to costs. A check dam, pump and piping were installed in the 1988 drought to move Wente Lake water to the city's water treatment plant. In the intervening years most of this infrastructure was removed and the water treatment plant was moved to above Morris Reservoir.
While the council agenda states it is planning to consider a Phase 2 emergency (restricting water use to 250 gallons per household and a 15 percent cutback for businesses), the council may also consider a more dire declaration of emergency at its Jan. 8 meeting. This could result in much more severe water rationing.
(Courtesy, the Willits News)
IS THERE A DEAD SPOT developing off the Sonoma Coast? An interesting piece by Steve McLaughlin in a recent ICO, cites John Lagier, a UC Davis professor, saying that he's never seen oxygen levels as low as they are presently from Gualala south to San Francisco. "Dissolved oxygen concentrations in the ocean are dependent on a number of physical and biological processes, including circulation, ventilation, air-sea exchange, production and respiration," Lagier wrote in a 2011 paper called, "Climate Change Impacts: Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries." Meaning? Meaning bad news for slow-moving sea creatures such as crab and abalone.
THEY KEPT ME POOR with their bills, while I went from bad to worse. The trouble with me was twofold: first, I was a born weakling; and next, I was living unnaturally — too much work, and responsibility, and strain. So I quit everything, absolutely, and came to live in the Valley of the Moon. I persevered, and used my body in the way Nature intended it should be used — not bending over a desk and swilling whiskey....and, well, here I am, a better man for it.
— Jack London, Burning Daylight
WILLITS WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO AIDING MAN WHO SHOT AT DEPUTY
by Tiffany Revelle
A Willits woman admitted Wednesday in Mendocino County Superior Court that she helped Walter K. Miller after he shot at a deputy during a high-speed chase.
Alicia M. Gallups, 26, pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to Miller, who was last month convicted of attempted murder and personally using a semi-automatic pistol in the Feb. 28 chase and shooting.
"When Ms. Gallups was identified (by detectives) as someone who might know where defendant Miller was, she misdirected them by providing false information about his whereabouts," said Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster, who prosecuted the case. "She knew his whereabouts, and she lied about his whereabouts to deceive law enforcement."
Miller remained at large for two days after the shooting, and eventually surrendered after a three-hour standoff with law enforcement at the Ukiah Best Western on Orchard Avenue, where he had been holed up in a hotel room.
Gallups was shown sitting with Miller in the hotel room during a short video clip where Miller held to his head the AP-9 pistol he used to shoot at the pursuing deputy, saying at the end, "When you live life like you have a gun to your head, and they expect us to just take it. Well, get served, mother (expletive)."
Eyster changed a charge that Gallups possessed methamphetamine for sale to a charge of simple possession, and Gallups also pleaded guilty to that amended charge. She is due back in court Feb. 21 for sentencing.
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
PLASTIC SHOPPING BAG BAN EXTENDED TO MOST STORES IN UKIAH, COUNTY
by Mike Sweeney
(Fort Bragg Advocate, 8th January 2014)
The throw-away plastic shopping bag became illegal on Tuesday, Jan. 7, in almost all stores in Ukiah and the unincorporated County. It already happened Dec. 10 in Fort Bragg.
The plastic bag ban took effect a year ago at supermarkets and drug stores and now will be extended to include every class of retail stores except take-out restaurants. And restaurants may be included in the future since both Fort Bragg, Ukiah and the county are considering amending their ordinances to add them.
The plastic bag ordinances now cover all of Mendocino County with the exception of the City of Willits, which hasn't taken action.
Under the ordinances, "single-use" plastic bags can't be given out at the checkstands. Paper bags are allowed, but the store must recover its cost for the paper bag by a minimum charge of 10 cents each.
The purpose of the ordinances is to reduce plastic bag litter and encourage shoppers to bring their own re-usable bag.
There are now 90 cities and counties in California that have plastic bag bans. There are two key reasons for the ordinances. The first is to stop these throw-away bags from becoming ugly roadside litter that harms wildlife and degrades the environment both on land and sea. The second is to cut down on the plastic bags that are jamming the sort lines at our recycling facilities.
The plastic bag ban applies only to "carry-out" bags given out at the checkstand.
Plastic produce, bread, pharmacy or other plastic bags used earlier in the store aren't affected.
The Mendocino Solid Waste Authority has sent out two mailers to retail stores to alert them to the ordinances. Violators are subject to city or county fines of up to $500 per violation and can also be sued by either the city or county or by any private citizen.
Violations can be reported to the Mendocino Solid Waste Authority at 468-9710.
During the first year of the ordinances, no citations were issued to the supermarkets or drug stores that were affected. We had immediate and universal compliance in Fort Bragg, Ukiah and County.
More information about the bag ordinances is available at http://MendoRecycle.org/bags.html or by calling the Mendocino Solid Waste Authority at 468-9710.
(Mike Sweeney is the director of Mendocino Solid Waste Management Authority.)
* * *
THANKS, MIKE. I'm sure you won't mind if I point out that your common law wife, Glenda Anderson, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat's "Ukiah Bureau," presented this same press release as a news story with her byline on it for the PD last Tuesday, and that Glenda, when she was with the Ukiah Daily Journal, often got your press releases published on the front page of the Ukiah daily. Frankly, Mike, it all seems kinda robotic, kinda mind-control-ish. I wonder if Glenda ever wonders to herself, "If I cross this little psycho, will he blow me up?" The Press Democrat, fortunately for you, Mike, hasn't been in the curiosity business for some years, and Glenda, well, you've got her hermetically sealed, apparently.
TO CUT to the chase here, Mike, do you love the poor thing or is she simply one more checkmate you've manipulated into place to help ensure that in Mendo at least no one in authority will ever come after you for blowing up your previous wife, Judi Bari?
LOOKED AT OBJECTIVELY, you've managed to pull off what amounts to a perfect crime, so far at least. There are lots of people on to you, of course, but none of them, except those of us at the AVA, are prominent in Mendocino County. And what better place to reinvent oneself than this odd jurisdiction, where every day history starts all over again and you are whatever you say are.
HELL, the whole County is like an open air Witness Protection Program. Strangers show up all the time, and next thing you know there they are on your local school board or hosting a talk show on KZYX. Some of them even get elected to the Board of Supervisors!
ANYWAY, MIKE, your secret's safe with me. I have to say I admire what you've pulled off. How many guys could begin adult life as a college communist, segue on into a commie killer cult circa 1969 that became the infamous SLA, shed your first family for Madam Bari, blow up one of the hangars at the old naval airfield in Santa Rosa, blow up Bari with a car bomb, then go totally straight and get yourself put in charge of all of Mendocino County's trash at $90 grand a year? Dude! I have risen to my feet to salute you as The Most Interesting Man in Mendocino County!
FRESH FROM FORT BRAGG CITY HALL:
"Last week, the City of Fort Bragg, with the help of the State Coastal Conservancy and property owners Carolyn, Russell, and Royce Johnson, acquired a spectacular four-acre coastal property known as "Soldier Point."
Soldier Point is the most westerly point of land between the Noyo River and Pudding Creek. It features magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean, with vistas on a clear day from the King Range and the Lost Coast to Point Arena. The property has an intact coastal bluff plant community and a large basalt rock outcropping, known locally as Johnson Rock.
The property will be incorporated into Noyo Headlands Park and a spur of the Fort Bragg Coastal Trail will provide access to the point. The city plans to construct the Coastal Trail project this year and next and it will be open for public use in 2015.
The Johnsons are heirs of C.R. Johnson, the founder of the Union Lumber Company, which once owned the Soldier Point property. In 1939, the Johnson family purchased the property from the Union Lumber Company to serve as a family memorial. The city, the State Coastal Conservancy, and the Johnson family began conversations about public acquisition of the Soldier Point property in 2006 when the Fort Bragg community began planning for the Fort Bragg Coastal Trail project.
The property was purchased by the city for $352,000 with the State Coastal Conservancy contributing $277,000 towards its acquisition.
The property owners agreed to a "bargain sale" price.
In recognition that the property has served as a private family memorial for many years and, in acknowledgement of the Johnsons' charitable donation to its public acquisition, the property will be shown on park maps as the "Charles Russell Johnson Family Community Memorial Site."
Fort Bragg Mayor Dave Turner noted the importance of the acquisition stating, "The Soldier Point property is the crown jewel of Fort Bragg's waterfront park. The 360-degree views from the property are simply spectacular. We are thrilled to be able to add this parcel to the 92 acres of coastal parkland that the city acquired from Georgia Pacific. We look forward to opening Noyo Headlands Park and the Fort Bragg Coastal Trail to the public in 2015."
COMMUNITY RIGHTS WORKSHOP FEB 15-16
Reasserting Community Rights: Going Beyond Single Issue
Are you frustrated by the apparent inability of local communities to stop corporate destruction of the natural world (unnecessary road building, fracking, sludge dumping on farmland, bottling and removal of water from local rivers, use of toxic pesticides in forests, oil drilling in pristine areas, etc.)? Are you wondering why the public seems to be powerless to stop these abuses of corporate power? This workshop will illuminate how and why the law has been used to progressively expand corporate powers. It will also provide a new and proven way to reestablish community rights, the power of community self-determination, and the power to stop destructive practices through local ordinance writing. Used in more than 160 communities in ten states across the USA, local ordinances are enabling local communities to assert their right to protect themselves and nature from corporate domination and control. In support of this, the California Constitution says: "All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same, whenever the public good may require it." Paul Cienfuegos will be leading this intensive two-day workshop on the President’s Day weekend — February 15-16, 2014 at the Community Center of Mendocino (998 School St., in the town of Mendocino). Workshop attendees will also learn about the history of the rise of corporate power. Paul is a well known community rights organizer, and partner with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF.org). To learn more about Paul and his activities and workshops see — paulcienfuegos.com. Paul’s last workshop, a few months ago in Willits, was over-subscribed and filled up fast. To make sure you have a place in this one, you must register in advance. There is a sliding scale fee based on income, ranging from $60 to $260. To sign-up, contact Charles Cresson Wood, with Mendocino Coast Transition Towns, at email@example.com or 707-937-5572. This event is co-sponsored by the Alliance for Democracy, the Mendocino Coast Chapter of Move to Amend, Community Rights Organization Willits (CROW) and the Ocean Protection Coalition.
NEVER GIVE UP - A PET REUNION STORY
by Kristina Grogan
The plans were set and the bags were packed. Deb and Jenifer looked forward to a wonderful Thanksgiving visit in Ukiah. Isabelle was, of course, coming along. No family visit would be the same without their coffee and cream colored Labrador. The three visitors made the long trip from Southern California spending their holiday with family and friends while lodging in a pet friendly hotel in the area. The final day approached and Deb and Jenifer packed up their belongings only to find the unthinkable. No Isabelle. Isabelle was not in the room. She was not outside the door or on the hotel grounds. Isabelle had slipped out the door and vanished. Days of frantic searching and nights of sleepless worry ensued for the two women. Their family and friends joined in the search. They created flyers, visited the Animal Care Shelter, filed lost reports, but no sightings were reported. After days of exhaustion and worry, Deb and Jenifer, with heavy hearts, were obligated to return home. They trusted that their friends and family would continue the search, and they were not disappointed. Isabelle was microchipped and wearing a collar so there was hope, but she lacked identification tags. Jenifer found Petharbor.com. PetHarbor is a free service that posts descriptions and available photos of animals housed in the many shelters which are engaged in the service. PetHarbor allows searchers to set up alerts for new animals fitting the description of the lost pet. Jenifer set these parameters to include any medium to large brown dog coming into a shelter within 100 miles of Ukiah. Over a month had elapsed since Isabelle went missing. The New Year had come and gone without a word about Isabelle. In the first week of January, a California Highway Patrol Officer stopped at a hotel to assist a wandering and ownerless dog. The dog was delivered to the Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency Animal Care Services Shelter in Ukiah. At the Shelter, the unidentified dog was checked in, scanned for a microchip, photographed, fed and cared for. As a part of the regular business of the Shelter, her photos were posted on multiple sites including PetHarbor. Jenifer and Deb received the hopeful notification from PetHarbor that a dog matching Isabelle’s description was in the Animal Care Services Shelter. The Shelter was notified and arrangements were made for Deb and Jenifer to return to Ukiah. After thirty-seven days of separation, on January 7, 2014, Isabelle was greatly excited to find her two owners kneeling with open arms to greet her. There was, quite literally, not a dry eye in the room. The moral to the story is simple: Never give up when your companion animal is lost. There are many resources available to help reunite animal and human family members. And, please, prepare and protect your animals by using collars with updated tags. There are a variety of collars available including companies that will stitch your information directly into the collar. Microchip your pets. Remember to update your information for their microchips. The combination of these forms of identification will be the best hope for a fast and happy reunion.
(Kristina Grogan is the Communication Coordinator for the Health and Human Services Agency in Mendocino County. You can email her for comments or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEAR SUPPORTERS OF CLOSING THE PERSISTENT DIGITAL DIVIDE FOR ALL OF RURAL NORTHERN CALIFORNIA,
The status quo is not going to bring high-speed internet broadband to the rural areas of our state, currently being damaged economically every single day by substandard broadband. To change the status quo, we need to make our voices heard. We are inviting you to join us at the upcoming meeting of the California Broadband Council (CBC), Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014, 1U3 p.m., Legislative Office Building (LOB), 1020 N Street, Rm. 100, Sacramento, CA. The CBC was established by legislation in 2010 (Senate Bill 1462UPadilla) to marshal the state’s resources to further the objectives of increasing broadband network deployment, and eliminate the Digital Divide by expanding broadband accessibility, literacy, adoption, and usage. We need to let them know that the Digital Divide grows wider and deeper in our rural communities, and hold them accountable to this important responsibility on behalf of all our residents. The nine-member CBC is composed of leaders in their fields: Michael Peevey, President of the CPUC and Chair of the CBC; Senator Alex Padilla, vice-Chair and who helped establish the CBC; Assembly member Steven Bradford; Carlos Ramos, Director of the CA Dept of Technology; Mark Ghilarducci, Secretary of the CA Emergency Management Agency, Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Schools; Fred Klass, Director of General Services; Brian Kelly, Secretary of the California Transportation Agency; and Sunne McPeak, President of the California Emerging Technology Fund. More information about the council can be found at: http://www.broadbandcouncil.ca.gov/home.aspx. We would like as many people as possible to attend this meeting, so please mark your calendar and see if there is any possible way for you to attend. Their meetings include a 20-minute public comment period, and even if there is not time for everyone to speak due to our large turnout, your presence at the meeting will send an important message. Please let us know if you are planning to attend, and if you would like to carpool. We plan to meet as a group before the meeting to share media materials, so please stay in touch and share this information with as many people as possible. Thanks, Jim Moorehead, Executive Committee Chair, Broadband Alliance of Mendocino County. Mike Nicholls, Co-Chair, Access Sonoma Broadband. Broadband Coalition of Northern California Counties, PO Box 946, Ukiah, CA 95482
AdminCoordinator@MendocinoBroadband.org -- 707.354.2262
ACTIVIST POET-PLAYWRIGHT AMIRI BARAKA DIES AT 79
Amiri Baraka, radical playwright and poet, dies aged 79 in Newark. Provocative writer and leader of the 1960s Black Arts movement had been in hospital since the end of last year. He was described by the FBI as 'the person who will probably emerge as the leader of the pan-African movement in the United States'.
* * *
Amiri Baraka, the radical man of letters whose poems, plays and criticism made him a provocative and groundbreaking force in American culture, has died aged 79.
Baraka, who had been in hospital since last month, died on Thursday at Newark Beth Israel Medical Centre, said his agent Celeste Bateman.
Perhaps no writer of the 1960s and 1970s was more radical or polarising than the man formerly known as LeRoi Jones and no one did more to extend the political debates of the civil rights era to the world of the arts.
He inspired a generation of poets, playwrights and musicians and his immersion in spoken word traditions and raw street language anticipated rap, hip-hop and slam poetry. The FBI feared him to the point of flattery, identifying Baraka as "the person who will probably emerge as the leader of the pan-African movement in the United States."
Baraka transformed first to join the Beat caravan of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac and then to lead the Black Arts Movement, an ally of the Black Power movement, that rejected the liberal optimism of the early 1960s and intensified a divide over how and whether the black artist should take on social issues. Scorning art for art's sake and the pursuit of racial unity, Barak was part of a philosophy that called for the teaching of black art and history and producing works that bluntly called for revolution.
"We want poems that kill,'" Baraka wrote in his landmark Black Art manifesto published in 1965, the year he helped found the Black Arts Movement. "Assassin poems. Poems that shoot guns/ Poems that wrestle cops into alleys/ and take their weapons leaving them dead/ with tongues pulled out and sent to Ireland."
He was as eclectic as he was prolific. His influences ranged from Ray Bradbury and Mao Zedong to Ginsberg and John Coltrane. Baraka wrote poems, short stories, novels, essays, plays, musical and cultural criticism and jazz operas.
His 1963 book, Blues People: Negro Music in White America, has been called the first major history of black music to be written by an African-American. A line from his poem Black People! – "Up against the wall mother fucker" – became a counterculture slogan for everyone from student protesters to the rock band Jefferson Airplane. A 2002 poem he wrote alleging that some Israelis had advance knowledge of the September 11 attacks led to widespread outrage.
Decades earlier, Baraka had declared himself a black nationalist out to "break the deathly grip of the White Eyes," then a Marxist-Leninist out to destroy imperialists of all colours. No matter his name or ideology, he was committed to "struggle, change, struggle, unity, change, movement."
"All of the oaths I swore were sincere reflections of what I felt – what I thought I knew and understood," he wrote in a 1990 essay. "But those beliefs change, and the work shows this, too."
He was denounced by critics as buffoonish, homophobic, antisemitic, a demagogue. He was called by others a genius, a prophet, the Malcolm X of literature. Eldridge Cleaver hailed him as the bard of the "funky facts." Ishmael Reed credited the Black Arts Movement for encouraging artists of all backgrounds and enabling the rise of multiculturalism. The scholar Arnold Rampersad placed him alongside Frederick Douglass and Richard Wright in the pantheon of black cultural influences.
First published in the 1950s, Baraka crashed the literary party in 1964, at the Cherry Lane Theater in Greenwich Village, when Dutchman opened and made instant history at the height of the civil rights movement. Baraka's play was a one-act showdown between a middle class black man, Clay, and a sexually daring white woman, Lula, ending in a brawl of murderous taunts and confessions.
Baraka was born Everett LeRoy Jones, in 1934, a postal worker's son who grew up in a racially mixed neighbourhood in Newark and remembered his family's passion for songs and storytelling. He showed early talents for sports and music and did well enough in high school to graduate with honours and receive a scholarship from Rutgers University.
Feeling out of place at Rutgers, he transferred to a leading black college, Howard University. He hated it there ("Howard University shocked me into realising how desperately sick the Negro could be," he later wrote) and joined the Air Force, from which he was later discharged. By 1958, he had settled in Greenwich Village, met Ginsberg, married fellow writer Hettie Cohen and was editing an avant-garde journal, Yugen.
Baraka divorced Cohen in 1965 and a year later married Sylvia Robinson, whose name became Bibi Amina Baraka. He had seven children, two with his first wife and five with his second. A son, Ras Baraka, became a councilman in Newark. A daughter, Shani Baraka, was murdered in 2003.
Baraka taught at Yale University and George Washington University and spent 20 years on the faculty of the State University of New York in Stonybrook. He received numerous grants and prizes, including a Guggenheim fellowship and a poetry award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Baraka was the subject of a 1983 documentary, In Motion, and holds a minor place in Hollywood history. In Bulworth, Warren Beatty's 1998 satire about a senator's break from the political establishment, Baraka plays a homeless poet who cheers on the title character. "You got to be a spirit," the poet tells him. "You got to sing – don't be no ghost."
(Courtesy, the London Guardian)
ARISTO FETISHISM IN DOWNTON ABBEY
Benjamin Disraeli's Favorite TV Show
by Clancy Sigal
“Property is theft.” — Proudhon
* * *
I’m sure we all have better things to do than watch that emotionally involving, spacey-fiction example of Disraeli-era “one nation” Tory-conservative spin, Downton Abbey.
The Big House is where the nice, kind, decent, pragmatic, charitable liberals just by chance happen to be the rich folks upstairs and the reactionary, even stuffier, tradition-upholding homophobes lurk down in the scullery. I love Carson the butler (brilliantly played by Jim Carter) as the avatar of the “deference vote” that keeps Britain’s big and little c conservatives in power. Really I do love Carson. SOMEONE has to uphold standards when Lady Mary screws a (gasp) Turk to death, Lord Grantham makes passes at the maid over whom he has total social and economic power, a gay footman actually wants sex, Lady Edith is having it off with an adulterer, and a stylish — kindly — way of life is, sadly, passing, passing into the sunset, a victim of menacing Armageddon, a future Labour government with its socialistic death duties.
Here’s the thing they omit from this stupendously successful tosh. Summer or winter in real life you freeze your bum off in those big draughty impossible-to-heat halls. I’ve been there. Now try to imagine an episode at the Abbey where the doorbell rings and a new guest arrives: a young American reporter (me) so morally soft, O GOD THE HORROR!, he has along with him his own Valor paraffin heater. Can you just hear hear Maggie Smith sniffing? Shirley MacLaine was one American Jew too many. But this is too much: bringing your own central heating!!!!
That was my experience when for a period I was “taken up” by the English lower aristocracy and higher gentry in their Downton-style country houses for shootin’-and-huntin’ weekends and sometimes longer. The real life versions of Lord Grantham were gracious and charming…until they spied my Valor heater in hand. (And also until mine host lent me his Purdy over-and-under when I shot off 50 shells and not a single partridge fell out of the sky.) For one thing, burning paraffin awfully smells up the place. For another, the very existence of a Valor is a rebuke to a stately, ordered, stoical way of life where enduring cold used to be, and perhaps still is a mark of upper class virtue.
Ben Disraeli, who more or less invented the “One Nation” wheeze, was one of the more clever prime ministers. (And Jewish yet!) One Nationism trumpets a view of “organic” society in which we all, regardless of political disagreements, have our God-given parts to play under the paternalistic guidance of a wise and tolerant Lord Grantham clone. (UK’s current leader David Cameron claims Disraeli is his favorite politician.) Nation matters more than class. Indeed, this patrician-conceived “philosophy” — a pragmatic response to lower class turbulence — is trotted out periodically when, in the good old Yorkshire/Lancs phrase, “there’s trouble at t’ mill”. That is, the restless natives threaten to riot. As soon as the proles cool off it’s back to free market capitalism. Tick tock. Like a cuckoo clock.
Disraeli, the Tory genius at muffling class hatreds in periods of quasi-revolt, is a direct ancestor of the Tory peer Julian Fellowes — Julian Alexander Kitchener-Fellowes, Baron Fellowes of West Stafford — the writer-genius of Downton Abbey with his incredible talent for keeping plot lines unfouled (well, almost) and lack of talent for creating real human beings on the screen. Reality is not what we want in a stylish soap, is it?
Parenthetically, Julian Fellowes battled successfully against a change in rules of royal succession so that his wife, a distant relation of Lord Kitchener, could become a Countess. In his private life no One Nationer he. But in public he sounds almost like Rodney King after he was beaten up by Los Angeles cops. “Can we all get along.”
In response to critics who crabbed about Fellowes fawning over his own class in Downton Abbey, he pleaded that “it is possible for us all to get on, that we don’t have to be ranged in class warfare permanently.” Right on, Julie.
Why is Downton Abbey so popular? Of course it has nothing to do today’s rage of the 99% against the one percent which, as in Disraeli’s time, threatens to get out of hand.
(Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives.)
THE WAR ON THE PLANET
by Kirkpatrick Sale
Some recent evidence in the contest between capitalism and the earth:
In October, the U.S. officially edged past Russia as the world’s largest producer of oil and gas, an achievement largely due to the great increase in natural gas production through hydraulic fracturing of shale (fracking). Inasmuch as the process puts into the ground (and groundwater) 40 gallons of up to 600 chemicals in every well, no one doubts that it is one of the dirtiest and most polluting industries ever created.
Capitalism 1, Earth 0.
In December, the New England shrimp fishery was officially shut down for at least a year, maybe three, to allow a restoration of vastly depleted shrimp stocks, now at historic lows due to overfishing and warmer waters. Shrimpers made $10 million two years ago, just $1.2 million this year, and it is uncertain if or when the stocks will come back.
Capitalism 2, Earth 0.
According to a UN report in December , climate-change gasses in the atmospthere set a record high in 2012. The U.N. World Meteorological Organization said warming gasses increased 32 per cent 1990 to 2012, with Co2, industrialization’s chief byproduct, accounting for 80 per cent of that.
Capitalism 3, Earth 0.
Polar bear populations are shrinking everywhere in the Arctic, a September 2013 report found, as sea ice shrank to the lowest extent since records began in 1979. The shrinking ice means an increase in open water (in some places an area the size of Texas), thus limiting bears’ access to seals, their prime source of food.
Capitalism 4, Earth 0.
In August, President Rafael Correra of Ecuador abandoned a plan hatched in 2007 to save the Yasuni National Park in the Amazon from underground oil drilling through an international agreement to supply the country $3.6 billion over 13 years, half the cash value of the potential oil. After six years, only $13 million had been pledged, one-half of one per cent of the agreed sum.
Capitalism 5, Earth 0.
And so it goes. Don’t doubt that I could fill up another dozen pages this way, picking only the most glaring examples of humankind’s failure to protect and preserve the only known habitat on which it is known to be able to survive. And I have not mentioned the extinction of species, the destruction of ecosystems, the pollution of waters and soils, the elimination of forests, the spread of deserts, and the alteration of climate. The Ecosystem Millennium Assessment in 2005 put it simply: “Human activity is putting such a strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted.”
And let us understand that ”human activity” is essentially state-supported industrial capitalism and its offshoots and imitators, as practiced now on a global scale and at a never-ending pace, with technology of unprecedented power and destructiveness.
I made a somewhat-famous $1,000 bet in 1995 (see hanson.gmu.edu/press/wired-5-02) that Western civilization would collapse in all important economic and political ways in 2020, so I cannot say I am really surprised at the recent accounting of who is winning the battle for survival. What I suppose I’m most surprised about is those who don’t understand what this battle is all about and continue to demand, plead, organize, and urge that things be different. Paul Ehrlich, for example, in a recent blog on the website of the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere, called for scientists to “quickly generate a global ethical movement agreeing to change human actions for the benefit of our descendants.” (Descendants? the good capitalist says. What have they done for me lately?)
Things can’t be different—that must be understood. The way things are is the bargain we made as a society when we decided on a system dependent on unlimited growth (not to mention on all the seven deadly sins but sloth) and as much exploitation of natural resources for human betterment as fast and as extensively as possible. (“Exploit,” after all, in the language of this system, is a positive word, as so is “growth.”) It has in a sense upheld its end of the bargain, for it has produced an abundance of things (“goods” doesn’t quite seem the right word) and processes that have benefited a great many people over a great many years, never mind their inequitable distribution and impact. Yes, overpopulation, overproduction, and overconsumption have wrought a terrible price, but after all that’s what capitalism has always been based upon, and in the short term many prosper and a few grow very rich.
(I am reminded of a story told by Friederich Engels when he visited early industrial England and made some comment on the river of Manchester, “a coal-black, foul-smelling stream, full of debris and refuse,” and remarked to a leading manufacturer that he had never seen so ill-built and filthy a city: “The man listened quietly to the end, and said at the corner where we parted; ‘And yet there is a great deal of money made here; good morning, sir.’”)
Obviously I can’t say when the contest will end, though I have to say 2020 doesn’t seem like such a far-fetched date. I can only describe for you the nature of the contest, and who is winning.
(Kirkpatrick Sale is the author of After Eden: The Evolution of Human Domination and eleven other books. This essay is adapted from Sale’s recent book: Emancipation Hell: the Tragedy Wrought by the Emancipation Proclamation. He is the director of the Middlebury Institute.)