Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Stepping it Up.

While I fully support the major goals of the Step It Up campaign, I have doubts about it's efficacy. I sent the following to a GPCA email list today, but it belongs here.

If you are a member of the Green Party, you most certainly agree with the statement that you are concerned about Global Warming. However, to turn that concern into action by the legislatures, local, state or national, you have to convince those legislators that there are electoral consequences for not doing the right thing. Right now, that is clearly not the case.

In July, 2006, the Pew Research Center for People and the Press published a report that says Global Warming is not a significant election issue.

According to this report, while most Americans said it was really happening, it was not all that important. In fact, it was listed as less important in America that in Indonesia, Turkey, Nigeria or China.

Among Republicans, it was listed as the lowest of 21 issues.
Among Democrats and Independents, it was listed as 13 out of 21.

In an update to that report in January, 2007, it was still dead last for Republicans, and had fallen to 17th for Democrats and 19th for Independents.

All three groups listed the budget deficit as having a higher priority.

One of the reasons that we are all here is that we believe that the threat is maybe greater that Al Gore's famous movie indicated. The challenge we have before us is not only to convince the public that priorities should be higher, but maybe to convince our own party's leadership that they should be talking about Global Warming at all.

Here is a good example of just what has happened. The Step it Up campaign is connected to the Climate Crisis Coalition. I was told by a national party officer that one Julia Willebrand (NY) was the GP liaison to that organization. (I heard from another Green that they had gone to two early meetings but nothing since.) I have tried to email Willebrand to request information on behalf of the National's EcoAction Committee... no response.

There is a real danger that government will come forward with half measures, or worse yet, with plans that look good when spinning, but which are ultimately worse: e.g. "clean coal" or nuclear.

A quick survey of the Democratic Candidates for president shows that most do not have any firm plan. The mumble the acceptable words about "market based solutions" that are intended to offend as few as possible, and quickly get back on message.

Bill Richardson is talking about "potential improvements in building codes". He won't mention nuclear in the campaign, but was a strong supporter of nuclear during his time heading the Dept. of Energy.

Barack Obama refuses to eliminate nuclear options and his most aggressive position is to implement "cap and trade" programs.
Hillary Clinton's Energy Policy is all good intentions with no specifics, rhetoric without substance.
In the White House, Hillary will lead the charge to stop global warming by investing in clean energy technologies, establishing a national market-based program to reduce global warming pollution, increasing our fuel efficiency, and restoring the United States' rightful place as a leader in international efforts to address the problem of climate change.

But that also talks about "market based" programs, like "cap and trade". Even in the Economist Magazine, not an environmentalist's required reading, they say...

> Too bad, then, that politicians seem set on a second-best route to a greener world. That is the path of cap-and-trade, where the quantity of emissions is limited (the cap) and the right to emit is distributed through a system of tradable permits. The original Kyoto treaty set up such a mechanism and its signatories are keen to expand it. The main market-based alternative—a carbon tax—has virtually no political support.
The fact is that those developed countries (Canada, EU) who DID sign the Kyoto Protocol, have made almost no progress in reducing GHG emissions.

We have to get behind the work of Architecture 2030. I thank Orvall for supporting that. For everyone who is involved in one of the Step it Up session, we have to make this a key ingredient of local action.
I recently read an analysis that says we have experienced a transformation from a world where there was a deep investment of social capital in organizations (life time employment, union membership, civic clubs, ethnic community centers, bowling leagues, etc.) into a one where the ties are much more shallow but cover a wider area. The example is job networking rather than relying on the good old boys club that you play golf with every weekend. In this new world, individuation is more important than community. It is much more interesting, but much less safe. We live, perhaps, in a world of insecure affluence.

If all of that is true, then perhaps we need to be talking of taking personal responsibility for the world that we are leaving our children. We need to show that personal action can deliver a better, more secure future. And then to make it work. I am not convinced that the rhetoric of sacrifice, cutting back will change people's behavior unless we show them a better future.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Calfornia Burning, Presidential Politics

Everyone knows about the wildfires in California. Life have been difficult for all, and maybe even for the President and all the Presidential Candidates who had to figure out what they should be doing and how many votes it might bring them .

President Bush toured the place and gave his usual speech.
"I made a pledge to the people of California on behalf of all Americans: We will help you put out the fires, get through the crisis, and rebuild your lives," he said in his weekly radio address.
Just ask the people of New Orleans how good that speech is.

FEMA showed that they had a better plan than was evident in disasters the past few years, but they also proved that they still do not understand the very basic fact that actually doing their work is more important than whatever image they project. With their fake news conference, they undid what ever good might have come from the actual help they delivered. I am sure that some news magazine (are you listening, 60 Minutes?) will do a follow up to see just what the actual results were.

I have not heard anything more than a few mumbling "best wishes" from the likes I Guiliani or Romney. Among the Democrats, well even John Edwards sounds a little like Bush.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the more than 300,000 families who have been forced to flee their homes to escape the wildfires spreading across southern California. Those affected by this tragedy should take comfort in the fact that their fellow Americans are standing with them and will do whatever it takes to fight the fires and rebuild the homes and businesses that were destroyed."
However, Green Party candidate Kent Mesplay was right in the middle and could probably tell the rest a bit about what really went on. After helping a friend pack a moving truck and get out of Del Mar, he found out on the next day that his own place was under discretionary evacuation. According to a note I received from Kent,
I found some important papers, said "goodbye" to my things and left to life with my mom in Mira Mesa...
By Wednesday evening, he was taking a 12 hour shift as Shelter Manager at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

I wonder what he is doing now with the fires still burning, since his "day job" is to monitor air quality and write up violators.

The Southeast has a drought, the Southwest has a crisis.

Just to let you know that California is not the only state where more dams are seen as the only solution, I cite the following from High Country News.
Colorado’s Cache la Poudre River tumbles 80 miles from its high-alpine headwaters in Rocky Mountain National Park down to the South Platte River on the plains below. The upper Poudre is the only designated wild and scenic river in the state – but after it exits Poudre Canyon, 90 percent of its flow is siphoned off for farmers and homeowners around Fort Collins. Now, a local water district wants to tap the remaining 10 percent to fill two new reservoirs.

Municipal planners in northern Colorado say the prospect of drought combined with a booming population (predicted to increase three-fold by 2050), leaves only one solution: more water storage, in the form of the Northern Integrated Supply Project. “This is not a case of ‘if you don’t build it, they won’t come,’ ” says Carl Brouwer, project manager. “Bottom line: More people equals the need for more water.”

I would be asking the following questions:
  • What will you do when the last 10% has been drained from the river?
  • If you would do it then, why are you NOT doing it now.?
There seems to be some built in vision of this world where water is an inexhaustible supply and all we need to do is come up with a better method of capturing and using it. Unfortunately, we do not create any new water. That has not been new water on this earth for a very long time. We may watch it, swim in it, bathe with it, drink it, channel it, fish in it, process it, but we just don't make any more of it.

We should be asking the same questions about water in California. The stakes are high. It is not a good time to be a farmer in the Delta, as the most recent proposal from our good governor would take away riparian water rights to service those who would pay more. I am told that there was much unhappiness in the recent State Senate hearings when Restore the Delta made this a point of discussion. Last minute language inserted into a bond measure authorization that was clearly intended to be hidden.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Break Through

In this time of blogs, google searches and YouTube, I am going to suggest that everyone read a book, or at least the introduction and first chapter... confident that you will then read the rest. The book is entitled Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility.

The authors, Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, had earlier published a long and pretty controversial essay entitled The Death of Environmentalism. This is an expansion of that work, but even for those who have read the book are are familiar with the controversy it raised, approach this version with an open mind. It does break new ground and, given the larger scope of a book, allows them to marshal more facts to back up their argument.

Both the essay, linked above, and the book begin with the premise that "Over the last 15 years environmental foundations and organizations have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into combating global warming. We have strikingly little to show for it."

They argue that the environmental movement does not understand its own history, that the mythology of the environmental challenge to pollution is just that, a myth devised to explain what was not properly understood. Even more persuasively, using the survey methods of the social scientist, they try to account for the reasons why impending ecological disaster is not a strong motivational force as people approach the task of voting.

Whether or not you end up agreeing with Nordhaus and Shellenberger, and I most do agree, the questions they raise must be answered by the GPCA if we are to be successful. It is clear that the Democratic Party will not respond in the manner they they would like, especially if the next election brings us a Centrist president like Hillary. They also provide a reasoned explanation as to why Republicans are more successful than Democrats in articulating their environmental viewpoint in a way that resonated with the voters.

When I first heard of this book, I checked my public library for a copy. It was not in their collection. So, I requested that they order it, citing it's importance to today's environmental battles. They did and thankfully, when it arrived, they gave me the first shot to read it.

I will continue to develop and articulate what I believe to be the fundamental strategy that must be adopted by the Green Party is we are to become effective in dealing with the raft of ecological (note I did not say environmental) problems that we face today.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Santa Barbara leads the way.

In yesterday's post I made a comment about King Coal and how that relates to any good things that our governor might try to do regarding vehicle emissions. I am not sure that Arnold is serious enough about Global Warming. I sourced that information from the web site of an organization called Architecture 2030.

Architecture 2030 just release a new story. They announced the fact that the City of Santa Barbara is taking the most far-reaching steps of any California community toward the goal of becoming carbon neutral. In fact, they have turned the Architecture 2030 recommendations into law and building code.

The following is from the Santa Barbara Daily Sound.
It was more than a year ago that renowned Santa Fe architect Ed Mazria came to the Marjorie Luke Theater in Santa Barbara and lectured on environmental building standards, lighting a fire under local architects, contractors, government leaders and community members.
Now, with approval from a state commission a pending formality, Santa Barbara stands to mark a new chapter in green building.

A glowing Santa Barbara City Council unanimously approved the Architecture 2030 Energy Ordinance today, legislation that, if approved by the California Energy Commission, will give Santa Barbara some of the most stringent environmental building standards in the state.
This raises a few questions.
  • Which California City will be the next to invite Ed Mazria to speak?
  • What other community has the courage to do what is absolutely necessary?
  • Most importantly, what are our Green Party locals doing to educate themselves and to get their communities to take steps similar to that of Santa Barbara?

Friday, October 26, 2007

How Green is Arnold?

The media likes to refer to Governor Schwarzenegger as being a "green governor" and he loves to go around talking about what California is doing to lower vehicle emissions. This is a very difficult task. There are a lot of resource robber barons who will manipulate the news. So I am glad that someone is doing something. However, I just want to give you some perspective on what it all means.

According to Architecture 2030:

There are 151 new conventional coal-fired power plants in various stages of development in the US today.

California passed legislation to cut CO2 emissions in new cars by 25% and in SUVs by 18%, starting in 2009.

If every car and SUV sold in California in 2009 met this standard...
The CO2 emissions from only one medium-sized coal-fired power plant, in just eight months of operation each year, would negate this entire effort.

So, just how Green is Arnold and how far is he really willing to go to fix this problem? Or is it too little and too late.

Nor any drop to drink

I am encouraged by the fact that the LA Greens have formally endorsed the Sustainability Principles that were put together by the California Water Impact Network. Maybe it is my own biases, but I take this as a sign that some parts of the Green Party are returning to the ecological base from which we started.

It is time that this refocusing has happened, not because it is just a pendulum swing from one focus to another, but because there is so little time to deal with it. I am no alarmist telling everyone to go watch Water World. It was not that good of a movie. But maybe it is time for some alarmist rhetoric concerning water.

There is always danger in being an alarmist. It is one quick way to lose credibility with the bad future just does not happen. Many of us lived through the controversies surrounding Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb. It did not happen as he predicted and now every alarmist position has the obvious problem of living down that history.

Still, the concerns with water are real and the alarmist views may be optimistic. We think of water and the delta as a California problem that we have to solve here. It is not. It is a global problem, as well documented in an Associated Press article by Brian Skoloff today.
An epic drought in Georgia threatens the water supply for millions. Florida doesn't have nearly enough water for its expected population boom. The Great Lakes are shrinking. Upstate New York's reservoirs have dropped to record lows. And in the West, the Sierra Nevada snowpack is melting faster each year.

Across America, the picture is critically clear — the nation's freshwater supplies can no longer quench its thirst.

The government projects that at least 36 states will face water shortages within five years because of a combination of rising temperatures, drought, population growth, urban sprawl, waste and excess.
There is no way that we can even begin to consider what to do about water unless we also consider the impact of a warming climate. The Natural Resources Defense Council has put together a survey of the Current Science on Global Warming and Western Water. The facts are pretty clear. Only those who would make a partisan issue of this predicament are going to deny what is happening. You only have to look at the web site of the Republican Caucus of the California Assembly. Assembly Republican Leader, Mike Villines, does not put a single environmental issue on his list of things to do. His only position on the water issue is to build more dams, a useless waste of money if they do not take a warming planet under consideration, yet he is willing to hold the rest of us hostage to a flawed plan.

I would hope that Greens all over this state take a look at the Sustainability Principles that I linked above. I would like to see every County Council endorse them. The connections between water, land use, wild fires and global warming define the situation that demand Green solutions. We need to find the ways to make them a reality.

Cheney Sleeps During Wildfires Meeting

Think Progress has a brief Flash Media video of a CNN report of Vice President Dick Cheney falling asleep on camera while President Bush was discussing wildfires in California. A Cheney spokeswoman told CNN that the Veep was "practicing meditation."

Dick Cheney

But hey! If it ain't about profits for oil companies and you can't fix the problem by "nuking" it, then there's no reason for "neoconservatives" to get involved.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Water Wars Continue... Politicians Hide.

We are finally beginning to see the shape of what the experts deem to be the future of water in California. The 2nd draft of A Vision for California’s Delta has been released and will be under discussion today and tomorrow in Sacramento.

Given what it is, a report put together with major input form the water agencies and not enough input form the public, it appears to me to be saying that we need to do all of the above: new dams, new underground storage, new canals, etc. It is cloaked in enough fine words that even major environmental groups are not strongly criticizing in in public... and I don't know about what they say in private.
“There’s a lot of good things in here,” said Barry Nelson, a water policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “A lot of these are issues that the agencies have been ducking for a long time.”
The Blue Ribbon Task Force will make it's recommendations by the end of November, so there is little time do much to change it, though there will be 3 rounds of public comment afterwards.

Here is a list of quick observations:
  • The current firestorms in Southern California show us exactly how dependent we are on a fragile system and how interconnected all of this is. The time to view anything as other than interconnected is long past.
  • Much of the rhetoric will frame this as a conflict between people and endangered species. This is a dangerous framing and far from the truth.
  • Water agencies will never take a stand that implies any limitation to growth or demand.
  • Neither major political party is willing to take the step of addressing the number one use of water in the State. Think "Got Milk." California agriculture is heavily invested in crops that are water intensive: cotton, alfalfa, rice. The predictions of climate change scientists are that rainfall and temperature changes will necessitate changes in agricultural practices, crop selection, etc. The time to start this is now.

The report does call for changes in the agricultural use in the Delta.
Specialized forms of agriculture that are particularly well suited to the Delta must be encouraged, such as subsidence-reversing crops, carbon-sequestering crops, and wildlife-friendly farming practices.
It fails, however, to recognize the need for making other basic changes, assuming that their job is only to deliver the water that agriculture needs. But then, Central Valley Water Districts help write the report.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

When will they ever learn

When I was growing up in Arizona, two of our political leaders were Steward Udall and Barry Goldwater. While they differed on most things, they both had a basic understanding of the relationship of man to nature. Goldwater was a conservative who understood the conservative and conservation have the same derivation.

Goldwater was a very conservative Republican. It was the Republican party of Pete McCloskey and Lincoln Chaffee (RI) both of whom have strong environmental credentials and both of whom have left the Republican Party. It is a very different Republican Party from the one that I new and the fact that McCloskey and Chaffee have both left is a sign of just how far it has changed.

Today, the California Republican Party is filled with the likes of Bill Maze and Tom McClintock. They are a different breed all together. They have none of the vision that earned McCloskey appointment as Co-Chair of the very first Earth Day.

I note today that Maze has been meeting with Inyo County Supervisors to urge their support for Schwarzeneggers $9 Billion dubious project for new dams, new canals and little gain. In Maze's view,
Unfortunately, the state’s current water storage systems are at capacity and simply cannot be relied upon to provide enough water to meet growing demand from increased population, industry and agriculture, he said. Only new dams and reservoirs and added groundwater recharge can add to the state’s water supplies.
“But some people just don’t get it.”
That is in stark contrast to the view of Dorothy Green in a recent LA Times Op Ed.
For all the doom and gloom about water in California, here's a surprising truth: California has enough water to meet its needs today and tomorrow without new dams, peripheral canals or catastrophic costs. But there is a rub. It will take political will and better management.
Maybe Maze is the one who just doesn't get it.

McClintock, on the other hand, appears not to "get it" about global warming. In a speech before the Western Conservative Political Action Conference in Newport Beach this month, McClintock leveled a blast at just about everyone. Then, he posted it on his own blog. The litany of accusations is pure Karl Rove. First he makes sure that his audience thinks of the as the "liberal elite who jet to environmental conferences in Gulfstream Fives". Then he goes after those who would not allow brush to be cut from around houses in fire prone areas but never mentions the fact that maybe we should not build in fire prone area, like Tahoe or the foothills East of San Diego.

The, he produces facts that no scientist has very verified and argues from that point.
And finally the third inconvenient question: If global warming is caused by YOUR SUV, why is it that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide always follow increases in global temperatures by several hundred years, indicating that CO2 is a byproduct of increasing temperatures – not a cause.
I would have expected as much from Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe but thought that McClintock was a bit more honest than that. I guess not.

With all of this coming from leading politicians who supposedly have the interests of their constituents at heart, it is little wonder that we find results of polls like that conducted by the Antelope Valley Press and blogged at Aquafornia.
Recently, the Antelope Valley Press did an unofficial survey, and asked its readers if they were willing to curb their water usage in order to save the smelt. The results were 26% yes, 74% no.
McClintock will leave the State Senate this year, having reached his term limit. It is not too soon. Maybe this is his attempt to maintain some relevance in the Conservative movement, he does end it with a call for a return to a past that never was.
And at that moment, we will see a new political awakening and a new political realignment in California, and before you know it, we’ll be living once again in Reagan Country.
The California Green Party has a lot to do in re-educating a public that has listened to too much Tom McClintock and Michael Savage, who has been presented with "Don" Perata as the alternative while the Don is only selling protection.

I keep coming back to the idea that the only way to work through these problems is the Green way. We need all to be speaking out, now and continuously against the likes of McClintock and his pseudo science, against the 19th Century exploitation of nature that Maze calls for. The only good thought is that with leaders like McClintock, so out of touch with reality, the California Republican Party is not likely to ever return to Reagan Country.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fire and class

I have just finished reading "Ecology of Fear - LA and the Imagination of Disaster" by Mike Davis. His first chapters are about the regular fires that devastate southern California. Indeed, some of the fires are identical to past catastrophic fires, such as in Malibu. But the point he makes so well is that there are strong class issues in how we deal with fire-fighting and in land use.

Fighting fires in rural areas is paid on a "whatever it takes" or an after the fact budget. All necessary resources are devoted to fighting fires, for instance, in the mountains above Malibu, where mostly millionaires live. Afterwards, they figure out how much it cost. And year after year, development is allowed in mountain areas known to be extremely prone to fires.

But the budgeting is the opposite in the poor areas of the cities, some only 20 miles from wealthy Malibu, such as Westlake, Mid-City and Hollywood tenements. In those areas, LA County sets a fixed budget in advance. Where there are lots of fire-prone shoddy apartment buildings, the fire department often cannot even get there in time to save lives. They rarely have time to do fire inspections, and follow up with landlords to make sure required improvements are made. The occasional inspection will find fire doors nailed shut and smoke alarms don't work, but the landlords rarely get forced to do what the law requires. As a result, when fires do break out, many people die horrible deaths.

Now, I am very sympathetic to the current victims of the fires raging across southern California. I know people who are evacuated, and I know people who are fighting the fires right now. So I am bringing up these issues to add to our sensitivity, not to take away from it. If it were up to me, firefighting budgets would be shared more equitably between the poor residents of Westlake and the wealthy folks in the hills above Malibu. And more importantly, I would declare vast areas to be no longer protected by heroic firefighting efforts, or insurance compensation after the fact. There are vast hilly areas that simply should not be allowed to be developed as they have been. We need to stop subsidizing their idiotic development, or periodic reconstruction.

+Orval Osborne

The troble with Los Angeles

We all know that Los Angeles has many problems and it is hard for a Green not to read a blog entry with that title. But I had a different introduction to James Hrynyshyn's post at Island of Doubt. Hrynyshyn is another blogger at and offers his localized take on Jon Gertner's NY Times Magazine story that Alex posted a few days ago.

Hrynyshyn is pretty blunt about the scope of the problem that we face.
That's [Jon Gertner's use of the word Armageddon] perhaps a bit too strong a metaphor , but conflict between farms, cities and industry for dwindling water supplies is certain to grow, and if trends continue, it won't be restricted to the courtroom.
He is also just as direct when it comes to defining what we have to do in this case.
How are we going to get around the pending and current water crunches? Gertner writes of schemes like desalination plants on the west coast paid for my interior cities, which are then rewarded with larger shares of river water. But those are only stop-gap measures. Long-term solutions will require massive lifestyle changes or massive investment in dubious mega-engineering projects.
It is just those "mega-engineering projects" that Hrynyshyn finds to be dubious that form the basis of Schwarzenegger's plans for the California Delta They are also the essence of what I found in the Will Durst ad that I critiqued yesterday.

As Southern California fights through the most massive outbreak of wild fires that they have ever experienced this week, we have to consider what would happen if the firemen came, hooked up their hoses and there was no water.

These things a closely linked. Global warming, water, fire are all part of the ecological future that we have defined for ourselves. This is a situation for which only a deep ecology green solution makes any sense. It can be the driving force for the life-style changes that do not come from the threat of peak oil.

Los Angeles Greens are in a position to lead the way here and have begun to take the sort of actions that are required. I strongly encourage them to follow up on this now, to not let up on the pressure. They have taken the lead in the fight to impeach Bush and Cheney. I hope that they take the lead in this fight as well.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Worst of Will Durst

Up here is Northern California we had gotten used to the political gab fest that was the Will and Willie show, with Dust and Willie Brown. Some even got to thinking that Durst was a progressive.

However, he has now shown himself for what he is, a read the line for a fee advertising hack. Listen (mp3) to this commercial that he did for the California Alliance for Jobs. Durst show absolutely no understanding of what the real issues are behind the water problems that we have in California now and only offers the standard formulaic comments about building a lot of new things with a lot of union labor. This time, the Republicans will be applauding.

I sent him an email that told him to talk to Restore the Delta and learn the truth before he does another commercial. I would encourage the rest of you to do the same.

Sometimes, the unions do the right thing. Other times, they take stupid positions just to gain the power from more union jobs. This is one of the latter.

Friday, October 19, 2007

LA Water News - Green speaks at Green Party

The Los Angeles Greens were privileged to host Dorothy Green, founder of Heal The Bay, at their monthly meeting last Wednesday, October 17. Ms. Green provided us with an eloquent overview of California's complicated, sordid history with water. From the dikes in the San Joaquin river delta near Sacramento to the vast aqueducts that diverted water hundreds of miles away to the L.A. basin, Ms. Green painted a portrait of water managed with mostly greed and short-term benefits in mind.

The results have often been devastating. The San Joaquin River used to host a sizable salmon run, but that run has been severely depleted, due in part to how the water was mismanaged. Agribusiness uses the biggest single percentage of our fresh water, and its four main crops -- cotton, alfalfa, rice, and irrigated pasture -- are not efficient, with either our water or our money, as they require subsidies to make them competitive in the global marketplace.

Ms. Green also observed that the storm drainage system in Los Angeles may be an engineering marvel, but it ends up taking away rainwater that would otherwise filter through the soil and into the ground water table. This runs counter to natural processes that could provide us with more clean drinking water.

Ms. Green treated us to a lengthy question and answer session, wherein she explained, among other things, the connection between energy use and water use; the sad state of the Salton Sea, the worst water accident in California; the myth of bottled water being healthier than tap water (it's often the same thing!); and how you can get involved in water management by running for posts in water management districts.

The L.A. Greens gained a lot of insight from Ms. Green, not least of which was learning that the term "blackwater" is not only the name of a mercenary-for-hire company, but also another word for water contaminated with sewage. Kind of explains a lot.

Derek Iversen

I am very grateful to Derek for this report. I added many links to further educate those who want to learn more. If you don't ready any other, read the opinion piece from the Atlanta Journal Constitution linked from "short-term benefits" above. It may be from Georgia, but it does mention the delta.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

It is not just the pumps killing fish.

The most recent newsletter from Restore the Delta (not yet online) presents an interesting picture of what is really happening in the delta. Bold emphasis by me.
With that said, our friend and supporter, Bill Maxwell, who lives on Smith Canal sent us a disturbing series of pictures last week. After the first rain each autumn, the fish in their part of the Delta die. We have no commentary to add, as these pictures speak to us directly as to what is wrong with the Delta. But, as one child of Restore the Delta staff asked, “Will there by any fish left?”

There is a lot going on here and we have to look at everything, including agricultural practices that allow toxic runoff into the rivers and canals from which we, as well as the fish, get our water. Keep track of this and read the entire report as soon as it is up.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Update on the water issues

When I want to know the latest with a political spin, I always check with Hank Shaw, Capital Bureau Chief for the Stockton Record. According to Hank's Blog tonight...
The Water Bond is Dead! Long Live the Water Bond! Well, maybe not, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he's still trying to avoid "dueling initiatives" in the November 2008 ballot. February looks unlikely at this point, because the two sides would have to come to a deal in a few weeks (they're not even talking now) and then put that deal on a supplemental ballot.
That is good news and bad new. The bad news is that politics (as usual) in Sacramento has gotten in the way of taking actions to begin fixing our water problems. The good news is that we have a little more time to do it right...but I have little faith that they will.

Dan Bacher is the editor of the Fish Sniffer. He is also an adviser to Restore the Delta. Bacher forward the latest Delta Flows Newsletter from Restore the Delta with the following as part of his "introduction".
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the "Fish Terminator," is pushing amendments to Senator Don Perata's water bond proposal that would authorize the construction of a peripheral canal to divert fresh water from the California Delta to water developers and agribusiness. Schwarzenegger's proposal would also strip the Delta of "Area of Origin" water user rights, opening Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta water to increasing exports.
It this is going to happen, then we may be in for the most vicious water fight in our history since the historic 1888 agreement between Henry Miller and James Haggin. That led to some of the worst political corruption in our state's history and this time it could be just the same.

Meanwhile, Dorothy Green from the California Water Impact Network and founder of Heal the Bay is speaking tonight at a Los Angeles Green Party local meeting. I hope to get a report on that for tomorrow.

NY Times Tom Friedman on Oakland 'Green for All'

Some believe that "truth" is only what they read by a big-name journalist in The New York Times. Very well. Now comes a gushing piece by, of all people, the "liberal" hawk, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times about "green" projects in inner-city Oakland, California:

"The Green-Collar Solution" by Thomas Friedman, New York Times, October 17, 2007.

Van Jones of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland is an environmental activist whose views on the "Green" question in poor communities of color are very close to my own.

The idea of the "Green for All" campaign ( is to get federal, state, and local governments to allocate money to train 30,000 young people a year in green trades.

"If we can get these youth in on the ground floor of the solar industry now, where they can be installers today, they'll become managers in five years and owners in 10. And then they become inventors," said Mr. Jones. "The green economy has the power to deliver new sources of work, wealth and health to low-income people - while honoring the Earth. If you can do that, you just wiped out a whole bunch of problems. We can make what is good for poor black kids good for the polar bears and good for the country."
Read More on My Blog at:

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Death of Environmentalism

One of the more important "green" statements in the last few years was the widely distributed, often attacked publication, The Death of Environmentalism by Michael Schellenberger and Ted Nordhaus. It made the point that the old practices of the environmental movement, confrontation and legal action, had run their course and that new techniques, net methods of activism were required.

I would argue that something very different is going on. The Environmental Movement is no longer such an outside thing that it only has to rely on such tactics as Schellenberger and Nordhas decry. Rather, we have gotten to the point where everyone realizes that the environmental impact needs to be a part of every decision, no matter how small, and it is being judged as not being important enough to be the major criteria for making decisions.

I understood from an email this morning that the Green Party is considering to disband the short lived Eco-Action Committee. I had similar thoughts and it should be considered, if nor no other reason that to re-justify is existence and re-focus its energy. For some, this is enough of a blunder that they are ready to leave the Green Party. I find it ironic that this happens in the very week when the opponents of Global Warming, or Climate Change if you prefer, have been honored with the Nobel Peace Prize.

I have sent an email to some of GPCA's national delegates. I did not get to them all. In that email I argued that the committee should not be disbanded, but rather provided with new leadership. When the leadership (CoCo) of a Committee does not want to do what the activist members of the committee think is important, it is a recipe for failure. Yet, time and again this is what is happening.

In the case of the Eco-Action Committee, this became a concern that by making statements regarding ecological policy and practices, the committee was over stepping its authority and infringing on the prerogative of the platform committee. Since one CoCo, Mike Ewall, is involved in both we devolved into a bureaucratic morass from which nothing emerged and the leading activists left. I did myself to spend more time focusing on the issues of water in CA rather than try to combat the party bureaucracy.

The issue was clearly stated by Mike:
I've heard plenty of ideas from people who want to write position papers and make everyone in the party adhere to them, or from those who feel that the world or mass media will care if a national committee of the GPUS takes a position on something. Honestly, I don't have the time to waste on such efforts and I've been hoping that something more productive might come out of this committee.
Mike, to his credit, offered to step aside as CoCo. I hope that someone takes him up on that. However, in response to this comment, one of the other members replied:
Dear Mike,
This is the end of the "Green" party. A bunch of extremely selfish, egotistical, politically brain dead idiots that shoot themselves in the foot even more than GWBush.
I obviously do not agree that this is the end of the "Green" party. There is a lot that is going on, but we are losing the identity that comes with having the word "Green" in our name and I am not sure that anything is going to change. Environmental action is not a driving force in the decision making in our leadership. It may be assumed. But that is allowing another party to adopt the mantle of being the "green" party, albeit a corporate green party.

I would ask our California Delegates not to vote to disband the Eco-Action Committee but rather to provide it with new leadership.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Atlanta Has a 3 Month Water Supply!


So you think global warming and the California water crisis is a big hype? You think "This is America" and in the good 'ole USA "Our Leaders" would never let us just slide into a catastrophe. Right?

Think again. The link below is from a recommended Diary over on The Daily Kos: Atlanta has a 3 month water supply!

According to an article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Metro Atlanta has gotten less than 25 inches of rain this year when it normally receives 50 inches of rain annually. Lake Lanier, metro Atlanta's main source of water, has about three months of storage left!
That's three months before there's not enough water for more than 3 million metro Atlantans to take showers, flush their toilets and cook. Three months before there's not enough water in parts of the Chattahoochee River for power plants to generate electricity. Three months before part of the river runs dry.

The other amazing thing is that this is not a big national front-page story. Think the world is going to hell over oil? If people start fighting over water we ain't seen nothing yet.

Event: Dorothy Green of 'Heal The Bay' in L.A.

The Los Angeles Greens will feature guest speaker, Dorothy Green, founder of Heal the Bay. Four years ago she launched the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), whose goal is to move our state toward a sustainable water future.

Wednesday, October 17, 7pm
Peace Center, 8124 W. Third Street, Los Angeles
Free, donations accepted.

* * * UPDATE * * *
Posted by the New York Times, October 15, 2007
Drought-Stricken South Facing Tough Choices
by Brenda Goodman

For the first time in more than 100 years, much of the Southeast has reached the most severe category of drought, climatologists said Monday, creating an emergency so serious that some cities are just months away from running out of water.

In North Carolina, Gov. Michael F. Easley asked residents Monday to stop using water for any purpose “not essential to public health and safety.” He warned that he would soon have to declare a state of emergency if voluntary efforts fell short.

. . .

In the Atlanta metropolitan area, which has more than four million people, worst-case analyses show that the city’s main source of water, Lake Lanier, could be drained dry in 90 to 121 days.

. . .

“In the West, people expect that it’s dry, and you’re going to have drought situations,” said Michael J. Hayes, director of the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “In the Southeast, people think of it as being wet, and I think that mindset makes it tougher to identify worst-case scenarios and plan to that level.”

“Here’s the fly in the ointment,” Mr. Hayes added. “The vulnerability in the Southeast has changed. Population shifts, increased competition and demand for water has increased, so that’s made this drought worse than it might have been.”

Think the world is going to hell over oil? You ain't seen nothing yet, baby.

Dark Age Ahead?

Once in a while you get fragments of ideas, images that are not quite clear, threads that seem to weave themselves into a tapestry that may or may not make sense. When that happens, I try to write it down to see if it still makes sense. That is what I am doing right now. So bear with me, this may be too long but I think that these glimpses of a possible future are somewhat frightening.

When I chose a college, it was a "small Christian College" called the University of Redlands. What I learned there was that I had little admiration for those who proclaimed the truth and a great deal of admiration for those who were searching for the truth. Maybe it was the thread of existential angst that ran through that era.

That is probably why I reacted positively to the discussion on Bill Moyers Journal last night with Anouar Majid. Majid is the author of a new book entitled A Call for Heresy: Why Dissent is Vital to Islam and America.
BILL MOYERS: You are saying that an election is not necessarily the measure of democracy or freedom. That it is the extent to which the society permits, if I may, heresy, dissent?

ANOUAR MAJID: Yes. People who cannot live comfortably with differences always have a tendency to slide into tyranny. That's why we have to maintain robust differences within any-- every society-- any society to continue to prevent those practices from ever taking root. Or at least of becoming dominant in those particular societies. Differences are crucial to the emancipation of the mind. And as Adam Smith and other of his contemporary said-- "To a happy life." I mean, there's nothing better than a conversation.
This is a very important point in light of the Pew Charitable Trust Report that asserts that the World Publics Welcome Global Trade – But Not Immigration To close the door to immigration is to shut down one of the paths by which we maintain robust differences in our society.

We in California tend to think of immigration as a US problem with Mexico. The Pew study shows that it is not. This fact is underscored by the report from Current TV on Immigrants and Skinheads in Russia. This report, along with comments from Diane Sawyer, was featured on both Nightline and Good Morning America thus breaking through to MSM, or at least part of it. Watch the report. It is frightening in that this could not happen in Russia on the scale that it is without at least a nod and a wink from the Kremlin. Orthodoxy reasserting itself.

Are we that far from this in America? How much difference is there between the skinheads in Russia and the Minutemen? How close are we to the Islamic orthodoxy of Wahhabism and the smug media use by an Ann Coulter who wants to "perfect" Jews.

I took that title of this from the last book by Jane Jacobs. In Dark Age Ahead she warns a culture that gives lip service to valuing science but has not developed the scientific habit of mind to question and then seek answers. Too often we fall back to the orthodoxy of the past rather than looking at the evidence right in front of us. We fail to ask the right questions. Majib warns Moyers about that.
If we do not have dissent, if we do not have heretics among us, if we do not cultivate these habits of mind, in other word to think creatively and imaginatively and so on we're gonna remain doomed.

The Green Party is nothing if it is not a home for heretics, for those who will question orthodoxy, including the orthodoxy of our own narrative.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Robert Scheer Debates Ralph Nader

Truthdig Editor Robert Scheer goes head to head with progressive icon Ralph Nader, who denies the charge that he has been a spoiler and challenges the value of the Democratic Party.

This is a good debate. Click to hear the audio podcast:

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Well, we finally had some in Northern / Central California. However, that is not the reason I bring it up. The current water wars are keeping Sacramento all astir, if not all of the media.

Blogger Wu Ming has posted an intriguing essay on rain and water at the progressive blog Calitics.
I am not an idealist here; we cannot go back to the status quo ante, not with everything that has been built, not with all the people who now depend upon that infrastructure's maintenance. But we can at least admit that our insecurity with regard to the weather - putting aside for a moment the even greater threat of human-created climate change and its consequences for our civilization and ecosystem - is in large part a dilemma of our own making. We froze the landscape, we diverted the rivers, we remade the very lay of the land in service of the settling of California; and yet imperfectly, as the erratic swing of flood and drought reminds us, humbles us, from time to time.
Go read the whole thing, it is a short time well spent. In fact, Stockton Record Columnist Mike Fitzgerald called it "Amazing: a fresh take on the water crisis".

LA City Greens have Dorothy Green of California Water Impact Network (Cal-WIN) as the speaker at their next meeting (10/17). Even if you are not from LA, if you are in the area, go.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Today, while looking for something else, I ran across the links to three parts of a four part series on Hip-Hop and the Corporate Music Industry. This is of prime importance for Greens because we have three candidates for the Green Part presidential nomination who are part of the African American community from which hip-hop came: Jared Ball, Elaine Brown and Cynthia McKinney. This series was developed by Dr. Jared Ball, one of those candidates and uses Hip-Hop to explore more fundamental issues. (Bold emphais is my doing.)
Given the societal need and function of mass media and popular culture, all that is popular is fraudulent. Popularity is in almost every case an intentionally constructed fabrication of what it claims to represent. Too few who comment on the lamentable condition of today’s popular hip-hop seem to grasp this, the political nature of the nation’s media system, nor the political function that system serves. Hip-hop is often taken out of the existing context of political struggle, repression, or the primacy of a domestic/neo-colonialism in the service of which mass media play a (the?) leading role. Media, often incorrectly defined by their technologies, are the primary conduits of ideology or worldview and must be seen as such. Therefore, their highly consolidated ownership and content management structure (corporate interlocking boards of directors, advertisers, stockholders, etc.) cannot be understood absent their ability to disseminate a consciousness they themselves sanction and mass produce. Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrable than in hip-hop.
I have seen a lot of commentary about hip-hop and rap on programs like Oprah. Much of this is about the denigration of women.

I think that we need to sort through this. Dr. Ball is saying that the popular, mass producd cultue is not the true hip-hop. He also says on his web site that he has plans to use hip-hop as one tool to help build the Green Party.
To that end we are developing a campaign which seeks to break convention by centering attention and focus on culture, those most oppressed and those who have long since given up on the vote and are looking for a new politics and new organizations. We are working with “the mayor of DC hip-hop” Head-Roc and others to provide a hip-hop and progressive artist tour which will reach out to the Indigenous, Black, Latino and poor communities who will help us develop new bases of support for the Green Party.
I think that we need all the help we can get. The Greens I know are all older, white, not connected at all to the culture that younger people inhabit. My idea of "cool" was Miles or Mulligan and avant-garde was Ornette Coleman. I rather think that Jared has the right idea here and that we need to do this whether or not Jared is the nominee.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Policies and positioning for presidential candidates

As we consider the choice of Green Party presidential candidates, it appears to me that two things are happening. Like all of the other parties, the decision seems to be coming down to the issue of electability and causes many Greens to look outside the party for a "name" to carry the Green Flag. The names most mentioned are Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney. Both have been designated to be placed on the ballot for the presidential nomination by the General Assembly of the Green Party of California.

Both feel that they have to deal with the inevitability of the "spoiler myth." Whether on a web site or on radio, it will always come up.

However, if we start by looking at the positions taken by various candidates on significant policy issue, like energy, we would come to the conclusion that others are more prepared than either of these name candidates. As in yesterday's post I called attention to Jared Ball for his recognition of the need to reach an urban population of color, I would call attention today to Kent Mesplay.

Mesplay is the only one of the candidates for the Green Party nomination that has bothered to think through and articulate an energy policy. There is an environmental aspect of being green that has all but disappeared from the progressive agenda. If you look at the issues that are being articulated by McKinney, for example, you won't find any mention of environmental justice, of energy, of climate change and its affects on agricultural policy.

I look at Hillary's set of issues. She also has a fully articulated science policy. Mesplay gives is some attention.
I want an improved political process that allows good candidates to run so that we have public officials who treat science with respect and who actually work to make us more secure rather than catering to their favorite businesses.

There is a list of issues on which all of the candidates take position that are generally considered "progressive." They include support for ending the war in Iraq, affordable health care for all and sound very much like Bill Richardson. In addition, they all talk of the need for electoral reform so that we may never have to deal the the spoiler issue again.

If you take away the question of name recognition and look at candidates based on whether or not they truly represent the values of this party, I would certainly recommend nominating Kent Mesplay and Jared Ball. However, national name recognition is likely to carry the day in the Green Party just as there is little doubt that Hillary's name will carry the day for the Democrats.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Boxer plays politics with the farm bill

For some reason, Sen. Barbara Boxer is beginning to sound like Richard Pombo when talking about the Farm Bill of 2007. It looks as if she thinks it is necessary to win over the California Farm Bureau for the Democrats just to stay in office. I have news for Sen. Boxer. It isn't going to happen.

The Center for Rural Affairs, based in Nebraska, makes a case for this bi-partisan farm bill that everyone should pay attention to. We squander a lot of money on irrational farm subsidies each year and I am not talking about a few family farmers. The biggest share of that money goes to the large corporate farms.

Boxer and the California Democratic Party care nothing for the family farm. They care nothing for the middle class, for the small town business that is getting squeezed in to bankruptcy by the power that corporate America has over our government.

The following is an update from the Center for Rural Affairs that I received just this afternoon. Please read it. Then, we need to let the family farm owners understand that there is only one party that hears what they say and that party's color is Green.

In August, we asked you to contact Senator Barbara Boxer in support of strong payment limits. Despite the efforts of many Californians, Senator Boxer continues to publicly oppose this common-sense, bipartisan reform. Senator Dianne Feinstein has not publicly announced her position on payment limits. Soon the Senate will vote on the 2007 Farm Bill.

Act Today!California's Senators need to hear from Californians who support farm programs that work for all of California, not farm programs that provide an unfair advantage to a few mega-farms. How your Senators vote will have decisive influence over the future of rural America.

On the key issues of Farm Bill subsidy reform, your Senators have a choice. They can support a Farm Bill that finally closes the loopholes and ends million-dollar payments to the nation's largest farms, or they can stand by while others push for a status-quo bill that will continue the unlimited payments that subsidize the destruction of family farms and rural communities.

Your Senators need to hear that you want them to support a farm bill that closes the loopholes and places a strict limit on farm program payments.

Rather then supporting corporate agri-businesses interests, the Farm Bill should support family farmers, ranchers and rural communities. By acting today, you can tell your Senators that the Farm Bill should support the values of hard work, fairness and genuine economic opportunity. It should not provide the largest farms in the country with money to drive their family farm neighbors out of business.

Powerful interests are pressuring your Senators to pass another status-quo bill that continues the unlimited payments. By taking action today, you can fight back.

Use this link to take action online today.

Thank you for taking action. You can follow the unfolding debate at our Blog for Rural America, and in the coming weeks we will let you know when you can make a difference by writing again.

Creativiy and Community

I've been doing some varied reading over the past several weeks and, though it was not intentional, I find that some of the same threads keep coming together in a way that makes me wonder about the books I selected, both now and in the past.

If I go back a few years, I remember going to hear Dr. Richard Florida speak about his book, The Rise of the Creative Class. Florida's thesis is that the communities who thrive, who ultimately "win" in economic competitions are the same communities that have a well developed community of creative people: artists, musicians, thinkers, scientists. These are all people who do not automatically conform to the structures of suburban bliss and are more accustomed to doing things in their own way. Of course, Florida has turned this into a consulting business.

I only reference that because I see a reflection of that idea in a Brooklyn (NY) based blog, Atlantic Yards Report. Blogger Norman Oder attended a panel discussion on the subject "Is NY losing is soul?" and gave us an informative recap.
Where's the soul?

Tocci suggested the city’s soul is made of artists and small businesses, and from her perch as president and group publisher at TONY, she sees a growing amount of anger about affordability. Darren Walker, a VP of the Rockefeller Foundation (the major funder of the exhibit and, a half-century ago, of Jacobs), noted the city’s growing inequality and unprecedented decline in its African-American population.
This panel was connected with an exhibit entitled Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York.
Jacobs was an urbanist best known for here landmark 1961 book Death and Life of Great American Cities. Throughout the Wikipedia article on Jacobs, you read the theme that she hated expressways and loved neighborhoods. Then, it is not surprising that I read the following in her last (2006) book, Dark Age Ahead. which I am reading now.
Not TV or illegal drugs but the automobile has been the chief destroyer of American communities. Highways and roads obliterate the places they are supposed to serve, as for example highways feeding the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge wiped out most of the formerly large Bay Ridge community in Brooklyn. (Is this so different from West Oakland today?)
Through this there are a couple of themes emerging. One is that creativity needs communities, at least no more expensive than middle class can afford. So, the load falls unevenly on different segments of our population. As Walker suggested above, it is urban populations of color that are in decline.

In a post at Green Commons today, I discussed the effect that undeclared big name candidates were having on the Green Party Presidential nomination. The focus was on Cynthia McKinney as her status seems to change with the group that she is addressing.

I would like to turn some of our attention to Jared Ball's candidacy, as it appears to me that he is addressing some of the issues raised by Jacobs, and Darren Walker.
It is time to build a genuine populist party, one built on the proper politics of those who, like Kwame Ture once made clear, are no longer willing to accept the lesser of evil because, “we will not vote for evil, period.”

To that end we are developing a campaign which seeks to break convention by centering attention and focus on culture, those most oppressed and those who have long since given up on the vote and are looking for a new politics and new organizations. We are working with “the mayor of DC hip-hop” Head-Roc and others to provide a hip-hop and progressive artist tour which will reach out to the Indigenous, Black, Latino and poor communities who will help us develop new bases of support for the Green Party.

It appears to me that Jared would have been very comfortable sitting down with Jane Jacobs and that is a plus. It is obvious that he understands the connection between creative artists and community and that is another plus.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Racism and Sexism in Los Angeles Fire Department

Sexism and Racism at Los Angeles Fire Department

Clarence Thomas' old agency, the Federal Equal Opportunity Commission, watered-down, defunded, and packed with "moderates," accuses the Los Angeles Fire Department of subjecting African-American and female firefighters to a "pattern and practice" of discrimination, harassment and retaliation( "Federal officials find discrimination at L.A. Fire Department," Los Angeles Times, October 3 2007).

We know how this will "play" in the sandbox of our sacred, inviolate, divinely-inspired two-party system.

First, Republican Party conservatives will condemn "political correctness," preach a sermon about "hard work" and recommend "those people" be grateful for 3rd class citizenship of The Great Empire.

Then, Democratic Party liberals, the ones who have actually been running Los Angeles, will condemn "insensitivity," preach a little sermon about "diversity" and assure Blacks like me that having Douglas Barry as "the first Black" fire chief will fix everything (like having "the first Black" school superintendent and "the first Black" police chief).

In my neighborhood Black newspapers, like the Los Angeles Sentinel, will condemn "racism," preach a little sermon about "Nguzo Saba" -- the Seven Principles of Blackness, and warn that without "Umoja" - unity - the Republican conservative gang will take over.

Democrats will get 85% of the inner-city vote. Republicans will get 75% of the suburban vote.

Nothing will change.

Read More on Green Commons:

Water Wars

With the first hearings on the California Water Crisis scheduled on Thursday in Sacramento, there is precious little time to take any action. At least newspapers and television stations are beginning to give this issue some coverage. You should find it interesting to read the commentary from two papers that I have not referenced before. One is the Fresno Bee and the other is the Ventura County Star. Their viewpoints differ as just as their geography does. The Fresno Bee puts the emphasis on dams, as the ones proposed by Schwarzenegger would directly support the agricultural interests of the San Joaquin Valley.
Q: Does the state need more dams?

A: Depends on whom you ask. Farmers, developers and some municipal leaders say that dams are the best way to increase the state's water supply. Water that now flows to the ocean could be captured to serve the state's growing population. Supporters also tout other benefits, such as protecting communities from flooding and stabilizing river flows to aid fish.

Environmentalists say dams are too expensive and take too long to build -- more than a decade in most cases. Because most of the good sites have been taken, new reservoirs might only fill up in really wet years, they say. They also note that studies on proposed dams haven't been completed. Also, dams would impede the natural flow of rivers, harming surrounding habitat that relies on rivers changing course every so often, opponents say.
On the other hand, the Ventura County Star, while writing about dams, places the focus on local urban needs and local action.
Kendall [general manager of the Calleguas Municipal Water District in Thousand Oaks] said Ventura County officials are not anticipating an increase in state water supplies any time soon. "We're preparing to work with what we have," he said.

His Calleguas district, which supplies imported water to Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Moorpark, Camarillo, Oxnard and Port Hueneme, has taken such steps as developing large underground storage capacity and facilitating projects to desalinate brackish groundwater.

Thanks largely to underground storage in Los Posas Basin, the district has about 100,000 acre-feet of water stored, or about a year's supply for the 600,000 people it serves
It is interesting that the Fresno Bee ignores the position of the So Cal Metropolitan Water District, the largest urban water supplier. The Ventura County Star defines that for their readers.
Advocates of the delta-first approach have an important, and somewhat surprising, urban ally: the Metropolitan Water District, which supplies water to 18 million Southern Californians.

The district has made delta restoration its No. 1 priority, and the head of the agency that distributes imported water in Ventura County says addressing environmental problems in the delta is more urgent than building new dams.
This is a different line than that which I quoted just a few weeks ago. I can not conceive any solution for the Water Crisis that does not begin with fixing the delta. The Delta is the Hub of California's Future. Were it to fail, then all the dams in the Sierra's would amount to not much. Schwarzenegger is wrong and we owe it to the future to get this across.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Researchers Question New Dams

Thanks to Aquafornia, I found a link to an article in the California Farmer and through that to a provocative research paper: "Directed Connectivity Among Fish Populations in a Riverine Network," published in the online issue of Journal of Applied Ecology.

The major point is that Schwarzenegger's plans for new dams as part of his response to the California Water Crisis, just may be part of a continuing reduction of fish populations, first in the rivers and later in the ocean fisheries.

Remember, the hearings on the dueling proposals to solve this problem start Thursday, Oct. 4. If you have not taken action, I urge you to call your state legislators and demand action for a sustainable future following the guidelines I posted previously here and here.

Ultimate Rovian Irony

When Karl Rove helped his public face, George W. Bush, take office in 2000, it was all part of a plan to establish the Republican Supremacy. The goal was to build a foundation that could not be beaten. The ultimate irony is that the policies and practices of this administration has led to what may be the dismantling of the Republican Party as we know it. It may survive in name but it's fundamental character will inevitably be changed.

The reasons for failure go deep, but the strategy was fundamentally flawed as it depended on keeping two constituencies happy that had little to do with each other. One is the so-callled religious right. Based on the moral precepts of fundamentalist Christianity, this movement puts a high priority on what they consider to be family values: abortion is a sin, homosexuality is a sin, etc. The other group was the business conservatives that historically have been the bulwark of the Republican Party and the source of much of it's funding. Sometimes carried to excess as in the administration of Calvin Collidge, at times very successful as in the New York of Nelson Rockefeller, this is the wing of the Republican Party that was it's most common presence in the Senate.

Now, both of these wings appear to be looking for something else. Writing in today's Wall Street Journal, Jackie Chalmes argues that the "GOP Is Losing Grip On Core Business Vote".
New evidence suggests a potentially historic shift in the Republican Party's identity -- what strategists call its "brand." The votes of many disgruntled fiscal conservatives and other lapsed Republicans are now up for grabs, which could alter U.S. politics in the 2008 elections and beyond.
This has a unique resonance for California, where this split is very evident.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has lost some Republican Party support because of his socially liberal stands and his proposals on global warming and universal health care. But those stands have made him more popular generally in the state, while his party is less so. Last month, at the state Republicans' convention, he sounded an alarm. Noting that California Republicans have lost 370,000 registered voters since 2005, the former actor said, "We are dying at the box office." The voters that Republicans need, Mr. Schwarzenegger argued, "often hold conservative views on fiscal policy and law-and-order issues, while taking more liberal stands on social and environmental issues."
At the same time, the Religious Right is trying to make it's presence even more forceful in the Republican Presidential Race. Writing in Salon, Michael Scherer reports that
"A powerful group of conservative Christian leaders decided Saturday at a private meeting in Salt Lake City to consider supporting a third-party candidate for president if a pro-choice nominee like Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination."
The combination of these two recent stories suggests that we are seeing the beginning of a long period of one party rule, just as Rove desired, except that the one party will be the Democrats.

As this plays out, there is both an opportunity for the Green Party and also a danger. The opportunity is in the potential to grow this party by attracting Republicans who care about the environment, who would like to see small local businesses prosper, who understand that social justice is not available to any if it is not available to all. The danger is that the Green Party chooses to ignore some of it's core values and to position itself so far to the left of the Democrats that we confine ourselves to a perpetual fringe status, a noise factor to remind everyone of just how sensible the corporate Democrats are.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Global Warming and a looming food crisis

I never hear the progressive left speak of global warming as an issue of social justice. It is generally posed as an ecological issue and almost always with alarmist overtones. A new series of papers from the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization treats it as an issue of Social Justice. The study, Climate-Change Challenge for the Poor, comes in two part. In Part I, Chandrashekhar Dasgupta makes the case that "All nations have a responsibility to strive for lifestyles that are sustainable." In Part II, Mira Kamdar warns us of the consequences of non-action.
Increased consumption by rich and newly rich nations combined with effects of climate change set the stage for a global food crisis. Decreased supplies of world dietary staples like wheat, corn and rice have already increased prices significantly this year, and a few nervous governments brace for possible social unrest by hungry citizens.
While these two papers focus on the poor of developing countries, we also need to start thinking about the poor in our own country. Given that the policies of the current and about to be extended political dynasties, Bush and Clinton, have been destroying the middle class in America and creating a growing underclass in in it's place, there is an opening here for truly Green politics.

There is nothing sustainable when we start trying to base future hopes for "freedom from imported oil" on corn based ethanol production. We have already seen some of the consequences of such folly, as the combination of drought and ethanol production in Minnesota have made water a scare commodity in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. We have seen how it drives up the cost of dairy products. We have seen that it has distorted the markets for natural gas as that is the source for the nitrogen fertilizers required to grow such massive quantities of corn. We have seen how the heavy use of such fertilizers in the corn belt have helped create a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico and destroyed the mangrove wetlands that once gave New Orleans protection from hurricane storm surges.

Battling Global Warming is about a lot more than changing the light bulbs in your home or driving a hybrid. It demands political leadership of a new kind. That leadership will only come from the Green Party and it needs to begin now.

New connections

I have added a new link to the blogroll list (right side menu). This is to a site called "the daily green." Note, there are no capital letters. This is a site about green living, with only a few political stories. However, one of these today proclaims that Global Warming is a Primary Issue for 40% of U.S. Presidential Voters.
“One of the most surprising findings was the growing sense of urgency,” Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change and the study’s principal investigator, said in a statement made available to the press. “Nearly half of Americans now believe that global warming is either already having dangerous impacts on people around the world or will in the next 10 years — a 20-percentage-point increase since 2004. These results indicate a sea change in public opinion.
This story should be of interest to all who are thinking about being a candidate in 2008. Is a factual (not alarmist) approach to this subject a winning approach in local elections? After all, most of the real, fundamental changes that are required will happen in local communities.

the daily green is also now hosting one of the bloggers whom I read every day, Chis Mooney. At the daily green, he is known as the Storm Pundit.