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DRY, MOSTLY SUNNY AND HOT conditions will persist through the week ahead across inland northwest California. Persistent marine layer clouds and fog will keep coastal areas seasonably cooler with only some limited afternoon sunshine. There is a small chance for thunderstorms across portions of the interior later Tuesday into Wednesday. (NWS)
AV’S MEADOW FIRE CREW
Here’s some of our crew in a moment of down time on Tuesday’s Meadow Fire, wolfing down some dinner before getting back to work.
We had a great response from AVFD. Combined with the lucky circumstances that Cal Fire air and ground resources were uncommitted, and that a Cal Fire strike team was returning to the county as the incident was dispatched, forward progress was stopped before the fire could get a foothold in the difficult terrain.
Thanks very much to the AVFD firefighters who put their lives on hold from the time of dispatch at noon until nearly midnight - and several overnight! And thanks to our first responders who backfilled the ambulance and rescue to make sure that Anderson Valley would be served in the event of a second incident.
- Engine 7471 - Boonville - Josh Mathias, BC Clay Eubank, Fred Ehnow
- Water Tender 7491 - Boonville
- Day One - BC Angela DeWitt, Ximena Flores
- Night One - Kyle Clark BC - Clay Eubank
- Day Two - Paul Lasicki, Captain Ben Glaus
- Engine 7484 - Yorkville - Sam Mailliard, Mike Zaugg
- Engine 7477 - Holmes Ranch, BC Ben Glaus, Ulysses Keevan-Lynch
- Engine 7468 – Philo, Don Gowan
- Engine 7463 – Navarro, Paul Lasicki
- 7400 - Yorkville - Chief Andres Avila
- Water Tender 7499 - Rancho Navarro - Don Graves
- Water Tender 7498 - Philo - Kyle Clark
- Water Tender 7495 - Fish Rock - Sarah McCarter
- Rescue Coverage in Boonville - Fal Allen, Ondrea Rosen
- Ambulance Coverage - Antoinette Von Grone, Wayne Howard
- Support Team - Karin DiFalco, Colin Wilson
- Logistics - Don Gowan
(AF Fire Department)
TOM'S AVAILABLE: If anyone needs a part time worker or has a gig, please read this. I have a company called Frank's Firewood and we had a great part time worker named Tom Akin. We had to let him go as one of our full time workers is returning after a scheduled leave. I can't say enough good about Tom. He's a super hard worker, dependable and honest, non drinker and in great shape. He lives in the Valley and of course has his own transportation. His phone is 707 684 9759
SHARON GARCIA WRITES (re Fort Bragg’s planned stage one water restrictions):
“People need better solutions than hauling expensive truckloads of water that’s taken from places that can’t really spare it. Rain water capture for watering yard and landscaping is such a simple and inexpensive solution. We have capture and storage and we move water in and out of storage with a sump pump and gravity feed. We don’t have lawn to water but we live on an acre and have a large vegetable garden as well as landscaping that gets watered, by hand, once a week and usually with rain water. I usually only water plants that are first season and most of our landscaping is native and or drought tolerant. Drip irrigation uses way more water than gardens need here on the coast. Also everything is heavily mulched with rice straw but leaf litter and grass clippings work well too. We also use gray water whenever possible.”
ANDERSON VALLEY VILLAGE, List of Upcoming Events
COMPTCHE BROADBAND UPDATE
Just wanted to give Comptche an update on our Advice Letter Response campaign. First off, for those of you who wrote a letter of support: thank you very much. Both the CPUC and AT&T were simply floored by the volume and quality of our support letters. They just don’t see this kind of community response very often.
On August 4th, 2022 at 11am is a quorum meeting of the CPUC commissioners and Comptche has been invited to participate in the public comment portion of that meeting. The Comptche Broadband Committee (CBC) has been asked to coordinate up to seven support letter writers to each deliver a one minute public comment. As a quorum will be present, we might get this decided then and there. We refer to these seven as the Public Comment Seven (PC7).
As our lawyer Rachelle is intimately tuned into what makes the CPUC tick, her office will make a first cut at their choices for the PC7 and will propose a script for each commenter, using their own words from their support letter. As things progress, the CBC will reach out to those proposed and others to ensure availability and to help hone their presentations. The PC7 can make a big impact on bringing fiber internet to Comptche and help us show what an exceptional corner of the world we live in here.
All will be able to view the proceedings. This link here details on how to connect up: https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/events-and-meetings/cpuc-voting-meeting-08-04-2022
After the PC7 have made their comments, we’ll post them here for all to enjoy.
Jim Gagnon, Comptche Broadband Committee, http://comptchebits.org/
"MR. AND MRS. R.J. MURRAY stopped at the garage of James Maksente in Healdsburg on the first Sunday of June 1926 to purchase a pair of tires for their automobile, telling Mr. Maksente that they were bound for home in Fort Bragg and the old casings would not hold out for the length of the trip. Mrs. Murray carried a giggly, blue-eyed, six-month-old baby boy in her arms. While her husband was attempting to conclude a transaction with Maksente it became clear that the Murrays lacked the needed funds."
The transaction that took place in the ensuing minutes forms the opening of “The Tire Baby” chapter in my book Mendocino History Exposed. This and twenty-one other previously untold tales of forgotten lore that make up the contents of Mendocino History Exposed are available at Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino. Call them at 707-937-2665 or place an order through their easy to navigate website, gallerybookshop.com
— Malcolm Macdonald
RETIRED FIREFIGHTER LOOKING TO HELP YOU STAY SAFE.
I have a two trucks and four strong guys to get the safe of your choice to your home or business for safety and privacy. We keep the safe private and covered in the box and we don't have any advertisements on our selves or our trucks. These safes are very heavy and wide. The safes I'm referring to are 700-1200 pounds. I can help you install them and help you understand how they work. A weak floor may need reinforced. I can do that as well. The safes can be used for many things that children shouldn't have access to. And they can also be used to secure your savings.
We charge $70/ hour to pick up the safe or whatever else you need delivered. Your safety and privacy is very important to us. Confidentiality is very important and we keep it a secret. The photos of these large safes is not the only way to go. I've seen smaller safes buried halfway in a 50 gallon drum which is filled halfway with concrete. We can help with that as well. We would be working for you as employees at $70/ hour. Have two 4x4 trucks with a large trailer and much more equipment. Remote areas are not a problem. We can also just drop it at your doorstep?
Just trying to make a living and helping others.
— Bob's handy man service, 707 380 9129
THE JULY 2022 CEO REPORT IS OUT.
by Mark Scaramella
If anything it’s worse than when CEO Carmel Angelo did it. Of course, the entire “report” is whatever the CEO feels like reporting on. Nobody has ever told her what to include. So it’s mostly a random collection of promotional materials for selected County departments going into excruciating details here, skimming over important subjects there, and leaving out many departments entirely. Law enforcement, for example, the biggest part of Mendo’s discretionary budget, has never been included in the CEO report; in fact there are no law enforcement reports other than the occasional isolated presser on this case or that. The County Counsel’s office is missing. Probation is ignored. Nothing from the Ag Department. Nothing from the CEO’s office itself. The woefully understaffed Clerk of the Board is never mentioned.
Under a section called “Exit Survey” the CEO reports that “terminating” employees are asked why they terminated,” adding, “County leadership is very interested in hearing employee thoughts, concerns and suggestions.” That’s it. They claim to be “interested,” but there’s no report of what the surveys say, what the concerns are or what suggestions were offered. Current employees are asked to fill out an “anniversary survey,” each year with their views on how “favorable” they see their work for the County. “No response data will be individually identified.” So where’s the summary of their views? Not in the CEO Report. Probably too negative to be included.
Under “Behavioral Health…” the CEO reports that “July is Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Minority Mental Health Month.” Etc. They got some grant funds too. Whoopee! Some state audits were conducted and everything’s fine, just fine. The Mobile Crisis Response unit now has three people on staff responding to crisis calls with law enforcement. It only took three years for these three people to be hired. The $5 million Crisis Residential house run by the Schraeders over on Orchard Avenue has been open for 72 days now and is “full.” In those 72 days they have “served” a whopping 14 people. In addition, we are told that “staff are carefully reviewing potential grant options to enhance or expand our services wherever we can.” Right: Build a $5 million house and then look for grants to see if you can pay to put people in it.
Elsewhere the CEO reports that the Board Chamber “upgrade” has cost over $330k plus whatever technology upgrades are yet to be done.
For the last two months the CEO report no longer contains a “vacancy list.” Apparently that’s too hot a subject for inclusion. Might lead to difficult questions they don’t want to address.
From January to March of 2022 Mendo hired 84 people, but 74 people quit. Departments have 223 open staff requisitions. Which, we assume are funded and not likely to be filled given the slow pace of recruitment and the budget shortfalls. This would translate to 223 funded positions at an average, say, of $100k per position (salary plus benefits) or $22.3 million worth of funding not likely to be spent (for these positions anyway). Most of the vacancies are in Social Services which is running an overlarge 27% vacancy rate, most Social Services positions are not funded by the General Fund. But if you assume conservatively that 25% of the funded positions are General Fund vacancies, that’s still close to $6 million that the Board should have some discretion over. Unfortunately, the CEO refuses to discuss this subject and the last time she was asked told the Board that it’s a secret that can only be discussed in closed session. Repeat: Maybe the most significant budget issue at hand is a secret, and not a peep of objection from these Supervisors who always tout their allegiance to “transparency.”
In case you were wondering how the PG&E settlement money was spent… Turns out more than half of it was allocated to Mendocino County itself.
We have no idea what the $2 mil for “carbon reduction” will go for; probably electric vehicle charging stations, maybe some solar panels, nothing of actual public benefit. We also don’t know what Coastal Valley EMS is doing with their nearly $2.7 million.
“BOONEVILLE” [sic] gets a brief mention. CalFire and the Mendocino Fire Safe Council plan to do a “fuels reduction treatment project” at Faulkner Park outside of Boonville someday. But no scheduling info is provided. But there’s a nice chart.
Other CEO Report highlights
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)
The Department of Treasury released the final rule on January 6, 2022. According to the final rule, funding may be used to cover costs to 1) replace lost public sector revenue, 2) support the COVID-19 public health and economic response, 3) provide premium pay for eligible workers performing essential work, 4) or for investment in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure. Eligible expenses must be obligated between March 3, 2021, and December 31, 2024, and projects must be completed by December 31, 2026.
Mendocino County’s allotment was $16,849,976, of which 50% was awarded on August 6, 2021. The remaining 50% will be awarded 12 months after the first allocation. The Board of Supervisors on November 16, 2021, directed ARPA funding to be designated for County core services, infrastructure projects, and emergency funding before other considerations, and to be appropriated using the final guidelines released in January 2022. The County has obligated $12,283,737 in funding as of June 30, 2022.
New Hires & Separations: Includes 63 regular and 21 extra-help with 66 regular and 8 extra-help separated during reporting timeframe
Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF) - The feasibility study was presented to the Board of Supervisors (BOS) on January 25, 2022. The BOS approved using the property located at Whitmore Lane for construction of the PHF facility, including demolition of the existing structure and construction of a new building. . County staff have been meeting with contractors on the demolition and construction of the PHF.
Measure B Projects - The Psychiatric Health Facility at Whitmore Lane site is in design with the initial demolition project due to be out to bid in early 2023, with new construction bidding by the end of that year.
Jail Expansion - The County’s architect is finalizing bidding documents for the Building 3 Jail Expansion Project having received state Fire Marshall and Planning and Building Services plan review comments. The project team anticipates bidding in the winter of 2022-23 subject to approvals by state and local oversight agencies. [No information on how much the projected overrun will be or how it will be paid for.]
YOSEMITE GOES UP! A fast-moving brush fire near Yosemite National Park exploded in size Saturday into one of California's largest wildfires of the year, prompting evacuation orders for thousands of people and shutting off power to more than 2,000 homes and businesses. The Oak Fire started Friday afternoon southwest of the park near the town of Midpines in Mariposa County and by Saturday morning had rapidly grown to 10.2 square miles, according to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CalFire. “Fire activity is extreme,” Cal Fire said in a situation report on Saturday, noting that the wildfire is at zero percent containment. “Explosive fire behavior is challenging firefighters.”
CALFIRE'S press office seems on auto-pilot. A week after the Meadow Fire in the east hills of Boonville we're still getting updates. The fire's been out since Tuesday about 2pm. https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/2022/7/19/meadow-fire/
ALETHEA PATTON WRITES: "Perhaps the Valley birds have moved up into the hills. We have lots of birds and butterflies up here on Signal Ridge. I was lucky enough to have a Western Tanager land on our deck one morning recently. Also lots of Spotted Towhees, Hermit Thrushes, Robins, Hummingbirds, Western Screech Owls, Hawks, Ravens, Vultures & Blue Grouse. Lots of Pigeons too. A few months ago, a vulture flew low over the house with a songbird riding on its wing.”
IF I WERE a bird on the valley floor, I'd certainly head for the hills, what with all the noise and general un-peace down here, not to mention un-belled cats. What we do seem to have in and around Boonville is an awful lot of foxes. I see their scat everywhere on my place and along Anderson Valley Way. Haven't seen much in the way of raccoons, but I'm pretty sure it's a raccoon who disturbs my fish trough in his futile, almost nightly effort to get his insatiable paws on my meager marine life. He raises hell with my water lilies.
OUR NERVOUS TIMES has the paranoids on perpetual red alert. Biden's “highly contagious strain of COVID-19” is seen by the P's as the first step in his removal by the Democrats who will then install a more plausible and reliable imperialist. The prob would be that plausible Democrats are awfully scarce. Bernie's out because he scares the oligarchy that runs the country, and Newsom seems the very portrait of privilege. Elizabeth Warren would be ok and is pretty good on most issues, but the only Democrat who appeals to me is John Fetterman who's more in the long-gone Democrat mold of looking out for the working-class over the 500-foot yacht class.
THE CONSTANT reference to “our democracy” in the Trump Is Bad hearings begs the question of whose democracy is Liz Cheney talking about? Look at us here in Mendo and the Northcoast, snug in our gerrymandered Congressional district where all seats at the state level and above are occupied by people selected in a by-invitation-only secret process. We have some say in who sits on school boards and as supervisor, but beyond the purely local level we have zero say in who will represent us in Sacramento and Washington. Had any of you ever heard of McGuire, Wood and Huffman before their press releases began to appear in what's left of the local media? (Except this one, of course. I'm proud to say the mighty ava never hears from any of these wanks.)
BETTER LEAVE IT AT HOME: The San Francisco Police Department issued a warning to the public on Friday stating that thieves are targeting individuals wearing luxury watches such as Rolexes valued at tens of thousands of dollars. The department said it's investigating more than two dozen high-end watch thefts that have occurred since the start of 2022. Robert Rueca, a spokesperson for the department, said the lowest valued watch in these recent robberies was $10,000. Police did not provide details on the incidents, but said they occurred in “high-traffic, popular destination spots in the city.” (SF Chronicle)
UKIAH SHELTER PET OF THE WEEK
Mojito is a very happy, energetic, young dog. An active family that will get him out and about will be important, as this handsome pup is no couch potato! As a teenager, Mojito needs gentle and firm guidance in order to become a well-mannered and well-loved adult member of his family.
If you can’t adopt, consider fostering. Visit mendoanimalshelter.com
for information about our Foster Program, the on-going SUMMER DOG ADOPTION EVENT, and our other programs, services and updates. Visit us on Facebook at: facebook.com/mendoanimalshelter/
For information about adoptions, please call 707-467-6453.
LEAVING OUT… An On-Line Comment
The reporting on transients and their impact on the general community has been horrible. Often crucial facts, like the billions of taxpayer funding or complete failure to actually reduce the homeless population in any significant way, are ignored and completely omitted. There is no balanced reporting like using crime statistics or interviewing residents/business owners or showing how many refusals of service there are in an encampment or how much money (from COVID, from disability, from social security) a “homeless” person already receives. Reporters rarely cite statistics regarding addiction, mental illness and former incarceration, which are the leading drivers of homelessness. Instead, they seem to see the homeless person as the only person in the community, as if homeless people have zero impact on the people and environment which surround them.
POINT ARENA CITY COUNCIL MEETING AGENDA, JULY 26, 2022
FERAL PONIES OF MENDOCINO COUNTY ARE ENCHANTING, AND A BIT OF A NUISANCE
by Austin Murphy
They would appear unexpectedly, miniature white horses grazing in the woods around her house, or along the road leading to it.
“When I was a little girl,” said Naomi Wyldflower, “I thought they were unicorns.”
Hiking the hills above his property west of Ukiah in the 1970s, David Nelson came upon “this white thing” he described as “attractive and enchanting.” He, too, thought he'd seen a unicorn.
In fact, they'd encountered some of the hardy, feral ponies that have roamed the Mendocino Range between Ukiah and Boonville for the last half century, the result of a surprise sprung by one Waldo Cook on his family some 60 years ago.
A psychiatrist at the Mendocino State Hospital, Cook was also a gentleman farmer. He lived, along with his wife, Lois, and their four children, on a 1,400-acre spread called the Robinson Creek Ranch.
“One day Waldo arrived home with a big van, and he had 10 Shetland ponies,” recalled Lois Cook, who is now 90 and remains unconvinced of the wisdom of that purchase.
At some point, some ponies escaped or were released into the wild. Lois has a theory on how that happened, as we shall see. The Robinson Creek ponies, as they're locally known, now number a little under 200, estimates Angie Herman, who heads up a nonprofit called All Hands Equine Rescue, which comes to the aid of those ponies when they descend from the hills and “get into trouble,” as Nelson puts it.
Enchanting as they are, these creatures can also be destructive to property. “They're not great respecters of fences,” notes Nelson, a retired Mendocino County Superior Court judge. When they wander onto busy roads, particularly Highway 253, the main east-west artery connecting Ukiah and Boonville, they become a danger to themselves and motorists.
“They're cute little things,” said Captain Greg Van Patten of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office. “You wouldn't think they could be as destructive as they are.”
As Herman points out, ponies rely on grass, which becomes scarce and dry in the summer, even in non-drought years. They will wander long distances, sometimes pushing over fences to dine on grass and gardens alike. Especially bold stallions have been known to break into paddocks, persuading pet ponies to join them in the wild.
Two ponies shot
Those depredations, contends Wyldflower, are “a small price to pay to come home and have, you know, ponies in your yard. It's pretty cool.”
Others disagree, some vehemently. This spring, Wyldflower noticed there was a pony around her property on Pine Ridge Road with an injured leg. With a neighbor's help she was able to corral it. X-rays revealed that the pony had been shot. Dusty, as Wyldflower had named him, had to be euthanized.
She'd taken Dusty to the White Dog Ranch in Potter Valley, owned by Angie Meroshnekoff, who boards horses and teaches riding lessons. Her ranch also serves as foster home for some of the feral ponies retrieved by “All Hands,” which springs into action to help horses that have ventured onto Highway 253, the main east-west artery connecting Ukiah and Boonville, or become especially bothersome to residents. Ponies live at the White Dog until they can be “re-homed.”
Before Dusty, the Angies — Herman and Meroshnekoff — had worked with another pony that was shot in the leg. That animal healed and is doing fine, they said.
No matter how annoying some folks may find the feral ponies, said Herman, “it's awful to think that someone's resorted to shooting them.”
In the spring of 2021, they worked with April, who arrived with wire wrapped so tightly around her left hind leg that it was “embedded all the way to the bone,” recalled Meroshnekoff. While it's possible April got “hung up in a fence,” she suspects the pony stepped into a snare that someone set.
Working with a farrier who happened to be at the ranch that day, a vet removed that wire. April “was really good about letting us clean that wound and change that bandage every day,” Meroshnekoff recounted. “She foaled three weeks after her surgery, and was adopted by a family in Solano County. And everybody was happy.”
Tough, resilient breed
Known for their hardiness, intelligence and longevity, Shetland ponies come from a cluster of isles off the northeast coast of Scotland, where feed was scarce and winters harsh. “Only the toughest and most resourceful ponies survived,” according to the British equestrian magazine Horse & Hound.
So it's not surprising that despite snares, bullets, drought and mountain lions — which cull half of each year's foals, Herman believes — the Robinson Creek ponies have gone forth and multiplied.
Lois Cook still remembers the day her late husband pulled up with 10 Shetland ponies in tow. “The kids thought it was wonderful. Ponies! Ponies!” Two were pregnant, and soon foaled. “Shetland pony babies are adorable,” she allowed. “Of course, they grow up.”
Lois is quick to shut down any suggestion that Dr. Cook ever released any ponies into the wild. “He never turned any stock loose,” she declared. “However, he was not a great fence builder.”
Cook has her own theory about how the Robinson Creek ponies entered the wild. In December one year in the 1970s, they gathered around 10 of the ponies and took out an ad in the local paper.
“I sold them as Christmas ponies,” said Lois, who remembers that one man “from up on Pine Ridge Road” bought four of them.
“My speculation — and it is only speculation — is that those are ponies that got loose.”
Ninety years young, she still walks trails back in those hills, along with members of her hiking group. On various occasions, although not recently, she said, they've come upon herds of ponies, although “none of them looked like Shetland ponies at this point.”
The pones have intermingled, down through the decades, with different breeds. Now, said Cook, they're bigger.
Nelson, the retired judge, recalls the time a group of “horse people” grew concerned that the ponies were at risk, and towed trailers up to Pine Ridge Road. But Nelson and his neighbors brought in a veterinarian who checked on the ponies and who certified, the Judge recalled, “that they were not at risk, they were healthy, and they wanted to be wild.”
To foil the well-intentioned horse people, residents closed their gates and “locked the ponies in, so they couldn't get at 'em,” recalled Nelson, before adding, “I was not involved in that.”
It's true that the Robinson Creek ponies “poop all over the place, and rub up against fences. They don't come without certain negatives,” he said.
“But, you know, we like them.”
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
RAPIDLY SPREADING CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE DESTROYS 10 STRUCTURES
by Isabella Grullón Paz
A rapidly growing wildfire in California near Yosemite National Park destroyed 10 structures overnight on Friday and threatened thousands more, the authorities said.
The blaze, called the Oak fire, began at 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon in Midpines in Mariposa County, roughly 70 miles north of Fresno and about 10 miles from Yosemite near the Sierra Nevada foothills. The fire grew overnight to 6,555 acres, or more than 10 square miles, according to a report from CalFire, the state’s fire agency.
By Saturday night, it was roughly 12,000 acres and was completely uncontained.
The fire’s “explosive nature” has posed a challenge to the 400 firefighters and four helicopters that were deployed, CalFire said. Natasha Fouts, a spokeswoman for CalFire, said that this was the fastest growing fire of the season so far, surpassing the speed of the Washburn fire that continued to burn in Yosemite National Park.
On social media, residents shared images of an ominous plume of smoke that quickly overtook an orange and red sky after the fire began.
Evacuation orders were issued for an area stretching several miles away from the fire, and officials closed multiple roads. It was not known if any residents had suffered injuries. An American Red Cross station was opened at the Mariposa Elementary School. In addition to the structures that were destroyed, five others were damaged.
Fire officials did not expect to contain the fire until next week, Ms. Fouts said.
While wildfires occur throughout the West every year, the link between climate change and bigger fires is inextricable. Wildfires are increasing in size and intensity in the Western United States, and wildfire seasons are growing longer. Recent research has suggested that heat and dryness associated with global warming are major reasons for the increase in bigger and stronger fires.
“The heating of the planet is turning landscapes into tinderboxes,” said a report published in February by climate scientists in the United Nations Environment Program.
Experts have said that this might be one of the most brutal fire years in the state, since California is in the midst of a severe drought and the summer has been extremely hot. Those conditions made the last two fire seasons particularly destructive, together killing a total of 36 people and destroying more than 14,700 buildings in the state.
The cause of the Oak fire is still under investigation, but a report issued Friday night said that vegetation in the area was “very receptive to new spot fires due to the hot, dry weather and drought,” and that heavy fuels, strong winds and low humidity were also influencing fire behavior. The entire county of Mariposa is enduring a drought, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System, a government agency, and this is the driest year on record for the county.
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 23, 2022
THOMAS BROGAN JR., Ukiah. Petty theft-bicycle, under influence, controlled substance, disorderly conduct-loitering.
THOMAS COOK, Ukiah. Secretly recording someone without their consent with intent to arouse.
MARK DECAMINADA, Cloverdale/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
REBECCA DOUGLAS, Laytonville. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
DANIEL FREITAS, Fort Bragg. Touching intimate parts of another against their will, assault weapon, short barreled rifle, large capacity magazine.
JACK GOUBER, Ukiah. Criminal threats, battery on peace officer.
BAO HER, Eureka/Ukiah. Shoplifting, tear gas, resisting.
ERIC KOTILA, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance without prescription, paraphernalia, failure to appear.
RITA LAVENDUSKEY, Fort Bragg. Secretly recording someone without their consent with intent to arouse.
DAVID ORTEGA, Ukiah. Concealed dirk-dagger, under influence, refuse disposal in state waters.
ARIESTO PACHECO, Covelo. DUI.
LAURA PITTENGER, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
KRISTOPHER SPARKMAN, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
KYLE WAKELAND, Redwood Valley. DUI.
THESE ‘REDWOOD BANDITS’ POACH TREES OUT WEST — AND ALMOST NEVER GET CAUGHT
by Eric Spitznage
The ax-wielding bandits known as The Outlaws loot federal timber that ends up in goods like high-end car consoles -- but tracing wood back to the stump it was nicked from is “next to impossible,” a new book reveals.
The law finally caught up Chris Guffie, also known as “The Redwood Bandit,” during the summer of 2005. But his arrest didn’t come easy.
Guffie, 42, had been poaching from the redwood trees of Northern California and the Pacific Northwest for over a decade, stealing the burls — the knobby growth at a tree’s base — to sell to local mills.
“It was this real cat-and-mouse game between Chris Guffie and the rangers,” Steve Yu, National Park Service’s special investigator, told Lyndsie Bourgon, author of the new book “Tree Thieves: Crime and Survival in North America’s Woods” (Little, Brown Spark), out now.
He’d been caught only once before, in 1994 while poaching old-growth yellow cedar (protected by the Endangered Species Act) with a partner in Olympic National Forest in Washington state. Their haul was valued at more than $33,000, and they would have gotten away with it if Guffie hadn’t contacted a local helicopter pilot for help removing the stolen wood. The pilot alerted the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and gave them Guffie’s exact coordinates.
Although both men pled guilty, authorities “felt the pair were unlikely to be able to pay the full value,” Bourgon writes. They were sentenced to just 30 days in jail.
But the 2005 bust was more serious. Over the years, Guffie had developed a reputation “for his expressed goal to ‘rob the national park of their wood’,” writes Bourgon. Ron Barlow, a local rancher in Orick, the California town where Guffie and other tree poachers lived, told the author that Guffie had become a local legend for “inspiring others to do wrong.”
Even Guffie fed into his own mythology. “I’ve been at it for so doggone long, it’s like Yogi Bear and the park ranger,” he told Bourgon.
The rangers finally caught up with him at Lost Man Creek, part of the Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California’s Humboldt County. He and a partner were discovered poaching from a downed redwood log — timber that was thousands of years old — and Guffie was only apprehended after a 90-minute chase through the dense forest.
This time, he was sentenced to 120 days in jail and three years of probation. After his release, he returned to the forest and, like he had the last time he was brought (briefly) to justice, he just . . . disappeared.
Guffie is — or was, if you take him at his word — a member of a notorious gang of redwood poachers known as “The Outlaws,” who regularly sneak into Redwood National Park with chain saws, often in the middle of the night while creating their own trails in and out, and return with a bounty of stolen wood.
It’s a lucrative business; in North America, Bourgon writes, “it’s estimated that $1 billion worth of wood is poached yearly. The US Forest Service has pegged the value of poached wood from its land at $100 million annually.” Burls are the most valuable cuts, used in everything from luxury car consoles to musical instruments to ornamental furniture.
It can also be the most devastating loss to a forest. Cutting a burl from a live tree weakens it and makes it vulnerable to disease. Even if a redwood has fallen or is severely damaged, the burl can sprout another tree. Removing the burl is like salting the earth.
For more than a century, the biggest threat to redwoods was the logging industry. “Between 1850 and 1990, ninety-six percent of redwoods disappeared due to logging,” writes Bourgon. To slow it down, the Redwood National Park was created in 1968, protecting 58,000 acres of the forest. And in 1978, President Jimmy Carter expanded the park by 48,000 acres, nearly doubling its size.
Chris, one of his three sons, was poised to join the family business. “I’m a logger by trade,” he told the author. “I’ve been doing it ever since I was just a pup.” He assumed he would someday take over the family trade. But those dreams came crashing down with the expansion of Redwood National Park.
It was good news for the trees, but not for the men who depended on those trees for their living. Men like John Guffie, who moved to Humboldt County in 1955 to work as a logging supervisor, and eventually launched his own company, Guffie Timber Cutters.
His dad’s business shut down in 1980, and he “listened to the rhetoric: the park would mean ‘annihilation’ for the town,” writes Bourgon. His dad warned him that the environmentalists “want to control everything” and the park officials were all “parasites.”
Thousands of loggers lost their jobs, and the town of Orick, the gateway to the Redwood National Park and once a bustling logging epicenter, lost its entire economy. NPR recently described Orick — it’s no longer technically a town but a “designated census place” — as looking like “the setting for a zombie movie.”
Tree poaching became the only way for guys like Chris Guffie to survive without starting over in a completely different industry. And it’s a crime that’s difficult to prosecute. “It is one thing to link a stolen car back to its owner via paperwork or plates, and another to link poached wood to the stump it once stood on,” writes Bourgon. “In lush forests, those stumps are usually hidden behind a curtain of trees, or covered in moss, or buried in branches — in all cases next to impossible to find.”
Catching poachers in the act has increasingly involved high-tech solutions, from cameras hidden in trees to magnetic sensor plates on the forest floor which “would spring to life upon detecting the dense metal of a chain saw,” writes Bourgon.
But even with the help, the poachers were always a step ahead. Reviewing footage from a tree camera, RNSP ranger Laura Denny was pretty sure she spotted somebody resembling Guffie walking into the park with a chain saw. But it was hard to be sure, because the Guffie lookalike “was sporting a woman’s wig and sunglasses,” writes Bourgon.
Despite the two arrests, Guffie never officially retired from poaching. The Park Service just gave up on him. “Guffie, as I recall, is pretty darn smart,” Yu told Bourgon, explaining why the rangers targeted other poachers while ignoring The Outlaws’ biggest name. “That’s his identity. He’s not going to stop.”
Tree poaching has only gotten worse in recent years. Since 2010, the United States Forest Service estimates that as many as one in 10 trees cut in the national forests is poached. Redwood rangers are now calling it a “crisis.”
The whereabouts of Guffie, now 59, remain a mystery. During his last conversation with Bourgon in the fall of 2020, he claimed he’d recently spent time working on oil rigs in Wyoming, but is now homeless.
“Of course all of us would have been working still, we work for our money, we’re not out for a handout or anything,” he told the author about himself and the other Outlaws. “But when we go out to try and make a few bucks for the family, we get penalized — thrown in jail or whatnot.”
Guffie’s father, John, still alive and well, sold the family house in Orick and moved south to McKinleyville, and continues to support his son. “They share certain characteristics,” Bourgon writes. “Anger toward the Park Service, frustration at lack of opportunity. John labels Orick a town ‘just for druggies’ now. And all the better, he says, echoing a conspiracy that many in Orick have peddled to me: eventually the town will empty out, enabling the Park Service to take it over fully.”
One thing Guffie hasn’t lost is a romanticism for poaching the Redwoods. Without directly comparing himself to Robin Hood, he makes it obvious he feels a connection with the outlaw of folklore.
(New York Post)
‘HAVE THE COURAGE TO LET THE UNBORN BE BORN’ - University of Michigan Head Football Coach on July 17, 2022 at Plymouth Right to Life annual dinner
“I love life. I believe in having a loving care and respect for life and death. My faith and my science are what drives these beliefs in me.”
He then quoted Jeremiah 1:5, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Harbaugh, a Catholic with seven children, one of whom coaches with him as an assistant, had his pro-life beliefs instilled in him from a young age, he said. While he acknowledged that unplanned pregnancies “might involve incredible hardship for the mother, family and society,” he concluded that abortion “results in the death of an unborn person.”
“We talk about sanctity of life, and yet we live in a society that aborts babies. There can’t be anything more horrendous,” Harbaugh previously said.
BORN IN 1878, JOSÉ ARÁMBULA was the son of a sharecropper in Chihuahua, Mexico. By age 16 he had committed his first murder (taking revenge on a man who had raped his sister) and had joined a gang of roving thieves. After being arrested and forced into the Mexican army, he deserted, killed an officer, stole his horse, and took the name by which history remembers him: Francisco “Pancho” Villa.
When the Mexican Revolution broke out in 1910, Villa, who was by then the leader of a large and powerful criminal gang, was recruited to join the rebels and given a commission as colonel in the revolutionary army. In the revolution and the counterrevolutions that followed, Villa won fame as a daring raider, train-robber, cavalry commander, and Robin Hood-like hero, aided by romantic and sympathetic portrayals from American journalists Ambrose Bierce and John Reed. Hollywood film companies paid for the privilege of filming Villa and his men during their campaigns.
Thanks in large part to Villa’s battlefield brilliance, in 1914 the Revolution succeeded in toppling the Mexican government, but unfortunately for Mexico the power struggle that followed devolved into a civil war, and Villa went quickly from being a revolutionary hero to a wanted outlaw.
Although Villa’s life had always been characterized by violence and brutality, the years between 1914 and 1920 were particularly notorious. In raids across the border into the southern United States in 1915 and 1916 Villa’s men killed dozens of American soldiers and civilians. In frustration at the lawlessness and banditry, President Woodrow Wilson authorized a punitive expedition into Mexico in 1916, led by General John Pershing and intended to capture or kill Pancho Villa. Pershing’s force chased Villa for nine months before the outbreak of World War I forced abandonment of the effort. After the American force left, and as the civil war raged on, Villa and his men committed numerous horrifying atrocities in Chihuahua—gruesome massacres and gang rapes.
In 1920 the Mexican government negotiated a peace deal with Villa. In exchange for ceasing his attacks, Villa was given 500,000 gold pesos, a 25,000-acre estate, and amnesty for his men—who became essentially his private army on the estate. Villa was 42 years old, wealthy, and seemingly secure.
But men who live as Pancho Villa did rarely die of old age. In 1923, while returning from a trip to the bank in a nearby town in his 1919 Dodge touring car, Villa and his three bodyguards were ambushed. In the fusillade of bullets, Villa was struck nine times and killed instantly.
No one was ever tried for Villa’s murder. Although a Chihuahua politician with a longstanding hatred of Villa took credit for orchestrating the assassination, it is still regarded as an unsolved crime.
Francisco “Pancho” Villa, born José Doroteo Arango Arámbula, was killed on July 20, 1923, at age 45, ninety-nine years ago.
UKRAINE, Saturday, July 23
by Dmytro Aksyonov
Odesa. Following yesterday’s agreement on safe exports of grain from several Ukrainian Black Sea ports, including Odesa, a Russian rocket strike has damaged important infrastructure in the city’s port, which was preparing to open itself to sea trade, local authorities report.
While the exact number of casualties is yet to be specified, officials claim that some people have been injured as a result of the fire. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has said in a briefing to reporters that he reached out to his Ukrainian and Russian colleagues for comments and that, according to the Ukrainian side, infrastructure crucial for the resumption of grain exports remains intact.
Kropyvnytskyi. A Russian rocket strike on infrastructure outside the city of Kropyvnytskyi, Kirovograd region, has killed three people and injured at least 19, according to Kirovograd governor Andriy Raikovych.
Mykolaiv. Russian shelling of the city of Mykolaiv has resulted in severe damage to one of the city’s residential districts, trapping many people under rubble. According to the head of the Mykolaiv regional council, Hanna Zamazeeva, at least one injured civilian has been confirmed, with more likely awaiting rescue beneath the ruins.
* * *
A bipartisan group of representatives from the U.S. House of Representatives has visited Ukraine in order to express support for the country’s war effort and to pledge further aid from the U.S. to Ukraine. The group was headed by U.S. representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chair of the House Committee on Armed Services. During the trip, the group met with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget A. Brink, and spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as well as visiting Irpin and Bucha, suburbs in the Kyiv region of Ukraine recognized as symbols of Russian war crimes in the country.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has called on the EU to reconsider its policy towards the war in Ukraine, slamming sanctions as ineffective and claiming that no amount of military aid will allow Ukraine to defeat Russia militarily. ”A new strategy is needed which should focus on peace talks and drafting a good peace proposal...instead of winning the war,” Orban said in a speech in Romania. While Orban has long been one of the EU’s most Russia-friendly politicians, his recent comments signify that Hungary could oppose EU’s future sanctions packages, which require total unanimity to be approved.
— Katya Soldak, Forbes
IN UKRAINE, A PROXY WAR ON THE PLANET
As the Ukraine crisis causes global havoc, US officials won't negotiate with Russia to end the fighting -- and are even willing to "countenance" mounting hunger as a result.
by Aaron Maté
In 2015, one year after a US-backed coup ushered in a US-friendly, far-right-dominated government in Kiev, University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer issued a stark warning. "The West is leading Ukraine down the primrose path," he said. "And the end result is that Ukraine is going to get wrecked."
Mearsheimer's cause for concern was what he identified as a US-led campaign to convert Ukraine into a NATO proxy on Russia's border. The events since have proved him to be both tragically prescient, and understated.
In using Ukraine to "fight Russia over there", as Adam Schiff put it in January 2020, the US has not only sacrificed countless Ukrainian lives. Four months into Russia's invasion, the Biden administration is signaling its willingness to sacrifice the rest of the planet, particularly the most vulnerable areas.
In an article headlined "Ukraine War Pushes Millions of the World’s Poorest Toward Starvation," the Wall Street Journal summarizes the impact of the Ukraine war on global hunger:
The World Food Program says that increases in the cost of food and fuel since March have pushed an additional 47 million people into acute food insecurity, when a person is no longer able to consume enough calories to sustain her life and livelihood, taking the total to 345 million people world-wide. Of those, some 50 million are living on the edge of famine.
In the energy crisis that has followed Russia's invasion, the New York Times adds, "the poorest and most vulnerable" have felt "the harshest effects." In Asia and Africa, the International Energy Agency recently warned that "higher energy prices have meant an additional 90 million people in Asia and Africa do not have access to electricity."
By invading Ukraine rather than exhausting all diplomatic solutions, Russia bears obvious responsibility for the crisis. Ukraine’s grain exports, which feed multiple countries, have plummeted. Russia has denied blocking Ukrainian grain, instead faulting Kiev's extensive mining of its Black Sea ports. Ukraine has refused to de-mine those ports on self-defense grounds, claiming that doing so could invite further Russian incursions. Turkey, which has been brokering talks between the two sides, has just announced a pending deal to break the impasse.
But even if the Turkey-backed deal is implemented, a major cause of the food crisis will remain. The US-led sanctions regime against Russia has blocked international payments for Russian goods and necessary export licenses, including food shipments. As the New York Times notes, "[s]oaring fertilizer prices, driven by sanctions on Russia and Belarus, along with high global energy prices, are broadening the scope of food shortages by making it more expensive to produce and transport food around the world."
The head of the African Union, Macky Sall, has linked US sanctions to the continent's food shortages. "Anti-Russia sanctions have made this situation worse and now we do not have access to grain from Russia, primarily to wheat," Sall warned in June. "And, most importantly, we do not have access to fertilizer. The situation was bad and now it has become worse, creating a threat to food security in Africa."
Rather than seek a diplomatic solution in Ukraine that could end the war and its worldwide deprivations, the US has shunned talks with Russia and made clear that it is even willing to tolerate global starvation.
Citing interviews with the White House, the Washington Post reports that Biden "officials have described the stakes of ensuring Russia cannot swallow up Ukraine — an outcome officials believe could embolden Putin to invade other neighbors or even strike out at NATO members —as so high that the administration is willing to countenance even a global recession and mounting hunger." (emphasis added)
Left unquestioned is why a group of officials in Washington have arrogated themselves the right to "countenance" a global recession and mounting hunger – including pushing millions toward famine -- on behalf of the rest of the planet.
Because the Biden administration is willing to countenance hunger, Africa is now being pushed into what a recent New York Times article describes as a major "dilemma." African countries who seek to accept Russian grain imports, the Times notes, "potentially face a hard choice between, on one hand, benefiting from possible war crimes and displeasing a powerful Western ally, and on the other, refusing cheap food at a time when wheat prices are soaring and hundreds of thousands of people are starving."
Under policies set by Washington, it is apparently a "dilemma" for Africa to have to choose between feeding hundreds of thousands of people or risk "displeasing" its "powerful Western ally," — which would presumably prefer that they starve.
European states are also facing the impact of pleasing their powerful ally in Washington. "Western Europe as a result of the war," the Wall Street Journal reports, "now faces surging energy and food prices that look set to worsen as winter approaches."
The crisis is particularly acute in Germany, "the largest and most important economy on the continent." Germany's top union official, Yasmin Fahimi, has warned that "entire industries are in danger of permanently collapsing" as a result of the reduction in Russian natural gas supplies effectively imposed by the US. "Such a collapse would have massive consequences for the entire economy and jobs in Germany," Fahimi said.
Germany faces the additional prospect of "stringent rationing this winter if Russia turns off the gas," a prospect that the US has done all it can to encourage after its successful sabotage of the Russia-Germany Nordstream 2 gas pipeline.
On top of the economic toll of severing Russia from the continent, Europe is also grappling with the consequences of flooding Ukraine with billions of dollars in weapons that are impossible to trace. Europol, the European Union's top law enforcement agency, recently warned that "weapons trafficking from Ukraine into the [EU] bloc to supply organised crime groups had begun and was a potential threat to EU security." A western official told the Financial Times that once NATO weapons shipments cross over into Ukraine from Poland, "from that moment we go blank on their location and we have no idea where they go, where they are used or even if they stay in the country."
The entire planet must also grapple with the growing nuclear threats. After Russia's invasion in February, the US and Moscow suspended talks on the future of New START, the last remaining treaty that limits the nuclear weapons stockpiles of both countries. A senior administration official told the New York Times that "right now it’s almost impossible to imagine" that the talks might resume before the treaty expires in early 2026. "I can’t predict when it would be appropriate to resume that dialogue," Adam Scheinman, Biden's envoy for nuclear nonproliferation recently told Arms Control Today, "but we'll certainly consider doing so when it best serves U.S. interests."
Returning to the Washington Post's rendering of guiding US strategy, the administration's stated rationale for countenancing global hunger and other calamities is based on a false premise. Russia has no intention of moving on "to invade other neighbors or even strike out at NATO members." Bogged down in Ukraine -- a nation on its borders and where it already has an allied rebel military force in the Donbas -- Russia is in no position to invade elsewhere, even if it were crazy enough to want to.
There is also no evidence that Russia intends to "swallow up Ukraine," beyond Crimea and the Donbas, where it enjoys significant popular support and where peaceful alternatives were sabotaged in the nearly eight-year war preceding the invasion. From the start of the invasion, Russia has outlined a settlement that would see Ukraine "cease military action, change its constitution to enshrine neutrality, acknowledge Crimea as Russian territory, and recognise the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent states." Given that Ukrainian President Zelensky has already opened the door to accepting neutrality, that leaves only the question of Crimea and the Donbas republics as the major stumbling block.
As Anatol Lieven proposes, that obstacle could be overcome if all sides could agree to an internationally supervised referendum by those territories' residents. In Crimea, no one doubts that the overwhelming majority want to remain a part of Russia.
What is also undeniable is that the US and Ukraine could have avoided losing the Donbas had they been willing to respect the 2015 Minsk Accords. This pact, reached between the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian rebels, keeps the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk republics inside Ukraine in exchange for limited autonomy. But "Ukraine refused to implement the agreement," Lieven notes.
In a recent interview, the Ukrainian president who signed Minsk, Petro Poroshenko, admitted why it was never implemented: to buy Ukraine time to prepare for war with Russia. "We had achieved everything we wanted," Poroshenko reportedly said of Minsk. "Our goal was to, first, stop the threat, or at least to delay the war – to secure eight years to restore economic growth and create powerful armed forces." (emphasis added)
There is every indication that the US was on board with Ukraine's exploitation of Minsk to prepare for war. Rather than apply pressure on Kiev to implement the peace deal, the US instead sided with the Ukrainian far-right that vocally and violently opposed it. Ukraine also benefited from what the New York Times now describes as the US and NATO's "extensive training to the Ukrainian military in the years before the war." From 2015 to this year, the Times adds, "American instructors trained more than 27,000 Ukrainian soldiers at the Yavoriv Combat Training Center near Lviv."
As thousands of Ukrainians now die by the week, the US remains just as committed to averting peace.
"In the nearly five months since Russia invaded Ukraine," the Washington Post reported from the recent G20 summit in Thailand, "[Secretary of State Antony] Blinken has maintained the same posture toward Moscow: Do not engage. The top U.S. diplomat has not held a single meeting or phone call with a senior Russian official throughout the conflict."
The guiding policy of non-engagement must be maintained so that the US can achieve its ultimate goal "to see Russia weakened," as Lloyd Austin famously put it in April, and which Biden officials now quietly acknowledge is "indeed the long-term strategy."
Although Austin was reprimanded by Biden for his public honesty, other political leaders cannot contain their enthusiasm for a prolonged proxy war. On a visit to Kiev this month, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal shared his wish for a "hand-to-hand insurgency that we are hoping to see in eastern Ukraine." With Congress now advancing a supersized $839 billion Pentagon budget and the US escalating its deliveries of advanced offensive weapons to Ukraine, the Senator's hope will most likely be achieved. It is perhaps for this reason that the top US intelligence official, Avril Haines, declared last month that the fighting in Ukraine will likely continue "for an extended period of time."
For the first time since the invasion, the prospect of a prolonged proxy war is starting to unnerve some of Biden's Democratic allies. According to Rep. Ro Khanna, Ukraine has become a "prolonged never-ending conflict that is wreaking havoc on the American economy and the global economy." Khanna, who like every other Democrat has voted for every measure to fund the Ukraine proxy war to date, suggested that his support is waning. "People don’t want to see a resigned attitude that this is just going to go on as long as it’s going to go on," he told the Washington Post. "What is the plan on the diplomatic front?"
There is no plan. The White House is in fact so committed to avoiding the diplomatic front with Russia that it is willing to tolerate hardship at home. In a recent CNN interview, Biden's top economic adviser, Brian Deese was asked what he would say to families who cannot afford rising gas prices resulting from the Ukraine crisis. Deese responded: "This is about the future of the Liberal World Order and we have to stand firm."
Standing firm as more Ukrainians and Russians die; countries go hungry; nuclear tensions escalate; industries face collapse; and the domestic population struggles: these are the values of the "Liberal World Order." Its future comes at the expense of a global population whose current suffering is countenanced without question.
THE DAWN OF THE APOCALYPSE
We were warned for decades about the death march we are on because of global warming. And yet, the global ruling class continues to frog-march us towards extinction.
by Chris Hedges
The past week has seen record-breaking heat waves across Europe. Wildfires have ripped through Spain, Portugal and France. London’s fire brigade experienced its busiest day since World War II. The U.K. saw its hottest day on record of 104.54 Fahrenheit. In China, more than a dozen cities issued the “highest possible heat warning” this weekend with over 900 million people in China enduring a scorching heat wave along with severe flooding and landslides across large swathes of southern China. Dozens of people have died. Millions of Chinese have been displaced. Economic losses run into the billions of yuan. Droughts, which have destroyed crops, killed livestock and forced many to flee their homes, are creating a potential famine in the Horn of Africa. More than 100 million people in the United States are under heat alerts in more than two dozen states from temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90s and low 100s. Wildfires have destroyed thousands of acres in California. More than 73 percent of New Mexico is suffering from an “extreme” or “severe” drought. Thousands of people had to flee from a fast-moving brush fire near Yosemite National Park on Saturday and 2,000 homes and businesses lost power.
It is not as if we were not warned. It is not as if we lacked scientific evidence. It is not as if we could not see the steady ecological degeneration and species extinction. And yet, we did not act. The result will be mass death with victims dwarfing the murderous rampages of fascism, Stalinism and Mao Zedong’s China combined. The desperate response is to burn more coal, especially with the soaring cost of natural gas and oil, and extend the life of nuclear power plants to sustain the economy and produce cool air. It is a self-defeating response. Joe Biden has approved more new oil drilling permits than Donald Trump. Once the power outages begin, as in India, the heat waves will exact a grim toll.
“Half of humanity is in the danger zone, from floods, droughts, extreme storms and wildfires,” U.N Secretary General Antуnio Guterres told ministers from 40 countries meeting to discuss the climate crisis on July 18. “No nation is immune. Yet we continue to feed our fossil fuel addiction.”
“We have a choice,” he added. “Collective action or collective suicide.”
The Anthropocene Age – the age of humans, which has caused extinctions of plant and animal species and the pollution of the soil, air and oceans – is accelerating. Sea levels are rising three times faster than predicted. The arctic ice is vanishing at rates that were unforeseen. Even if we stop carbon emissions today – we have already reached 419 parts per million – carbon dioxide concentrations will continue to climb to as high as 550 ppm because of heat trapped in the oceans. Global temperatures, even in the most optimistic of scenarios, will rise for at least another century. This assumes we confront this crisis. The earth is becoming inhospitable to most life.
The average global temperature has risen by about 1.1 Celsius (1.9 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1880. We are approaching a tipping point of 2 degrees Celsius when the biosphere will become so degraded nothing can save us.
The ruling class for decades denied the reality of the climate crisis or acknowledged the crisis and did nothing. We sleepwalked into catastrophe. Record heat waves. Monster droughts. Shifts in rainfall patterns. Declining crop yields. The melting of the polar ice caps and glaciers resulting in sea level rise. Flooding. Wildfires. Pandemics. The breakdown of supply chains. Mass migrations. Expanding deserts. The acidification of the oceans that extinguishes sea life, the food source for billions of people. Feedback loops will see one environmental catastrophe worsen another environmental catastrophe. The breakdown will be nonlinear. These are the harbingers of the future.
Social coercion and the rule of law will disintegrate. This is taking place in many parts of the global south. A ruthless security and surveillance apparatus, along with heavily militarized police, will turn industrial nations into climate fortresses to keep out refugees and prevent uprisings by an increasingly desperate public. The ruling oligarchs will retreat to protected compounds where they will have access to services and amenities, including food, water and medical care, denied to the rest of us.
Voting, lobbying, petitioning, donating to environmental lobby groups, divestment campaigns and protesting to force the global ruling class to address the climate catastrophe proved no more effective than scrofula victims’ superstitious appeals to Henry VIII to cure them with a royal touch. In 1900 the burning of fossil fuel – mostly coal – produced about 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year. That number had risen threefold by 1950. Today the level is 20 times higher than the 1900 figure. During the last 60 years the increase in CO2 was an estimated 100 times faster than what the earth experienced during the transition from the last ice age.
The last time the earth’s temperature rose 4 degrees Celsius, the polar ice caps did not exist and the seas were hundreds of feet above their current levels.
There are three mathematical models for the future: a massive die-off of perhaps 70 percent of the human population and then an uneasy stabilization; extinction of humans and most other species; an immediate and radical reconfiguration of human society to protect the biosphere. This third scenario is dependent on an immediate halt to the production and consumption of fossil fuels, converting to a plant-based diet to end the animal agriculture industry – almost as large a contributor to greenhouse gasses as the fossil fuel industry – greening the deserts and restoring rainforests.
We knew for decades what harnessing a hundred million years of sunlight stored in the form of coal and petroleum would do to the climate. As early as the 1930sBritish engineer Guy Stewart Callendar suggested that increased CO2 was warming the planet. In the late 1970s into the 1980s, scientists at companies such as Exxon and Shell determined that the burning of fossil fuels was contributing to rising global temperature.
“[T]here is concern among some scientific groups that once the effects are measurable, they might not be reversible and little could be done to correct the situation in the short term,” a 1982 internal briefing for Exxon’s management noted.
NASA’s Dr. James Hansen told the U.S. Senate in 1988 that the buildup of CO2 and other gasses were behind the rise in heat.
But by 1989 Exxon, Shell and other fossil fuel corporations decided the risks to their profits from major curbs in fossil fuel extraction and consumption was unacceptable. They invested in heavy lobbying and funding of faux research and propaganda campaigns to discredit the science on the climate emergency.
Christian Parenti in his book Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence quotes from “The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global Climate Change,” a 2007 report produced by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for a New American Security. R. James Woolsey, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, writes in the report’s final section:
In a world that sees two meter sea level rise, with continued flooding ahead, it will take extraordinary effort for the United States, or indeed any country, to look beyond its own salvation. All of the ways in which human beings have dealt with natural disasters in the past…could come together in one conflagration: rage at government’s inability to deal with the abrupt and unpredictable crises; religious fervor, perhaps even a dramatic rise in millennial end-of-day cults; hostility and violence towards migrants and minority groups, at a time of demographic change and increased global migration; intra-and interstate conflict over resources, particularly food and fresh water. Altruism and generosity would likely be blunted.
The profits from fossil fuels, and the lifestyle the burning of fossil fuels afforded to the privileged on the planet, overroad a rational response. The failure is homicidal.
Clive Hamilton in his Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change describes a dark relief that comes from accepting that “catastrophic climate change is virtually certain.”
“But accepting intellectually is not the same as accepting emotionally the possibility that the world as we know it is headed for a horrible end,” Hamilton writes. “It’s the same with our own deaths; we all ‘accept’ that we will die, but it is only when death is imminent that we confront the true meaning of our mortality.”
Environmental campaigners, from The Sierra Club to 350.org, woefully misread the global ruling class, believing they could be pressured or convinced to carry out the seismic reconfigurations to halt the descent into a climate hell. These environmental organizations believed in empowering people through hope, even if the hope was based on a lie. They were unable or unwilling to speak the truth. These climate “Pollyannas,” as Hamilton calls them, “adopt the same tactic as doom-mongers, but in reverse. Instead of taking a very small risk of disaster and exaggerating it, they take a very high risk of disaster and minimize it.”
Humans have inhabited cities and states for 6,000 years, “a mere 0.2 percent of the two and a half million years since our first ancestor sharpened a stone,” the anthropologist Ronald Wright notes in A Short History of Progress. The myriad of civilizations built over these 6,000 years have all decayed and collapsed, most through a thoughtless depletion of the natural resources that sustained them.
The latest iteration of global civilization was dominated by Europeans, who used industrial warfare and genocide to control much of the planet. Europeans and Euro-Americans launched a 500-year-long global rampage of conquering, plundering, looting, exploiting and polluting the earth – as well as killing the indigenous communities, the caretakers of the environment for thousands of years – that stood in the way. The mania for ceaseless economic expansion and exploitation, accelerated by the Industrial Revolution two and a half centuries ago, has become a curse, a death sentence.
Anthropologists, including Joseph Tainter in The Collapse of Complex Societies, Charles L. Redman in Human Impact on Ancient Environments and Ronald Wright in A Short History of Progress, have laid out the familiar patterns that lead to systems breakdown. Civilizations, as Tainter writes, are “fragile, impermanent things.” Collapse, he writes, “is a recurrent feature of human societies.”
This time the whole planet will go down. There will, with this final collapse, be no new lands left to exploit, no new peoples to subjugate or new civilizations to replace the old. We will have used up the world’s resources, leaving the planet as desolate as the final days of a denuded Easter Island.
Collapse comes throughout human history to complex societies not long after they reach their period of greatest magnificence and prosperity.
“One of the most pathetic aspects of human history is that every civilization expresses itself most pretentiously, compounds its partial and universal values most convincingly, and claims immortality for its finite existence at the very moment when the decay which leads to death has already begun,” the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr writes in Beyond Tragedy: Essays on the Christian Interpretation of Tragedy.
The very things that cause societies to prosper in the short run, especially new ways to exploit the environment such as the invention of irrigation or use of fossil fuels, lead to disaster in the long run. This is what Wright calls the “progress trap.”
“We have set in motion an industrial machine of such complexity and such dependence on expansion,” Wright notes, “that we do not know how to make do with less or move to a steady state in terms of our demands on nature.”
The U.S. military, intent on dominating the globe, is the single largest institutional emitter of greenhouse gasses, according to a report from Brown University. This is the same military that has designated global warming a “threat multiplier” and “an accelerant of instability or conflict.”
The powerlessness many will feel in the face of ecological and economic chaos will unleash further collective delusions, such as fundamentalist beliefs in a god or gods who will come back to earth and save us. The Christian right provides a haven for this magical thinking. Crisis cults spread rapidly among Native American societies in the later part of the 19th century as the buffalo herds and the remaining tribes faced extermination. The Ghost Dance held out the hope that all the horrors of white civilization — the railroads, the murderous cavalry units, the timber merchants, the mine speculators, the hated tribal agencies, the barbed wire, the machine guns, even the white man himself — would disappear. Our psychological hard wiring is no different.
The greatest existential crisis of our time is to at once be willing to accept the bleakness before us and resist. The global ruling class has forfeited its legitimacy and credibility. It must be replaced. This will require sustained mass civil disobedience, such as those mounted by Extinction Rebellion, to drive the global rulers from power. Once the rulers see us as a real threat they will become vicious, even barbaric, in their efforts to cling to their positions of privilege and power. We may not succeed in halting the death march, but let those who come after us, especially our children, say we tried.