Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


LeFevre:California’s Global Warming Contradictions

Meditations - From Martin LeFevre in California

California’s Global Warming Contradictions

The drive out of California’s Central Valley was through the thickest, most noxious and ominous-looking smoke I’ve ever seen. Huge swaths of rice fields had been set ablaze, as well as enormous piles of debris from the almond harvest. What would have otherwise been a lovely drive on clear day of blue skies became a disorienting, Dantean experience.

In places the smoke looked like San Francisco’s characteristic fog, except that it had a reddish hue and you nearly choked on it even inside the car.

This area is one of the largest producers of almonds and rice in the world, and miles and miles of orchards and rice paddies line the highways and back roads. Every fall after harvest time, the people of northern California endure the kind of lung damaging conditions you hear about in parts of Asia. Burning is the traditional and easy way to dispose of excess plant matter, even though it violates California’s air quality standards.

The smoke was moderately bad in Butte County; the hellishness did not become apparent until we neared the Sacramento River in adjoining Glenn County. We didn’t see any plumes at first, and passed only small mounds of smoldering fires in the orchards, which could in no way account for the increasingly opaque and acrid air.

Highway 45 passes along the spacious Sacramento River for a stretch before entering the small town of Princeton, where there used to be a ferry. As we drove down into this farm town, the smoke hung in rolling sheets of reddish smog. Beyond the town, approaching the larger city of Colusa and the main north/south artery of California, Highway 5, it was even worse.

Finally the source of the madness came into view—massive piles of smoking debris, mostly branches trimmed from the almond orchards. A single section looked like it encompassed acres, and it was but one of many.

Crossing the freeway, and thinking we had seen the worst of it, we came upon entire rice fields set ablaze. The smoke was so bad that state highway vehicles with blinking lights were leading caravans through the smoldering inferno. We were now in Colusa County, on the two-lane east/west highway heading toward the hills above the wine country.

“Think of the children with asthma, they’re paying the price for our addiction to oil,” Bill Clinton intones on his campaign tour in the state exhorting Californians to vote yes on Proposition 87 on November 7. “With one vote you make California America’s leader in alternative fuels.”

“There’s a reason the American Lung Association, and the Nurses Association, and all the asthma and lung caner experts are for Prop 87…America has to change, but you can lead the way. There is nothing more important.” Clinton delivers the lines with perfect timing and pitch in the radio ad, but the notes seem incredibly discordant as we drive through the artificial dusk and gloom of these needless, state-sanctioned fires.

We were silent as we wended through the hills toward Clear Lake, California’s largest natural body of water. Banks of yellow-leafed aspens in full fall splendor rolled out before us on the road. Though the air was quickly clearing, and autumnal scenes soon supplanted the memories of the inferno, the experience remained, like the smell of smoke on one’s clothes. It takes more than a proposition to raise the pall from Princeton village.

If passed on November 7, Proposition 87 means that California will impose a tax on oil production, generating up to 4 billion dollars to promote alternative energy technologies. Given that oil companies pay next to nothing in drilling fees in California, while paying billions in Alaska and even Texas, the proposal is novel only in the redirection of the revenues.

I hope it passes, but driving down out of the hills into the wine country, we consider the contradiction. Huge amounts of fuel are being wasted each fall, while injecting lung damaging, atmosphere heating smoke into the air because it's still more cost-effective to burn the agricultural residue in the fields and orchards.

The US Federal government has gone missing on global warming, but it will take more than Slick Willie for the States to take up the slack.

************

- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: martinlefevre@sbcglobal.net. The author welcomes comments.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news