Barbara Rivenes: What will we do this November?
Does it feel to you like we are moving into an apocalyptic time? Some are calling our current period “the Anthropocene,” meaning a geological epoch altered by human activity! Is that even possible?
But reports tell us that the Arctic Ocean is now 61 degrees Fahrenheit (almost swimmable?) and its ice continuing to melt; fires are raging in Norway above the Arctic Circle and in Sweden, across the Siberian tundra along with the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Europe, in the U.S. and in our state.
You all well know the extreme heat we’ve been experiencing here.
As I write this there are 16 active California wildfires with a total to date of 4,736 wildfires already this year — 432,386 acres burned through the end of July. Today there are about 400 different blazes across the United States.
What can we do? What will we do? I’m seriously worried. I try to stay healthy, raise the kids with a sense of purpose, work for positive things, BUT my world could change irrevocably in what seems to be a short time!
The extreme climate we are seeing here in California and in a band across the globe’s mid-latitudes is a function of the “jet stream” changing its shape. This shape-shifting is due to the warming of the Arctic sea ice. The Arctic air mass of old used to produce a tight circular band which traveled rather rapidly around the United States. Now because of the changed Arctic ice conditions its swoops and dips account for the unusual weather patterns we’re now experiencing.
Last week I opened an email letter from my congressman, Doug LaMalfa, stating his view on climate change as being a function of the planet’s natural variability. He stated that historically the earth has experienced both much warmer and cooler times than current temperatures. Yes, it’s true we had an Ice Age, a Jurassic period of dinosaurs with tropical climes, and a period when the continents were drifting around, but never a comparable shorter period of global temperature escalation.
My congressman does not have, or wants to hear, positive solutions to reduce green house gas emissions, only asking to reduce “burdensome economic and regulatory policies.” Nor does he claim to believe in scientific findings if they are climate-related. He is a Central Valley rice farmer who inherited his family’s farm. He must know what these prolonged high temperatures are doing to the soil and crops of other farmer/ranchers in his District, where even rice farmers are having to leave some land fallow. Or perhaps some of the government subsidies his family have been given compensate for climate-related drought.
LaMalfa is politically supported by only 16 percent of his Northern California constituents with the other 84 percent coming from political action committees (PACs) non-resident folks back east (lobbyists), other candidates and Connecticut native tribes. In other words, he is supported by the GOP establishment whose large donors are intent on electing representatives who will vote the establishment party line, developed to serve the coal mining, oil and gas interests — not folks in his northern California district.
He needs to represent his constituents who are concerned about our unbearable heat, lack of snowpack, possible flooding in parts of his district, and drought stricken lands. Farmers and ranchers are faced with less available water and soil damage, while experiencing reduced crop production due to higher temperatures, decreased soil moisture, and increased heat stress on animals. This is a crisis that requires an open mind and a willingness to think beyond the party politics. The Redding Carr fire is not an example of government regulations and overreach, but rather scorching heat and dry shrubs fueled by a changing climate!
Climate change is putting all of us at risk from fires, loss of water, and increased heat. However, we can do something positive! I would not elect someone who votes for every issue that the oil, gas and coal interests want.
I’d vote for someone who believes that changing climate is the largest threat to farmers and ranchers in our district. Audrey Denney is willing to accept the science, and work to help farmers adapt, and help us all with fire threat. She just finished trucking supplies to Redding to help displaced residents, while Rep. LaMalfa held a fundraiser.
It’s time to shift from business as usual in Washington and vote for someone who will work for us residents, not D.C. lobbyists.
Barbara Rivenes lives in Grass Valley.
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