Saturday, September 17, 2016

Matt Armstrong - September 15, 2016 - We ignore climate change at our peril

We ignore climate change at our peril

As I headed up toward the Goose Fire to help with protection and repair efforts, I found myself thinking about the sharp increase in forest fires in recent years, the climate-related factors that are lengthening and worsening California’s fire seasons, and how much this all costs.

When pundits talk of the allegedly high costs of avoiding climate change, they never seem to mention the costs of not preventing it. 

There are the costs associated with fighting fires, repairing infrastructure, sheltering people made homeless, and hours lost to other work because people such as my colleagues and me (not dedicated to work on disasters, but instead have other jobs) are having to monitor climate-impacted disasters like fires and floods. 

More importantly, the human cost – in homes lost, lives disrupted, and stress endured by those who have to respond – is never considered. Yet, these are all costs that must be counted.

I will continue to monitor the fires, to wait for my other work to be disrupted so that I can respond, and to count the costs that others refuse to because that has become a part of my job. It has to be someone’s.

Matt Armstrong, Fresno

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Ruth Afifi - August 2016 unpublished - Senate Bill 32

The California Assembly recently approved Senate Bill 32, which extends until 2030 the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 signed by Governor Schwarzenegger. SB 32 will continue to support "climate smart" agriculture as well as energy efficiency, renewables, and other ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 
Without extension of this law, the future for such programs as the Healthy Soils Initiative, the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program, the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program, and the Dairy Methane Program was in doubt-- all important programs for farmers in Fresno County and the Central Valley.
Another historic piece of climate legislation, Assembly Joint Resolution 43, was recently passed by our California legislature.  It asks Congress to place a fee on carbon fuels and return the money to U.S. households.  Similar policies in British Columbia and elsewhere have shown that a “revenue-neutral” program encourages individuals and businesses to adopt cleaner energy use. 

Regrettably, neither of my Republican representatives in the California Senate or Assembly voted for either bill.  I look forward to the day when climate change legislation can again be a bipartisan achievement.

Ruth Afifi
August 2016

Don Gaede - August 19, 2016 - Make them pay: Oil, coal companies turn air into a toilet bowl.

Make them pay: Oil, coal companies turn air into a toilet bowl 

Russell Harland (letter Aug. 12) says he doesn’t like taxing energy. “Taxing anything to support something else is subsidization.”

I agree. Any form of energy subsidy should be phased out. But right now, according to the International Monetary Fund, the worldwide oil industry is being subsidized to the tune of almost $3 trillion per year.
Much of this subsidy is due to the fact that these rich oil producers don’t have to pay a red cent for all the damages their products are causing. Instead, these damages are being paid by all of us poor schmucks, in the form of polluted air, overheated climate and flooding coasts.

It’s a matter of fairness. Oil and coal companies shouldn’t be able to use the air we breathe as a toilet bowl for their emissions. Put a fee on carbon, and give that money back to us, where it belongs. That money could be in the form of a monthly check, and or as a tax credit.

Level the playing field for clean energy versus dirty energy. Then clean energy – hydro, solar, wind – will have a fair chance to win.

Don Gaede, Fresno
August 19, 2016

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Connie Young - August 17, 2016 - Swearengin, California lead on climate change

Swearengin, California lead on climate change

I appreciate Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s thoughtful stand on climate change. Citing the harmful impact that it’s having on California cities, she is supporting Senate Bill 32, which by 2030 would limit California’s greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent less than 1980’s total emissions.

This month, our state senators will have an opportunity to follow our mayor’s courageous bipartisanship when they vote on Assembly Joint Resolution 43. This resolution calls on Congress to pass revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend legislation. Such a plan would help achieve many of the goals mentioned by Mayor Swearengin, including “clean transportation, and energy independence projects.” It also would “align the state’s growth toward industries that are creating jobs faster than any other sectors of the economy.” 

California has been leading the world on climate change policy for years. Now it’s time for our members of Congress to work together to solve this serious problem. 

If you’re concerned about climate change, please ask your state senator to vote for AJR 43. The clock is ticking in more ways than one!

Connie Young, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Fresno
August 17, 2016

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Bruce Ratcliff - August 3, 2016 - By either name, it’s bad news

By either name, it’s bad news 

The scientists had it right all along. The world is warming. For half a century, consensus among climatologists has been that rising levels of heat-trapping CO2 would result in rising temperatures.
They came up with an apt analogy for this: greenhouse effect: Your car is way hotter than the outside air when you park it at Fashion Fair in July at noon and come back a couple hours later. So simple. Global warming.

Then Frank Luntz, a Republican political strategist and global warming skeptic, used focus group results to determine that the term “climate change” is less frightening than “global warming.” Makes the future seem nicer – business almost as usual.

Well, as a July 29 Bee article indicates, that future is not-so-nice: “Four outdoor events in Fresno and Clovis are the first casualties of the triple-digit heat wave and dirty air that residents will bear through the weekend. The cancellations [due to the Soberanes fire, which is big and only getting bigger] echo the basic message of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Hanford: Don’t go outside unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

Time to get serious about global whatchamacallit.

Bruce Ratcliffe, Fresno
August 3, 2016

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Loren Alving - July 29, 2016 - Congress should pass carbon fee

Congress should pass carbon fee

California continues to lead the nation in dealing with climate change.

Ten years ago, California passed the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which commits the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

California’s economy has been strong despite implementation of cap-and-trade. Realizing, however, that California cannot do this alone and that the federal government needs a way to make good on its promises in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement to reduce carbon emissions, the Legislature has gone even further.

On June 30, 2016, the Assembly passed resolution AJR 43, which calls upon Congress to pass revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend legislation.

This national legislation will benefit the Central Valley; up to 70 percent of households stand to gain up to $625 per year. While our most vulnerable residents benefit the most, any negative impact on high-income households will be negligible.

Clean air and economic advantage; no wonder the Legislature is calling upon Congress to pass this legislation. As resolution AJR 43 heads to the California Senate, contact your state senator to speak up for our Valley.

Loren Alving, Fresno
July 29, 2016

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Twyla Smith - July 13, 2016 - Conservatives: Consider British Columbia’s excellent energy policy

Conservatives: Consider British Columbia’s excellent energy policy 

I couldn’t agree more with Russell Harland (letter June 30) when he says the last thing we need is the government choosing winners and losers when it comes to our energy policy.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s proposal is market-based and revenue neutral, since all the fees collected are returned to U.S. households. In this way, consumers are protected from rising energy costs, and they decide how the revenue is spent, keeping the government out of the process. Plus our plan doesn’t require any subsidies or additional regulations.

Mr. Harland mentions Canada is attempting to tax carbon with the revenue going to the government – a terrible mistake! Please consider the case of British Columbia instead. It enacted a plan very similar to ours in 2008. So far it has cut reliance on fossil fuels by 15 percent while its economy out-performed the rest of Canada.

George Shultz, economist and former secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan, helped craft our plan and serves on our advisory board. Interestingly, Exxon Mobil actually supports a carbon pricing plan like ours as well. I urge Mr. Harland to find out more. Perhaps then he will join us in our effort – we need more conservative voices like his!

Twyla Smith, Madera
July 13, 2016

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Bob Turner - July 6, 2016 - Proposed carbon tax and free markets

Proposed carbon tax and free markets

Russell Harland (letter June 30) claims some of us don’t understand basic economics. The proposed carbon tax is not a government subsidy for alternative energy. It is a disincentive to companies polluting the atmosphere with carbon dioxide. And make no mistake about it, carbon dioxide is a pollutant.

When a company is discovered to have unsafe working conditions, it isn’t allowed to just pay a tax and continue subjecting its employees to unsafe conditions. It has to pay to make its workplace safe.
When a company produces an unsafe product, it can’t get away with just paying a tax while continuing to sell its product to consumers. It has to recall the product and fix it. When a company spews toxic waste into a river, it can’t just pay a tax and continue business as usual. It has to clean up its act.

If a company can’t afford to stay in business from those added costs then it doesn’t deserve to survive in a free market competing against companies that can. Carbon polluters are getting a break with the carbon tax. They have another option. They can pay to scrub the carbon from their waste. It’s just the cost of doing business.

Bob Turner, Clovis
July 6, 2016

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Connie Young - June 18, 2016 - Call Congress about global warming

Call Congress about global warming 

Next week, over 900 members of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), including three Fresnans, will meet in Washington, D.C., to urge Congress to take bipartisan action on climate change.

If you’re concerned about global warming, you can help this effort by calling your members of Congress on June 20, before 1:30 p.m. PST. Let them know that you want them to work together to stop climate change and, if you agree, support revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend legislation.
Congressional phone numbers are provided on CCL’s call-in page or at CCL’s website: You can also call the Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121.

Since this problem affects national security and global stability, tell Congress that it’s their job to address it.

Connie Young, Fresno
June 18, 2016

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Ruth Afifi - May 5, 2016 unpublished. Americans want Congress to address climate change.

Polls show that most Americans want Congress to address climate change. However, in the Official Voter Information Guide for the June 7 primary, climate change is mentioned by only two of the 21 candidates for Senator. Kamala Harris says she will "lead the fight against climate change," while a previously unknown candidate says "federal legislators are doing nothing to protect us from the threat of climate change," and he will not "sacrifice our actual climate to our political climate."

Meanwhile, a NASA website ( reports these facts:
Atmospheric carbon dioxide is at 403.28 ppm.
Global temperature has risen 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880.
Arctic sea ice area at the September minimum is trending downwards at 13.4% per decade.
Antarctic land ice is melting at an average rate of 134,000,000,000 metric tons/year.
Greenland ice is melting at an average rate of 287,000,000,000 metric tons/year.
Sea level is rising at an average rate of 3.4 mm/year.

NASA is speaking loud and clear. Why aren't the candidates listening?
Ruth Afifi
May 5, 2016

Bruce Ratcliff - June 4, 2016 - There is ‘no Planet B’

There is ‘no Planet B’ 

A recent San Jose Mercury News headline warns: “California Drought: San Joaquin Valley sinking as farmers race to tap aquifer.” In this race to the bottom, the prize will be a moribund agricultural system that presently provides a quarter of our nation’s food.

But don’t despair, there is a Plan B. Our Valley aquifer is like a savings bank. The future looks bright as long as withdrawals don’t exceed deposits. Unfortunately, farmers have been making water withdrawals twice as fast as nature makes deposits.

But we’re not overdrafting just water. The Bee’s May 29 lead story warns we’re “IN TROUBLE.” The economy isn’t growing fast enough. Americans are “shopping for needs, not wants.” Trouble? No, a wake-up call: We’ve got just one world, and its limited resources can no longer support our demands for more, more, more.

Nature is trying to teach us an essential lesson for humanity’s long-term survival: You can’t keep growing forever. If we are wise, we’ll make it through this painful transition – from get all you want to take only what you need – and emerge having learned how to live sustainably in a world fast approaching nonnegotiable limits.

We have no choice. There is no Planet B.

Bruce Ratcliffe, Fresno
June 4, 2016

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Twyla Smith - May 2016 unpublished - Mike Beitiks

ISIS. Immigration reform.  The NSA.  Gun control.  The end of the two-party system as we know it.  What do all of these terrifying issues for the 2016 election have in common?  None of them matter because every forecast on climate change predicts severe consequences without dramatic measures.  And yet, federal legislators do essentially nothing.”

These are the words of Mike Beitiks, candidate for US Senate.  Out of twenty plus candidates vying to represent California, only Mr. Beitiks (a virtual unknown) and Kamala Harris even mention the most urgent problem we face.    

While we’re side-tracked on silly issues like who uses which restrooms, researchers at Texas A&M University say every hour of everyday 4.1 million tons of carbon dioxide are being put into the atmosphere, while 3.7 million barrels of oil, 932,000 tons of coal, and 395 million cubic meters of natural gas are removed from the earth.

We are already experiencing the effects: stronger storms, more droughts, fires and floods, rising seas, wildlife at risk, heat related illnesses and disease—they all have a cost, partly paid in human lives. 

Sound alarmist?  Well, somebody besides Mr. Beitiks had better start getting alarmed—and getting our politicians alarmed too.

Twyla Smith
May 2016

Pete Moe - May 2016 unpublished - Great Barrier Reef

The front page of the Fresno Bee this Memorial Day stated, " Great Barrier Reef hit by coral death". A shocking 35% of the corals have died. The Bee also reported that here in California, tree mortality due to bark beetle infestation is now estimated at 60 million trees. The extinction of vast swaths of species in the sea and on the land is truly frightening. What is a root cause of all these apocalyptic symptoms? Man-made climate change. 

So as the foundations of our earth's health rapidly decay, why are my Republican leaders still pretending we don't have this problem? My main tool for action is my vote. I'm looking for conservative candidates at all levels who still believe in science. I'm looking for conservative candidates who are willing to protect me, my family and community from the threat of climate change. 

In Congress there is a minority group of Republicans who want to deal with climate change. They embrace conservative, market-based answers, such as those proposed by Citizens' Climate Lobby. If local Republicans can't field such candidates, my vote will go to candidates from other parties who have the backbone to face the facts.

Pete Moe
May 2016 - unpublished

Twyla Smith - May 2016 unpublished - Ask Devin Nunes to re-examine his statements.

Rep. Devin Nunes must surely be aware of climate change and its consequences.  Here is a list of the governmental departments currently involved in seeking solutions for this most pressing problem: State, Defense, Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Interior, Health and Human Services, and Justice.  NASA and NOAA have also produced such voluminous documentation of global weather disruption, it is impossible to put into a short paragraph.  Instead, I direct readers to their websites.
97% of climate scientists are convinced, based on the evidence, that human-caused global warming is happening.  Congressman Nunes surely knows this, but for his own political purposes chooses to blow a smoke screen over the issue, claiming all these “global warming alarmists” are in it for the money.
You know who’s really in it for the money?  Major fossil fuel companies and trade groups shell out nearly $115 million a year to oppose efforts to reduce carbon emissions, according to a new report from the British research organization Influence Map.
The study’s authors consider this estimate to be on the low side. In comparison, they report supporters of climate change legislation spend an estimated $5 million annually.
I invite Rep. Nunes to re-examine his statements regarding climate change.
Twyla Smith
May 2016 - unpublished

Matthew Armstrong - May 4, 2016 - We knew bark beetles were coming

We knew bark beetles were coming

In Marc Benjamin’s April 25 piece on the bark beetles in the Sierra Nevada, he quotes tree faller Richard Brechbuehl as stating that nobody could have predicted this catastrophic tree die-off.

This is not true. Scientists working for NASA, NOAA and universities throughout the world have long predicted the warmer winters, increasingly erratic weather (including drought), and changing conditions for wildlife (including insects such as the bark beetle) as a result of increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere. Alan Carroll, of the University of British Columbia, specifically predicted the bark beetles spreading across North America and doing the damage that we are seeing in the Sierra National Forest.

This catastrophe was predicted but we chose to ignore the warnings. Now that the severe results of climate change are staring us in the face, perhaps we will do the responsible thing and reign in greenhouse gas emissions to prevent even worse consequences. If we don’t, then I predict that we will see many more people falsely claiming that nobody could have predicted what has long been predicted.

Read more here:
 Matt Armstrong, Fresno
May 4, 2016

Loren Alving - April 20, 2016 - Valley doctors recognize climate change

Valley doctors recognize climate change

Earth Day is Friday. It has grown from grassroots origins in U.S. communities in 1970 to an international event celebrated by an estimated one billion people in 192 countries, but the urgency for action on the environment and climate has increased.

Our Valley healthcare providers recognize this urgency and the intricate link between health and the environment.

The Fresno-Madera Medical Society Board of Governors recently approved a climate-change resolution. Authored by Dr. Don Gaede, the resolution recognizes climate change’s likely adverse effect on our Valley’s air quality and its threat to the health and well-being of our citizens. The society supports efforts to educate the public, the medical community and our legislators in the hope that they will take action to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change
Drs. J. Joseph Vempilly and Daya Upadhyay, the University of California San Francisco-Fresno Medical Education Program, and Community Medical Centers are doing just that. They have scheduled an Air Pollution and Climate Change Symposium for Saturday.

Medical professionals are sounding the alarm on this critical issue. Earth Day is about our health as well as our planet’s health.

Loren Alving, M.D., Fresno
 April 20, 2016

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Charles Franklin - March 2016 unpublished - Carbon Fee and Dividend

One of the greatest thing invented was the printing press. Close behind was landing a man on the Moon. Medicine had major breakthroughs; the discovery of penicillin, vaccines and organ transplants. Harnessing electricity, using blast furnaces to make steal and the oil industry were benefits to mankind. We paid little attention to the yellow clouds hanging over cities.

Environmentalists, doctors and scientists started to sound alarms. The govemment took measures to reduce the amount of CO2 floating into the atmosphere. Cap and Trade was introduced as a way to reduce toxins emissions. Auto manufactures were required to make more fuel-efficient gasoline engines. Recycling was and is a success because it makes sense and is easy. 

Citizen’s Climate Lobby is working to get Carbon Fee/Dividends introduced.

* A fee is placed on fossil fuels at the source; well, mine, port of entry. The fee starts at $l5 per ton of CO2 emissions and increases each year by $10.

*All the money collected is retumed to American households. About 2/3 of all households would break even or receive more in their dividend checks than they would pay in higher prices due to the fee.

*A border tariff adjustment on goods imported or exported to countries without a equivalent price on carbon. This would discourage businesses to relocate and encourage other nations to adopt an equivalent price on carbon.

*A predictable increasing carbon price will send a clear market signal which will prompt entrepreneurs and investors in the new clean-energy economy.

Charles Franklin
March 2016

Twyla Smith - March 2016 unpublished - Climate Solutions Caucus

"Don’t care about climate change?  You soon will, because like it or not, it must be dealt with.  And if we don’t start caring, the EPA and other agencies will continue to put regulations in place, effectively deciding winners and losers.
But there’s good news--two south Florida congressmen, Carlos Curbelo-R and Ted Deutch-D recently created the Climate Solutions Caucus to propose clean energy legislation.  They want to keep it bipartisan, with an even number of Rs and Ds.  You see, they’ve found something in common—they both represent people witnessing climate change in its starkest terms: Their communities are slipping into the sea at a disturbing rate.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby proposes an additional fee be placed on carbon at its source, with all collected monies returned to the American people.  This would result in the free market achieving reductions in emissions while also stimulating the economy.  Canada has just announced its resolve to find a national climate solution—with carbon fee and dividend at the forefront of their thinking.

As Republican Curbelo says, “ignoring climate change is as irresponsible as ignoring our national debt—and the longer we delay acting the more painful the solution will be.”

Twyla Smith
Submitted March, 2016