Dr. Luis Contreras (guest)
Our planet is gravely ill and so far there is talk but no action. At a time when we are on a downward spiral, filing lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency to delay compliance with Clean Power Plan regulations does not seem like a smart idea. Natural laws, the mysterious and complex ways our planet functions, can't be broken; the laws of nature are final. If we ignore them, we pay for the consequences.
The U.S. Supreme Court says corporations are people with rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. Recently, they got the right to spend money in presidential elections. If corporations have rights, they should have responsibilities like integrity, concern for the environment, and other values we expect from regular people. Some companies have codes of conduct, but they must be optional; corporate behavior is not always what they say. When dealing with survival, people and corporations need to change. We have no other choice.
California is coping with severe drought
We have been lucky so far, and as we reach the end of 2015, life seems good in Eureka Springs. California seems to be ahead of the times. They are making necessary changes to cope with severe drought. We may learn something looking at what California is doing. The changes involve everyone, with rules to use less water, recycle agricultural water, and eliminating water losses. Old pipes, pumps, valves, and all else used to bring water to dry places, built and designed 90 years ago when there was more water for a smaller population, is undergoing maintenance upgrades to eliminate water losses.
Case in point
Two Arkansas wood pellet mills are under construction and scheduled to open in 2016, owned by out-of-state corporations. Wood pellets are on high demand due to what some call an accounting error. To meet pollution standards, coal-fired power plants in U.K. and other E.U. countries are allowed to burn wood pellets pretending it is carbon neutral. This means they only have to account for the carbon footprint of processing and transporting wood pellets. However, the amount of greenhouse gasses from burning wood pellets is higher than burning coal. Not only that, the trees used by the Arkansas pellet mills from private forests will be gone.
The numbers tell the true story. The Monticello Zilkha mill will produce 450,000 tons of pellets per year, using 45,000 acres of forest. With no plans, funds, or resources for re-forestation, a process that takes around 40 years under good weather, the result will be forest soil erosion from severe rains and sedimentation of creeks and rivers. Looking at 2016-2056, the Zilkha "clean heat" wood pellets will destroy 2 million acres of forest in the Monticello area along with the carbon sink provided by the forests. A similar tragedy will happen in the new Pine Bluff wood mill.
For details, please google Climate Central Pulp Fiction. Here is a hint: wood mills, in theory, use sawdust and wood waste; in real life, high-venture investors like Zilkha, the people trying to build the Clean Line transmission lines, target low-income areas where jobs are hard to find. Predatory behavior is unacceptable for individuals and criminal for corporations ignoring the climate emergency. U.S. Congressman Bruce Westerman, in Pine Bluff, is pushing the "Resilient National Forest Act" to make it easy to sell our national forests. If you can, please visit the Ouachita National Forest before it is destroyed. I called Westerman's D.C. office and was told the two new pellet mills in his district are not related at all to the "Resilient Act," please call after reading Pulp Fiction mentioned above, (202)225-3772, they will be expecting to hear from you.
There are no easy solutions to climate change
Some of the people wanting to be our next president offer simple solutions. One of the candidates has been proposing solutions to the hard questions and promises to make structural changes. It is up to us; we need to change, vote and choose survival.
November 10, 2015
Op-Ed, Eureka Springs Independent