I’ve been watching and listening to Guy McPherson for the last few years, but I’ve rarely recommended him to others, because his conclusions — on a scale from “EVERYTHING’S GONNA BE FINE” at one end to “KISS YOUR ASS GOODBYE” at the other — are at the KYAGB end. But now I hear that credible climate scientists are taking his ideas seriously enough to critique them. Thom Hartmann interviews McPherson here (12 min, skip ad after 4):


McPherson quotes Albert Bartlett as saying, “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”

And McPherson adds, “We’re beyond the linear with respect to climate change.”

McPherson thinks we’ve “already fired the methane hydrate gun.”

Here’s my response to his message:

G’mornin’ this beautiful spring day! Aren’t the budding flowers … beautiful? I’m not asking this ironically or sarcastically, but with complete sincerity. It’s the only way that I can respond to McPherson’s message at this particular moment.

Later in the day — when I’m fully awake — I’ll think again about how to work on the problem, with others.

Environmental Impact Report Needed for Blue Lead Mine

By J. Pelton

The owners of Blue Lead Mine have proposed a 20-year gold-mining operation covering 74 acres in the Red Dog/You Bet area which is still in recovery after the devastation of hydraulic mining.  They refer to this mine as a Mom and Pop operation, and say they will be using “only” 20,000 gallons of water each day for 10-12 months each year, about the amount required to fill a swimming pool.  How many people do you know who re-fill their swimming pool every day?

Neighbors of the mine have challenged Blue Lead’s water consumption estimates as too low, citing rapid rates of evaporation from the on-site ponds in the summer heat that would need to be re-filled from wells.  California’s drought adds weight to their concerns.

The Nevada County Planning Commission dropped the ball on this one. A mining operation of this size without a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) would be precedent-setting.  Other similar mining projects will undoubtedly follow, increasing the impacts exponentially.  Charles Watson of Advanced Geologic (the apparent PR arm for Blue Lead) is doing all that he can to make sure that happens by hawking mining claims on his website.

A full EIR would assess the totality of impacts to the neighborhood and property values when (not if) other mining operations are proposed for that area.  A full EIR would, among other things, include independent hydrologic studies to answer the questions raised by neighbors about the impact on their wells.

The owners of Blue Lead have already shown their hand with a pattern of offenses that cannot be dismissed by saying that they were “confused”, or waived away as Planning Staff tried to do by saying they just got off on the wrong foot.

The Blue Lead Mine was in the news as recently as four years ago for a long history of mining violations.  Nevada County, the Bureau of Land Management, the Office of Mine Reclamation, the Water Quality Control Board, and the Forest Service, all have case files on Blue Lead for mining-related offenses, including: 1) Water pollution 2) Alteration of stream bed 3) Non-compliance with their plan of operation 4) SMARA violations 5) Building a road and settling pond on public land without permission and 6) neighbors have accused Blue Lead of trespass on adjacent property by grading and widening a private road without permission, and destroying timber and drainage in the process.

The Nevada County Board of Supervisors is responsible for protecting Nevada County taxpayers from the cost of cleaning up failed mining ventures.  They must show leadership and vision by first requiring an Environmental Impact Report in order to have complete and independent information about the proposed project before deciding on a use permit for a phased project expected to last for 20 years, and before piece-meal re-zoning to accommodate mining.  Given the still visible scars from past gold mining in the Sierras, they must set the bar high for new projects. If a permit is ultimately granted, the Supervisors must make the permit conditional on frequent inspections by County officials, and include firm enforcement provisions for stopping the work at the first sign of trouble.

Nevada County Board of Supervisors Delays Decision on Blue Lead Mine

The Nevada County Board of Supervisors was surprisingly receptive to those appealing the recent decision of the Planning Commission to grant Blue Lead Mine a “mitigated negative declaration” in lieu of a full EIR (environmental impact report).

After a full afternoon  (1:30 to 7:30) of testimony and deliberations before a completely packed chamber, the Board voted 3-2 to delay the decision on the appeal until after further study of the water issue (the Blue Lead project plans to use 20,000 gallons of water per day in its mining activities, with impacts on local wells completely uncertain).

My impression is that most of the pro-mine comments came from owner Robert White and his family, Blue Lead employees/consultants and recreational miners.

Most of the comments critical of the proposed mining project came from people living in the vicinity of the mine, whose arguments in favor of the appeal and in favor of an EIR, were compelling, The process  could still (after some months of further study?) end up in an EIR, depending on the results of the water study.

More details can be found here on Yubanet (the first to report on this BOS meeting):

Red Flags for Blue Lead Mine – Decision Postponed


Could This Explain the George Washington Bridge Scandal?

Ryan Lizza, writing in a long article about Chris Christie in The New Yorker, describes George Norcross III, “New Jersey’s most influential Democratic political boss.”

When Norcross introduced Christie at the ceremony, he teased the Governor openly. He reminded the audience that, despite Christie’s impressive reëlection, he failed to win any new Republican seats in the legislature. Then he touched on a sensitive issue. Norcross sponsors an annual ten-kilometre race across the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, connecting Philadelphia and Camden. “There’s one thing the Governor, with all his power, has not been able to achieve,” he said. “I’m the one who’s able to shut down a bridge.”

What? You think he’s not that petty?

On January 24, 2013, Christie’s top political advisers compiled a private list of twenty-one Democratic mayors whose endorsement they coveted. Mark Sokolich, the mayor of Fort Lee, was the second name on the list. “We should get the targets to ‘sign on dotted line,’ ” a top aide wrote in an e-mail.

Watch This, You’ll Be Glad: “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey”

This looks fascinating .. the follow-on to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos.


Fundraiser Tomorrow at the Fairgrounds for Pete Lance and Family

This is our long-time arborist, Pete Lance, and his family. A few days before he was scheduled to do some work for us earlier this month, he fell from a height of 50 feet while working at a home in Folsom and broke his back. He’ll have a long recovery, and he’s (I think) the sole support of his family. If you live in the Grass Valley area, please consider coming to a spaghetti-feed fundraiser at the Northern Mines building at the Nevada County Fairgrounds from 4 PM to 9 PM Saturday (tomorrow). He and his family really need help.

The way the community has come together for Pete is truly inspiring: Jim Norman of Trees Unlimited will do the job here as Pete spec’d it and give all the profit to the Lance family. Andy Bjorson, who will do the logging portion of our job, will also donate his profit to the family.

Click the image below for current information on Pete’s progress and for more information on how you can donate:


This Little Light of Mine … I’m Gonna Let It Shine

I was in the Booksellers bookstore in Grass Valley recently and one of the clerks pointed at my pants and asked “What’s that?” I looked down and saw that the little flashlight attached to my keychain inside my pocket had accidentally switched on and was shining a light right through my pants. Without hesitation, I answered, “This little light of mine … I’m gonna let it shine!”

Which of course made me think of this wonderful opening scene — one of my all-time favorites — from the Tina Turner biopic, “What’s Love Got to Do With it?”

Without Progressive Uproar, Social Security and Medicare Face Axe

Reprinted from Common Dreams (October 21, 2013) under Creative Commons License

By Jon Queally, staff writer

The lines are being drawn for a ‘Grand Bargain’ and the Democrats’ continued willingness to give away role as defenders of safety net and earned benefit programs, say critics, is deeply worrying

From left: Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Harry Reid, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and President Obama. Are these the people who will agree to cut Social Security and Medicare? (Photo:


If U.S. citizens are increasingly concerned that the Democratic Party is no longer willing to fight off the right-wing attack on Social Security, Medicare, and other key social programs, Sen. Dick Durbin, President Obama and other party leaders have recently offered plenty of evidence to increase that worry.

Since the end of the government shutdown and standoff over the debt limit ended last week, Obama has repeatedly said that he wants to find a “balanced” solution to the ongoing budget debate with Republican lawmakers.

Unless a broad-based populist movement against such a deal manifests—and soon—the American public should expect some scenario in which programs like Medicare and Social Security receive long-term cuts in exchange for a short-term budget deal with Republicans.

In his first public remarks following the reopening of the government, Obama said his goal would be a “balanced approach to a responsible budget” and later declared: “The challenges we have right now are not short-term deficits; it’s the long-term obligations that we have around things like Medicare and Social Security.”

On Sunday, Durbin repeated another familiar GOP talking point by telling Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace: “Social Security is gonna run out of money in 20 years. The Baby Boom generation is gonna blow away our future. We don’t wanna see that happen.”

But as the Huffington Post’s Zach Carter, reportingon Durbin’s Fox appearance, immediately pointed out:

Social Security will not run out of money in 20 years. The program currently enjoys a surplus of more than $2 trillion. Social Security will, however, be unable to pay all benefits at current levels if nothing is changed. If a 25 percent benefit cut were implemented in 20 years, the program would be solvent into the 2080s.

Responding to Durbin’s Fox News performance, FireDogLake’s DSWright fired off a postwhich included:

If this is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff I would hate to see what they do after they lose one.

A truly progressive Democratic Party would be calling for – at least in their first offer on a conservative television network – expanding Social Security not cutting it. Which could easily be done by removing the cap on Social Security taxes so those making over $113,000 a year simply continue paying Social Security taxes on all their income like the rest of us. This would not only ensure solvency for Social Security well into the future but could easily provide additional benefits to current retirees. More revenues and benefits!

Even if you think removing the cap is too progressive, wouldn’t you at least startthere?

And 20 years? We have record poverty, unemployment, and stagnant wagestoday. It’s time for the Democratic Party to prioritize and not open the negotiations by buying the Republican’s framing of the argument and offering cuts to historic promises. Especially without even offering a progressive alternative. Otherwise what was the point of winning the budget showdown – to reopen a conservative government?

And Richard Eskow, a fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future, went further, blasting Durbin for what he termed “inflammatory” rhetoric that isn’t “just false” but comes “dangerously close to demagoguery.”

According to The Nation’s John Nichols, the budget battle is now heightened in the wake of the latest shutdown fiasco, and it remains unclear how members from the Senate and House will craft a deal that doesn’t end in a repeated stalement. As Nichols reports:

The deal that ended the shutdown set up a high-stakes conference committee on budget issues. If there is to be a “grand bargain,” this is where it will be generated. And Ryan—the most prominent of the fourteen Democrats, fourteen Republicans and two independents on the committee—is in the thick of it.

The Budget Committee chairman says it would be “premature to get into exactly how we’re going to” sort out budget issues.

But no one should have any doubts about the hard bargain he will drive for. In the midst of the shutdown, Ryan jumped the gun by penning Wall Street Journal op-ed that proposed: “Reforms to entitlement programs and the tax code…”

“Here are just a few ideas to get the conversation started,” Ryan wrote. “We could ask the better off to pay higher premiums for Medicare. We could reform Medigap plans to encourage efficiency and cut costs. And we could ask federal employees to contribute more to their own retirement.”

Translation: Get ready for the radical reshaping of Medicare so that it is no longer a universal program. Make way for more price-gouging by the private companies that sell supplemental insurance. Launch a new assault on public employees who have already been hit with wage freezes and furloughs.

However—and despite those (Eskow among them) who congratulated the president for “not negotiating” when the recent threat of a federal default loomed—it seems that the long-game for GOP “hostage-takers” is to see how often they can impose a crisis before the Democrats finally are allowed to bend (as they’ve repeatedly suggested they will) on dismembering their most successful and once-coveted policy achievements: Social Security and Medicare.

As Eskow, citing ample evidence, writes:

Not only do [Democrat leaders] apparently want to cut “entitlements” – some such cuts are included in the President’s current budget – but they’ve essentially conceded as much, leaving them very little negotiating leverage.

For their part, Republicans say they’re willing to give up the harmful cuts known as sequestration – and only those cuts – in return for Social Security and Medicare benefit reductions. Their defense-contractor patrons would be amply rewarded in return for sacrifices from America’s seniors and disabled.

Within the established circle of Beltway punditry and cable news shows, the idea of a negotiated settlement in which Democrats offer up cuts to earned benefit programs like Social Security in exchange for some sort of vague “revenue increase” is now heralded as the “obvious” and “mature” course for Congress and the Obama White House.

However, as Eskow argues, “entitlement cuts are not an ‘adult’ position” but rather “the conservative position” of long-standing.

Further, pushing back against Democrats who have embraced the idea of a so-called ‘Grand Bargain’ with their Republican counterparts, Eskow says that unless a broad-based populist movement against such a deal manifests—and soon—the American public should expect some scenario in which programs like Medicare and Social Security receive long-term cuts in exchange for a short-term budget deal with Republicans.

More and more, Eskow writes, “we find ourselves in a Bizarro-World situation where too many Democrats speak like Republicans, most Republican Party leaders speak like right-wing extremists, and the Republican Party ‘insurgents’ sound more and more like the leaders of paramilitary militias.”

This lurch to the right is not only bad economics, he argues, but clearly bad politics, too. He writes:

Any scenario which leads to Social Security or Medicare cuts would be bad for seniors. It would also be bad for any politician who supported it.

A recent poll by Lake Research shows that 82% of all Americans oppose cuts to Social Security, including 83% of Democrats, 78% of independents, 82% of Republicans – and, in one of the most startling findings of all, fully three-fourths of all self-described Tea Party members (74%). (Social Security Works has a video and a petition on this subject.)

Democrats hold the advantage on this issue right now, which means it’s theirs to lose.

But for those Americans forced to watch the increasingly ‘Bizarro-World’ of Washington politics surrounding the budget battle, what is the scenario in which the idea of Social Security or Medicare cuts are vanquished? Eskow predicts the odds are slim, but argues the only scenario to be hopeful for is one in which “progressives, both officeholders and activists, lead a popular movement which reflects public opinion and defends these programs from so-called ‘Grand Bargain’ cuts.” And concludes:

It won’t be an easy victory. But it’s the only ending to this story in which everybody lives happily ever after: Seniors and disabled people aren’t forced unnecessarily into penury or financial insecurity. Good Democrats get elected, or reelected, to office. A serious conversation is begun about how to mitigate the effects of runaway profit-seeking on American healthcare.

That scenario won’t come by itself. People will have to work for it. But it would be more than worth the effort.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Wolf Creek Community Alliance Presents: State of the Creek


WCCA Oct 24 Press Release

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