Global warming is a threat that affects all of us
It is time for us to come together to limit global warming. The whole world is watching, including our younger generations.
This should not be a political issue. People around the globe, regardless of political affiliation, are concerned about man-made climate change. A prime example is the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose international scientists have been assessing the problem and possible solutions since 1988.
The most recent IPCC report concludes that commitments already made as part of existing international agreements can limit global warming, while still damaging, to less than 3 degrees C above pre-industrial levels.
Thus, there is reason to believe that timely and cooperative responses can limit destructive climate change (and can potentially provide millions of jobs in alternative-energy sectors).
We have already made good progress, but our ability to exert more powerful, positive leadership is hampered by those here in the United States who blindly deny the problem and/or reject cooperative solutions, often resorting to willful distortion.
One example of their deception is the Aug. 13 letter to the editor, claiming that President Obama is increasing gas prices in a conspiracy to cut fossil fuel consumption. But, truth be told, gasoline prices follow the law of supply and demand, and are actually lower today than they were under George W. Bush. They nearly tripled to over $4 per gallon under Bush, but then plunged to less than $2 during the onset of the Great Recession. Since Obama took office, gas prices have partially rebounded, but not back to the Bush levels. There is no conspiracy.
Our planet’s future would look brighter were it not for such deceptive confusion, inflamed by anti-social messages of hatred, fear, and falsehoods from right-wing talk radio and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Channel. And echoed by the politicians who pander to them as well as to some fabulously wealthy campaign contributors.
Extreme, fact-free obstructionism may continue as a cornerstone of conservative orthodoxy, but, together, we can transcend it.
We’re all in this together. We can heed authoritative sources like the IPCC, and we can, together, develop meaningful, real-world solutions..
Self-serving politicians shouldn’t try to manage land
This letter is in regard to the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revisions, which include Wallowa-Whitman, Umatilla and Malheur National Forests (almost 5 million acres that belong to all the citizens of the United States.
Every plant, microorganism, and animal on Earth exists within an ecosystem, a complex network of interdependent relationships in which each individual strand is important and contributes to the success of the whole. Ecosystems, in turn, interact with one another to form the biosphere (the zone of life on our planet). These systems, so important to the world around us, are far from stable. The intermountain lowlands of the western United States is considered one of the most imperiled ecosystems in North America.
The rapid growth of human population and their attendant technologies have created unprecedented forces of ecological change. Once you understand the biosphere’s interactive network of relationships, you develop a deeper appreciation of the complexity of the life around us.
Dale Bosworth, the former Forest Service Chief, named unrestricted motor vehicle use as one of the four major threats to national forests. He specifically cited the growing popularity of ATVs and their potential to contribute to erosion, harassment of wildlife and conflict with other forest users. He ordered each national forest to write a travel management plan that would designate which roads, trails and areas would be open to motor vehicles.
A ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that “there can be no doubt that the Dept. of Agriculture (of which the Forest Service is a part) possesses statutory authority to regulate activities related to mining even in non-wilderness areas in order to preserve the national forests.”
I believe this applies to all other activity in our national forests. We are looking at a situation where maybe 1 percent or less of the U.S. citizens are trying to dictate the use of our national forests to the other 99 percent. Is this social justice?
We need to keep the self-serving state and local politicians from trying to manage our public lands and let the Forest Service do their job.
Robert L. Kern
Editor’s note: The version of this letter that ran in Monday’s edition contained several typographical errors that were not contained in the original letter submitted for publication.
Thanks, counties, for opposing forest plan
Locked & Loaded Off Road Group of Baker City would like to thank the representatives from the Eastern Oregon Counties Association (EOCA), including our three commissioners from Baker County, for objecting to the Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revision 2014 draft.
Those of us who have been involved with the previous attempt to pass the WWNF Travel Management Plan, the BLM Draft Resource Management Plan, the BLM Sage Grouse commenting period and now the BMFPR comment period will stay vigilant and it is refreshing to know that we have the support of groups such as the EOCA.
We hope that all people who live, work and recreate in the Blues are paying attention at all times and that you make your voice be heard now and in the future. As stated in the Baker City Herald article on Aug. 5, timber harvesting has to increase and “the plan makes no guarantee that the forests will meet those projected timber volumes” as stated in the plan alternatives D and E. It will not only benefit the forest health but add revenue to surrounding communities and provide proper funding for USFS maintenance. The discussion that the “BMFPR sets a stage for the USFS to impose a TMP that bans motorized vehicles from a substantial number of roads in the WWNF” is all too real and it’s not fair. If maintaining the current forest roads is a money issue and in turn is the reason behind closing multiple roads in the Blues then increased timber harvesting is the answer. Those of us who spend time in the Blues for any reason, should not be denied access but should be encouraged to enjoy what is ours. The USFS multiple use mandate should be held in highest regard and properly managed by the USFS as a steward of the Blues and not a dictator.
Aug. 15 is the deadline to comment on the BMFPR
Guide to commenting: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/BlueMtnsPlanRevision
Submit comments to: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/BlueMountainForestPlanRevisionComments
USPS Mail to: Blue Mountains Plan Revisions Team, P.O. Box 907, Baker City, OR 97814.
On behalf of the Locked and Loaded Off Road Group
Democrats’ ideas won’t save the planet
Save the planet! a local Democratic official tells us; vote Democratic. But this fellow doesn’t tell us that the Democratic climate change program is both expensive and ineffective.
One Democratic policy is to allow the price of gasoline to rise, so people will buy smaller cars. We now pay nearly $4 a gallon for gasoline; when President Obama was inaugurated, it sold for under $2. What’s that done to your budget? Wind turbine-generated electricity costs around four times as much as that from conventional generators; the Democratic plan requires public utilities to purchase that electricity despite its high cost. That expensive electricity shows up in your monthly OTEC bills. Energy costs are such a vital part of our economy that expensive energy makes everything else more expensive as well.
But do the Democratic policies actually save the planet? Not really. Consider the much ballyhooed higher standards for fuel efficiency in our automobiles. Cram Americans into motorized sardine cans for 30 years and you put off drowning of the Statue of Liberty for a whole month. As long as fossil fuels are burned, carbon dioxide will continue to accumulate in the earth’s atmosphere. This buildup will stop only when all countries in the entire world stop burning fossil fuels. That’s not going to happen. The only significant outcome of Democratic climate change policies is that Al Gore and his politically connected buddies are getting rich at our expense.
Our Democratic official also doesn’t tell us that there have been periods in recorded human history when the earth’s climate was significantly warmer than it is today. He leaves out the fact that none of the calamities shown so graphically in Al Gore’s film actually happened during those warm centuries. He fails to mention that the scientists who study the history of the earth’s climate call these warmest times climactic optimums, for conditions then were the most favorable for mankind.
Our local fellow wants us to vote Democratic so we can lower our standard of living yet have no significant impact on what will happen in the coming decades. No thanks!
Mosquitoes dead, but what about the other bugs?
Last Tuesday evening I stepped on to my front porch and noticed the dead and dying mosquitoes, bees, ladybugs, moths, spiders and other small insects. So now we are mosquito-free in Baker City for at least a day or two, thanks to vector control and the pesticide sprayed in my neighborhood.
But what about the honeybees, bumblebees, yellowjackets, flies, ladybugs, moths, spiders and other crawly things too numerous to mention? Weren’t these little casualties supposed to be dinner for a variety of birds and larger insects?
It appears the bird population has diminished considerably in the last 20 years. I’ve not seen a robin in my yard yet this summer. Is it because we are eliminating their food chain? Is there no alternative to simply killing what we find pesky and bothersome?
“If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos”
— E.O. Wilson
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe”
— John Muir
Next year I will request no spray be applied in my yard and I will use the numerous repellents available to me for my bodily comfort.
Care about environment? Vote for Democrats this year
Global warming and climate change are caused by more and more heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. According to Wikipedia, the current concentration of this greenhouse gas is the highest in the past 800,000 years and likely the highest in the past 20 million years.
This man-made pollution results from the burning of fossil fuels beginning with the start of the industrial revolution. It is the foundation for projections by climate scientists of more frequent and more intense extreme weather events. These events are already occurring here and around the world, causing widespread damage and hardship. They include both floods and droughts, tornadoes and hurricanes, fires, melting glaciers and rising sea levels.
These scientific facts are widely recognized and accepted. The only reason they have become a political issue (the Herald’s editorial of July 25) is that most Republican leaders deny their existence.
A striking example is Republican Rick Scott, the governor of low-lying Florida, directly endangered by rising sea levels. In May, Scott repeatedly stonewalled questions about the threat of global warming by declaring, “I’m not a scientist.”
We have that same willful ignorance here in Oregon, where Republican candidates are advocating the extraction and burning of even more fossil fuels.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Dennis Richardson criticizes Governor Kitzhaber for opposing coal exports, saying “Coal is a fact of life, and exporting coal is a fact of life.” (Record-Courier, June 26).
Republican Representative Greg Walden advocates increased energy production beneath federally-owned lands, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to bring crude oil to the United States from Canada’s tar sands, and increased exports of natural gas (his newsletter, June 26).
And Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby opposes regulation of greenhouse emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency, while also urging approval of the Keystone XL pipeline (Oregonian, July 20 and July 21).
We can’t vote in Florida, but we sure can vote in Oregon. If you care about the environmental health of our country and of Spaceship Earth, you will strongly support and vote for Governor John Kitzhaber, Senator Jeff Merkley, and Democratic Congressional candidate Aelea Christofferson this November.
Motorcycle Rally a boon for Baker High School
I want to personally thank the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally, organizers and sponsors for their ongoing contribution to Baker High School. The financial impact and support of this event will be felt long after the sound of twin cam engines dissipate from our community. In total, Baker High School welcomed nearly 400 riders/campers for the four-day event and generated nearly $10,000! All money generated from the campers along with the FFA barbecue and Cheerleader Hogwash goes to support our student activities/athletic programs for the upcoming school year.
The campers that stayed at Baker High School were very kind and courteous during their stay. It was my pleasure to welcome them and I look forward to having them all back next year.
Thank you Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally. With your support, our students and programs benefit greatly. Keep up the good work.
Baker High School principal
To solve problems we need to sit down and talk
Agreements are difficult to reach when we take positions on most anything. Rather than start with positions like supporting or not supporting a living wage that raises workers above the poverty level, we should examine supporting assumptions and reach even further to consider our basic beliefs. At the bedrock of our belief systems is a view of how we see ourselves and how we see ourselves in relation to others. If we see ourselves as an equal member of the human society, we are apt to believe in equality, leading to sharing and caring for others. Contrastingly, we may assert that each of us is responsible for ourselves, and we should plan and work toward self-sufficiency. We should be able to stand on our own two feet.
Neither of these views is complete. Parts of each are needed to form a sustainable and workable system. After all, we can see how difficult compromise is by looking at our legislature. A big step in reaching compromise is to make agreements at the base level. As an example, let’s say that workers should not have to live at the poverty level. Once this is agreed, then we can discuss just what is the poverty level and how much a worker needs.
Invariably, the subject of welfare comes up, and rightly so. Do able-bodied people take advantage of our welfare system. Yes, they do, but only a few. How do we get around this? Well, it seems simple: People who are physically and mentally unable to work should be taken care of. Able-bodied individuals should be required to work if they want to get the benefits of the welfare system. Yes, this would require an expanded government program, but one with accountability, and one that rewards personal responsibility.
I further believe that we could work towards solutions of most of our problems if we just would sit down together and have honest and unemotional discussions.
Drum and Bugle Corps makes it a parade
I was so happy to once again see the Drum and Bugle Corps perform in the Miners Jubilee parade. They made my day!! It is my belief that if they aren’t in it, it isn’t a parade!!
Grateful for a lady’s kindness
On July 24 at checkout stand of a local grocery store, I inadvertently dropped some currency on the floor.
The lady behind me called my attention to it, picked up the dropped currency and handed it to me. Her act of honesty restores my faith in human nature.
She is an employee of Baker City’s newly established “Bee Hive” facility, and her name tag showed “Terrie.” I’m deeply grateful for her kindness.
12 ways the Motorcycle Rally benefits Baker
Here are 12 little-known ways that the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally contributes to our community:
• We promote and collect money for camping at the Baker High School. This year they made almost $10,000!
• The FFA club held a tri-tip barbecue at the school Saturday night as a fundraiser.
• The Baker High School cheerleaders wash bikes and made $2,000!
• The Baker City VFW serves breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. It is their largest fundraiser of the year. Also on Friday night the bar revenue was the best they have ever had.
• In Halfway they sell buffalo burgers to help pay for their annual fireworks show. Last year they made over $2,000. Their most important fundraiser of the year.
• The American Legion Post No. 43 Poker Run brought in over $1,600.
• Relay for life and the Scouts also had fundraisers.
• The Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally is a dues- paying member of HBC (Historic Baker City) and the Baker County Chamber of Commerce.
• We supported the purchase of “Turbo” the drug dog for the Baker City Police Department and for his continuing care. This year we have donated $500.
• For the second year in a row we have given $500 to purchase bicycle helmets for Baker City kids.
• This year we stepped up and paid $2,000 to purchase electrical equipment from the Chamber. We could have rented the equipment to meet our needs but we felt that it was important that this equipment be available, free of charge, for local community events such as the downtown Christmas Tree Lighting and Miners Jubilee.
• We purchased two off road motorcycles for local law enforcement.
Hells Canyon Motorycle Rally operations manager
Minimum wage laws not as good as they sound
Minimum wage laws are another of those ideas which sound good. After all, why shouldn’t a worker have a salary high enough to support himself in a decent manner? Conesquently most Americans support minimum wage laws. But this is an idea which, when you look closely at it, has some nasty side effects. Teenagers are especially adversely affected by these laws.
It works like this: There are certain job skills necessary for being a good, productive employee for all jobs, even for entry level jobs. One must show up for work on time, remain on task, do assigned duties to the satisfaction of one’s boss, phone in when sick, etc. Employers naturally want to hire those who already possess those job skills. But most teenagers who’ve never worked haven’t developed them yet.
In an ideal world, employers could take a chance on hiring teenagers by offering them lower wages than they’d pay older workers, and teenagers who want to work could accept those lower salaries. Then, teenagers would have jobs where they could learn the basic skills needed to become successful employees. But this is not possible today. There is a minimum which employers can pay, and a minimum which teenagers can accept. Consequently many teenagers are priced out of the job market. This is a big reason why teenage unemployment rates are consistently much higher than the average. And regardless of what the minimum wage might be, their salary is $0.00, as they have no job.
Many black teenagers face an even worse job situation than their fellow teens. They come from dysfunctional, failing big city school systems, and so are even more inadequately prepared for the world of work than their suburban and rural counterparts. Their unemployment rate is thus even higher.
The unemployment rate in the United States today is 6.1 percent. Teenage unemployment is well above 20 percent, and black teenage unemployment is an incredible 38.7 percent. It’s easy to see why noted economist Milton Friedman called the minimum wage laws the most anti-black laws on the books.
Minimum wage laws don’t sound so good now, do they?
Forest officials don’t want to listen to the public
In a letter dated July 17 of 2014 the forest supervisors of the three national forests (Wallowa-Whitman, Malheur and Umatilla) of the Blue Mountains closed the door on public comment meetings to the people of Eastern Oregon.
Mr. Laurence of Baker, Ms. Raaf of John Day, and Mr. Martin of Pendleton all signed a letter provided to this paper stating that they did not feel there was a need for public comment meetings, and no extension was warranted as they were doing their due diligence to interact with the public of Eastern Oregon. Mr. Laurence assured a group of people on March 1 that such meetings would take place, now he is declining to move forward with those meetings as promised, yet another misrepresentation of the truth.
The people of Eastern Oregon not only deserve to have open public comment meetings on the Forest Plan Revision, they require such meetings because of the limited opportunities they have to comment on the 1,400-page document. The U.S. Forest Service has supplied three electronic means to submit comments, and one paper means, all in written format, with no way to articulate their positions verbally and has also stated you may visit a supervisor’s or district office to submit comments, that is if one wants to be made to feel like a criminal in accessing an office building, or can get an appointment with a Forest Service employee to discuss the matter.
It is grossly apparent the USFS in Eastern Oregon does not want to engage with the public in Eastern Oregon in an open forum public comment meeting, and they are hoping that the written comment method will help limit the amount of comments they will receive in the matter.
You must stand up for yourselves and have a voice. Please contact the people below and let them know you expect and demand public comment meetings before the Aug. 15 cutoff deadline or request an extension of the comment period on the Forest Plan Revision.
Wallowa Whitman Forest Supervisor – John Laurence –
Malheur Forest Supervisor Teresa Raaf –
Umatilla Forest Supervisor Kevin Martin –
Regional Forester Pena –
Secretary Vilsack –
Chief Tidwell –
Predators are getting the upper hand on people
This letter may seem a little vindictive, but as I watch the Portland news about cougars I can’t help being a little amused.
I grew up in Eastern Oregon. I am now 88. My father ran a band of sheep in the Wallowa Mountains and had to contend with cougars coming into his sheep camp on a nightly basis and killing his sheep. At that time there was a rancher in the area that kept hounds. This rancher kept the cougar population down by hunting with hounds.
Of course at that time there were no animal rights groups to declare this inhumane or to say that we were invading the cougars’ territory. They did the same with the coyote. Now these animals are not even afraid of humans. These predators are killing the deer and elk so much that many people don’t even bother to go hunting any more. In a lot of rural areas the deer have moved into towns to seek food and protection.
The wolves have also become a problem. A few years ago a local rancher was plagued with wolves killing his calves and sheep at birth. He was not allowed to hunt and kill this predator to save his livestock. He would have been fined had he killed the culprit.
People can no longer enjoy camping, fishing, hiking or even a day of picking berries without the fear of what might be stalking them for dinner. Citizens of rural Oregon are very disgusted with the radical animal rights groups that do not understand the day-to-day operations of ranching, stopping to think where the food they are consuming came from. Protecting these animals causes an overpopulation and throws off the natural balance. Lo and behold, when the food the cougars are hunting runs out or stars to take shelter in our towns, where do you think the predators are going to start to look fro food next?
It could be your back porch.
Sacking of mayor another predictable mess
Hooray for Bill Ward, citizen I presume, and fellow thinker in the “I think I smell a rat” pack. For reasons I do not understand I too watched that Baker City Council debacle that started off intelligently and then took a really foul tack, obviously at the direction of two said councilors. Having read an account of the drift being taken and having experienced this same kind of nefarious treatment in parts of my life I knew what was in the offing, and wasn’t surprised when it came unzipped.
Bill asked, “Will we ever have a Council that will learn to respect and disagree at the same time” — and based on my extraordinarily short time of living here (21 years) I have truly seen some strange goings on at the city level, from the mysterious disappearance of a Sunday Portland Oregonian gang of papers, but containing an ugly article on our fair city, city manager sackings, recall activity and now this odd defrocking of the current mayor, aided and abetted by what seems to be ethereal reasoning on the part of the aforementioned gang of four.
I am also a fan of what I call the gang of six fervent and forever negative contributors to this column. I think of them as our exhaustingly persistent crew of boo birds, forever haranguing the efforts of our federally elected government leaders any time they, the BBs see something that doesn’t pass their muster, but what? Where were they with their cutting edge wisdom in this matter. Nowhere, not one of them showed up for muster, so I’ll have to surmise they saw nothing untoward in this dismissal of the now ex-mayor.
Councilor Coles referred to it being akin to a foreign nation coup, to which I disagree. I see it as a misplaced Mississippi lynching.
Our carbon appetite threatens the air we breathe
For the past several hundred million years that part of the Earth above the water has been blanketed with plant life. These plants inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen. The oxygen made animal life possible, when it came along, to exist here also.
It is a good thing for animals such as ourselves that plants separate carbon dioxide into its two elements and lock up the carbon part. For something sinister, for animals, happens when carbon dioxide accumulates in the air above a certain concentration.
Were it not for the great green carbon sink blanketing the Earth and soaking up the carbon dioxide, the air would become too hot for animals to live in. We can be thankful we have this green blanket that keeps up with the naturally produced carbon dioxide and keeps our air ocean habitable.
Or did, at least until we invented autos and planes and diesel locomotives and coal-fired power plants, all of which use carbon for fuel and dump carbon dioxide as waste into the air we all breathe. And for the fuel we keep needing, we dig up the carbon the plants locked up millions of years ago.
At first it made no detectable difference. There were not nearly so many of us so there were but a few of the machines. But we became so numerous and we found so many adaptations for these carbon-fueled engines, all the while mindlessly cutting down our forests and paving over and otherwise reducing the size of the green blanket we depend upon to clean that air, that we have overwhelmed its cleaning capacity. Now there is an excess of carbon dioxide in our air ocean. That excess is heating the great air ocean, which is heating the vast salt oceans. And these in turn are changing our weather. It is well underway.
We get all excited, as we should of course, and promptly do something about it when we find a little cow poop in Elk Creek but go right on dumping the stuff that is going to exterminate us into our only breathing air.