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.
Can’t we have a City Council that works for the city?
I have been asked many times by various citizens to run for City Council. Now I would like to make public my reasons for not running.
I can’t remember in my 33 years living here a single city council that wasn’t dysfunctional in one way or another. The citizens vote for what they perceive to be citizens interested in representing the city as a whole in matters of importance. What we always end up with sadly is several worthy council members doing exactly that, and a few that bring their own personal agenda that serves them and not the citizens.
This current Council is case in point. The citizens voted for the councilors, and as the paper pointed out the citizens have no vote as to who is chosen mayor. But each voter realizes one of the seven would be elected mayor and therefore we wouldn’t vote for any councilor we felt would be inadequate in the job.
Unfortunately, four councilors felt that rather than wait for the seating of a new City Council in order to pick a new mayor they would vote Richard out now.
Will we ever have a Council that will learn to respect and disagree at the same time, and the key word here is respect. We have four councilors that like children when the game doesn’t go their way, they take the ball and go home.
The four councilors that decided their personal agenda is more important than that of city business is by far the most compelling reason I can think of for not wanting to run for public office. My hat is off to now Roger Coles, Dennis Dorrah, and now simply Councilor Richard Langrell for doing the right thing. You have my full support as well as sympathy. As for the other four Councilors, have you ever thought actions such as yours are always seen negatively by any business thinking of relocating to Baker City. You did this the very same week we will have thousands of visitors to our fair city, what will they think of you?
Bentz is right: We can accomplish more together
I was impressed by Rep. Cliff Bentz’s calm and thoughtful response to the controversy that exists in our use of natural resources (“Bentz: Timber gridlock annoys,” July 7). While others may promote conflict and confrontation, Bentz reminds us that collaboration can produce win-win solutions that benefit us all, and he specifically calls for “a sturdy line of communication between state and federal agencies and local governments.”
It’s likely that such vigorous communication actually can overcome environmental lawsuit barriers and lead to increased, sustainable employment in the timber industry. Bentz urges us to explore additional job creation opportunities, as well, and so do I.
In my opinion, a most productive first step toward wage growth and prosperity in our community would be to recognize the epic damage caused by the growing inequality of wealth in our country. There’s been a heartbreaking decline of the middle class.
American wages have been stagnant or shrinking for the past 35 years, as good-paying jobs were lost to computer automation and off-shoring. Profits have increasingly gone to an elite few, who are lightly taxed.
One widely-discussed solution: engaging with all levels of government, we could increase incomes by enhancing the Earned Income Tax Credit. If more families had a livable income, it would quickly and substantially increase the amount of money circulating in Baker County and elsewhere, and more jobs would follow. Everyone would benefit.
Abraham Lincoln warned us that “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Fighting each other, we invite disintegration. Let us not allow fear and ideology to cloud mutual respect and high regard. Working together we can realize the potential of our collective genius to discover surprising, new solutions that transcend our individual views.
Privatizing federal land would limit our freedoms
The same night that the Republicans held their debate for county commissioner there was an article about Seneca Jones, a timber company, buying part of the Elliot Forest, which is a part of the state forest lands that were laid out to support schools and colleges. Evidently the state land board got frustrated fighting with environmental groups so decided to show them and sold about 800 acres to the private company. That land which used to belong to the people of Oregon will now have no trespassing signs posted on it.
I mention this in response and support of Bob Whitnah’s letter in the Baker County Press. He is dead on. If you like the freedom of movement you grew up with in the West then pay damned little attention to the periodic Sagebrush Rebellion stuff that periodically comes out of Nevada. Privatizing federal lands would be extremely difficult with 435 congressmen, 100 senators, nine Supreme Court justices and a president all having a say. The Seneca Jones situation illustrates exactly what would happen if federal lands ever reverted to the states. With the wealth of the country becoming ever more concentrated in the hands of a few it wouldn’t be long before the super-rich bribed, contributed to elections and bought their own state legislators and worked out a deal to privatize and own what is now collectively yours. In Oregon those with the power would number less than 100 to do this, on the county level three elected officials might be able to do it.
The western United States is unique in all the world for providing freedom of movement for its citizens. I grew up western and will fight to keep that heritage. The idea that I should be surrounded by no trespassing signs on my land is unacceptable. That doesn’t mean I am always happy with the way my lands are managed but at least I have a say. Once they are in private hands I have none.
Two-parent family remains best option for society
Sociologist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, “Much of the social history of the Western world … has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.” We have inherited from our ancestors something which works: the two-parent family. A man and a woman marry for life and provide a home for their children. It’s not perfect; we humans aren’t perfect. But numerous studies have established that this is the best environment for raising happy, healthy children — it works.
Then a generation ago along came no-fault divorce and the sexual revolution. Both sounded good at the time, but once adopted, they have led to the single-parent family. Single parents want to raise happy, healthy children, of course, and many do. But they are laboring under a handicap. They are trying to do by themselves a job best done by two people.
Mr. Sowell, a black man, was appalled at the destructive effect this change has had upon the people of his race, particularly the young men. Huge numbers of them spend significant amounts of time in jail, and all too many are murdered in gang violence. They make the neighborhoods in which they live hells on earth.
Some claim that this is evidence of racism in our society, but it’s not. The rate of out-of-wedlock births in our inner cities is around 70 percent. The refusal of these young black men to marry the mothers of their children deprives them of the civilizing impact young women can have on them, and significantly increases the odds that their sons will share their unhappy fate. For them, the single-parent family most decidedly does not work.
We whites should not feel complacent. As the rate of our out-of-wedlock births continues to increase, our young men are sharing the same pathologies afflicting young black men. We’re just not as far down that path as they are.
Western civilization has tinkered with the institutions of marriage and of the family, and the results have not been good. But we have not learned from our experience, and continue to replace what works with what sounds good.
We need to organize to fight global warming
A small group has been meeting to discuss the changing climate and the global warming that is causing it and what we can do about it. Soon we are going to call a public meeting of people seriously concerned about global warming who, like us, feel that we should be organized.
When I approached my nieces about joining such a group each declined, saying in effect: “My plate is too full already.” These are young women with young children who will be adults, doing the world’s work 40 years from now. That is, they will be only if enough of their parents come to realize that efforts to save the habitability of the Earth is the most important work of their entire generation. No other generation ever had a more important task.
Many disbelieve “all this global warming stuff,” citing evidence of one-time rivers and forests in the Sahara and palm trees and crocodiles in North Dakota as proof that the present warming is but one more normal variations of Earth’s climate. However, there is one critical difference between now and then. This time the warming is caused by 35.6 zillion (however many that is) tons of carbon we have put in the air, and which we must slow down adding to until the Earth’s various carbon traps catch up. This we do by such things as switching from gas to electric autos, from coal to solar power, and greatly reducing the number of jet flights. We must somehow get the coal and petroleum corporations to leave in the ground $20 trillion worth of coal and crude that they would like to have us buy and burn.
Sooner or later we must have the government in our struggle and on our side. For this we must be organized, for being organized we are a movement, and movements move governments as nothing else does. Enough people concerned with global warming can keep the Earth habitable for when your kids are running it. You young parents, we need your talents, your energy and your numbers.
I’m a veteran who received excellent care from VA
I am a veteran. I receive all of my medical care since 1999 at the VA medical facility at Boise. My experience with this VA medical facility is quite different than that reported in a recent editorial which appeared in the Herald and which is being reported in most of the major news media.
I have received excellent and timely care consistently during this time span. While under the care of the VA medical system I have suffered two events which could have been either life devastating or fatal. One involved prostate cancer and the other a blockage of a carotid artery. Both of these events were dealt with in a timely and efficient manner.
I believe that the news media has a duty to investigate and report a complete story, not just what gets people’s attention. There is a bright side to the VA medical facility story that should be addressed. I know. I’ve been there.
Writer didn’t mention effectiveness of vaccines
In a recent guest opinion published in another local paper, Baker County resident L.E. Castillo criticizes a new Oregon Health Authority vaccination requirement that parents who opt out of having their children vaccinated watch a “vaccine education module.” Castillo bolsters his objection by citing several studies showing that some children suffer adverse effects from vaccines.
Based on these studies Castillo advises parents “not to vaccinate your children until you’ve done some homework.” As an alternative to vaccination, Castillo recommends “homeopathic vaccine alternatives.”
Castillo makes no attempt to present the overwhelming evidence that vaccination prevents deadly epidemics that used to plague the world.
Parents magazine has this to say about vaccination: “The odds of experiencing a vaccine-related injury are greatly outweighed by the dangers of catching a vaccine-preventable disease. The measles vaccine, for instance, can cause a temporary reduction in platelets (which control bleeding after an injury) in 1 in 30,000 children, but 1 in 2,000 will die if they get measles itself. The DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis/chicken pox) vaccine can cause seizures or a temporary ‘shocklike’ state in 1 in 14,000 people, and acute encephalitis (brain swelling) in 11 in 1 million. But the diseases it prevents are fatal in 1 in 20 cases, 1 in 10 cases, and 1 in 1,500 cases, respectively.”
Bottom line is that Castillo leaves out of his guest opinion the most important information that parents should have in making the decision to opt out of vaccinating their children.
Harvey reflects on campaign, thanks voters
I would like to say thank you to Baker County for the vote of confidence you have shown in the primary election as your next Baker County Commission Chair. As I reflect on the following:
• Interview with Super Talk Radio Eddie Garcia
• Input with Lars Larson
• Participating in two different forums
• Mass mailing
• Radio ads on local stations
• Weekly Round Table meetings
• Placement of over 300 signs
• Attending the Rural Area City Council Meetings,
I am still amazed and greatly humbled that it was the individual person who took the time to learn about the issues and made the choice to cast their ballot. That is what really made the difference.
I would specially like to say thank you to the many volunteers who spent countless hours, providing me with documents, legal information and input on the many different areas that affect our county as a whole today. I am also grateful for those that provided the leg work getting the word out regarding my campaign.
Finally, a great big hug and thank you to my wife Lorrie who encouraged me, supported me, prayed with me and took on the role as my campaign manager.
After the November general election, it will be time to get to work and I am looking forward to January 2015.
Anyone following the Baker School District knows we have been through a lot in the past few years. Boards of directors are comprised of people with different backgrounds, temperaments and agendas and go through periods of peace, as well as dissent.
Yet every board member provides clear thinking in some area of expertise. For the past three years, Mark Henderson has given the Baker School District board a strong orientation in practical business sense and clear thinking. While he is now leaving the board for new business opportunities, it is worth reviewing his good record of service on the board, since a review would not only say something about Mark, but also reveal important things about the board.
Mark came to Baker County in 2005 and read the newspaper stories about the Baker District facing decreased funding and increased expenses. He was concerned about his two boys, at the time in pre-K and first grade. Many people would just grumble and not do anything. But Mark decided to see how he could help.
He emailed Doug Dalton, financial manager for the district, to learn more and find ways to help. Mark soon found himself on the budget committee, a group of residents that goes over the district’s proposed budget and makes recommendations to the board. Even at that early stage, Mark showed he was knowledgeable, applying the common sense of a business owner combined with the compassion of a parent with children in the district.
Editorial board wrong on same-sex marriage ruling
In its editorial article, “Judge gets it right on marriage,” the Baker City Herald editorial board gets it wrong in my opinion. By its own admission, the editorial board supports federal Judge Michael McShane’s ruling to overturn Oregon’s approved Measure 36 which defines marriage as “between one man and one woman.” Judge McShane, who is an openly gay federal judge, singlehandedly disenfranchised 1,028,546 Oregonians who voted to approve Measure 36 back in 2004.
The editorial board quoted Mr. Mike McLane, minority leader from the Oregon House, saying, “... today’s ruling is a logical extension of the Supreme Court’s ruling last summer ...” His statement implies that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was rejected; however, this isn’t completely true, only part of it was rejected. It’s my understanding that the USSC didn’t consider Section 2 of DOMA in the United States v. Windsor case, which essentially declares that U.S. states and territories may deny recognition of same-sex marriages originating from other states and territories. Prior to Judge McShane’s ruling, a same-sex couple’s marriage in New York would not have been legally recognized in Oregon under Section 2 of DOMA, which is still in effect today.
The editorial board may have had it right when they said, “...we expect that were the matter put to Oregon voters today, the outcome would be different than it was a decade ago.” A recent SurveyUSA poll conducted for KATU showed that about “52 percent of the 600 adults surveyed said voters should vote on the issue while 45 percent said the issue has been decided.” However, in that same poll, “66 percent said a judge should not have the right to ‘in general’ overturn the will of voters.”
Dan Brooks’ feat would have pleased Leo Adler
One of my most vivid memories of Leo Adler was how ecstatic he was when any Bakerite achieved a notable accomplishment. He wore a grin a mile wide and told everyone he contacted. He simply felt his beloved Baker was enhanced by the accomplishment of one of Baker’s own.
I can assure you Leo is beside himself with the news of Dan Brooks and his Duke ladies golf team capturing its sixth NCAA golf title. And well he should be. This is a feat unmatched in golf annals. Dan has brought great credit to Duke University, his ladies golf team and to golf as a sport. And at the same time he has done it with humility and grace.
We should all take a page out of Leo’s book and share the great pride we all have for Dan’s accomplishment. He has done his university, himself and his entire Baker family well!
Baker Heritage Museum is in good hands
We attended the spring meeting of the Friends of the Baker Heritage Museum and were very impressed. Chris Cantrell is doing a wonderful job as the director of the museum. The exhibits are so interesting and tell the story of life in Baker County for so many years. The Museum Commission and the Friends officers are well-organized. The Museum is in good hands.
Alice Warnock, By Brinton, Caroline Sherrieb and others who had the foresight to rescue the old Nat and see its potential as a museum would be so proud!
John and Frances Burgess
Forest Service ‘designates’ where you can go
The U.S. Forest Service is currently taking comments on the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision (BMFPR). This plan will serve as the “zoning ordinance” for the three national forests found within the Blue Mountains. One particular phrase should be of grave concern for any member of the public that enjoys motorize access into “The Blues,” as most locals lovingly refer to them. That phrase is “Designated routes.”
Designated routes sounds like a harmless enough phrase that you simply designate uses of current roads and move on. Unfortunately it’s not that harmless. Designated routes are the cornerstone of how the Forest Service has successfully closed hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands throughout the West, and it has also been successfully stopped in regions where the public has actively engaged in the process and acted against it.
To understand designated routes one need look no further than their home. Envision your home as it is now, with the freedom to move through it as needed, accessing every resource you need to have a complete home.
Now let’s “designate routes” through your home and see how that works. Lay a piece of tape down the middle of all your floors, you are only allowed to be 3 feet from the tape at any time. You may not touch any items outside that 3 foot buffer.
You now have “designated routes” — fun, isn’t it?
Your yard has been deemed needed as a “wildlife corridor” area and now is off limits to any big wheel, tricycle or lawnmower activity. You may walk into your yard, however, you may not utilize any motorized tools.
Does this make the picture clearer as to what the BMFPR really is? It’s Travel Management (road closures) with a different spin on it.
The USFS will tell you it’s not about road closures, and that is a true statement. This document is even more sinister, as it sets the foundation for the USFS to close roads as it states it is YOUR DESIRED CONDITION to see routes designated.
Do you really want your access “designated” away? If no, you had better get to commenting on the BMFPR.
John D. George