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Letter to the Editor for Aug. 27, 2014


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..

Marshall McComb

Baker City


Focus on forest, not just plans


Disdain for the U.S. Forest Service’s draft plan for managing the Wallowa-Whitman, Umatilla and Malheur national forests is widespread.

Commissioners from 10 Eastern Oregon counties, including Baker, don’t much like it.

Local residents have expressed their concerns in letters to the editor and other forums.

Most recently U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, the Oregon Republican whose congressional district includes the three Blue Mountains national forests, summarized some of the most common complaints in a letter to Regional Forester Jim Peña. Walden wrote that the three national forests “are in poor condition and dire need of proper management that will restore forest health, reduce catastrophic wildfire, and sustain the economies in these rural communities. Unfortunately, it seems that this plan falls short of meeting these needs of the forest and the communities.”

We understand why people are worried.

We agree that the forest plan, which will replace management plans for the three national forests that date to 1990, should emphasize more strongly the need to do more logging and other work, including prescribed burning, to reduce the risk of large blazes.


Three decades later, a look at Orwell’s big year

British author George Orwell made the year 1984 famous decades before it arrived, but he was no Prince.

No Bruce Springsteen, either.

Orwell coined several iconic terms in his dystopian novel written in 1948, among them “Big Brother,” “Newspeak” and “thoughtcrime.”

But Orwell didn’t bust any ghosts.

Nor did he sweep the leg.

Three decades have passed since 1984, which bore little resemblance — in America, anyway — to the repressive regime Orwell’s fertile mind imagined and his agile pen rendered.

Certain Democrats might have disagreed, I suppose, what with President Ronald Reagan trouncing the hapless Walter Mondale that November to claim his second term.

 Liberals’ disdain for the Gipper has dissipated slightly over 30 years, although I don’t believe this is because his critics have soberly reappraised Reagan’s record.


Letters to the Editor for Aug. 13, 2014


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

Baker City

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

Fax:  541-523-6392

USPS Mail to: Blue Mountains Plan Revisions Team, P.O.  Box 907, Baker City, OR  97814.

Christina Witham

Baker City

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!

Pete Sundin

Baker City


Summer of reading


Summer vacation is perhaps the most hallowed and beloved of traditions for kids.

But it’s not all fun and games.

While they’re going to the beach and the swimming pool and the campground, students tend to forget some of what they learned during the previous school year.

We’re not suggesting summer vacation be canceled.

But we’re awfully glad Baker students have the option of REAL — the Read Everyday And Learn program.


Protecting the Elkhorns


The east face of the Elkhorn Mountains is one of the great natural settings in Baker County, forming the dramatic backdrop for Baker Valley, and it’s in danger.

The threat is fire.

Over the past quarter century, while lightning-sparked blazes charred more than 30,000 acres elsewhere in the Elkhorns, the east face has in the main escaped that fate.

A blaze burned about 1,000 acres on the east side of Red Mountain in September 2006, but before that the last major blaze on the east side of the Elkhorns was the Anthony Burn of 1960.

But you need only look a few miles to the west to see what an ill-timed lightning bolt can do.


Fatigued by ongoing heat, and online idiocy


The heat barged in, the genuine article, and in the manner of a boorish house guest who was not invited, the heat has stayed on.

This summer has seemed to me especially oppressive because it arrived with all the subtlety of a John Bonham drum solo.

June was cool, but pleasantly so, with most afternoons ideal for pulling weeds or taking a nap in a lawn chair. 

The temperature topped 80 on just two days that month. June concluded with a week of highs in the 60s and 70s.

July, by contrast, betrayed its nature immediately.

July 1 was the hottest day of the year — 89 degrees — but it retained the title about as long as Clubber Lang did in “Rocky III."


Letter to the Editor for Aug. 6, 2014


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.

Susan Castles

Baker City


Keep our crime lab operating


Baker County District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff said last week he’s worried about the possibility that Oregon State Police will close its Pendleton crime lab, the only such lab in Eastern Oregon.

We’re worried, too.

To that reaction we add another: disgust.

OSP officials said they have made no decision about the Pendleton lab.

The potential problem, they said, is money.

Specifically, there might not be enough of it for the state’s 2015-17 biennium to avoid cuts in State Police.

This problem has a simple solution.


Letters to the Editor for Aug. 4, 2014


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.

Marshall McComb

Baker City


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