Don't trust the frackers
Run the other way when the Big Boys say, "Trust me."
EXXON Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson sued in March to stop construction of a fracking-field water tower on his Texas ranch. This man has publicly blasted those who object to the hazardous nature of frack-zone life by characterizing their complaints as "manageable risks" and environmental protection as "dysfunctional regulation" that is holding back American economic recovery.
Tillerson's private truth: He doesn't want to live with loud trucks and an ugly tower that pose a noise nuisance and traffic hazard while damaging his quality of life and lowering his property value!
We should not count on a game-changing epiphany for Tillerson even though he has been invited to join the Society of Citizens Really Enraged When Encircled by Drilling (SCREWED), fighting for years to protect the health of communities.
It's tempting to imagine Tillerson experiencing "manageable risks," but this issue is so much bigger.
Best to help our fellow citizens discourage fracking by stopping the 36-inch pipe the Big Boys want to run under five Southern Oregon rivers to export fracked gas. Email Governor Kitzhaber: Say you are against the Pacific Connector Pipeline.
Very viability of life on Earth is at stake
Forty-four years ago, Earth Day was born because of concerns for air and water quality. Today, the very viability of life on Earth is at stake.
A recent report released by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world's leading authority on climate change, says that to avoid catastrophic global warming, the world needs to rapidly shift away from burning fossil fuels and move toward less polluting sources of energy. What do they mean by rapid? The panel, made up of 235 scientists from 57 countries, concludes that only an intensive push over the next 15 years will start us on a course that will give reasonable hope of keeping the planet from heating to dangerous levels — levels that will cause massive loss of health and life.
While we can be encouraged by the panel's observation of a rise in political will worldwide to curb carbon and other greenhouse emissions, we are obviously lagging. How can we hasten the redirection of investment toward clean energy technologies? Ask our policymakers to put a price on carbon fuels that reflects their true cost to society and the planet, then let the free market work.
The IPCC report sends out an urgent call to face this challenge before us with expediency. Celebrate Earth Day 2014 by letting your elected policy makers know that transition to a low-carbon future ASAP is the only sensible choice.
All of Ashland is a wildfire zone
A proposal of emergency responders to designate all of Ashland a "wildfire hazard zone" has significant consequences for urban planning. It will reduce careless development in the city's wildland interface and improve public safety.
As a fire ecologist who grew up in Ashland, I have witnessed growth in the community's awareness of fire dangers, but it is not yet wise.
A common misperception is that forest thinning in the Ashland Watershed will protect the community. In fact, flammable vegetation, steep slopes and summer weather make it too likely that an accidental ignition anywhere could spread into the watershed and compromise the drinking water.
In contrast, a fire in the mountains is not likely to spread into town. Forest thinning will not save homes.
If a structure cannot ignite, then it won't burn. A wooden roof, clogged rain gutter or firewood stash near a home increases the risk of total property loss. Homeowners must take responsibility for living in a fire-adapted environment.
Ashland should adopt the new zoning proposal as fast as possible. Tapping into Medford's water supply for the sake of redundancy is a good idea, too.
Family farms, not foreign agri-biz
I am a family farmer who supports the passage of Measure 15-119 because it protects families, farms and the future of our local economy.
Genetically modified crops in our food system will necessarily expose us to increased herbicide pollution as well as the economic disadvantages of chemical dependence in agriculture. The opposition fails utterly to address this issue, preferring instead to employ disinformation about the purported costs of enforcement, which would be nil.
The "herbicide treadmill" brings farms and farmers into a lower estate, putting control of our food system into the hands of mega-corporations who will effectively own local production.
Nearly 60 local organic farms produce over $4.5 million in annual sales (2007 USDA Census). Genetically modified crops grown in Jackson County by Swiss Syngenta Corporation have cost family farmers thousands of dollars in lost seed contracts and other knock-on effects.