Conservatives blame  California drought

on environmentalists

    Is California’s epic drought really the result of too much meddling by environmentalists like some conservatives have suggested?

     While no one questions that California is in the midst of one of the worst droughts in recent history, the jury is still out as to why, at least according to some conservatives like former Hewlett Packard CEO and 2016 Republican Presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina.

     This past April, Fiorina told talk show host Glenn Beck that California’s drought was a “man-made disaster” caused by “liberal environmentalists” who blocked the construction of appropriate reservoirs and other infrastructure that could have helped prevent the current crisis. The vast majority of the state’s 1,400 dams and reservoirs were built more than four decades ago.

     According to FoxNews, environmentalists “have since stopped the construction of water storage and delivery systems through legal and political actions” while fighting “to ensure that captured water is released into streams and the ocean — rather than the water delivery system — in order to boost fish populations and dilute the salinity of the delta.”

     Conservatives are particularly incensed about releasing water from the state’s control to help a small number of fish species already on the brink of extinction anyway. Priority #1 for state wildlife officials has been protection of the endangered delta smelt, a three-inch long minnow that feeds on plankton and has a tough time surviving passage through the pumps of California’s existing water diversion system.

     Since the fish was listed as endangered in 1993, biologists have tried to maintain a friendlier environment for it by withholding fresh river runoff that would otherwise go to homes, businesses and agricultural operations across the state. The state has flushed upwards of 1.4 trillion gallons of freshwater into the ocean since 2008 to protect delta smelt from the water system pumps. But despite these herculean efforts, delta smelt look to be headed for extinction anyway.

     “In California, fish and frogs and flies are really important,” said Fiorina. “California is a classic case of liberals being willing to sacrifice other people’s lives and livelihoods at the altar of their ideology.”

     She went on to tell MSNBC that whatever California does to address climate change at this point won’t make a bit of difference: “A single state, or single nation acting alone can make no difference at all, that’s what the scientists say,” she said. “We’re disabling our own economy and not having any impact at all on climate change.”

     “Droughts are nothing new in California, but right now, 70 percent of California's rainfall washes out to sea because liberals have prevented the construction of a single new reservoir or a single new water conveyance system over decades, during a period in which California’s population has doubled,” added Carly Fiorina. “This is the classic case of liberals being willing to sacrifice other people's lives and livelihoods at the altar of their ideology.”

     Of course, environmentalists counter that blaming them for their efforts to preserve and protect landscapes, hydrological flows and wildlife is nothing more than a smokescreen to divert attention from the real culprits in California’s current drought woes: climate change due to man-made carbon emissions and our profligate water usage habits.

     EarthTalk is produced by Doug Moss & Roddy Scheer and is a registered trademark of Earth Action Network Inc


Racism, hate do not

grow in a vacuum

                                    By Cary Brunswick 

     In America, there are no ``lone wolves’’ committing racial violence.

     Yet, many observers and media commentators insist that because Dylann Roof was not a card-carrying member of some neo-nazi or white supremacist group, he was acting in a virtual vacuum, or was just another sicko with a gun. That is nowhere near the truth.

     Roof was charged with nine counts of murder Friday, two days after attending a prayer group at an African-American church in Charleston, S.C., and gunning down several members of the congregation. Those accusations should be followed up with federal hate-crime charges.

     That tradition of hate goes back centuries, when the bigotry and inhumanity of slavery was intensified each time an African dared to speak up, challenge authority or seek to break the shackles of slave-owner brutality.

     For 100 years and more after the Emancipation Proclamation, not only speaking up and challenging authority but simply trying to live a decent life in freedom spurred hatred in minds infected with the tradition of ideas that espouses white racial dominance through violence.

     For decades the Ku Klux Klan and other vigilante groups carried out tens of thousands of lynchings of blacks who did nothing more than try to make ends meet in the shadows of their former plantations.

     Before the lunch-counter protests and bus boycotts, as a child I saw first-hand blacks trudge out to the back of diners to order through dilapidated windows. I watched as black children made their way up rickety stairs to sit in balconies to view motion pictures high above the white kids seated below.

     As long as blacks behaved as directed by institutionalized racist segregation, they were permitted to co-exist. Their fears were reserved for the discriminate terror often unleashed by the vigilantes.

     But the murders and massacres of the 1960s civil rights era illustrated just how far white supremacists were willing to go to preserve their inhumane vision of post-slavery society.

      Birmingham Sunday, nearly 50 years ago when a church bombing killed four black girls, stands out as a stark reminder of how the terror of racism can slaughter innocents as well those who dared cross the lines of segregation. And there have been numerous black churches bombed or burned since then.

     The sickness of white supremacy and the advocating of violence have not abated, and the message is readily available in the age of the Internet. Today, minds infected with racism do not have to attend KKK meetings; they just have to log on.

     So, when South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says ``that we’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another,’’ we have to wonder what would motivate her to misunderstand the tradition of racism and hate still prevalent and so easily accessible.    

     Haley’s statement is made even more absurd by the fact that she is a minority, an Indian-American born to Sikh parents.

     Commentators also have tried to paint Roof as a ``monster,’’ ``loner,’’ and ``deranged.’’ All those descriptions may be true, but they are not aptly used in connection to the tradition of violent racism that obviously infected Roof.

     And that tradition exists in South Carolina, though it may not be as well known as in Alabama and Mississippi. The debate over racism in recent days has shifted to the Confederate flag displayed outside the statehouse in Columbia, S.C.

     In the South, Confederate flags are a common sight. For most people, they represent a southern heritage, a regional identity or a spirit of independence from the North. But the flag also cannot be divorced from the racism and slavery for which it was primarily raised.

     Mayor Joseph Riley Jr. of Charleston, in an interview on CNN, said the flag on statehouse grounds ``needs to go into a museum’’ because ``for hateful people like Roof … it’s a symbol of hatred.’’

     Then, Gov. Haley finally agreed it was time for the flag to be removed. “We are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer,” she said. “The fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something that we cannot stand.’’

     For Roof, the Confederate flag that he so proudly hailed and displayed was a link to the tradition of institutionalized racism, and we have seen how that tradition has the power to transform its darker, violent side into the minds of racists who slaughter people just because they are black.