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Day By Day© by Chris Muir.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

the environmentalists are going to have to wake up

first of all, here is the link to the article in the sunday sf chronicle that i'll be referring to throughout the following rant.

there is a huge battle brewing in northern california. it centers around several issues
  • indian rights
  • environmental health of a major california river
  • water rights for farmers
  • power generation

the Klamath River supports 3 indian tribes, farmers, and 5 power generating dams that help supply power to the region. the dams are up for review, and may end up being removed. what's at issue is more than just salmon runs. commercial and sport salmon fishing in the entire california coastal areas may either be closed down entirely or seriously curtailed. while southern runs are still relatively healthy, the fish mingle at sea. to protect the klamath run, the fisheries folks may kill this year's season completely.

at the center of the issue is a series of dams and reservoirs that heat the water, making it a prime breeding ground for several vectors dangerous to wildlife.

fish ladders have been bandied about as a means of helping restore salmon levels hindered by the presence of dams. but the real issue is water flow for all. farmers need water, which is supplied from the storage reservoirs provided by the dams. fish need fast cold water to kill off the parasites and provide a healthy environment to live and breed in. consumers need the dams to provide power.

the company managing the dams has removed 3 dams in oregon in the last couple of years, because fish ladders have been found ineffectual.

so where the hell is the power going to come from? the environmental and business issues with water regulations are one facet of the problem that i honestly don't have an answer for. indians that have relied on the fish for generations are now being backed into a corner as the stocks dwindle. farmers need water. without water, farmers can't raise crops. without crops, food supplies availablity lowers, and prices rise, affecting us all, but more the lower end of the economic scale than others. even a small increase in the cost of food represents a large percentage change in buying power.

and power, that is a separate issue entirely. one of the solutions i have in mind would allow removal of most of the dams, yet keep water supply reservoir capacity high enough to support farmers. we simply cannot disregard the effect of removing even small power sources from the grid. california has been teetering on the brink of third world status when it comes to power supply. the last several years have had brownouts, outright power failures, and an almost constant haranguing from the power distributors to cut back cut back.

every time an alternative is presented, whether it is installation of more wind turbines or small "neighborhood" fossil fuel power plants have been met with enviro's and nimby's loud and litigious protests. "the turbines kill birds" and "you only put these plants in low income areas" are common complaints. and damming the rivers is one of the factors driving the current problems

well, i've been reading an increasing number of articles by enviros that are finally seeing the light.

what do we need to do? say screw the fish, and let the indians find another way to support their way of life? tell the farmers to piss off, and learn to farm "dry" crops (which nobody buys in the supermarket, by the way. everyone wants corn, tomatoes and other crops that use a huge amount of water)? erect 50 foot walls around the state, to keep the influx of people at zero, while killing off all children born over a specific numerical limit? this state is growing, and if the latest round of protests are any indication, california will continue to be a destination for cultures where children are born far above the numbers needed to simply maintain a stable population.

what are we going to do? my suggestion: build nuclear power plants. big ones, out in the sticks, with transmission lines feeding the grid. seems pretty simple to me. i dont see it happening though, because most of the folks enamored with the whole "environmental" culture are mono-focused, caring only about the tiny slice of the whole issue that interests them, and to hell with the rest of the world. so what if by preventing logging you establish conditions which would cause total devistation by fire, as happened in the trinity alps in northern california a couple of years ago. so what if the farmers are all driven out of business, as long as the fish get water. so what if the state's infrastructure can't support the burden of uncontrolled population growth: you can't stop the illegal immigrants. it goes on and on. so what if fossil fuels are dirty and place us in the unenviable position of relying on an unstable region for our energy needs.

building nukes won't solve all the problems. it won't solve many of the problems. but what it will do is supply power to a state that needs it desperately. power to toast bread, show movies, energize traffic signals, run factories. power needed to stave off inevitable brownouts, and worst case senario: rotating outages as seen in a lot of the economically depressed/deprived parts of the world. that's not a place i want to live in.

build 'em. we'll use 'em. and maybe, because there is an alternative to dams as power sources, we can actually start to do something positive for our environment, and the people that live in it.


Blogger Redneck Nerdboy! said...

You can't build a plant in the sticks there! It'll kill the red-spotted mosquito! You can't build it there either! You crazy? It'll wipe out the three-toed gray breasted field mouse!

There's only one imperfection in this world, and it is imperfect only because it chooses to be: Humanity. Even in that, there is perfection, though. So despite all the shit that's happening, I can't help but wonder, is it all for a good reason? I dunno.

4/3/06, 11:46 AM  

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