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Tom Turner's blog

Bill McKibben is on a crusade. He wants to pound the number 350 into the heads of everyone on the planet, including yours.

Three fifty is the amount of carbon in parts per million that the atmosphere can handle safely without warming up and melting glaciers, raising the sea level, bringing on killer storms, destroying wildlife habitat, and all the other horrors that pop like mushrooms from your morning paper nearly every day.

Three fifty. Remember it.

I'm not one to write about internal affairs very often, but there was a West Coast celebration last Thursday evening (March 6) you might enjoy hearing about.

I have a simple rule of thumb to decide how to vote on the ever-more-complicated, ever-more numerous propositions that infest the ballot here in California come election time. It is this: Anything that is supported by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is something that I will enthusiastically vote against. The late Mr. Jarvis and a co-conspirator named Paul Gann managed to get a property tax measure passed in 1978 that ruined the public schools in our fair state and caused much other mischief that we still suffer from.

Sometimes, not often enough but sometimes, the bad guys get their just deserts. (And yes, that's deserts not desserts in case you wondered. But I digress.)

...the next 11 months promise to be even worse than the last 85!

By my oh-so-sophisticated calculations we have now endured 85 months of the Bush assault on our environmental laws, our environmental agencies, and our environment itself.

We've had a spate of stories here in northern California about the crash of the fall run of king salmon returning to spawn in the watershed of the Sacramento River. Historically, many hundreds of thousands of the fish would return annually; this year the count was around ninety thousand, which spells disaster for salmon fishermen up and down the coast. It is also one more indicator that the river system, and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in particular, is very sick, largely because of the enormous volume of water diverted via giant pumps for agricultural and domestic use.

The stimulus package has pretty much disappeared from the front pages with Super Tuesday upon us and the New York Giants pulling off the greatest upset since David smote Goliath. But, in case you missed it, the suggestion we echoed last week that this moment offers a rare chance to get some green projects going quickly is being trumpeted in the Senate. The House has already passed a single-purpose show-me-the-money bill that would give most of us a few hundred bucks to stimulate with. The Senate Finance Committee, meanwhile, has approved a bill that includes cash for us taxpayers but also would provide some $5.5 billion in renewable energy tax credits, energy bonds, and other encouragements to renewables and energy efficiency. Here's what like-minded groups think about it. And a recent study by the Blue-Green Alliance, a Sierra Club-United Steelworkers project, suggests that such federal encouragements could create upwards of 820,000 new jobs to boot. The President will scorn this approach no doubt, but it'll be interesting to see whether the Senators hold firm. This really is one of those historic opportunities, or so it seems to us—a chance to make concrete the argument that combating global warming offers great economic opportunities.

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