Considering the life of an expatriate, wondering where you might go, how you can insulate yourself from the winged blunders of the political right, a sizable number of citizens are weighing the options— do I stay or do I go.
If you are planning to abandon Utah, the legislative session that ended Friday might provide the motivation. By far the single biggest environmental crisis facing Salt Lake City are the toxins and heavy metals contaminating the shore of the now dying Great Salt Lake. Once airborne the pollution threatens to sicken and shorten the lives of most of the state’s population— you got that right my Mormon faithful Joseph Smith fans. In January the Salt Lake Tribune editorial page urged the politicians to finally find the courage to pass new laws to help stave off disaster and warned that it was now or never— eternity as environmental calamity is one hell of a one-way street to oblivion.
Instead, the legislature focused on stripping away protections for LBGTQ community and ending a woman’s access to abortion. Utah’s lawmakers instead of protecting its population spent its legislative time and energy harassing various constituents they deem as unworthy of protection. If everyone is killed by the impending air quality crisis caused by the Great Salt Lake that’s someone else’s problem— wear a mask, get a better whole house air filter, stop blaming me kid, I got a bloodthirsty mob of lobbyists ready to vaporize my career, compared to your shortened life and premature death I’m facing a form of end-times you can’t even imagine. If you haven’t started packing your bags you might want to at least get to Ross for Less and purchase some discount luggage in preparation.
Salt cavern hydrogen storage in Delta, Utah has taken a turn from the remarkable to outright astounding. The salt caverns will have a storage capacity 150 times greater than all the lithium batteries presently deployed in the United States. You got that right, your smartphone will never run low of battery power ever again. Excess wind and solar capacity will generate energy that will crack water molecules into one part hydrogen and two parts oxygen. The oxygen goes up into the atmosphere the hydrogen goes into the salt cavern. Powerful turbines will burn the hydrogen when the sun no longer is shining, and the wind has ceased to blow. That is power not just where you need it, but power when you need it, it is a kind of stored power, it is a kind of battery. I wouldn’t stop packing my bags just yet, there remain a number of threats in this jungle called life ready to chase your inner Jack rabbit down and toss your sorry soul in a simmering cauldron of despair.
I saw my first electric BMW i4 in the wild this week. A gentleman arriving for Friday prayers at a nearby mosque pulled up to the curb while I was out and about on a walk. Apprehensive at first, he thought I might be an oddball (how did he know), then my smile and battery electric vehicle banter disarmed him. The driving dynamics, fit and finish that is lacking in a Tesla can be found in this new BMW. Automakers chasing Tesla’s lead remain far behind in charging network deployment, but that is changing fast, and look if you are considering leaving why not drive your electric BMW across the border into your new expatriate life.
Scientists in California just released a new study that has found for every 10 new battery electric vehicles in each square mile there is a 3-5% decrease in asthma attacks. You must stop for a moment take a deep breath and imagine what your life would be like if you could not take that breath. Did you do that, are you holding your breath, feeling a little uncomfortable, ok now you can breathe, now you can appreciate how profound this new piece of data is, how lives are changed and suffering is decreased. Having seen a child during an asthma attack I find the promise of clean air an act of mercy on the asthma afflicted. Every square mile anywhere across the state that was measured found the same decrease. What we can’t know yet is what if that magic number was 20 battery electric vehicles, what if the number was 100, or 1000? Of all the things in this world worthy of zeroing out ending the suffering of childhood asthma attacks is close to the top of the list. My hypothesis of the case is that putting an end to asthma would supercharge support for fixing the climate emergency. That is what real winning looks like.
There are several major proposals to do with moving water in and around the American West. The tunnel proposal that will not die continues to be resurrected, the Krugman Zombie-ideas concept is relevant here. Special agricultural interests and not Southern California residential water users are making this mischief. The short but correct answer to this idea is that it is bad for fish, lousy for taxpayers and would only entrench out of control agricultural special interests hellbent on fomenting motivation for your ex-patriotization. Not to be outdone planners on Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell in Arizona are studying the feasibility of drilling water release tunnels below the dam that can both spin hydroelectric turbines and release water further downriver. The hole in the dam piece of this proposal makes sense, the hydroelectric generation piece is a sloppy wet kiss to an entrenched hydroelectric industry. Renewables can do the same job and would be many times less expensive. I say if we are going to dig tunnels first we build one that sneaks us under the wall on our southern border. This is the I hate walls and proper use of tunneling proposal I plan to put before a joint session of dope growers.
California’s Sierra Nevada snowpack is record-breaking. Nervous hydrologists continue to warn that Californians not to set their expectations too high— the water crisis is far from over. The twenty-three-year long drought has drained groundwater aquifers and spring runoff totals remain a concern because of the excessively parched landscape that could soak up runoff before ending up in our reservoirs. Then there is this— meteorologists are anxiously tracking surface water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, there is a very real concern that the forces that created the epic storms of this winter will be met with record breaking heatwaves and ensuing wildfires this summer. This matters to your abandoning America plan, it isn’t just whether you stay or you go, it matters whether you flee to the north or you head to the bikini clad south.
Lithium mining up on Thacker Pass in Northern Nevada after years of litigation broke ground this last week. There is enough lithium on this one chunk of Nevada desert to produce all the batteries US auto manufacturers will use for most of this century— estimates are there is enough lithium to manufacture batteries for 1 billion vehicles. I know you think I’m overstating the potential find up in Humboldt County, Nevada. Better still follow along here while we delve into footprints and spoilage. The Thacker Pass lithium mine will ultimately impact 5 square miles of terrain. By comparison in the USA as of today the oil and gas industry has a footprint of 11,500 square miles— that’s equal to three Yellowstone National Parks, or an astounding let’s say it all together two-thousand-three-hundred-times more besotted precious earth than is contained in the plans for this one Northern Nevada open pit mine. Thacker Pass is near Fort McDermitt where part of the Shoshone-Paiute people has lived for thousands of years. Failure is not an option. The project is complicated, not without environmental risk and if all goes well could prove beneficial to global fight against climate change and importantly the economic fortunes of the lives of the regions first people. If we might summon the talent and determination as a nation to contain the impacts of mining on Thacker Pass, to mitigate the pollution, dust and contamination from runoff, all of these impacts are achievable then we will have taken a huge positive step in our efforts to turn back the threat we all face from carbon pollution.
Thacker Pass is a mere four-hour drive from the Great Salt Lake, another two hours to the salt caverns in Delta, Utah. There’s a lot going on out here besides whiskey drinking, pickup driving, and hot spring skinny dipping. Saddle up partners let’s fix the broken bits and enhance what’s right and good, there’s a fuse burning and a whole world to save—
Not buying it, feeling bummed out, got this sinking feeling in the pit of your tummy that it’s time to just get the hell out of here— could be one way to go, or perhaps you rally your inner Ukrainian, you summon the courage to stand up to the bully on the block, you plan to not surrender one inch to the barbarians at the gates, you intend to help fend off disaster and help to heal the self-inflicted environmental wounds that are overheating our one precious world—
I’m thinking my people, your people, all of us people can do this— fitful and as painful as the one-step forward two-steps back nature of our world is— we can do this—