Tag Archives: Climate Change

Thacker Pass as salvation

End of the Line for Texas Tea

Up on Thacker Pass in Humboldt County, Nevada there has been discovered one of the largest lithium deposits in the world. How can I explain how big-the-big, gigantic, enormous lithium ore deposit is in terms that let you wrap your head around the size of this discovery? Back of the envelop—spitballing—figure over the next 4 decades there is enough material deposited at this site to make batteries for about 1 billion electric automobiles. I could be off either way by a billion or two, but you get the idea there’s a lot of potential sitting on this caldera in the wild wonderful Great Basin Desert.

Mining lithium, in this instance an open pit mine, will tear one hell of a hole into the landscape. Cattlemen and women will lose access to 10,000 acres they have been leasing from the Bureau of Land Management, and consequently if they do lose this lease there will be a predictably tense use of pejoratives, expletives and derogatory language filled with spleen, vexations, and disgust. Range fattened heifers and steers add to the bottom line of the cowhand’s ledger, every single head is make or break.

You take a cowboy with a bent nose, toss these brawlers together with two-thousand open pit miners and you’ve got yourself a timeless tale of fistfights and deer poaching. Once the lithium mine is constructed, once both the extraction department and the refinement and packaging side of the operation, plus the steady stream of big rigs running up and down Nevada State Hwy 293, once that’s all up and running, why you have brought change to a corner of a world that hasn’t much changed at all since the European immigrants arrived and pushed out the Western Shoshone and Northern Paiute Indians, the first people to settle here 17,000 years ago.

Now figure that in this one place if it is done right, you’ll use the best pollution control systems. This will be the first lithium mine in the world to process straight from out of the ground. Evaporation ponds have been the only viable method, but geophysicists believe they have come up with an efficient means of pulling the lithium out of the ore without using evaporation ponds. East or west of Thacker Pass there are hay growing operations, and they’re all jumpy as a pack of coyotes about any enterprise that may threaten the water supply. Toss in some sage grouse endangered species concerns and well there you go, the whole conundrum mashes up into one whopping remake of the shootout at the OK Corral.

There’s a new sheriff in town. I’m going to try to paint you a picture of what the world, cowboys and miners might pull off for “each and every last dog gone one of us.” First, the mine compared to oil and gas explorers will have a footprint incalculably smaller than the fossil fuel barons’ operations. No more stinky refinery’s, no more oil drilling rigs, no more offshore platforms, no more tankers running aground, no more oil spills, no more smoke in the sky, pollution in your lungs, and credit cards at the limit because you drove to Disney World in your dang titanic V-8 internal combustion engine powered all-wheel drive pickup truck.

As for all those good paying jobs. Here’s how I would want to cut this pack of labor faced playing cards. I want the mine company to donate to the Nevada Department of Fish and Game. Make it a sizable donation, every year so long as the mine is in operation. Get some funds set aside for Environmental Protection Agency remediation efforts. Support sage grouse habitat expansion across the entire Great Basin Desert. Why not pay a stipend to the ranchers and hay growers, come up with a formula, cut them in on the deal, wouldn’t hurt anyone and might make folks who’ve been scuffing by in Northern Humboldt County appreciate and support the mine and enterprise. I’d suggest money donated to local schools, increase the size of the region’s health care services, and support the county fair south in Winnemucca. I believe it is time to cut the great Western Shoshone and Northern Paiute Indians into the deal.  

Give Bugs and Snakes a Chance

Let me explain what in tarnation all this generosity and altruistic community building is about. The last thing the good people of this region need is a corporation muscling in on their way of life and not getting one red cent for the inconvenience. Instead of alienating every single solitary tractor driver within 50 miles of Thacker Pass try sharing some of the profits, try helping that little guy who hasn’t caught a break since unionization dried up and Ralph Nader’s complaining about Corvairs was a topic of current interest.

Transactional win-win is the key to this enterprise. I would keep the mining town’s footprint as small as small can be. Pay your miners a good living wage so that when a man says, “the drinks are on me…” that the worker can actually afford to pickup the tab down at the famous Alluvial Fan Saloon and share some of the fat in his wallet with those hay growers and cattle operators.

I’d offer classes in how to plant your own garden, kill rattlesnakes, squish scorpions and how to properly clean, oil and your long gun. Volunteer to help the hay growers during harvest, make friends with a Basque sheepherder, and eat more mutton. Church is fine, but taking roping lessons, helping move cattle off a mountain for a neighbor or asking the cutest philly you’ve ever seen to the country fair dance might help everyone and everything. Rodeo queens, barrel racers and a rough and tumble rural woman you might convince to go out for a four-wheel drive to watch sunset could make this lithium mine business something to make a life around.

Capitalism mixed with a properly arranged set of social services could go a long way toward making this new energy system a success as we scramble to save our necks from the “Holy Toledo, it is too dang hot out here.” A more enlightened approach might do us all some good. Disability insurance, retirement benefits, free day care, real health insurance, yoga classes, Wednesday night bingo, and paid vacation time will help everyone.

If Thacker Pass is approved, I’ll have more to say about the project. We don’t have just a world to save we’ve got lives to build. Communities willing to help deploy carbon free technologies should benefit for their effort and sacrifice. The era of fouling our own nest with filthy fossil fuels is coming to a close. I’d prefer to see America smarten up, can’t just be about the fat cats and well connected. Time for us to cut the working man back into the deal. Not a better place to begin than up on this mountain right about starting now before we lose our way, our freedom and this experiment is self-governance. Saddle up buckaroos, we’ve got a whole world to save, and a country in need of more love.

Hope is the New Dope

We Start From Here and Now

There is a bright future. In Colorado energy researchers at the Rocky Mountain Institute make it their business to know a thing or two because they’ve studied a thing or two.

Battery storage when paired with solar and wind is the cheapest form of energy on the market in 2020. Coal and natural gas can’t compete. Once photovoltaic solar panels are deployed, once a wind turbine is stood up there are no additional costs. You don’t need to buy fuel to make energy.

Natural gas power plants to make any sense built now would have to make electricity well into 2060. If they were shutdown sooner the costs of construction would be stranded. The writing isn’t just on the wall the word is out on Wall Street. Change has come to the future of electricity.

In middle of August this summer I was in smoke from Bend, Oregon until I was past Ogden, Utah. That is over six hundred miles of hellscape.

Conflagration of many kinds

Last week in Northern California because of the Glass Fire in Napa County exercising outside wasn’t just uncomfortable it was dangerous.

In 2017’s gigantic Thomas Fire health experts calculated that because of the smoke there would be thousands of health related illnesses, that thousands of lives would be shortened, and even if hard to quantify some fragile compromised people would die immediately.

Wildfires are pernicious. People can’t hope to have predictable lives around natural disasters. In the before-time’s, we almost could make a case for slow walking our response to our emergencies. With wildfires growing larger, hurricanes more frequent, a President flummoxed by an invisible virus, because of a fragile psychologically disabling pride, he leaves our nation floundering in the vice grip of these many tragedies.

The date was November 8, 2018. Malibu’s Woolsey Fire had just started. I got a good look at that fire after takeoff from Burbank. An hour later approaching Oakland for landing there was more smoke blowing down from the Camp Fire, this is the deadly fire that killed 85, destroyed over 13,000 homes and leveled  the town of Paradise, California.

Researchers at Rocky Mountain Institute are helping to develop hope. Green hydrogen, better batteries, more efficient solar panels and a more resilient national electrical grid are just some of what they are busy trying to understand and deploy.

Fixing what ails the atmosphere doesn’t require the discovery of anything we don’t already have in our toolkit. Wearing a mask, washing hands, maintaining physical distance from others goes most of the way toward keeping us all safe and alive from a virus. Things are not that difficult.

The current occupant in the White House has failed our country. His being voted out of office is job one. Most of what we face after will be the good work of a nation regaining its balance and purpose.

Singing Telegram Gigging

Living in an Unpredictable World

Psychological resilience in this after-times is demanded of civilizations players. To survive this rollicking adventure we must adapt to fast moving viruses, wildfires, and weaponized inequality.

Mask wearing, I don’t mind. Socially distancing, I’m hermetic by nature. Vaccinations, I’m ready when they’ve got one that works.

Yesterday I could see and smell smoke here in Northern California where wildfire erupted in Napa County. Evacuations were ordered. Being forced out of your home is disorienting, especially while fleeing and having forgotten your mask.

Into the Wildest Places

Perhaps yours is not but my economy is shattered. For the moment if you are landing on your East Hampton’s helipad things might be just dandy. The peasants in pitchforks are plenty stirred up by the madness that passes for a Republican President and Congress but whether they are going to slow roast their hard-hearts remains a longshot. As we say in the trade, “I like oligarch I’ve just never been able to finish a whole one.”

Swift moving flames of wildfire burn one thing down and odd as it seems another thing isn’t touched. Entertainment industry is shuttered the lives of tens of thousands of ballet dancers, actors, singers, musicians, choreographers, conductors, orchestras, theme parks, circus shows, street performers are all out of work. Movie theaters, Las Vegas, nightclubs, comedy joints, strip clubs, and singing telegram gigs are all kaput.

Better Living Through Virus Dodging

All of what had been reliable and true is no longer the case. We may not wander about the world with our passports, enter and exit most of the world as we once did. We may have thought living on some leafy lane a terrific bit of pastoral splendor at one time and of course now you’ll have to have your head examined before occupying such a residence.

We continue to struggle about whether citizens are going to have access to health-care. Two months from now our Supreme Court may toss out the Affordable Care Act and with it will go coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions. Depending upon how you count that group of unfortunates, to give you a ballpark figure, approximately all of us will be affected by this change.

Starter Home

As we all dash about dodging the plague and wildfires while searching for new jobs, because we can’t perform the work we’ve spent our life training for, our titans of finance are doing their damned best to get their morally bankrupt huckster back in the Oval Office.

History’s warning chastens our self-conceit. Turning the page on the industrial revolution and building a brighter more survivable renewable energy economy is like you know going to take a moonshot. The technology has all been invented, we have the tools, what is lacking is a means of organizing the human spirit into a coherent civilization saving act.

We’ll need leaders at the top. We’ll need an activist citizenship. Mobilizing will require a colossal deployment of people and technologies. Jobs will be plentiful. The economy will thrive, but yeah there are going to be winners and losers. To that end we’ll show those sectors of the economy that need a hand up how a more compassionate capitalism can work.

None of what I’ve outlined is remotely original. This plan waits. November’s election is crucial. Democracy, civilization and the football season are all on the line. Vote like your season tickets depend upon it.

Making it Real

The Inconvenient truth about wildfires

Laura is a Category 4 hurricane barreling through the Gulf of Mexico’s overheated waters taking aim at East Texas-West Louisiana. The timing of Laura’s arrival is a national nightmare. Predictions are for tidal surges to reach up to 30 miles inland.

Driving through Oregon and Idaho Sunday and Monday I was in thick smoke from wildfires. The haze stretched 400 miles. The scale of our disasters, both political and environmental are unbound.

Patriots that gave their lives for our freedom

Fight like your life depends on it. Don’t think for one second if the current executive office holder can cage those children that he won’t eventually get around to caging your children. Authoritarians don’t play nice. You get on the wrong list and your share of nice is coming to a startling end. Guaranteed by 180k souls that have already found out.

Wildfires are bigger, hurricanes more powerful, our newest pathogen is easily spread, it kills, hospitalizes victims, wreaks havoc on internal organs. Somehow we have gone merrily along the road of denial as our world becomes ever more unmanageable.

Our most populous state, California has in the last five years been terrorized by the largest fires in its history. In 70 years California’s population has gone from twelve million to forty million. Arriving with this rising tide of authoritarian sympathizers and left coast liberals is a mentally deluded leader with no talent for confronting reality.

Look it is now only a matter of time before one of California’s wildfires comes racing down the hillsides toward one of our treasured places. Berkeley, Palo Alto, Mill Valley are all in harms way. What does the day after we lose the fight to save one our city’s look like?

We must not surrender what so many sacrificed to preserve

Like pretending that a highly contagious pathogen wouldn’t emerge crossover from wild animals to infect mankind was to put it succinctly just dumb. And then there is the matter of how deadly a new pathogen might be.

So as we try to scale our troubles we might well consider the corner we are in and how best to extract humanity from this tight spot. First we’re going to have to fight this virus. Getting this bug under control will be no small or easy task but we can’t do much else until we do. Second, we’ll be digging out of a horrible economic collapse and like FDR we’ll need to put millions back to work building an energy system for the 21st Century. Third, we’ll be busy prosecuting the cult that erupted in our midst and followed their dear leader over the cliff. In the midst of all of this we’ll be fighting wildfires and seeking emergency shelter from gargantuan climate emergency fueled hurricanes.

We start by voting. Don’t vote for people that like caging children, want to take health care away from citizens, like to cut taxes on billionaires and send the working stiffs off to foreign wars. Use your head and get a grip about the superficial color of another human beings skin. We are out of options and fascistic alternatives make matters that much worse.

Time to not just be safe but to get real.

March 20, 2018 Solstice Mesquite Tree Love

Running for My Life

Mesquite Powder
South American Sourced Mesquite Powder

My people are on foot. I see them much as I do when I slip into Shangri-La Vegan in Emeryville or Flora Vegan in LA’s Silverlake District. So what does that mean? Do they all look like buskers and busker girlfriend’s?

For sheer simplicity I am drawn to the messaging around One Step for Animals Organization. No complicated arguments here. The simple ask of the omnivorous is to stop eating all things feathered. Explanation and persuasion are so last century. Put down the drumstick, eat a carrot, save the world. You don’t need to know why.

Shows this weekend in Oakland at Children’s Fairyland where I’ll gather the youngest among us and their parents, relatives and neighbors along  the banks of Lake Merritt. Triggering laughter born of kindness and sincerity from both an eight and eighty year old is a gratification of the highest comic order. I love when I ask a three year old where they are from and they say—–from my mommy’s tummy..!

Nopales
All Things Desert Edible

Awaiting downstairs is an exercise machine, the famed treadmill. I’ve more than a few hours scheduled. I’ll read about the early training of the great ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov. Athletes can attain higher levels of virtuosity with skilled coaching. Street theater has had only a few. More on this later.

In Hot Spring Honeymoon the pinion pine nut is selected as a pivotal plotting element. So I am all the more transfixed by praise sung for the mesquite tree by Tucson’s Desert Harvesters Organization. Trees rock! I think you’re beginning to see where the World Emergency Full Catastrophe Climate Change Comedy Show is being born from.

Friend’s— buy a book, book a show. Get stuck here, come back for another visit. I’ll try and keep it real. We need reality— a good laughter saturated dose of— sobering reality

Edited Red Star

Links:

https://www.desertharvesters.org/

https://www.onestepforanimals.org/why-one-step.html

March 14, 2018 Weather Related

You Win a Baby Blue White Leather Interior Cadillac

Boat
He drives a boat

Rain is the sworn enemy of a street performer. Cold wind and ice come in second with unbearable high humidity and heatwaves next. The not too hot, not too cold is supportive of such things as solvency. It is the shoe that is always about to drop. We’ll discuss noise in another post.

I’m feeling slightly less dread after seeing that back east in Western Pennsylvania there turned out to be 113,813 people that see the world same as I see things and 113,186 people that don’t. No matter— I’ll fight just as hard for their Social Security and Medicare. Best of all we’re just slightly less off the rails this morning. That’s a good thing.

I’ve got a good pile of nonsense stacked up on my desk, some writing to do, a bit more Norman Mailer to digest, and an exercise bike and handstand training session dead ahead. That’s how we roll here in downtown Los Angeles Arts District.

Arts District Art
Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

For those living in Northern California you may turn your attention to Oakland, California for the weekend of March 24-25. I will perform beneath the oak trees at Children’s Fairyland. The first paragraph in this post could influence the outcome or even whether I appear at all. We’ll see.

Something on global warming…“If you haven’t personally experienced climate change then you haven’t pissed off my wife yet.”

Thanks again for pulling on in and spending half a minute of your valuable time with me. Come on back. I’ll be right here doing my part to make this a better world and a niftier website.

Edited Red Star

March 11, 2018

Walk in Park

Trailer
Welcome to the Good Life!

 

New Vaudeville was a term of art coined some decades back. Musical hall, standup, variety artists, and street performers needed a new flow chart for what had come before, what was happening at the moment and where this juggernaut of new wave entertainment energy was heading. One of the purposes of this website is to simply make my show and production skills available. So there is that on offer here.

 

A Sense of Balance is Good

Fascinating conversation this morning about Feng Shui, permaculture and collecting edible plants in the Sonoran Desert. What’s on your plate? What are you cooking? Keep in touch, write me a note, let me know what you think we should do about making this a better world for those yet unborn ancestors who will be arriving here soon.

Edited Red Star

Start Here (More Beginnings…)

Starting Here
Clipper Cove on San Francisco Bay

 

I’ve wanted this portal, my main link to the outside world to speak more immediately, about things that concern us both today. My main concern is that this evening is road dog night. Jump from downtown Los Angeles back up to Northern California. So there is that.

But, what you have come here for may be for a great many much more grand purposes than to find out where the seat of my pants is going to be placed somewhere after sunset. I understand how you feel.

Here we go. Let’s try connecting a few dots. Show business first and foremost is to be found right around this page. You can visit my highlight reel link just above where you’ll find a short piece of Dana Smith in Edmonton from a few years ago. Shot, edited and to the extent possible Alan Plotkin tried to be sure to annoy his subject matter by including certain moments of resistance the entertainer encountered while playing to his crowd. So there’s that.

You can check out my novels by clicking on the link. You can sample some of my blog posts. You can contact me and last of all once you’ve put yourself through all these digital contortions you can grip that mouse in your hand firmly click and depart for virtual experiences near and far, better or worse, few I prefer to believe a good bit less bent than mine.

I’m wrestling with some new writing on the topic of street theater. Have a boat I’m getting ready for sailing off the coast of California this summer. I’ve been threatening to mount a new performance titled the World Emergency Full Catastrophe Climate Change Comedy Show. It’s not like I’m just sitting here counting my lucky stars. I’m working twice as hard as the next guy and getting half as far. Artistic endeavors are seldom achievements we can measure as going lightning quick. More like they take their own good time, arrive as they will, when they’re ready. Sort of like this website change. I want to welcome you here by keeping it real and fresh. I’ll be back soon enough with more for you to see and chew. Until then eat more vegetables, drink more water and try to get some sleep.

Edited Red Star

Taking the New Normal for a Spin

Burned Out Four

Valley Fire 2015

Lake County, California

We flew south from Seattle to Burbank arriving over the Thomas Fire where the blaze had just crossed from Ventura into Santa Barbara County. Last summer’s dry season never came to an end. Instead this fall the Southland of California was treated to twenty degree above normal temperatures, low humidity and then the voluble Santa Ana winds.

Last nights flight down the coast was crystal clear, picture perfect. While cool in Seattle less average was the clear sky. Less than common still was the monolithic singular cloudless atmosphere witnessed the entire length of the west coast. As we approached Burbank after sunset we descended over the top of Los Padres National Forest. Looking down off the starboard side of the plane we could see flames approaching Carpentaria and further north near Montecito. The fire had in just twenty-four hours consumed another one-hundred-thousand acres with the most inhabited of those yet to be consumed acres in sight. Both densely populated communities are thickly canopied and in any other moment would be regarded as blessed with a handsome landscape. Not visible were the five thousand firefighters who had cut fire breaks. Standing along the break they braced to snuff out blowing embers that might escape from the national forest and ignite a blaze within the city limits of the two communities. Thousands had been order evacuated. The Department of Homeland Security had no answer to this terror threat.

There have always been wildfires, but there had always been a time of year associated with the fires. In decades before the present California had grown to near forty million citizens. In past times the wildfires happened out there in the wildlands far from the California car crazed maddened clogging crowds. An unintentional a price had come due for our obsessive horizontal sprawling real estate development. And as we all know Mother Nature bats last in the game called life. In this instance wildfire had come to speak about the risks homeowners take when locating their domicile adjacent to a tender dry fuel loaded landscape that with one accidental spark and aided by an ill-timed windstorm can ignite an inferno of unstoppable proportions.

My much loved daughter in Seattle and her partner have put off any thought of having children. Even at just twenty-five they’ve recognized and noted that the climate has changed, they know that the world is in trouble and the trouble that most concerns them is the trouble people make for the people who take climate change as a real and present threat. Stalemates are quaint even useful on a chessboard and existentially suicidal when played on the surface of the earth.

Puerto Rico is in super hurricane ruins, barely able to function, its electrical grid destroyed. Houston pounded by rains and floods- turned into a lake and now is mecca for slightly water damaged furniture. California not to be outdone has put on a wildfire show unlike any other. How we react, what we do, the planning and precautions we might take will tell us all we need to know about how smart, how intelligent, how adaptive and resilient our species is. Stalemate and gridlock might be a useful tactic in our nations capital but it won’t work here. If ever the world needed enlightened leadership now is that moment. If you are an optimist it is never too late, for the pessimists it already is, either way Mother Nature doesn’t care. Facts speak for themselves.

great tree

Piece of Reality Prior to Wildfire

 

The Invisible-Glorious-Full-Stop

DTLA-Arts District

Start from Where You Find Yourself

Here on the rotisserie in LA it is expected to go triple digits. For one hot second I’d deluded myself into believing the autumnal equinox had passed, summer was over and that Trump would have folded like a cheap piece of patio furniture by now.

As far as trifecta’s go I’m a raving savant.

The future is akin to a plane on autopilot. Doors locked, we can’t get in, there’s a mountain dead ahead. Believe me I’d rather be on a beach listening to Kenny G, reading my GQ while sipping on my first extra dry-stirred not shaken- Sapphire martini.

Is it just me? Yes, it is evidently just me. Everyone else I know wants beachfront property, doesn’t believe in tsunami’s and dismisses the reports of Antarctica’s demise as premature. Even displaced polar bears sighted south of their ancestral range turns out to be attributed to nothing more than advances in ecotourism.

Even my chakra’s, all seven have told me to just take a chill pill, stop worrying, it’s all coming to an end, but it’s a great ending without the Koch’s, Trump’s or Murdock’s surviving any of what they’ve so fervently wrought.

Today my car still starts, radio works and I know where the hell I’m going for at least the moment. Having been a pilot of the prairie, the daring-do-dude of the desert I can unplug the plug-in-hybrid and go. Blinkered, emotionally bombed out- gutted like a cathedral under renovation I can take my sorry-to-have-to-do-this-to-you-self out into the vast emptiness of the terrifying void where I’ll try to find a can of start-over.

So, there you are and here we go. To the barricades. Helmet on, optimism thermostat turned to full on. The scout will sprint ahead looking for a plausible path through the impasse. Probably to be found under a rock, at the counter of a country store, or maybe locked inside my heart of hearts. I haven’t looked there in a while. Must be a key to my soul somewhere.

 

sign

The Sign I’ve Been Looking For