Dan Newhouse has a new schtick, looks like. Having alienated a big chunk of his constituency through the uncharacteristic act of trying to protect democracy, he’s back-pedaling into “conservative” la la-land as fast as he can. His latest exercise in absurdity, the CATASTROPHES Act, is apparently designed to ensure that scientists have as little say in the GOP version of the environment as they do in the GOP version of the pandemic. This raises a couple of thoughts:
First, how many hours-worth of my taxpayer dollars did it take to think up that ridiculous name? Dan, if you must fiddle away your time doing nothing particularly useful, how’s to take up doodling, or Sudoku: they just wear out pencils, which I’ll happily provide, and will presumably cause less brain-damage among your long-suffering aides. This competition to cook up catchy acronyms for goofball legislation, while not exclusively a GOP preserve, does seem a good bit more prevalent within the Party of No Ideas.
Second, as a firefighter and the son of something of a luminary in forest management, I’d appreciate it if you would un-wedge your head just a little. We’re burning because it’s way too hot and way too dry practically everywhere in the West, and anybody with a glimmering of sense recognizes the link between that and the wacko way the climate is behaving. Call it what you will, we’ve created a hell of a mess by over-tweaking our planet, and, while we’re all guilty, at least some of us are trying to do something about it; maybe give it some thought? As for landowners caring for their land, tell that to the Dustbowlers, the residents of the Imperial Valley, and the folks who live in the Amazon … oh, wait, those folks down there are brown, so I guess they don’t count.
I had really hoped that Dan, having done something right for a change, was on a roll, and would continue paying attention to what’s good for his country. Silly me: He knows he’s done at the polls, but, all the same, he’s too invested in his lies to change.
Please be safe
Human-caused: Two words we do not want to hear!
Several years ago, a construction worker was welding on a bridge west of Ellensburg. This was during a burn ban and outdoor work ban. There was no fire spotter nor water truck. Of course, a wildfire started.
It would seem we are in a similar situation, as the Cub Creek Fire appears to have been human-caused. Whether fires are started by carelessness, ignorance or intentionally set, these fires have the real potential to take human or animal life. They also destroy the natural habitats, peoples home and dreams and businesses.
When I was a kid in Colorado, my Pop would carry a water jug and shovel for fire suppression. In our exploration of the Methow area, my wife and I have come across numerous abandoned campfires. We always have a water jug and shovel. Campfires are not the only source of wildfires. Burning rubbish in piles or burn barrels and tree trimming piles are all good sources of ignition.
A couple years ago on the drive up to our cabin, we saw open flames along the side of the road where one of our neighbors had been burning tree boughs. The boughs had completely burned, but the embers had gone down into the pine needles. The neighbor said they thought the fire was out and drove home. Luckily there was snow left over from winter. We were able to extinguish the fire using the snow and my trusty shovel. I am certain that would have been a devastating fire.
The main reason for writing is to inform and remind folks of being fire smart. You can prevent forest fires, just like Smokey Bear says. You can also start fires with carelessness. Be fire smart!
The number of “anti-vaxxers” who refuse the COVID vaccine in the supposed name of personal liberty is both astounding and frightening. They refuse to acknowledge that they are putting their families and communities at risk of infection and death. Do they also refuse to use car seats for their young children? Car seats are a government mandate, not just a strong recommendation like the vaccine.
It isn’t just Americans who act so stupidly. France has started requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to attend most public events, restaurants, etc. Like in the U.S., vaccination is free in France. Yet unvaccinated people there are paying up to $500 for counterfeit certificates of vaccination. The penalty for offering or using a false certificate is up to three years in prison and $50,000 in fines. Hundreds have already been arrested in the few days since the vaccine certificate went into effect.
Back here, even if you can hardly see it through the smoke, you’ve probably noticed how low the Methow River is. It’s less than half the median flow in Winthrop. Water to junior rights irrigators has already been shut off, as it has been in most recent years. Yet the county commissioners are fighting in court to be able to allow more subdivisions and houses to drain our water supply even further.
Here in the heat and smoke greatly exacerbated by climate change that humans continue to cause, it’s hard not to think the whole world has gone mad.
OK, maybe not the whole world. At least a few small towns and cities are placing moratoriums on new building. As one Utah mayor asked: “Why are we building houses if we don’t have enough water? . . . The right thing to do to protect people who are already here is to restrict people coming in.” Makes sense, particularly in a fast-growing state where groundwater and streams vital to both farmers and cities are drying up from endless droughts.
Don’t be childish
Although I am thankful that Dan Newhouse is working on legislation to help mitigate wildfires and support all of us affected by them, I am deeply saddened to see he has taken it as an opportunity for name calling. He decided to call his act the “Stop Causing Alarming Tree, Air, and Soil Trauma Resulting from Obstructive Progressives’ and Hypocritical Environmentalists’ Schemes Act,” or the Stop CATASTROPHES Act.
To Mr. Newhouse: Alienating the many progressive environmentalists in our state and country for no other reason than to call names will not help you get legislation passed. Please work on this in a reasonable, cooperative manner rather than politicizing your district’s pain and fear in what is frankly a childish way.