Tag Archives: California

Moving beyond America’s war on wildfire: 4 ways to avoid future megafires

Tools for a prescribed burn conducted in the Sierra Nevada in November 2019.
Susan Kocher, CC BY-ND

Susan Kocher, University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Ryan E. Tompkins, University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Californians have been concerned about wildfires for a long time, but the past two years have left many of them fearful and questioning whether any solutions to the fire crisis truly exist.

The Dixie Fire in the Sierra Nevada burned nearly 1 million acres in 2021, including almost the entire community of Greenville. Then strong winds near Lake Tahoe sent the Caldor Fire racing through the community of Grizzly Flats and to the edges of urban neighborhoods, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people – including one of us. Those were only the biggest of the 2021 fires, and the risk isn’t over. A wind-blown fire that started Oct. 11 was spreading quickly near Santa Barbara on the Southern California coast. Continue reading

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‘Striketober’ in Full Swing as Nearly 100,000 Workers Authorize Work Stoppages

“You might say workers have declared a national general strike until they get better pay and improved working conditions,” said former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Puplished 10-13-2021

Members and supporters of SEIU Local 49 picketed Aug. 21 at Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center in Hillsboro. Two days later Local 49 wrapped up strike balloting: The result was a 98% vote to authorize a strike. (Photo courtesy SEIU Local 49)

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich observed Wednesday that with employees in industries across the spectrum set to strike in the coming days following corporate leaders’ failure to meet their demands for fair pay and working conditions, the U.S. is closer than it has been in decades to experiencing a general strike.

“You might say workers have declared a national general strike until they get better pay and improved working conditions,” wrote Reich in The Guardian. “No one calls it a general strike. But in its own disorganized way it’s related to the organized strikes breaking out across the land—Hollywood TV and film crews, John Deere workers, Alabama coal miners, Nabisco workers, Kellogg workers, nurses in California, healthcare workers in Buffalo.” Continue reading

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PG&E Charged With 11 Felony Counts—Including Manslaughter—Over 2020 Zogg Fire

“PG&E has a history with a repeated pattern of causing wildfires that is not getting better,” said Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett. “It’s only getting worse.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-24-2021

A fire crew battles the Zogg Fire on October 2, 2020. Photo: California Conservation Corps/Wikimedia Commons

One year after its aging equipment sparked a wildfire that killed four people in Northern California, Pacific Gas & Electric on Friday was hit with 31 charges, including 11 felonies, by a county prosecutor who cited the formerly bankrupt utility giant’s “repeated pattern” of causing such conflagrations.

Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett announced the charges—which include four counts of felony manslaughter—at a Friday press conference during which she said there is “sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that PG&E is “criminally liable for their reckless ignition” of the last autumn’s Zogg Fire, which burned more than 56,000 acres, destroyed over 200 buildings in Shasta and Tehama counties, and killed countless wild and domestic animals. Continue reading

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‘Long Overdue’: EPA Bans All Food Uses of Neurotoxic Pesticide Chlorpyrifos

“Finally, our fields are made safer for farmworkers and our fruits and vegetables are safer for our children.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 8-18-2021

Photo: ConsumerNotice

Public health experts and labor rights advocates celebrated Wednesday after the Biden administration announced that it “will stop the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on all food to better protect human health, particularly that of children and farmworkers,” following decades of demands for government intervention spurred by safety concerns.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final rule on chlorpyrifos days before a court-ordered deadline stemming from legal action by advocacy groups that have long sought a ban on the pesticide, which is tied to permanent brain damage in children. Continue reading

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‘This Is What Bipartisanship Looks Like’: Vicious Fire Tornado Caught on Film in California

“Climate policy isn’t about imagining a spectrum from left to right and finding the sweet spot in the middle. It’s a zero-sum battle with physics.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-8-2021

The National Weather Service shared video footage captured by the U.S. Forest Service showing a firenado that formed over the Tennant Fire in California’s Siskiyou County on June 29, 2021. Photo: U.S. Forest Service

Responding to dramatic footage that went viral Thursday of a so-called “fire tornado” unleashed recently in North California, a longtime aid of Sen. Bernie Sanders said the event—viewed through a political prism—could be seen symbolically as the destructive result of corporate-friendly policies in Washington, D.C. masquerading as bipartisanship while the world burns amid an intensifying climate emergency.

“This is what bipartisanship looks like,” tweeted Warren Gunnels, currently the staff director for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, which is chaired by Sanders. Continue reading

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‘Surreal’ and ‘Distressing’: Climate Experts’ Predictions Come True With US Heatwave

“The current heatwave and drought leave no doubt, we are living the dangerous effects of the climate crisis.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-18-2021

As what the National Weather Service described as “dangerous and record-breaking heat” affects 50 million people across the Western United States even before the first day of summer, climate experts and activists are using the hot conditions to reiterate warnings and calls for policy change as scientists are seeing their dire predictions come true.

“The current heatwave and drought leave no doubt, we are living the dangerous effects of the climate crisis,” activist and former Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer tweeted Friday. “Action is urgently needed.” Continue reading

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Democratic Lawmakers Urge Barrett to Recuse Herself From Koch Dark Money Case

The members of Congress note that Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-funded advocacy group, mounted a “full-scale campaign” in support of the justice’s confirmation.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-20-2021

Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation hearing. Screenshot: C-SPAN

Three Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday urged U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett to recuse herself from a pending case revolving around the nonprofit arm of Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-funded political advocacy group that spent heavily to ensure Barrett’s confirmation to the bench last October.

In a letter (pdf) to Barrett, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) argue that Americans for Prosperity’s big spending campaign in support of the newest justice’s confirmation casts serious doubt on whether she can be impartial in Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Rodriquez. Continue reading

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UN Chief Warns World on ‘Verge of the Abyss’ as WMO Releases Climate Report

The warning came alongside the release of the World Meteorological Organization’s State of the Global Climate in 2020, which said it was one of the three warmest years on record.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-19-2021

The CZU lightning complex fire burns along Butano Ridge and in Pescadero Creek Park, in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. This fire would later grow to over 85,000 acres and destroy over 900 structures. Photo: Inklein/Wikimedia Commons

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned Monday that humanity stands “on the verge of the abyss” as the climate crisis pushes the world “dangerously close” to hitting the 1.5 degree Celsius target limit of warming.

Guterres delivered the ominous remarks at the launch of the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) State of the Global Climate report—a publication he said “should alarm us all.” Continue reading

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As Biden Ramps Up Detention Capacity, Group Warns Contaminated Military Bases ‘Are No Place’ for Kids

“Immigrant children under the care of the federal government should not be in cages, let alone toxic sites in military bases,” an Earthjustice attorney said.

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-2-2021

Photo: Jerry Dunleavy/Twitter

In a move that was condemned by environmental justice advocates on Friday, President Joe Biden’s administration earlier this week sent 500 unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors to Fort Bliss—a highly contaminated and potentially hazardous military base in El Paso, Texas—and is reportedly considering using additional toxic military sites as detention centers for migrant children in U.S. custody.

“We are extremely concerned to hear of plans to detain immigrant children in Fort Bliss. Military bases filled with contaminated sites are no place for the healthy development of any child,” Melissa Legge, an attorney at Earthjustice, said in a statement. Continue reading

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MONARCH Act Introduced to Ensure ‘Beloved Pollinator’ Is Around for Future Generations

“In only a few decades, a migration of millions has been reduced to less than two thousand butterflies.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-17-2021

Butterflies seen at Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove on November 30, 2015. (Photo: Sandy/Chuck Harris/CC BY-NC 2.0)

A group of bipartisan lawmakers introduced two bills on Wednesday to boost conservation of the western monarch butterfly to save the population from total collapse.

The legislation comes at a critical moment for the iconic species. The Xerces Society said in January after its latest annual western monarch count that 1,914 monarch butterflies were recorded overwintering on the California coast—a figure the conservation group said reflected a staggering 99.9% drop from numbers in the 1980s and was an indiction the species was heading toward extinction. Continue reading

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