Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Our Republicans and their “Our American Cousin” Problem


By Bob Ferris


"I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal — you sockdologizing old man-trap." The line in "Our American Cousin" delivered just before President Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theater.
I recently walked by Ford’s Theater in DC and thought about Lincoln and “Our American Cousin” the play he was watching when shot by John Wilkes Booth.  By all accounts it was a pretty well-received play but for the rest of time it will be associated with this heinous act perpetrated by an unhinged extremist.  My sense is that the Republican Party is fairly far down this path as well and needs to course correct or face the music in terms of the actions of its own extremes.

In his manifesto Charleston shooter Dylann Roof claimed to be influenced my group run by Republican donor.
Part of the above notion springs from spending parts of my weekend dealing with a silly climate denial piece in The New American circulated by a friend on Facebook arguing that much of the climate change debate has been manufactured or corrupted by Hollywood and that the media has been ignoring "important" skeptics.  The New American is the house organ of the John Birch Society. The problem is that this is also a view that is held by many in leadership positions in the Republican Party or serving as elected officials representing that party.
“In 1962, Buckley denounced Robert W. Welch, Jr., and the John Birch Society, in National Review, as "far removed from common sense" and urged the GOP to purge itself of Welch's influence.” from Wikipedia page on William F. Buckley Jr.
William F. Buckley Jr. arguably the father of modern conservatism in the US and the catalyst of much of what we see to today realized the danger to big “C” conservatism as he called it if the snowball he created gained too much that lacked “common sense” either in policy or proposed solutions.  He worked to prevent this including speaking out against the John Birch Society, Ayn Rand, George Wallace and a variety of racist interests including the white supremacists and the anti-Semites.  To be clear Buckley was hell-on-wheels when it came to Communism and even supported Joseph McCarthy in his efforts but he felt that groups charging towards Fascism or bellowing bigotry jeopardized the Conservative movement which itself was a force moving the Republican Party to the right politically.

Prior to his death Buckley bemoaned the fact that things were moving in the wrong direction or directions within the movement that he created.  Things progressed so far that after his death his son and intellectual heir Christopher endorsed Barack Obama for president because of this disappointment.

Reuters photograph of KKK Confederate Flag Rally in South Carolina 2015.
I recount all of this now and in this context because I believe this country needs a strong two party system.  We thrive when both parties exhibit quality leadership instead of obstructionism.   We derail ourselves and do the country harm when we forget that all issues, like coins, have two sides and fail to proceed with that understanding neglecting the balance part of “checks and balances.”

Annoying as they sometimes are, where would be without the constant debate about whether we are a democracy or a republic?  Or what about the arguments about state’s rights versus the need for federal oversight? If that long-standing tension were removed by one side winning or withdrawing what would our country be? The same is true about majority rule as opposed to individual rights and a myriad of other debates which seem to simultaneously pull us apart and define our system of governance as well.  We need these debates but we need for them to be balanced which means that too much weight in the extremes breaks or unbalances the system.

This last part brings us back to the Republican Party and this play.  I said “our” Republican Party in the title because it really belongs to all of us regardless of whether or not we are card-carrying members.  If it continues not to heed Bill Buckley’s guidance about not being a home to often violent extremists and goes the way of the play, we all lose.  And with pending crises such as climate change, economic inequity, domestic terrorism and other looming threats our losses will be huge.

I am encouraged by little steps like Lindsey Graham’s sort of acceptance of climate change and the Republican leadership’s recent action relating to the outrageous comments of Donald Trump, but these are indeed little and not nearly enough.  While it is convenient to lay blame, it is probably better to accept some as well, because a stance like climate denial, for instance, is not mainly about science but rather about the fear of regulation.  If we had done a better job of painting a future with opportunities in a post-carbon world including transition options for fuel and energy companies thus removing or mitigating the trepidation perhaps the Republican Party would not have become so much the party of fossil fuels.

I think that we can recover from the above with thought, diligence and essential corrections such as campaign finance reform.  My optimism about that comes from a fairly simple source.  My father is from a family that was once one of the richest in the country—a family that was so Republican that his grand-mother never referred to Franklin D. Roosevelt by his name but simply as “that man.”  He married—after a three-day courtship—a woman whose father was a government bureaucrat and had a picture of Harry Truman on his wall.  Their marriage survived much and lasted for nearly a third of this country’s history (71 years) producing four children, 7 grand-children and 12 great-grandchildren and counting.

Many will dismiss the above as sentimental nonsense as families are not as complex as countries or governments.  To this I would reply: Really?  Aren’t parents a little like elements of the federal government and children often like states?  Elements of the federal government do not always get along nor do the individual states.  Throw in grand-children (counties) and great-grandchildren (municipalities) and we see many parallels between families and the various levels of governance.  Stir into this mix divorces (state splits), the dynamic of step-children (added states), adoptions (acquired territories) and other familial dynamics and we start to see something so resembling the US and our dance with petty jealousies, competition for attention, and real tragedies that it is eerie.

My point in establishing this construct is that my parents stayed together because my father believed in the union and my mother was absolutely dedicated to the welfare of the children and their progeny. That is not to say that this is a rosy picture and there were no civil war equivalents in our family, but those honestly wishing to solve our current dilemma and reestablish the balance we need to move forward should remember the lesson of this and other families that last and prosper: In the end it is the family or country that matters and that selfishness or party loyalty that tends to forget this first part will lead to an unfortunate result or end.

(P.S. For those wanting to know, I am truly a product of both my parents frequently voting across party lines though less so recently which is part and parcel of the above.)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Face Palms and the Four Horsemen of Climate Change Denial


By Bob Ferris

Caïn by Henri Vidal, Tuileries Garden, Paris, 1896.
Face palming has been with us a long, long time as one of the ultimate exhibitions of frustration.  Tell someone something a dozen or so times and your palm and forehead are likely to connect.  My palm is approaching my forehead as I look at outlet after outlet expressing outrage because Exxon-Mobil or other oil companies knew about the dangers of carbon emissions and elected to lie about climate change (1,2,3). 

While I am happy that this thread about oil companies lying about climate change for 30 years is making the rounds and people are beside themselves, it is not really “news” per se. Andrew Revkin of the New York Times wrote about this using the same source in a 2009 piece called "Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate" which was based on a 1995 draft paper that was seen by many. And there were a lot of us in the conservation community working with energy and oil companies on ways to mitigate carbon in the early 1990s which clearly indicated that they knew there was a problem and had some notion that they were responsible and had to do something.


Even without the above evidence it is absolutely ludicrous to think that the trained scientists involved with these companies did not know that carbon emissions were a problem and that their industry was largely responsible.  After all Bill McKibben wrote "The End of Nature" in 1989 which was a lay person breaking into a scientific conversation that had really been going on in earnest since 1965 when Roger Revelle presented the peril to Lyndon Johnson and Congress and was even introduced to the public earlier by the Frank Capra short "The Unchained Goddess" issued in 1958 (see above).  And the idea of greenhouse gases and the relationship between fossil fuels and climate dates back to 1896 and the work of Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius

So the issue to me is not whether or not the oil companies knew because it was certainly out there for anyone who looked and they obviously did. Nor is the issue that they lied because there is ample evidence that they prevaricated in a most Pinocchio fashion and that has been reported on repeatedly. And we know why when we look at the graph below.  The real story here should be who or what group or group of groups made the decision to deceive the public and also to shift their efforts from solving the problem to significantly perverting the political system of the US.


From 2008 Huffington Post article. (Nothing to see here.  No need for windfall profits tax.)
I am not the first to hop in line when a potential conspiracy is a foot, but the change from “let’s work together and solve this problem” to “what problem?” was just too abrupt to not have been orchestrated and coordinated.  It was just like a switch was turned off.  One day we were sitting around tables with oil and energy folks talking about mitigation projects like restoring long leaf pine forests in the South and other carbon sequestration projects and the next moment we were all alone.  

Also I do not think that the fact that we have had two presidents and one vice president with strong ties to big oil is just a random coincidence.  Since the release of the Pope's encyclical I have been thinking some about biblical imagery and the one that comes to mind in this instance is the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse both because the imagery frames the methods involved as well as the consequences for the rest of us.  



Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, by Viktor Vasnetsov. Painted in 1887.
The White Horse of Pestilence (Infection of Leadership)

Top Oil Industry Campaign Contributions 2013-2014 from Open Secrets
Only the people involved know exactly how the above decision was made, who made it, and how the strategy was developed, but if I were an oil executive and had made the decision that I wanted to forestall climate change regulation as well as maximize profits here is what I would do.  First I would make massive investments in political candidates and then try to develop more and more methods for funneling money into their campaigns (1,2).  I would also make sure that the officials that I helped put in office had a very clear idea of what legislation was most important to me and my allies (1).  Tops on my legislative work list would be weakening the Clean Air Act (1,2,3), the Clean Water Act (1,2,3), the Endangered Species Act (1,2,3) and the Environmental Protection Agency (1,2,3) or any other Act or agency that made it more difficult for me to externalize the environmental costs of my business.  I would also make sure that I had easier and less regulated access to public lands and their assets either through transfer to state ownership or private (1,2,3). 


2013 Numbers for Fracking Industry Contributions from Grist article.
The Red Horse of War (Attack of the Lobbyist)

Annual Lobbying by Oil and Gas Industry 1998-2013 from Open Secrets.
I would then invest in lobbying the crap out of my own people as well as those who might naturally be sympathetic to my interests.  Here too I would ask for subsidies for my industry and others so that we would have access to incentives to grow our businesses and increase our profits. 


The Sunshine Foundation recently looked corporate investments in politics and found an astounding and disturbing ROI.

The Black Horse of Famine (The Greedy Feeding from the Platter of Public Good-see PPS below)
Some of the Funding Sources for Climate Denial Groups showing trends and the emergence of Donors Trust (1,2) as a masking agent to hide sources of funding.  

Then I would game the non-profit sector using the IRS code to my advantage in setting up or investing in non-profits who would fight my battles for me and seem like an independent voice.  I would also set up think tanks to support the ideas of my elected officials and political movements to make it look like these officials taking actions contrary to the interests of the public actually enjoyed broad public support.

Some Examples: ALEC,  The Cato InstituteThe Heritage Institute, National Rifle Association, Safari Club International, the Tea Party,


The trajectory of the Koch fortunes which seems to track well with political investments.

The Pale Horse of Death (The Killer of Science and Reason)

And then I would attack the science and more importantly the scientists (1,2).  I would work hard to create doubt and play on the complicated nature of the science to create confusion in a public becoming increasingly unable to deal with science or math.  I would create new “science” publications at my think tanks that would publish and promote the work of contrarian scientists and even sponsor a few scientists myself and establish legitimate sounding forums, because I watched how successful this strategy worked for the tobacco industry. 

The above examples, links, parenthetical references and figures indicate that the above “hypothetical” strategy has been pretty much rolled out over the past three decades that the oil and energy sectors along with their allies like the Chamber of Commerce (1,2,3) has been doing their best to deceive the public on climate change.  Perhaps there was no grand central design behind all these actions and they happened independently, but I am dubious and I am not sure it matters anyway as we are still stuck with the political and social morass and the associated peril that this effort (or efforts) has created. 

Perhaps I will invoke the Pope here because I think these folks who partook of the "dung of the devil" at the expense of the entire Planet should make their reservations now for the place that never cools.  We have to start that process now and execute it in 2016 and we have to do it in the face of even more of the same as the horsemen become stronger and our prospects for a future weaker (1,2).  

Post Script



Lest the reader think me and my Four Horsemen construct too paranoid please consider that the Koch Brothers and their allies have provided funding for all of the above (see above graphic) as well as for groups providing Amicus briefs for Citizens United, the Heartland Institute, the Tea Party, and Willie Soon.  The Koch Brothers also meet regularly with their fellow rich people and select candidates (1,2,3,4,5) to work out collective strategies.  

Post-Post Script

I believe strongly in the non-profit sector and think that it should be open to any and all.  That said the core test must be public good.  And I have a hard time finding the public good in rich people pouring millions into organizations promoting falsehoods so that the donors can find it easier to make more money and move our country farther and farther away from a democracy.  

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Our Mangled and Manipulated Memories and the Need for a Tax on Hypocrisy

By Bob Ferris


My wife Carlene and I hiked from Tahoe City to Page Meadows this past week.  We had a wonderful nearly 10 mile hike and saw a beautiful blond-phase black bear cub and later a Western Tanager (which is special to me) flitting from branch to branch in an aspen stand made magical by trees bent and twisted by heavy snows.  On the walk I thought about history and how many have forgotten, never knew or were told it wrong and how that is impacting us as a nation.

Ring Around the Rosie circa 1665.
Some of the faulty memories or revisionist history referenced above are amusing but for the most part they are scary and once exposed disturbing much like finding out that the sing-songy child’s rhyme containing a pocket full of posies is really about the Black Plague and not as benign and cheerful as it might seem.  Many of these myths and misremembrances are flying about at this point but the below are some that have caught my attention.

Posted on Facebook by iconic singer and song writer Janis Ian.
Much has been made over the recent years about Christian traditions in the US with many failing to discern between a country founded mainly by Christians and focused on religious freedom and a country founded as a Christian nation (see here).  There is a huge difference between the two.  Some point to the slogan on our money “In God We Trust” and the phrase in our pledge of allegiance “one nation under God” as evidence.  Those that do this should understand that these are not long held traditions that came from our Founding Fathers but rather the ashes of the destructive McCarthy era when we would do anything—including compromising our national history and ethos—to differentiate ourselves from those who practiced Communism.  They were God-less and therefore we had to become the most God-ful of all.


In reality these moves and other related actions like the Inquisition-styled Congressional hearings did little to make us a better nation or better people.  These were ugly times that turned American against American and in a move that would make a Jiu Jitsu master envious turned manufactured paranoia into an arms race and an ever escalating defense budget that has not skipped a beat since.


Now that the Red Menace has passed and the Wall has come down perhaps it is time for us to remember that the slogan of our country was originally the Latin phrase E Pluribus Unum or Out of Many, One.  This was the uniting and inclusive message of our Founding Fathers before political extremists elected to go with the more divisive one.  The time of coming together should be and has to be now.

“We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Benjamin Franklin at the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
 Our nation was established to be a land of opportunity and our Constitution was designed to prevent exploitation from on high and empowered to protect public welfare.  People trying to interpret the intent and purpose of this document should understand that the Constitution was a reaction to abuses of power by the ruling class, the church and economic interests.   We should think of these core catalysts for our rebellion as we look at our country’s movement towards oligarchy, efforts to make the US a Christian state and the fact that Congress while charged with public welfare in the Preamble of the Constitution seems much more concerned with giving subsidies to corporations and tax-breaks to the rich than looking after the majority of Americans particularly those in need or most deserving like our working poor and our veterans.


Many of us have made suggestions of how to dig ourselves out of our current situation and move us back towards a more American pathway.  These range from term limits and reversing the Citizens United decision to returning the marginal tax on higher incomes to its 1950s level and setting limits on corporate CEO compensation (see above).  I’ll throw another idea in the bin, perhaps we should just tax hypocrisy?

What if we financially penalized all American flag pin wearing elected officials who act in ways that are contrary to the founding principles of our country?  We could have a fine for elected officials enabling corporations to draft legislation for their benefit such as those currently working with ALEC. Another fine could be for fighting to break down the barrier between church and state like being an active member of or supporting the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) or similar efforts.  Fines could also be assessed to those flying in corporate jets and going on junkets when they should be spending time talking with and helping their constituents.  And we could add to all of this a general fine for forwarding policies which are divisive and drive us apart rather than bring us together.

But the hypocrisy tax should not stop at elected officials, it should also be applied to those who enrich themselves in the name of religions that are built around looking after the poor and infirmed of society(1,2,3).  It should also apply to the media particularly outlets that claim to be truthful and unbiased while fibbing their way through news programs with transparent political casts.  And the rich too would earn fines for receiving tax breaks for creating non-profit organizations bent on creating an environment where they can become richer still (these are really investments not donations).

Rep. Joe Barton AKA Smokey Joe
I suppose there will be some that will think I am being too harsh and do not appreciate that the hypocrisy level has gotten so bad that it really, really needs addressing.  To them I offer up Joseph “Smokey Joe” Barton who as a Member of Congress from Texas criticized the federal government for being too hard on BP after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  So Rep. Barton jumps to the defense of a British company who through their negligent actions killed American citizens, put Americans out of work (including some Texans) and caused significant damage to an important ecosystem.   (Why that American flag tie he is wearing does not burst into flames, I really do not know.)
“…solemnly swears or affirms they will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the state of Arizona and defend the U.S. and Arizona against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and states they will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of their office.” Excerpt from the Loyalty Oath of Office section Arizona Secretary of State website
Arizona Senator Sylvia Allen sporting her American Flag pin.
Need more?  Well how about the legislator in Arizona who recently expressed the opinion that church attendance be mandatory?  One does not even have to read the whole Constitution to understand that it is pretty clear about government and religion and if there is a doubt there are plenty of other places to look like the writings of the Founding Fathers to find out that they were pretty big on this separation of Church and State thing.  As a legislator it seems a little hypocritical to swear an oath to defend and uphold something and then argue against one of its longest standing and most fundamental principles.

Cliven Bundy at left and Rand Paul on right.

And then there is Rand Paul who recently met with Cliven Bundy (1,2,3) a man who has stated publicly that he does not recognize the federal government while carrying a copy of the US Constitution in his pocket. For more than twenty years this individual has grazed his cattle illegally on federal lands.  He and his father paid lease fees to the federal authorities but when our lands become so degraded that they could no longer support native wildlife and the leases were lawfully discontinued, Mr. Bundy suddenly didn’t recognize the federal government’s authority.  Bundy went to court and lost repeatedly.  Bundy’s story and his relationship to the federal government has much in common with a child’s tale of imaginary friends who are there to accept blame and shield one from personal responsibility for their actions.  But this isn’t about Bundy but rather about Mr. Paul.
"The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States." The Property Clause from the US Constitution.
Here again we have an elected official who has sworn an oath to uphold the US Constitution and the laws of our nation which include the Property Clause (see here for analysis of federal land ownership).   As a candidate for president you have to make many, many choices in terms of who to meet with out of a pool of a couple of hundred million eligible voters.  The same is true of issues.   With Bundy and the issue of turning over federal lands to the states Senator Paul has: 1) elected to meet with an extremist who has violated the law and flaunted federal authority (authority which the Senator swore to defend and uphold); 2) chosen to ignore the Property Clause of the US Constitution as well as the federal laws related to the establishment of the State of Nevada including that state’s Constitution; and 3) disregarded all the longstanding ownership rights of those not living in Nevada who contributed through blood, sweat or money to the winning and purchase of those lands.

General Taylor at the Battle of Resaca de la Palma. 
As I had two great-grandfathers (one from New York and the other from Virginia) who fought at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma and lost a great-grand uncle at Palo Alto during the war to secure these lands, I find the Senator’s idea that these federal holdings are rightfully the states a poke in the eye to those who actually paid—often a very high price—for those lands.  It is hard also in this calculus to see how transferring lands from one government entity with a legal and moral right to those lands to another government entity with neither is consistent with any interpretation of the Libertarian credo the Senator claims to support.  I can see where this will gain votes in certain sectors but herein is the hypocrisy.

I wish that these were isolated instances but they are not for everywhere we turn we see examples like a candidate who attacked the President on “birther” grounds and now asks us to ignore the baggage in his own natal backyard or a commentator (nee politician) who espouses patriotism and family-based morality who did not finish her own term and will soon welcome her second out-of-wedlock grandchild.  Toss in offspring driving drunk or torturing animals, serial plagiarism and political parties—both real and imaginary—that seemed to spring wholly from the spare change of bored and greedy billionaires (1,2,3) and we all have reason to worry.  At some point we should probably ask: Is this really the best we have?
Excellent and appropriate image of what we are dealing with from the Coffee Party Movement.
I can understand that folks—most all folks—are rightfully upset.  And I will acknowledge that the so-called Tea Party has every right to their energy and indignation.  Unfortunately their anger is misdirected and their actions are the exact opposite of patriotic.  If they wanted to do something patriotic they would defend the US Constitution rather than attack it and they would embrace the principals of the Founding Fathers rather than being spoon-fed tripe that raineth fecal matter on these lofty and revolutionary ideas developed in the late 1700s.  Marriage equality, unions, living wage advocates, Muslims, atheists, environmentalists, conservationists, and those that favor some sort of gun control are not destroying the American Dream as expressed by the Founding Fathers they are helping that vision live up to its truest potential.  You’ll find the ones trying to destroy it spending millions on misinformation, lobbying to forestall or reverse legislation meant to protect us all, and making the case that “religious freedom” means they have the right to trample on the beliefs of others and regain their seat of power in government.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Two Gates, One Gate and the Gates of Hell

By Bob Ferris

A 1908 postcard depicting the outflow of Lake Tahoe.
For at least three generations my family has judged the extent of the Sierra snowpack by looking at a simple measure: The number of open and discharging gates on the dam upstream from Fanny Bridge in Tahoe City.  We watched because the number told us how rough or rocky the raft ride down the Truckee would be as we traveled to River Ranch for lunch or what our prospects would be fishing. This year that number was zero.  Zero as in nothing flowing from the fabled 22-mile long lake into this river that runs by Reno.  Not as dramatic as what is happening in the Marshall Islands  due to climate change, but significant.

The same basic shot of the Lake Tahoe outflow to the Truckee River in 2013. 
The reason for this happenstance above was that the outflow from the lake was nearly bone dry and as Carlene and I walked across what was once a raging waterway separating Tahoe City from points south, I could not help but shake my head and feel great loss.  But it was more than that.  As we stepped past lawns still being watered and leaf blowers blasting detritus, disappointment and regret crept in as well.  And yes some of that was directed at ourselves as we took into account our own 10-hour drive.  Much as we walk, ride our bikes, rock our rain barrels and compost like crazy we are still responsible and I felt obligated to apologize personally to the four last-of-the-big-fish in the diminishing and increasingly algae-fied pool.  I felt for the fish suffering below the no longer tourist-worthy Fanny Bridge—particularly the one that seemed to be staring at me.

That same outflow in 2015.
The pool with its sluggish, heat-stressed fish acting more like koi than trout and steadily pumping water over gills madly searching for oxygen seemed simultaneously a metaphor and a portent to our own condition now and in the future.  I wish I were more sanguine but the barrier between willful and wimpy wait-and-see and climate action is substantial in this country and built wholly from greed wrapped in childish, groundless arguments and reinforced by an embarrassingly prideful ignorance. Unfortunately, this is not something casually knocked over by the strength of kind logic or the sense of sound science.
Looking out over the outflow above the Tahoe City dam in 2015 (Photo by Carlene Marie Ramus).
I have seen many images of climate change but seeing the pulsing operculum (gill cover) and bulging eye of that big Truckee trout staring off into the murk stands out among many as it reflects change that I have observed and experienced.  These dam gate observances are simple but meaningful much like the phenological observances of Aldo Leopold and his daughter Nina in Baraboo, Wisconsin noting that the first butterflies of the season have been coming earlier and earlier each year.

If you click on the picture and look closely you will see the remaining four fish.
The above are concrete manifestations of climate change unsullied by the purposeful muddying of the waters by “think tanks” like the Heartland Institute that would have you confuse the variability of future predictions in mathematical models with the certitude of present peril and our clear role.  It is hard to credit Heartland’s protestations when standing in front of an interpretive display of the species of trout found in the pool upstream of Fanny Bridge when those fish are mostly missing and the natural theater once filled with the sound of rushing water scented with invigorating ozone is now much like an abandoned and nearly drained swimming pool.

All Dressed Up with No Place to Go: the interpretive fish signing with no fish and no crowd looking
over the bridge on 4th of July weekend 2015.  With no fannies is it still Fanny Bridge?
Admittedly there is nostalgia involved.  I pine and grieve for Tahoe as it once was—a place of cold water and abundance.  In this I cannot help reaching back and longing for past states or experiences like watching my father’s worry when a beaver nearly swam between his bluing legs south of the old Tahoe lumber yard as he wadded barefoot and cast a line in the willow-lined channels.  Or remembering a Memorial Day after working non-stop for more time than I want to recall and casting flies in a late season snow storm, because I was on vacation damn it and I was going to fish regardless of the likelihood of success.  And calmer times of skinny dipping in Aloha Lake and floating above the trees submerged by the dam that were just as naked.  Certainly there are those in the beer, bikini and tubing crowd that welcome the warmer waters, but I do not.

The dock at Tavern Shores in Tahoe City showing the boat landing too high for anybody to use.
The tragedy of Fanny Bridge may or may not reverse itself to some extent in the coming years with changes to ocean currents and some lucky snow years.  Even if it does come back we are still stuck with the greater issues of climate change and the related phenomenon of ocean acidification as well as the more troubling issue of anti-intellectualism in this country (1,2 ).  This latter phenomenon, not coincidentally and un-purposefully, has allowed the whole denial machine to confuse and confound these important issues in the first place.


As I write and talk with my wife about what I am writing, the strains of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Teach Your Children” run through my mind because while this is about climate change, it is also about educating our young, resetting our path, and in doing both recapturing our future from those few who would rather gorge themselves on riches than see trout where they should be and the country filled with brains that drive us forward rather than hold us back from a bright future and healthy planet.

(This post is dedicated to my father William Ramsay Ferris Sr. (1920-2015) who passed away on July 3. He taught me well.)