Bright line of denial connects health crises

March 31, 2020

By Kevin Hall

If you recently found yourself searching in vain for N95 masks, you’ve been ignoring health science. Not by looking for a mask, but by not having one already.

Valley residents know air pollution is a decades-old crisis in our valley that regularly reaches dangerous peaks. 

Whether it’s our cold, winter air choked with fireplace soot, diesel exhaust, and dairy ammonia or a summertime blanket of wildfire smoke filling our lungs, the warnings to wear these masks are by now familiar. Hardware stores normally have them in stock, as should every home, alongside smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. 

But many ignore the warnings or discount science-driven responses as too costly and downplay the risks to themselves and others. 

Sound familiar? It should. President Trump delayed for eight weeks before reacting to the pandemic. The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is approaching 30 years of having failed to clean our air. The Fresno County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in mid-March to not issue a shelter-in-place directive, as did the City of Clovis.

Raging along this continuum of denial and delay — in order of life-threatening immediacy — are the novel coronavirus pandemic, air and water pollution, and climate change. Stacked like crushing weights on the chest of an asthma victim, air pollution alone ensures early deaths for thousands of valley residents in a “normal” year. Continue reading Bright line of denial connects health crises

Podcast: Climate Politics 2.14.20

Show: Climate Politics
February 14, 2020 ~ Broadcast on KFCF 88.1 FM Fresno
Host: Kevin Hall ~ Sound Engineer: Joey Hall
Theme music: Double Knuckle Shuffle by Kila www.kila.ie/
01:30 Fresno Sunrise – Luis, Pedro, Madeline, Juan
23:00 Dairy Digester Campaign – Erica Martinez, Policy Advocate, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability
36:30 Democratic Socialists of America – John Beynon, Emily Cameron

 

Developer Comfort Zone Ahead

(Published in the February 2020 issue of Community Alliance)

By Kevin Hall

Let’s hope Fresno city council members Miguel Arias and Esmeralda Soria haven’t already cost Andrew Janz the mayor’s race. They’ve certainly taken off the election table a trio of huge issues for hundreds of thousands of voters: affordable housing, sprawl, and climate change.

mapPublic prosecutor Janz is assumed to be running a close second in the race for Fresno mayor against the city’s just-retired police chief, reported rapist Jerry Dyer, a Trump-Republican. Four other candidates, including Rev. Floyd Harris and Nikolas Wildstar, have filed but report no funds raised.

In a big break with fellow Democrats, Janz is refusing campaign contributions from developers. In a city infamous for its sprawl and corrupt political climate, that’s akin to a candidate for state or federal office saying no to oil and methane lucre (ask a Perea).

Local developers really don’t like it when people won’t take their money and implicitly agree to furthering their agenda. Janz is signalling it won’t be business as usual at city hall in his administration. If he wins the office without having sought their support, he certainly won’t feel obligated to them, unlike the current mayor and council members. Continue reading Developer Comfort Zone Ahead

Brown Wave or Whitewash?

A quick response to Joe Mathews ‘Looking for California’s Biggest Wave?’

By Kevin Hall, 1.27.20

With so many flaws in this analysis of Fresno politics (full article below), what really stands out in the superficial “Brown Wave” theme is the writer’s unproven contention that we’ve turned a corner thanks to the city council once again having a majority of Latino members. 

He relies on the stereotype of all Latino Dems as progressive, despite this being a group of three moderates and the Republican-in-all-but-registration, Luis Chavez, the DINO who has endorsed Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims for reelection despite her enthusiastic support for Donald Trump. He also backed Tea Party extremist Steve Brandau for Fresno County Supervisor.

Joe Mathews’ writing on the central San Joaquin Valley last caught my eye with an opinion piece from February 2018 in which he extolled the virtues of Fresno-Madera-Clovis menage-de-sprawl. He suggested naming the leapfrog developments across the river up Fwy. 41 “Future Town.” Seriously. Continue reading Brown Wave or Whitewash?

No Courage, All Campaign

(This is the script of the opening segment for the Jan. 10, 2020 broadcast of Climate Politics. The shows airs on KFCF 88.1 FM from 5-6 pm on the second and fourth Fridays of each month. Hosted by Kevin Hall, the show’s premise is that to respond to climate change, our political climate must change, too. The entire broadcast includes interviews with Kathryn Phillips of Sierra Club California regarding the state’s Green New Deal and Fresno activists Dee Barnes and Mike Rhodes on efforts to block former police chief Jerry Dyer from becoming mayor.)

ENTIRE EPISODE PODCAST: Climate Politics Broadcast, Jan. 10, 2020 (it’s a little choppy)

By Kevin Hall

2. Residents of 'Reverse' TriangleWelcome to Climate Politics. Today’s show is a mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly. We’ll be doing a deep dive into a bad candidate for Fresno mayor, but before that we get to hear some very good news from Sacramento. The ugly, of course, comes in the form of grim climate news from around the world and another round of scientific studies warning of our rapidly destabilizing atmosphere and the collapse of the ecosystems on which all life depends.

This is no time for the politics of old. We need to be drawing bright lines — right now — between progressive politicians who understand the climate-crisis timeline, and their status quo counterparts. This election is the most important in world history. We must succeed, over the next five years, at laying down the massive policy changes needed to reverse our suicidal course. Continue reading No Courage, All Campaign

Drastic changes are needed if California is to win the climate-change challenge

(source links inserted for this website)

When Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered his keynote speech at the recent California Economic Summit in Fresno, he failed to say two keywords: climate change. Conversely, he said a lot about our economy while at a climate change summit held in New York just weeks earlier:

“The [California] economy is growing; a fully functioning cap-and-trade program; the most audacious low-carbon green growth goals in the United States of America. There’s nothing left for me to sign — it’s 100 percent across the board, in every category,” he boasted at Climate Week NYC held in support of the U.N. Climate Action Summit in late September.

Our Future
Valley Climate Activists greeted attendees of the California Economic Summit in Fresno on Sept. 27.

Speaking on the eve of wildfire season, Newsom seemed to be tempting fate itself. Conflagrations were soon exploding around the state as if an invading armada were shelling it: Sandalwood, Caples, Saddleridge, Kincade, Tick, Getty, Easy. People fled for their lives — some died — in war zones of flame, smoke, sirens, panic and confusion.

And if Newsom needed another call to arms, two days before the first wildfire hit, San Francisco-based nonprofit think tank Next 10 issued its 11th annual California Green Innovation Index. The report warns, “California will meet its 2030 climate targets more than three decades late — 2061… if the average rate of emissions reductions from the past year holds steady.”

But California and the world must cut emissions by half before 2030. If not, tipping points will be crossed that set in motion irreversible, ever-increasing releases of naturally stored carbon and methane, according to the October U.N.October U.N. report on a 1.5 C increase in global average temperature.

Yet there stood Newsom in Fresno on Nov. 8, one year after the Camp Fire, the deadliest, most destructive fire in state history with at least 85 victims, talking about the state’s economy without once mentioning climate change.

Consequently, the state government’s climate change programs are rooted in outdated strategies warped by fossil fuel lobbyists like former state legislators Henry T. Perea of Fresno, now with Western States Petroleum Association, and Chevron’s Michael Rubio of Bakersfield.

When pressed by The Bee and KFCF radio afterwards, Newsom explained California is now in the implementation phase of its climate change response, echoing his New York remarks.

Indeed we are.

California’s cap-and-trade program, dominated by oil and gas interests, encompasses 450 businesses emitting 85% of the state’s greenhouse gases and along with two Canadian provinces comprises the world’s fourth largest exchange for carbon credits. Since 2013 it has generated $11.9 billion for reduction efforts.

High speed rail has received a fifth so far — $2.5 billion — but the concrete-intensive project will never offset its carbon footprint, and its construction spews asthma-irritating dust and cancer-causing diesel exhaust continually on West Fresno residents already hard hit by industrial polluters.

Another $2.2 billion has gone toward low carbon transportation. Primarily for alternative fuel programs, these largely serve to extend dependence on fossil fuels and combustion technologies. For example, more than $800 million is slated for a dairy methane program best described as the HSR of agriculture: it offers dubious benefits but negatively impacts vulnerable rural communities, according to an April working paper from Fresno-based Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.

Finally, in late September the state Air Resources Board approved the California Tropical Forest Standard, a potential carbon credit source for fossil fuel companies, over the objections of indigenous opponents from around the world who decried the move as “carbon colonization” of their natural resources.

Newsom must address these policies’ shortcomings head on. Because, as the Next 10 report lays bare, cap-and-trade and other market-based solutions won’t work in time. They have not worked in time.

Unfortunately, Newsom and the rest of his generation now in power came of age in an era of market-as-solution, government-as-problem philosophy. Since the 1980s, most California politicians have drunk deeply from that Reagan-with-a-twist-of-Clinton policy cocktail; with it comes considerable financial backing from industry, particularly oil and gas extractors.

Consequently, the state government’s climate change programs are rooted in outdated strategies warped by fossil fuel lobbyists like former state legislators Henry T. Perea of Fresno, now with Western States Petroleum Association, and Chevron’s Michael Rubio of Bakersfield.

The urgent response appropriate to the scale of our climate emergency will remain out of reach unless Newsom and the state Legislature change direction dramatically. To push them, youth climate strikes will be held on Black Friday. People of all ages will challenge the status quo, fighting against its genocidal outcomes.

Kevin Hall is a Fresno resident and graduate of Fresno State. He formerly reported on farm issues for trade publications and is now an air-quality activist.

Continue reading Drastic changes are needed if California is to win the climate-change challenge

Climate Strike, Nov. 8

MEDIA ADVISORY , NOVEMBER 7, 2019

WHO: Valley Climate Activists, Contact: Kevin Hall

WHAT: CLIMATE STRIKE

WHEN: FRIDAY, NOV. 8, 10:00 AM

WHERE: SELLAND ARENA ENTRANCE, 700 M ST.

“Governor Newsom, Our Future or Fossil Fuels”

Fresno residents to protest local pollution impacts of Gov. Newsom’s ‘low-carbon green growth’ 

Governor Gavin Newsom will speak to hundreds of people from around the valley and state Friday morning at the California Economic Summit about our future prospects, but not a single session at the summit is dedicated to the issue of climate change.

“The failure of the governor and other officials to highlight climate change as the central concern of long-term economic planning is a failure of leadership,” said Kevin Hall, organizer of Valley Climate Activists. “Climate change and the state’s climate change spending are having profound negative impacts on our economy and health now.”

Continue reading Climate Strike, Nov. 8