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Savory Sonoma, by Stephanie Hiller - December 2015


Savory Sonoma, by Stephanie Hiller - December 2015

As I write this, preparations are being made to hold the UN Conference COP21 in Paris as planned, despite the acts of terror that occurred November 14th.

The G-7, an organization of powerful Western economies met earlier this year and agreed they could reduce their carbon emissions by 2100.

We’d be cheering, except by that time temperatures could rise six degrees Centigrade, said Jeff Markus, organizer of the upcoming Oakland climate march; and at that temperature, oceans will rise 12 feet, the fish in the ocean will die, agriculture will become impossible and, in short, we will fry. 

What part of this concept is so difficult for smart CEOs to understand?

In our home county, we see a flurry of activities centered on climate change, prompting environmentalists to crow about how we are ahead of the pack on this issue, which is not, alas, a significant achievement, given the slackers we are measured against.

But while our hearts flutter with pride, it may be of note that our own Gov. Brown will be speaking on this topic at a prestigious event sponsored by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. Even though he’s not a scientist.

But there’s no cause for complacency. Our fossil fuel emissions are down only because we’ve switched over to natural gas, much of it fracked. We have a drought that has been linked to climate change, and not enough rain so far to reassure ourselves.

What’s distressing in all these conversations and meetings is the lack of urgency.

November 14 at a meeting presented by EarthCare at the First Congregational Church, Richard Dale, Executive Director of Sonoma Ecology Center, whose presentations are always reassuringly sweet, confessed he is  “scared” by the consequences coming down the pike, but even that statement was mild compared to the reality:

Hell-on-earth is looming and we should all be doing everything in our power to arrest its arrival.

To accentuate the positive – which everyone knows Californians require before they will listen to anything – climate change is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for human beings and human culture to change – to move out of its patriarchal capitalist racist world-dominator rut and figure out what evolutionary path to choose that will allow us to survive and create a better world for everyone. To do that, we are going to need more women’s voices to speak about how they believe we might re-orient ourselves, and non necessarily the voices of women in office, who have been trained to think the way the dominant male personality thinks, but women activists, healers, organizational leaders, attorneys, writers and artists, business women and others who have been working on the sidelines for many years now, honing their skills. These women will certainly have new ideas about how to redirect commercial activity so that we don’t continue to exploit resources and indigenous people for the benefit of a few white fat-cats. Can I be any more explicit? You know who they are!

Sonoma Development Center

Just to show how connected one thing is to another in this great fight to save the planet (which means, to save ourselves) the fate of the Sonoma Development Center will affect not only the 400 residents of the center and their families, but the whole disposition of a major wildlife corridor in the Valley.

Last month we wrote about a story that had run in the North Bay Business Journal about plans to put an equestrian center on that land housing 27,000 horses! I checked that figure many times, folks, because it seemed so improbable and it’s accurate, but the story may not be. I refer you to the piece by Val Robichaud, publisher of the Sonoma Sun, in the current issue of the paper and online, showing that the obstacles to this plan are, in fact, many.

Over at the Sonoma I-T, reporter Christian Kallen quoted 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin as saying she was in the process of evaluating the county’s “very specific interest in protecting and preserving the undeveloped land, and transferring that land into the Sonoma county regional parks, and state parks for that matter.”

Here’s the thing: the land is actually part of the Greenbelt that surrounds Sonoma. To protect that wildlife corridor (and the beautiful oak woodland that goes with it) we need to maintain the Greenbelt that is coming up for review now.

This Greenbelt, or Urban Growth Boundary, is crucial to preserving open space against rampant development for the many people (and their employers – you know Google is moving to Novato?) who are dying to buy a home up here. And why wouldn’t they? Sonoma County is a great place to live, but only if we can keep it from becoming like…Novato. 

In other words, if you don’t want to see the SDC turn into a business park of one sort or another, it’s essential to persuade the supervisors to maintain and even extend the growth boundary, because that will keep businesses and houses in urban areas, such as the Highway 101 corridor.

Got it? See you next month