OF REDLANDS, CALIFORNIA  - Founded 24 January 1895

4:00 P.M.

November 19, 1998

Ostrich in Crisis

by William Cunningham

Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public Library

Biography of William Cunningham

Birth: Manhatten Beach, CA  on October 5, 1926. 
Wife: Beverley.  Children: Andrew, Virginia, James


Undergraduate: Oregon State, Stanford, USC (BA.)

Graduate: USC (M.S.), Colorado Call (M.A.), Course Work: UCLA, Yale, San Diego, MIT, UR

Professional, teaching

Redlands High School,
San Bernardino Valley College, 
University of Redlands.. Astronomy, physics, director of masters program, (National Science Foundation) Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario; Visiting professor, 3 summers; Graduate program in physics
British Columbia Inst.of Tech. Vancouver,B.C.; Summer instructor, Incoming faculty in physics
Mysore University, Mysore, India; NSF consultant, graduate physics program

Civic Activities

Currently Mayor of the City of Redlands
Redlands City Council
Redlands School Board - 14 years
Market Night Committee

Professional Affiliations Past and Present

American Astronomical Society American Association for the Advancement of Science
Astronomical Society of the Pacific American Institute of Physics
Society for the History of Astronomy American Association of Physics Teachers - officer
International Planetarium Assoc - director Amer. Assoc.University Professors - president of SBVC chapter
Pacific Planetarium Assoc - director  

Community Affiliations

Redlands Area Historical Society First Baptist Church
Redlands Horticultural and Imp. Soc. Friends of Smiley Library
Friends of the Redlands Animal Shelter Redlands Educational Foundation
Kiwanis Audubon
The Redlands Association Sierra Club
Friends of Prospect Park Lincoln Memorial Association
Kimberly-Shirk Association S.B. County Museum Association - treasurer

Ostrich In Crisis

or, How Long Can You Bury Your Head In The Sand

Raging fires, out of control, burning for months, sweeping across Mexico and Southeast Asia, "500 year" floods on the Mississippi, the Ohio, in the Dakotas. Devastating drought followed by torrential rains in Texas, hurricane destruction in Central America, the typhoon path shifted north in Japan, species spreading northward, others threatened with extinction, global surface temperature up, temperature of the stratosphere down, glaciers in retreat, sea levels rising - are they related? Do they have a common cause?

Arguably, -the understanding of weather and climate and the forces which drive them is one of the most complex and challenging problems for modern science. From the eighteenth century practice in England of predicting grain harvest and the resulting price through the study of the frequency and intensity of sunspots, to the analyzing of the distribution and width of tree rings, man has attempted to gain some insight into the earth's climatic history and perhaps its future course.

Over the last few decades our information base has grown exponentially. Satellite data on cloud cover, earth albedo, atmospheric isotopic ratios and circulation, vegetative cover, land and sea ice distribution and volume, and precise measurement of ocean levels all give us a picture undreamed of but a short half-century ago.

Massive ocean buoy arrays in the Pacific yield an on-going record of that ocean's temperature, its currents, its surface biotic content, yielding, for the first time a predictor of coming seasonal weather as the dynamics of that great ocean are now recognized to be the engine that drives the weather regimes that we experience, such as the intense El Nino we've just passed through.

Ice coring, pioneered by the German geophysicist and meteorologist Alfred Wegner who is credited with the concept of continental drift, and who died on Greenland in 1931 while working to vindicate his idea, is a field of investigation, which in its infancy determined ice accumulation rates through measuring the thickness of the layers exposed in drill cores in a process not unlike counting tree rings. Advanced instrumentation now measures a myriad of factors in cores, among them the oxygen isotopic ratio in the layers of ice, providing a measure of snow fall and its distribution as preserved in ice for a given year for anyplace on the earth through the comparison of corings taken from widely dispersed sites around the globe.

Planetary data, especially from Mars and Venus, raise questions about the genesis and life cycle of the earth’s atmosphere and water. Mars with its fossilized, dendritic patterns, characteristic of free-flowing surface water, and Venus with its run-away greenhouse, both argue for the possibility of dramatic change on earth by forces and processes yet to be found and understood. We eagerly seek parallels with our nearest solar system neighbors for clues to our past and the future. The October 9 issue of the journal, Science, for instance, carried an article titled Geologists See Mars in the Canadian Arctic," and modelers of atmospheric dynamics eagerly analyze Venus probe data.

For centuries we've known of a connection between the eleven year solar cycle, as evidenced by sunspot activity, and weather. The longest known break in sunspot activity occurred at the time of Maunder's Minimum (1646 - 1715), when the Northern Hemisphere suffered what is known as the Little Ice Age.. Ironically, this coolest period in modern times almost precisely matched the reign of Louis XIV of France (1643 - 1715), the "Sun King.. The event was confirmed in 1976 from contemporary records of the incidence of auroras and the amount of 14C in old tree rings. While the Sun has been carefully observed for an extended period of time and we are beginning to understand something about its dynamics, we have no explanation for Maunders Minimum but do accept that it can happen again.

And most recently, the scientific community has come to consensus that the earth's climate suffered rapid and dramatic change in at least one instance by collision with an extraterrestrial object. Most of those knowledgeable in the field now believe that the impact of an asteroid or comet with the earth triggered the great species extinction at the Tertiary-Cretaceous boundary about 65 million years ago.

It is now known that a number of massive objects periodically intersect the earth's orbit, any one of which could collide with the earth in the future with similar results. Further, there is growing evidence of collisions in the past. All agree that absent our planet's dynamic processes, the face of the earth would resemble that of the moon.

Some in the scientific community advocate that we develop techniques for the detection, interception and destruction of any object that would threaten our planet or, at the least, the development of a method that would deflect it from its inward path.

Volcanism has also played a role. The explosion of Tambora in 1815, threw enough material into the stratosphere to darken the sun enough worldwide to produce frost in August in Virginia in 1816, The Year Without Summer," causing catastrophic crop failure and contributing to Jefferson's bankruptcy.

The recent eruption of Pinatubo in the Philippines also produced worldwide weather effects, as well as blinding some satellite instruments.

Could human activity have an effect on climate?

One of the most frightening predictions of the Cold War period was the concept of ''Nuclear Winter," wherein enough material in the form of dust, gas and smoke would be thrown up by the nuclear blasts from a massive missile exchange to so obscure the sun's rays from the surface of the earth for years, disrupting and limiting photosynthesis, thereby, chilling the planet, and extinguishing most species.

A small and brief example of the potential impact of human activity was the darkening of the sun and the violence and intensity of the thunderstorms triggered over the Great Plain states by the smoke from the enormous fires which engulfed southern Mexico this year. The lightning was unusual in the energy of its discharge, with most strokes carrying a positive charge and more often cloud to ground, rather than the more common negative cloud to cloud.

Recent research has also yielded a statistically significant linkage between precipitation and the day of the week in the northeast U.S. The most likely cause being the accumulation of particulates in the air over the weekly cycle of commuting and industrial activity.

On a more parochial note, I have often wondered whether the rapid urbanization of the Victor and Coachella valleys, with the attendant rise in humidity there, has not changed our local weather. Those historically dry valleys with their hot days and cool nights acted like a pump. The lower pressure hot air days pulling the cooler coastal air inland during the day, and the higher pressure nighttime cool air pushing the coastal air seaward again. Certainly, ore thing is true, as those valleys urbanize, the once pristine, clear desert air that came into our area previously is now contaminated with all the atmospheric by-products associated with our life-style

One of the most important issues of debate in the recent past had to do with the effect of human activities on the change in the nature and intensity of that portion of the sun's radiation that reaches the earth's surface.

As we all know, the sun supplies the energy that drives our atmosphere and produces changes in weather, most obviously demonstrated by the seasonal effects resulting from the changing inclination of our place on the planet with respect to the sun due to the earth's orbital tilt.

Most solar radiation never reaches the earth's surface. Nearly all is blocked, absorbed or reflected, by the earth's blanket of atmosphere. Fortunately for us, the atmosphere has but a few, narrow, transparent windows which allow only certain frequencies to penetrate to the planet's surface. We have evolved dependent on those.

The light that we see by, that gives us our blue skies, our red sunrises and sunsets, is but a tiny fraction of the energy that bathes the earth from the sun. Yet our eyes, for instance, are most sensitive to light of the yellow-green line, precisely the peak of the energy available to us, with the blues scattered by the atmosphere and the reds partially absorbed.

We have known for some time that the atmosphere was becoming ever more transparent to ultraviolet radiation. Ultraviolet, strongly ionizing, is used to destroy organisms in drinking water, and sterilize instruments, among other beneficial applications, but its increasing intensity at the earth's surface is also statistically associated with the increase in skin cancer, the incidence of cataract, and a worldwide decline in amphibian species.

The projected costs of the health effects of that change are staggering, and, while the contribution of amphibian species to the planet's ecological balance is little understood, all agree it is significant.

It soon became evident that the increase in ultraviolet flux was associated with the increasing use of chlorofluorocarbons, CFCs, the most universally used of all refrigerants. CFCs act as a catalyst in the breakdown of atmospheric ozone, our high altitude protective shield against the sun's ultraviolet rays. Unaffected by the process of ozone dissociation, which they mediate, CFCs are unusually stable molecules with long atmospheric residence times. They were accumulating at an alarming rate in the ozone layer.

That worldwide alarm led to the Montreal Protocol of a decade ago' which mandated the elimination of the manufacture and use of CFCs. Just this year, the U.S. gave Russia, one of the last major producers of CFCs, $25 million to phase out production.

Observations indicate that the ban is working. The northern hemisphere Ozone hole" shows signs of stabilizing and shrinking. Predictions are that within several decades the ozone shield could be healed and the threat removed. Perhaps the best evidence, yet, that human activity can produce change in the earth's atmosphere.

The focus of the scientific community has now shifted to the phenomenon of "global warming resulting from the accumulation of "greenhouse gases," in the atmosphere, driven by the insatiable demand for energy by an exploding world population.

Just as the ozone layer acts as an ultraviolet shield and glass responds to infrared, certain atmospheric gases, principally carbon dioxide, methane and water, absorb and then re-radiate infrared. While all occur naturally in quantity in the atmosphere, all are also by-products of human activity.

We experience the greenhouse effect daily when we find our car's interior significantly warmer than the ambient temperature after we've let it sit for a time in sunlight Glass, selectively transparent to visible light, blocks the re-radiated infrared from the car's interior surfaces, raising the temperature thereby.

We also witness the greenhouse effect graphically here in Redlands, where a cloudy winter night never brings the threat of freezing, but a crystal clear sky and little wind will see growers, like myself, scrambling to protect their crops.

In earlier times, the Sahara, with some of the driest and cleanest skies in the world, would often see one hundred plus mid-day temperatures drop to below freezing before dawn.

Life, as we know it, has evolved in adaptation to the natural forces and processes which govern the environment. Among these are the distribution of water, the temperature regime, seasonal change, the amount and seasonal distribution of rain and snow, the distribution and amount of "permanent" ice, the level of the sea, and wind. All are dependent upon the temperature at the earth's surface, which, assuming a constant sun, is dependent, in turn, upon the greenhouse effect.

Those who work in the field agree, by whatever parameter measured, that the earth is warming and doing so at an accelerating rate. The earth's surface temperature today averages 1.6 degrees hotter than in 1860. Up 0.6 degrees since 1937.

At this time, there is also a nearly universal consensus within the scientific community that human activity, namely, the combustion of carbon-rich fossil fuels, is intensifying the greenhouse effect with consequent global warming and attendant climate change. Atmospheric carbon dioxide now measures 360 ppm, 30% higher than at the start of the industrial revolution. It is now at the highest concentration in the last 1 60,000 years.

Some have characterized that to do nothing to reverse this process is like leaving our children and grandchildren in a locked car on a hot day with the windows rolled up tight.

What is predicted that we might expect from warming, no matter what the cause?

Some effects are intuitive: a rise in sea level due to the thermal expansion of the oceans' waters; a re-ordering poleward of the climate zones; a rise in sea level due to the melting of continental ice, a shift toward the poles of species distribution with selective attendant species extinction. All of these have been observed, confirming the prediction.

We in a temperate clime, living well above sea level, might well find whatever changes that have occurred thus far of little direct impact on our lives. Those on low-lying sea islands and in continental areas at or near sea level, such as Bangladesh, face threats to their very survival from the rise in sea level, alone.

Melting of the West Antarctic Ice Shelf, for example, a process which reportedly shows some indication of beginning, would raise sea-levels by more than twenty feet. Inundated would be large areas of northern Europe, especially the Netherlands and Denmark, as well as, much of our gulf coast and the heavily populated eastern seaboard, where many of the cities were located at the fall line, the limit of navigation and the source of water power.

But another set of phenomena of immense importance, not intuitively expected, yet predicted in early computer modeling, is an increase in the violence and intensity of storms, droughts, floods, heat waves. Events which produce crop failures, loss of life and enormous property damage. Catastrophic events which affect us all.

There is near universal agreement that in recent years we have seen floods greater than any in memory in China, India, the U.S. Droughts that have ravaged Australia and Southeast Asia, hurricanes and typhoons more frequent, larger in extent, with more energy, a hint at fundamental changes in the oceans' circulation.

It all makes sense if one reflects on the fact that there is greater energy available to lift water from a warmer ocean, to drive the winds which distribute that energy across the globe.

There are those few who argue that we are seeing the result of natural forces. That it all has happened before. That the best we can do is to plan and respond. Others argue that these processes are so gradual, the system so complex with background noise sufficiently great that we could be looking at a short term perturbation rather than an ongoing fundamental change due to a greenhouse effect. Many of these are either funded by or associated with the fossil fuel industry, which has mounted a multimillion dollar campaign to build doubt in the minds of the public.

By far the great majority of the scientific community, as evidenced by the Cairo conference on world population and last year's Kyoto accord on global warming, as well as resolutions of professional bodies, are convinced that human activity is a driving force in the warming we are experiencing today. No one claims that mankind alone has caused the glaciers to melt or the sea level to rise by up to 10 inches this century, but all agree that we are contributing to and accelerating the change.

Those opposed to any response to the problem cite the enormous costs associated with proposed solutions and suggest that, as reason, alone, to do nothing. Multi-national corporations have banded together to hire "scientists" to create the illusion of uncertainty within the scientific community and have argued that the U.S. should not act until matched by countries like Bangladesh, per capita annual income $224, which produces less than 150th the amount of carbon dioxide that we do.

Those same companies made similar arguments against the introduction of smog controls and higher highway mileage standards, which, in spite of a doubling of the number of cars on our roads, has produced the cleanest air in our region in the last quarter century.

The 1970s OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) driven fuel shortage finally forced the "Big Three" auto manufacturers into the development of smaller, more efficient cars when foreign models stole a major fraction of their market. With current real gasoline prices the lowest in a half century, we are now ignoring that lesson.

The very effective requirements for higher thermal efficiencies in appliances and building standards, mandated at that time, met the same corporate resistance. Yet today, we accept building standards which require double-glazed windows, enhanced insulation and energy conserving lighting and appliances.

Companies, such as DuPont, which fought the banning of Freon, the most common chlorofluorocarbon, as the working fluid in refrigerators and air conditioners, now produce an alternative that has led to the manufacture of appliances that are significantly more efficient than those replaced.

Always, those who have opposed higher standards of efficiency and conservation invoke a doomsday scenario of a contracting economy and lost jobs resulting from the impact of change.

Left out of their arguments is the stimulus for and creation of new industries to meet those mandates, a boon to our economy they conveniently ignore. Surely, the most dramatic illustration of this is the computer industry. Not mandated, but now essential to all, the computer has transformed our economy as much as the steel industry at the turn of the century and has produced great personal wealth. Need we wonder at what the naysayers would have said in 1960 if told that they could not successfully operate in the 1990's without a new-fangled machine, the computer, which would cost American business billions? The advent of television and the automobile both transformed society and stimulated economic growth. Is there any reason to believe that the development and utilization of greenhouse effect intermediating materials and processes would not have comparable impacts?
Just what are the dimensions of the population/energy problem?

In the fall of 1997, 1,500 of the world's top scientists, including 97 of the 171 living Nobel laureates issued an urgent call for the world's nations to take strong, binding steps toward curbing global warming.

World population is racing toward 6 billion. The U.S. population is projected at 500 million by 2100, California at 50 million by 2020 and 63 million by 2040, Redlands at 90,000 in 15 years.

Sterile numbers, standing alone have little meaning, but let's look at a few implications of those same numbers. While the consumption of petroleum is increasing at an exponential rate, the discovery of new recoverable reserves is now predicted to be matched by consumption sometime around 2010, leading many in the field to the conclusion that we should consider conservation of those reserves for the use of petroleum for the myriad of products it is the feed stock for and which are so essential to our modern society. None in the field quarrels with the concept that petroleum is a finite resource, subject to depletion.

What are our energy alternatives?

While a significant fraction of the world's energy is produced by nuclear power, in some countries, most notably the U.S., nuclear power is in disrepute and the 104 plants in this country are aging and are not likely to be replaced.

Nuclear power also changed the energy equation, with countries deficient in fossil energy sources, such as France, which produces more than 70 % of the energy for as power grid from nuclear plants, a good example.
Ironically, although we've stopped building nuclear plants on our own soil, American companies are building them overseas. In fact, one of the inducements that the U.S has used to bring North Korea to the peace table has been the offer to construct a light water reactor in that energy short country.

If the breeder reactor becomes both safe and economical, nuclear energy holds great promise. And, of course, should fusion power become a reality (it works in bombs) a new age of nearly limitless energy will arrive.

Unfortunately, funding for these technologies has been severely reduced over the past several years. Literature in the field would indicate that commercial power in quantity from either source is at least a generation away in time.

Coal, of which the earth has abundant reserves, when burned, puts not only carbon dioxide in the atmosphere but sulfur dioxide as well as small amounts of other very damaging by-products such as mercury and nuclides.

Hydro power has tapped nearly all of the productive sites, and new dams meet vigorous and effective opposition.

Wind power now produces about 5% of California's electrical energy. Denmark, the world's leader, exports wind power. Even here there are environmental costs. The Altamont Pass array, on some 35,000 acres, the largest in the country, has had a severe negative effect on birds, especially raptors like the golden eagle. And many in the Palm Springs area, another prime wind source, complain of the aesthetic impact on the desert scene.

Solar arrays and photovoltaics hold great promise but are also limited at present by cost and geography.

We have held Malthus at bay in the twentieth century. Can we continue to do so in the twenty first?

It would appear that our only hope is the stabilization of the world's population and a significant reduction in global-warming energy consumption and waste production.

Population can be stabilized. Western Europe and Japan have aging populations that show negative growth. The white cohort in this country is likely at zero growth. Even in rapidly growing states like California that trend is evident.

San Bernardino county schools have seen a drop of more than 5,000 white children since 1990, in spite of the explosive growth of the school age population in the county for all races.

While world fertility has dropped, the population increase in the ''underdeveloped" world continues, driven by a drop in infant mortality and an increase in life span. A case in point is India. That country is projected to soon overtake China as the world's most populous country in spite of urgent governmental efforts to reduce fertility, including such desperate means as sterilization.

There are other localized, counter forces which operate to limit growth.

A frightening example. Demographers are now estimating that in spite of a high fertility rate, some African countries, most notably Zimbabwe, may lose population within the next twenty years due to death from AIDS, alone, as nearly a quarter of their populations are infected with HIV.

And, of course, the world's population could suffer collapse should some exotic virus, like the Ebola event in Africa, which might spread before it could be quarantined. All of us undoubtedly lost relatives to the great Spanish Flu pandemic earlier this century, which swept Europe and North America and filled a section of Hillside Cemetery.

Yet, world population continues to explode.

Recent studies have estimated that it requires 12 to 15 productive acres of land to sustain the current North American life style. To provide a like lifestyle for the present world population of 5.8 billion, in excess of 69 billion acres would be required, but the planet only has in the order of 22 billion acres of ecologically productive land.

What does all of the above tell us?

In the broadest sense, two conclusions can be drawn. First, the growth in world population must be addressed. And second, that we cannot continue our present rate of consumption of energy without dramatic change in its sources and management.

At the turn of the century the earth contained t.6 billion people, estimated to be more than had lived in all the ages before 1800. Today there are estimated to be about 5.8 billion of us, with 10 billion predicted by 2100.

A number of studies have concluded that to provide our standard of living for all the world's present population we would be required to achieve a three fold increase in our efficiency of resource use arid our capacity for waste assimilation.

To assure our present living standard IF the expected 10 billion would require at least a five fold change.

Can we do it?

Of considerable concern is the fact that within the last decade, the warmed on record, grain production in Canada and the Ups. one year was one third below normal due to drought. For the first time in 200 years w were not able to feed ourselves out of current production.

Many assume technological break throughs will save us as they have in the past.

The Green Revolution increased the world's grain production dramatically. societies which had routinely seen a portion of their populations fact with starvation, such as India, became net exporters of food. But at a cost. The fertilizers required were produced at large expenditures in energy. The dung of farm animals no longer sufficed.

Unfortunately, the consensus among plant geneticists today is that a second Green Revolution soon appears unlikely. Also, genome research in the hybridization of fruits and vegetables has met with considerable public resistance, especially after the discovery that the recently marketed sir tomato prod wed allergic reactions in those individuals sensitive to the tomato's peanut genes.

What does all this mean for our own backyard?

California is projected to grow by 18 million between now and 2020 and by another 13 million by 2040. In other words California will add a population equal to the state of New York in the next 22 years and acid the state of Texas in the next 20.

San Bernardino County will see a near doubling in numbers. Redlands, even under growth rnanagement will see an increase of about 25 thousand, more than As total population just 30 years ago.

Some consequences of this growth are obvious. This county, alone, will need additional classrooms for about another 130,000 children at a current cost of more than $10,000 per child.

We have finessed the school housing requirements in the recent past by turning to year-round schools and covering their playgrounds with Temporary classrooms." We have exploited those avenues to the limit. We must now fund and construct additional schools.

To maintain the same level of traffic congestion, California will need to nearly double its freeway lane and arterial road mileage at an average cost of about a million dollars per mile.

Even with planned expansions and improvements, Southern Califomia's freeways are expected to increase in "gridlock" from 34 freeway miles at present to 300 miles in 2020. Several of those gridlocked miles will be in Redlands on that part of 1-10 from California Street to the Yucaipa Boulevard offrarnp.

If we project a nominal density of four units per acre to house our population increase, more than 2,000 acres of our remaining citrus lands will be paved over, and another 1,000 lost to work centers, schools, etc. needed to support that growth. Our citrus heritage and open space will be but a memory.

All of these will require consumption of energy and the paving over of arable land.

What about the today?

Redlands at the turn of the century was noted for its healthful climate and many of our most notable pioneers came here for that reason. In fact, Redlands was one of only five cities in the country to be authorized to issue its own Easter Seals. Today, we have the dirtiest air in the nation and have received some notoriety as the California city with the highest risk for heart disease.

A USC Medical School study linked smog to a 10 to 15% loss of lung capacity in young adults who grow up here. A Loma Linda study identified a 37% higher risk of cancer in non-smoking women who live in the region's smoggiest areas. Kaiser has found a correlation between airborne particulate concentrations and the rate of hospital admissions.

To come to some appreciation of the scale of the problem, let's examine just one facet: transportation.

Regional planners have calculated that just to achieve the level of air quality mandated by the federal Clean Air Act, all of the automobiles in the South Coast Basin must be replaced by 2010.

What do the studies show?

To meet our air quality requirements by 2010, as reflected in the 1998 RTP (Regional Transportation Plan) adopted by SCAG (Southern California Association of Governments3, our regional governing body, we must remove 300 tons per day of emissions from mobile sources. A part is to come from the introduction and use of ZEVs (Zero Emission Vehicles), those powered by electricity or fuel cells. Two percent of all cars sold are to be ZEV's this year with that percentage rising to 10% by 2003. The remaining reductions are to come from the total conversion of all automobiles in the air basin by 2010 to 78% ULEV (UItra Low Emission Vehicles), exemplified by CNG (Compressed natural Gas) use, and 22% ZEVs as defined on Table 4-14 of the 1994 AQMP (Air Quality Management Plan).

What are the economic implications of this change, assuming zero population growth? The South Coast Basin has a current population of 15 million, with an average of 3 persons per dwelling unit and 2 cars per unit. Thus, there are currently in the order of 10 million cars that will require replacement or modification. If we assume a conservative figure of $5,000 per vehicle to achieve this change, the cost would be $50 billion. If one adds the expected 6.5 million growth in population by 2010, the costs rise by another t20 billion. These numbers are found buried in technical reports. Unfortunately, no one has either the political will or courage to air them publicly or to force their attainment.

With the increase in Asian-Pacific trade, Los Angeles and Long Beach have become the busiest ports in the world. As a consequence, our area is now the primary corridor for freight movement from the West Coast to other parts of the country and for transshipment to the rest of the world. That freight, which is expected to double over the next several years will be transported by diesel-powered trucks and trains, nearly all of them passing through our area. Attainment of the Clean Air Act standards will also require that these units also achieve near zero emissions. An unlikely event.

The soots from these engines in the P.M.10 range have been recognized as carcinogens for a number of years. Recent studies now implicate exhaust particles down to P.M.2.5 and federal regulations have been promulgated to restrict their production.

As one might guess, the trucking industry, one of the countries most powerful lobbies, is vigorously opposing any new requirements. It is yet to be seen whether the public interest will prevail.

Absent a technological breakthrough and the political will to require its implementation, our air, which is now the dirtiest in the region, could become sufficiently poisonous to affect the health and lifespans of a major fraction of our residents from these sources, alone.

Another issue we must address in the near term is the augmentation of our sources of electric power. We saw our electrical energy sources operating to their limit several times during this past hot summer, with several periods of voltage drop. Those sources must be augmented by at least 50 % by 2020 to maintain today’s level of service. We're seeing, instead, a phasing out of our nuclear facilities and the net loss of hydra power as exemplified locally by the difficulty Edison is experiencing in relicensing the Mill Creek units.

Will we accept the further damming of our rivers at places like Marble Canyon on the Colorado or Auburn on the American? Or turn to additional fossil fuel units adding to our atmosphere problems, while keeping in service older units, such as the Mohave Narrows plant on the Colorado which is severely degrading the beauty of the Grand Canyon views? Or once again embrace nuclear power?

Last, but not least, there's the ever-present water problem. The 18 million additional bodies expected in California will require something between 4 and 6 million acre-feet of additional water by 2020. The 13 million more persons to be added between then and 2040 will take another 3 million acre-feet. Where is that water to come from? Or will we severely restrict its use?

The Los Angeles DWP (Department of Water and Power) has lost a portion of its Owens Valley rights to the restoration of Mono Lake and is now facing even further reduction to partially solve the air quality problems in that basin by returning some water to Owens Lake. The MWD (Metropolitan Water District) faces a reduction in the amount of water it will be able to take from the Colorado as the other basin states claim their full rights. The California Water Project which taps the flows of both the Sacramento and San Joaquin now faces federal legislation which has mandated a partial restoration of the delta ecosystem and fishery.

There are two untapped sources yet to be used, sea water and reclaimed effluent. Both require significant energy and infrastructure costs.

No matter how we approach the problem, our sources of water will degrade in quality and more and more people will turn to bottled water at a cost comparable to or exceeding that of gasoline.

In summary, isn't it prudent that we move to address global warming and the population problem? To intensify our efforts to exploit solar power, to achieve greater thermal efficiencies, to conserve energy, and, yes, to stimulate our economy?

At the least we would achieve clearer, bluer skies, more breathable air, the conservation of valuable resources, and a decent standard of living for all.

Population growth is, in the last analysis, a zero sum problem. We cannot continue to add people without limit. Isn't it prudent to make a serious effort to achieve a stable, or even declining world population.

We cannot continue to pave over our most arable land. To waste the earth's mineral resources. We cannot continue to destroy the ecosystem without destroying ourselves. We must begin to appreciate the concept of limits.

Those portions of the worlds population who live only to survive have neither the means nor the will to solve the problem. It is we of the advanced industrial world, while we yet have the wealth to do so, who must make the change. Ours could be the last generations capable of the task.

What a wonderful gift to those that follow.

This tiny, fragile, beautiful blue orb kept habitable with a quality of life comparable to ours for generations to come.

We must cease emulating the mythical ostrich, pull our heads out of the sand and shoulder our task.

A brief post script:

Since this paper was written the U.S. has signed the international global-warming treaty, something it refused to do at Kyoto. It joins some 60 nations which have committed to a reduction of "greenhouse gases."

While the U.S., with just 4/0 of the world's population, produces 25% of the world's output of "greenhouse gases" and without which meaningful reductions cannot be achieved, the likelihood of Senate ratification of the treaty is in serious doubt. Republican opponents, some of whom question the very existence of a global-warming threat have stated that they will mount a vigorous opposition to ratification. A part of their argument is that the advanced, industrialized countries will shoulder too much of the burden.

In spite of growing support by multinational corporations, most visibly British Petroleum and General Motors, for emission reductions, the Congress, just this last month, defeated administration efforts to eliminate tax subsidies to high-polluting coal-fired power plants.

It is said that polls reflect that 8 out of 10 Americans support the Kyoto Accord. While but a handful of multinationals would accept the concept of global-warming just a year ago at Kyoto, a significant number were in support at this year's Buenos Aires meeting. All agree that next year's meeting at Amman, Jordan will see many more multinationals on board.

The message is getting through. Just how long it will take for the Congress to get it is yet to be seen. But for our children’s' sake let's hope it will be soon.

Since 1981 the Congress has also blocked any U.S. funding for population control. The world's population cannot continue to grow unchecked. The U.S., alone, has grown from 4 million in 1800, to 78 million in 1900 to 270 million today, with 500 million expected by 2100.

Unfortunately, while this issue is universally recognized as the most pressing problem facing mankind, today, the U.S. not only refuses to accept its rightful leadership role but is reluctant to address the problem at all.

While we all know that the mythic ostrich, upon which we heap such ridicule, is far smarter than his undeserved reputation, we epitomize the very behavior we laugh at.

Home Page

Copyright © 2007 The Fortnightly Club of Redlands, California 
Website maintained by RedFusion Media