The Age ~ Stephanie Hiller

Stephanie Hiller


The pace quickens

Posted on September 22, 2022 by Stephanie Hiller

Vladimir Putin has announced that he is drafting more troops and threatening to use nuclear weapons if anyone interferes with his call for a “referendum” on the Donbass. The draft has triggered widespread Russian protests.

Biden has declared, again, if Putin does any such thing, we’ll respond “in kind”.

Secretary of State Blinken at the UN is opining tonelessly on the rising rates of starvation in the world and immediately tying it to the number of deaths in Ukraine. Did I hear 70 million lives? Where does that figure come from?

This is all called “playing a game of chicken,” I believe. Why don’t they call a ceasefire and quit this awful stupid war that Russia, the US and Ukraine itself are fueling. We never know when it may escalate to the real thing.

Everyone knows a nuclear exchange over Ukraine will decimate our “allies” in Europe. But we are being conditioned to believe we can survive it. Check out Karl Grossman’s assessment of that delusion.

Such an exchange, leading to an all-out war between the West and Russia, means the end of civilization as we know it.

But I don’t think it will affect us here in Sonoma, says a friend.

Well what if the Russians send those hypersonic missiles toward the Lawrence Livermore Lab. That’s not very far away, is it? There’s lot of nuclear waste there to ignite.

Even if that’s not a Russian target, the widespread effect of the nuclear cloud block the sun after a nuclear exchange will bring on “nuclear winter” and the ensuing famine will affect us all.

We have a way of thinking we are immune here in our small city of Sonoma. Climate change, the other existential threat we all face, seems remote in our verdant valley. It just rained, didn’t it? But one little rain is not going to avert climate change. Nor even bring an end to the drought.

Last week, the Board of Supervisors approved a report by Ag and Open Space that does indeed acknowledge the dangers of climate change though in a tone insufficiently alarming. The report, the Climate Resilient Lands Strategy, looks at the challenges facing nine eco-regions in our county. It predicts, among other things, that the temperature will rise five or six degrees Fahrenheit soon after the Sonoma Development Center is redeveloped., expected to be completed in 20 years.

This is not news. But did you hear about it? Temperatures are already rising, and precipitation rates have become unpredictable. Say it can’t happen here? It’s already happening.

The publicly-owned SDC offers an unprecedented opportunity for this county, a chance to create a model for transforming our way of life to one that does not jack up the carbon in the atmosphere. But the word climate does not even appear in the Specific Plan/Draft EIR, according to Teri Shore, former director of Greenbelt Alliance, who actually reads these documents. 

The plan for Sonoma Developmental Center, now often called a “little city,” is designed according to outdated development practices to build-build-build and make a profit. But here in affluent Sonoma County, where land is so expensive, here is a gorgeous property that the State already owns. Opportunity lost?

I’ve been reading a powerful book authored by the family of Greta Thunberg. It’s called, Our House Is on Fire. Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis. It’s not a light read. It was published in 2018; the situation now is even more dire than was predicted then. Nevertheless it’s a passionate portrayal of that family’s struggle with autism and ADHD and in an unresponsive medical environment in Sweden, and how that led to Greta’s extraordinarily effective “school strike for the climate.”

At the UN this week, Antonio Guterres is issuing the usual warnings about the fate of the planet if “we don’t do something.” What will they do? No one is expecting much from the November climate change conference (COP-27) to be held in Egypt 

Climate change can still be addressed, if not totally stopped. We in our affluent American communities can give up some of our habits and make do with less. 

SDC could be designed to be as climate-resilient as possible, at least following some of the steps suggested in the report. It could create an intergenerational community where families and workers can construct and live in affordable housing, growing organic food according to the principles of agroecology and actually removing carbon from the atmosphere while producing fresh healthy food here at home not dependent on the thousand-mile supply chain on which we’ve come to depend but which showed its limits during the pandemic. 

Communities all over the world have begun to move in the direction of creating local economies. I urge you to watch a video produced by Helena Norberg-Hodge’s organization, Local Futures. It’s called Planet Local, available free of charge. It’s actually rather upbeat! It shows how people have been coming together to create local economies to serve their own communities while in the process drawing power away from the giant corporations currently ruling our world. 

Corporations like Boeing. You know that airplane flights are the biggest carbon polluters of all? Greta’s family stopped flying years ago. On a side note, I saw an article in the local paper celebrating the latest venture of Alaska Airlines, providing Boeing 737 flights at the Santa Rosa airport beginning in October. You may recall that faulty 737s were responsible for two horrendous accidents. Maybe they’ve fixed them.

Fixed or not, Boeing has some other faults. It is a major manufacturer of nuclear weapons!

So it’s all connected, isn’t it? Even here at home. And what are we going to do about it?

Give a great shout!


Stephanie Hiller is a writer who lives and blogs in Sonoma CA.


One thought on “The pace quickens

  1. Hi Stephanie,
    My error, the SDC documents do have the word climate in it, but no actions to address the climate crisis. The 1,200 homes at SDC with new hotel, retail, restaurants, commercial offices, etc., will create “significant and unavoidable” environmental impacts from Vehicle Miles Traveled, meaning tons of new GHG emissions from tailpipes of cars and trucks. Teri Shore

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