As the summer months come to a close, mainstream media has featured natural disasters from wildfires to hurricanes across the State of California. Pursuant to a press release issued by Governor Newsom’s Office in 2022: “Governor Newsom released a strategy on how to achieve the state’s first-in-the-nation goal to conserve 30 percent of California’s lands and coastal waters by 2030 in order to protect biodiversity, expand access to nature, and tackle climate change. Roughly 190 nations followed California’s lead this month when they signed onto a United Nations agreement to do the same.”
A 2018 article from The World Economic Forum indicates that China will soon surpass the US in economic terms – and is taking the lead on climate change and the digital economy.
“The old global liberal order served as the bedrock of peace and stability since 1945. It was purposefully designed by the US and its western allies to prevent armed conflict and the economic nationalism that gave rise to it. It is composed of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the G20 and a thicket of treaties and agreements. While experiencing its ups and downs, it set the rules for a stable positive-sum game.”
While virtually everyone agrees that a rules-based system is essential to managing security and trade, a power struggle is underway over who writes and enforces them. The spectacular rise of China over the past two decades and the relative decline of the US mean that sparks are bound to fly. Yet most westerners are only dimly aware of what’s occurring since the rug was so quickly pulled out from under them. The potential for catastrophic miscalculations – including US trade actions against China – are rising, with potentially devastating cascading effects to the global economy.
To get to grips with the seismic shifts taking place, consider these five facts.
1) China is in the process of surpassing the US economically. By one measure, 35% of world growth from 2017 to 2019 will come from China, 18% from the US, 9% from India, and 8% from Europe. By 2050, the top five largest global economies are most likely to be China, India, the US, Brazil and Indonesia. Is the west even remotely prepared for this kind of world?
2) China is leading the largest urbanization and infrastructure development scheme on earth. Already in its fifth year, the $900 billion “One Belt and One Road” (OBOR, now referred to as Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)) project includes new roads, shipping lanes and building projects stretching to over 65 countries. The idea is to literally rewire global trade from China throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. While details are hazy, OBOR is being financed by Chinese state banks, with a modest strategic contribution by a new Chinese-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in partnership with other institutions.
3) China is set to become a global green powerhouse. China signaled its intention to take the lead on climate change reduction after signing the 2015 Paris climate agreement. By 2025, most new cars in China will be fully electric vehicles. China is aggressively cutting coal usage. Already, over 60% of high speed rail in the world is in China (10 times the length in Japan, for example). China also recently committed to achieving blue skies in all of its major cities within three years. The changes are already being felt: Beijing air is 30% cleaner this winter than last winter.
4) China is also setting the global pace on a digital economy, including cashless payments. In major cities, up to 90% of all commercial and retail transactions in convenience stores and cafes are occurring through Alipay and Wechat. E-commerce delivery in large Chinese cities through Alibaba is currently the fastest in the world. One company, Alibaba, racked up sales of $25 billion in just one day – dwarfing the returns of so-called Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US.
5) Chinese universities are also vaulting to the top of the international rankings. Two schools – Peking University and Tsinghua University – leapfrogged from well below the top 200 to the top 30 within five years. There are another 40 universities that are not far behind and are set to enter the elite in the coming years. While Chinese students are still seeking out educations in top schools in North America and western Europe, soon they won’t have to.”
The United Nations University is the think tank and academic arm of the United Nations. Headquartered in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan, with diplomatic status as a UN institution, its mission is to help resolve global issues related to human development and welfare through collaborative research and education.
A January 2023 press release from the U.N. University indicates that trapped sediment is robbing the world’s large dams of vital water storage capacity with a foreseen 26% Loss by the year 2050.
“Trapped sediment has robbed roughly 50,000 large dams worldwide of an estimated 13% to 19% of their combined original storage capacity, and total losses will reach 23% to 28% by 2050, UN research warns.”
Lake Pillsbury of Potter Valley, California has been at the epicenter of debate over recent years due to conflicting opinions of environmental representatives.The Potter Valley Project is a hydroelectric project in Northern California which delivers water from the Eel River basin to turbines in the headwaters of the Russian River. The project is owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). The main facilities are two dams on the Eel River, a diversion tunnel and hydroelectric plant.
The California State Coastal Conservancy (SCC) and others are exploring alternatives, including dam removal, for relicensing the Potter Valley Hydropower Project in northern California.
A March 2023 blog post by the Water Education Foundation stated the following:
“Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has raised concerns about the seismic stability of Scott Dam, and plans to restrict water flow to lower the water level in the reservoir. This will be an expedited measure to limit potential seismic instability of the dam. The decision has been influenced by a recent analysis by the utility’s engineering consultant, which shows that the proposed restriction will improve the dam’s expected stability and safety performance during a major earthquake.”
An August 2022 article from Northern California Public Media stated the following:
“This is a regional water issue and multiple counties are involved and it has everything to do with the drinking water in Mendocino, Sonoma, and Marin counties.” Carol Cinquini, a local advocate said. “It has everything to do with fire protection in those counties.”
“I like where I live, but it’s getting hard to live here without knowing that I’m gonna have a steady water supply.”
And those of the words of Frank Lynch. Both Cinquini and Lynch are with the Lake Pillsbury Alliance, a nonprofit that advocates for the lake’s preservation.
Filled 100 years ago by the completion of Scott Dam, Lake Pillsbury is in many ways the lynch pin of the Potter Valley Project.”
“Started out, they built the diversion point at Van Arsdale, which is 12 miles downstream from Lake Pillsbury in 1908, as a means to create power initially for the Potter Valley and Ukiah area, and also the supply water of the Potter Valley area.” Lynch said. “And then in 1922, they realized they couldn’t control the flows enough to sustain that power and water supply on a year round basis. So in 1922, they built Lake Pillsbury.”
The removal of Scott Dam would spell the end for Lake Pillsbury, which Lynch noted would impact many downstream communities.
“Potter Valley, Redwood Valley, Ukiah, Ukiah Valley, and Sanel Valley, which is Hopland, Alexander Valley all the way down to Healdsburg.” Lynch said. “All that area is very dependent on Lake Pillsbury for a steady water supply; and as climate change occurs it’s getting more and more precious that we maintain that as a regional water supply.”
Lynch said the Alliance aims to offer a different vision for the area and the Potter Valley Project beyond dam removal.
“Folks who are in favor of dam removal have been very effective and very vocal in their messaging.” Lynch said. “And I think it needs to be recognized that there is another voice out there. There’s a broader vision for the region, with the benefits of the Potter Valley Project, including Lake Pillsbury.”
Cinquini said the Alliance advocates for a holistic accounting of the lake’s impact on the region. Incorporating that broader view, she pointed to Lake Pillsbury’s role beyond being simply a water supply for downstream residents.
“The water supports the Lake County fire protection needs.” Cinquini said. “It supports hundreds of species, tule elk, nesting bald eagles, osprey, migrating water fowl.”
As well, Cinquini said she feels knowledge of regional water relationships is lacking.
“It’s part of a regional water supply system, and there’s only going to be greater demand for water.” Cinquini noted. “And there are lots of creative opportunities that are showing themselves in terms of recharging the aquifers and building more above ground storage. But I think we’re gonna need every single water storage reservoir or facility that we can possibly have to meet the needs as climate change continues. And these extensive droughts continue.”
One of the future visions for the Potter Valley Project, Lake Pillsbury, and the Eel River is known as the Two Basin Solution Partnership. That plan aims for the removal of Scott Dam and the draining of Lake Pillsbury, and the partnership’s members point to two and a half million dollars in studies they say show the necessary water will still flow through the Van Arsdale Diversion into the East Fork of the Russian River.
But Cinquini said the Alliance hopes all possible options will be explored before the drastic step of dam removal is considered.
“We’re just at the beginning of the surrender process.” Cinquini said. “This could take 10, 20 years to complete, and I think anything can happen during that process. And it just may be that the state and local entities will see this as an opportunity to take control of this water supply in a different way to benefit the entire region.”
The California Coastal Conservancy is chaired by former Congressman Doug Bosco who may be best described as “shady.” Mr. Bosco is co-owner of The Press Democrat (PD), alongside Democratic lobbyist Darius Anderson, of Platinum Advisors. Mr. Bosco currently serves as General Counsel to Sonoma Media Investments, LLC, the umbrella media group housing The Press Democrat.
Platinum Advisors lobbying firm obtained PG&E as a client in 2018. According to their website,
“…decades-long relationships and deep-rooted industry insight, Platinum Advisors opens the door to the federal government’s top policymakers in the energy and natural resources space. As a team with strong relationships throughout Congress and federal agencies, Platinum’s clients engage with the highest levels of the Department of Energy, Department of Defense and Congressional Appropriations committees to introduce and procure intricate renewable energy projects.
“Platinum’s expertise in navigating complex policy landscapes extends to agricultural policy, leveraging our experience, long-term relationships, and knowledge to help clients capitalize on public policy priorities in the agricultural sector. Working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), we position clients to secure funding opportunities, research grants, and engage with regulatory frameworks that shape the nation’s agricultural landscape.”
The State of California’s Seismic Safety Commission (SSC) investigates earthquakes, researches earthquake-related issues and reports, and recommends to the Governor and Legislature policies and programs needed to reduce earthquake risk. The Commission is responsible for reviewing seismic activities funded by the State and providing a consistent policy direction for earthquake-related programs for agencies at all government levels.
Minutes from a January 2023 Seismic Safety Commission Meeting better describe the agency’s endeavors regarding dams. Taylor Kanaan, Security and Emergency Management Program, Department of Water Resources gave a report which expressed the following:
“Ms. Kanaan provided an overview of the Department of Water Resources (DWR). DWR’s mission is to sustainably manage the water resources of California, in cooperation with other agencies to benefit the state’s people and protect, restore, and enhance the natural and human environments. DWR is committed to public safety and has numerous planning and management activities for seismic safety throughout California. The main ones are the development, operation, and maintenance of the California State Water Project (SWP) and the Dam Safety Flood Protection and Emergency Management Programs.”
The commissioner roster includes Governor Newsom Appointee Alegria De La Cruz, Equity Officer, County of Sonoma / Trustee, Santa Rosa City Schools. Her recent past board service positions include SoCo Rises, Raizes Collective, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency California State Committee.
As cited from The Press Democrat, a letter issued by The Sonoma County Farm Bureau letter revealed a political divide over worker safety.
“At issue is the March 2 letter Farm Bureau board president Jennifer Beretta wrote to state senators asking them to reject Gov. Gavin Newsom’s nomination of Alegría De La Cruz, the county’s chief equity officer, to the state Seismic Safety Commission.
“We deserve a board that provides expertise and insight to benefit all Californians rather than politicize the commission.” – March 2 letter by Farm Bureau board president Jennifer Beretta
McGuire and the supervisors, Lynda Hopkins, Chris Coursey and James Gore, all say having De La Cruz at the table will provide the region with much needed representation on a key state commission.
De La Cruz, an accomplished lawyer experienced in working with farmworkers and other marginalized communities, has no professional experience in the technical aspects of seismic safety.”
Considering safety is a workplace necessity, constituents remained confused regarding the appointment of Mrs. De La Cruz. She was recently involved in an alleged scandal in which she appeared to recommend an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding allocation for Raizes Collective, a nonprofit for which she receives income as outlined on her Form 700.
Arrest records indicate that Executive Director of Raizes Collective, Ms. Maria Isabel Lopez was imprisoned in April 2022 following a DUI case judgment. Shortly after, Ms. De La Cruz recommended for the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors to approve her funding requests. Ms. De La Cruz and Ms. Lopez share a mortgage per the County’s records of deed.
As potential malfeasance surfaces at the local, state and national level, Californians are concerned about the future of their home state. Congressional candidate Chris Coulombe believes that America needs new political leadership, and most certainly in the State of California.While we should be entering a new golden age for California and America, those in leadership positions are leading us into a deeper decline. When asked to share his thoughts regarding the destruction of Lake Pillsbury, Candidate Coulombe stated:
“Sadly, Marin County’s Representative Jared Huffman is leading an effort to destroy our existing water infrastructure and increase our region’s water insecurity. This will have a significant negative impact on the already struggling citizens of the north Coast and North Bay for decades to come.
We have not built a major dam in California in 40 years, yet we have hundreds of billions of dollars in funding available today at the state and federal level, specifically to increase our water security. So why would we spend $500 million to have less water with no plan to replace that capacity?
This plan is based on ideology, not reality and put forward to create yet another politically appointed board to control our resources, and likely another tax. We need leadership that will look after the interests of the people and businesses of this region not play partisan games. We need to build more water storage and improve what we have before we remove an existential resource for an entire region.”
He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
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