The gigantic oil-processing plant, near Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, was bombed on Sept. 14, and became the hottest place on earth — again. That same day, “Planet Humboldt,”featuring “Planet Humboldt” — Community and a Vital Earth,” was scheduled at the Sequoia Center in Eureka. (Alexander von Humboldt, the county’s namesake, was born on Sept. 14, 1859.) “Sir Alex” inspired activists around the world — titans like Charles Darwin, John Muir and many others — who are at least slowing down the decimation of this fragile planet. It seems that the Saudis are hopeful that Iran will be held accountable for the Abqaiq bombing. The implications are draconian. Americans, of every description agree that the U.S. is already over-booked in that part of the world.
Abqaiq (Ab’cake) was our home for five years. My wife Carol and I worked in the ARAMCO school system. One hot day, against the best advice, most of the kids in my part of the school went outside for recess. Nothing unusual about that — right? Except that, on that day, between buildings, in the shade, the thermometer read 153 F! That was in the 1980s, but, take note: As with the recent bombing, the Saudi sun was not the reason for the “hottest” designation. Waste gas from the $20 billion oil-processing plant was flared off in towering mile-long systems. According to satellite info, Abqaiq was “Hottest place on earth.” At a safe distance, senior staff had ultra-modern housing, swimming pools, a golf course, a commissary and secretly brewed beer. (Sharia law is draconian; we kept our heads — and we’re not going back to Arabia any time soon, even if invited by the president’s buddy, Assassin bin Salman.)
Dry summer air allows for evaporation and cooling when it’s above 98.6 F. Heat kills more people than most other disasters. According to University College in London, climate chaos will soon become irreversible. Hundreds of millions of lives are at risk. Carbon blankets Earth along with the juggernauts of plastic and pollution — which are more rampant since 1990 than in all the rest of human history! Thousands of fires are destroying the Amazon; our carbon-holding forests have become counter-productive tree farms. Stink about this if you are a beach-comber: As cited in local periodicals, Moonstone and Clam Beach are now the most polluted beaches in California.
Let’s face the music: if we do nothing about our addiction to fossil fuels we are indeed damned! Some sacrifice and changes in life styles will be necessary, because OIL contributes $111 billion to California economy yearly. Forty thousand people in the Bakersfield area make a living, directly or indirectly from oil. (Incidentally, 22% of that area’s residents live in poverty and paradoxically, communities like ours on the North Coast and Bakersfield that depend on extraction of natural resources have high rates of social disorder.) There is pathological opposition from industry overlords and the White House to earth care and there is flagrant denial of human cause of climate chaos. Is there hope? Seriously — is there any hope? You bet there is! Humboldt prophets have spoken! “Forests Forever” roots are in Humboldt County. Sustainable forestry makes good economic sense. We can no longer afford destructive logging. Also, consider the study by the UC Berkley Labor Center. Thousands of renewable energy jobs representing 15 million union work hours have gone to San Joaquin Valley, (Bakersfield, et al.) And — this is encouraging, almost beyond belief. (Read it in “TIME” Sept. 23): A 4,815-mile Great Green Wall is planned for North Africa; when completed, this forest fortress will control Sahara desertification and absorb 250 million tons of excessive CO2!
Recent climate change demonstrations have set the stage for action in the coming age. The United Nations Climate Action Summit has featured the strident voice of future generations. California leads the way. How dare you ignore the mandate! This incredibly beautiful planet will not forgive us forever. The 10 trillion eyes of nature are watching. What will we do with the Gift of Life?
John Wiebe resides in Westhaven.