CVIndependent

Fri08232019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

On this week's reindeer-infused weekly Independent comics page: This Modern World observes as President-elect Trump travels back in time to meet the Founding Fathers; Jen Sorenson examines social-justice movements through history; The K Chronicles engages in a protest; and Red Meat makes a holiday mistake.

Published in Comics

I wish were using this space to discuss the results of the third annual Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll—and explain how we received an all-time-high number of votes, and gush about how proud I am that our list of winners and finalists represents all parts of the valley.

I wish I were using this space to discuss the inaugural Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Week—and tell you all about how the week was an amazing success that featured amazing cocktails, lots of fun and thousands of dollars going to two amazing charities.

However, I feel compelled to instead discuss the president-elect of the United States.

Barring something freaky coming out of the proposed recounts and challenges, and despite the popular-vote results, it’s undeniable: Donald Trump won, fair and square. He deserves significant credit for confounding the experts and the establishment, and for tapping into and exploiting the serious concerns and pain being felt by many people across this great country.

However, that does not mean that his behavior during the campaign can or should be forgotten or forgiven.

Just like it’s undeniable that Trump won, fair and square, it’s also undeniable that he said and did some despicable things on his way to that win. He mocked the disabled. He demeaned women. He threatened the rights of LGBT individuals. He said things about Mexicans, Muslims and African Americans that were flat-out racist. He demonized the media. And by doing all of these awful things, he sent a message to racists, sexists and other haters across the country that it’s OK to feel and act that way.

As a small-business owner, I am petrified about what Trump could do to the economy. As a caring human, I am fearful of what he, his surrogates and his fans could do to Muslims, women, refugees and anyone else who is not a straight white man. As a reporter and journalist, I am downright pissed about the crap he’s said about the media—specifically newspapers that have exposed his lies, his deception and his wrongdoing.

However, I am not just petrified, fearful and pissed off. I am also motivated.

Since we published our first articles online more than four years ago, the mission statement of the Coachella Valley Independent has included this statement: We believe in true, honest journalism: We want to afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted.

We and the rest of the country’s alternative media are on alert. We realize that our work is more important than ever. We’re watching.

By the way, pick up the December 2016 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, hitting streets all across the valley this week. As always, thanks for reading.

Published in Editor's Note

On this week's eggnog-craving weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson offers scenes from Standing Rock; The K Chronicles lives in the House of Sick; This Modern World examines the great political divide; and Red Meat enjoys a new exercise routine.

Published in Comics

If President-elect Donald Trump actually believes all the warnings he issued during the election about the threats of immigration, he should be talking about ways to slow global warming as well.

Rising sea levels, caused by the melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps, will probably displace tens of millions of people in the decades ahead, and many may come to North America as refugees.

Climate change will cause a suite of other problems for future generations to tackle—and it’s arguably the most pressing issue of our time.

A year ago in December, world leaders gathered in Paris to discuss strategies for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, and scientists at every corner of the globe confirm that humans are facing a crisis. However, climate change is being basically ignored by American politicians and lawmakers. It was not discussed in depth at all during this past election cycle’s televised presidential debates—and when climate change does break the surface of public discussion, it polarizes Americans like almost no other political issue.

Some conservatives, including President-elect Trump, still deny there’s even a problem.

“We are in this bizarre political state in which most of the Republican Party still thinks it has to pretend that climate change is not real,” said Jonathan F.P. Rose, a New York City developer and author of The Well-Tempered City, which explores in part how low-cost green development can mitigate the impacts of rising global temperatures and changing weather patterns.

Rose says progress cannot be made in drafting effective climate strategies until national leaders agree there’s an issue.

“We have such strong scientific evidence,” he said. “We can disagree on how we’re going to solve the problems, but I would hope we could move toward an agreement on the basic facts.”

That such a serious planetwide crisis has become a divide across the American political battlefield “is a tragedy” to Peter Kalmus, an earth scientist with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech in Pasadena, who agreed to be interviewed for this story on his own behalf (in other words, not on behalf of NASA, JPL or Caltech). Kalmus warns that climate change is happening whether politicians want to talk about it or not.

“CO2 molecules and infrared photons don’t give a crap about politics, whether you’re liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat or anything else,” Kalmus said.

Slowing climate change will be essential, since adapting to all its impacts may be impossible. Governments must strive for greater resource efficiency, shift to renewable energy and transition from conventional to more sustainable agricultural practices.

America’s leaders must also implement a carbon-pricing system, climate activists say, that places a financial burden on fossil-fuel producers and reduces greenhouse-gas emissions. But there may be little to zero hope that such a system will be installed at the federal level as Trump prepares to move into the White House. Trump has actually threatened to reverse any commitments the United States agreed to in Paris. According to widely circulating reports, Trump has even selected a well-known skeptic of climate change, Myron Ebell, to head his U.S. Environmental Protection Agency transition team. Ebell is the director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Steve Valk, communications director for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, says the results of the presidential election come as a discouraging setback in the campaign to slow emissions and global warming.

“There’s no doubt that the steep hill we’ve been climbing just became a sheer cliff,” he said. “But cliffs are scalable.”

Valk says the American public must demand that Congress implement carbon pricing. He says the government is not likely to face and attack climate change unless voters force them to.

“The solution is going to have to come from the people,” he said. “Our politicians have shown that they’re just not ready to implement a solution on their own.”


After Paris

There is no question the Earth is warming rapidly, and already, this upward temperature trend is having impacts.

It is disrupting agriculture. Glacial water sources are vanishing. Storms and droughts are becoming more severe. Altered winds and ocean currents are impacting marine ecosystems. So is ocean acidification, another outcome of carbon dioxide emissions. The sea is rising and eventually will swamp large coastal regions and islands. As many as 200 million people could be displaced by 2050. For several years in a row now, each year has been warmer than any year prior in recorded temperature records, and by 2100, it may be too hot for people to permanently live in the Persian Gulf.

World leaders and climate activists made groundbreaking progress toward slowing these effects at the Paris climate conference. Leaders from 195 countries drafted a plan of action to reduce global greenhouse-gas emissions and steer the planet off its predicted course of warming. The pact, which addresses energy, transportation, industries and agriculture— and which asks leaders to regularly upgrade their climate policies—is intended to keep the planet from warming by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit between pre-industrial years and the end of this century. Scientists have forecasted that an average global increase of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit will have devastating consequences for humanity.

The United States pledged to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 26 percent from 2005 levels within a decade. China, Japan and nations of the European Union made similar promises. More recently, almost 200 nations agreed to phase out hydrofluorocarbons, extremely potent but short-lived greenhouse gases emitted by refrigerators and air conditioners, and reduce the emissions from the shipping and aviation industries.

But in the wake of such promising international progress—and as 2016 draws to a close as the third record warm year in a row—many climate activists are disconcerted both by United States leaders’ recent silence on the issue and by the outcome of the presidential election. Mark Sabbatini, editor of the newspaper Icepeople in Svalbard, Norway, believes shortsighted political scheming has pushed climate change action to the back burner. He wants to see politicians start listening to scientists.

“But industry folks donate money, and scientists get shoved aside in the interest of profits and re-election,” said Sabbatini, who recently had to evacuate his apartment as unprecedented temperatures thawed out the entire region’s permafrost, threatening to collapse buildings.

Short-term goals and immediate financial concerns distract leaders from making meaningful policy advances on climate.

“In Congress, they look two years ahead,” Sabbatini said. “In the Senate, they look six years ahead. In the White House, they look four years ahead.”

The 300 nationwide chapters of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby are calling on local governments and chambers of commerce across America to voice support for a revenue-neutral carbon fee. The hope is that leaders in Congress will hear the demands of the people. This carbon fee would impose a charge on producers of oil, natural gas and coal. As a direct result, all products and services that depend on or directly utilize those fossil fuels would cost more for consumers, who would be incentivized to buy less. Food shipped in from far away would cost more than locally grown alternatives. Gas for heating, electricity generated by oil and coal, and driving a car would become more expensive.

“Bicycling would become more attractive, and so would electric cars and home appliances that use less energy,” said Kalmus, an advocate of the revenue-neutral carbon fee.

Promoting this fee system is essentially the Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s entire focus.

“This would be the most important step we take toward addressing climate change,” Valk said.

In the carbon fee system, the revenue from fossil-fuel producers would be evenly distributed by the collecting agencies among the public, perhaps via a tax credit. Recycling the dividends back into society would make it a fair system, Valk explains, since poorer people, who tend to use less energy than wealthier people to begin with and are therefore less to blame for climate change, would come out ahead.

The system would also place a tariff on incoming goods from nations without a carbon fee. This would keep American industries from moving overseas and maybe even prompt other nations to set their own price on carbon.

But there’s a problem with the revenue-neutral carbon fee, according to other climate activists: It doesn’t support social programs that may be aimed at reducing society’s carbon footprint.

“It will put no money into programs that serve disadvantaged communities who, for example, might not be able to afford weatherizing their home and lowering their energy bill, or afford an electric vehicle or a solar panel,” said Renata Brillinger, executive director of the California Climate and Agriculture Network. “It doesn’t give anything to public schools for making the buildings more energy efficient, and it wouldn’t give any money to farmers’ incentive programs for soil building.”

Brillinger’s organization is advocating for farmers to adopt practices that actively draw carbon out of the atmosphere, like planting trees and maintaining ground cover to prevent erosion. Funding, she says, is needed to support such farmers, who may go through transitional periods of reduced yields and increased costs. California’s cap-and-trade system sets up an ample revenue stream for this purpose that a revenue-neutral system does not, according to Brillinger.

But Valk says establishing a carbon pricing system must take into account the notorious reluctance of conservatives in Congress.

“You aren’t going to get a single Republican in Congress to support legislation unless it’s revenue-neutral,” he said. “Any policy is useless if you can’t pass it in Congress.”


Sequestering the Farm

In Washington, D.C., the nation’s leaders continue tussling over popular issues like immigration, taxes, healthcare, abortion, guns and foreign affairs.

Climate-change activists wish they would be thinking more about soil. That’s because stopping greenhouse gas emissions alone will not stop climate change. The carbon dioxide emitted through centuries of industrial activity will continue to drive warming unless it is removed from the air and put somewhere.

“There are only three places carbon can go,” Brillinger said. “It can go into the atmosphere, where we don’t want it; into the ocean, where we also don’t want it because it causes acidification; or into soil and woody plants, where we do want it. Carbon is the backbone of all forests and is a critical nutrient of soil.”

But most of the Earth’s soil carbon has been lost to the atmosphere, causing a spike in atmospheric carbon. In the 1700s, the Earth’s atmosphere contained less than 280 parts per million of carbon dioxide, according to scientists. Now, we are at more than 400 and counting. Climate experts generally agree that the atmospheric carbon level must be reduced to 350 or less if we are to keep at bay the most disastrous possible impacts of warming.

This is why farmers and the soil they work will be so important in mitigating climate change. By employing certain practices and abandoning other ones, farmers and ranchers can turn acreage into valuable carbon sinks—a general agricultural approach often referred to as “carbon farming.”

Conventional agriculture practices tend to emit carbon dioxide. Regular tilling of the soil, for example, causes soil carbon to bond with oxygen and float away as carbon dioxide. Tilling also causes erosion, as do deforestation and overgrazing. With erosion, soil carbon enters waterways, creating carbonic acid—the direct culprit of ocean acidification. Researchers have estimated that unsustainable farming practices have caused as much as 80 percent of the world’s soil carbon to turn into carbon dioxide.

By carbon farming, those who produce the world’s food can simultaneously turn their land into precious carbon sinks. The basic tenets of carbon farming include growing trees as windbreaks and focusing on perennial crops, like fruit trees and certain specialty grain varieties, which demand less tilling and disturbance of the soil.

Eric Toensmeier, a senior fellow with the climate advocacy group Project Drawdown and the author of The Carbon Farming Solution, says many other countries are far ahead of the United States in both recognizing the importance of soil as a place to store carbon and funding programs that help conventional farmers shift toward carbon-farming practices. France, for instance, initiated a sophisticated program in 2011 that calls for increasing soil carbon worldwide by 0.4 percent every year. Healthy soil can contain 10 percent carbon or more, and France’s program has the potential over time to decelerate the increase in atmospheric carbon levels.

Toensmeier is optimistic about the progress being made in the United States, too. The U.S. Department of Agriculture funds programs that support environmentally friendly farming practices that protect watersheds or enhance wildlife habitat, largely through planting perennial grasses and trees.

“And it turns out a lot of the practices they’re paying farmers to do to protect water quality or slow erosion also happen to sequester carbon,” Toensmeier said.

He says it appears obvious that the federal government is establishing a system by which they will eventually pay farmers directly to sequester carbon. Such a direct faceoff with climate change, however, may be a few years away.

Climate activists may even need to wait until 2021.

“First, we need a president who acknowledges that climate change exists,” Toensmeier said.


National Politics and City Reform

Climate-reform advocates still talk about Bernie Sanders’ fiery attack on fracking as a source of global warming in the May primary debate with Hillary Clinton.

“If we don’t get our act together, this planet could be 5 to 10 degrees warmer by the end of this century,” Sanders said then. “Cataclysmic problems for this planet. This is a national crisis.”

Sanders was not exaggerating. The Earth has already warmed by 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, and it’s getting hotter. Even with the advances made in Paris, the world remains on track to be 6.1 degrees Fahrenheit warmer by 2100 than it was in pre-industrial times, according to a United Nations emissions report released in early November. The authors of another paper published in January in the journal Nature predicted temperatures will rise as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

In light of the scientific consensus, conservatives’ denial of climate change looks childish at best, and dangerous at worst. In low-lying Florida, so vulnerable to the rising sea, an unofficial policy from its Republican leadership has effectively muzzled state employees from even mentioning “climate change” and “global warming” in official reports and communications. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz suggested NASA focus its research less on climate change and more on space exploration, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

Most frightening of all, perhaps, is the incoming American president’s stance on the matter: Trump said in a 2012 tweet that global warming is a Chinese hoax. In January 2014, during a brief spell of cold weather, he asked via Twitter, “Is our country still spending money on the GLOBAL WARMING HOAX?”

While most of the rest of the world remains poised to advance emissions reductions goals, Trump is aiming in a different direction. The Trump-Pence website vows to “unleash America’s $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves.” His webpage concerning energy goals only mentions reducing emissions once, and it makes no mention of climate change or renewable energy.

While meaningful action at the federal level is probably years away, at the local level, progress is coming—even in communities led by Republicans, according to Rose. That, he says, is because local politicians face a level of accountability from which national leaders are often shielded.

“At the city level, mayors have to deliver real results,” Rose said. “They have to protect their residents and make wise investments on behalf of their residents. The residents see what they’re doing and hold them accountable.”

Restructuring and modifying our cities, which are responsible for about half of America’s carbon footprint, “will be critical toward dealing with climate change,” Rose said.

“On the coast, we’ll have sea-level rise,” he said. “Inland, we’ll have flooding and heat waves. Heat waves cause more deaths than hurricanes.”

Simply integrating nature into city infrastructure is a very low-cost but effective means for countering the changes that are coming, Rose says. Many cities, for example, are planting thousands of street trees. Trees draw in atmospheric carbon as they grow and, through shade and evaporative cooling effects, can significantly reduce surface temperatures by as much as 6 degrees Fahrenheit in some circumstances, Rose says.

Laws and policies that take aim at reduced emissions targets can be very efficient tools for generating change across entire communities. However, Kalmus believes it’s important that individuals, too, reduce their own emissions through voluntary behavior changes, rather than simply waiting for change to come from leaders and lawmakers.

“If you care about climate change, it will make you happier,” he said. “It makes you feel like you’re pioneering a new way to live. For others, you’re the person who is showing the path and making them realize it’s not as crazy as it seems.”

Kalmus, who lives in Altadena, Calif., with his wife and two sons, has radically overhauled his lifestyle to reduce his carbon footprint. Since 2010, he has cut his own emissions by a factor of 10—from 20 tons per year to just 2, by his own estimates. This personal transformation is the subject of his forthcoming book, Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution, due out in 2017.

Kalmus rides a bike most places, eats mostly locally grown food, raises some food in his own yard, has stopped eating meat, and—one of the most important changes—has all but quit flying places.

He hopes to serve as a model and help spark a transition to an economy that does not depend on constant growth, as ours currently does. One day, he believes, it will be socially unacceptable to burn fossil fuel, just as it’s become shunned to waste water in drought-dried California. The oil industry will eventually become obsolete.

“We need to transition to an economy that doesn’t depend on unending growth,” Kalmus said.

Unless we slow our carbon emissions and our population growth now, depletion of resources, he warns, will catch up with us.

“We need to shift to a steady-state economy and a steady-state population,” he said. “Fossil-fueled civilization cannot continue forever.”

Though Americans will soon have as president a man who is essentially advocating for climate change, Valk, at the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, expects time—and warming—to shift voter perspectives.

“As more and more people are personally affected by climate change, like those recently flooded out in Louisiana and North Carolina, people of all political persuasions will see that acting on climate change is not a matter of partisan preferences, but a matter of survival,” he said.

See also:

California’s Disappearing Dream: How Climate Change and a Booming Population Continue to Shape Our Environmental Future

A Call to Action: Six Things Leaders Must Prioritize To Address Climate Change

Published in Environment

On this week's tumultously transitional weekly Independent comics page: Red Meat enjoys the holiday; Jen Sorenson examines unhelpful post-election declarations; The K Chronicles ponders what's next for the National Rifle Association; and This Modern World heads over a cliff.

Published in Comics

Whether your candidate for president won or lost, the good news is that the election is over.

Pundits will dig into every nuance of why someone lost or how someone won, but none of that will change where we are now. The system is what it is, and it works how it works. As important as it is to be a “good loser,” it’s even more of a show of character to be a “good winner.”

I tend to be a Pollyanna, someone of irrepressible optimism who thinks good things will always happen in the end. My philosophy includes taking every defeat—losing a job, losing a love or anything else—and figuring out what I need to learn so I won’t repeat it; each learning opportunity is meant to get me ready for an even better experience to come.

Yet I can be blindsided and feel like I took a stiff punch to the gut. That’s how I woke up the morning after the election: stunned, numb and overwhelmingly sad. I admit I cried myself to sleep, exhausted by my profound disappointment that a woman would not be president. At least not yet.

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross defined what are known as the five stages of grief: denial (“This can’t be happening!); anger (“Let’s take to the streets!”); bargaining (”Maybe we can get some things done that will be productive.”); depression (“I just don’t care. I’m done getting involved.”); and, finally, acceptance (“We can make it through this. It’s going to turn out all right.”).

While consoling friends devastated by the election who thought all hope was gone and trying to get them to the fifth stage, I began hearing how some people on the winning side were responding to the election: painting hateful racist and anti-Semitic sentiments on buildings, pulling off women’s hijabs on the street, and telling Hispanic-American students that they should leave the country—their country. I was devastated by a 10-year-old Muslim-American boy who just wanted to know, “Why do they hate me?”

All of this hit frighteningly close to home when a dear friend, Ellie, a Hillary supporter, called to say her home in the San Diego area had been defaced, with the word “ASSHOLE” scratched into her garage door.

“I had no campaign signs, and I don’t even remember talking politics with any of my neighbors,” she told me. “I have no idea who did it. I’m scared.”

The Southern Policy Law Center, which tracks hate crimes, received more than 200 complaints within the week after the election. Time magazine reported that anti-Muslim incidents were more prevalent than after Sept. 11, 2001.

Many people watching demonstrators on TV—including the hundreds who showed up in Palm Springs—or hearing about incidents of hatred and violence may feel helpless. Regardless of who they supported, they want to find a way to reassure fellow citizens that they need not be afraid. But they’re not sure what to do.

Some will begin to politically organize for the next go-round; some will write letters or op-ed columns; some will volunteer to support special-interest organizations; some will find other ways to channel their disappointment into having some positive impact.

I discovered the safety-pin campaign.

After the shocking Brexit vote in Great Britain to leave the European Union—a vote which followed a campaign with racist and anti-immigrant undertones not unlike those during the U.S. presidential-election campaign—similar acts of overt discrimination were reported throughout the British isles. Regardless of how individuals had voted—for Brexit or against—many wanted some way to show their vote was not meant as being against any group of people.

Last June, individuals in Britain came up with the idea of wearing a safety pin as a way for people to quietly and unobtrusively signal that they were a “safe ally”—someone OK to sit next to on the bus, or to ask directions, or to make eye contact with on the street.

Not everyone is an activist, or able to speak publicly, or able to take time off from work, child-rearing or caretaking—and wearing a safety pin is a small way to say “I care.” It’s a way to show you believe we are all entitled to respect, regardless of our political differences. It’s a way of saying, “Hatred and violence is NOT what I voted for.”

In the Colorado Springs Gazette, a woman named Jacquie Ostrom said: “I’m wearing (a safety pin) because I believe in acceptance of all people—all colors, all faiths, all sexual orientation. It’s important … to know that we stand together.”

If wearing a safety pin is still too much of a public statement, there are other ways to get to that fifth stage. My niece, Karen, has connected to a group on Facebook that started with the idea, “What if I committed to one act of justice every day?” This approach is dedicated to making the world a better place one day at a time, and encourages peaceful acts meant to show respect for differences among us.

“I’m committing to do something positive and good for someone else every day,” said Karen. “And I’m committing to educate myself and others so I can better understand issues next time around.”  

Another—somewhat more ironic—approach is to make a donation to an organization that will probably face challenges during the next administration, but doing it in the name of someone else. For example, imagine how your Uncle Joe, a staunch Trump supporter, may feel when he gets a “Thank you!” from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, or the Southern Poverty Law Center, or Planned Parenthood.

I’ve often said that in evolutionary terms, we’re barely out of the slime as a species. As each new generation takes over, we move ever-so-slowly but inexorably forward. I continue to believe it’s going to be all right. But then, I’m a Pollyanna.

I’m wearing a safety pin.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal,” and her radio show airs Sundays at noon on KNews Radio 94.3 FM. Email her This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

On the day after Election Day, the biggest newspaper in the oil and gas patch in northwestern New Mexico ran a story headlined: “Trump win has energy industry leaders hopeful.”

Most of the local industry folks quoted by the Farmington Daily Times said that President-elect Donald Trump would relax regulations on drilling on public land. Meanwhile, over on Facebook, energy workers were ecstatic, convinced that a President Trump would put them back to work almost immediately.

They should know better.

The San Juan Basin’s energy-reliant communities have been hit especially hard in recent years. The first blow came in 2008, after horizontal drilling and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing opened up huge shale formations in the East.

Shortly thereafter, oil prices skyrocketed to as high as $150 per barrel, prompting drill rigs to pop up again all over North Dakota’s Bakken formation and, a little later, in the San Juan Basin’s Gallup shale. The fossil fuel mojo was back … until it wasn’t. As global supply increased faster than demand, prices started dropping, and OPEC declined to cut production. In 2014, prices crashed, and the oil boom was busted.

It’s a simple equation: When demand outpaces supply, prices increase. When prices get high enough to make drilling profitable, companies invest in development and put people to work. When all that drilling increases supply, prices crash, as do the drill rigs. Today, oil prices are stubbornly stuck below $50 per barrel.

Just one rig is working in the San Juan Basin, and the vast equipment yards in Farmington and Aztec, N.M., are crammed full of idle rigs. Thousands of workers have lost their jobs.

President-elect Trump promised to “lift restrictions on … energy reserves” and to dismantle environmental regulations. But will the drill rigs go back up as a result? No. Will laid-off energy workers get their jobs back? No. Regulations have nothing to do with this bust. Commodity booms and busts are driven by supply and demand, not regulations.

The only way to kick-start the faltering industry would be to increase oil and natural gas prices. And the only way to do that is to curtail supply or increase demand—no easy task with a global commodity.

Natural gas supply and demand, and therefore prices, would be somewhat easier to manipulate, since the commodity is regional, not global, meaning we export and import very little of the stuff. A president could boost demand by subsidizing a nationwide fleet of natural gas-burning long-haul trucks, which might make gas drillers happy, but not the oil drillers (since it would displace gasoline-burning trucks). He could ram through liquefied natural gas export-terminal permits, opening up foreign markets to domestic natural gas. If foreign demand was high enough, that might do the trick, but Trump’s promise to kill the Trans-Pacific Partnership would damage, not help, efforts to sell natural gas overseas.

A president could regulate power plant emissions in such a way that encourages utilities to replace coal with natural gas in the electricity generation mix. Oh, wait, that one’s already in the works. It’s called the Clean Power Plan, which Trump has pledged to repeal.

The San Juan Basin is also coal country, so at least the workers at the mines and two massive power plants will get to go back to work, right? Wrong. Coal-burning units at both plants have been shut down. The curtailments came from settlements with the Environmental Protection Agency over Clean Air Act violations, and because California didn’t want to buy coal power anymore. Killing the Clean Power Plan—even eliminating the EPA—won’t restore these plants to their former smog-spewing, coal-burning glory.

While the environment and the people who live near the rigs are getting a break during this bust, the economic pain in the oil patch these days is real, and deep. Individuals who just a few years ago were raking in $80,000 or more per year are struggling to hang on. City, county and state governments have watched revenues plummet. It’s the sort of malaise that breeds resentment and that spurs people to vote for the likes of Trump.

It is maddening and tragic to see these people put so much hope in one person, particularly when that person is clearly so unequipped to deliver on his promises, and so likely, in the long run, to make their lives more miserable by removing what few social safety nets exist.

What will they do after Trump has finished rolling back all the regulations, dismantling the rules that keep us safe and our environment healthy—and they still don’t have a job? Who will they blame then?

Jonathan Thompson is a contributing editor at High Country News, where this piece first appeared.

Published in Community Voices

Dear Mexican: Math problem—If there are 20 Mexicans, 20 Indians, 20 Chinese, 20 Puerto Ricans, 20 blacks and one white person in a room, how many people are there whose identity is used as a benchmark to establish the identities of the rest of the people in the room? (Hint: Not a colored person.)

Swimming Upstream

Dear Gabacho: The 20 Mexicans—because everyone else will do everything possible to let the world know they’re not Mexican once the deportation train comes along.

OPEN LETTER TO MEXICANS AFRAID OF PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP

Gentle cabrones: fear not. Our raza has gone up against Cortés, Maximilian, Winfield Scott, Porfirio Diaz, the PRI, the narcos, Enrique Peña Nieto, Harrison Gray Otis and Harry Chandler (the founder of the Los Angeles Times and his son-in-law, who owned hundreds of thousands of acres in Mexico and published all sorts of calumny against Pancho Villa, Francisco Madero, and Emiliano Zapata), Maná, the PAN, Joe Arpaio, Pete Wilson, the Salinas de Gortarís, Tlatelolco, the Pastry War, Santa Anna, Victoriano Huerta, Henry Lane Wilson, Álvaro Obregon, Plutarco Elías Calles, NAFTA, Maseca, Rick Bayless, the 1994 devaluation of the peso, the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, Arjen Robben, 7-0 versus Chile in the Copa Ámerica, Landon Donovan, Dos a Cero, Barbara Coe, Hollywood, the Texians, Taco Bell, the pinche rinches, border walls, la migra, the Zimmerman affair, femicide in Juarez, genocide against our indigenous ancestors, the pillaging of our natural resources by the Spanish, gachupines, gringos, Yanquis, Carlos Slim, Jorge Hank Rhon, the Creel-Terrazas family, José Jiménez, the Frito Bandito, “We don’t need no steenkin’ badges,” “Go back to Mexico!,” “beaner,” “wetback,” “illegal alien savage,” “invader,” los científicos, ICE, the health inspector, soyrizo, ¡Ask a Mexican!, Linda Chavez, Ruben Navarrette, Fox News, Lou Dobbs, cholos, Ask a Chola, the Mexican Mafia, vendidos, Tío Tacos, SB 1070, Proposition 187, the Sensenbrenner bill, the fall of Tenochtitlán, that Time magazine cover about “Saving Mexico,” Ben Affleck playing a Chicano in Argo, Matt Damon playing a half-Mexican in The Good Shepherd, Operation Wetback, the Great Arizona Orphan Abduction, Jan Brewer, the Zoot Suit Riots, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the Gadsden Purchase, James K. Polk, John C. Frémont, school segregation, housing covenant, lynch mobs, Pikers, Ann Coulter, The Children of Sanchez, Robbery Under Law, the gentrification of mezcal, the Columbusing of elote, Katt Williams, Adam Carolla, the Republicans, the Democrats, capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, “Come a Little Bit Closer,” John Wayne, the Dirty Sanchez, Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderón, Paul Rodriguez, the Hispanic 100, tortillas and tamales in a can, Drinko por Cinco, Televisa, Univisón, Jacobo Zabludovsky, #tacotrucksoneverycorner and that one girlfriend who broke up with you because her parents thought you were a gang member even though you were a graduate student at UCLA and working a full-time job while their itinerant daughter was mooching off Mommy and Daddy, and many, many other pendejos—and we have not only survived, but thrived.

Are we a bunch of whiny Trumpbros, or are we Mexicans? Pónganse las pilas, y a trabajar, banda.

Oh, and #fucktrump.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

When it started to sink in late Tuesday night that Donald Trump—racist, misogynist, media-basher—was going to clinch enough Electoral College votes to become the next president of the United States, editors and art directors at many of the Independent's alternative-weekly brethren started thinking: How in the hell are we going to properly convey what has just happened?!

Below is a sampling of the amazing work they came up with.

Published in Editor's Note

On this week's weekly Independent comics page: This Modern World reflects on the election; Jen Sorenson looks at real vs. fake during the election; The K Chronicles examines at the point of no return for the sharing economy; and Red Meat discusses a true blood bath.

Published in Comics