Climate Action: From Local to Global

Note: On Sunday 17, September 17, people concerned about climate change are invited to join a demonstration calling for climate action on the Broad Street Bridge in Nevada City, California following the Constitution Day Parade, which begins at 2. Everyone is invited to join. Some of us marching in the parade’s Minewatch contingent will be there with our NO MINE signs. This article describes why these two issues go together.

It is past time to have another big climate demonstration here in Nevada County, as we face the shared reality that the ravages of climate change that scientists warned us about decades ago are upon us. This summer’s record-breaking heat waves and other extreme disasters (including on Maui and now in Florida) bring home to us the extent of damage caused by a 1.2 ͦ C (2 ͦ F) rise in average global temperatures.  (See Global Citizens’ “Shocking Photos of Extreme Weather Around the World in 2023 So Far.”) The terms unprecedented, the new normal, and apocalyptic have become common but do not adequately express the climate emergency that has come upon us. Today’s disasters provide a preview of what’s coming if we don’t turn around and change our ways, a “new abnormal” of escalating dangers. At the current rate, greenhouse gas emissions will raise global temperatures by 3 or 4 ͦ C by the end of this century, and our beloved Earth will become progressively inhospitable to life.

Many of us respond as individuals or groups to these weather-related disasters through relief efforts, by donating money or with hands-on help. Some individuals, faith communities, and other organizations are adapting to climate change by “greening” their lifestyles and facilities. Some communities are working to become resilient and to be prepared for disasters. Nevada County has detailed plans and initiatives to address both Climate resilience and Emergency Preparedness. A primary focus is on being prepared for the danger of wildfires made worse by climate change. These actions provide relief, demonstrate renewable alternatives, reduce our carbon footprints, and offer a witness to our concern and care for our community, our global neighbors, and future generations.

Here in Nevada County, we have taken our collective response to climate change even further. We have expanded our work of relief, adaptation, and resilience to also take on the work of mitigation. In 2019, our Board of Supervisors adopted a Nevada County Energy Action Plan. Its goal is to “reduce the projected annual grid supplied electricity use in 2035 by 51% and annual natural gas use by 30%” through “energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water efficiency.” Following through with this plan allies us with others here in California and around the world who are taking coordinated actions to mitigate climate change, that is, to halt and reverse the upward trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions.

We should all be grateful for the work that has brought us to this point and support other such forward-looking policies in the future. This requires vigilance, which means paying attention to local development decisions, and it means adding our voices and our bodies to the struggle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change and to protect the rural quality of life here in Nevada County.

A most pressing local development challenge continues to be the actions of Rise Gold, which, according to Market Screener, is “a Canada-based exploration-stage mining company” whose “principal asset is the past-producing Idaho-Maryland Gold Mine…” Now that the Planning Commission has gone on record opposing the mine, this foreign corporation is now threatening to force our County to accept the reopening of the old Idaho-Maryland Mine by filing a petition granting them the “vested right to mine.” This would mean proving that the Idaho-Maryland Mine is not a “past-producing mine” but has been a working mine all along.

As mentioned above, Nevada County’s Energy Action Plan calls for gradually reducing both electricity and natural gas use, but Rise Gold’s projected electrical and natural gas use would cancel out this plan. There would be massive carbon emissions caused by diesel-powered heavy equipment used for constant construction during the first year and half; ongoing continuous excavating, underground blasting, drilling, rock crushing, loading, hauling, unloading, spreading, and compacting to create engineered fill up to seven stories tall; continuous mine dewatering by pumping, treating and sending millions of gallons of wastewater down Wolf Creek; increased new diesel truck traffic (up to 100 round trips a day, seven days a week, 16 hours a day). This would result in significant increases in greenhouse emissions rather than decreases as outlined in the county’s Energy Action Plan.

There are plenty of other reasons to oppose reopening the mine, including the harmful impacts this working gold mine in the City of Grass Valley would have on our land, air, water, endangered species, and quality of life. Furthermore, Rise Gold has a terrible track record. CEO Ben Mossman is waiting to be sentenced after being convicted of fourteen counts in Canada for the environmental harm a previous mine of his caused there. Locally, this foreign corporation has misrepresented facts and has falsely claimed that our community is in favor of reopening the mine, despite broad, sustained, and reasoned opposition. Find details at the Minewatch website.

I will be part of the Minewatch contingent in the Constitution Day Parade at 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 17. This happens to also be the Global Day of Action to End Fossil Fuels, the day on which public demonstrations will take place around the world, including in New York, San Francisco, Sacramento, and here in our community. That’s why after the parade you will find me standing on the Broad Street Bridge with others who are concerned about climate change and the mine’s potential impacts on climate. I know from experience that it will be fun and energizing. I would love to see you there.