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How California stayed with gold when the rest of the U.S. adopted fiat money

How California stayed with gold when the rest of the U.S. adopted fiat money

We are ten years into the age of bitcoin. But people are still using national currencies like yen, dollars, and pounds to buy things. What does history have to say about switches from one type of monetary system to another? In this post I’ll dig for lessons from California’s successful resistance to a fiat standard that was imposed on it in the 1860s by the rest of the U.S.

Not long after the war American Civil War broke out in 1861, a run on New York banks forced most of the country’s banks to stop redeeming their banknotes with gold. A few months later Abraham Lincoln’s Union government began to issue inconvertible paper money in order to finance the war. These notes were popularly known as Greenbacks.

$1 legal tender note, or greenback

Thus the 19 states in the Union shifted from a commodity monetary standard onto a fiat monetary standard. But Californians, who had been using gold as a payments medium for the previous decade-and-a-half, chose not to cooperate and continued to keep accounts in terms of gold. As a result, California stayed on a gold standard while the rest of the Union grappled with fiat money.

This had very different repercussions for prices in each region. As the Union issued ever more greenbacks to finance the war, the perceived quality of these IOUs deteriorated. Through much of 1863 and 1864, their price fell relative to gold. Because prices in the Union were set in terms of greenbacks, consumer and wholesale prices rose rapidly.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

California’s Monarch Butterfly Population Collapses By 86% In One Year

In 1981 the Xerces Society, a non-profit environmental organization that focuses on the conservation of invertebrates, counted more than 1 million Western Monarchs wintering throughout California.

The group’s most recent count, over Thanksgiving weekend, estimated 20,500 Western Monarchs in 2018, an 86% decline from the nearly 148,000 spotted the previous year, according to an annual census conducted by the Xerces Society, SFGate reported last Sunday.

Researchers with the conservation group called the number “disturbingly low” and potentially “catastrophic,” in a statement.

Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus plexippus) are the most well-known butterflies species in North America. The Western Monarch typically migrates to California each winter, and researchers for the conservation group count its population in the state each November.

“A ubiquitous sight in gardens, prairies, and natural areas from coast to coast, their arrival in northern states and Canadian provinces is viewed by many as a welcome sign of the change in seasons from spring to summer.

Renowned for their long-distance seasonal migration and spectacular winter gatherings in Mexico and California, the Monarch butterfly population has recently declined to dangerously low levels,” Xerces Society said on their website.

Biologist Emma Pelton, who oversees the November count, told The New York Times that the 2018 count is “potentially catastrophic” when combined with the 97% collapse in the overall Monarch population since the 1980s.

“We think this is a huge wake-up call,” Pelton said, adding that ecological changes impact the butterflies and serve as a forward leading indicator for the overall health of an ecosystem.

The volatile climate in California in the last decade has threatened the butterflies, the Times reported. The state also experienced the deadliest wildfire season on record, causing widespread smoke damage and poor air quality.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Sierra Nevada Snowpack On Track To Collapse 79%, New Study Warns

A new report by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) examined the headwater regions of California’s ten major reservoirs, representing half of the state’s surface storage, discovered each could experience a 79% decline in peak snowpack water volume by 2100.

Berkeley Lab used supercomputers to investigate current warming trends and carbon emissions.

Scientists analyzed how a future warmer world would affect “snowpack upstream of 10 major reservoirs — three in Northern California, three in Central California, and four in Southern California. The reservoirs are Shasta, Oroville, Folsom, New Melones, Don Pedro, Exchequer, Pine Flat, Terminus, Success, and Isabella,” said The Mercury News.

By 2039 to 2059, the snowpack runoff could drop by 54%, the study determined, and then 79% from 2079 to 2099. The study noted that three northernmost reservoirs, Shasta, Oroville and Folsom, could see an 83% reduction, by 2100.

Alan Rhoades, a postdoctoral fellow at Berkeley Lab and lead author of the study, said his team of researchers found that peak runoff could come four weeks earlier by 2100, at the beginning of March rather than April 01.

Mountain snowpack is a significant source of water for California: “Our precipitation is really intermittent and extremes-driven,” Rhoades said. “We get 50% of our annual precipitation in five to 15 days, or one to two weeks. Our water demand is highest during the summer months when we don’t get a lot of precipitation, so we really rely on mountain snowpack as a stopgap for our water supply.”

“So as the world continues to warm, these storms will get even warmer and won’t readily get to freezing, whereby you could have snowfall or snow accumulation and the persistence of snow on the surface,” he said.

As a result of warmer weather, the amount of snow is projected to decrease while rain could increase. The study noted that it did not look at rainfall, only mountain snowpack.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

California’s Next Calamity: Storms Compounded By High Tides

California’s Next Calamity: Storms Compounded By High Tides

The wildfires that have taken their toll on California could be just the beginning of the state’s calamities. Now, the high tides of winter are coming and if those tides are worsened by an incoming storm, they could devastate entire cities on the coasts.

On December 10, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a report stating there is an 80 percent chance of an El Niño event this winter. Such events are associated with wetter and more intense winter storms. However, NOAA does caution that its data are from September through November and the intensity of the El Niño will not be known for quite some time still.

Tides are determined by the sun and moon’s gravitational pull on the oceans. This warning from NOAA comes as heavy storms bear down on California’s Pacific Northwest.   In central and northern California on Monday,  waves were as high as 30 feet, with 40- to 50-foot breaks. Coastal flooding and erosion were reported. And sn even-more-powerful storm smacked the region yesterday, prompting flood watches, high-wind alerts, and winter storm warnings across nine states.

According to ABC News, holiday travelers along I-5, which runs north to south through Washington, Oregon, and California, can expect to be drenched with heavy rains. Although that storm has mostly passed and is headed to the Rocky Mountains, California is not out of the woods just yet. High surf warnings were issued by the National Weather Service from Point Conception, California, north of the Los Angeles  Basin, to the coast of southwestern Washington, highlighting an especially heightened threat to life and property within the surf zone, reported Weather.com. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Yet Another Trillion-Dollar Unfunded Liability: WHY California Is Burning

Yet Another Trillion-Dollar Unfunded Liability: WHY California Is Burning

The apocalyptic fires that hit California last month have left observers scratching their heads and wondering how destruction on that scale could be possible – and how much it will cost in the future if the causes aren’t addressed immediately.

This morning’s Wall Street Journal concludes that 1) the problems aren’t being addressed and 2) this failure is going to cost a fortune that no government is prepared to cover (emphasis added below).

Why Californians Were Drawn Toward the Fire Zones

Building codes, state grants and low insurance rates have encouraged people to flee expensive cities for their dangerously fire-prone fringes.

California fires
A Nov. 15 view in Paradise, Calif., above, shows charred remains of houses among the trees after the Camp Fire burned down more than 11,000 homes. PHOTO: CAROLYN COLE/LOS ANGELES TIMES/GETTY IMAGES

The historically deadly wildfires that have roared through California this fall, and a string of similarly destructive ones over the past two years, are boosting calls to do more to slow climate change. But another underlying problem has contributed to the fires’ tragic damage: For decades, California, supposedly the greenest of states, has artificially lowered the cost of encroaching on nature by living in the woods.

Permissive building codes, low insurance rates and soaring taxpayer spending on firefighting and other services have provided an economic framework that has encouraged people to flee the state’s increasingly expensive cities for their leafy fringes. The forested exurbs, including places once thought too hilly or too dry to develop safely, have offered comparatively affordable living with jaw-dropping views.

The upshot: More houses have been packed into the fire-prone border between civilization and forest—known among planners as the “wildland-urban interface,” or WUI—in California than in any other state.

…click the above link to read the rest of the article…

Woolsey Fire Started at Santa Susana Field Lab — Site of “[fourth] largest release of iodine-131 in the history of nuclear power”

Woolsey Fire Started at Santa Susana Field Lab — Site of “[fourth] largest release of iodine-131 in the history of nuclear power”

In my Nov. 16 column, I reported on potential radiation risks posed by California’s Woolsey wildfire having burned over parts or all of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory—south of Simi Valley, Calif., 30 miles outside Los Angeles—site of at least four partial or total nuclear reactor meltdowns.

The field laboratory operated 10 experimental reactors and conducted rocket engine tests. In his 2014 book Atomic Accidents, researcher James Mahaffey writes, “The cores in four experimental reactors on site … melted.” Reactor core melts always result in the release of large amounts of radioactive gases and particles. Clean up of the deeply contaminated site has not been conducted in spite of a 2010 agreement.

Los Angeles’s KABC-7 TV reported Nov. 13 that the Santa Susana lab site “appears to be the origin of the Woolsey Fire” which has torched over 96,000 acres. Southern Calif. Public Radio said, “According to Cal Fire, the Woolsey Fire started on the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 8 … on the Santa Susana site.” (https://abc7.com/sce-substation-outage-occurred-before-woolsey-fire-reported/4675611/)

In my column I noted that Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy & Environmental Research, estimated that the partial meltdown of the lab’s Sodium Reactor Experiment (SRE) in 1957, caused “the third largest release of iodine-131 in the history of nuclear power,” according to Gar Smith in his 2012 book Nuclear Roulette. But Makhijani was speaking in 2006, so now of course the SRE meltdown counts as the fourth largest radio-iodine release—after the triple meltdowns at Fukushima in Japan in 2011, Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986, and Windscale in England in 1957.

Santa Susana’s operators caused the destruction of the liquid sodium-cooled SRE on July 12, 1959—“showering the downwind hills and meadows of the 2,850-acre site with a fog of chromium and radioactive isotopes, including iodine-131,” according to Smith in Roulette. It was these hills and meadows that were burned so completely by the Woolsey wildfire.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

California Rooftop Solar Mandate: An example of bad groupthink?

California Rooftop Solar Mandate: An example of bad groupthink?

In recent news, California legislators have done a gimmick-trick that has earned the state loud applause from the environmentally-minded consumers and activists: California Energy Commission (CEC) recently voted 5-0 to add a new provision to the state’s building code. This includes a requirement that from 2020, all new house and multi-family residences construction of three stories or fewer, along with all major renovations, must be built with rooftop solar panels. Given that the state currently builds ca 113,000 housing units a year, and rising, this should increase significantly already existent solar generation capacity from 15% of the housing stock, currently.
Solar being mandated on virtually all new houses? Sounds like a renewables nirvana, especially given the fact that the state has huge solar generation potential due to its climate. But, as commonly is the case, there is a catch. Or two… or many more… And this means that California’s latest policy mandate may be a poor example to follow, and potentially, a bad policy mistake.

Here are the key reasons.

Rooftop solar is about as effective in reducing emissions as waving a broom into the smog. UC Berkeley’s Severin Borenstein argued this in his note to CEC Commissioner (http://faculty.haas.berkeley.edu/borenste/cecweisenmiller180509.pdf). Note: Borenstein also alleges that CEC has failed to involve experts in energy economics in its decision making process – something that is not a good policy formation practice.

UC Davis economics professor James Bushnell accused CEC of “regulatory groupthink.” (https://energyathaas.wordpress.com/2018/10/22/how-should-we-use-our-roofs/) and offered an alternative to roof solar that can generate far greater environmental benefits. There are, of course, other, more efficient ways for deriding emissions, including: mandating more urban density, raising home and cars efficiency standards, expanding the renewable energy mandate, improving grid efficiencies and transmission expansion, and so on. Once again, CEC did not allow for any independent assessment of the proposed plans economic and environmental impacts.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Who or What Is Really Responsible for the Huge Forest Fires in California?

Who or What Is Really Responsible for the Huge Forest Fires in California?

Who or What Is Really Responsible for the Huge Forest Fires in California?
Once again, faced with the failure of the “press” to educate us on an issue, we decided to go out and research the truth about what appears to be the significant increase in huge forest fires.  Once we did the research, we found out major differences in facts from the random barkings in the MSM.

Let us start with this simple aspect.  Forest fires are a normal thing.  Often caused by lightning or other natural causes, they are God’s way of clearing forests.  In those natural forest clearances, the wildlife that exists in them are threatened or their habitat is destroyed.  What has changed is mankind’s intervention in the natural process.  The question is, what other factors may be causing the change in the intensity of recent forest fires?

We also came armed with a thought.  If you believe that global warming is making life more challenging for forest management, then you should support proper forest clearance. Otherwise we will be left with even more intense fires.

For this column, other than reading everything available, we went to two sources: our national Forest Service and the Union of Concerned Scientists to get different perspectives.

Speaking with Chris French, the Acting Deputy Chief of Forest Service (FS), we received a primer on what is really going on with forest fires today.

When asked what he believes is the primary cause of the intense forest fires, Mr. French’s immediate response was “Forests are overstocked.  There are more trees than 100 years ago.”  He went on to say that part of the problem was the Forest Service’s good work in the recent past stopping forest fires. This meant, however, that their focus was largely directed away from forest maintenance, which caused the elements that fuel a fire like underbrush, dead trees or more density to occur.

The changes French would like to see would be more active forest clearance and clearance of the underbrush.   He also wants to do more controlled fires when the risks are minimized.  If you are wondering why they are not doing that now it is because of budget restraints.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Air Quality Health Crisis from the California Wildfires

The Air Quality Health Crisis from the California Wildfires

The smoke from the California wildfires near Paradise, CA is producing the greatest air quality health crisis in the modern history of California.   Schools, universities, and sports events are being cancelled.
Although the terrible loss of life directly caused by wildfires in and near Paradise should not be minimized in any way, the health impacts of smoke will be profound, with millions of people being exposed to high concentrations of wood smoke.  Hospitalizations will surely increase and some increase mortality of vulnerable populations should be expected.

MODIS satellite imagery on Thursday at noon.  Dense smoke filled the central valley of CA and moved directly over the Bay Area.

For me, it is also personal.  My son, a healthy young man of 28 living in San Francisco, is greatly feeling that smoke as is his similarly aged co-workers and friends.  If young, healthy individuals are being sickened, can you image the impacts of those that are vulnerable?

The current air quality conditions around the Bay area are pretty extreme (see below), with much of San Francisco and neighboring areas in the very unhealthy range (200-300).   Looking at data around the world, it appears that San Francisco now has worse air quality than any major metropolitan area in the world, worse than even Beijing and Mumbai.

But what really stands out is the longevity of this poor air quality event– extending 7-9 days now for many central CA locations.    From my perusal of the air quality data of the Bay Area Air Quality Agency and other sources, this event is unprecedented in the 20 year period of data available.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California

Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California

In a victory for the ocean, a federal judge on Friday, November 9, ordered the Trump administration to cease issuing permits for offshore fracking and acidizing in federal waters — waters over 3 miles from shore — off the coast of Southern California.

U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez ruled that the federal government violated the Endangered Species Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act when it allowed fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and acidizing in offshore oil and gas wells in all leased federal waters off Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

Gutierrez issued an injunction prohibiting the two responsible federal agencies, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), from approving any plans or permits for the use of well stimulation treatments (WSTs) off California.

The court concluded that the Federal Defendants “satisfied their obligations” under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) in preparing the environmental assessment that is the subject of the suit.

“But theCourt also concludes that the Federal Defendants violated the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) by failing to consult with the relevant federal services and violated the Coastal Zone Management Act (“CZMA”) by failing to prepare a consistency determination and submit it to California for review as required by that statute,” Gutierrez wrote.

Hydraulic fracturing is a well stimulation technique that uses a pressurized liquid to fracture rock. Acidizing is another well stimulation technique that entails pumping acids into a well in order to dissolve the rock, increasing the production by creating channels in the rock to allow oil and natural gas to reach the well.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

California’s Deadliest Fire Now Blocking Sun; Temps Drop By 10 Degrees As “Hazardous” Air Chokes Residents

California’s deadliest fire in state history has generated so much smoke that it’s blotting out the sun – which has caused surface temperatures to drop by as much as 10 degrees Farenheit, according to the US National Weather Service.

The smoke from the Camp Fire, which has burned 140,000 acres, claimed at least 56 lives, and is 40% contained, is so bad that anyone in the cities of Chico or Gridley who venture outdoors without a surgical-grade respirator are putting themselves in danger, according to Bloomberg.

Current air quality across much of the region is very poor. Check with https://t.co/XYTBpMFjzh and your local air quality board for more information. #CAwx pic.twitter.com/Rao8t4gvwD

— NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) November 15, 2018

The air in the immediate vicinity of the fire is considered “hazardous” — the worst it can be — and the poorest in the U.S. AirNow has an “unhealthy” rating for the air from Sacramento to Livermore, and it’s only a little better for San Francisco.

The smoke is so thick “it prevents the sunlight from reaching the surface,” said Hannah Chandler-Cooley, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Sacramento. “It prevents surface heating.” –Bloomberg


Will a surgical mask help protect you from smoke? How about a bandana? Nope. You’ll need a special respirator mask – and you’lll need to wear it correctly: https://khn.org/news/for-wildfire-safety-only-particular-masks-guard-against-toxic-particulate-matter/  @KHNews


…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

SoCal Fire May Have Ejected “Incredibly Dangerous” Radioactive Particles Into The Atmosphere

The 95,000 acre Woolsey fire which has coated Southern California with an apocalyptic orange glow may have released a toxic stew of radioactive particles and toxic chemicals into the air, after scorching the land on closed-down government weapons testing facility in Simi Hills known to be heavily contaminated from decades of experiments.

Commencing operation in 1947 for Rockwell’s Rocketdyne Division, a government contractor for the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), the Santa Susana Field Lab (SSFL) has a checkered safety record, to put it lightly. In addition to several nuclear accidents – including the worst nuclear meltdown in US history, toxic materials have accumulated on-site from years of dumping, just miles from thousands of residents.

It was the site of several nuclear accidents, including the worst nuclear meltdown in US history when, in 1959, facility operators intentionally vented nuclear material from the site’s “Sodium Reactor Experiment” to prevent it from overheating and exploding. By the time the leaks were closed, the site had released 459 times more radiation than was leaked during the better-known 1979 meltdown at Three Mile Island.

The lab property, now owned by airplane manufacturer Boeing, stretches for 2,800 acres in the Simi Hills, and remains contaminated with toxic materials. Thousands of people live within two miles of the site, and roughly half a million live within 10 miles, according to an investigation by NBC 4 Los Angeles. -Quartz

California officials with the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control said that as of Friday, November 9, an area of the SSFL site which was scorched by the Woolsey fire posed no danger, stating “Our scientists and toxicologists have reviewed information about the fire’s location and do not believe the fire has caused any releases of hazardous materials that would pose a risk to people exposed to the smoke.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

We Are Witnessing The Most Destructive Fire In The History Of California, And “Devil Winds” Threaten To Make Things Even Worse

We Are Witnessing The Most Destructive Fire In The History Of California, And “Devil Winds” Threaten To Make Things Even Worse

California has been absolutely devastated by horrific wildfires in recent years, but the state has never seen anything quite like this.  At this moment, three major wildfires are raging, and the Camp Fire in Butte County is already officially the most destructive wildfire in California history.  Thousands of firefighters are desperately trying to contain this fire, but they haven’t had much success.  More than 6,700 structures have already been destroyed, and that shatters the all-time record that was set just last year.  In fact, five of the ten most destructive wildfires in California history have happened within the last two years.  The Camp Fire and the two mammoth fires in southern California have forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate from their homes, and authorities are warning that “devil winds” of up to 40 miles per hour could accelerate this crisis in the early morning hours of Monday.

The death toll from these fires continues to rise, and the numbers are being continuously updated.  At this point, the latest official number of deaths is up to 31

Firefighters battled heavy winds and parched conditions throughout the day in their herculean struggle against the Camp Fire and two blazes in Southern California that have killed at least 31 people, destroyed thousands of homes and forced 250,000 to flee.

But that number is expected to increase, because there are at least 228 people that are unaccounted for right now.

Many of the headlines have been about homes of celebrities that have been destroyed, but that is only a very small part of the story.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Death Toll In CA Wildfires At 25; New “Devil Winds” Expected; Choking Air Quality; 250,000 Evacuated

The death toll from California’s multiple wildfires has risen to 25, after 14 more bodies were discovered in or near the Northern California town of Paradise, bringing the number of confirmed dead in the so-called Camp Fire to 23. Over 6,700 structures were destroyed just one day after the fire began, while 110 people remain missing according to authorities.


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5 People Found Dead in Cars while Escaping in


We are doing everything we possibly can to identify those remains and make contact with the next of kin so we can return the remains to the family,” said Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea Saturday morning.

A red flag warning remains in effect in Northern California due to strong winds and dry conditions, while Southern California officials have warned similar gusts expected to kick up on Sunday.

“We’ll get sustained winds of up to 40 mph and gusts between 60 mph and 70 mph,” said NWS meteorologist Marc Chenard, adding that he expectes Santa Ana “devil wind” to hit the Los Angeles area.

It’s nothing but bad news,” said Chenard.

Two fatalities have been reported in the Southern California Woolsey fire, which has ripped through more than 83,000 acres as of Saturday night, destroying 177 structures, and is just 5% contained. California fire officials estimate full containment by Thursday, while over 3,200 firefighters are on the scene. Approximately 57,000 structures are considered at risk.

A Reuters cameraman recorded himself trapped inside his car as the Malibu area fire rages around him:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Malibu Evacuated As “Apocalyptic” Fire Rages; 75,000 Told To Flee Ventura County

The upscale California town of Malibu has been ordered to evacuate after a raging wildfire jumped the 101 freeway at approximately 5 a.m. and barreled towards the seaside community amid high winds.

MANDATORY evacuation is in effect for the entire area south of the 101 Fwy from the Ventura County line to Las Virgenes / Malibu Canyon, and southward to the ocean, including all of City of Malibu. (Update 6:55 AM) Residents should use PCH to evacuate and avoid canyon roads. -Malibucity.org


Embedded video

Fire has jumped the 101 freeway at Liberty Canyon and is well established on the south side of the freeway.Avoid 101 of commuting, large back-ups behind closure


Embedded video

WOW: THIS is the 101 Freeway on Friday morning during rush hour with smoke from the coming fire(s) pushed by the high winds.

MALIBU: all of it is under Mandatory evacuation.


…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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