Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, May 11, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page 5



Mountain Views-News Saturday, May 11, 2013 

“What’s Going On?” 

News and Views from Joan Schmidt


How We Affect Our Environment

[Nyerges is the author of numerous books, including How To Survive 
Anywhere, and Extreme Simplicity. He has led survival classes since 
1974. For information about his books and classes, contact him at www., or Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041]



 This past Tuesday, there was a lot of business taken care of at the Monrovia 
City Council Meeting. Becky Shevlin was elected Mayor Pro Tem, May 
proclaimed “Older American Month”, and Monrovia Canyon Park’s #1 Volunteer 
Cajsa Larrson was honored as “2013 Older American of the Year”. Rebecca 
Romero, Community Services, revealed that Cazsa has volunteered 10,000+ 
hours and her efforts include trail and facility maintenance, park programming 
and removal of invasive plants.

However the evening belonged To Monrovia Fire Department and a special group of First Responders 
to the Madison Fire. Chief Chris Donovan reminded attendees of the Madison Fire in the foothills 
of Monrovia. It began on April 20, 2013 and was the largest wildfire in the last fifty years. Battling the 
blaze were 250 personnel from 31 Fire Departments; Rio Hondo College-hose removal and Schaefer 
Ambulance also assisted. The Chief then spoke of his personnel gathered at the meeting. 

They were the First Responders, who quickly arrived on the scene and valiantly fought to keep the 
blaze contained. The adverse wind conditions-I vividly remember that day-prevented that. But it 
did not prevent them from working tirelessly to save many homes. The fires raged for six days, and 
afterwards several residents hung huge banners in gratitude for the First Responders from Monrovia 
and ALL the personnel from various agencies who assisted in the effort. Chief Donovan proudly 
introduced the First Responder group and told each man’s role. He also mentioned that a few of the 
first responders weren’t present at the meeting, because they were on duty that night. For that reason, 
here is a complete list of these fine men. They included Deputy Chief Scott Haberle, Division Chief 
Ron Pelham, Captain Michael Cate, Captain Jeremy Sanchez, Engineer Chris Huson, Engineer Ben 
Bagheri, Engineer Dave Phillips, Firefighter/Paramedic Dustin Leddy, Firefighter/Paramedic Frank 
Spencer, Firefighter/Paramedic Anthony Gallegos, Firefighter/Paramedic Jeremy Phipps, Firefighter/
Paramedic Jacob Clemens, Firefighter Hal Kaliman, Firefighter Mike Bailey, and Firefighter Ernie 

Fire Chief Donovan mentioned all the agencies that assisted and shared that information with me. 
The Fire Agencies assisting Monrovia were Los Angeles County Fire, Los Angeles City Fire, Arcadia, 
Pasadena, San Gabriel, San Marino, Monterey Park, Alhambra, Montebello, Glendale, Burbank, 
Compton, Culver City, Torrance, Beverly Hills, USFS, CAL Fire Protection, CAL EMA, Ventura 
County, Santa Barbara, Montecito, Anaheim, Brea, Fullerton, San Bernardino City, Ontario, Rancho 
Cucamonga, Corona, Chino Valley Fire Protection District, Orange County Fire Authority, Rio Hondo 
College and Schaefer Ambulance. The Police Agencies who worked with Monrovia Fire Department 
included Monrovia Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff, California Highway Patrol, CAL 
POLY, Claremont, Covina, West Covina, El Monte, Glendora, Irwindale, La Verne, Pomona, Sierra 
Madre and West Covina. A very impressive list too. Chief Donovan also mentioned that there was 
assistance from several community groups and area residents. On May 21, there will be a special 
Appreciation Ceremony for all who assisted in the Madison Fire effort and more information will be 
released by the paper when it is available.

 Our actions upon 
the environment -- 
even in our backyards 
-- have a profound 
effect upon our 
survival. You may 
not notice it right away, maybe not even for 
decades, but when we make our decisions and 
choices based upon “giving our shareholders 
the greatest return,” and other strictly financial 
considerations, we often lose in the long run. Or 
our children "lose" as a result of poor air, water, 
and overcrowding.

 When great “natural disasters” occur, we tend 
to call these “acts of God.” Indeed, the earth 
moves and shakes and blows and chills and heats, 
and goes through all of its changes. Man does 
not control these changes. Earthquakes, floods, 
tsunamis, fires, droughts, ice ages, high winds, 
volcanic eruptions, etc., have been with us since 
the beginning of memory, and will continue to 
be with us.

 While we cannot stop the forces of nature, we 
must begin to see how our actions (and inactions) 
absolutely exacerbate the effects of these natural 
forces, and definitely affect our ability to survive.


 Take drought, for example. Do our actions have 
any effect on drought conditions? Absolutely! 
Some have attempted to prove that the great 
drought of the 1930s, and the resultant Dust Bowl 
era, was the result of poor farming practices. In 
order to maximize farming areas, and to farm 
with the greatest of convenience, trees were cut 
down, and the soil was not properly fertilized. 

 Without the trees to do their soil-protecting, 
and with barren top soil due to the farming 
methods, the land had no life and the dry winds 
blew it away. Act of God? Hardly. It was the result 
of the ignorance of man on a large scale. We 
create desertification on a small scale, right here 
in Eagle Rock, when we follow the strict dictates 
of the fire department when they demand that 
we denude the soil down to the bare earth. Such 
patches of soil are hotter than planted soil, and 
lead to erosion.


 Heavy rains are common after the drought 
and fire cycle is played out. Such rains often do 
result in flooding and landslides. Though we can 
call heavy rain an “act of God,” the effects can be 
lesser or greater, depending upon what we have 
done to the land. In some cases, houses should 
never have been built on steep hillsides, since the 
building of the houses requires cutting down the 
trees and reshaping the terrain. With the trees 
gone, and much of the land paved over, the water 
must go somewhere when it rains. The trees and 
the soil can process a fair amount of the water, but 
with trees gone, and no way for water to percolate 
into the soil, the water flows downhill, creating 
disasters for those who live in the mud's path. 

 And when we have removed all grass and 
brush cover due to the extreme dictates of the 
fire department’s supposed “brush control” 
regulations, we set the stage for erosion, and 
eliminate the natural cover for animals – and 
these principles apply even here in Sierra Madre!


 A major earthquake could occur at any time 
along any of the major faultlines throughout the 
world. While we cannot stop the shaking, we 
can realize that we live in such an area, and plan 
to minimize the impact upon our family’s life in 
the aftermath, such as storing water, organizing 
friends, having knowledge of first aid, etc. 

 And some earthquakes may indeed have 
been caused by the hand of man. There are 
some scientists who believe that the Long Beach, 
California earthquake of 1930 was the direct 
result of over-pumping oil from the underground 
reservoirs there.

 It would be difficult to plan for some disasters 
– like a large comet hitting your neighborhood. 
Assuming you survived, so much would be 
devastated that “waiting for help” would not be a 
viable option. If you valued life, you would have 
lived your life in accord with “higher principles,” 
and you would have developed skills that now 
might actually be useful in the post-apocalyptic 
world. To read a possible scenario of a large 
comet hitting the earth, read Lucifer’s Hammer 
(by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, 1977).

 I continue this line of thinking in the latter 
chapters of my “How to Survive Anywhere” book, 
which is available at bookstores, at Amazon, and 

We’d like to hear from you! 

What’s on YOUR Mind?

Contact us at: editor@mtnviewsnews.
com or 
AND Twitter: @mtnviewsnews


The UK Space Agency has 
announced that British scientists 
are now working with NASA to 
develop a spacecraft, known as 
Sunjammer, which will use a 
13,000-square-foot solar sail to 
propel itself nearly two million 
miles towards the sun.

 The sail will then help control 
the spacecraft in a steady 
position in orbit around the star 
at the center of our solar system.

 Sensitive instruments on 
board will provide scientists 
with an early warning of solar 
storms that can produce streams 
of particles capable of damaging 
satellites and power grids on 

 Dr. Jonathan Eastwood, a 
lecturer in physics at Imperial 
College London, said the 
mission’s main aim is to 
demonstrate the use of solar 
sails as a way of powering and 
controlling a spacecraft on long 

 He said it would also 
give scientists a greater 
understanding of the solar 
wind—the stream of particles 
ejected from the sun—and its 
impact on the Earth.

 Sunjammer will have two 
UK instruments onboard, 
flying on the largest solar sail 
ever constructed. Due for 
launch in 2014, this NASA-led 
mission will fly towards the 
Sun demonstrating solar sail 
technology and a range of other 
technologies. UK scientists 
at Imperial College London 
are developing the mission’s 
magnetometer and wind 
analyzer—instruments that will 
study space weather and prove 
new technology in that field.

 While in space, the instruments 
on board Sunjammer will 
monitor different aspects of 
space weather, paving the way 
to a better understanding of its 
processes and their influence 
on space-borne and ground-
based systems and assessing its 
potential to harm property or 
human health.


– Meanwhile, The Planetary 
Society, based in Pasadena, is 
also interested in the solar sail 
as a means of space travel over 
very long distances. One of 
their current projects, called 
LightSail-1, is designed to 
test this concept. A solar sail 
propelled by light pressure—
from lasers rather than 
sunlight—is the only known 
technology that might carry 
out practical interstellar flight, 
helping pave our way to the 

 The idea of light-pressure 
as a means of space travel 
has been around a very long 
time. In the 17th century, 
astronomy pioneer Johannes 
Kepler observed that comet tails 
point away from the Sun and 
suggested that the sun caused 
this effect. In a letter to Galileo 
in 1610 he wrote, “Provide ships 
or sails adapted to the heavenly 
breezes, and there will be some 
who will brave even that void.”

 And in a 1984 novel titled 
The Flight of the Dragonfly, 
science-fiction writer Robert 
L. Forward proposed using a 
light-sail propulsion system—
pushed not by sunlight but by 
an Earth-based laser—to send 
a spaceship and a crew of 20 
on a 40-year voyage to planets 
orbiting Barnard’s Star, 5.9 light-
years away.

 For now, travel to the stars, 
whether by light-sail or any 
other means, hasn’t progressed 
beyond the realm of science 
fiction. But we mustn’t forget 
how few years have passed since 
space travel itself was only a 
dream in the minds of authors 
like Jules Verne and Edgar 
Rice Burroughs. “Imagination,” 
wrote Albert Einstein, “is more 
important than knowledge.”



Set me on a course

That will beam me to a star,

O wild setting sun!

–Bob Eklund


You can contact Bob Eklund at:

Photo courtesy NASA