A Book of Interest

Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future
by Robert B. Reich
Alfred A. Knopf, New York
175 pages (2010)

Author Reich, who is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at University of California - Berkeley, maintains that generally those with high incomes recovered from the "Great Recession" much better than the average worker. While some asserted that U.S. consumers overspent and under saved, Reich holds: "The problem was not that Americans spent beyond their means but that their means had not kept up with what the larger economy could and should have been able to provide them. . . The larger portion of the economy's winnings had gone to people at the top. This is the heart of America's ongoing economic predicament. We cannot have a sustained recovery until we address it."

In making his case, Reich refers to observations by Marriner Eccles, a very successful Utah business "tycoon" and later Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1934 to 1948. According to Reich, Eccles "concluded that the economic game was not being played on a level field. It was tilted in favor of those with the most wealth and power."

So what is Reich's prescription for true recovery?

As usual, Reich's proposals are provocative and bold, but in today's changed political climate, they are unlikely to be adopted.

Submitted by David Newton

Muddy Water Watch Workshop Dec 2

 A Muddy Water Watch Workshop will be held Thursday Dec. 2 from 6-8:30pm at the Public Services Building, 320 Fountain Circle. This is a free workshop and open to everyone. 

Muddy Water Watch (MWW) is a statewide education program which uses citizen volunteers to address problems associated with stormwater runoff. The goals of MWW are to create an educated public in the state of Alabama, to foster a grassroots support network for improving water quality, and to reduce the amount of stormwater pollutants that reach Alabama’s waterways.

Stormwater runoff is rainwater that flows over the ground, sometimes with extreme force, picking up any “mud” (sediments, clays and other materials) and pollution in its path and depositing it into surrounding waterways. Unlike water collected through sewage treatment facilities, water from stormwater runoff goes untreated directly into surrounding rivers and streams. In addition to the dangers of pollutants in untreated rainwater, mud and clay runoff accumulates on bottoms of streams and wetlands from levels of a few inches to a few feet. This clay and mud smothers plants and bottom dwellers on which larger fish and birds feed. The result can be the devastating loss of many vital ecosystems.

MWW coordinates and trains citizens to monitor their local waterways for stormwater runoff. Those trained citizens then assist local inspectors through frequent monitoring of construction sites. Once contractors begin to understand that their onsite activities are being monitored by a better educated and well trained public, they should work harder to remain in compliance, thus leading to a decrease in overall permit violations. While citizens are trained to first go to the contractor with any problems, they are also trained to take problems remaining unaddressed to local and state reporting agencies. The ultimate goal of MWW is to improve water quality of all connected rivers and streams throughout the state.

For more information, call Soos Weber at 256-509-1219.
- from North Alabama Sierra Club
Soos Weber


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December 2010

Sierra Club Outings

Don't miss a chance to really get outside, meet like-minded folks and reconnect with old friends. Come join us on the trail, in the water or just out for a stroll down the street! more>>>

Chapter Awards for 2010

Each year the Chapter recognizes members who have served the Club in special ways by presenting awards at the annual Chapter Retreat. The following awards were presented this year:

David Norwood Award

special appreciation award - Presented to David Norwood
David, as Chapter treasurer took on a difficult
position and is doing a fantastic job.

Volunteer leader of the year - Presented to Michael Stewart
For outstanding leadership of outings program

Michael leads a very successful Group outings program, 10 to 12 outdoor events a month, including short and all-day hikes, back packs, orienteering and canoeing. He held two training events this year, for day hike and back pack leaders. He always looks for ways to improve the outdoor experience of participants. The Group’s programs have resulted in attracting numerous younger members to the Sierra Club. more>>>

Quotes from Newly Elected Congressional Deniers of Climate Change

An email message dated November 3 from the Union of Concerned Scientists contained the following quotes reported to be from persons newly elected to the U.S. Congress.

"With the possible exception of Tiger Woods, nothing has had a worse year than global warming. We have discovered that a good portion of the science used to justify "climate change" was a hoax perpetrated by leftist ideologues with an agenda."
Todd Young, new congressperson from Indiana

"I absolutely do not believe that the science of man-caused climate change is proven. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity or something just in the geologic eons of time where we have changes in the climate." —Ron Johnson, new senator from Wisconsin

"I think we ought to take a look at whatever the group is that measures all this, the IPCC, they don't even believe the crap." —Steve Pearce, new congressperson from New Mexico

"It's a bigger issue, we need to watch 'em. Not only because it may or may not be true, but they're making up their facts to fit their conclusions. They've already caught 'em doing this." —Rand Paul, new senator from Kentucky


Flint River Paddle (Big Cove Road to Cherokee Landing)

What an absolutely perfect day for a float trip! The weather was absolutely beautiful. Here it is, the middle of November and I'm paddling in my summer cloths. Unbelievable.

We put in at Big Cove road and paddled approximately seven miles down to Cherokee Landing (Hobbs Island Road). We had all agreed and resigned ourselves to the fact of having to walk our boats through the shallow spots without complaining. NOT! The water was deep and the current swift. We made the trip in a little over two hours. There were a couple of technical-tight areas and one somewhat steep, narrow drop. 

Great Blue Herons seemed to be everywhere (kingfishers and cardinals abounded too). I'm convinced there's a heron rookery along that stretch of the Flint. Following the paddle and after loading our gear, we celebrated Rick's birthday with yummy spice-bread cup cakes Michelle had baked. I'm looking forward to next month's paddle along the Elk. Hope you all can make it.
- from Debra Wonder (North Alabama Sierra Club)

Urgent Call for the New Energy Economy and Jobs

The letter-to-the-editor below was sent to several newspapers in Alabama. You are urged to contact Senator Sessions, Senator Shelby, and your representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. Of course, the telephone is fast and easy, but you may also send emails through their websites. Regular letters are useful, but much slower to arrive. Finally, although it requires an appointment, you may be able to talk to them directly, when they are home from Washington.


During recent decades, millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs have been lost to globalization and technology. One can discover where many of these jobs have gone by reading product labels in big box retailers nationwide. Recall that capital is mobile, but labor is much less so. Capital has flowed to other countries where labor is cheaper. We simply must create jobs that satisfy the needs of emerging markets. Many professionals agree promising areas for job creation are alternative energy production and energy conservation.

To encourage the creation of jobs for the new energy economy, we must have help from the U.S. Congress. The longer we wait, the more difficult it will be. We truly risk being left behind in this global race.

You can help by contacting the Washington offices of Alabama's U.S. Senators Jeff Sessions (202-224-4124) and Richard Shelby (202-224-5744) and your Congressional Representative. Alternatively, contact one of their Alabama offices. Just search the internet or the telephone directory.

We urgently need to act. NOW!

David Newton
129 Carter St.
Auburn, AL 36830
(H) 334-821-9817

Cane CreekWest Alabama Group Heads Way up North to Cane Creek Canyon

Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve is owned by Dr. and Mrs. Lacefield, with a conservation easement through The Nature Conservancy of more than 700 acre. The area’s trails have been lovingly crafted by Dr. Lacefield. There are several rare plants, many rock outcrops, cliffs, large hardwood trees, boulder-strewn streams, waterfalls, bogs, and views northward from a high bluff. See more of the photos posted by John Earl on the Alabama Chapter's facebook page.

Re-Energizing the Cahaba Group/Birmingham Chapter

The Birmingham Chapter of the Sierra Club is seeking to re-energize its membership!
We need you! Changing times and increasing printing costs have caused us to cease the offering of a printed newsletter, and this changeover has left many members "not knowing where we went." We are very much still here, and feel that our methods of communication need to be honed. We would also like to return to a club with regular meetings, more diverse outings, and an increased voice in our area's most pressing environmental issues (and there are many).

 Why do we need to re-energize? Many reasons - here's just one. The Cahaba River is the most biologically diverse river of its size on the North American continent. For those needing to hear that again, yes we're including the United States, Canada, and Mexico! This statement alone should be enough to cause most Alabamians to glow with pride. There are over 130 species of fish in the Cahaba, helping Alabama to its #1 ranking among all 50 states in aquatic biodiversity. How can a system this fragile and worthwhile survive right in the middle of the 48th largest metropolitan area in the country? more>>>

Dog River Clean up

Mobile Bay member Dianne McGee shows off her trophy trash during a clean up on Dog River on Saturday, November 20th. The clean up was part of an appreciation event for oil spill COAST Field Observer Volunteers and a kick-off for the 100-1000: Restore Coastal Alabama project, which aims to build 100 miles of oyster reef and create or restore 1,000 acres of coastal marsh on Mobile Bay. For more information or to volunteer, go to www.100-1000.org. Photo by David Underhill.

AHTS 10th Annual Conference in Huntsville

The Alabama Hiking Trail Society will be holding a conference in Huntsville at the Monte Sano Lodge the weekend of February 25-27, 2011. Mark the date on your calendar now. The theme of the conference will be Building Trails to Our Past and the Future. There will be three tracks of speakers, presentations, hands-on demos, hikes, entertainment, food, prizes and a special key note speaker.
More details will be available later at conference.hikealabama.org

The Alabama Hiking Trail Society and its members are dedicated to planning, building, and maintaining safe hiking trails for all to enjoy and educating the public of the careful use and enjoyment of Alabama's great outdoors.