Posts filed under ‘Nature’
The Obama administration is reopening the Eastern Seaboard to offshore oil and gas exploration, approving seismic surveys using sonic cannons that can pinpoint energy deposits deep beneath the ocean floor.
Friday’s announcement is the first real step toward what could be a transformation in coastal states, creating thousands of jobs to support a new energy infrastructure. But it dismayed environmentalists and people who owe their livelihoods to fisheries and tourism.
The cannons create noise pollution in waters shared by whales, dolphins and turtles, sending sound waves many times louder than a jet engine reverberating through the deep every ten seconds for weeks at a time. Arguing that endangered species could be harmed was the environmental groups’ best hope for extending a decades-old ban against drilling off the U.S. Atlantic coast.
The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management acknowledged that thousands of sea creatures will be harmed even as it approved opening the outer continental shelf from Delaware to Florida to exploration.
I’ve been to the Colorado National Monument and yes, it is breathtaking and worthy of national park status:
A more than century-old effort to transform the breathtaking Colorado National Monument into a full-fledged national park has been thwarted by a pro-fracking organization called Friends of the Colorado National Monument (FCNM).
And while the group sounds harmless enough, and professes to include hikers, bikers, ranchers, outdoor enthusiasts, and conservationists, its website includes little more than complaints about EPA air and water regulations, and the inability of the oil and gas industry to drill in national parks and the surrounding areas.
FCNM lead a petition fight against changing the monument’s status while decrying what they call “frackophobia.” The also complained that fracking is over-regulated and bemoaned the protests and legal proceedings that have taken place in Colorado in recent years. In fact, says Colorado has become “protest central when it comes to opposition to energy development.”
Democratic Senator Mark Udall and GOP Congressman Scott Tipton, both up for reelection in November, had backed the plan to change the monument to a national park in Congress. Udall says that residents seem evenly split on the plan. But after receiving a 2,500 signature petition against the plan from FCNM, Tipton backed down. Moreover, the Republican Congressman now says that he will actively oppose any plans for changing the monument into a park. Tipton now says he’s worried on how it will impact the local economy and he’s concerned over “executive-branch rulemaking,” referring to the Republican Party’s fight against President Obama using the power of executive orders.
Udall also withdrew his support for the effort, saying that there needed to be more of a consensus among Colorado residents. However, he said that he is only withdrawing for the short term, and hopes to address this question again in the future.
Udall’s facing an election in November so like a chickenshit, he’s trying to play both sides of the fence. The fracking issue is very contentious here in Colorado. Longmont, a town up the road from me, voted to ban fracking in the town limits but the governor (a Democrat) has joined with the oil companies and is suing the city to have the will of the people overturned. It’s getting real nasty around here.
As soon as the Sun started to rise this morning I noticed how hazy it was. Initially I thought it was caused by humidity but then I saw this:
Ozone Alert Issued for Boulder County, Front Range Due to Smoke From Canadian fires
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Regional Air Quality Council have issued an ozone alert for Boulder County and other counties along the Front Range due to smoke from fires in Canada.
The alert says ozone concentrations are expected to reach the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” range this afternoon and evening, and warns that unusually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion.
The alert is in effect until at least 4 p.m. today.
According to the alert, smoke from fires in Canada is causing hazy skies across portions of Colorado.
I did a bit more digging and the smoke isn’t just from fires in Canada, it’s from fires in northern Canada, as in the Northwest Territories. Here’s a map:
Police and Soldiers in Peru May Now Kill Civilians Protesting Environmental Degradation Due to Mining
I suppose we’d all better get used to this because it’s probably coming to a country near us as governments are increasingly controlled by the corporatocracy. Corporations don’t want to hear from We the Peons about how they’re destroying the planet.
If this is what a mining company was doing to forests in my area, I’d want to protest too but not at the risk of being killed by my local police department.
One would think the USDA’s “Wildlife Services” was involved with ah, oh, I don’t know, serving wildlife or their interests, right?
Nope. Not in this corporatocracy. This is what they’re doing with our tax dollars:
Wildlife Services, the highly secretive arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has released new data showing that the agency killed more than 2 million native animals during the last fiscal year.
The new numbers reveal a 29 percent increase in the program’s killing, up almost a half-million animals since fiscal year 2012, despite an increase in public awareness.
Wildlife Services target animals deemed as pests by powerful special interests groups from the agribusiness, hunting and livestock sectors, according to Center for Biological Diversity.
“Wildlife Services has long been out of step with the values of Americans, and the new figures make clear it has no interest in changing,” said Amy Atwood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, which petitioned to reform the program last December. “These appalling new numbers show that Wildlife Services is simply thumbing its nose at the growing number of Americans demanding an end to business as usual at Wildlife Services.”
The covert killings—which includes aerial gunning, traps and exploding poison caps—has gone on for decades with little oversight and according the Center for Biological Diversity, the agency has killed more than 26 million native animals since 1996.
Here’s a list of the dead (2013):
- more than 320 gray wolves
- 75,326 coyotes
- 419 black bears
- 866 bobcats
- 528 river otters
- 3,706 foxes
- 12,186 black-tailed prairie dogs (as well as destroyed more than 30,000 dens)
- 3 golden eagles
Outrageous: Louisiana’s Republican Governor Signs Bill Blocking Lawsuits Against Oil and Gas Companies
Wow, what hutzpah and what a huge middle finger to all the people, animals, sea creatures and land damaged or destroyed by British Petroleum (BP) and oil companies past, present and future. Talk about a corporatocracy. This is just sickening. Talk about outrage overload:
Rejecting the advice of his own attorney general and dozens of legal scholars, Louisiana governor and potential presidential contender Bobby Jindal effectively blocked a New Orleans-area levee board from suing oil and gas companies for allegedly destroying the state’s coasts – and in so doing, may have also derailed state and local claims against BP for damages and tax revenue lost following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association, was also quoted in the statement distributed by the governor’s office, hailing the measure as a “huge victory for the oil and gas industry.”
The law, SB 469, essentially bars a levee district in New Orleans’ East Bank – the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, or SLFPA-E – from pressing forward in its lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies, which it blames for exposing New Orleans to catastrophic damage from hurricanes Rita and Katrina by cutting thousands of miles of pipes and canals through sensitive barrier islands and wetlands that otherwise would have protected the coastal city.
The lawsuit, filed last summer, sought to force energy companies to restore the wetlands, fill in the canals, and pay for past damages.
“We are looking to the industry to fix the part of the problem that they created,” SLFPA-E vice president John Barry told the Times-Picayune last year. “We’re not asking them to fix everything. We only want them to address the part of the problem that they created.”
Impeach the bastard for crimes against humanity and nature. Not only that, what, he wants to use taxpayer dollars to clean-up BP’s mess? What, he probably doesn’t care about clean-up at all.
Everyone in the country, er, the world needs to know about this. This is what politicians who are owned by oil and gas companies do.
This is good, via Act.TV/Americans United:
The GOP may be a lot of things, but “climate scientists” is not one of them. But that won’t stop them from ignoring a 97% consensus among actual scientists, along with 7 out of 10 Americans, that climate change is man-made and needs to be dealt with.
Oh, ah, wait. Maybe not.
Despite what Republicans and their corporate masters are screaming about with regard to Obama’s proposed cuts to power plant emissions, history shows that environmental regulations do not — repeat — do not slow and/or destroy economies. They might force corporations to spend money to retrofit plants (the real reason for all the screaming) but implementing them doesn’t mark the end of life as we know it. To those of us who’ve been around for a while, that meme is as old as dirt.
From Peter Gleick:
BTW, a huge majority of Americans support regulations like the ones proposed.
Summer officially begins on June 21st. I’m wondering what we’re facing if this is where we are now:
I just set up a new category, Global Warming is Here, because I’m reading about lots of “little” things that are happening right now that add up to already-big, imho, ramifications. I.e., the cascading decline of the Earth’s systems has begun in earnest.
Take this for example (so, so sad — way to go humans!):
The new poster child for climate change had his coming-out party in June 2012, when Petey the puffin chick first went live into thousands of homes and schools all over the world. The “Puffin Cam“ capturing baby Petey’s every chirp had been set up on Maine’s Seal Island by Stephen Kress, “The Puffin Man,” who founded the Audubon Society’s Project Puffin in 1973.
Puffin parents dote on their single chick, sheltering it in a two-foot burrow beneath rocky ledges and bringing it piles of small fish each day. Researchers would get to watch live puffin feeding behavior for the first time, and schoolkids around the world would be falling for Petey.
But Kress soon noticed that something was wrong. Puffins dine primarily on hake and herring, two teardrop-shaped fish that have always been abundant in the Gulf of Maine. But Petey’s parents brought him mostly butterfish, which are shaped more like saucers. Kress watched Petey repeatedly pick up butterfish and try to swallow them. The video is absurd and tragic, because the butterfish is wider than the little gray fluff ball, who keeps tossing his head back, trying to choke down the fish, only to drop it, shaking with the effort. Petey tries again and again, but he never manages it. For weeks, his parents kept bringing him butterfish, and he kept struggling. Eventually, he began moving less and less. On July 20, Petey expired in front of a live audience.
Kress assumed [Petey's parents] were just unlucky. Then he checked the other 64 burrows he was tracking: Only 31 percent had successfully fledged. He saw dead chicks and piles of rotting butterfish everywhere. “That,” he says, “was the epiphany.”
Herring and hake had dramatically declined in the waters surrounding Seal Island, and by August, Kress had a pretty good idea why: The water was much too hot.
Here’s the video of poor Petey trying to swallow a butterfish. It is 1.08 minutes long and is condensed from video of Petey’s attempt to swallow the fish over the course of — get this — three hours.
<iframe width=”430″ height=”242″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/_tdO72TFXz0?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>
And it’s no wonder. Look where they’re itching to drill:
This is where and how they’ll put the final dagger in the Earth’s heart.
Larger version here.
AUCKLAND, New Zealand, May 12 (UPI) –One of the world’s most proficient deep-diving submarines, the remote controlled Nereus, imploded over the weekend while exploring the Kermadec Trench, northeast of New Zealand’s North Island.
Nereus was a stalwart of deep sea exploration, and a prized tool of U.S. science.
“Nereus helped us explore places we’ve never seen before and ask questions we never thought to ask,” Timothy Shank, a scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), told BBC News. WHOI managed Nereus’s research and diving activities.
Nereus lost contact with controllers while cruising at a depth of 6.2 miles beneath the ocean’s surface. Debris from the sub, later found floating in the area, led scientists to believe Nereus suffered an implosion.
At the time of its demise, Nereus was exploring the second-deepest ocean trench on earth. The underwater pressure was a crushing 16,000 pounds per square inch, or psi.
There was financial loss, however — $8 million. Launched in 2008, Nereus was constructed with funding from the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as several non-profit organizations.
This is a photo I took of the perennial bed along the east-facing fence in our backyard at roughly 5:30 p.m. yesterday (MDT):
This is a photo I took of that same spot minutes ago:
I covered the peonies and cut and brought in the cream-colored tulips (they were in their prime).
Three to six more inches are expected tonight.
Fingers crossed that those black plastic covers don’t collapse and that the peony buds survive.
As you can see, the trees have budded out so fingers crossed in terms of branches breaking.
It is so hard being a gardener — much less a plant! — here in Boulder.
Published on Apr 30, 2014
So, just in case you missed it on TV, here’s a clip of the bottom dropping out of a thunderstorm in west Montgomery between 5:30 and 6:00, caught by our Alfa SkyVision Camera at RSA Headquarters. Pretty cool stuff. Rich Thomas WSFA 12 Weather.
My Tweet of the Day is from Michael Moyer, the Editor of Scientific American:
GREENBELT, Md., April 29 (UPI) — A video released today by NASA, captured by the agency’s weather satellites, shows yesterday’s deadly tornado-spawning storm from space.
The 31-second computer-animated video was created by weather scientists working on the GOES Project at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. GOES stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite or GOES-East; the project is collaborative effort between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.
Greenpeace put this video up this morning which I initially thought was sort of a sarcastic parody of what might happen if bees disappeared. Then I realized it was for real. Instead of figuring out why real bee colonies are collapsing and preventing it, we’re developing robobees which I think is a sickening, bassackward way to run a planet.
The last sentence here is the killer:
You probably wouldn’t knowingly eat a substance known to induce death in human cells. But that’s what millions of people are doing every day, even when they’re enjoying foods with “natural” on the label.
Norwegian scientists just published a new study that will appear in the June issue of Food Technology showing high levels of glyphosate—the active weed-killing chemical in Roundup—are turning up in genetically engineered (GE) soy. That herbicide-laced soy winds up in thousands of nonorganic packaged foods and in animal feed for livestock like pigs, cows, chickens, and turkeys.
Why is this happening? Genetically engineered crops are manipulated in a way that could never occur in nature so plants like corn, soy, canola, cotton, and sugar beets can withstand high doses of glyphosate-containing herbicides that would normally kill them. The result? Roundup in food that people and farm animals eat.
As more and more weeds become resistant to glyphosate and GE technology fails, farmers spray heavier glyphosate applications—and more often. Glypshoate is systemic, meaning it’s take up inside of the plant. As nonorganic farmers crank up glyphosate use, the Environmental Protection Agency has been slowly increasing allowable levels of glyphosate in food.
So, Monsanto’s Roundup is doing a number on the planet and, here in the U.S. at least, the so-called Environmental (cough) “Protection” (cough) Agency is enabling them.
The corporations really do run the place.
What a country.
We should all know by now that when it comes to climate, a few degrees can go a long way. The world’s top climatologists warn that allowing an average global temperature rise of a mere 2° Celsius (about 3.5°F) “would be disastrous.” So it is troubling to think that average temps in the two fastest-warming U.S. states—Delaware and Wisconsin—are 3°F higher than they were four decades ago. Vermont, New Jersey, and Michigan are right behind them, and all of the Lower 48 are heating up faster or just as fast as the rest of the planet. Overall, the average temp for the continental U.S. has gone up 0.48°F per decade since 1970.
As I’ve said before, I feel for the babies.
It was 71º in Boulder today. I had brunch with a friend (h/t BG); I did some serious yard work (raking and weeding); I wore shorts and a T-shirt and I opened the windows and let the breeze blow through the house. It felt so good.
It’s a wonder anything grows around here anymore. The trees are in bud (this is our ash tree tonight),
but the buds will probably freeze and the tree won’t leaf out until June. That happened last year. Fingers crossed it’ll have the energy to do it again this year.
Bad. Really bad:
Despite a few late-season storms this winter, the situation has played out much the same, with areas once again running major precipitation deficits and water levels at reservoirs around the state ranging from about 20 to 50 percent of capacity — troubling numbers at the tail end of the wet season.
“Heavy rain and snow would have to fall throughout California every day for the remainder of April to reach average annual rain and snowfall levels, which is highly unlikely,” the state government’s weekly drought briefing said. “Even with such precipitation, California would remain in drought conditions, due to low water supplies in reservoirs from the two previous dry years.”
Because although those reservoirs were created with drought years in mind, California’s booming population — which rose by 4 million people from 2000 to 2010, when it reached more than 37 million — has eaten into that buffer.
“So it’s just adding up here; every year they have less and less,” said David Miskus, a senior meteorologist with the Climate Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
It’s likely we’ll all suffer because of this drought; I’m seeing articles about food prices going through the roof (as if they aren’t already through the roof).
We humans are stupid to think we can outsmart bugs who have the ability to mutate and adapt much faster than we give them credit for:
One of agricultural biotechnology’s great success stories may become a cautionary tale of how short-sighted mismanagement can squander the benefits of genetic modification.
After years of predicting it would happen — and after years of having their suggestions largely ignored by companies, farmers and regulators — scientists have documented the rapid evolution of corn rootworms that are resistant to Bt corn.
Until Bt corn was genetically altered to be poisonous to the pests, rootworms used to cause billions of dollars in damage to U.S. crops. Named for the pesticidal toxin-producing Bacillus thuringiensis gene it contains, Bt corn now accounts for three-quarters of the U.S. corn crop.
First planted in 1996, Bt corn quickly became hugely popular among U.S. farmers. Within a few years, populations of rootworms and corn borers, another common corn pest, had plummeted across the midwest. Yields rose and farmers reduced their use of conventional insecticides that cause more ecological damage than the Bt toxin.
In the new paper, Gassmann describes further incidents of Bt resistance in other parts of Iowa. He also found rootworms resistant to a second variety of Bt corn. Moreover, being resistant to one variety heightened the chances of resistance to another. That means corn engineered to produce multiple Bt toxins — so-called stacked varieties — won’t do much to slow the evolution of rootworm resistance, as was originally hoped.
Shorter: Rootworms have figured out a way around Bt corn and they’ve begun destroying corn crops in Iowa again. Farmers don’t want to do the “hard” thing, i.e., rotate the fields they plant their corn on — i.e. crop rotation (Remember that old fashioned thing? Hello!) — which has been proven to work against rootworms:
Breaks in the corn cycle naturally disrupt rootworm populations, but the approach fell from favor as the high price of corn made continuous planting appealing. “Continuous corn is the perfect habitat for rootworm,” said Gassmann.
Greed rears its ugly head again.
I predict we’re heading toward more and “better” GMO corn. The thing is, rootworms will become resistant to that version too. We can alter this seed and that seed and pour chemicals on fields all we want but Mother Nature will win in the end. It’s about time we got off our high horse and accepted that. But will we? Sadly, probably not.
In celebration of International Happiness Day, I’m publishing this mesmerizing photo, with permission, by Ainur Arenova. Looking at it makes me very happy.
Here are more of Ms. Ainur’s photos on Facebook.
Ah, yes, We the Little People who live near fracking wells and drink water contaminated by them should be so lucky as to have pockets lined with $1000 bills so we can afford to fight against having our environment trashed by, wait for it, Exxon!
For an example of hyper-elitism, NIMBYism, and the arrogance of the corporatocracy and the 1%ers, you’ve gotta read this:
This is one impressive storm front and one gorgeous satellite image:
From the Space, Science and Engineering Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Real-Time U.S. Composite Satellite Image page. Larger version here.
I just stumbled upon a dangerously interesting new site: Nature SoundMAP. I say dangerously interesting because I can see spending quite a bit of time there. I just spent about 15 minutes looking around and listening to the sound of a “groaning iceberg” in Antarctica.
Now I’m off to listen to some birds.
I guarantee you won’t see this on the corporate media tonight:
Happening today at 6:33 p.m. ET:
And there’s this tidbit about We the People having the right to assemble: