Posts filed under ‘Nature’
Here are some things I heard about today that I thought were interesting but I’m too tired to put an individual post up about:
France’s new government will flesh out plans to cap the pay of top executives at state-controlled companies by mid-June, laying down a marker in a Europe-wide debate fuelled by waves of austerity and rising unemployment.
Elected this month promising to curb the privileges enjoyed by France’s wealthy and powerful, Socialist President Francois Hollande pledged during campaigning to limit senior executives’ salaries [paid by taxpayer's money] to a maximum of 20 times that of their lowest-paid employee.
The tax dollars French citizens are paying are funding these “state” firms so no question about it. Executives shouldn’t reap huge salaries paid for by tax dollars. A no brainer imho. I mean, let’s cap the executive pay of defense contractors wo suck off of the boob of the U.S. tax payer. The scary –yikes! – Socialism can be a good thing.
Ah yes. Republicans. Always looking for a way to protect the corporatocracy and to rip We the People off:
North Carolina science people have determined that coastal sea levels are expected to rise 1 meter [3.28 feet] by 2100 — far more than they’ve traditionally risen, due to the expected impacts of climate change. But developers in 20 coastal counties, see, have determined that such a rise would be bad for development prospects. So they’ve lobbied the state to lower that forecast to only 15 inches instead, because why not? Fifteen’s a nice number. Arbitrary, sure, but can’t the scientists just shut up already?
The difference between 3.28 feet and 15 inches isn’t all that much right? [Yikes!] So hey, WTF. Everyone involved will be dead and buried (w/millions passed on to their ALEC-member-kids who will control the world my neighbor’s 3-year-old boy will live in.)
The sound of casseroles, or banging on pots and pans, has become a common sound of Montreal’s nightlife for the past week or so.
Tonight, the sound is spreading to the rest of the nation as protesters in over 60 cities across Quebec and Canada (and some international locations like Brussels, London and Madison, WA). Organizers want to emulate Quebec’s casseroles movement, which has its roots in the Chilean cacerolazos, anti-goverment protests in the 1970s and ’80s. Tonight’s Facebook page humourously dubs the event “Casseroles Night in Canada.”
The movement in Montreal was sparked by the ongoing opposition to tuition fee hikes and the introduction of Bill 78. Protesters gather on neighbourhood street corners during the evening, clanging pots, pans, and anything else they can grab, and march all over Montreal. Supporters along the way join in by making noise from their balconies, front doors and windows.
One of the things Canadians are protesting is a new law — designed to quash protests (crazy gets normalized) — requiring them to submit a map outlining their protest route eight hours in advance.
This is the map they submitted last Wednesday:
Thumbs up casserole people oh, and if I were you, I wouldn’t buy a home on the Florida coast.
It’s so cute, isn’t it, that NBC/MSNBC greens its logo right about now what with Earth Day coming up on Sunday?
Dig a little deeper and the “news” isn’t so green: Climate Coverage Plummets 80% On Broadcast Networks From 2009 To 2011. As a matter of fact, it isn’t green at all:
Nice try NBC/MSNBC. I think I know what kind of green you’re aiming for.
I used to think of Canada as an open, progressive, forward-looking, nonviolent society who might shine a light that countries like the United States could follow in their darkest hour, but not anymore.
Want a preview of what Republicans want to do to the U.S.? Take a look at what Stephen Harper, the conservative prime minister of Canada is doing:
Scientific research, monitoring and partnerships are disappearing from Environment Canada’s budget as part of a multimillion-dollar reduction in spending. Here is a partial list of cuts confirmed by the federal government.
– Emergency disaster response: spending cut by $3.78 million per year. So what if lives are lost?
– United Nations Environment Programme Global Environmental Monitoring System (GEMS)/water. Saves $851,000 per year. Water quality? That’s a trivial thing to worry about, huh?
Ugh. It will take me forever to synthesize this; I want to put it up but I’m also making dinner.
I’ve got to find the time to post about all the governments that are turning against the interests of their people. It’s happening everywhere. The thousand or five thousand or ten thousand humans who control the planet are consolidating their power, repressing their people, and as a result, we and the animals and the birds and the fish and the trees and the flowers and the oceans are going to suffer and, in the end, die.
They’re united (call me a conspiracy theorist if you want). They want it all. They don’t care about We the People. All they care about is
Here is a very cool drawing illustrating how deep the ocean is compared to other bodies of water. After looking at it I am in awe of sperm whales. You wouldn’t believe how deep they can dive.
Go here to see it.
Colorado just ended its driest March on record and now farmers here are having to compete with oil companies for water to grow their crops:
Front Range farmers bidding for water to grow crops through the coming hot summer and possible drought face new competition from oil and gas drillers.
At Colorado’s premier auction for unallocated water this spring, companies that provide water for hydraulic fracturing at well sites were top bidders on supplies once claimed exclusively by farmers.
The prospect of tussling with energy industry giants over water leaves some farmers and environmentalists uneasy.
“What impact to our environment and our agricultural heritage are Coloradans willing to stomach for drilling and fracking?” said Gary Wockner, director of the Save the Poudre Coalition — devoted to protecting the Cache la Poudre River.
“Farm water grows crops, but it also often supports wildlife, wetlands and streamflows back to our rivers. Most drilling and fracking water is lost from the hydrological cycle forever,” Wockner said.
Iil’ ol’ farmers are never going to be able to out-bid oil companies so the fracking people are going to win the “right” to the water every time. This is insane.
I’ve been reading about this 47 minute documentary for several days now. It’s about deforestation in Indonesia as experienced by an orangutan named Green whose world — the forest she lives in — is entirely destroyed. In the end she dies.
I haven’t been able to watch it yet but I will eventually. I feel a moral obligation to do so insofar as I’m a human being and human beings are responsible for what’s happening there.
There is no narration. As a matter of fact, no words are spoken at all.
I thought I’d post it FYI. I’ll post again after I’ve had the strength to watch it.
March, 2012 at elevation 5,000 feet in Colorado:
March 11, 2012 marks the one year anniversary of the terrible tsunami in Japan. The Atlantic put together a series of during or immediately after photos, and photos taken earlier this month. Check them out here. (Click on the photos themselves to see the change.)
Here’s an example:
Tsunami waves overflow a barrier in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture on March 11, 2012:
The same scene on February 17, 2012:
The amount of water that welled up from the sea was just unthinkable.
One more thing (I’ve never seen or heard of) before I sign off.
Panama City, Florida, February 10, 2012: A “cloud tsunami:”
Wow. Just wow.
Big news this morning:
After decades of drilling, Russian scientists have finally managed to pierce through Antarctica’s ice sheet to reveal the secrets of a unique sub-glacial lake, Vostok, that has been sealed there for the past 20 million years, a scientific source said on Monday.
“Yesterday, our scientists stopped drilling at the depth of 3,768 meters and reached the surface of the sub-glacial lake,” the source said.
Explorers hope Lake Vostok, which is the largest of Antarctica’s buried network of icebound lakes and also one of the largest lakes in the world, could reveal new forms of life and show how life evolved before the ice age.
The discovery of the hidden lakes of Antarctica in the 1990s sparked much enthusiasm among scientists all over the world. Some think the ice cap above and at the edges have created a hydrostatic seal with the surface that has prevented lake water from escaping or anything else from getting inside.
Wow. My imagination runs wild over this. I can’t wait to hear what that lake water tells us.
No wonder Republicans want to do away with government. It produces hippie, socialist videos like this that rely on hocus pocus, commonly referred to by pot smoking liberal tree huggers as “science:”
The global average surface temperature in 2011 was the ninth warmest since 1880.The finding sustains a trend that has seen the 21st century experience nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record. NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York released an analysis of how temperatures around the globe in 2011 compared to the average global temperature from the mid-20th century. The comparison shows how Earth continues to experience higher temperatures than several decades ago. The average temperature around the globe in 2011 was 0.92 degrees F (0.51 C) higher than the mid-20th century baseline.
Yesterday (January 12, 2012) marked the two-year anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti.
USAToday put together a slideshow marking the anniversary. Here it is: For Haitian Earthquake Victims, Recovery is Very Slow.
This is the first photo in the series:
Foreign Policy magazine put a slideshow together too. Here it is: Haiti’s One Percent.
This is the first photo in that series:
There are no words.
I just got these two tweets from China:
And then I did the Google:
Smog, commonly referred to as “fog” by the propagandistic Chinese government, is reeking havoc in China:
(December 7, 2011) Whether it’s fog or smog, thousands of people have been delayed during the last few days by the almost-opaque air around Beijing Capital International Airport.
The delays since Sunday evening at one of the busiest, most modern airports in the world raise questions about whether air pollution in China has gotten bad enough to derail the country’s economic growth. Nearly 1,000 flights have been canceled and 10 highways in northern China had to be closed due to lack of visibility.
Chinese authorities say the murk is fog, purely a weather phenomenon, acknowledging only that there was “light pollution.” The U.S. Embassy in Beijing, which has its own air monitor on the roof, however, reported Sunday night that the index of fine particulate matter had soared to 522 micrograms per cubic meter, which is off the charts. (A reading between 300 and 500 is considered “hazardous.”)
Beijingers bought more than 20,000 face masks on Taobao, a shopping site; and people took to the Internet to mock their government’s reporting of air quality.
“They are treating citizens as idiots,” complained a young man on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like microblog. A middle-aged man wrote sarcastically, “The city looks like a fairyland but thanks to the government, it is only ‘slight pollution.’”
The poor air quality Tuesday resulted in the cancellation of more than 370 flights. The U.S. Embassy monitor reported the particulate matter as “very unhealthy.”
The life the Chinese are living is brought to you by a government that is bent on development and growth, sans regulation. This is what the Republicans want to bring to the US of A. I.e., give corporations free rein to do whatever they want because that CREATE JOBS. Yeah, so we have (low paying) jobs but then what? We’re can’t take our kids outside, walk the dog or grow veggies in the garden, and we die of emphysema or heart failure on our day off.
Oh, and again, ain’t it great that our “liberal media” seems to have gone into 27/7 campaign coverage mode (due to last until November) so we conveniently don’t hear about things like this? And, as usual, any “news” that occurs outside the literal borders of the United States isn’t covered. What a disastrous combo.
Geez, I’ve come across four articles this morning that are pretty alarming when it comes to the climate:
Flowers are sprouting in January in New Hampshire, the Sierra Mountains in California are nearly snow-free, and lakes in much of Michigan still have not frozen. It’s 2012, and the new year is ringing in another ridiculously wacky winter for the U.S. In Fargo, North Dakota yesterday, the mercury soared to 55°F, breaking a 1908 record for warmest January day in recorded history. More than 99% of North Dakota had no snow on the ground this morning, and over 95% of the country that normally has snow at this time of year had below-average snow cover. High temperatures in Nebraska yesterday were in the 60s, more than 30° above average. Storm activity has been almost nil over the past week over the entire U.S., with the jet stream bottled up far to the north in Canada. It has been remarkable to look at the radar display day after day and see virtually no echoes, and it is very likely that this has been the driest first week of January in U.S. recorded history.
For many of us, climate change is an abstract topic, as tedious as a droning Al Gore lecture complete with wonky charts.
But not if you’re a maple farmer in New England. The region has long provided a robust ecological niche for maple trees. But just a few decades of steadily warming weather has changed all that. Once-flourishing trees are shedding leaves too early in the season and producing sub-par sap.
It’s summertime at Lake Tahoe.
The calendar doesn’t show it. But just about everything else does – and that’s not good for most people trying to make a buck up here.
Lines are out the door at ice cream shops, the miniature-golf course is bustling, and mountain bikers are tearing up and down the parched mountainsides under balmy skies.
Nowhere, however – at least from the shoreline – can you see snow.
Just a year after record snowfall throughout much of the Rocky Mountain West, the region is locked in a snow drought not seen since Jimmy Carter surrendered the White House to Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s.
“We have had some very unusual weather so far this season,” Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz said Friday. “For the first time in 30 years, a lack of snow has not allowed us to open the back bowls in Vail as of January 6, 2012, and, for the first time since the late 1800s, it did not snow at all in Tahoe in December.”
“[The drought] will make the beetle epidemic even more severe,” said state Sen. Gail Schwartz, a Snowmass Democrat who’s introducing a bill in the legislative session starting Wednesday that’s aimed at reducing the fire danger from a mountain pine bark beetle epidemic that has killed millions of acres of Colorado lodgepole pines. “What doesn’t burn down will blow down.”
Gee. Thank goodness it’s an election year. The “liberal media” can ignore all this and bring us 24/7 primary coverage instead.
If you run into someone who watches Fox and they tell you it’s going to be cold tomorrow so there’s no such thing as climate change, send them a link to this elegantly simple video:
Check out the National Geographic‘s Photo Contest 2011.
This is the Grand Prize winner and the winner in the Nature category:
Arrows of rain seem to pelt a dragonfly in Indonesia’s Riau Islands in Shikhei Goh’s winning image, “Splashing.”
A sudden rainstorm left Goh with a tough decision: Get his camera wet, or take advantage of the “superb lighting,” he wrote with his submission to the 2011 National Geographic Photography Contest.
He took the picture, resulting in a “very striking macrophotography image that rose to the top of the nature category for me because of its originality, beautiful light, rare action in a close-up image, as well as its technical perfection,” said Tim Laman, one of three National Geographic magazine photographers who judged the contest.
“You can almost feel the dragonfly’s experience of bracing itself against the weather,” said judge Amy Toensing. “When I look at it, I want to say, Hold on tight little buddy!”
That’s exactly what thought too. Poor thing.
Check out the “Top 24 Deep Space Pictures of 2011″ according to Discover magazine, here. Some of photos aren’t all that clear but some are magnificent:
This may be the weirdest entry in the gallery this year: Tycho’s supernova remnant, looking for all the world (Universe?) like some sort of bizarre protozoan floating in space. It’s actually the expanding debris from a star first seen in 1572 by astronomer Tycho Brahe. This image was taken by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, and shows very high-energy X-rays in blue, and lower energy X-rays in red (both have been superposed on a sky survey image of stars representing the location of the nebula).
Because they’re big, sometimes galaxies get close together. Too close. Close enough that their gravity can affect each other, drawing out long arms of gas and stars, distorting each other into weird and beautiful shapes. It happens a lot.
Such is Arp 273, seen here in a Hubble image taken to celebrate the observatory’s 20th anniversary in space. These two big galaxies passed each other in the recent past (like, a few million years ago). Both were probably normal enough before the encounter, but are now twisted and asymmetric.
One of the traditions my husband and I enjoy this time of year is opening an Advent calendar. We’ve had one every year for years and years. Some of the calendars out there are silly, but some — particularly those made in Germany — are magical.
That said, Alan Taylor over at the Atlantic is posting an online Advent calendar featuring a new photo from the Hubble space telescope every day until December 25 (can’t wait to see that one!). Follow it here.
This is the (gorgeous!) picture he posted yesterday:
A “Rose” of a Galaxy. In celebration of the 21st anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope’s deployment into space, astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute pointed Hubble’s eye to an especially photogenic group of interacting galaxies called Arp 273. Pictured here is the larger of the two galaxies, known as UGC 1810. It has a disk that is tidally distorted into a rose-like shape by the gravitational tidal pull of the companion galaxy below it, known as UGC 1813. A swath of blue jewels across the top is the combined light from clusters of intensely bright and hot young blue stars. These massive stars glow fiercely in ultraviolet light. A possible mini-spiral may be visible in the spiral arms of UGC 1810 to the upper right. It is noticeable how the outermost spiral arm changes character as it passes this third galaxy, from smooth with lots of old stars (reddish in color) on one side to clumpy and extremely blue on the other. UGC 1810 lies in the constellation Andromeda and is roughly 300 million light-years away from Earth.
We humans can be such idiots:
Visit a run-of-the-mill sushi bar in New York or London and you’ll probably find wooden chopsticks at your disposal there, too. But if you’re in the mood for Vietnamese food, you’ll probably be dining with the plastic variety, while Korean restaurants tend to go with metal.
So, what’s the big deal?
Each year, the equivalent of 3.8 million trees go into the manufacture of about 57 billion disposable pairs of chopsticks in China, according to statistics from that nation’s national forest bureau. About 45 percent of disposable chopsticks are made from trees like cotton wood, birch, and spruce, while the remainder are made from bamboo.
Half of the disposables are consumed within China. Of the other half, 77 percent is exported to Japan, 21 percent to South Korea and 2 percent to the United States.
Chopsticks add to a plague of regional deforestation. According to a 2008 United Nations report, 10,800 square miles of Asian forest are disappearing each year, a trend that must be arrested to fight climate change, given the vital role trees play in absorbing carbon dioxide.
How hard would it be for everyone who uses wooden, disposable chopsticks to switch to metal or ceramic? I mean, imagine throwing out your fork, spoon and knife after every meal.
So, Senate Republicans and Democrats have finally found something they can agree on — coddling the energy industry, polluting our air and giving us cancer:
Five Republican and five Democratic senators, mostly from coal-rich states, introduced a bill that largely mirrors recently passed House legislation to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating disposal of coal ash for the first time.
The bill, whose main sponsor is Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., would block the EPA rule and instead let the states regulate the ash like municipal solid waste. Last week the House passed a highly similar bill fronted by Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va.
The EPA has proposed to classify coal ash under federal hazardous-waste management law, or let states regulate it as a non-hazardous waste. The proposed rule comes in the wake of coal-ash facility spills, including one in Kingston, Tenn., in 2008 in which 1 billion gallons of ash-containing liquid flooded the nearby area.
For more on the horrors of coal ash, watch this, posted by Tennessee Riverkeeper:
If you read nothing else today (or this week or this month), read this from Naomi Klein regarding OccupyWallStreet.
I’m serious. Take eight minutes and read it because, what’s happening with OccupyWallStreet is “the most important thing in the world,” as Klein says, and I agree. This is make it or break it time for all of us — we humans, the animals, the planet.
I’m copying Klein’s thoughts in their entirety from The Nation’s website. I hope they don’t mind. Chances are they agree that this has got to get out:
I love you.
And I didn’t just say that so that hundreds of you would shout “I love you” back, though that is obviously a bonus feature of the human microphone. Say unto others what you would have them say unto you, only way louder.
Yesterday, one of the speakers at the labor rally said: “We found each other.” That sentiment captures the beauty of what is being created here. A wide-open space (as well as an idea so big it can’t be contained by any space) for all the people who want a better world to find each other. We are so grateful.
If there is one thing I know, it is that the 1 percent loves a crisis. When people are panicked and desperate and no one seems to know what to do, that is the ideal time to push through their wish list of pro-corporate policies: privatizing education and social security, slashing public services, getting rid of the last constraints on corporate power. Amidst the economic crisis, this is happening the world over.
And there is only one thing that can block this tactic, and fortunately, it’s a very big thing: the 99 percent. And that 99 percent is taking to the streets from Madison to Madrid to say “No. We will not pay for your crisis.”
That slogan began in Italy in 2008. It ricocheted to Greece and France and Ireland and finally it has made its way to the square mile where the crisis began.
“Why are they protesting?” ask the baffled pundits on TV. Meanwhile, the rest of the world asks: “What took you so long?” “We’ve been wondering when you were going to show up.” And most of all: “Welcome.”
Many people have drawn parallels between Occupy Wall Street and the so-called anti-globalization protests that came to world attention in Seattle in 1999. That was the last time a global, youth-led, decentralized movement took direct aim at corporate power. And I am proud to have been part of what we called “the movement of movements.”
But there are important differences too. For instance, we chose summits as our targets: the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the G8. Summits are transient by their nature, they only last a week. That made us transient too. We’d appear, grab world headlines, then disappear. And in the frenzy of hyper patriotism and militarism that followed the 9/11 attacks, it was easy to sweep us away completely, at least in North America.
Occupy Wall Street, on the other hand, has chosen a fixed target. And you have put no end date on your presence here. This is wise. Only when you stay put can you grow roots. This is crucial. It is a fact of the information age that too many movements spring up like beautiful flowers but quickly die off. It’s because they don’t have roots. And they don’t have long term plans for how they are going to sustain themselves. So when storms come, they get washed away.
Being horizontal and deeply democratic is wonderful. But these principles are compatible with the hard work of building structures and institutions that are sturdy enough to weather the storms ahead. I have great faith that this will happen.
Something else this movement is doing right: You have committed yourselves to non-violence. You have refused to give the media the images of broken windows and street fights it craves so desperately. And that tremendous discipline has meant that, again and again, the story has been the disgraceful and unprovoked police brutality. Which we saw more of just last night. Meanwhile, support for this movement grows and grows. More wisdom.
But the biggest difference a decade makes is that in 1999, we were taking on capitalism at the peak of a frenzied economic boom. Unemployment was low, stock portfolios were bulging. The media was drunk on easy money. Back then it was all about start-ups, not shut downs.
We pointed out that the deregulation behind the frenzy came at a price. It was damaging to labor standards. It was damaging to environmental standards. Corporations were becoming more powerful than governments and that was damaging to our democracies. But to be honest with you, while the good times rolled, taking on an economic system based on greed was a tough sell, at least in rich countries.
Ten years later, it seems as if there aren’t any more rich countries. Just a whole lot of rich people. People who got rich looting the public wealth and exhausting natural resources around the world.
The point is, today everyone can see that the system is deeply unjust and careening out of control. Unfettered greed has trashed the global economy. And it is trashing the natural world as well. We are overfishing our oceans, polluting our water with fracking and deepwater drilling, turning to the dirtiest forms of energy on the planet, like the Alberta tar sands. And the atmosphere cannot absorb the amount of carbon we are putting into it, creating dangerous warming. The new normal is serial disasters: economic and ecological.
These are the facts on the ground. They are so blatant, so obvious, that it is a lot easier to connect with the public than it was in 1999, and to build the movement quickly.
We all know, or at least sense, that the world is upside down: we act as if there is no end to what is actually finite — fossil fuels and the atmospheric space to absorb their emissions. And we act as if there are strict and immovable limits to what is actually bountiful — the financial resources to build the kind of society we need.
The task of our time is to turn this around: to challenge this false scarcity. To insist that we can afford to build a decent, inclusive society – while at the same time, respect the real limits to what the earth can take.
What climate change means is that we have to do this on a deadline. This time our movement cannot get distracted, divided, burned out or swept away by events. This time we have to succeed. And I’m not talking about regulating the banks and increasing taxes on the rich, though that’s important.
I am talking about changing the underlying values that govern our society. That is hard to fit into a single media-friendly demand, and it’s also hard to figure out how to do it. But it is no less urgent for being difficult.
That is what I see happening in this square. In the way you are feeding each other, keeping each other warm, sharing information freely and proving health care, meditation classes and empowerment training. My favorite sign here says “I care about you.” In a culture that trains people to avoid each other’s gaze, to say, “Let them die,” that is a deeply radical statement.
A few final thoughts. In this great struggle, here are some things that don’t matter.
- What we wear.
- Whether we shake our fists or make peace signs.
- Whether we can fit our dreams for a better world into a media soundbite.
And here are a few things that do matter.
- Our courage.
- Our moral compass.
- How we treat each other.
We have picked a fight with the most powerful economic and political forces on the planet. That’s frightening. And as this movement grows from strength to strength, it will get more frightening. Always be aware that there will be a temptation to shift to smaller targets – like, say, the person sitting next to you at this meeting. After all, that is a battle that’s easier to win.
Don’t give in to the temptation. I’m not saying don’t call each other on shit. But this time, let’s treat each other as if we plan to work side by side in struggle for many, many years to come. Because the task before will demand nothing less.
Let’s treat this beautiful movement as if it is most important thing in the world. Because it is. It really is.
Hey, thank God Global Warming’s a myth huh?
UK plants are flowering for a second time this year because of the unseasonably warm weather.
With temperatures soaring, plants such as foxglove and cowslip, which usually flower in the spring, are in full bloom six to eight months early.
Cold nights experienced across the UK in August are thought to have led to the early onset of autumn colours.
This warmer spell now has plants acting like it is spring.
Gardeners at the Kew’s Wakehurst Place gardens in Sussex said they are working from a “new rule book” to keep up.
“It is a very unsual year…I’ve been gardening for 30 years and have never seen anything like this,” said Wakehurst Place’s head Andy Jackson.
“We are increasingly seeing that plants are not synchronised with what the weather is doing,” he added.
I have a Master Gardener degree from Colorado State University. If I saw oh, say, a lilac blooming right now I would be downright scared. That would be a sign that the planet’s rhythm, its natural order, is totally fucked up.
Check out this NASA image of a sunspot taken on September 22, 2011. The Earth is inserted into the picture in the upper right hand corner “for a size comparison.”
Wow. Just wow.
Thunderstorm over the Grand Canyon:
A friend sent me an article this morning (here it is) about H5N1 “bird flu.”
That got me thinking about pandemics generally so I Googled “pandemic” and got this.
Pretty disconcerting to see that amongst the top three articles are these two:
UCLA researchers have made an intriguing discovery. They’ve found swine flu in North African pigs. They stumbled upon the H1N1 virus while studying swine in Cameroon. The scientists think the pigs caught the virus from humans. They say the strain is almost identical to the one that many Southlanders contracted.
It’s something like a global game of viral ping-pong.
Scientists say the H1N1 virus originally spread from pigs to humans in Mexico, then traveled to Southern California and across the globe before finding its way to pigs in Africa.
Along the way the contagion sickened around 60 million people and killed more than 12,000.
The nation may be more vulnerable to a pandemic because of budget cuts that have slashed funding for emergency preparedness and downsized the force of public health workers.
Nashville has been part of that trend, and so has the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The physicians who head the local health department and the CDC worry about responding to a pandemic with fewer resources. Their diminished funding faces the likelihood of more cuts as the federal government looks for ways to reduce the deficit.
Thanks Tea Party.
This is a gorgeous video.
A time-lapse taken from the front of the International Space Station as it orbits our planet at night. This movie begins over the Pacific Ocean and continues over North and South America before entering daylight near Antarctica. Visible cities, countries and landmarks include (in order) Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Fransisco, Los Angeles. Phoenix. Multiple cities in Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. Mexico City, the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, Lightning in the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and the Amazon. Also visible is the earths ionosphere (thin yellow line) and the stars of our galaxy.
Republicans have no problem busting Democrats in the gut and why wouldn’t they? Democrats don’t know how to fight back.
Senate Democrats should be walking out of the Capitol en masse tonight — holding a press conference on the steps — and making a huge deal out of this (I swear, they have Stockholm Syndrome):
Republicans blocked an effort Monday by Senate Democrats to quickly pass a $7 billion aid package for victims of recent natural disasters like Hurricane Irene, tornadoes in the Midwest and the South and floods along the Mississippi, Missouri and other rivers.
“They’re playing around the edges of what really needs to be done,” Reid complained, saying hundreds of millions of dollars is needed to rebuild places like Joplin, Mo., where a tornado in May destroyed more than 7,000 homes and 10 school buildings and killed 159 people.
I blogged like a maniac at the Newshounds during the run up to the 2004 presidential election when John Kerry was a passive, limp dolt in response to Republicans accusing him of being a fake Vietnam vet and a wimpy, Grey-Poupon, Brie-eating French guy. I thought Democrats would learn a thing or two about fighting back back then, but NO!
Aaaaaaaahhhhhh. It drives me crazy.
What is this, disappointment #257 for Obama supporters?
On Friday, in a move that shocked enviros and public-health advocates, President Obama asked the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw its proposal to tighten a key air-quality standard. The request, Obama said, is part of the administration’s efforts to reduce “regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty.”
The EPA has been at work on new rules on ozone pollution, better known as smog, since September 2009. The agency rolled out new, tougher draft standards in January 2010, only to have the release of the final rules repeatedly delayed.In a statement, Obama said he has asked the agency to wait until 2013—you know, after the next election—to improve the standard.
The EPA also noted that while compliance with the new rule would cost polluters between $19 billion and $90 billion a year by 2020, the benefits to human health will be worth between $13 billion and $100 billion every year.
But environmental and public-health groups are, as you might guess, flabbergasted at Obama’s announcement. “This is a huge win for corporate polluters and huge loss for public health,” said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, in a statement. The statements from pretty much every other group have expressed similar outrage.
Obama: No matter what you do to “help” the business community, it isn’t going to be enough; you will be called anti-business not because you are or aren’t, but because Republicans know Americans will equate that tag with the lack of jobs. And are you adopting the GOP BS that regulations kill jobs?
And oh, corporations win. Again. How nice.
Change we can believe in.
This is just sad. Hope and change = smoke and mirrors:
Solyndra, a renewable energy firm that became the darling of the Obama Administration, shut the doors to its California headquarters today, raising fresh questions from the administration’s critics about political favoritism in the federal loan program.
The manufacturer of rooftop solar panels opened in 2005 and in 2009 became the Obama administration’s first recipient of an energy loan guarantee — a $535 million federal commitment that helped minimize the risk to venture capital firms that were backing the solar start-up. Obama made a personal visit to the factory last year to herald its bright future.
ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity’s iWatch News first reported on questions about the choice of Solyndra for the loan in May after the Department of Energy disclosed it was being forced to restructure its loan package for the company, which was showing early signs of financial distress. One of Solyndra’s major investors was George Kaiser, an Oklahoma billionaire who raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for Obama during the 2008 election.