Posts filed under ‘Nature’
This is from the University of Maine, Climate Change Institute. Look how screwy the temperatures are. It’s deeply cold over much of the U.S. and it’s “hot” in northern Canada and the Arctic.
Via OMG Facts: What the Andromeda Galaxy would look like in our sky if it was brighter:
Wow. So beautiful. Too bad it isn’t brighter!
Not only that, if we looked at that every night we might not be so arrogant as to think we’re so, so special and likely the only planet with life on it anywhere. The Andromeda Galaxy is thought to contain one trillion stars. Surely there’s complex life on at least one of them.
I’ll say it again: I’m going to die at the right time. I knew the planet when it was relatively clean. Good luck to today’s kids. They’re going to need it. Oil/gas and coal companies (oh, and Monsanto) are destroying the only home we know, thanks to politicians who are owned by the corporatocracy.
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park — a supposedly protected natural area containing thousands of reefs, which together are visible from space and attract nearly $6 billion a year in tourism — is a pretty terrible place to dump loads of silt. But it’s happening: The federal agency that governs the reef approved plans to dump up to 3 million cubic meters of silt that will be dredged from the marine park to help carve a superhighway for tankers ferrying coal to Asia.
It’s the final piece in Australian Prime Minister (and known climate denier) Tony Abbott’s already-approved master plan to dredge the shipping lane, expand an existing coal terminal, and extensively mine the northeastern state of Queensland for coal.
Reuters reports that backers of the coal export project, including two Indian firms and the heiress to an Australian mining empire, hope to deliver an estimated $28 billion of coal to Asian markets once it’s complete.
Oh, and to everyone who has a kid under 40: Get out there and make noise if you care what their life will be like when they’re your age, not to mention your grandkids. Geezus.
A Newly Detected Fracture Suggests That Tectonic Forces are Pulling the Continents Together Once Again.
Geologists mapping seismic activity and underwater topography off the coast of Portugal say the tectonic forces that once split and spread the ancient supercontinent Pangea across the surface of the globe appear to be shifting into reverse, setting our existing continents on an eventual collision course.
Just kidding! No, I’m not going to worry about this but I wonder what would cause the plates move back toward each other. Interesting.
Have you ever watched “Animal Planet” and had the feeling that what you were watching wasn’t, at its core, about animals? Me too.
Here’s an article Mother Jones published today about that very issue:
Which leads me to my quote of the day, even though I don’t have a quote of the day category here on ye ol’ blog:
“We’re not looking to be a natural history channel,” Animal Planet group president Marjorie Kaplan told the New York Times in 2008. “We’re looking to be an entertainment destination.” The network recently aired two documentary-style programs purporting to present evidence that mermaids are real.
I don’t look to Animal Planet to be “a natural history channel” but I do look to them to be a channel that cares about animals. Read the Mother Jones article. Not only don’t they care about animals, they’re willing to kill them in order to add drama to their shows.
I guess we should take them at their word: “We’re looking to be an entertainment destination” and here in the good ol’ U.S. of A., killing animals is entertaining. Check your local listings.
This morning I came across this:
ALEC Plans Massive Environmental Attack for 2014
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has a big year ahead of them, as they attempt to dismantle a slew of environmental protections from state to state. More specifically, the corporate front group is hoping to pass dirty energy friendly legislation to ease the rules for electric utilities.
From state to state, ALEC is drafting legislation that would cut renewable energy, increase dependence on coal and dismantle energy efficiency standards.
And then I remembered reading about this a few days ago:
[Colorado's "Democratic"] Governor Hickenlooper has chosen Glenn Vaad, a former state representative from Weld County, as the newest of the three-member Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Mr. Vaad is no friend of clean energy for Colorado—his voting record allied primarily with the fossil fuel industry at the expense of Colorado’s clean energy economy. Mr. Vaad is also a former high-ranking member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a powerful corporate lobbying group whose members include Koch Industries and others pushing state legislatures to turn back the clock on adoption of renewable energy in Colorado and elsewhere.
If a so-called Democratic governor is appointing “former high-ranking” members of ALEC to state boards — any board — we’re doomed. Seriously. It illustrates the fact that this isn’t about Republicans versus Democrats anymore — they’re all being corrupted — it’s about the corporatocracy and the monied class against the rest of us.
Maybe it’s just me, but have you noticed how the cable “news” networks cycle through so-called news stories roughly every eight, ten, 15 minutes and repeat themselves ad nauseam all day (unless there’s “breaking news” of course, like a high-speed police chase or an apartment fire)?
And maybe its just me but have you noticed how the right constantly screams about how liberal the U.S. media is?
Imagine how this country would change if the media really was liberal and they repeated this kind of thing every day, all day:
– Giving Employees Paid Sick Leave is Good for Business: A large majority of employers in Connecticut — where paid sick leave has been mandatory since January, 2012 — “reported that the law did not affect business operations and that they had no or only small increases in costs.”
– The NSA’s Sweeping Surveillance Programs Don’t Stop Terrorism: On June 5, 2013, the Guardian broke the first story in what would become a flood of revelations regarding the extent and nature of the NSA’s surveillance programs. Facing an uproar over the threat such programs posed to privacy, the Obama administration scrambled to defend them as legal and essential to U.S. national security and counterterrorism. Two weeks after the first leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden were published, President Obama defended the NSA surveillance programs during a visit to Berlin, saying: “We know of at least 50 threats that have been averted because of this information not just in the United States, but, in some cases, threats here in Germany. So lives have been saved.”
However, our review of the government’s claims about the role that NSA “bulk” surveillance of phone and email communications records has had in keeping the United States safe from terrorism shows that these claims are overblown and even misleading. An in-depth analysis of 225 individuals recruited by al-Qaeda or a like-minded group or inspired by al-Qaeda’s ideology, and charged in the United States with an act of terrorism since 9/11, demonstrates that traditional investigative methods, such as the use of informants, tips from local communities, and targeted intelligence operations, provided the initial impetus for investigations in the majority of cases, while the contribution of NSA’s bulk surveillance programs to these cases was minimal.
Climate change will complicate the Philippines’ efforts to become self-sufficient in rice, the country’s economic planning secretary said Monday.
Arsenio Balisacan said preliminary data showed that 74% of the estimated damage from natural disasters in the country last year came in the farm sector, primarily affecting rice. The natural disasters include extreme weather caused by global warming, he said.
“We expect these extreme events and unpredictable phenomena to become the new normal,” Mr. Balisican told a workshop on efforts to address the impact of climate change in agriculture.
No government regulation! Woo hoo. A Libertarian paradise (unless you need to take a shower, drink water, wash your clothes, make dinner or wash your face).
Why am I posting this picture from Amazing Species? Just because. Because I’m in love with the orange/red color of this little Red Rock crab and that, mixed with the beautiful blue shade on its back and front legs, knocks me out. Throw in a dash of yellow and wow.
Thank you Mother Nature for another gorgeous paint job.
Great idea: Name extreme storms after policy makers who deny climate change:
Tongue-in-cheek but dead serious:
The growing fracking industry is “yielding gushers” of campaign donations for congressional candidates—particularly Republicans from districts with fracking activity—according to a new report from the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
The report, “Natural Cash: How the Fracking Industry Fuels Congress,” examines data compiled by MapLight covering a period spanning from 2004 to 2012. In that time, CREW finds, contributions from companies that operate hydraulic fracturing wells and fracking-related industry groups rose 180 percent, from $4.3 million nine years ago to about $12 million in the last election cycle.
Rep. Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas, was head and shoulders above his fellow candidates in donations from the fracking industry. Barton accepted more than half a million dollars—$100,000 more than any other candidate. In the past, he chaired the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and he sponsored legislation in 2005 to exempt the fracking industry from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Check out Barton’s Wikipedia page. Scroll down and read the paragraph titled: “Barton Family Foundation.” What a piece of work this guy is. He probably thinks of himself as a good Christian too.
One of our Christmas traditions is to plant an indoor Amaryllis bulb late in November so it will bloom right around Christmas.
When I shop for the bulbs I’m always a little leery that the picture on the little tag won’t turn out to be what the bulb I plant looks like; partly because I think growers tend to embellish and partly because I don’t know if the bulb I picked out was inadvertently put into the wrong bin by a careless, browsing customer. (I.e., a white flower bulb put back into a red bulb bin.)
This year, everything worked perfectly. This is the double-flowering “Cherry Nymph” by DigDropDone.com. The flowers are easily 7″ across. I was lucky to have two stalks, each with four flowers so the bulb has been blooming for a good two to three weeks. What a treat.
The orange/red color is just spectacular and in the sun there appear to be sparkles in the petals.
After probably 20 years, this has got to be my favorite:
Four days from now the buds will begin to fade which is why we love flowers. They’re fleeting and they force us to appreciate them and soak in their beauty before they’re gone.
Hey, I’m thinkin’ we could learn a thing or two from flowers.
Anyway, gorgeous or what, huh?
This is not a flower. It’s a Pink Orchid Mantis (Hymenopus coronatus). It lives in the rain forests of southeast Asia.
Not a bad camouflage job, huh? Mother Nature is brilliant.
The most destructive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico ever, after which people and animals are still suffering is mesmerizingly beautiful?
Really? Is that where we are? Is that what we’ve become? People who see beauty in oil spills?
The electricity has been off at my house for roughly three hours today. (That’s what it’s like in Baghdad.)
This is Al waiting for it to come on:
Xcel’s gas was out at my brother’s house for roughly 48 hours over the weekend. The temps were in the below zeros.
Xcel doesn’t want to invest in infrastructure and nobody’s saying it should. It wants to steer its profits to the execs and shareholders and our tax laws are structured such that they can; they encourage them to do that (thanks bought-and-sold congress).
Meanwhile, Al and I wait…
Pray tell I’ll have time to look into the subsidies I’m paying for this piece of shit “public utility.”
Love how that label has stuck.
What a lie.
Imagine spending $8 trillion on solar power here in the U.S. which we wouldn’t have to spend billions “guarding” every year:
It has cost the United States $8 trillion to provide military security in the Gulf since 1976. According to Roger Stern, a Princeton economist, the US has spent as much on Gulf security as it spent on the entire Cold War with the Soviet Union! In recent years through 2010 it has been $400 billion a year, though the US withdrawal from Iraq at the end of 2011 and the gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan this year and next presumably means that the figure is substantially reduced. Still, we have bases in Kuwait, Qatar and elsewhere, and a Naval HQ in Bahrain, none of which is cheap. If it were $200 billion a year, that is a fair chunk of the budget deficit the Republican Party keeps complaining about. And if we could get that $8 trillion back, it would pay down half of the national debt.
And shame on our so-called leaders for not talking about cutting some of this expense instead of food stamps for the poor.
Oh, and this is what just one trillion dollars looks like. Multiply this by eight and you have an idea how much we’re spending guarding our oil.
Geezus can we please, please, please ween ourselves off of oil already:
BP is leading an industry-wide push to develop technology that can retrieve oil from formations that are so deep under the sea floor, and under such high pressure and temperature, that conventional equipment would melt or be crushed by the conditions.
One BP field in the Gulf of Mexico, called Tiber, makes the Macondo field that the Deepwater Horizon rig was probing look like simple puddle of oil. It is thought to hold twenty times the amount of oil as Macondo. At 35,000 feet below the sea floor _ 6.6 miles into the earth’s crust _ it is about twice as deep.
There’s an extraordinary amount of oil in similar discoveries around the world, several of which are controlled by BP. But BP first must figure out how to get it. New equipment, including blowout preventers far stronger than the one that failed on the Deepwater Horizon, must be developed. Then BP must convince regulators it can tap this oil safely.
Another disaster could threaten BP’s existence, but success could restore the company’s fortunes _ and perhaps its reputation. “There’s 10 to 20 billion barrels of oil just for BP in this,” says Kevin Kennelly, who runs BP’s global technology operations. At today’s prices, that’s worth up to $2 trillion.
$2 trillion and the potential destruction of the environment but oh well, money’s all that matters.
We are insane.
Hey humans, it’s time to foster a respect for our fellow travelers on this planet, from forests to shrimp:
Northeastern regulators shut down the Gulf of Maine shrimp fishery for the first time in 35 years Tuesday afternoon, worried by reports of what researchers called a fully “collapsed” stock that could be driven to near extinction with any 2014 catch.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Northern Shrimp Section, a subset of the multistate agency that oversees North Atlantic shrimp fisheries, met Tuesday in Portland to set guidelines for the coming season.
The 11-person section decided by consensus to wipe out the 2014 season, denying a 175-metric-ton catch limit recommended by its Northern Shrimp Advisory Board.
The panel made its decision against a backdrop of plummeting shrimp populations off the coast of Maine, according to researchers with the commission’s Northern Shrimp Technical Committee.
“There are very few, if any, shrimp left,” Whitmore told section members. “It just seems like we’ve reached the bottom. There’s probably no such thing as a ‘do no harm’ fishery at this point.”
One of the most beautiful YouTube videos I’ve ever seen. Enjoy.
Where’s Pat Robertson when you need him to explain all this? It’s the gays!
In June, 2012 we had fire. In September this year we had a 1000 year flood (this was the scene a block from my house) and now we’re getting near-hurricane force wind and the coldest temperatures in 15 years.
Needless to say, the puppies and the hubby and I are hunkering down:
High Wind Warning in Northeastern Colorado
Gusty Downslope winds persist in and near the front range Foothills this evening, then taper off late tonight. The strongest winds will be possible in the foothills of Boulder and Jefferson counties.
High Wind Warning remains in effect until 5 am MST Tuesday.
Timing: After a lull early this evening, occasional strong and gusty west winds may again develop overnight.
Winds: west winds of 25 to 40 mph can be expected with a few gusts to around 75 mph.
Me neither. Here’s a short blurb from November 30 from ScienceMag.org. It requires a subscription so this is all I can grab but amazing isn’t it, that we didn’t hear a peep about this in the U.S.
corporate liberal media? They were too busy tracking Obama’s “plunging” poll numbers and the supposed demise of Obamacare I guess.
Featuring the first lunar rover in 40 years, Chang’e-3 is seen as an important milestone on China’s quest to send a crewed mission to the moon by 2030. Its premier scientific instrument is a wide-angle extreme ultraviolet camera that will continuously observe Earth’s plasmasphere and the tail of comet ISON.
Oh, and for the most part, we just don’t do science around here.
UPDATED: Here’s more:
For the first time in more than three decades, the moon may soon see some soft-landing, human-made visitors. China launched its first moon rover—and third moon mission—at 1:30 am today, local time.
The Chinese rover should land December 14 or 15, Space.com reports. The last soft lander to visit the moon’s surface was a Russian craft in 1976. The last people on the moon were Americans, in 1972. Since then, space agencies have sent instruments purposefully crashing onto the moon’s surface, but nothing designed to remain intact after landing, which is more difficult to do.
Hey, I’m like the next person in that I’m spoiled to the Internets and short articles and quick this and fast that so when I come across a longish article I kind of wince. But I’m fascinated by the whole issue of antibiotics and how bacteria are evolving such that they’re antibiotic-resistant. This morning I came across a fascinating article about that that was fascinating and worth the time from beginning to end: Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future — After 85 years, antibiotics are growing impotent. So what will medicine, agriculture and everyday life look like if we lose these drugs entirely?
The breadth of the problem has escaped me until now. For example, treating burns would “have a very, very difficult task keeping people alive” and maybe we should forget about transplantation. People who get transplants are loaded up on antibiotics prior to surgery and if a transplant surgery is pretty much guaranteed to kill them, because antibiotics become ineffective, who in the world would be willing to perform the operation?
And get this mind-blowing quote:
Bacteria can produce another generation in as little as twenty minutes; with tens of thousands of generations a year working out survival strategies, the organisms would soon overwhelm the potent new drugs.
Imagine getting a simple paper cut and dying from it. Or having something as common as a ruptured appendix (which I had in 2005):
Doctors routinely perform procedures that carry an extraordinary infection risk unless antibiotics are used. Chief among them: any treatment that requires the construction of portals into the bloodstream and gives bacteria a direct route to the heart or brain. That rules out intensive-care medicine, with its ventilators, catheters, and ports—but also something as prosaic as kidney dialysis, which mechanically filters the blood.
Next to go: surgery, especially on sites that harbor large populations of bacteria such as the intestines and the urinary tract. Those bacteria are benign in their regular homes in the body, but introduce them into the blood, as surgery can, and infections are practically guaranteed. And then implantable devices, because bacteria can form sticky films of infection on the devices’ surfaces that can be broken down only by antibiotics.
I highly recommend the article. We’ve got to deal with this. If you’re a parent, start making noise for the sake of your kids or grandkids.
Again, here’s the link.
Granted this isn’t the best picture but check out these bands of clouds I noticed this morning when I was coming home from my walk. I was up on a ridge when I first saw them but didn’t feel like getting in my car and driving back there so I could get a better picture.
I think they’re called stratocumulus clouds and they form, “when humid air cools enough for water vapor to condense into droplets or ice crystals.”
I lived through the floods in Boulder in September when 24″ of rain fell over the course of four days. On Monday night, 17 inches of rain fell on the Italian island of Sardinia in 90 minutes. 90 minutes!
Wow. That must have been quite an experience.
SAN FRANCISCO, Ca. (November 21, 2013)–The public is outraged more indigenous wild horses will be rounded up and permanently removed from public land to grab water and frack the land. Protect Mustangs is calling for protests to stand up for the American mustang and a tourism boycott targeted at Wyoming who promotes ”Roam Free” in their marketing yet ignores the wild horse. 700 Adobe Town and Salt Wells herds will be rounded up from the public-private land known as the “Checkerboard” starting this week. The majority will live in captivity, be at-risk for going to slaughter and forever lose their freedom to roam.
“Fracking for oil and gas is polluting the environment and wiping out America’s wild horses,” states Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs. “It’s time for clean energy that can coexist with wildlife.”
Amen, amen, amen to that.
After watching this video — Fukushima: Beyond Urgent — I’d say what’s happening at Fukushima these days should be reported on way more than it is, as in not at all (thanks “liberal media!”).
Words from the last frame:
Nothing like this has ever been attempted. All of humanity will be threatened for 1,000s of years if rods in Unit 4 pools touch during removal process.
See links to more info about Fukushima here (scroll down).
Look at this exquisite snowflake:
See more of Mother Nature’s perfection here.
I saw this ad on my local Denver/ABC News station tonight. I guess I better run out and sign up to have “Energy From Shale” put five or ten fracking wells in my backyard tonight. Sounds so idyllic!
I’d never eat meat from Ms. Kern’s ranch and man-oh-man, I feel sorry for her kids. I have a bad feeling about this. I think she’s going to regret it. When you “talk with experts” from the fracking industry about fracking ah, yeah, it’s gonna sound great.
As an aside, Ault, Colorado is in Weld County. On November 5, Weld County will vote on seceding (or not) from Colorado.
This article, from the Australian newspaper, The Herald, is about Ivan Macfadyen’s trek from Melbourne to Osaka, ten years go and then again this past spring:
IT was the silence that made this voyage different from all of those before it.
Not the absence of sound, exactly.
The wind still whipped the sails and whistled in the rigging. The waves still sloshed against the fibreglass hull.
And there were plenty of other noises: muffled thuds and bumps and scrapes as the boat knocked against pieces of debris.
What was missing was the cries of the seabirds which, on all previous similar voyages, had surrounded the boat.
The birds were missing because the fish were missing.
Exactly 10 years before, when Newcastle yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen had sailed exactly the same course from Melbourne to Osaka, all he’d had to do to catch a fish from the ocean between Brisbane and Japan was throw out a baited line.
“There was not one of the 28 days on that portion of the trip when we didn’t catch a good-sized fish to cook up and eat with some rice,” Macfadyen recalled.
But this time, on that whole long leg of sea journey, the total catch was two.
No fish. No birds. Hardly a sign of life at all.
But in March and April this year, only silence and desolation surrounded his boat, Funnel Web, as it sped across the surface of a haunted ocean.
North of the equator, up above New Guinea, the ocean-racers saw a big fishing boat working a reef in the distance.
“All day it was there, trawling back and forth. It was a big ship, like a mother-ship,” he said.
And all night it worked too, under bright floodlights. And in the morning Macfadyen was awoken by his crewman calling out, urgently, that the ship had launched a speedboat.
“And they gave us five big sugar-bags full of fish,” he said.
“They were good, big fish, of all kinds. Some were fresh, but others had obviously been in the sun for a while.
“We told them there was no way we could possibly use all those fish. There were just two of us, with no real place to store or keep them. They just shrugged and told us to tip them overboard. That’s what they would have done with them anyway, they said.
Macfadyen felt sick to his heart. That was one fishing boat among countless more working unseen beyond the horizon, many of them doing exactly the same thing.
No wonder the sea was dead. No wonder his baited lines caught nothing. There was nothing to catch.
If that sounds depressing, it only got worse.
After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead,” Macfadyen said.
“We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening.
“In a lot of places we couldn’t start our motor for fear of entangling the propeller in the mass of pieces of rope and cable. That’s an unheard of situation, out in the ocean.
Plastic was ubiquitous. Bottles, bags and every kind of throwaway domestic item you can imagine, from broken chairs to dustpans, toys and utensils.
And something else. The boat’s vivid yellow paint job, never faded by sun or sea in years gone past, reacted with something in the water off Japan, losing its sheen in a strange and unprecedented way.
Tough as it is, I recommend reading the whole article. It isn’t all that long and it’s good to get a first-person account — with a first-person, ten-year perspective — as opposed to reading about “what scientists predict…”
Far as I know, what Macfadyen experienced is what scientists are predicting will happen 30, 40 years from now, not RIGHT NOW.