Posts filed under ‘Nature’
Phew. That’d be enough to make you pee your pants, wouldn’t it?
Let’s do it!
Fast forward to today and the results of a question asked in a Louisiana poll by Public Policy Polling, August 16 – 19, 2013:
Who do you think was more responsible for the poor response to Hurricane Katrina: George W. Bush or Barack Obama?
George W. Bush: 28%
Barack Obama: 29%
Not Sure: 44%
Holly cow. What the hell are they smokin’ down there?
Another reason why we have to get this whole fracking thing under control before we go any farther:
Don Feusner ran dairy cattle on his 370-acre slice of northern Pennsylvania until he could no longer turn a profit by farming. Then, at age 60, he sold all but a few Angus and aimed for a comfortable retirement on money from drilling his land for natural gas instead.
It seemed promising. Two wells drilled on his lease hit as sweet a spot as the Marcellus shale could offer – tens of millions of cubic feet of natural gas gushed forth. Last December, he received a check for $8,506 for a month’s share of the gas.
Then one day in April, Feusner ripped open his royalty envelope to find that while his wells were still producing the same amount of gas, the gusher of cash had slowed. His eyes cascaded down the page to his monthly balance at the bottom: $1,690.
Chesapeake Energy, the company that drilled his wells, was withholding almost 90 percent of Feusner’s share of the income to cover unspecified “gathering” expenses and it wasn’t explaining why.
“They said you’re going to be a millionaire in a couple of years, but none of that has happened,” Feusner said. “I guess we’re expected to just take whatever they want to give us.”
I’m going to fast forward to the last two paragraphs. The article is quite long and I’m leaving a lot out:
Even if a gas company were found liable for underpaying royalties in Pennsylvania, it would have little to fear. It would owe only the amount it should have paid in the first place; unlike Oklahoma and other states, Pennsylvania law does not allow for any additional interest on unpaid royalties and sets a very high bar for winning punitive penalties.
“They just wait to see who challenges them, they keep what they keep, they give up what they lose,” said Root, the NARO chapter president. “It may just be part of their business decision to do it this way.”
This is outrageous. As usual, the oil and gas companies’ lobbyists — with the help of local, state and federal lawmakers — have paved the way for a very good life for them. As for We the People? Not so much.
I can’t imagine being the person holding the phone that recorded this video. I don’t think I would have been able to keep my cool like he/she did.
Wow. Just wow.
I don’t know if these are new as of today but NOAA has three deep sea live feeds up, and they’re narrated live too.
This is a pot of Gazanias that I have on my deck.
Man oh man. I. Love. These. Colors!
The shades of pink and red and yellow look gorgeous together.
This time of year I’m usually scrambling to keep the plants I’m summering on the deck watered and protected from drying out overnight. Today I brought them inside because they’re going to rot if they get more rain, which we’ve had here in Boulder for at least two weeks now.
Oh, and I put up a window box on the west side of the house and planted it full of Calibrachoa:
Calibrachoa need “at least” six hours of direct sun every day.
They haven’t had direct sun in a month.
Look how pitiful they are. They should be spilling out over the box and down the side.
Ugh. If it weren’t for Faux News, I’d think there was something fishy going on with, you know, the climate.
I can imagine all of this happening, especially the part about Miami being broke given what it’s likely to do to try to protect itself after successive hurricanes between now and 2030:
When the water receded after hurricane Milo of 2030, there was a foot of sand covering the famous bow-tie floor in the lobby of the Fontaine-bleau hotel in Miami Beach. A dead manatee floated in the pool where Elvis had once swum. Most of the damage occurred not from the hurricane’s 175-mph winds, but from the 24-foot storm surge that overwhelmed the low-lying city. In South Beach, the old art-deco- buildings were swept off their foundations. Mansions on Star Island were flooded up to their cut-glass doorknobs. A 17-mile stretch of Highway A1A that ran along the famous beaches up to Fort Lauderdale disappeared into the Atlantic. The storm knocked out the wastewater-treatment plant on Virginia Key, forcing the city to dump hundreds of millions of gallons of raw sewage into Biscayne Bay. Tampons and condoms littered the beaches, and the stench of human excrement stoked fears of cholera. More than 800 people died, many of them swept away by the surging waters that submerged much of Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale; 13 people were killed in traffic accidents as they scrambled to escape the city after the news spread – falsely, it turned out – that one of the nuclear reactors at Turkey Point, an aging power plant 24 miles south of Miami, had been destroyed by the surge and sent a radioactive cloud over the city.
The president, of course, said Miami would be back, that the hurricane did not kill the city, and that Americans did not give up. But it was clear to those not fooling themselves that this storm was the beginning of the end. With sea levels more than a foot higher than they’d been at the dawn of the century, South Florida was wet, vulnerable and bankrupt. Attempts had been made to armor the coastline, to build sea walls and elevate buildings, but it was a futile undertaking. The coastline from Miami Beach up to Jupiter had been a little more than a series of rugged limestone crags since the mid-2020s, when the state, unable to lay out $100 million every few years to pump in fresh sand, had given up trying to save South Florida’s world-famous- beaches. In that past decade, tourist visits had plummeted by 40 percent, even after the Florida legislature agreed to allow casino gambling in a desperate attempt to raise revenue for storm protection.
Mother Nature is amazing:
A South American plant with a 10ft (3m) tall flower spike is about to bloom in a Surrey glasshouse for the first time since it was planted 15 years ago.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) at Wisley said the Puya chilensis, a native of Chile, would bloom in the next few days and last about a week.
In the Andes it uses its sharp spines to snare and trap sheep and other animals, which slowly starve to death.
The animals then decay at the base of the plant, acting as a fertiliser.
The RHS feeds its specimen on liquid fertiliser.
That’s one brilliant plant.
I live in Boulder, Colorado, 30 miles northwest of Denver in an area that is tinder dry and ready to burst into flames at any minute. As I write, there are five uncontrolled wildfires burning here. The humidity is roughly 4%, the winds are blowing out of the west at 20 to 30 mph and the temperature is 100 degrees, the highest temperature recorded on this date since record-keeping began in 1878.
So, natch, this makes me feel a whole lot better:
Five wildfires in Colorado in one day, never mind what might be happening in SoCal or Arizona, and the Fores Service has ONE air tanker ready to help?
Oh. My. F–king. God.
I’m really tired of my tax dollars going to wars and defense contractors.
One of the most beautiful photos ever via astronaut Karen L. Nyberg. “Sunset:”
Look at this magnificence:
Being stuck out in the fields as these ominous clouds approach must be a terribly frightening experience. As the storm moves in, the rain pours down, and lighting strikes, 61-year-old German photographer Franz Schumacher doesn’t run for cover. Instead, he sets up his camera and photographs the experience for all to see. Harvest Time is a series of storms that roll in during the harvesting season in Strohgaeu Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany.
Love all the brown and gray hues.
Wow. This is fantastic news, especially in light of the fact that I read something the other day about how President Obama is surrounded by pro-Keystone corporate types:
With President Obama preparing to return to California on June 6 for fundraising in the Bay Area, a crowd of major donors — including from California — have signed a strong letter urging his rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline extension.
The letter comes in a week when it appears Vice President Joe Biden may have tipped his hand regarding his opposition to the pipeline.
On June 6, the President will travel to the Bay Area for a DSCC event in the evening, White House officials have said.
On June 7, the President will travel to Los Angeles for a DNC lunch event.
The letter on Keystone includes signatures of major California deep pocketed donors who regularly write big checks to the Democratic party — folks like San Francisco Democrat Susie Tompkins Buell, one of the Party’s most generous donors, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, and CREDO Mobile’s Michael Michael Kieschnick, among many others.
Click on “More…” immediately above to read the letter and to see the huge list of signatories. Fantastic.
Carbon Dioxide Level Passes Long-Feared Milestone
The level of the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide, has passed a long-feared milestone, scientists reported on Friday, reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years.
Scientific monitors reported that the gas had reached an average daily level that surpassed 400 parts per million — just an odometer moment in one sense, but also a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering.
The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.
“It symbolizes that so far we have failed miserably in tackling this problem,” said Pieter P. Tans, who runs the monitoring program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that reported the new reading.
The new measurement came from analyzers high atop Mauna Loa, the volcano on the big island of Hawaii that has long been ground zero for monitoring the worldwide carbon dioxide trend.
Devices there sample clean, crisp air that has blown thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean, producing a record of rising carbon dioxide levels that has been closely tracked for half a century.
I’m going to be dead before the effect of this really kicks in but for the life of me, I don’t know why parents of little kids all around the world aren’t marching in the streets over this. Well, yes I do know why. They’re trying to stay afloat in this dog-eat-dog world, but you know what I mean.
Wow, what an interesting project:
[I'm Kate Green and] I’m on the Big Island of Hawaii right now, but I’m not on vacation. I’m not honeymooning, nor am I attending a conference or visiting relatives.
I’m on the Big Island to find Mars.
Starting next week, I will begin a simulated Mars mission. For 120 days, my five crewmates and I will live on the red, rocky slopes of the Hawaiian volcano called Mauna Loa.
We will eat, sleep, work, exercise and relax inside a two-story dome that offers a little less than 1000 square feet of floor space. When we go outside, we will wear mock spacesuits. There will be very little sunshine, no fresh fruit, and no ocean breeze.
But there will be science.
In fact, the purpose of the Mars simulation, called HI-SEAS (Hawaiian space Exploration Analog and Simulation), is to study astronaut food for long-haul space missions. Developed by Jean Hunter at Cornell University and Kim Binsted at the University of Hawaii and funded by NASA, it boils down to these questions: Does it make sense to provide dehydrated, shelf-stable ingredients to astronauts on a mission to Mars? Does it make sense for astronauts to actually cook some of their meals?
Questions of food are more critical than you might think. On longer missions, astronauts tire of the just-add-water-and-heat meals that squirt out of pouches. They eat fewer calories, and they lose weight. Neither is good for performance and overall health, especially during a dangerous, multi-year trip to the red planet.
Here’s a short video introducing Kate Green and her five fellow “crew” members:
And here is the Hi-SEAS’ website.
I’m going to follow this project!
Ugh. Not a good sign for what might come this spring and summer (about 45 miles north of me):
All evacuees get to go home Saturday night, as fire officials say they’ve got a line on the south end of the Galena Fire in Lory State Park west of Fort Collins.
“I thought we were going to be out longer,” said Karen Post outside the evacuation center at Cache La Poudre Schools. She and her husband, Doug, were “relieved” to hear the news from fire officials Saturday afternoon, she said.
No substantial rain fell on the 750 to 1,000 acre wildfire since it started Friday, but the firefighting effort that included saving two homes and the visitor center has brought 45 percent containment, officials said. The Posts said the wildfire came within 1,000 yards of a home they own near the south end of the state park.
About 110 firefighters were on the ground Saturday. Simons said predicted moisture didn’t materialize, but lower temperatures and higher relative humidity helped slow the fire’s growth between Friday and Saturday.
I have the local CBSDenver news on now as I’m making dinner and the weather guy is predicting high winds tomorrow: “25, 35, even 50 miles per hour.”
I’ve lived in Colorado since 1977. Fires in March aren’t the norm by any means. Fire season used to begin in July / August.
Wow. This is going to me quite a mess to say the least:
Japan has alerted the United States and Canada on possible clogging of their shorelines with some 326,000 tons of tsunami debris expected to reach there by next month.
Releasing the results of its third and more precise computer simulation on the debris on Friday, Japan’s Environment Ministry said tons of debris swept away by the March 2011 tsunami were expected to reach North America by next month.
The computer-generated report said major part of the drifting debris, mostly lumber and wooden materials, would start reaching North American shores in April, four months later than initially forecast. Some 105,000 tons is to arrive by June and 221,000 tons by October, the NHK public broadcaster reported quoting Ministry officials.
The Japanese government has provided $6 million to the United States and Canada to help them dispose of the debris.
I think Zion National Park is one of the most beautiful places in the United States:
I’ll be dead thank goodness, happy to miss the worldwide panic and hysteria that will ensue if NASA’s prediction comes true:
In terms of a family car vacation, the ancient asteroid that flew by Earth Friday may have seemed far away — 17,200 miles.
In astronomical terms, however, Asteroid 2012 AD 14 was actually very close, much closer, for example, than the Moon’s 239,000 miles. And computer projections of that asteroid’s Earth-like orbit into the future currently forecast an upcoming earthly encounter of the explosive kind.
Based on current information, NASA scientists calculate the orbits of each known near-earth object out for the rest of this century.
Now, about that other bad news. According to the same computer calculations, in 2080 the orbit of 2012 AD 14, if unaltered in these next 67 years by some super-natural force like Bruce Willis, will slam into Earth at almost 18,000 miles an hour.
That explosive encounter, NASA says, will release about 2.5 megatons of energy into the atmosphere, causing “regional devastation.”
Hopefully, that will occur over a desolate area like Siberia. Or Detroit. [Ouch. Poor Detroit.]
I have a feeling the “liberal media” will conveniently leave this out of its “news” reports today, so FYI, 35,000 people are marching in Washington today urging President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline and to get a move on when it comes to climate change.
I’m with them in spirit:
This morning we saw some scary video showing a meteor exploding over Russia last night and now we’re learning something about it. (Warning to science deniers: Facts ahead).
Russian Meteor Largest in a Century
Explosion Rivalled Nuclear Blast, but Rock was Still Too Small for Advance-Warning Networks to Spot
Despite its massive size [it wasn't "massive" -- it was about the size of a bus], the object went undetected until it hit the atmosphere. “I’m not aware of anyone who saw this coming,” says Heiner Klinkrad, head of the European Space Agency’s space debris office at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.
“Objects like that are nearly impossible to see until a day or two before impact,” says Timothy Spahr, director of the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which tracks asteroids and small bodies. So far as he knows, he says, his centre also failed to spot the approaching rock.
Although there are reports of fragments of the meteor, or meteorites, striking the ground, Klinkrad says that he believes the vast majority of damage in the region was caused by shockwaves of the explosion, as the rock broke up in the upper atmosphere.
Klinkrad says it would have been hard to give warning of the blast. In addition to being relatively small in size, the rocky meteoroid was probably dark in colour, making it even harder to spot against the backdrop of space. “We just have to live with it,” he says.
Maybe we needed this — to be humbled just a bit and to be reminded that we humans (especially the 1%ers) aren’t all-powerful. Money can’t buy everything.
Imho, it’s cool we witnessed this. I mean, people come and go who don’t.
Asteroid 2012 DA14 is scheduled to pass by today at a distance of roughly 17,000 miles. According to PopSci.com, it will be closest to the Earth at 2:25 p.m. EST, roughly half an hour from now.
PopSci.com is providing two live video feeds of the fly-by, HERE.
Oh, wait. The PopSci videos aren’t working very well. Here’s a better spot to watch it.
I had never heard of the “barreleye fish” until five minutes ago. They’re bizarre but listen to the description and it makes sense they are the way they are.
Gotta love Mother Nature.
Far as I can tell, the Discover folks haven’t written anything more about it because the link in the tweet (above) redirects to this, which isn’t new.
Anyway, we now know they found bacteria and that they’re very excited about it. Now we wait to see if it’s a bacteria scientists recognize. Or not.
Again, I’ll continue to update on this cool real-life mystery.
53-year-old Chris Hadfield is a Canadian astronaut. On December 21, 2012 he arrived at the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz for a “long duration stay.”
Since his arrival he has been posting absolutely gorgeous photos to his Twitter account, which you can find (and follow) here. If you’re unfamiliar with Twitter, click on the photos on the left to begin looking at them.
Here are a few of my favorites. Incredible:
Again, go here to follow Commander Hadfield, to see more pix, or both!
A few days ago I posted about: Scientists Reach Subglacial Lake in Antarctica That Could Contain One Million Year Old Water.
What microbes and sediments might be in that ancient water isn’t the only fascinating thing about this project. There’s also the dirt at the bottom of the lake. Who knows what that dirt holds? Soot from ancient fires? The remains of long-extinct bugs or sea creatures or plants?
Anyway scientists pulled some of that dirt up today:
Hello, Dirt!Sediment from subglacial Lake Whillans, including mud, clay and rocks, makes its first supraglacial appearance on the multicorer instrument retrieved from the borehole. Reed Scherer (right) speeds the tray of sediment to the lab as Alex Michaud (center) and Ross Powell stabilize the multicorer above the borehole. The multicorer was successfully deployed to the bottom of Lake Whillans three times on January 30, providing abundant samples for chemical, physical and biological analysis.
Three or four months ago I read about this project and now it’s finally done. I can’t wait to hear what scientists find in this virgin water that could be as old as one million years. Wow.
Scientists have peered for the first time into the interior of a lake hidden beneath the Antarctic ice sheet. Subglacial Lake Whillans, located less than 400 miles from the South Pole, had sat isolated under the ice for hundreds of thousands of years—perhaps up to a million years. But over the last week a team of ice drillers has used a jet of hot water to melt a narrow hole into the lake through 2,600 feet of ice.
The drilling of the hole represents only the beginning of the work. This narrow, 20-inch aperture into the subglacial world will gradually freeze shut over the next few days. Twenty researchers are now working round the clock to take advantage of this opportunity that they have waited years for.
A variety of instruments will be dropped into the lake—as many as time allows. Bottles lowered on cables will sample lake water. That water will be analyzed for dissolved minerals and living cells. Water currents will be measured. Sediment cores will be punched out of the lake floor; the layers of sand or mud could provide clues to the history of the lake—and perhaps, an idea of how long this spot has been covered by ice. The researchers will also scrutinize these sediments for microbes. If Lake Whillans contains life, then most of it will probably reside in the mud at the bottom of the lake: in this world devoid of sunlight and photosynthesizing plants, the ultimate source of energy will most likely be minerals, which bacteria chew on in the dark.
Don’t do it!
Mosquito control officials in the Florida Keys are waiting for the federal government to sign off on an experiment that would release hundreds of thousands of genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce the risk of dengue fever in the tourist town of Key West.
If approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it would be the first such experiment in the U.S. Some Key West residents worry, though, that not enough research has been done to determine the risks that releasing genetically modified mosquitoes might pose to the Keys’ fragile ecosystem.
The trial planned by mosquito control officials and the British company Oxitec would release non-biting male mosquitoes that have been genetically modified to pass along a birth defect that kill their progeny before reaching maturity.
Oh great. The males “pass along a birth defect…” What could possibly go wrong?