Posts filed under ‘The Environment, Weather, Etc.’
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.
Pity the children who will inherit what’s left of our Earth:
Ecuador plans to auction off more than three million hectares of pristine Amazonian rainforest to Chinese oil companies, angering indigenous groups and underlining the global environmental toll of China’s insatiable thirst for energy.
According to the California-based NGO Amazon Watch, seven indigenous groups who inhabit the land claim that they have not consented to oil projects, which would devastate the area’s environment and threaten their traditional way of life.
This infuriates me:
Food, shelter, and clothing are often considered the three basic needs by humans and the actions by President Obama on Tuesday have now left millions of Americans across the land in shock as the very first tenet has been horrifically jeopardized by his signing the Monsanto Protection Act into law (H.R. 933) as mentioned on the Facebook page for Food Democracy Now.
For those that are new to this situation, the Monsanto Protection Act is the name given to what’s known as a legislative rider that was inserted into the Senate Continuing Resolution spending bill.
Using the deceptive title of Farmer Assurance Provision, Section 735 of this bill actually grants Monsanto immunity from federal courts pending the review of any GM crop that is thought to be dangerous.
Under the section, courts would be helpless to stop Monsanto from continuing to plant GMO crops that are thought — even by the US government — to be a danger to human health or our cherised environment.
Oh my God! What. Is. Obama. Thinking?
The gun industry has immunity from the courts too. Look how well that’s workin’ out for us.
Unbelievable. Obama’s brain has been taken over by the corporatocracy.
Way to go humans:
This lagoon [in Rio de Janeiro], called Rodrigo de Freitas, is where the Olympic rowing competitions will be held in 2016. The fish died after oxygen levels in the water dropped because of pollution, local media said.
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.
New group Wants to Raise Water Levels in Lakes Michigan, Huron
A newly formed coalition is demanding action to raise water levels in Lakes Michigan and Huron.
Restore Our Water International is an alliance of U.S. and Canadian groups worried about declining levels in the two lakes over the past 14 years. Its members represent shoreline property owners and commercial interests.
The chairman is Roger Gauthier, a retired U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hydrologist.
He says dredging and mining in the St. Clair River corridor years ago reduced Lakes Michigan and Huron by at least 20 inches. He says that has combined with a warmer and drier climate to keep the levels abnormally low.
Existing law allows the government to place structures in the river to slow the flow of water out of Lake Huron. But it’s never been done.
I just had a creepy thought. As the effects of climate change become more and more pronounced, “shoreline property owners and
commercial interests corporations” will ask We the People to pay for hugely expensive stuff like this — so they can maintain their lake-front views — while they blackmail us into doing so by saying we’ll “lose jobs” if we don’t.
Say it ain’t so already.
Here’s a picture of a small table-top grill on my back deck — under that mound to the left — and Miss Tillie and snow, snow, snow. There are 13″ out there.
Twenty more days like this and maybe we can beat the drought!
It’s amazing what other countries are doing while we’re sitting around twiddling our thumbs:
Electric vehicle chargers aren’t close to reaching ubiquity in the United States — a shortcoming highlighted by the recent Tesla / New York Times debacle — but other countries are already making great strides. Take Estonia for example, which just opened up a nationwide EV fast-charger network totaling 165 stations, each of which is positioned no further than 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the last. Juicing up your EV isn’t free, but drivers have different options when it comes to making payments. A single charge can vary between 2.5 [$3.29] and 5 euros [$6.59], but a monthly 30 euro fee [$39.54] will net unlimited charges throughout the country.
(H/t Jenny S.)
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:
Here’s the ad ExxonMobil doesn’t want you to see:
Remember NASA’s “Mohawk Guy?”
It’s been quite a six months for Bobak Ferdowsi, the NASA flight director on the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity mission, whose aggressively mohawked hair — and otherwise charming appearance — first attracted attention last summer. Now, he is going to be a guest of First Lady Michelle Obama in her box at President Obama’s State of the Union address.
“I found out less than a week ago, honestly, that I’d been invited to the State of the Union,” he said. “I freaked out for a few minutes, just needed a moment to gather myself. It’s really cool, I’m really excited, yet again, to represent NASA and JPL and all of the work that everybody here does. It’s really amazing to me. Sometimes I feel unworthy in some ways to do all this. I think there’s so many talented and fun and amazing people on the project that I worked on, but all across our place. I just feel very lucky to get to do stuff like this.”
As for what he is most excited about, he told BuzzFeed, “I’m really excited to get to represent NASA. I’m excited that people have been excited and watching and paying attention. I am excited to — like anyone would be — to meet the First Family. A little giddy with excitement there, I don’t think I have to hide that. It’s really cool.”
The hair colors Tuesday night will not be missed. Bright red and blue streaks run along the top of his freshly coiffed mowhawk [sic].
Republicans are going to hate this because — SCIENCE — but what better way to say it’s cool to be smart?
And I can’t wait to hear what Fox does with it: OMG, there’s one of the Obama’s hippy Muslim friends!
Geezus, you’ve got to hand it to Bill Nye for not saying something like, “No, dummy!”
This is like asking if the weather or global warming causes earthquakes, which I’ve heard before too.
Obama doesn’t get it.
I have a feeling Sasha and Malia will be yelling at their dad in five or ten years (as will all the little kids I know):
Senior Dem: Obama Vows to Tackle Climate – Eventually
President Obama’s message to House Democrats on Thursday: Yes, acting on climate change is important. But it’s going to have to wait in line.
Obama barely touched on energy policy during his roughly 20-minute address to the Democratic caucus on Thursday, spending more time on fiscal issues, guns and immigration.
This article appeared in my local newspaper this morning:
Rising Hay Prices Putting Pinch on Boulder County Ranchers, Nonprofits
Three years ago, Boulder County rancher Bill Berg was yielding about 1,000 bales of hay from his fields.
It was plenty for him to feed his small, but growing, herd of cattle and plenty for him to sell for $4 to $4.50 a bale.
Last year, Berg was lucky to pull 450 bales from his land — 9 acres of which had turned into a “dust bowl.”
Not having enough to feed his 12 head of cattle for his Ridge Ranch Cattle Co. grass-fed beef business, Berg shelled out anywhere from $10.50 to $14 a bale to buy more.
That was if he could find the hay.
The nationwide drought coupled with the fires in Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma over the past few years is hampering the nation’s hay industry, putting increased pressure financially on area ranchers, businesses and nonprofit groups that rely on finding high-quality feed for their horses and steers.
The wildfires that raged throughout Colorado last summer put added pressure on the state’s overall forage supply, said Tess Norvell, market reporter for the state AMS bureau.
“Not only did the fires burn available grazing lands, but have also created added demand for straw to go back on the burn areas for reclamation,” she wrote in an e-mail to the Daily Camera.
“The hay is worth more than my cows right now,” Berg said.
If the dry spate continues, there is a chance that prices could climb higher, she said.
The current weather conditions are expected to continue, said Matt Kelsch, meteorologist for the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder.
“Patterns can change, but right now there’s not expected to be any major changes throughout this spring,” he said.
Judy Smetana, executive director of the Longmont-based
Colorado Horse Rescue, said one of her biggest concerns is if the latest drought continues, mimicking what the United States experienced in the 1930s and 1950s.
In addition to the continued rising cost of feed — which can put further crimps in an already tight operating budget — Smetana said her biggest concern is that horses will face neglect or be sold to slaughterhouses.
“We went through last year and we made it, and we might be able to make it barely this year,” she said. “If it continues, I just really worry.
“We have neither the capacity nor funds to help everybody that might need help going into the future, which is scary.”
“If we do not get spring moisture, we’re in a great deal of trouble,”
said Brian Ferris, a Fort Morgan cattle rancher.
The thought of ranchers going out of business is, of course, heartbreaking but what really bothers me is imagining helpless and dependent horses suffering. If owners can’t afford feed and they don’t have alternate placement options because rescue groups are (1) full and/or (2) struggling to pay for hay themselves, neglecting horses or selling them for pennies to slaughterhouses could skyrocket.
This would be the view as photographed and posted by Jim Sciutto of ABC News about three minutes ago of Beijing on what would be — their time — Tuesday morning:
Love that they don’t have a bunch of pesky government regulations regarding pollution there, huh? Ain’t it great? Just think. If Republicans have their way, we could have “views” like this too. Screw the EPA.
See more of Sciutto’s shots here. No clouds. No sun. Everything’s gray.
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.
I have to think Rupert Murdoch is smarter about climate change than his most recent tweet suggests; that his aim at playing dumb is to protect his corporate buddies who stand to lose big if we seriously tackle that issue.
I mean, does one of the most powerful information and news purveyors on the planet really think
global warming climate change simply means it doesn’t get cold anymore?
I wish the term “global warming” had never come into common use because it lets the likes of the Rupert Murdochs of the world imply that very thing — that it’s only about warming.
Check-out this ad that’s up on Craigslist right now:
Earn Quick and Easy $20 for an hour or less of work (Midtown East)
Our firm needs 100 volunteers to attend and participate in a rally in front of the British Consulate/Embassy in Midtown Manhattan on the East Side on Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 12 noon. The event is being held in order to protest wind turbines that are being built in Scotland and England. Your participation will be to ONLY stand next to or behind the speakers and elected officials/celebrities that will be speaking at the rally.
We look forward to hearing from you all and again, the money is quick, the job is easy and we pay in CASH at the end of the event.
See it on Craigslist here.
Cute huh? An anti-wind turbine group hires a firm to find some people willing to hang out on January 30 to make it look like they have a lot of supporters when they hold a press conference in front of the British Consulate.
Memo to the media: From now on, interview folks in the crowd at events like this. Ask if they’re paid “supporters.”
So sleezy. I’m going to follow up and see if I can find out who the group is.
(H/t Amy B.)
Boulder, Colorado, where I live, is about 30 miles northwest of Denver. Think we’re snowed in all winter? Think again. Here’s the forecast for tomorrow:
Oh the web they weave.
Dow’s Controversial New GMO Corn Delayed, Protests Continue
Jan 18 (Reuters) – A controversial new biotech corn developed by Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow Chemical,, will be delayed at least another year as the company awaits regulatory approval amid opposition from farmers, consumers and public health officials.
Dow AgroSciences officials said Friday that they now expect the first sales of Enlist for planting in 2014. Previously officials had set the 2013 planting season as a target, but U.S. farmers are already buying seed for planting this spring, and Dow has yet to secure U.S. approval for Enlist.
Dow wants to roll out Enlist corn, and then soybeans and cotton to be used in combination with its new Enlist herbicide that combines the weed-killers 2,4-D and glyphosate. The Enlist crops are genetically altered to tolerate treatments of the Enlist herbicide mixture.
Wow. Love the thought of eating a corn that is immune to, and has been doused with, weed-killers, 2,4-D, and glyphosate.
Slightly off topic: While looking around the internets just now I came across this about 2,4-D from last April:
The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday said that the widely used herbicide 2,4-D would remain on the market, denying a petition from an environmental group (the Natural Resources Defense Council) that sought to revoke the chemical’s approval.
The agency in particular cited a study, financed by the 2,4-D manufacturers and conducted by Dow, in which the chemical was put into the feed of rats. The study did not show reproductive problems in the rats or problems in their offspring that might be expected if 2,4-D were disrupting hormone activity, the E.P.A. said.
So the EPA kept 2,4-D on the market based on a study about its safety conducted by a 2,4-D manufacturer? What a farce.
I’ll take cold weather over hot weather any day so this sounds like hell to me:
The mercury soared to 48.4°C (119°F) in Vioolsdrif, South Africa on Wednesday January 16, marking the third hottest temperature ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere portion of Africa, according to weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera. The two hottest temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere portion of Africa were also measured at Vioolsdrif: a 48.8°C (119.8 °F) reading on Jan 3, 1993, and a 48.7°C reading in January, 1995. Clouds moved in yesterday just as the temperature was peaking in Vioolsdrif, or else a new record would have been set.
It is so cold outside! I’m looking forward to ah, Wednesday. Might wear shorts on Friday.
Wow. Just Wow. Imagine this coming at you:
As devastating wild fires and too-hot-for-the-map temperatures envelop much of the continent, a terrifying dust storm hit the coast of Western Australia Wednesday evening. The massive storm was unrelated to a cyclone expected to hit the north coast this weekend, both of which may or may not be related to the massive heatwave. ”The Bureau of Meteorology said the incredible sight of a ‘red wave’ at sea was created as wind and rain caused the storm to dump the sand and dust it had taken from the land,” reports The New Castle Herald.
On a slightly different note, it’s so hot in Australia, unleaded gas can’t be pumped because it’s vaporizing:
It was so hot in the South Australian outback town of Oodnadatta yesterday that the local servo stopped selling petrol.
The Outback town has been sweltering through one of its great heatwaves with the temperature soaring above 40 degrees every day this year, reaching a peak of 48.2 degrees yesterday. …
[Pink Roadhouse owner Lynnie] Plate said the Roadhouse couldn’t serve unleaded fuel after midday because it was vapourising and wouldn’t pump in the extreme heat.
Geez. I didn’t know THAT could happen.
Yesterday we heard about a “catastrophic heat wave” in Australia and now we’re hearing about the “worst drought in decades” in parts of Brazil:
SAO PAULO, Jan 4 (Reuters) – Brazil’s Northeast is suffering its worst drought in decades, threatening hydro-power supplies in an area prone to blackouts and potentially slowing economic growth in one of the country’s emerging agricultural frontiers.
Lack of rain has hurt corn and cotton crops, left cattle and goats to starve to death in dry pastures and wiped some 30 percent off sugar cane production in the region responsible for 10 percent of Brazil’s cane output.
Thousands of subsistence farmers have seen their livelihoods wither away in recent months as animal carcasses lie abandoned in some areas that have seen almost no rain in two years.
It’s been a hell of a “summer” down south so far.
Scientists at the US Forest Service and partners at universities, non-profits and other agencies predict that urban and developed land areas in the US will increase 41 percent by 2060. Forested areas will be most impacted by this expansion, with losses ranging from 16 to 34 million acres in the lower 48 states. The agency highlighted the results of a new study in a press release issued last month.
The researchers also concluded that, over the long-term, climate change could have significant effects on water availability, making the US potentially more vulnerable to water shortages, especially in the Southwest and Great Plains. Population growth in more arid regions will require more drinking water. Recent trends in agricultural irrigation and landscaping techniques also will boost water demands.
Given overpopulation, climate change and water and food shortages that are staring us in the face, I feel for today’s kids. The world they’ll live in when they’re in their 30s, 40s and 50s is going to be hellish.
By now it should be routine to put the word “news” in quotes when we talk about these shows. This is ridiculous:
A Media Matters analysis finds that news coverage of climate change on ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX remained low in 2012 despite record temperatures and a series of extreme weather events in the U.S. When the Sunday shows did discuss climate change, scientists were shut out of the debate while Republican politicians were given a platform to question the science.
Sunday Show Coverage Continued To Decline. Since 2009, climate coverage on the Sunday shows has declined every year. In 2012, the Sunday shows spent less than 8 minutes on climate change, down from 9 minutes in 2011, 21 minutes in 2010, and over an hour in 2009. The vast majority of coverage — 89 percent — was driven by politics, and none was driven by scientific findings.
ABC’s This Week covered it the most, at just over 5 minutes.
NBC’s Meet the Press covered it the least, in just one 6 second mention.
Of course we don’t hear about this in the U.S. because it’s well, outside the U.S.:
Australia is bracing for days of “catastrophic” fire and heatwave conditions.
Fires are already burning in five states as a search continued for people missing after devastating wildfires in the island state of Tasmania.
Bushfires were ablaze in five of Australia’s six states, with 90 fires in the most populous state New South Wales, and in mountain forests around the national capital Canberra.
Severe fire conditions were forecast for tomorrow (local time), replicating those of 2009, when “Black Saturday” wildfires in Victoria state killed 173 people and caused $4.4 billion worth of damage.
A record heatwave, which began in Western Australia on 27 December and lasted eight days, was the fiercest in more than 80 years in that state and has spread east across the nation, making it the widest-ranging heatwave in more than a decade, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
The highest “catastrophic” bushfire temperature conditions are expected tomorrow, said fire officials, under which people are advised to flee if fire threatens, as the blaze is likely to be too fierce for fire crews to easily extinguish.
In the Australian capital Canberra, hit by a firestorm in 2003 that destroyed hundreds of homes, authorities said they were expecting the worst conditions in the decade since, with a fifth day of searing temperatures and strong winds.
Imagine being told “to flee if fire threatens” because strong winds make any potential fire “too fierce for fire crews to easily extinguish.”
I can relate. This was the view from my living room last June:
The wind wasn’t blowing when I took this photo but it did before the fire was put out. We were all thinking embers. What if flying embers started a fire closer in.
My thoughts are with the folks in Australia tonight because it’s tomorrow there now. Wind, fire and drought are an awful, terrifying mix.
Good luck Australia. And h/t to the U.S. media for their total failure at ah, delivering news. Not to mention mentioning that thing called CLIMATE CHANGE.