Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Citing 'environmental terrorism,' Oregon legisltors go after tree-sitters

Just how in the hell does sitting in a tree's crown to protect it from a chainsaw equate to "terrorism?" This is either a case of a headline writer who's been watching too much Tee Vee or a simple, blatant "scaredy cat" journalism. Either way is not the point. That would be the forest.And just how sad it is that we as a society are now forgetting the forest for the trees. Here's he idiotic headline.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

When one man's pest is another's 'game' animal

Same old, same old. As politicians and nut cases debate an invasive species debacle under way (the invasion of the wild boar), more and more native habitat for native species is destroyed in the name of sprawl, "industrial" development, road building and other scourges of the "growth" machine. Here's a feature on the boar, now almost ranging coast to coast.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

EPA: Proposed Alaska mine would be big trouble for salmon

You'd think this was rocket science or something akin. When one digs a hole, there is an impact. The bigger the hole, the bigger the impact. The proposed Pebble mine at Bristol Bay, Alaska, is a cold sore waiting to happen: A few might get rich, but many would be hurt, and the salmon would be harmed. Isn't it enough to see what happened to salmon in the Columbia River's watershed after dams were built? Read coverage here.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Slow second-term start for Obama on consevation isues

I held big hopes for Mr. Obama's second term: He would stop worrying about campaigning and finally take strong and decisive steps to reign-in climate change; would buy out private in-holdings inside national wildlife refuges and national parks, resoire :conservation as a central focus of his domestic agenda, and start speaking strongly and decisively against big polluters and their cash.
But it was not to be, as this article explains in painful depth.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The computer world shows its grip on people

This time it's a satirical essay from Andy  Borowitz. I'm thankful, after reading it, that I do not spend my time at Twitter.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Colorado River tops endangered rivers list

The bathtub ring now far up the shoreline rocks of Fake Lake Mead in Nevada is among the best billboards for what people-in-power continue doing to the Colorado River. This piece talks it out.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ariz. Game & Fish says take Lobo off endangered list

The Lobo, or Mexican Gray Wolf, was hunted to near extinction generations ago, and now that the reintroduction program is showing some slight uptick in population numbers, the geeks at Arizona Game & Fish say it no longer deserves Endangered Species Act protection. Wrong. This is "news" coverage of the agency's desire.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Maine governor spins wind turbine conspiracy theory

Meester LePage has a lot of hot air to expend. But what he and nearly all mainstream media reporters are ignoring or just skipping over is this: Putting a wind farm on top of a mountain or ridge almost always means destroying and fragmenting forest. There is little wonder why forest-interior songbirds like the Wood Thrush are in population trouble. Yes, wind, like solar, is a green energy source with a low carbon footprint. But, no, a farm of wind turbines is hardly benign when it comes to impacts on wildlife.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Keystone XL debacle and Nebraska and Nebraskans

This op-ed authored by a Nebraskan talks about the building of community to battle an on-rushing monster, a crude oil pipeline. All Americans would do well to join the clan of Nebraskans fighting to keep the Cornhuysker State free of the  TransCanada pipeline edebacle/boondoggle.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

All news, all the time, but only if it's really 'news'

This satircal essay from Andy Borowitz is delicious and well worth the 30 seconds it takes to peruse it. CNN?

Climate change likely to hike pollen counts

And for seasonal allergy sufferers, like me, that means trouble . Climate change denier-in-chief Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., likely has no seasonal allergy issues, thus his longstanding inclination not to give a damn about our planet's changing climate. Read about the pollen count and carbon dioxide.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Alaska grants tax break for Big Oil to spur drilling of dwindling field

Great, great. This is just what the gazillion-dollars-rich Big Oil companies so desperately need, another big tax break. Great. The best thing for Americans and the planet, on the other hand, would be to stop drilling in Alaska, forcing the drivers of gas-guzzlers to start walking, bicycling, car pooling and bus riding. What a shock that would be.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Saturday, April 13, 2013

EPA gives in to industry pressure on coal-plant emissions

Delay, delay, delay, delay . . . That appears to be the SOP for the "protection" agency when it comes to dealing with the climate-altering emissions from coal-fired power plants. Earth to the EPA: The time for delay is long past. Move. This article has the background, including the usual fluff from the "industry."

Friday, April 12, 2013

Blocked migration: Fish ladders on dams don't work

The findings related in this article are hardly surprising. I recall seeing the Hells Canyon Dam on the Snake River from the Idaho side and gawking at the fish ladder below. The only true solution to fix the salmon migration is to breach at least the four dams on the lower reach of the Snake. Take them out. Now.

Big Oil's ties to Texas legislators shows the power of big money

That's carbon money, as in hydrocarbon money. And it flows freely in Texas - from the hands of a lobbyist to a pol's campaign treasury and then some. I found this sign in New Mexico several years ago, but it's typical of the disgust with which many Americans have for elected "representatives."

Thursday, April 11, 2013

New genus of bat discovered

The search for new species and their clans goes on as this article illustrates. And that search coincides with a great extinction.

In Del., group to study rise in pedestrian fatalities

Earth to Delaware: What's to study? The reason is this: More and more and more Americans cannot go anywhere unless they are driving their personal motor vehicle. This is especially true for those Americans who live in places like the sprawl developments between Dover and Smyrna in Delaware. I know, I tried walking along one of those asphalt ribbons one year as an alternative to driving out to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge.
Even here in the "green" state of Vermont, the car rules the countryside; oops, I mean the paved-over landscape.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Rebuilding on the shores; increasing the risk

It boggles the mind that people continue to spend their life's fortunes on building the American Dream McMansion/trophy home/starter palace on places like North Carolina's Outer Banks. It also staggers the imagination that people are allowed to live in homes built on the floodplains of interior streams and rivers. I saw it for myself in northeastern Pennsylvania. Read about the coastal beachfront boondoggle.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Calamity for our most beneficent insect: The honeybee

I once did a lot of Christmas Bird Count birding with a beekeeper near Bloomsburg, Pa. Four years ago I wrote a feature story on colony collapse disorder with her help. I wonder how she and her husband's business is now? Read the latest on this calamity.

Carl Hiaasen: NRA's mission: Frighten, sell more guns

I had to search through my duffel bag for a moment, before getting back to the computer and reading this Sunday column from Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen. As always from Carl, it says what's been needed to be said with satire.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Wakopa Trail

The two Dakotas are among the few states I have not set foot in. Perhaps I will remedy that. Here's an overview of the Wakopa Trail in North Dakota.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Obama tells donors of tough pollitics on environment

I continue shaking my head in wonderment over the jobs vs. clean air, clean water, healthy land, healthy fish and wildlife populations because that is the undercurrent the mainstream media outlets continue to blather on about. This article explores what the president said/did during his just-finished fund-raising expedition to California.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Survey finds most Republicans favor action on climate change

Those Republicans, of course, would not include Sen. James Inhofe, whose climate change denier-in-chief status was not  convincing enough to spur sales of anti-science screed about there being no such thing as global warming. Looking back on my three years of watching Oklahoma weather in the mid 80s, I would say he is guilty of not doing so. Read about the survey here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A walk with Wild Nature

This photo ws taken at Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge southeastern Virginia. The refuge, which encompasses easily more than 100,000 acres, is still, however, only a tenth of the original ecosystem. I am anxious to return to the Swamp, a place I regularly visited during Air Force Reserve duty at Langley Air Force Base, Hampton, Va. The photo is from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

NRA defends purchase of former congressman

Lobbying outfits actually owning members of Congress doesn't seem that far-fetched these days. Just take a look at dirtyenergymoney.com and type in the name of your favorite representative and/or senator. And read about ex-Rep. Asa Hutchinson.

Biologists to euthanize Bighorn Sheep to halt spread of disease

The action described in this article would have been impossible to arrive at a half-century ago because wildlife biologists did not yet have the technology, etc., to figure it all out. It all makes be think again of the Bighorns I watched high on a cliff face above Harbor Lake in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, central Idaho, in 2004.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Wind turbine farms and our natural heritage

Seemingly lost in the debate about wind energy and where to locate (and not locate) generating turbine farms is this: Anytime the natural countryside is disturbed (especially forest), whether it be for a wind farm, or a mountaintop removal coal mine, a collection of sprawl McMansions, or even a new road, there is a negative impact to the country’s natural heritage – our natural heritage and the biological diversity that keeps our planet humming.
Yes, there is an impact on the “viewscape,” as when a ridgetop forest is cleared to make way for a wing turbine farm and its ancillary infrastructure (such as the maintenance access roads). But the flora and fauna native to that same place are pushed aside and likely turned to vapor.
There is little wonder why the populations of forest-interior, migratory songbirds like the wood thrush are undergoing declines, declines that are picking up momentum as more of its nesting habitat is fragmented and ultimately destroyed. I saw this happen in Pennsylvania when wind farms magically rose like trees-turned-to-utility poles where complete forests once stood.
A good place for Americans to start when it comes to energy is, first and foremost, conservation; conservation as “in turn the lights off” when they’re not needed.
I routinely see, in my corner of Williston, Vt., residential porch lights burning away in the light of day. There are many other case studies of how wasteful we are when it comes to electricity. And gasoline, too. I stopped counting more than a decade before moving to Vermont the times many of my neighbors got in their motor vehicles and drove the half-mile or so the local post office.
Yes, the electricity generated by wind turbines is “clean” and amounts to “alternative energy” not cooked (literally) by the burning of coal. In the Marcellus shale region of the mid-Atlantic, the same losing of wildlife habitat also occurs when natural gas well sites are prepared and operated. All that steel and rubber and plastic and what-not that goes into building a well doesn’t just show up, as if dropped by a helicopter. It’s trucked there – and that means building another road and that means fragmenting and losing more flora and fauna.
Except for certain politicians whose campaign accounts are swelled by gimmees from Big Oil and Big Coal and who have chosen to join the ranks of climate-change deniers, most regular folks understand what greenhouse gases are and what they’re doing to our planet’s atmosphere.
More than 600 Vermonters went to Montpelier High School in the state’s capital city a few weeks ago to learn about the threat. The global warming conference was hosted by Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernard Sanders, an independent.
Sanders, in a post-event e-mail to constituents, said: “What I fear is that 70 years from now when our planet is in disarray, people will look back and say, ‘What happened? Why didn’t you people do something? Why did you allow these catastrophes to take place when you could have prevented that?’ That is the challenge that we face today.”
You can read what some Vermonters said after the conference at www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=a1d117aa-4d67-4712-bcd1-2376129c1f60
The National Park Service (the federal agency that looks after places like Grand Canyon National Park, Everglades National Park and the historic Gettysburg battlefield, among hundreds of other key historic and natural places) offers this sobering note: “The climate change story is more than dire predictions of the future. There are compelling reasons for federal agencies, as well as individuals, to act quickly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The future is not written yet. The actions we take today will determine the future Earth we leave our children and grandchildren. Will they be proud that we embraced the challenges of climate change? Or will they be dismayed at our excuses to avoid controversy and challenge? We find hope in the fact that we still have time to create a better, more livable planet.”
You Can learn more about the Park Service’s “climate change response plan” at www.nps.gov/climatechange/myths.cfm
In closing, don’t forget to turn the lights off when you leave a room. Remember what “conservation” is all about.

A New Biological Management Option against Cheatgrass Raises Hope of Western Land Managers

A strain of naturally occurring soil bacteria tested on national wildlife refuges and other western lands may soon offer rangeland managers a safe new way to manage cheatgrass, an aggressive plant pest. Read more.

Lake Erie: Big algae problems, more to come

Lake Erie's huge algae bloom in 2011 covered nearly a fifth of the lake. A new report says warming climate and modern farming are creating ideal conditions for big algae blooms to clog Lake Erie.  Read more about it here.

Monday, April 1, 2013

OK, EPA, the waterways are filthy, so what are you going to do?

Here's what Public Employees for Environmental Responsbility, or PEER, says about the EPA's just-released report card on America's streams:
Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the results of the first comprehensive survey of the health of thousands of stream and river miles across the country, finding that more than half – 55% – are in poor condition for aquatic life.
But, a close reading reveals that this was not new data.  It was drawn from the 2008-2009 National Rivers and Stream Assessment – some of this data is five years old.  Moreover, most all of it has been available for months.  Back in November, following the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, PEER released this same data. 

While the EPA news release did not sugar coat matters, it omitted mention of these even more distressing results:
  • More than three-quarters (81%) of U.S. coastal waters are impaired, as are two-thirds (66%) of our bays and estuaries and more than half (51%) of near coastal ocean waters;
  • More than two-thirds (69%) of our lakes, reservoirs and ponds are impaired as are virtually all of the Great Lakes shorelines (98%) and waters (100%); and
  • More than four-fifths (84%) of the nation’s wetlands are also impaired.
Viewed in this context, the EPA headline that more than half of our rivers and streams are in “poor condition” was the good news.  Also unmentioned in this spasm of official semi-candor is even these dismal numbers are likely dramatic underestimates because:
  • The EPA figures are based on “assessed” waters but only 27% of rivers and streams, for example, have been assessed as have only 1% of wetlands;
Even worse, EPA figures show clean water progress has slowed during the Obama term. In 2008, there were 339 impaired waters which were restored to their intended uses but only 109 water-bodies were restored in 2012. Similarly, in 2008 agencies addressed 420 causes of water-body impairment but by 2012 that number had fallen to 255.
So what does EPA propose to do about it?  Very little.  According to its release-
“EPA plans to use this new data to inform decision making about addressing critical needs around the country for rivers, streams, and other waterbodies. This comprehensive survey will also help develop improvements to monitoring these rivers and streams across jurisdictional boundaries…”
I have a better idea as to what EPA should do – START ENFORCING THE CLEAN WATER ACT.  The PEER files are full of cases where EPA is shirking its duty to go after major water polluters.
After 40 years of the Clean Water Act, our rivers may look better and may be less likely to catch on fire, like Ohio’s Cuyahoga River did back in 1969, but the true quality of our waters may be regressing – just ask the next inter-sex fish you encounter. 

Groups say they'lll sue over ESA duties shifting to states

I feel for both sides in this squabble as it really comes down to budgets and legal responsibilities.