Friday, September 27, 2013

IPCC report out: 'Extremely likely' that humans behind climate change

This is The Associated Press's report, but what makes it noteworthy to me, at least, is the fact that I found it on the Daily Oklahoman's Web site. That's the daily serving the Oklahoma City metro area - in the heart of the state served by climate change denier-n-chief U.S. Sen. James Inhofe. Hah.

Warming climate worsening mercury pollution

Mercury pollution will, among many things, lead to the extinction of the Common Loon, THE bird of the North Country. Americans continue to thumb their noses at doing anything to stop the poisoning of our atmosphere. See

Thursday, September 26, 2013

President of Marshall Islands republic calls for climate action

No other nation on Earth faces greater danger and adaptation challenges than does the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific. Sea-level rise caused by the melting of polar ice and glaciers is causing world sea-levels to rise. It's not just a problem for America's East Coast metroplexes (Miami, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Tampa, Houston, etc.), but far, far more of our planet. Solid op-ed here.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

IPCC to release its fourth climate assessment

And now, more than ever, the man-made situation is tipping to disaster for people of Earth's future. Read all about it right here.

Is naural gas 'cleaner' than coal (i.e., dirt)?

A wittle bit, I suppose. But it is still a fossil fuel and burning it still releases a greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, into our atmosphere (the only one we have, buckaroos). No matter matter how many holes we cram into Earth to get natural gas, we're still in trouble and future generations are in even more dire straits. But yet another debacle associated with gas and oil drilling remains under the news media's fuzzy umbrella: Drilling means road-building, which means wiping out a ribbon of natural landscape, which means fragmenting wildlife habitat, which means losing more biodiversity. This op-ed looks at the natural gas vs. coal/methane question.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Bark beetle going after N.M.'s pinon pines - again

The battle against tree-killing bark beetles is only to grow more intensive in the future as the globe's climate warns, making winter-killing frosts a thing of the past. Read about New Mexico's plight.

A good walk spoiled

This is the column I wrote for today's Hazleton, Pa., paper. I love to ramble across our land. You can see, hear and smell a helluva lot more than sitting behind the steering wheel of your car allows.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

North Carolina 12: Nature's toll road

I know just how tough it can be to make a decision affecting a local economy and communities' livelihoods. But if ever a road cried "close me down!" it would be North Carolina 12, the often weather-fractured asphalt ribbon that snakes down the Outer Banks. Yes, I live in Vermont, but in my many years of reserve duty at Langley Air Force Base, Hampton, Va., I traveled on NC 12 many a time. The latest media coverage includes this article.

Welcome to Oregon, land of the clearcut

That's the tag line on an advertisement conservationists had hoped to put on display at the Portland, Ore., airport, but which has been banned by the Portland Port Authority as somehow violating a policy prohibiting political ads. What a crock. This article describes what happened.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bug attacks, kills snake in Arizona mountains

Read about this natural history observation right here. I remember the Rincn mountains from the two trips Monica and I made to Tucson earlier this decade.

Making it easier to pollute: Rev up the speed limit, to 80 mph

This is both a dangerous steering of Utah state law AND a way to make it easier for motor vehicle drivers in a car-centric society to pollute, as in carbon dioxide, crbonmonoxide, particulate, etc. etc. What a sham.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mich. sues sprawl developer over alleged wetland destruction

The McMansion development in the Flint, Mich., area is called "Liberty Shore," according to this article about the pending lawsuit. The sprawl machine keeps on chewing up America's natural landscape, and this is just one result.

Monday, September 16, 2013


The Nature Conservancy gets credit for a conservation win as described in this piece. But I remain shaken by the organization's kow-towing to big-money interests as of late.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Colorado’s flooding becomes a 1,000-year event as rescuers search for 500 missing people

Boulder County, Colorado is bracing for up to four more inches of rain Sunday afternoon, a forecast that Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says would magnify the problems rescuers are already facing in trying to reach stranded residents. Read about this extreme weather event that's got climate change-relation written all over it.

Oceans and their fisheries in trouble and human actions to blame

The video presentation at this link (Seattle Times) is areal eye-opener. All Americans who enjoy eating seafood, whether at home or at an eatery, had better wake up right now and call for action to stem what's causing climate change.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Is sprawl development coming back?

Hell, it never left, as far as I can tell. And I have watched it chew up the natural landscape for decades. That's a byproduct of life as a long-distance fitness walker. You get to see American ugly and listen to its noise pollution (leaf blowers!) along the way. The photo with this posting is sprawl happening about two miles from m home in Williston, Vermont. The NY Times offers this reporting on the subject of sprawl.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Judge blocks shipment of oil equipment through Idaho national forest

The national forest is, of course, public land that's owned by all Americans. That makes the judge's decision explained in this article all the more forthright.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

EPA to revise climate rule for new power plants; will still require carbon capture

This month, the Environmental Protection Agency will propose standards that will establish stricter pollution limits for gas-fired power plants than coal-fired power plants, according to individuals who were briefed on the matter.Okay, that's good. But that's not going to rein in the carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants, much less the mercury air pollution. So, this is a good step, but it is far from what is really needed for our natural heritage and for the future of our country and our planet.

Stdy says (at least) 7 eagles killed at wind farms in five years

That's likely a low estimate, though. With all the things that humans now place in the path of migratory birds, it's amazing that . . . And shouldn't a coal-fired power plant or two (or more) have been shut down by now with all this wind development? Or is wind energy just giving developers and their fellow land rapists an excuse to categorize their "developments" as "green?" Read about the eagle-death study right here.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Boise city council to decide on election day bond for open space

Without cruising around the country, it is hard for me to think of another city that's hurting itself more often and badly by sprawl development than my pre-Air Force career hometown of Boise, Idaho. The Boise City Council will decide soon whether voters should be given the chance to approve a $10 million bond to be spent for the preservation of fast-diminishing open, green space. This photo shows just one case study to consider.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A watershed more than what a public agency says it is

This newspaper column of mine was published in late August

I’ve lived and worked in many watersheds in my 60-plus years.

There’s the Rio Grande in New Mexico; the Platte River in Nebraska; Lake Champlain (once at Plattsburgh Air Force Base on its west side, in New York State, and now on the east side, in Vermont); Lake Thunderbird and the Canadian River in Oklahoma; the Snake River in Idaho; and the Lower Ocmulgee in central Georgia.

They all have lots in common, much of it on the negative side of the graph, unfortunately: The loss of natural land to sprawl and the gougers, diggers, bulldozers, chainsawers, polluters, dam builders, graders and asphalters of urban America.

My home in Vermont is – like yours in Pennsylvania – actually in several watersheds. First is the Winooski River (I live a half-mile from it). Second, and much larger, is the Lake Champlain watershed, which is international- and multistate in scope.

“We all live in a watershed,” reads the election campaign-style lapel button I got from the Puget Sound Partnership in Washington State some years ago.

That conservation outfit is correct. We do.

The EPA gives us this definition: “A watershed is the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place. John Wesley Powell, scientist geographer, put it best when he said that a watershed is: ‘that area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community’."

Many residents of metro Hazleton (oftentimes called “Greater Hazleton”) live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, but neighbors in Carbon County reside in the Lehigh River watershed, part of the Delaware River’s watershed.

Roads, homes and other human activities have altered the composition of forests across the Chesapeake Bay watershed (and all the others, too), reducing tree cover and fragmenting those forests that still exist.

Fragmented forests are less resilient to disturbances and more prone to negative influences like wildfires and invasive species. The ongoing loss of trees and entire forests, with financial profit the true motive, toughens the cleanup and restoration.

But just because some thousands of acres are (thankfully) owned by a public agency, the Hazleton City Authority, as watershed land, does not mean Pennsylvanians need not worry about the ecological health of that land or, even more so, the diminishing naturalness of other land, private or public, elsewhere in the same watershed.

The logging of hardwood trees relates poorly to the goal of healthy watershed land and the replenishment of groundwater.
The Chesapeake Bay Program: “Forests are critical to the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Large stands of trees can protect clean water and air, provide habitat to wildlife and support the region’s economy.
“But human activities have altered the watershed’s forests, reducing tree cover and fragmenting forests that still exist. Conserving and expanding forest cover is a critical, cost-effective way to reduce pollution and restore the Bay.”
Streams across the United States are suffering a decline in health, as human development alters stream flow and pushes pollutants into the water. It’s a sad commentary on our times when one can stand on the shore of a major Chesapeake tributary (the York River at Yorktown) and watch was rainwater polluted with the blue sheen of automobile engine oil dribbles into the current and out into the Bay. I’ve done so myself, a bunch of times.
The Bay Program ( “There are two broad categories of chemical contaminants that can be found in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries: metals and organics.
  • Mercury is the most common metal found in the Bay watershed.
    • Common organic chemical contaminants include:
-        - Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which act as a flame retardant in electrical equipment. Though their production has been banned since 1977, PCBs still pose a risk to humans and wildlife because they persist in the environment.
-        Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which form when gas, coal and oil are burned. PAHs are common in areas with high rates of development and motor vehicle traffic.
    • Organophosphate pesticides (OPs), which are mostly herbicides and insecticides used in agriculture. OPs can affect functioning of the nervous system.
Storm runoff from cities, towns and suburbs picks up oil, pesticides and other chemicals as it flows across lawns, roads and parking lots and into nearby streams and storm drains. This type of pollution is significant and difficult to control.
Protecting the sources of our clean drinking water does not fit well with the selling of saw timber or the building of a road to get the truck in. Every municipal water agency in Pennsylvania could preclude all sorts of problems, some of which I’ve discussed, by buying and protecting natural lands.
I call it Wild Nature and it’s where good water and a lot more come from.

Monday, September 9, 2013

In South Florida, a polluted bubble ready to burst

As this in-depth article wryly notes, the problems with Lake Okeechobee are many and varied. But Florida's leadership just doesn't seem to get it. But a certain estuary will if things are allowed to proceed as feared.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Case study: Climate change making life difficult for Snowshoe Hare

It's just one example, sure, of what is happening as the climate changes due to human actions. But it is a telling one. I was lucky - darn lucky - to see a showshoe hare here in Vermont last winter. And I used to see them when living in the Adirondacks in the late 80s. Things are different now, of course. It's no longer just a concern for the loss of habitat, but now a changing climate as well. Read about it here.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Some on Jersey shore just don't get the fact: The sea level is rising

As this article explains, some homeowners on the New Jersey shore refuse to grant easements because they fear losing their view of the ocean to newly built dunes. Well, geez, view or no view, the Army Corps of Engineers is hardly going to be able to stop the Atlantic Ocean from rising. Nor will it be able to halt future storm surges. Dah?
A new paper released on Thursday reported that climate change compounded Hurricane Sandy's flooding, the damage. The paper also said that climate change worsened the U.S. heat waves, the shrinkage of Arctic sea ice, drought in Europe's Iberian peninsula, and extreme rainfall in Australia and New Zealand.And still, the U.S. Congress refuses to pass even the most mundane anti-greenhouse gas legislation. Still. Read more about the paper's findings.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A senator's fight for a Montana stream

The senator is Max Baucus. I wish him luck in the endeavor this article focuses on, but I can't help but wonder where he was on a lot of other public land issues - things that Frank Church would have fought for and won.

Oil spill and Lake Champlain pollution source

This, of course, is just one of a million-plus oil spills in the Lake Champlain watershed. I shot this pix in a local warehouse "park" yesterday. This is exactly the sort of non-point-source pollution that bedevils any and all efforts to clean up the water quality of this big lake and basins like Chesapeake Bay, too.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Give new Adirondack Forest Preeserve lands a wilderness classification, groups say

They're right, as a matter of fact. True wilderness, whether in New York State's Adirondack Park or on federal public land, is the surest and most responsible category for wild lands. The media likes to categorize the decision-making process as some sort of "debate," but there is no real debate: Wild places deserve to be protected as wilderness.