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The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, is perhaps the biggest and most successful corporate bill mill, handing lawmakers draft bills written by industry lobbyists. Many of these bills are then passed, pulling essentially verbatim from ALEC's example. Technically an educational charity, ALEC is a conduit for industry to influence legislators while skirting lobbying regulations. The group was recently in the news for demanding that people stop calling it a climate denial organization, even though the bills it produces all deny the threat of climate change to protect its industry backers.

A recent piece of investigative journalism out of WXIA-TV Atlanta exposed the tight-knit relationship between legislators and lobbyists, a relationship facilitated by ALEC using tax-deductible donations. In a six-minute piece, one reporter attempts to reveal what goes on behind ALEC's closed-door meetings. Though the written story accompanying the video gets the same facts across, it doesn't capture the "sleaze" in quite the same way, so it's strongly recommended that you watch the video.

If you simply refuse (or perhaps have a weak stomach) then here's the ending: ALEC's communications and PR VP, who should be happy to provide comment, refused to be interviewed. He then asked the reporter to leave. In response, the reporter said he's both credentialed and a guest of the hotel, and he proceeds to press the ALEC VP about how the gathering is a private meeting between elected officials and lobbyists, funded by lobbyists. The ALEC VP then had the reporter kicked out of the hotel by the four off-duty Sheriff's deputies.

Reporter: "I mean are we violating a law?"
One deputy to another: "Don't say nothing."

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Reposted from Daily Kos Labor by LakeSuperior
Amtrak train
House Speaker John Boehner may think it's "stupid" to suggest that the recent fatal Amtrak crash had anything to do with lack of funding, but the evidence keeps piling up that Boehner's the stupid one here. The United States spends far less than its peers on rail, and:
As a consequence, industry experts say, despite having some of the least-extensive passenger rail networks in the developed world, the United States today has among the worst safety records. Fatality rates are almost twice as high as in the European Union and countries like South Korea, and roughly triple the rate in Australia.

Analysts say the impressive safety record in Europe and Asia is the result of steady government spending of billions of dollars on development and maintenance of railroad infrastructure — including sophisticated electronic monitoring and automated braking systems developed over the past 20 years.

As a percentage of gross domestic product, the American investment in rail networks is just a quarter of that in Britain and one-sixth that in France and Australia, while Japan spends nearly three times as much per person as the U.S. does.
Over the past decade, even developing countries including India, Russia and Turkey have consistently invested far greater shares of their G.D.P. on rail.
Not exactly grounds for a "We're number one" chant, there.

We're looking at a consequence of Republican refusal to invest in American infrastructure. It's played out not just in less safe trains but in slower trains and fewer trains. If Republicans hadn't stood in the way all these years, we could have had a speedy, energy-efficient, safe rail network and thousands of jobs creating and maintaining it. Instead, we have a desperately underfunded, inadequate rail system and John Boehner saying it's stupid to see the facts for what they are.

Unbelievable b.s. coming from David Frum, a conservative senior editor at The Atlantic, charging that immigrants are responsible for California's water crisis.

Frum drew a rapid response on Huffpo from water expert Peter Gleick:

Peter Gleick, a climate scientist and the president of the Pacific Institute, an organization dedicated to environmental protection, dismissed Frum’s argument that immigration is a significant factor in California’s water crisis. “To claim California's water crisis is due to immigration and the use of water by immigrants is to grossly misunderstand California's true water challenges," Gleick told The Huffington Post in an email. "Population growth of course affects the use of all resources (land, energy, food, water), but the water crisis was here 30 years ago, urban demand is only 20 percent of total water demand, urban water use has been level for 30 years and per-capita water use is going down, not up."

Responding to Gleick's criticism, Frum told HuffPost that population growth is still important to consider. "If per capita water use is going down and you add 10 million people, then the decline in per capita use would be overmatched by the increase in total population," Frum said. "The question is not 'is immigration the cause of the crisis.' My tweet noted that some people want to omit any mention of it at all. And it seems to me that certainly the growth in California’s population is relevant. In California, water is a finite resource."

Frum, like so many others, misses the elephant in the room; the massive 80% of California's water used by agriculture and the fact that 47% of California's water is used primarily by meat and dairy production.

Almonds have been demonized by the media with nary a mention of the real culprits: meat and dairy production. Are we now to see immigrants demonized as well? Some people seem to be having a hard time facing up to the facts of the California water crisis.


Sat May 23, 2015 at 12:21 PM PDT


by soarbird

Reposted from soarbird by earthgreen4ever Editor's Note: Nice poem -- earthgreen4ever

After reading Brahman Colorado's "An Ancient Forest" diary posted on Dec. 28, I have been inspired to post the following essay I wrote several years ago:

Continue Reading
Reposted from The Numerate Historian by New Minas
Well that was fast.

You may or may not have heard of Dr. Edward Wegman, a statistics professor at George Mason University, who got in very hot water a few years ago on well-founded charges of plagiarism. Wegman is most famously known for the "Wegman Report", which was commissioned in 2006 by Congressional Republicans to look into Michael Mann's famous "hockey stick" paleoclimate research. Wegman (and his report) concluded that Mann's work was flawed. But as it turned out, large parts of the Wegman Report were plagiarized, as was widely reported in USA Today and other sources. The evidence for plagiarism in the Wegman Report, and also in at least two peer-reviewed papers of Wegman and his colleague Yasmin Said, was uncovered in excruciating (and damning) detail by citizen journalist John Mashey, who currently writes for that invaluable environmental crusader, DeSmog Blog.

On March 24, after an entire year of secret preparation, Wegman and Said sued John Mashey for $2 million, citing the damage his honest reportage had caused to their careers. (Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.) And who was their lawyer in this quest? Milt Johns, former law partner of uber-climate-denier (and uber-jerk) Ken Cuccinelli, the ex-Virginia Attorney General who spent his brief term in office more interested in suing climate scientists than in prosecuting criminals.

But on April 30, just five weeks after filing the suit, Johns showed up in court to drop the suit, and the day after that, Johns was out of a job, having parted ways with his ex-partners in the firm of Day & Johns (which will now certainly have a new name).

The tangled web of this bizarre story is below the fold.

Continue Reading
Reposted from Pakalolo by New Minas

Scientists have discovered that the ice shelves of South Antarctica, located in the Bellingshausen sea, are in rapid melt. This new study follows reports that the remnants of Larsen B should disintegrate within a few years, that a 17 mile crack has been spotted on Larsen C and that Larsen C is at risk of collapse. The discovery that the southern ice shelves are in rapid melt is new. reports:

Using measurements of the elevation of the Antarctic ice sheet made by a suite of satellites, the researchers found that the Southern Antarctic Peninsula showed no signs of change up to 2009. Around 2009, multiple glaciers along a vast coastal expanse, measuring some 750km in length, suddenly started to shed ice into the ocean at a nearly constant rate of 60 cubic km, or about 55 trillion litres of water, each year.

This makes the region the second largest contributor to sea level rise in Antarctica and the ice loss shows no sign of waning.

The  Christian Science Monitor expands on the story.
As Antarctica’s ice shelves collapse, the glaciers they buttress will contribute to sea level rise. Currently, the glaciers in the study, which lie along 500 miles of the southern Antarctic Peninsula coast, are losing some 56 billion tons of ice a year to the ocean, according to the new study.

The losses began suddenly in 2009 and come in addition to losses from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is shedding 80 billion to 110 billion tons of ice a year, according to the study.

Some losses from nearby ice shelves have been underway for decades. But the seemingly abrupt onset of significant ice losses along the southern coast of the Antarctic Peninsula is an eye-opener, suggests Dr. Gardner of JPL.

Recent studies have shown that Antarctica's two continental ice sheets are more sensitive to changes in ocean and air temperatures than previously thought, he notes. But as relatively warm water from deep reaches of the Southern Ocean moved onto the continental shelf, the thinning sped up, melting the ice shelves from underneath, the researchers of the new study concluded.

Reposted from LakeSuperior by LakeSuperior

The U.S. Department of Energy revises wind energy potential
map for the entire U.S. and which shows the areas of the United States
evaluated with increased (or new) wind energy potential with siting of
a larger/taller generation of wind turbine systems that are now available....compared
to  publication of wind energy potential map areas previously considered practical or
recognized from previous DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory
findings on wind energy potential:

See map on PDF page 6.

DOE's page for this report has some other pertinent links of interest:

See also article in Power Engineering Magazine:

Note in particular that wind energy potential of the Southeastern quadrant of the United States is now considered to be improved over previous estimates for this U.S. region.

......Sorry for the abbreviated diary, but I've got a garden to get planted today....and this limited diary is better than no diary for purposes of the information getting out.


Fri May 22, 2015 at 08:16 AM PDT

Rapid Warming is Here

by New Minas

Reposted from New Minas by New Minas

The Oceans have begun to heat up at rates double those observed by scientists only 6 years ago.  This graphic, released today by the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) represents the work of hundreds of scientists deploying thousands of independent ARGO buoys throughout the globe's oceans.

90% of the world's global warming occurs in the oceans.  This makes the oceans the first place that we will directly observe large-scale changes in global warming, (the second is in the Arctic).

Continue Reading
Ian Wolter's "Lest We Forget Those Who Denied"
Remember when UK student Ian Wolter created a masterpiece of denier commentary? The seven-foot, oil-covered plywood installation, titled, "Lest We Forget Those Who Denied," was a tribute to six of the UK's premier deniers and stood on display for two weeks before it's scheduled removal this month.

Doing his part to make it a story again, Monckton has a WUWT post that (unintentionally) incites the Streisand-effect, attracting even more positive attention to Wolter's wonderful work of art. In Monckton's view, the sculpture was actually an "unspeakable death threat," because it "put a victim's name on a tombstone." This is an interesting interpretation, considering that two of the other deniers Wolter listed certainly didn't see it as a threat or say the sculpture resembled a tombstone. In fact, they went so far as to say they felt "hugely proud" and "proud to be honoured," though Delingpole's now following Mockton's "death threat" lead with an overwrought Daily Mail piece.

Upon hearing of this artwork, Monckton sprung into action, having his lawyer send Anglia Ruskin University—where the statue was displayed—a demand that officials remove the work. Monckton is also preparing a police report on the incident. This legal blustering is a common tactic of Monckton's, which he uses in an attempt to silence his critics, as evidenced by Barry Bickmore's 16 point compilation of Monckton's misdeeds. (See the section titled, "Threatening Those Who Disagree With Him.")

Sou at HotWhopper has the kicker, though, in a post where she points out that Monckton's WUWT post, in which he criticizes the sculpture, came out the day after a WUWT post in which the guest author complains about censorship at the Daily Kos. In Monckton's post, he claims victory in his attempt to censor the sculpture, bragging that this particular piece of artistic free expression was taken off display in response to his efforts.

The artist provides a slightly more factual take where we learn the school didn't give into Monckton's demands at all. Rather, the University simply took down the sculpture at the end of the show.

So now the question is: did Monckton know the piece would only "be on display until the middle of May" and decide to fool his readers into thinking his threats were successful? Or did he just not bother to conduct any due diligence before embarking on one of his trademark quixotic legal expeditions?

We're not sure, but we'll give him the benefit of the doubt in light of Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. Or, apparently, scheduling.

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Findings cast doubt on plant benefits from rising CO2. More than 40 years' of evidence from a mountain meadow shows that increasing carbon dioxide levels don't help plants.


food grows where water flows sign

On April 1, when California Governor Brown issued mandatory water restrictions for urban users he warned that he might have to consider cuts to agriculture in the future as well. Well, that future has come sooner rather than later and Think Progress/Climate has the story that Governor Brown will announce strict mandatory water cuts to agriculture today.

“The very fact that we’re beginning to have a conversation about water rights is an indication of how serious the drought is,” Peter Gleick, president and co-founder of the Pacific Institute, told ThinkProgress. “It’s really an unusual move. I would not have guessed a year ago that we would start to have this conversation.”
It's a Water War because many being asked to restrict use have already committed to fighting the new restrictions.
Felicia Marcus, the chairwoman of the state Water Resources Control Board, announced the decision at a public meeting Wednesday. "It's about figuring out how to make terrible choices in the most fair and equitable way possible," she said. The affected farmers have already vowed to challenge the decision in court, saying any restriction of senior rights amounts to a “water war.”


The drought, California’s worst in a millennium, is starting to feel more and more like an emergency. And what’s becoming increasingly clear is that California’s water use will never again be the same. “This crisis is an opportunity to accelerate what we know we are going to have to do under climate change anyway,” Marcus said in April.

I've written about California's opportunity to make the necessary changes in responding to this crisis. Looks like California is finally facing reality. The solutions lie within the agriculture sector as it's responsible for more than 80% of California's water consumption.

Transitioning their agriculture sector to be sustainable will not be pretty and will take some time but it is essential if we are to adapt our food system to the new reality of climate change.

Madeline Stano of the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment went by the scene of the oil spill in Santa Barbara. The oil spill happened Tuesday May 19th when a pipe owned by Plains All American Pipeline ruptured -- pouring around 105,000 gallons into the Pacific Ocean.
The area spoiled by the oil spill was a rare, globally unique area due to it's biological diversity. Workers are trying to sponge up the oil but it's a long, time consuming process.
The Refugio spill is much smaller than the 3 million-gallon oil spill that struck the Santa Barbara waterfront in 1969 and gave birth to the environmental movement in the United States.

But environmentalists said this latest accident hit hard, because it is soiling the Gaviota coast, a rare Mediterranean-climate region where northern and southern plants and wildlife meet. There are only five such regions in the world, all of them located at the western edges of continents and all of them unique for their biological diversity.

Because it has not been urbanized, the Gaviota coast region, which stretches from Goleta to the northern boundary of the Vandenberg air force base, also has been viewed as the healthiest remaining coastal ecosystem in southern California – at least, until now. “The Gaviota coast is a global resource that needs to be attended to with greater respect and restraint,” said Phil McKenna, president of the Gaviota Coast Conservancy, a nonprofit group that sought and failed to win a national park designation for the area during the administration of President George W Bush.

“When I saw that first image of oil oozing out of the bluffs, it was a nightmare.”

When will this insanity end?
Reposted from pdc by poopdogcomedy
U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D. HI), who has been an adamant opponent of the TPP, is now focusing on stopping the TPA:
Thank you for adding your name to our petition opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. With your help, we were able to show that the American people want what’s best for our workers, not what’s best for corporations and special interests.

But now we’re facing an even greater challenge with the upcoming vote on the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act (TPA), also known as Fast Track. This act could have a devastating impact on American workers if passed. This is why I spoke out in opposition of TPA this week on the Senate floor.

Will you join me in standing firm against TPA today?

The TPA procedure would force Congress to consider legislation such as TPP with an up or down vote, with no possibility for adding amendments. This is not in the best interest of the American people.

By taking away lawmakers’ power to oversee critical trade agreements and putting them on a “fast track” to approval, we could jeopardize hundreds of thousands of American jobs and weaken our manufacturing industry. TPA is in the corporate interests and that should not be the driving force for public policy decisions on public health, consumer safety, and the environment.

Sign my petition today and let’s stand together against Fast Track.

Thanks for your continued support.


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