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Every week Daily Kos diarists write dozens of environmentally related posts. Many don't get the readership they deserve. Helping improve the odds is the motivation behind the Green Diary Rescue. In the past seven years, there have been 256 of these spotlighting more than 15,578 eco-diaries. Below are categorized links and excerpts to 64 more that appeared in the past seven days. That makes for lots of good reading during the spare moments of your weekend. [Disclaimer: Inclusion of a diary in the rescue does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.]
Extraordinary Jet Stream Track to Alaska Led to Record Dryness in California in 2013—by FishOutofWater: "The jet stream tracked far north of normal over the eastern Pacific for all of 2013 causing severe drought on the west coast. California suffered through a record dry year from downtown Los Angeles to Eureka. Reservoir water levels are dropping rapidly. [...] In December 2013 extraordinarily high pressure covered the Gulf of Alaska. unusually warm air extended from the Gulf of Alaska, to Siberia.  A flow of cold air developed from the American side of the Arctic ocean towards northern plains of the U.S. leading to a series of Arctic air outbreaks in the central and eastern U.S. (and today's cold weather). [...] While Siberian ducks were splashing, California reservoirs were drying up. California records for dryness were obliterated in 2013. After a surge of warm water across the tropical Pacific ended in fall 2012 with a failed El Nino, the rains stopped. Santa Cruz, which normally has 30 inches of rain in a year saw just 4.78 inches in 2013, a stunning drop from the previous record low of 11.85 inches."
"The images of the River Yenisei with ducks splashing in the water, and grass in the parks, could be from autumn rather than deep in the winter in a city where December temperatures have gone as low as minus 47C"
green dots
Dawn Chorus: Yanacocha Reserve, Quito, Ecuador—by angelajean: "Yanacocha Reserve is a small slice of high altitude cloud forest tucked behind the northwest corner of Quito and, on a good day, there are supposed to be views of Guagua Pinchincha, the smaller of the two peaks and the location of the crater that erupted back in 1999. The reserve is one of eight managed by the Fundación Jocotoco. And the Foundation, in turn, is a part of the World Land Trust. Yanacocha was created as a carbon saving initiative: Terrestrial habitats, such as forests, grasslands and wet peatlands, contain large volumes of carbon in their biomass and soils. Yet these habitats are being destroyed or degraded at an unprecedented rate, releasing stored carbon into the atmosphere and contributing to global warming. Avoiding the imminent loss of existing habitats prevents the release of stored carbon, whilst enabling the regeneration of degraded habitats gradually re-absorbs atmospheric CO2. This small reserve has an amazing amount of biodiversity. It is most famous for one of its endangered inhabitants, the Black-breasted Puffleg Hummingbird. Though we didn't catch sight of one, we will be back during peak season and crossing our fingers that we'll see at least one and get a great picture to share with the rest of you. But even while missing this endangered bird, our trip was a success. We added a half dozen new species to our life list and might have added a few more if we wanted to brave the afternoon fog and cold."
Check out the throat of this male Buff-winged Starfrontlet!
green dots
The Daily Bucket: Asking Questions—by matching mole: "In my last bucket (all too long ago) I introduced some of the skills of a scientist, backyard, front yard, parking lot, or otherwise. One of the most fundamental skills of a scientist, one that unites fields as disparate as psychology and physics, geology and sociology, is asking good questions. We'll come back to the concept of good questions in a little bit. Do All Scientists Ask Questions? I'm going to answer yes to this question although I realize there might be some dispute about this.  I'm going to make the case that the way we teach science focuses a bit too narrowly on one type of question and one type of science.  Every humble technician, plugging away in a lab and every backyard birder who IDs an unusual species at her feeder is asking questions. [...]  I realize that this might be a bit off-putting so I want to start out by saying that there are two fairly simple criteria for a good question in science. 1) Can it be answered?  2) Is the answer interesting?  Both are relatively straightforward but do seem to trip people up from time to time so I'll give a bit of a run down of what I mean below."

You can find more rescued green diaries below the sustainable squiggle.

Water

California's Escalating Water Crisis—by Richard Lyon: "The politics of water and it scarcity have always dominated California history since the days of the gold rush. There are many fascinating tales associated with it. It has always been about taking water from some place where there is a good bit of it and moving it to another place where there isn't much. That means moving it from north to south. There is very little water that falls on California that isn't moved through one of the multiple irrigation systems that cover the entire state. Without irrigation systems this state could only accommodate a very modest size population. Instead we now have 38M people. Their water interests are divided among urban dwellers, agricultural interests, environmentalist and recreational users. Resources are pushed to the limit. Various proposals are on the table to divert water from environmental resources such as fisheries to the agricultural users of the San Joaquin Valley and the urban needs of Southern California. The pressure is being dramatically heightened by a particularly dry year that may be the worst since records have been maintained. Calender year 2013 saw record low rainfall. Reservoirs and snow pack are at record lows. There is little sign of any rain on the way. This sort of situation happens periodically, There were two serious back to back dry years in 76-77. The problem is that as the population grows and water use expands there is less slack to meet the next emergency."

Natural Heritage Institute Hires Jerry Meral—by Dan Bacher: "Many people have been speculating about where Jerry Meral, the controversial Deputy Secretary for Natural Resources who claimed 'the Delta cannot be saved' in April 2013, would go to work after his retirement from state service on December 31. The speculation is over. Meral, Governor Jerry Brown's former point man for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels, announced in an email and his new employer announced in a statement on December 31 that he will be now working for the Natural Heritage Institute (NHI), a pro twin tunnels 'environmental' NGO that touts itself as 'an early and strenuous proponent of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.'"

Climate Chaos

How Climate Science Deniers Capitalize on Corporate Newspaper Shrinkage—by TheGreenMiles: "How are the gatekeepers of truth in public discourse supposed to function when they're being laid off by the hundreds in the name of higher profits? While a few newspapers like the Los Angeles Times are taking a stand against opinion pieces that get the facts wrong on climate science, smaller newspapers across the country are getting overrun by climate science deniers. This week's example: Steve DiMarzo Jr.'s climate science-denying op-ed in the New Bedford Standard-Times. It's not just that it's filled with easily-disproved lies. It's filled with quotes that aren't attributed to any source at all. Who said them? Is DiMarzo just making up quotes as he goes? Readers are left hanging. That's such an egregious miss, I can't believe an editor even read the piece before printing it. The Standard-Times has been hammered by round after round of layoffs with the latest hitting just two months ago. Nationwide, a Pew Research Center report shows newspaper editorial employment has fallen by a third in just the last 15 years. But here's the thing: The Standard-Times isn't losing money - it's profitable. It just wasn't making enough money for its corporate owners, so the layoff ax swung."

Warming Climate Will Reduce Low Cloudiness Amplifying GHG Warming; Skeptics' Theory Crushed—by FishOutofWater: "Global average temperatures will rise at least 4°C by 2100 and potentially more than 8°C by 2200 if carbon dioxide emissions are not reduced according to new research published in Nature. Scientists found global climate is more sensitive to carbon dioxide than most previous estimates. Models that predict a low sensitivity of the climate to increasing levels of greenhouse gases have been proven wrong. A doubling of CO2 levels will lead to 3°C to 5°C of global warming. The IPCC's low end of 1.5°C to 3°C warming has been eliminated by correctly modeling cloud formation and mixing of air in the low levels of the atmosphere. Predicting the behavior of water vapor and clouds in a warming climate has been the most difficult challenge for climate models. Much of the scientific debate about the climate's sensitivity to increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) levels has revolved around water vapor and clouds because water vapor is a strong greenhouse gas that amplifies the warming caused by human emissions of GHGs. On the other hand, low clouds reflect incoming solar radiation, promoting cooling. Thus, if global warming would increase low cloudiness, the climate would be relatively insensitive to increasing levels of GHGs. Legitimate skeptics pointed to climate models that showed low climate sensitivity to GHG's in response to increasing low cloudiness. Those low sensitivity models have now been proven wrong."

2100: New study suggests 7.2F Degree Hike in Temperatures—by boatsie: "In a new scientific study by the journal Nature, researchers are predicting that current climate models fall significantly short of accurately predicting rises in global temperatures,  which they estimate could increase by 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit, (4 degrees Celsius)  due to a decrease in cloud cover brought about by increasing temperatures. The study determined that a heating planet impacts the rate of cloud formation, thereby decreasing the amount of sunlight which is reflected, thereby cooling temperatures. The latest news paints an ever more dire picture of worse case scenarios which spell out a nearly unphatomable scenario for a world which warms by 4 degrees and ups the ante significantly to negotiations which aim to curtail warming by 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius."

Climate Models have underestimated temperature rise: 4 Degrees C by 2100 likely—by Lefty Coaster: "This is truly alarming news from a new study in the journal Nature. This will be the result of the disruption of low cloud formation as water vapor will rise much higher before forming clouds. That will lead to a drastic reduction of cloud cover, and since cloud cover reflects sunlight, warming will be closer to TWICE previous estimates. [...] Report authors Steven Sherwood, Sandrine Bony and Jean-Louis Dufresne found climate models which show a low global temperature response to CO2 emissions do not factor in all the water vapour released into the atmosphere."

The Boulevard Of Climate Catastrophe: Humanity's Path To Perdition & The Moral Imperative To Act—by FractivistForce: "During the 2010 Cancun Agreements, the international community pledged to keep global temperatures from rising beyond 2°C. Bill McKibben has described the significance of this number as the 'bottomest of bottom lines' if our aim is to avoid the catastrophic effects of a warming planet. If we pass the 2°C checkpoint, we will inevitably kick start the irreversible, positive feedback loops of permafrost, methane hydrates, and methane ice. The 2°C threshold, however, is considered to be a conservative threshold for what many call the 'tipping point' – the point at which the 350 ppm target is no longer possible.James Hansen, in a recent publication noted that the "target of limiting warming to 2°C has been widely adopted...' According to Hansen's findings, however, 'this may be a case of inching toward a better answer.' He concludes that the 'gradual approach is itself very dangerous, because of the climate system's inertia.' (Hansen suggests a 1°C threshold). In his opinion, 'aiming for the 2°C pathway would be foolhardy.' Given the current trajectory of warming, we are on pace for 3.5°C by 2035, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Faith Birol, the IEA Chief Economist, says the current CO2 trend 'is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6°C, which would have devastating consequences for the planet.'"

Top 20 Greenhouse Gas Emitters 1854-2010—by gmoke: "They are based in 43 countries, extract resources from every oil, natural gas, and coal area in the world, "and process the fuels into marketable products that are sold to consumers in every nation on Earth."
Half of the total industrial CO2 and CH4 [methane] emissions from 1751 to 2010 has been emitted since 1984 (Marland et al. 2011). Half of the emissions traced to major  carbon fossil fuel and cement production has been emitted since 1986. All together, 315 GtCO2e [thousands of tons of CO2e which includes methane and other known greenhouse gases] has been traced to investor-owned entities, 288 GtCO2e to state-owned companies, 312 GtCO2e to nation-states. 'The dip in relative production by nation-states in the late 1980s through early 2000s is due to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the creation of new state-owned oil and natural gas entities in Russia as well as the transformation of China’s petroleum sector into state-owned entities.' Now that we know their names and the extent of their carbon pollution, we can direct our attention to changing their behavior."

Top Twenty Climate Denial Funders 2003-2010—by gmoke: "These 20 organizations provide 59.95% of the funding for the Climate Change Counter-Movement [CCCM]—Donors Trust/Donors Capital Fund: 14.16%; Scaife Affiliated Foundations: 7.1%; The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.: 5.32%; Koch Affiliated Foundations: 4.73%; Howard Charitable Foundation: 4.45%; John William Pope Foundation: 3.94%; Searle Freedom Trust: 3.91%; John Templeton Foundation: 3.63%; Dunn's Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking: 2.46%; Smith Richardson Foundation, Inc.: 2.43%; Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program: 2.35%; The Kovner Foundation: 2.30%; Annenberg Foundation: 2.03%; Lilly Endowment Inc.: 1.84%; The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation: 1.80%; ExxonMobil Foundation: 1.29%; Brady Education Foundation, Inc.: 1.23% [for just one year, 2003]; The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc.: 1.20%; Coors Affiliated Foundations: 1.11%; Lakeside Foundation: 1.04%."

Scientist: Climate change likely "catastrophic rather than simply dangerous"—by gnosticator: "OK, John Kerry, please put action into words and tell your boss to do the same. Enough is enough with the talk: deny the Keystone XL pipeline and condemn tar sands. And while you're at it, condemn all fossil fuel based energy because it is leading us to Hell on Earth. Time is running out for the status quo and with solar energy is competitive with fossil fuels, there's no excuse anymore! Do this or lose more elections as more and more people decide to vote 'None of the above' and decide both political parties are utterly corrupt."

Food, Agriculture & Gardening

Macca's Meatless Monday: New Years resolution becomes solution to climate change—by VL Baker: "PB&J Numbers: Greenhouse Gas Emissions: 2.5 Pounds. Each time you have a plant-based lunch like a PB&J you'll reduce your carbon footprint by the equivalent of 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over an average animal-based lunch like a tuna sandwich, grilled cheese, or chicken nuggets. For dinner you save 2.8 pounds and for breakfast 2.0 pounds of emissions. Those 2.5 pounds of emissions at lunch are about forty percent of the greenhouse gas emissions you'd save driving around for the day in a hybrid instead of a standard sedan. If you have a PB&J instead of a red-meat lunch like a ham sandwich or a hamburger, you shrink your carbon footprint by almost 3.5 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions."

A Recovering Vegan Reconsiders His Decision to Start Eating Meeting (Damn You, NPR)—by Dr Christopher Boerl: "As a progressive, I've known for years that as a society, we have been exploiting our planet, and that someday tough decisions were going to have to be made. Somewhat hypocritically I suppose, I assumed many of these tough decisions could be delayed until tomorrow. Then today, I heard a story about there being no cod off Cape Cod, and it got me thinking; perhaps tomorrow is already here.  Perhaps tomorrow was actually yesterday, and we've already blown by it. I promise I'm not trying to be some coffee-shop philosopher here. But I've recently become a dad, you see, and as just about any parent will tell you, having a child really changes you. Suddenly, I'm less concerned about my own future and am instead constantly thinking about my son's. I worry that when he's my age, he may not have to moralize as I presently do about the ethics of eating fish. Due to overfishing, there may simply be too few fish in the oceans left for him to eat."

A Spending Cut Democrats Can Get Behind: Farm Subsidies—by pierre9045: "As Progressive members of Congress defend against Corporate attacks on government social safety nets that millions of Americans rely upon, it's about time we highlighted programs that actually should be cut or seriously redesigned. Farm subsidies fit the bill perfectly, crop insurance especially. Unlimited crop insurance subsidies now cost the taxpayer $9 billion a year and overwhelmingly flow to the largest and most successful farm businesses. Unlike other farm subsidies, crop insurance subsidies are not subject to means testing or payment limits and farmers are not required to adopt basic environmental protections in exchange for premium support from the taxpayer. While some farms annually collect more than $1 million in crop insurance premium support, the bottom 80% of policyholders annually collect about $5,000. Millions of those dollars go to some of the wealthiest people in the country."

Cheap Nutrition—by Frank Palmer: "Most Yanks ingest far too much salt, sugar (and/or corn syrup), fat, and protein. All of those, except the sweeteners, are necessary for your health. It's just that we get more than is good for us. Conventional wisdom acknowledges this with regard to fat; it often regards more protein as good. If you have healthy kidneys, you can handle the stress that the normal high-protein American diet puts on them. Still, stressing them gives you no benefit. Unless you are getting your protein needs from animals—meat, fish, or fowl— then you need to take care that you consume enough of both grains and beans. Each one has an imbalance of protein compared to animal—and thus human—needs. The imbalances, however, go in opposite directions."

Saturday Morning Garden Blogging Vol. 9.46—by Frankenoid: "I know we're closing in on gardening season because the first of my forced hyacinth have bloomed.  Usually Jan Bos (a deep magenta pink) is my earliest bloomer, but this year the very first bloom was a Pink Pearl (pink with deeper stripes) and the pictured Fondant, the palest, palest pink. Damned but they smell good. And then there are the gardening catalogues stacking up on the corner of the table.  It's odd but, although I've rid myself of most dead tree catalogs and just go straight on-line, with seeds and plants I really like sitting with the paper version — maybe with a fire in the fireplace, and snow blowing around outside and a pootie snuggled up on a cuddly blanket. Custom made for dreaming. Guess we have the weather for it this weekend."

Energy

I Stand Corrected, What is A Meltdown?—by Rich Lyles. [An email Q&A between the diarist and Michael Goad]: "Is this a matter of semantics? No. If a 'meltdown' occurs doesn't that imply 'criticality?' No. A meltdown is a result of the failure to remove decay heat. What is a criticality but a runaway fissile chain reaction? Criticality is the point during reactor operations where the nuclear chain reaction is exactly self-sustaining. Every fission causes an average of one more fission. Will not dispersal of a mass of decay products into a particle absorbent substrate cause this material to not generate as much heat? No—the same amount of heat will be generated. It would just be spread out. The heat is generated by the nuclear decay of products that were produced during the period the fuel was critical and their daughter products. The heat generated is not a function of the concentration of radioactive matter? No. The heat generated is a function of the original power history of the fuel prior to shutdown and how long it's been shutdown. 'Quantitatively, at the moment of reactor shutdown, decay heat from these radioactive sources is still 6.5% of the previous core power, if the reactor has had a long and steady power history. About 1 hour after shutdown, the decay heat will be about 1.5% of the previous core power. After a day, the decay heat falls to 0.4%, and after a week it will be only 0.2%.'"

Power substation attack revealed, more reason for solar power decentralization—by gnosticator: "Around 1:00 AM on April 16, at least one individual (possibly two) entered two different manholes at the PG&E Metcalf power substation, southeast of San Jose, and cut fiber cables in the area around the substation. That knocked out some local 911 services, landline service to the substation, and cell phone service in the area, a senior U.S. intelligence official told Foreign Policy. The intruder(s) then fired more than 100 rounds from what two officials described as a high-powered rifle at several transformers in the facility. Ten transformers were damaged in one area of the facility, and three transformer banks—or groups of transformers—were hit in another, according to a PG&E spokesman."

Nuclear Sailors Then and Now - Exposed & Abandoned—by Joieau: "I linked and cited just two of the transcripts of phone conferences released by the NRC in response to FOIA requests, in which specific information about the radiation hazards of the plume were (thankfully) not blacked out. These make it very clear that any sailors tasked to monitoring and/or decontamination on the decks of these ships did indeed get exposed to considerable radioactive contamination, including the usual nasty beta/gamma emitters—xenon, krypton, iodine, cesium and strontium—but also extremely dangerous alpha-emitting transuranic isotopes and particulates—"hot particles"—that included reactor fuel blown out and sent downwind by the explosions. Anyway, I thought I'd offer a great in-depth investigative report in the Tampa Bay Times as background reading material specific to the US Navy's long history of complete carelessness both in generating and disposing of radioactive materials."

Why Is Groundwater Leaking Into Fukushima?—by Duckmg.

Pennsylania Shocks Residential Electric Customers—by CA148 NEWS: "Texas and Pennsylvania proudly proclaim themselves leaders in utility deregulation. [...] Texas and Pennsylvania residential customers pay 40% more than commercial rates while the regulated rates for Louisiana and Tennessee are nearly the same for the two classes. [...]The effect of electric rate deregulation is a shifting of costs from commercial and industrial customers to residential customers. This is advertised as consumer choice, but for residential users it is really allowing companies to choose their customers.  This allows the customers to be sliced and diced to more efficiently raise the rates on those  without the resources or ability to defend themselves from the 'Smartest people in the room'."

The Race for Fusion—by Frank Paine: "I applaud George Will’s December 22nd proposal to fund fusion research. The response from conservatives on the Washington Post web site was expected, refusing to spend a penny. Progressives argued for research in other areas of Science. Quite frankly, Mr. Will is willing to make a funding exception for his alma mater Princeton University. Meantime, MIT can’t afford to run the Alcator-C fusion lab since 2012. MIT's fully functional plasma research laboratory is shutting down because they cannot pay their electrical bills.  Performing fusion plasma research is an expensive proposition, both in electrical energy and operating costs. Unfortunately, it is the success of across-the-board government cutspromoted by the conservative movement over decades that kept the United States from achieving fusion. The Princeton Plasma Research Laboratory budget was slashed starting in the 1980s. If their funding was maintained for fusion research in the prior century, we could have achieved fusion by now and be phasing out carbon fuel power plants with clean hydrogen fusion."

Fracking

Even a Monkey Wouldn't Allow Fracking. Public Comments from Effingham, IL.—by Willinois: "On a dark and foggy night, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources held a public hearing in Effingham to take comments on proposed fracking regulation. It was less well attended than other hearings after being quickly rescheduled to December 16 due to a snowstorm. I'm not kidding about the fog. The deer hanging out along the side of the highway didn't make the drive more fun either. Despite the dangerous driving conditions and late rescheduling, citizens still came to speak out against fracking and weak regulation proposed in Illinois. Only three people spoke in favor of fracking and two of them admitted to working in the oil extraction industry. In this first video, Nancy spoke about the restrictive rules on who has standing to request a public hearing for fracking permits. Since fracking fluids travel far, her water well could be poisoned by a fracking site for which she has no right to request a public hearing. "Of course Illinoisans can expect the oil and gas industry to badger the hearing officers tasked with deciding whether or not individuals have standing to request public hearings.'"

These Rules Won't Make Fracking Safe! More Public Comments From Effingham, IL.—by Willinois.

"We are strong and we're here to fight!" Fracking comments from Decatur and Carbondale, IL—by Willinois.

EPA Fines Chesapeake Energy a Record $10 Million for Fracking—by ericlewis0: "In announcing the action against Chesapeake last week, EPA described the alleged violations like this: The federal government and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) allege that the company impounded streams and discharged sand, dirt, rocks and other fill material into streams and wetlands without a federal permit in order to construct well pads, impoundments, road crossings and other facilities related to natural gas extraction. [...]The settlement includes an estimated payment of $6.5 million to restore 27 sites in West Virginia, 16 of which involved fracking operations. It also includes a civil penalty of $3.2 million, which EPA describes as 'one of the largest ever levied by the federal government for violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA), under the Section 404 program.'"

BDCP officials admit that tunnel water could be used for fracking—by Dan Bacher: "The Bay Delta Conservation Plan staff on their website have admitted to the fact that the water destined for the peripheral tunnels could be used for fracking. The site says that Fracking presumably would be an 'industrial' use of water, a 'beneficial' use of project water."

Keystone and Other Fossil Fuel Transportation

Train Carrying Crude Oil Derails in ND, Entire City of Casselton Being Evacuated—by jan4insight: "The train derailment occurred earlier this afternoon, but with the shift in wind the entire town is being evacuated right now. Reports say that one of the train's crew members suffered second degree burns before getting to safety."

Tar Sands Oil Heading West Now?—by lapin: "Has Kinder Morgan given up on Keystone XL? That may be the case, as indicated by its recent application to expand the capacity of a westward oil pipeline in Canada to a deep water port: The number of oil tankers in Washington state waters could increase almost sevenfold under a proposal by a Canadian pipeline company to expand the amount of crude oil it sends to the Pacific Coast. The Makah Nation is among the entities studying the risk to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Kinder Morgan Canada filed a formal application with Canadian regulators earlier this month to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline that carries crude oil from Alberta's oil sands to the Vancouver, B.C., area. Under the proposal, up to 34 tankers a month would be loaded with oil at a terminal outside Vancouver, then generally travel through Haro Strait west of San Juan Island and the Strait of Juan de Fuca for export to markets in Asia and the U.S. That's up from about five tankers a month now."

Warren Buffett Buys Stake in Pipeline Company on Same Day as North Dakota Oil Train Explosion—by Steve Horn: "Few understand the increasing importance of freight rail transportation of oil better than Buffett. But he also understands it’s not an either-or choice: pipelines also are key for moving oil to targeted markets. In the rail sphere alone, BNSF moves over 1 million barrels per day of Bakken crude to market, with The Dallas Morning News declaring in June 2013 that 'without BNSF, the great North Dakota oil boom wouldn’t be as big.' On top of Phillips Specialty Products and BNSF, Buffett also bought a $3 billion stake in ExxonMobil in November 2013. This came just a few months after he purchased over half-a-billion dollar stake in Suncor. Far from 'either-or,' for Buffett then, it’s a game of investing in 'all of the above' of Big Oil’s assets."

Shut Down-spectra's natural gas transportation pipeline in New Jersey And New York City!—by rebel ga: "The Danger. Incredibly; spectra wants to run the Manhattan portion of the pipeline from Liberty State Park in Jersey City, past the Statue Of Liberty, Ellis Island, Castle Garden (War of 1812 Era Fort Clinton And America's first immigrant receiving center), the Holland Tunnel, the New Jersey Turnpike, etc., and off Hoboken's pristine shoreline, into Manhattan's West Village. Spectra laying a pipeline to bring FRACKED gas into the West Village Really Scary! This is crazy!"

Eco-Related DC & State Politics

NYC to lead on food and climate policy? Bill de Blasio and the 'foodprint' resolution—by VL Baker: "In 2009, New York City councilman Bill de Blasio had already connected the dots between climate change and our dysfunctional food system. He co-sponsored along with Scott Stringer, The Resolution to Reduce NYC's Climate 'Foodprint.' Writing in Civil Eats, Mia McDonald, executive director of Brighter Green, reminds us of de Blasio's commitment to a 'city-wide initiative that would establish climate-friendly food policies and programs, financial and technical support, a public awareness campaign regarding the city’s food consumption and production patterns and greater access to local, fresh, healthy food.' The resolution shows de Blasio's depth of knowledge regarding the agriculture sector's contribution to climate change. Come below the fold to see how unusual and impressive it is to hear a politician who actually understands the massive impact of livestock production on greenhouse gas emissions."

The Great Outdoors

Whatcom Creek bridge
WPA bridge from 1939
The Daily Bucket - Death and renewal: Whatcom Creek Habitat Restoration—by RonK: "Whatcom Creek is the third salmon spawning stream that runs through Bellingham. I promised in my last diary that it would be the last. However, I took so many photos and there was too much stuff. So, here I will describe the creek and its history. The next one will focus on both the primeval timelessness of the creek itself and illustrate how its two fish hatcheries are working to keep this marvelous place for future generations. [...] Prior to the arrival of Caucasians, Northwest Coast Salish Tribes had villages along the south end of the lake where they flourished with the abundance of fish and forest wildlife. The first non-native settlers began occupying the lake shore in the late 1850s. Logging and lumber mills quickly dominated the northern shores of the lake while coal mining invaded the south end. Although the mills no longer exist, vestiges of their once dominant presence remain in the form of pilings and train trestles."

The Daily Bucket: in search of the Great Green Anemones—by OceanDiver: "December 2013, Olympic National Park, Pacific Ocean Washington state coast. My inland waters of the Salish Sea have several kinds of anemones—white, brown, tan, pink, even striped—but the Great Green Anemones are rare, found only in places of high surf, rare and mostly inaccessible habitat in these quiet straits and bays. The Great Greens are also intolerant of pollution, limiting their distribution in developed areas. So a trip out to the wild open coast, with big waves and unpopulated rocky coves, gives me a chance to find these gorgeous big anemones. Last week I went in search of Anthopleura xanthogrammica, the Great Green Anemone, that luminous creature you see above, along the shores of the Olympic peninsula."

light green a xanth
The Winter Orchard, a Photodiary—by Keith930: "There's an austere beauty to an orchard after the blossoms of Spring, the lushness of Summer, and the abundance of fruit give way to the deep sleep of winter..."
Orchard

Trade & Treaties

Two Huge New Fake Trade Agreements to Skirt, Stomp Democratic Sovereignty—by hungeski: "The way TAFTA and the TPP would skirt democratic sovereignty is by investor-state enforcement. That mechanism lets a foreign corporation skip a member country's courts and sue at an international tribunal for acts by the country's legislature or executive that might have hampered the corporation's planned profits. From such suits under U.S. FTA's, countries have so far paid corporations $400M, much of it for public health and other public interest policies. For instance, S.D. Myers, Inc., got $5.6M from Canada for its ban on exporting PCB's, which the company planned to treat in Ohio. The ban was to comply with the world-wide Basel Convention to control and reduce production of hazardous waste. Today, 15 claims for $14B, all leveled against public health and other public interest policies, are pending. For instance, Lone Pine Resources, Inc., wants $241M from Canada, for Quebec's moratorium on fracking, a gas drilling process that poisons and injects into the ground millions of gallons of water. Lone Pine had permits to frack on 30,000 acres directly beneath the St. Lawrence River. TAFTA and the TPP would offer investor-state enforcement to some 75,000 corporations, and surely bring many more such cases."

Eco-Activism & Eco-Justice

Greenpeace Pranks Shell—by eeff: "Shell was the sponsor of the Belgian Grand Prix. So Greenpeace made plans to get under Shell's skin. During the prerace show Greenpeace unfurled a pre-race banner that read, 'Arctic Oil? Shell no!' The environmentalists snuck into the site of the Shell Belgian Grand Prix and planted two remote-controlled banners bearing a logo for SaveTheArctic.org, a Greenpeace website created to mobilize public support against Shell's plans to study Arctic drilling."

Critters

Coral reefs facing multiple attacks and will become extinct within decades—by Pakalolo: "Climate change may kill off the worlds reefs within just a few decades predicts the latest International Programme on the State of the Ocean. [...] The preliminary report reiterated that coral reefs are the most diverse on the planet. And that the reefs are not only beautiful and provide food for millions, they also are coastal barriers to wave stress, protecting humans and infrastructure. Coral reefs around the world are facing major stress from local factors such as overfishing, pollution, and unsustainable practices along tropical coastlines. Over the past 50 years, these activities have resulted in at least 40% of the world's coral reefs disappearing. This problem is in itself extremely serious. Recently, however, climate change has also begun to threaten the world's reefs, through the dual effects of ocean warming and acidification."

Scientists find corals that thrive in acidic ocean—by Aximill: "One of the main, and overlooked, aspects of pumping over 30 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere is ocean acidification. As CO2 levels go up in the atmosphere, greater amounts of CO2 are absorbed by the ocean. The CO2 combines with H2O and a Carbonate ion (CO3) to make 2 bicarbonate ions (2 HCO3), pushing the acidity of the ocean down and threatening to destroy the shells of many organisms as the picture above shows. While this is certainly dire news for oysters, clams and pretty much any hard shelled critter in the seas, corals were seen as the biggest losers of ocean acidification. No only would their shells dissolve, their algae symbiotes would die off or leave the host. Then again, maybe not: Cohen says this raucous coral ecosystem shouldn’t even exist. The water is way too acidic. 'We started taking water samples,' she says, casting back to an earlier visit here. 'We analyzed them, and we couldn’t believe it. Of the 17 coral reef systems (around the world) that we’ve been monitoring, this is the most acidic site that we’ve found.'"

The Daily Bucket's Fractured Fairy Tale--Gold in the Pond—by 6412093: "For many youngsters, their first pet was an inch-long orange goldfish in a globe containing one quart of water. That fish usually passed through the porcelain portals to the afterlife within a year. Eight years ago, I tried to improve on and recreate that part of my childhood, by putting 40, mostly black, ½ inch long, common and comet goldfish into my parking space sized backyard pond. As they matured, many of them changed color from black to gold, with lovely patterns of white and black stripes and spots. One turned entirely platinum white, and grew to over six inches. Their numbers multiplied to over 100.  I dug a second pond, narrower and deeper, and moved about 40 of the prettier fish there. I’d hoped the deeper pond would protect the fish from predators. [...] Years earlier, I had a shallow pond before where raccoons waded in and cleaned out every fish.  So I made my new ponds 2 to 3.5 feet  deep. Instead of coons, visiting herons (named Billy and Pat) began controlling the gold fish population, sometimes spearing a fish a minute."

Summer Azura (Celestrina neglecta)
Summer Azura (Celestrina neglecta)
Backyard Butterfly List: Year End Review: 2013 Edition—by billybush: "It was a terrible year for butterflies, at least in my backyard. Last year the earliest sighting was in mid-March, and regular sightings began in early May. This year, due to late April freezes and an early May snowfall, the first butterfly was not seen until May 25 and regular sightings did not occur until July. Only extending the season past September kept this year's numbers from being completely dismal. I recorded just fifteen species of butterfly this year, five fewer than last year and three fewer than 2011. Between May 25th and November 2nd this year I recorded 163 butterflies on 67 days. Last year I recorded 218 butterflies on 85 days. While the late frost led to a terrible Spring, Summer and early Fall were still a bit lower than last year's drought-stricken summer, which was markedly lower than the Summer of 2011. In short, this was the worst butterfly season I can remember. I can only hope things turn around soon."

Interagency Committee Will Recommend Delisting the Grizzly - Again—by ban nock: "It has been six years now since the world's most competent and knowledgeable bear scientists last recommended delisting the grizzly in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. The bears had exceeded the 500 bear population goal by 20% and under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) it was time to delist them. Since then four people have been killed, two were typical maulings, the other two were predation. Predation means the bear was hungry and ate people. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) is made up of representatives of every affected states and federal agency in the US and also reps from Canada. (USGS, USFS, USFWS, BLM, all the state divisions of Wildlife etc). Citing universal good news of all measures of health of the species the committee called the good news unanimous, their recommendations are conditional on seeing what happens over the winter with mortality from hibernation."

Fossil tooth or tusk
I've been fossil hunting. Could someone help identify this tooth?—by Missys Brother: "I have no idea which animal this might have belonged to but it is approximately 4 inches long. It appears to have been a tusk? Maybe from a wild hog or wildcat? I have no idea. It was found in a creek in south central Kentucky this past Monday. A few miles from the Tennessee border. [...] A beautiful sunny cool day walking a creek in knee-high boots with the only sounds being running water and birds. I needed the day so much as I live in the Hartford, Connecticut metro area. I would love to hear your thoughts on the tooth though as this was a mystery to everyone I showed it to."

2013 Backyard Science Yardbird Race Final Tally!—by bwren: "Welcome to the 2013 Daily Kos Backyard Science Yardbird Race! This is the 11th and final tally for 2013 and is the official place to post your sightings, ask for help, and brag some if you wish. [...] The Daily Kos Backyard Science Yardbird Race is a birding competition where, over the course of one year, participants strive to identify the most bird species - by sight and/or by sound - from the confines of their yards."

Red-Eared Slider
Daily Bucket: Florida's Invaders — Red-Eared Slider—by Lenny Flank: "Florida is the land of invasive species. Because of our status as a center for the importing of exotic pets and houseplants from overseas, and our neo-tropical climate, we have been invaded by everything from kudzu plants to Burmese pythons. One of our most common invasives is a brightly-colored aquatic turtle called the Red-Eared Slider. Extremely common in the pet trade, the Slider has been introduced around the world, prompting some biologists to label it as 'The Reptilian Norway Rat.' It is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as one of the '100 Most Invasive Species in the World.' When I was a little kid in Pennsylvania, I was, like many other kids, instantly attracted to the Red-Eared Slider. With its bright green, red and yellow colors and its cute little face, baby Sliders the size of a half-dollar could be found in every Woolworth's and K-Mart, living in a tray of water with a little island and a plastic palm tree. They were sold by the thousands. Unfortunately, baby turtles are difficult to care for properly, and mine, like so many others, soon got flushed to a watery grave. But later, the relatives of these little turtles would become a scourge across the entire planet ..."

Dolphins filmed getting high—by xxdr zombiexx: "They chew on the pufferfish "gently" to get their buzz. [...] Clearly it's time to pass a law against pufferfish. I wonder if we could divert some more money from foodstamps or heating assistance for the poor to pay for DEA agents arresting dolphins (or shooting them to death, as is the proper treatment for recreational drug use in the Best Country On Earth). And parents - you'd do well to keep your children away from these loser dolphins: if you don't your child will be strung out on pufferfish and never finish kindergarten. Mark my words."

Forbes fires journalist for SeaWorld piece—by foxfire burns: "The writer thought Forbes readers would be interested in his analysis of how SeaWorld was handling the PR disaster that has erupted in the wake of Blackfish. And indeed the readers of this business magazine probably were. But once his piece went live, the corporation pulled the article and fired McWilliams."

Is it a Bird? Is it a Bug? No, it's a Bat! IAN—by broths: "More than 50% of American bat species are in severe decline or already listed as endangered. Losses are occurring at alarming rates worldwide. Loss of bats increases demand for chemical pesticides, can jeopardize whole ecosystems of other animal and plant species, and can harm human economies."

Paleo-Critters

The American Lion (Yes, America Once Had Wild Lions)—by Lenny Flank: "By about 15,000 years ago, the last of the Ice Age glaciations was beginning to end. As the Earth warmed and the glaciers retreated, animals known as the "Pleistocene megafauna" began expanding into the grasslands and savannahs that were left behind. Among the megafauna that could be found in North America at the time were the mammoths and mastodons (relatives of the elephants), the American cheetah (actually a relative and not a true cheetah), the short-faced bear (a long-legged version of the grizzly designed for running), antelopes, the dire wolf, the sabertooth cat, the American camel, the Teratorn giant vulture, the nine-foot sabertooth salmon, the six-foot giant tortoise, and the apex predator, the North American Lion. The American Lion first appears in the fossil record about 1.8 million years ago. Originally a North American animal, the American Lion also spread into South America when the falling sea levels caused by the Ice Age produced a land bridge between the two continents, allowing megafauna to move north and south (a period known as "The Great Interchange"). About one hundred complete skeletons of the American Lion have been found preserved in the La Brea tar pits in California."

National Parks, Forests & Other Public Lands

I just bought 13,000 acres and I'm giving it to the Forest Service—by ban nock: "Well, to be more precise my dues helped pay for the purchase, but what a choice piece of land. Abutting a wilderness area, the headwaters of a river, home to four federally listed birds and four federally listed mammal species of concern, what's not to like? Give is a relative word too. Sell at such a low price that the forest service snaps it up is more precise. A lot of orgs try to wheel and deal with the USFS, a piece here for a piece over there. We just want out of the land owning business. I belong to a conservation organization. [...]
The name of the org? The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation How do we raise this kind of money? Mostly by throwing banquets and charging a lot for tickets. Nope they don't send me heart wrenching emails or even worse junk mail that burns carbon to deliver and trees to make. We just buy the most crucial pieces of land we can think of and give them to the govt for all the people to use, wise use. 6.3 million acres and counting."

The truth about Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation—by Scott in NAZ: "Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a notorious anti-predator, pro-wolf-killing organization. Here's what the other diary didn't mention about RMEF: The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has changed its position 180 degrees on the matter of wolves in recent years. The change corresponds almost exactly with hiring of David Allen as the President and CEO of the Foundation. Allen has not only taken a strongly anti-wolf position, but he has done it taking an 'in your face' way to traditional conservation organizations such as those supported by Olaus Murie, which he now calls 'extremist.' Allen has also expressed contempt for many of the concepts of ecology, as he seemed to be moving the RMEF toward a single species, single value of elk (hunting) approach. Some critics have also accused Allen of failure to support the concept of public lands. http://www.thewildlifenews.com/...

Pollution, Hazardous Wastes & Trash

Scientists find a 7500 square mile "bulls eye" of mercury contamination around the tar sands—by Pakalolo: "Scientists have found that mercury is "wafting" out of oil sands operations in NE Alberta. According to Canada.com. Levels of the potent neurotoxin found near the massive industrial operation have been found to be up to 16 times higher than 'background' levels for the region, says Environment Canada researcher Jane Kirk, who recently reported the findings at an international toxicology conference. Mercury can bioaccumulate in living creatures and chronic exposure can cause brain damage. It is such a concern that Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq signed an international treaty in October pledging Canada to further reduce releases to the environment."

Houston, The Eagle Is Dying—by Joieau: "A recent study from the Joint Oil Sands Monitoring Program [JOSM] show a 40% increase in mercury levels in gulls from the Lake Athabasca [Alberta] area from 1977 to 2009. Just between 2006 and 2010 the amount of mercury in the tailings ponds rose 80%. Arsenic and other toxins are also produced by the extraction process and have been building up in the waste ponds for decades. Migratory duck flocks have been recorded to die en masse soon after landing in tailings ponds. Fish that live and spawn in the area are also being greatly impacted, displaying bizarre mutations, tumors and deformations."

Transportation & Infrastructure

Big Electric Trucks Coming Your Way in 2014!—by nirbama: "Bob Lutz, former head of the team at General Motors that developed the Chevy Volt, is now pursuing electrification of trucks. In an interview just published in the Seattle Times, he explains why he thinks the big advance in electric vehicles in the next few years will be in larger trucks. It's economics, stupid. Lutz is on the board at VIA Motors, which will soon start production of extended-range electric trucks, cargo vans and passenger vans using power trains similar to the Chevy Volt. Lutz explained, regarding the somewhat disappointing sales of Volts, 'We started at the wrong end. The whole automotive industry made the intellectual mistake of thinking EVs were all about maximum range, so we all started with small vehicles that are basically very economical anyway. Yes, you do save fuel. You can use a smaller battery, but it makes less sense to take a 40 mpg vehicle and make it electric than it does to take a full-size pickup or SUV, which in town realistically gets 11 to 12 mpg. If you take that to 100 mpg, now you’re really saving money and saving a scarce natural resource and reducing CO2 emissions drastically.'"

Eco-Philosophy & Essays

"If you pick me up every day, you will be able to do it forever"—by James Wells: "And of course all the things we do together every day. Just like all animals play at the skills they will need when grown, it's hard to do any game with your child without thinking about what else you can teach somewhere along the way. So what about advocacy for the environment or social justice? If my goal is to best prepare my child for the future, is it really a good investment? Just one voice, out of millions, arguing this way or that, about policy or a local decision. You could make a strong case that any given parent could better spend their time helping their children to be ready for whatever world eventuates. [...] So - Is there time for work, and family, and also to advocate for the environment and for your community? Yes there is. Because, at the end, the only real question is how you define your family. Our Future - Worth  Saving. Any time you think that you don't have a choice, you actually do. Any time you think you have to do something that's wrong, you don't. Not Here. Not Today. Not Any More. We shall not participate in our own destruction."

Daily Bucket--The Scientific Method—by 6412093: "After reading Matching Mole's excellent diary a couple of days ago on implementing scientific deductive methods into our thinking, I resolved to invoke some of those disciplines the next time a backyard discovery sent my unbound mind spinning. The opportunity arose immediately. I had a 10-gallon bin full of fine sand. It was topped off with 2 inches of rain water and handfuls of tree leaves, smelled sulfury and was colored tannin. I began scraping off the leaves and water, and what did I find?  Peanuts. Again and again. Wait. Stop. Invoke the scientific method. Step One: Is there a question that can be answered?  If you want to know how many darned peanuts a squirrel can bury in a sand bin, that's answerable.  I found at least 40. Step Two: Is the answer interesting? Here I bump into the similar question from my former life as boy newspaper reporter--WGAF, roughly translated as Who Gives A Darn? And that's my 'scientific' quandary. All too often, the answers to my questions are only interesting to me."

Things about 2013 that make me hopeful about 2014 and beyond—by Infected Zebra: "While everyone here seems to be jubilant about six million or so having greater access to health insurance starting today, and indeed we should all take some comfort after what it took to get THAT far, my mind is on more long-term things at the moment. Prevent ecocide, stuff like that. But alas, look at all the rumblings regarding renewable energy in 2013. The price of solar power continuing to drop like a rock, speculation that wind power can excel without renewal of government support, nearly all of new power generating capacity in America toward the ass-end of 2013 being renewables, and grid parity close to being reached in many places, if it hasn't already. And that's just the, ahem, supply-side of things. What about things to do with this abundant, cheaper, minimally-polluting source of power down the line? Plug-in electric vehicles are finally, FINALLY working their way into the market, even here in the somewhat-red, upper right end of Florida."

On winter break? Five movies to awaken your inner activist—by VL Baker: "4. Soylent Green:“What is the secret of Soylent Green?” This science fiction classic takes place in a dystopian future where, due to pollution and the consolidation of wealth, poverty is high and resources are restricted. When a new food supplement called Soylent Green becomes available, people start disappearing. It’s up to one detective to find the connection between the new food and the growing body count. And when you figure out the secret of Soylent Green, your perception of our ever-weakening food system will never be the same. Sci-fi? Sounds pretty possible to me."

The Climate Message: Thoughts Toward An Ecology Of Music—by WarrenS: "I remember reading that a natural ecosystem that had taken thousands of years to develop can be destroyed in ten minutes by a guy driving a bulldozer. That seems true enough; horrifying and depressing, but true. All evolution's gradual work, building a wonderfully complex interdependent structure—turned into undifferentiated rubble in less time than it takes to read a blog post. Think about ecosystems as analogies for the ways human beings relate to one another.  Traditional societies are rich in ritual frameworks, cross-generational relationships, nuanced interactions with the natural world and shared cultural narratives — another "wonderfully complex interdependent structure" that can be trashed appallingly quickly by the bulldozer of Western consumer culture. Singing enabled individuals to create and express certain aspects of self, it established and sustained a feeling of euphoria characteristic of ceremonies, and it related the present to the powerful and transformative past. The Suya would sing because through song they could both re-establish the good and beautiful in the world and also relate themselves to it. Anthony Seeger—Why Suya Sing, p. 128. If we are to reclaim our humanity, we'll need to sing."

Changing The World, One Gig At A Time: Introducing The Climate Message—by WarrenS: "Everybody who knows me knows that I've been engaged in a long project of daily Letters to the Editor on the subject of climate change.  The Climate Letter Project has been an ongoing practice of conscience for me since January 1, 2010, which means that as of December 31, 2013, I will have been doing it for four years. That's 1,461 letters, which is a lot. Over that time, I've written letters on just about every aspect of climate change.  Some of my letters are outrageous, some are snarky, some are dry and technical, some dry and witty. I've had a fairly high hit rate, with my pieces seeing print in enough outlets around the US and the world that I am now one of the most widely read environmental writers on the planet. That's not a boast, by the way, but a rueful recognition of what is really a deplorable state of affairs.  Our media is pathetic; lazy, irresponsible, wholly owned by corporate forces."

One person’s dinner, another person’s meals for a week—by Save the Environment: "Renewable energy and more efficient use of land and resources are where to start and where to place the most attention and effort.  Measures to limit population will have to be taken, too, including ending our traditional inhibitions against abortion, contraception, and euthanasia."

Products & Miscellany

Earth Wind Map—by hobie1616: "The Information Age has been a boon to mariners in more ways than we can count, providing innovations such as GPS, chart plotters, AIS and GRIB files, all of which greatly enhance the safety of travel on the ocean. But a new graphical development called the Earth Wind Map has set a new standard for combining fascinating imagery with (near) real-time wind information. Check it out and we think you'll agree that the 'wow' factor is off the chart."

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 01:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS.

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