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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 258 of these spotlighting more than 15,719 eco-diaries. Below are categorized links and excerpts to a record 97 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.]
The Daily Bucket - the possum and the peahen—by Polly Syllabic: "Gooseville, WI. She easily allows the little possum that shares her deck to feast on her bounty with no malice. There's no intimidation or threat. They survive together. Food! Glorious food! [...] The Polar Vortex peahen rescue idea has been hatched! The peahen will not survive a real minus 20 degrees below zero with a -50 degree wind chill. It's simple. Grab the chilled hen off the deck and put her in the guest bathroom until the worst is over. Update: Keep the front door open and walk out with mealworms in a dish. She is huddled in a corner of the house near the open door. Wait until she looks at the food and leap to grab her body and pivot with her into the warm house. Slam the door with your butt and she's in the house. Simple. Update: Inside, she flaps out of my hands and dances across the dining room table, bouncing in flight off the low hanging ceiling fixture scattering the paperwork and Christmas candy. She flies to the rafters in the living room. Dang!"
green dots
Leaked UN Climate Report Paints Bleak Picture For Humanity—by Dartagnan: "The findings are those contained within a draft of the Third Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report is the final of three installments and will be released for publication in April 2014. A final document synthesizing the three reports is scheduled for publication in October 2014.  As has been the case in the past, the report's findings were "leaked' to various news organizations, including Reuters and the New York Times.  The purpose of the report is to influence and inform the U.N. in its negotiations among 190 countries to achieve a treaty governing "greenhouse" emissions that cause global warming. However, the outlook is anything but optimistic. The report says that the development of alternative energies is being outpaced by an acceleration in fossil fuel emissions in developing countries like China. As the Times article notes, the wealthiest countries are in effect "outsourcing" their greenhouse gas emissions to countries where the goods that the wealthy nations consume are manufactured. Further, not only are countries failing to develop alternative energies, they're also failing in their efforts to adapt to what the Panel now sees as inevitable climate disruption."
green dots
New report shows widespread use of dark money in fights against renewables—by BaileyA: "In 2013, the rooftop solar industry and its advocates battled monopoly utilities over the elimination of net metering in 4 states. In all four battles the rooftop solar industry came out victorious. Net metering gives solar customers full retail credit for the excess energy they put back on the grid. Utilities sell this electricity to nearby homes and businesses, saving money on transmission and distribution. Idaho, Louisiana, California, and Arizona all decided to side with public opinion, consumer choice and market competition by upholding net-metering. In Arizona, the battle was particularly intense when it was revealed that Arizona Public Service (APS) used dark money tactics and a multimillion-dollar campaign to try and squash the emerging competitive threat posed by rooftop solar. Following the surfacing of reports from October, which exposed the utility’s lies about funding anti-solar campaigns and creating 'grassroots organizations,' an entire network of dark money was discovered."

You can find more rescued green diaries, including all the West Virginia diaries, below the sustainable squiggle.

Pollution, Hazardous Wastes & Trash

Eyes on the Prize—by Michael Brune: "I've written a lot about the consequences of relying on fossil fuels for energy, but the chemical spill into West Virginia's Elk River still comes as a shock. Almost a week later, thousands are still without drinking water, and many of those who've been given the "all clear" have been hospitalized shortly after drinking or bathing in water they were told is clean. And yet this disaster is just a single, impossible-to-ignore, example of the constant toll that fossil fuels exact upon us every day. If you're like me, each new disaster leaves you angry and frustrated. That's normal. But here's the one thing we can't afford to forget: It doesn't have to be this way. Humanity has been given a wonderful gift: We know how to get all of the energy we need without using dirty or dangerous fuel sources. It's no longer a question of whether we can—but of whether we will."

Spill proves again that cozy ties between government and coal corporations sticks it to people—by Meteor Blades: "The West Virginia spill is just a symptom of the overall disease. Regulations on hazardous chemicals certainly need to be tougher. But without ample inspection and enforcement budgets, all the regulations in the world won't shield anyone. As Jeff Biggers has written: 'This crisis is about much more than a renegade chemical company,' said Bob Kincaid, board president of Coal River Mountain Watch, an organization based in Raleigh County in the state’s southern coalfields that fights mountaintop-removal mining. 'It’s about an entire state subjected day after day for more than a century to a laundry list of poisons by renegade companies. This particular poisoning happened to catch the world’s attention, but for us, it’s another day in the Appalachian Sacrifice Zone.'"

Critics Say that latest NYT headline on WV chemical spill uses bad framing—by Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees: "On A8 of the print version (and also online) today, The New York Times featured an article on the history of weak environmental regulation surrounding the Freedom Industries chemical spill in Charleston, West Virginia. The headline? "Critics Say Chemical Spill Highlights Lax West Virginia Regulations." Yes, to The New York Times, this is apparently a matter of he said/she said debate. The lax regulations in West Virginia are a mere allegation, an interpretation from a group of 'critics.' Some might view the regulations as weak, but others—the headline implies—might not. And who is the Times to judge? Interestingly, the introduction in the NYT digest email hints at a far better title and frame: The chemical spill in West Virginia has brought renewed focus on the state's troubled history of environmental disasters. 'Chemical Spill Brings Renewed Focus to Lax West Virginia Regulations.' The language of "focus" still places the origin of critique outside, but it does not resort to evasion in the way the current headline does."

Some West Virginia water declared safe to drink. Until next time—by Meteor Blades: "The governor of West Virginia announced Monday that water that had been tainted by a chemical spill is again safe for human use. He did not say whether the executives of Freedom Industries would drink the first glass. It was their company's 40,000-gallon storage tank that leaked an estimated 7,500 gallons of a coal-washing chemical into the Elk River Thursday, just a mile-and-a-half upstream from the intake pipe of the state's largest water utility. The source of the leak is now controlled, authorities say, and federal investigators have arrived to determine causes."

Okay to drink West Virginia water? If you're pregnant, maybe not, the federal CDC advises belatedly—by Meteor Blades: "In a late Wednesday update of a previous blog post at EDF, Denison wrote that it is uncertain what had prompted the belated warning to pregnant women: It appears the new information prompted the CDC recommendation that West Virginia consider advising pregnant women to avoid drinking the water, which raises the question as to whether the new animal studies suggest a potential for developmental toxicity or a related effect. [...] Questions have already been raised on this blog about the lack of data on this chemical and the methodology used by government officials to calculate the 1 ppm level.  This new development, however, I believe lends even greater weight to the need for immediate public release of both all available studies and the methodology."

West Virginia water relief trucks filled with contaminated water—by Hunter: "West Virginia American Water pulled its bulk water tankers out of service in Kanawha County Thursday evening, after complaints that the water being distributed to residents had the same odor as the chemical-tainted water from last week's Freedom Industries spill into the Elk River. [...] Water company spokeswoman Laura Jordan said the tankers had been filled near the plant after zero levels of the chemical 'Crude MCHM' were recorded. 'But to avoid any concerns,' she said, 'just to reassure our customers, we're filling up the tankers from another system.' Honestly, guys, just ... honestly."

West Virginia: Safe Level For MCHM Is 0.057 PPM In Water. Not 1 PPM. This Has Extensive Implications—by waterstreet2013: "The U.S. Navy laboratory at Norfolk Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Va. says that the only acceptable level of the chemical in any oral form is less than 0.057 ppm, less than 1/16th the amount that Governor (Earl Ray) Tomblin had said was an acceptable level. Gov. Tomblin was relying on WV National Guard Gen. Hoyer for information, but he was relying on the producers, Georgia-Pacific. No one tested MCHM to NBC/WMD standards prior to the Navy getting hold of it. Chemicals are always tested when they go into a ship that can face chemical warfare. And we still have no idea what impurities get shipped with commercial 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol."

West Virginia Water Update—by murrayewv: "Just an update to let folks know how the water situation is going here.  We are beginning "the flush" in stages and it isn't going that well.  The flush is starting in the downtown area and sections are allowed to start when their zone is called, sort of like your table called at the wedding.  About 1/3 of the customers have water right now.  Some of the water coming out of the lines is blue and green, some is muddy, some smells of the chemical MCHM (like a minty licorice) and some smells OK.  People are told to call in the problems so they can try and track down the causes. Some people are not having problems. People are being told to run about 1000 gallons through their systems. The flush has stalled a bit- some areas were told to start and then it was called off. The leak may have started a bit earlier than reported- some neighbors reported smelling the chemical on and off since December.  But the big problem definitely started after the big freeze from the week before."

There've Been Several Diaries About Charleston, WV...None Show It—by Keith930: "The water contamination crisis in Charleston, WV, has generated some well deserved attention here. It has created a disruption in the personal and economic lives of those affected that is hard to wrap your head around in some ways. I thought I would post some photos for those of you who are unfamiliar with Charleston and its environs, in order to show what the area looks like, and depict the degree to which both the coal and chemical industries are entwined in both the landscape and the economy of the place."

Mountaintop coal mine in West Virginia
Mountaintop coal mine
Man in WV worried about drinkable water for his cats—by murrayewv: "West Virginia American water gets its water from the Elk River, which is generally one of the cleaner water areas. It is filled with unique crayfish and endangered fishes as well as a lot of diversity- mostly upstream of the spill site. The Diamond Darter in the Elk was recently listed as endangered this summer (Thanks Obama!) and 122 miles of the Elk will now be protected as a result. So it makes sense to get the water for the region from the cleaner Elk than from the Kanawha, which has a lot of coal barge traffic and drains more mining areas. But Charleston is also full of chemical plants. Zoom in to South Charleston and Blaine Island and you will see lots of chemical plants. This area is called Chemical Valley- and frankly, chemical plant jobs are pretty good jobs. Folks are engineers and chemists and pretty well paid. There are some safety issues of course, but generally folks are used to this industry in their backyard.  It has been here for most of a century. The reason a neighboring town was called Nitro is that the nitroglycerin plant was there for the munitions industry.  WV made a lot of WW II's ammunition. The plants are there because of the water, the cheap energy and the coal provides the cheap energy. So it is an uneasy alliance, chemicals, coal and commerce."

Recovery from WV Coal Chemical Spill Continues - What Next?—by Mary Anne Hitt: "As I described on the Diane Rehm Show, this tragedy is a direct product of a regulatory system held hostage by the coal industry for decades. The site where the tank leaked hadn't been inspected by the state since 1991! In the state of the state address just days before the accident, the governor vowed to 'never back down from the Environmental Protection Agency because of its misguided policies on coal.' In the immediate wake of the disaster, the governor has repeatedly asserted that the coal industry had nothing to do with this spill—which is like saying the tobacco industry has nothing to do with lung cancer. This spill pulls the curtain back on water problems that people in the Appalachian coalfields have been pleading for decades to have addressed. Each year, after this chemical and others are used to 'wash' coal, billions of gallons of leftover slurry—a witches' brew of chemicals and water—are typically either injected into old underground mines (which leaches into groundwater) or stored behind earthen dams, some of which are larger than the Hoover Dam."

The Downstream Shit of Freedom Industries—by Karen Hedwig Backman: "4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM). Seems to me that that word should be tattooed across the forehead of every politician and corporate official involved with this little toxic load of shit. Or maybe, just the little four-letter word I like to use."

Desperate Times Mean Desperate Measures for West Virginians without Water—by Arianna Editrix: "Having grown up in a desert, I was schooled, literally in school as well as at home, in water conservation methods. I cannot believe the amount of water I see people in WV taking away from the filling stations the government has set up. Cases upon cases of bottled water, bag upon bag of ice and then filling any handy containers too. Then the others who come behind the first folks are stuck driving all over trying to find More water!  This really isn't necessary. The largest water sucker is sewage and the toilets still work. You don't need to use that much water each day.  So this entry will be about how to get along on the least amount of water necessary. If you're squeamish or don't like thinking about personal habits, stop reading HERE. Get used to the fact that things are not going to be normal for a while in regards to water use. Clothes won't get clean, dishes won't get washed, neither will people. In other words, after 4 days folks are going to start to stink. Get over it and get on with it."

I knew this would come out- WV Spill—by Hollowdweller: "When you look at the chemical spill some obvious questions emerge: If WV American Water has taken over such a large portion  of the water market here, why were they allowed to draw water from only one area?? That river has numerous coal and chemical plants along it. They basically had to develop testing for this chemical, yet shouldn't the water company be testing the public water on a regular basis for all chemicals that plants hold in large quantities that could potentially impact their water?? I mean this chemical was detected due to its odor, but what about a more deadly but undetectable spill?? Freedom industries was using an ancient facility, and when they bought it they knew it had problems. Shouldn't they have had to correct the problems BEFORE they used the facility??"

Charleston West Virginia/They named a coal processing plant, freedom industries? In W Va?—by rebel ga: "Every day, across Appalachia, the coal industry literally blows the tops off the mountains: clear-cutting forests, wiping out natural habitats and poisoning rivers and drinking water. Not only are these mountains lost forever, but the heritage and the health of families across the region are being sacrificed. For a mere 7 percent of the nation’s coal, the tradeoff does not add up. Just because the US coal companies/big energy; have, for many years, already totally gutted the Appalachia's doesn't mean they're stopping."

"Freedom" to socialize the losses: chemical company declares bankruptcy—by Horace Boothroyd III: "This company lacks the assets to clean up their own messes. So have filed for bankruptcy. A real winner here. To all this can be added the fact that Freedom Industries was cofounded by an individual named Carl Lemley Kennedy II. As the Charleston Gazette has reported, Kennedy filed for personal bankruptcy in 2005 after he was hit with federal charges of tax evasion and failure to remit employee withholding taxes. He is reported to have admitted to diverting more than $1 million that should have gone to the Internal Revenue Service. Kennedy's involvement in Freedom Industries, the Gazette notes, does not seem to have been affected by the fact that he had once pleaded guilty to selling cocaine in connection with a scandal that involved the mayor of Charleston. The paper quotes the current mayor, who is said to have known Kennedy since the 1980s, as an 'edgy guy.'"

Update: More on Bankruptcy Filing of Freedom Industries—by mimi: "According to the Washington Post: Pennsylvania coal mining executive Cliff Forrest is the new owner of Freedom Industries since Dec. 31. He discovered that one of the six-decade-old storage tanks he had acquired was leaking a toxic chemical into the Elk River that supplies water to about 300,000 West Virginians. It took just one more week for Freedom Industries, facing about 20 lawsuits and a Justice Department investigation, to declare bankruptcy. On Friday, the besieged company filed for protection under Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Charleston, W. Va."

Republicans want our air and water to look like China's—by kos: "Ah, if only America could unshackle itself from the burden of environmental regulations, it would look like this: Beijing's skyscrapers receded into a dense gray smog Thursday as the capital saw the season's first wave of extremely dangerous pollution, with the concentration of toxic small particles registering more than two dozen times the level considered safe. The air took on an acrid odor, and many of the city's commuters wore industrial strength face masks as they hurried to work. All this freedom makes Republicans tear up. Maybe it's the toxins in the air, maybe it's joy. Hard to tell. Maybe both?"

China World Trade Centre Tower III (C), one of the tallest buildings in the city at 330m (1083ft), is pictured amid heavy haze in Beijing's central business district, December 24, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Beijing, today, benefiting from all the freedom from EPA-style regulations.
Eco-Related DC & State Politics

AK-Sen: Mark Begich (D) Needs Our Help Telling The FDA To Label GMO Foods—by poopdogcomedy: "Received this e-mail today from Senator Mark Begich (D. AK) regarding the FDA and GMO labels:Most Alaskans already know that the FDA is very close to approving genetically-modified salmon (Frankenfish) for production. And if that happens, it would just be a matter of time before Frankenfish winds up on our dinner plates. But did you know that the food you eat may already contain genetically-modified ingredients? There is no federal standard for labeling products that contain GMO ingredients. And big food corporations are putting pressure on Washington, D.C. to keep it that way. After all, their profits are more important to them than what you serve your family. I’m teaming up with Sen. Tester and Rep. DeFazio to call on the FDA to require explicit labeling of all products that contain genetically-modified organisms. And we need you on our side. Sign our petition to the FDA right now."

Christie's bridge fiasco was bad for the environment and cost millions—by VL Baker: "Rarely do we see Chris Christie's contrite side, but above it's apparent that he knows he's really stepped into it this time. It's the before and after Christie toning down his brash in your face style to hide behind the lectern asking for forgiveness like a naughty boy. The damage done by the closure of two lanes of traffic on the George Washington Bridge from Ft. Lee, NJ, to NYC just keeps adding up. Cristie's nightmare continues as the environmental and economic costs are revealed. [...] First estimates and calculations are showing that the bridge debacle may have economic costs of up to $21 million in lost productivity!"

Mitch McConnell Savior of coal, might be hoist on his own petard—by Mr Tek: "Kate Sheppard writes [...] about McConnell using an obscure legislative tool to stop EPA regulations of the coal industry in it's tracks. On Thursday, McConnell announced that he is filing a 'resolution of disapproval' to stop the EPA 'from imposing its anti-coal regulation.' The senator wants to employ the little-used Congressional Review Act of 1996, or CRA, which sets up an expedited process for Congress to overturn regulations from the executive branch. The only time the law has been wielded successfully was in 2001, when Republicans used it to block new ergonomics rules from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued during the Clinton years. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) tried to employ the law in 2010 to block the EPA's finding that greenhouse gases pose a threat to human health, but the measure failed (despite drawing yes votes from six Democrats)."

EPA's Gina McCarthy Statement on President's Climate Action Plan—by LakeSuperior: "Responding to climate change is an urgent public health, safety, national security, and environmental imperative that presents an economic challenge and an economic opportunity. As the President has stated, both the economy and the environment must provide for current and future generations, and we can and must embrace cutting carbon pollution as a spark for business innovation, job creation, clean energy and broad economic growth. The United States’ success over the past 40 years makes clear that environmental protection and economic growth go hand in hand. The President’s Climate Action Plan directs federal agencies to address climate change using existing executive authorities. The Plan has three key pillars: cutting carbon pollution in America; preparing the country for the impacts of climate change; and leading international efforts to combat global climate change."

Wow! White House sends out its climate big gun to educate about the 'polar vortex'—by VL Baker: "In amazing news, the White House is taking an aggressive move to educate about the effects of climate change by releasing a highly produced scientific video entitled, 'The Polar Vortex Explained in 2 Minutes.' In the video, White House science adviser and physicist John Holdren dismantles silly claims that cold weather refutes global warming. 'The fact is that no single weather episode can either prove or disprove global climate change,' explains Holdren. He then describes how, in fact, climate change could make extreme winter weather in the mid-latitudes more common. 'A growing body of evidence suggests that the kind of extreme cold being experienced by much of the United States as we speak is a pattern that we can expect to see with increasing frequency as global warming continues,' Holdren asserts. With the news that climate coverage has drastically dropped in U.S. media, the information that the White House will be aggressive in its coverage is much welcomed and perhaps shows that they are preparing to be more advancing in climate policy."

Watch NY's DiNapoli Get Climate Action—by Kayak: "Yesterday New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli used his office for good to help fight climate change. Among his many responsibilities, DiNapoli oversees the state's pension fund. This includes keeping an eye on the companies that are in fund's investments. As The New York Times' Diane Cardwell reports, DiNapoli helped craft an agreement to get a big electric company to take the first steps towards reducing its carbon emissions. This change will not only help make the air cleaner and healthier for people in the tri-state area, but also help our country overall. Under Investor Pressure, Utility to Study Emissions: FirstEnergy, one of the country's largest electric companies, has agreed to work toward reducing its carbon emissions in response to pressure from shareholders including New York State and Connecticut pension funds, New York Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said on Tuesday."

SOS: Framing the Climate Protection Act Now—by SusanCStrong: "Senators Boxer and Sanders are now back on track promoting their Climate Protection Act (see, and I am happy to note that they describe what companies would pay as a carbon 'fee,' not a 'tax.' After all, it's a 'pay to play' situation for business, and that is the definition of a 'fee,' not a tax. The primary goal of the fee is to raise the price of carbon, not to raise money in the way a tax does. In fact, we'd better not get dependent on funds raised by carbon fees, because in the end we want those fees to become unnecessary as the U.S. moves to a truly sustainable energy economy. And I don't have to tell my Daily Kos readers that calling a thing a 'tax' means it will be DOA in D.C. We simply cannot afford that kind of framing disaster now. The bill also specifies that a lot of the money raised by fees will be returned to the public, as energy prices inevitably rise. What to call those returned funds? On this point there has been another very unfortunate, persistent framing error in some sectors of the climate action movement and the media. That mistake has been calling the funds to be returned a 'dividend.' That's a 1% word, friends, and the choice of it is based on a faulty analogy with the situation in Alaska."

Sen. Boxer and 17 Other Senators Launch Climate Action Task Force. Did Your Senator Join?—by Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees: "Last week, I wrote a diary about how Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) were about to launch a Climate Action Task Force in the Senate to bring more attention to the issue of climate change via hearings, legislative battles, internal briefings, among other means, and to build outside support (religious groups, businesses, etc.) in order to counteract the power of fossil fuel interests. Yesterday, the Task Force officially launched today with 18 members, all from the Democratic caucus (as to be expected). In the press conference, Boxer acknowledged that legislation like the fee-and-dividend bill she introduced with Senator Bernie Sanders last year would not have the 60 votes needed to defeat a filibuster but stressed that the Task Force would seek to alter the political climate to make such legislation possible. Boxer had invited Republican colleagues to join the Task Force; unsurprisingly, none of them accepted her offer."

HI-Sen: Brian Schatz (D) & Bernie Sanders (I. VT) Push Sunday Talk Shows To Cover Climate Change—by poopdogcomedy: "So as you may or may not know, Senator Barbara Boxer (D. CA) has put together a new climate change task force in the U.S. Senate: The ultimate goal of Democrats on the Senate Climate Action Task Force is to shift the politics of climate change back in favor of legislating a price on greenhouse gas pollution — for the first time since legislation to cap carbon emissions collapsed in the Senate in late 2010. Republicans, including a sizable group that rejects the scientific consensus that human activities are warming the planet, captured control of the House in midterm elections that year. Ever since, Democrats have been looking for a strategy to put climate change back on the congressional agenda. Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, a co-chairman of the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change, said the campaign will be coordinated with businesses, universities and other nongovernmental groups to counter fossil fuel industry opposition to taxing or capping carbon emissions."

Inhofe Admits He Only Denies Climate Science Because He Doesn't Like the Solutions—by TheGreenMiles: "Capitol Hill's Denier in Chief, Sen. Jim Inhofe, slipped up and admitted the real reason why he pretends climate change doesn't exist: Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) told WABC-AM that he was initially intrigued when former Vice President Al Gore began warning about human-induced climate change but became skeptical after discovering that environmental regulations might prove costly to business. Climate science deniers don't like the solutions, so they attack the science. The reasons why they don't like the solutions may vary—they most often represent an oil or coal state like Sen. Inhofe does, or it may simply conflict with their anti-regulatory ideology in general as in the case of someone like Sean Hannity or Scott Brown."

The Great Outdoors

intro HIT wall
Sunday Shutterbugs • Hole-in-the-Wall, Pacific Northwest coast—by OceanDiver: "The coastline of the Pacific Northwest is one of the most dynamic and changing in the world, due to rough weather, strong currents, and giant surf. It's also along a line of collision between tectonic plates, jumbling and twisting a mix of solid bedrock into sharp stacks, loose stones and weird formations. To see the evidence of all this violent activity, you have to hike along the shore some distance, your only route with the open ocean on one side and impenetrable temperate rainforest on the other. There are only a few points of access along this coast, which belongs mostly to Olympic National Park. Hole-in-the-Wall is a remarkable rock formation in many ways. Let me show you signs of the dynamic action acting on it. Do not be misled by the calm quiet day. We are catching it 'asleep" for this moment.'

The Daily Bucket: just missed a landslide on the beach—by OceanDiver: "Olympic National Park. Washington coast. December 2013. Emerging onto Third Beach for a day hike a couple of weeks ago, the shore felt very peaceful, more so than usual in fact, with that sunny sky and no breath of wind. This kind of weather is HIGHLY UNUSUAL out here in December, where 12 feet of rain drench this side of the Olympic Mountains between October and March. WARNING!! If you take a journey to see the sights along this wilderness coastline, be sure to bring raingear, boots and possibly an umbrella. Seriously! [...] Halfway down the beach there's a landslide, with rocks and dirt and plants tumbled across the sand. If the tide was higher, it would block passage further, unless a hiker crawls through or scrambles over. The tide is ebbing, so we can relax, knowing the beach will be wider when we come back."


Stalking the Blue Jay—by elfling: "I have a new camera, and I'm using it to irritate the local wildlife."

Blue Jay
The Daily Bucket - of the unremarkable nature of Robins—by bwren: "Over the years I've found seasonal patterns when I go out to count the birds - coming and goings that no longer surprise me, mid winter changes in the usual voices. I know when the Red-winged Blackbirds are due to arrive when I cock my head at a familiar voice that's not quite right, fooled once again by a Starlings' mimicked glug-a-whee? Most of the year the Starlings pretend to be Killdeer or Red-tailed Hawks or Bald Eagles. They don't pretend to be Red-winged Blackbirds until the Red-winged Blackbirds make their presence known. The real voice finds me within a week or two when I see a Red-winged Blackbird singing for the first time."

Dawn Chorus: Food, Glorious Food—by Kestrel: "What do birds eat? [...] Let's take a look at a nice photo of a bird with a bit of food and then join me below the tangled orange spider nest bird feeder to consider this topic some more. [...] Birds that employ many strategies to obtain food or feed on a variety of food items are called generalists, while others that concentrate time and effort on specific food items or have a single strategy to obtain food are considered specialists."

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing with a tasty berry
Eastern Glass Lizard
Eastern Glass Lizard
Daily Bucket: Wild Florida--Eastern Glass Lizard—by Lenny Flank: "One of the most interesting of Florida's reptiles are the Glass Lizards of the genus Ophisaurus. These long, legless reptiles are frequently mistaken for snakes, and even the scientific name of the genus is translated as "snake lizards". The Ophisaurs, however, are actually lizards. Glass Lizards can be readily distinguished from snakes by the presence of movable eyelids and by the visible ear holes at the side of the head, neither of which are found in any species of snake. Glass Lizards also lack the large rectangular belly scales which are found on nearly all snakes. [...] The most common of these is the Eastern Glass Lizard, which is found in the southeastern United States. The body has a greenish color to it, with several darker stripes running lengthwise along the back. There are a number of vertical white bars at the neck. At a maximum length of 3.5 feet, it is the longest lizard found in North America (though over two-thirds of their length consists of tail). They have lived up to ten years in captivity."

Rhino and Elks, sauteed in Greenbacks—by oldpotsmuggler: "Of course, Rhinos and Elk are not the same, but, thanks to 'one percenter conservationism' they gain more similarities every year. Consider this! The permit to kill a Black Rhino in Namibia, auctioned at the Dallas branch of the Safari Club the other day, sold for $350,000 (sadly, though, the articles I've seen, including the ones at Dkos, don't say whether this is before or after the $125,000 that the horn of the 'beast' can be sold on the Chinese black market for). Permits for killing 'Trophy Elk,' on the other hand, given by state governments to outfits like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation are now auctioning for sales prices in excess of $100,000."

breaking: SeaWorld loses Pat Benatar, Beach Boys—by foxfire burns: "SeaWorld started out with a lineup of 10 acts. Today they had their 10th cancellation. Every year, SeaWorld runs a concert series. But this year, things are different. This year, millions of people saw the documentary Blackfish. Americans now know about the harm SeaWorld does to orcas. And people are asking the artists they love to not be associated with SeaWorld's cruelty for profit. After the Barenaked Ladies cancelled their performance at SeaWorld, and after Willie Nelson did, and Heart and Cheap Trick and REO Speedwagon and Trisha Yearwood and Martina McBride and 38 Special, SeaWorld decided they needed to do something to stop the cancellations. Their solution: move the concerts to another venue they own (Busch Gardens) and downplay their ownership of it."

The Daily Bucket - first of the year wetland bird count—by bwren: "Cold, grey, and loud down at the Wetland on this year's first count day. Avian rock-concert loud, with the first hint of springtime testosterone added to the mix. I arrived as the opening act was in full swing, walking in from the south along a path shoulder high in dense brush. Two Bewick's Wrens yelled from low hidden places on either side of the path, buzzy riffs of call and response: • I'm here! ° Yeah! And I'm here! • Oh yeah? Well I'm here!! ° I heard you and I am definitely by God right here! One Song Sparrow was warming up from somewhere under a pile of brush mid way between the wrens, beginning his practice with the usual Song Sparrow chp chp chp, then moving into brief fragments of Song Sparrow repertoire."

Elephants, Rain Forests, and Climate—by xaxnar: "The megafauna of the Western Hemisphere—giant ground sloths like the megatherium, and other large herbivores have been extinct for a long time. Only now are we starting to see the missing pieces in the web, by looking at one that is still functioning. The African Congo rainforest is home to elephants, more specifically the African Forest Elephant. Until recently considered a subspecies, it is now apparent it should be considered a species apart from its larger bush cousin. It also happens that it plays a vital role in maintaining the forest that is its home. Rain forests are climate shapers; they collect, hold, and release water in amounts that have effects far beyond their borders. They fix carbon and are home to many species, including plants. The roughly 4 minute film is a revealing look at how one species—the forest elephant—plays a role that transcends their own particular lives."

Wolf Management in Central Idaho—by ban nock: "Before Christmas the Idaho Department of Fish and Game flew a trapper in to a couple of the airstrips in that wilderness and he took some pack horses up to a forest service cabin to try to eliminate the Golden and Monumental wolf packs. Because it's Wilderness the Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) couldn't fly helicopters and this is how they do it. They've had pretty good luck with eliminating entire packs previously. Eventually other wolves will fill in the empty space but in the meantime it gives the elk a chance to get re established. All of this is fairly non controversial to anyone who has been paying attention. Sport hunting of wolves is just not very efficient for population management purposes. To reduce populations you need to take out 50% to 75% of the wolves or more over a few years. Bear in mind wolf packs roughly double every spring when the pups are born, not all pups live to adulthood, but the species is one that reproduces quickly. Wolves under the final EIS for wolves, the 10j rule and common practice are managed by the states in all areas except National Parks and Wildlife refuges."


Water! Water! It's about Water and Education for TX Sen 9 Candidate—by FaithChatham: "Gregory R. Perry is a quiet-spoken intelligent man. When asked why he is running for Texas Senate District 9, he replied: 'Mainly Anger!' When he begins talking about public policy and how it impacts his grandchildren, it becomes clear that Gregory R. Perry is determined to change the course of Texas public policy. Gregory is convinced that the trajectory of this state is at odds with the opportunities facing his grandchildren and their generations. [...] There is a water crisis in Texas and it will not get better. Deferring investment in water solutions—long-term investment in infrastructure is imperative for the quality of life and economic future of North Texans. Gregory R. Perry worked on the Joe Pool Lake, Lake of the Pines, Sam Rayburn, and Lake of the Pines Corps of Engineers water management projects. He understand water and he knows Texas aquifers. With the stress of trillions of gallons of water used by horizontal drilling/fracking in Texas during drought, water is a priority for this next legislative session. He has worked on the rivers and lakes of Texas and now Gregory R. Perry is prepared to bring solutions to the floor for consideration."

Young, diverse community leaders, job developers say no to peripheral tunnels—by Dan Bacher: "Restore the Delta (RTD) announced on Wednesday that they will hold a news conference on Thursday, Jan. 16 at 10 am on the North Steps of the State Capitol during which young, diverse community leaders and job developers will call upon Governor Jerry Brown to abandon the peripheral tunnels proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). They will ask him to invest instead in clean water supplies for all California communities, and develop sustainable jobs in alternative water solutions. 'We call upon Gov. Brown to abandon the fatally flawed $70 billion tunnels,' said Javier Padilla Reyes, Latino Outreach Director of RTD, a group opposing Gov. Brown’s rush to build peripheral tunnels that would cost up to $70 billion, drain the Delta and doom salmon and other Pacific fisheries. 'Our communities need clean water supplies, not export tunnels for unsustainable cotton and almond mega-growers.'"

Climate Chaos

The Fox 'News' war on science: Only talks climate change when it's cold—by Laurence Lewis: "In a world where so many things are so rapidly changing, it may be of comfort to know that Fox doggedly will be Fox: The recent Arctic chill has given Fox News an excuse to give 'skeptics' a platform to deny climate change and bash climate science. But the network has been remiss to discuss the topic during periods of record heat. During their coverage of cold weather from January 2 to January 8, Fox News brought up climate change nine times, casting doubt on it every single time. They also devoted a significant amount of coverage to a ship getting stuck in Antarctic ice to mock climate change during this period. But this strongly contrasts Fox News' coverage of extreme heat events, in which the network is typically silent on the topic of global warming. A previous Media Matters analysis found that, in a parallel week-long time period in 2011, Fox News did not mention climate change once while reporting on an unusually intense heat wave. And throughout the entire month of July 2012, which was the hottest month on record for the United States, the network discussed climate change in the heat wave's context once—in order to deny it. This is hardly surprising. In the Media Matters roundup of the "13 Dumbest Things Media Said About Climate Change In 2013", Fox scored seven times. Rush Limbaugh, who even a Republican scientist recently said knows nothing about science, was a distant second, with two."

Time to Shift the Climate Debate — From Science to Policy—by kindler: "I am as guilty as anyone of spending more time debating climate denial trolls than actually crafting solutions, lobbying to get them passed and working to ensure they are adopted.  This unproductive situation is the result of the effective diversionary tactic developed and executed by the Koch brothers, Exxon Mobil and the other fossil fuel titans who have spent millions to sow doubt about climate change through a huge network of organizations, individuals, websites and blogs. Their endless factoids and talking points would only make sense if pretty much the entire global scientific establishment were engaged in the biggest conspiracy that the world has ever known. Which is, quite simply, science fiction. As long as we remain stuck on this phony debate over settled science, however, we remain one step away from working to actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent the climate change that is already happening from turning truly catastrophic."

Climate-change denying scientists ... er ... scientist getting a bit lonely—by Meteor Blades: "Only one — ONE — of the 9,137 authors of peer-reviewed climate change articles rejected anthropogenic global warming. Geochemist James Powell did the research on publications from November 2012 and December 2013. (But if a year-long sample isn’t good enough for you, Powell previously examined 21 years of peer-reviewed literature and found that only 24 out of 13,950 articles — or two-tenths of a percent — came out and rejected human-caused climate change.) Sen. Jim Inhofe and Rush Limbaugh and George Will no doubt believe this is a result of a cabal of global warming hoaxers who have gained control of all these publications and brainwashed thousands of scientists with propaganda and government grants."

Antarctica Pine Island Glacier is in irreversible melt—by Pakalolo: "[S]cientists suspected that the spatial pattern of a recently collapsed Iceberg B-31, strongly suggested that the cause of this change is 'weaker ice shelves,' the floating apron of ice that fringe the perimeter of the ice sheet. Our hypothesis is that warm water is melting the undersides of these ice shelves decreasing the 'back pressure' from the ice shelves to help hold the ice sheet. Less back-pressure means the ice sheet can flow faster.' What scientists see now is that the massive 68,000-square-mile sheet of ice, believed to be the biggest single contributor to sea-level rise in Antarctica, has begun to shed water at a rate not seen before."

Freezing the Hype: What's a "Polar Vortex?"—by weatherdude: "The polar vortex is nothing new. We've known of its existence since at least November 1853. It is a word the media just learned a few weeks ago, and since it sounds scary and new, they ran with it in order to drum up ratings. It's the same phenomenon as when everyone first learned the word 'derecho' back in 2012. So, what is it? [...] The polar vortex is a long-lived area of low pressure that exists near the North Pole. It strengthens during the winter and weakens during the summer. Since it occurs during the northern winter, the air mass associated with the polar vortex can reach well below -50°F. Sometimes when a strong area of high pressure near Greenland blocks a portion of the polar vortex, a piece breaks off since it has nowhere to go but south, and it temporarily moves down into the middle latitudes."

#TrumpScience—by Nathan Empsall SierraRise: "There is only one thing bigger than Donald Trump's ego -- the size of the climate lies he's been spreading on social media about this winter's freezing temperatures: This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bull---- has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps, and our GW scientists are stuck in ice — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump). I wish I could shrug my shoulders and say 'The Donald' doesn't matter—but with 2.4 million Twitter followers, a hit network TV show, and a potential presidential run, the right-wing billionaire has a lot of influence. People listen to what he says—so it's up to us to hold him accountable. We're going to get that ball rolling with a Thunderclap."

"Professor" Limbaugh Explains Climate Science And The Global Warming Hoax—by skent4490: "Of course, those with an actual grasp of climate science were quick to point out the flaws in Limbaugh's discourse. For starters, record cold in North America doesn't mean record cold elsewhere. For example, Australia has started off 2014 the same way as it spent a good part of last year—absolutely baking. That's why the word global is included in the phrase "global warming." You have to consider what's happening across the entire planet, Rush. Look at last year, for instance. It was relatively cool in North America but the global average temperature for 2013 was likely among the 10 warmest since 1850. (The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) hasn't published their final report for 2013 but their preliminary report notes a top 10 ranking is likely.)"

Extreme Weather

A Layman's Understanding of Extreme Weather—by LeftOfYou: "I need not await research into every corner of these propositions. I am convinced by Occam's Razor, observation and knowledge that in the physical universe, the extra heat in the atmosphere isn't going away, but is doing something, that is, the extra heat energy is causing mischief with local weather all over the World. Extreme weather inevitably manifests from a more energetic climate system. Think of it as a shaken snow globe or boiling pot. How hard you shake or turn up the burner make a difference. Weather extremes will come at both the high and low end as always, but with higher amplitudes. So it is that the same Winter brings record cold to the Great Lakes and Eastern Seaboard of North America while producing an unprecedented mild weather, that is, extreme high temperatures, in Russian Siberia. In 2012 the hurricanes drove far North of their usual targets, as with Sandy. Then the just concluded 2013 hurricane season resulted in unexpected ebbing of storm activity."

Food, Agriculture & Gardening

Americans in Cars, Eating Badly—by marc brazeau: "That's why last summer's essay by David Freedman 'How Junk Food Can End Obesity' was such a missed opportunity. The piece inspired a ton of conversation, almost none of it was particularly productive. The problems with Freedman's piece were legion. The linkbait headline inspired a counter headline, 'Bunk About Junk Food,' from David Katz MD that implied that he had a major bone to pick. He didn't. Swapping the phrase 'Convenience Food' for 'Junk Food' would have likely settled the matter for Katz. Freedman has an anachronistic fear of fat that completely sidetracked Tom Philpott's critique. Meanwhile, Philpott's agreement with the central premise was buried at the end and only briefly mentioned. Freedman took his contrarianism to absurd levels. He claimed that Pollanites are hurting Big Food's efforts to market better options by not pitching in and BUYING those products. He set up a ridiculous straw man by conflating Pollanism with the most brain dead, consumerist products sold by Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. That inspired a well deserved, but counter productive backlash."

Historic win for labor as Walmart joins Fair Food program—by VL Baker: "Some amazing good news which had its start in Florida tomato fields. The news that Walmart, who is the largest grocery retailer in the world, has joined the Fair Food program and agreed to pay an additional penny per pound for the tomatoes they buy. In turn, the producers pass that penny directly along to the workers. A penny-a-pound might sound like a pittance, but it represents a 50 percent raise, the difference between making $50 and $80 a day."

Mercy Ritte: 'Aina Warrior Against AgriChem Corporations—by Karen from Maui: "Hawai'i is ground zero for the AgriChemical/GMO corporations like Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow and DuPont. These corporations use our islands to experiment with new pesticides and GMO seeds. On Moloka'i the situation is complicated by Monsanto being the biggest employer on an island. Moloka'i is 38 by 10 mile island with a population of 7,400. Sixty percent identify themselves as Hawaiian or Part-Hawaiian. Mercy Ritte, a 29 year old mother living a mile from Monsanto's corn fields, became concerned after her toddler son became ill with a cough after a heavy dust storm blew over her home from Monsanto's fields. Monsanto refused to disclose to her what chemicals they were spraying and what might have caused her son's illness. So she became the Moloka'i Mom on a Mission and started protests against Monsanto. More and more concerned moms joined. She joined up with Hawai'i Seed to promote more sustainable farming in Hawai'i."

AgroChemical Companies Sue Kaua'i for the Right to Spray Next to Schools—by Karen from Maui: "On Jan 12, 2014 DuPont Co., Syngenta AG and Dow Chemical Co. filed a lawsuit against the small Hawaiian island of Kaua'i in an attempt to block their Pesticide Disclosure Ordinance 960 (Bill 2491). The law requires large Agriculture and AgroChemical corporations (most of them experimenting with new pesticides) to disclose pesticide use, report genetically engineered crops, and create buffer zones between pesticide-sprayed fields and public areas like schools, hospitals and homes. [...] All of Hawai'i has become ground zero for pesticide and gmo experimentation. Professor Hector Valenzuela of University of Hawaii Tropical Agriculture Department says: 'Apparently over 90 different pesticide formulations are applied by the GM seed industry on Kauai. Pesticides are applied on over 250 days out of the year, with perhaps 10-40 applications per day, on average. Because seed crops are considered to be a non-food item, seed growers are allowed to use more pesticides, and to use them more extensively, than they would be allowed to use, for the production of edible crops. This may partly explain why the GM seed industry uses over 90% of the twenty-two "Restricted Use Pesticides" that are used on farms in Kauai.'"

Macca's Meatless Monday: Mitigation and adaptation to climate change begins at home—by VL Baker: "Tonight join me on a virtual taste trip to Jamaica, just because we all need to get away to a beautiful warm beach sometime and there's no easier and greener way to get there than to prepare a lovely island feast and let your taste buds transport you."

Meat=cancer we've known since 1907—by VL Baker: "While everyone understands the link between cancer and cigarettes, the link with meat  has somehow escaped notice. In two enormous studies—the 2009 NIH-AARP study, with half a million participants, and a 2012 Harvard study with 120,000 participants. In both studies, meat-eaters were at higher risk of a cancer death, and many more studies have shown the same thing. How does meat cause cancer? It could be the heterocyclic amines—carcinogens that form as meat is cooked. It could also be the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or the heme iron in meat, or perhaps its lack of fiber and paucity of antioxidants. But really the situation is like tobacco. We know tobacco causes lung cancer, even though no one yet knows exactly which part of the tobacco smoke is the major culprit. And although meat-eaters clearly have higher cancer rates, it is not yet clear which part of meat does the deed."

Saturday Morning Garden Blogging Vol. 9.48—by Frankenoid: "I haven't put together my seed order yet, but I have been working on one of my gardening resolutions: figuring out how to control the Japanese beetles that I first saw in my garden last year. jayden pointed me to research which has shown that the petals of red, salmon or white common geraniums paralyze beetles, rendering them vulnerable to becoming snacks for other creatures.  So I've been busy taking cuttings from my red geranium, rooting them in water and potting them up."

Additive-Free Living and a One-Pot Winter Meal!—by karmsy: "As is true of too many recipes in this nameless book, this one relies on ready-compiled flavoring ingredients. In this case, the recipe called for a store-bought soup-mix, one that contained the additive monosodium glutamate, 'MSG.' Now, MSG derives from seaweed. It's made in a laboratory, to enhance the flavor of food. It's ubiquitous in mass-produced convenience foods, under such ingredient names as 'hydrolyzed vegetable protein" and "modified food starch.' The presence of this additive in food troubles me for two reasons. The first is that MSG likely affects human health. It seems to cause short-term disturbances like headaches and flushing in some people. Its heavy use also results in long-term, repeat human exposure to the molecule, with effects difficult to quantify in the population, but which possibly include weight-gain, and other undesired outcomes. The second reason MSG-use troubles me, is the hard questions that arise about reasons for its widespread presence in food. Why does food's flavor so commonly need 'goosing' to begin with?"


Sunday Train: The Rumored Death of Peak Oil Was Greatly Exaggerated—by Bruce McF: "Wait a Minute, I Thought the Peak Oil Theory Was Debunked! Big Oil has, of course, worked hard on spinning the peak oil argument. After all, if we cannot count on the availability of petroleum as an energy source, then that creates an obvious coalition of interest between those concerned with climate change, who argue for investing in alternatives to CO2 emitting energy sources, and those who are simply concerned with securing a long term energy supply for their economic activities ... which can be secured by investing in alternatives to CO2 emitting energy sources. Propagandizing the impression that the "Peak Oil" argument has been debunked is therefore an essential political wedge action by Big Oil, preventing that natural coalition of interest from coming together."

Citizen science campaign aims to collect ocean samples and fund Fukushima radiation analysis—by MarineChemist: "A point of information for Kossaks who are interested in determining the impact of Fukushima on their part of the Pacific. In the absence of direct funding from Government agencies to monitor the impact of Fukushima sourced radionuclides on in the North Pacific Ocean and to the west coast of North America a crowd-sourced monitoring initiative has just been launched. The initiative is through the Center for Marine and Environmental Radiation out of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Headed up by Dr. Ken Buesseler the program is called How Radioactive is Our Ocean? Interested citizen scientists can propose a sampling location, fund-raise, request a sampling kit, return seawater for analysis and receive results."

Fukushima: CA Universities Launch Kelp Watch 2014—by Joieau: "In response to public concerns about the Pacific plumes of contaminated water coming from Fukushima's destroyed Daiichi nuclear reservation, researchers from UC Berkeley, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Cal Tech have launched a project dubbed 'Kelp Watch 2014.' The project includes 19 academic and governmental institutions plus three "organizations/businesses" according to the LBL newscenter. The LBL newscenter press release, the Los Angeles Times article on the project, but searches on the LBL site proved fruitless for determining who those three 'organizations/businesses' might be. The project will monitor the kelp forests off the California coast for contamination, for the stated purpose of easing public concerns about the situation."

History of Bomb Strontium and Cesium Isotopes in Pacific Compared to Fukushima Sources—by MarineChemist: "Fukushima inputs are much smaller in magnitude and despite ongoing release unlikely to exceed weapons fallout.  Initial Cs-137 release to atmosphere and ocean from Fukushima is ~80 PBq and the relative Sr-90 associated with the initial pulse is much, much less than weapons fallout being only about 3% of Cs release.  Models with realistic ocean mixing parameterizations of the likely concentrations (1-30 Bq/m^3)(Behrens et al. 2012, Rossi et al. 2013 DSR) and measurements of Cs-137 in the leading edge of the plume in the North Pacific (Smith et al. 2013 PICES) do not suggest that Cs-137 will exceed 1960's maximums from bomb testing.  So Sr-90 will certainly not approach 1960s levels. The concentration of the radioisotopes Sr-90 and Cs-137 determine the degree to which they are bioaccumulated and control the tissue concentrations, exposure and health impacts in marine organisms. Any environmental effects and negative impacts expected from Fukushima should be less than any impacts on organisms in the 1960's and 1970's."

SAFECAST Provides Useful Information on Fukushima Impacts in Pacific Ocean—by MarineChemist: "This diary is simply to point interested members of the Daily Kos community to a well presented, cogent summary of what the marine science community knows about Fukushima derived radiation in the North Pacific Ocean. There are useful links provided to the primary literature and explanations of the main findings of these studies."

Canada's Tar Sands: "We've got Neil Young!"—by Agathena: "The title was my reaction after listening to Young on CBC radio with Jian Gomeshi. Young is beginning a benefit Honour the Treaties Tour with Diana Krall. He wants Canadians to think for themselves, he is only telling them what he has seen and what he knows about the tar sands. He sympathizes with the workers up in Fort Mac but he is doesn't want his grandchildren to find themselves in the hole that they are digging there, a hole so deep they won't be able to see the sky."

Renewables & Conservation

Green German Power - another milestone passed—by peterfallow: "On Friday December 6th, renewable sources provided over one third of Germany's total demand for electricity - for the whole day. As you would expect in December, the vast majority of this was by wind, with solar and hydro contributing just a couple of per cent. Over the whole of 2013, solar and wind provided around 13.7% of the countries requirements."

Something's missing in the calls to fix the climate problem—by Left Foot Forward: "Yesterday there was this nice letter from Enviro groups to President Obama complaining about all-of-the-above energy policy. A bit late, but good on them for sending it. Yet... Notice how analysis of the letter and policy options just talks about energy supply? It's fossil fuel this vs. renewables that. What's missing is serious attention to current and potential levels of energy consumption. Demand drives the quest for supply. Fossil fuels are the biggest slice of our energy supply pie and nukes are a significant portion. Hydro is a fixed, perhaps dwindling, slice. Renewables, while growing, are still small relative to the whole pie. Can renewables go from zero to sixty lickety-split? Maybe, but highly unlikely in a Boehner/Ryan/Koch Bros./corporate-greed-dominated policy environment. Where, then, can the Exec Branch and climate-caring interest groups turn? Efficiency."


Will Illinois Ban Fracking After Disaster Strikes Or Before?—by Willinois: "An Illinois ban on fracking is inevitable. The question is whether it will happen before or after a major fracking disaster. The public comment period on Illinois' draft regulations ended January 3 with groups in potentially impacted areas repeating their call for a ban on fracking. A group of southern Illinois residents representing several grassroots groups drove to Illinois Department of Natural Resources headquarters in Springfield to join with Frack Free Illinois in delivering comments on the regulation and a petition asking Governor Quinn to oversee a rewrite. Tabitha Tripp, of Anna-Jonesboro, said in a statement, 'these inadequate rules will leave nothing but legacies of disasters to those who voted on this irresponsible law and abandon Illinois tax payers who will indeed foot the bill for public health issues like cancer and leukemia.'"

Define Emergency—by Arianna Editrix: "Recently the Illinois legislature passed 'the most restrictive regulations for hydraulic fracturing aka fracking in the US.'   They seemed to think that our overtaxed inspectors in an underfunded regulatory body would be able to keep up with what oil and gas companies were doing. [...] The second largest issue is defining an "emergency" at the well head.  Companies want the right to discharge "emergency discharge" into open pits and keep it there for an undetermined period of time. Oh, and they get to define what an 'emergency' is and how long it lasts too. Sound familiar? Think West Virginia and the fact those tanks were built in the 1940's and haven't been inspected since 1991!"

EPA will allow frackers to continue dumping chemicals into ocean—by Dan Bacher: "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on January 10 announced a new requirement for oil and gas corporations to publicly report chemicals dumped directly into the ocean from offshore fracking (hydraulic fracturing) operations off the Southern California Coast, but the new procedure won't stop them from continuing to pollute the ocean. The notice, published in the Federal Register, announces the changes as part of a new permit for water pollution discharges from offshore oil and gas operations in federal waters off California. The reporting requirement will become effective March 1, according to the Center for Biological Diversity."

Drought emergency in California raises stakes on fracking fight—by dturnbull: "Today, Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency for the State of California. While the details of what this declaration will entail for state water policy remain murky, one thing that should have been included is abundantly clear. If the Governor were to be truly serious about protecting Californians struggling with the drought, he would put a halt to fracking in the state immediately. [...] Governor Brown talks a big game on climate change. But when it comes to standing up to Big Oil and actually paying heed to what the science is telling us, the Governor comes up far short. Allowing fracking to continue in the state is simply denying the facts of climate change, and ignoring the troubling reality of drought in our state."

Governor Brown declares drought state of emergency, protesters call for fracking ban—by Dan Bacher: "As a crowd of anti-fracking protesters gathered in front of Governor Jerry Brown's San Francisco office this morning to call for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in California, Brown proclaimed a State of Emergency and directed state officials to take 'all necessary actions' to prepare for these drought conditions. 'We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,' said Governor Brown. 'I’ve declared this emergency and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.' Adam Scow, California Campaign Director of Food and Water Watch, responded to the Governor’s drought declaration as he rallied with 75 protesters in front of the Governor’s Office."

Keystone and Other Fossil Fuel Transportation

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister wants answer on Keystone XL Now!—by Eyesbright: "Addressing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, January 16th, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird repeated the same thoroughly refuted lies that Keystone XL proponents have used throughout their aggressive push for the environmentally disastrous pipeline. '... building Keystone XL would create thousands of jobs and prompt economic growth on both sides of the border.' 'So if there’s one message I’m going to be promoting on this trip, it is that the time for Keystone is now. I’ll go further — the time for a decision on Keystone is now, even if it’s not the right one,' said Baird. 'We can’t continue in this state of limbo.'"

10 reasons why I'm against Keystone XL—by Dirk Adams: "Have you ever been to a White Elephant party? Where there are lots of beautifully wrapped packages, but the gifts are all stinkers? That's what the Keystone XL Pipeline is for Montana and for our country: a bad deal wrapped in pretty packaging. You probably have your own reasons for opposing Keystone XL, but here's my top 10 as a Montana rancher who wants to be the next U.S. Senator from Montana. Find out more about my campaign here, if you're curious. I'm running for the open seat to replace Max Baucus, and I'm the ONLY candidate—Democrat or Republican—that's daring to come out against this boondoggle."

Christie & the Pinelands Gas Pipeline—by TofG: "Last week the NJ Pinelands Commission, by a 7-7 vote, prevented a Chris Christie backed plan to push a gas pipeline through the Pinelands to South Jersey. But will Christie try again? More below: The vote was only 7-7 because the Christie Administration persuaded (coerced? bullied?) Edward Lloyd to recuse himself on "conflict of interest" grounds of his also being president of the eastern environmental Law Center. But as the Philadelphia Inquirer put it today in an editorial: ...there is no evidence that Lloyd stood to benefit from voting one way or another. The attorney general's flimsy assertion reeked of political hardball. However, Christie has a path to reverse the decision. 1) Christie vetoes the minutes of the Board and forces them to revote 2) He stacks the board with more anti-environmental members."

Statement to county commissioners at pipeline meeting—by danpsFollow: "Pipelines leak. Last summer's spill in Arkansas was so severe that houses had to be demolished because of it. Last September there was a six inch pipeline spill of almost a million gallons in North Dakota. These are just two of the most dramatic examples from the last year. A little over a year ago a report commissioned by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) documented hundreds of spills throughout the country. So the prudent question for any community faced with a new pipeline should not be, will it leak?  But rather, what happens once it does leak?  The industry's monitoring schemes are often inadequate."

Trade & Industrial Policy

AFL-CIO: Fast track? No Me Gusta—by divineorder: "A 'fast track' through Congress for the Trans Pacific Partnership proposals? Meh. More pollution? More outsourcing?  Less Democracy? Fewer worker protections? Less quality control over food and drugs? Many questions have legitimately been raised about the secretive Trans Pacific Trade pact, and rightly so. In its urgency to reach agreement on an ambitious international trade agreement, the Obama administration may give up on key environmental protections, documents obtained by WikiLeaks reveal. Obama has indicated that the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping deal being negotiated between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim nations, is a top priority, and the push to fast-track the negotiations, the leaked documents indicate, appears to be coming at the cost of protections such as legally binding pollution control requirements, logging regulations and a ban on harvesting shark fins."

Obama's TPP "could undo key global environmental protections"—by Tasini: "Ilana Solomon, the director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program, said the draft omits crucial language ensuring that increased trade will not lead to further environmental destruction. 'It rolls back key standards set by Congress to ensure that the environment chapters are legally enforceable, in the same way the commercial parts of free-trade agreements are,' Ms. Solomon said. The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Wildlife Fund have been following the negotiations closely and are expected to release a report on Wednesday criticizing the draft. To clarify, I disagree with Solomon about the environmental chapters being much to shout about. I've pointed out going back a number of years [...] that the labor standards, or side agreements on the environment and labor, are a fig leaf to obscure the reality that so-called 'free trade' agreements are basically about promoting and protecting capital investment, and to hell with people and the planet."

Fasttrack, TTPA and Wikileaks - What's the Impact on Environmental Protection?—by mimi: "Meanwhile hearings begin today in Congress on legislation to establish fast-track authority that would allow Obama to sign the TPP before Congress votes on it. Broadcasting from Tokyo, we’re joined by Nobuhiko Suto, a former member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in Japan’s House of Representatives, where he was among the first legislators to point out the dangers of the TPP. He is the Secretary-General of the group, Citizen’s Congress for Opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We’re also joined on the phone by Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch based in Washington, D.C."

‘CRUDE PT. 2’ Will Free-trade fast-track Keystone XL with Investor State Dispute Settlements?—by Mark Lippman: "This diary continues the study of Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS) that began with an earlier diary posted on Sunday, ‘CRUDE’—How TPP & TTIP free-trade agreements could threaten sovereignty.' ISDS is a feature of the TPP and TTIP free-trade agreements.  According to the textbook definition, it provides a means for settling international trade disputes when a business enterprise is denied due process in a foreign country where it operates. In practice, it has been used by large and powerful business corporations to exploit the people and resources in countries that aren’t prepared to defend themselves against predatory capitalism. That was the case with Chevron and Ecuador covered in the first part of 'Crude.' ISDS is also being used by enterprises to create more favorable business conditions for themselves by nullifying local laws."

Once again, the Pentagon is determining U.S. industrial policy—by RobLewis: "Some years back, the Pentagon realized that they, like the rest of America, were excessively dependent on imported oil (the Pentagon is the largest consumer of fossil fuels in the world). For the military, it wasn't just a question of economics, it was national security at stake. And they embarked on a program to reduce that dependence. They even hired Amory Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute fame to show them how. And now they're aggressively pursuing partnerships with private companies to create solar-powered military bases. Again, spending whatever it takes and helping these companies to scale up production and bring down costs. Can you say 'industrial policy'?OK, this is good news. But what if we were smart enough to have an industrial policy focused on civilian needs, rather than having to wait for the benefits from military projects to trickle down to society at large? Who knows what we could accomplish?"

Eco-Activism & Eco-Justice

A Compromise We Can't Afford—by Michael Brune: "Yesterday, the Sierra Club and 17 other environmental, environmental justice, and public health advocacy groups sent a letter to President Obama in which we asked him to stop basing national energy policy on an "all of the above" strategy. If we want to reach the goal of 100 percent clean energy before our climate is catastrophically disrupted, then common sense demands that we prioritize clean energy—and make it official—right now. [...] An 'all of the above' strategy is a compromise that future generations can't afford. It fails to prioritize clean energy and solutions that have already begun to replace fossil fuels, revitalize American industry, and save Americans money. It increases environmental injustice while it locks in the extraction of fossil fuels that will inevitably lead to a catastrophic climate future. It threatens our health, our homes, our most sensitive public lands, our oceans and our most precious wild places. Such a policy accelerates development of fuel sources that can negate the important progress you've already made on lowering U.S. carbon pollution, and it undermines U.S. credibility in the international community."

Green Groups to Obama: Your All-of-the-Above Strategy Will Lead to Climate Disaster—by Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees: "Yesterday, a group of 18 green groups wrote a letter to President Obama criticizing his "all of the above" energy strategy. The letter highlighted how such a strategy undermines his professed commitment to combating climate change both domestically and internationally. The letter stressed that reducing dependence on 'foreign oil' is not sufficient: we must reduce dependence on oil and other fossil fuels regardless of origin. The letter also emphasized how pursuing fossil fuels will prevent the further expansion of the clean energy that we need for a carbon-free economy and energy system and will prolong the injustices that the current fossil fuel-driven system produces."

Freewayblogging 2013 (photos)—by freewayblogger:

Arctic Protest sign outside Chevron offices.
What a climate change realist should tell a climate change denialist—by Miscweant: "'If I’m wrong, if climate change is natural and not the fault of our lifestyle, but we spend a lot of money moving away from a carbon-based economy anyway, we’ve lessened its impact to a degree and created a lot of jobs for people. If you’re wrong, if climate change is real and our fault, but we do nothing and let it continue … in the long run we’ve totally screwed ourselves, our kids and the planet. Your choice.'"

I troll the climate change deniers—by Risen Tree: "I offered an internet forum that is rife with climate change deniers an opportunity to put their money where their mouth is. The challenge to them was the following: If so many climate scientists are supposedly influenced by political agendas, then the evidence should bear it out. So let's see that evidence. Now. Specifically, here is what I am looking for: You find a peer-reviewed study published in the last ten years that supports the theory of anthropogenic climate change and proceed to debunk it. But here is the catch: Only peer-reviewed scientific research papers shall be admitted as evidence. Also, the more recent it is, the better; the older, the worse. Hint: You don't have to limit yourself to American-based studies; climate science is studied globally. Note that if you believe that if an climate change science is just a political ploy or a conspiracy, then this allows you access to other sources of information that are not allegedly tainted."

National Parks, Forests & Other Public Lands

Daily Bucket--Salmon Woman and Redwood Man—by 6412093: "The coastal redwoods are the tallest trees on earth. Their natural habitat is a narrow band within a few dozen miles of California's coast, where the morning fog forms consistently, originally running from near Los Angeles to the state border with Oregon. In southern Humboldt County where I lived, a hundred miles south of Oregon,  the huge redwoods seemed to surround you, on every horizon so tall you wondered if you were hallucinating. Sometimes I was hallucinating. My partners and I treasured the afternoons when we sat in silence, on a bluff above the Eel River, under the coastal Redwoods towering 300 feet overhead. We also salvaged redwood stumps that storms washed up onto shorelines and riverbanks, and we recovered logs that some 19th century operator left behind. We never cut down a live redwood. Many redwood stumps featured large wart-like growths, called burls, that encircled the tree at ground level. The burls' grain formed interesting, unpredictable patterns. We relished the instant we finished sawing a fresh slab from a salvaged stump and the staggering beauty of its burl grain first revealed itself, fresh and vivid. [...] Back in Oakland, I took my time finishing my Redwood Burl slabs.  A couple of the slabs were rare Bird’s Eye Lace Burl grain, found in one of a thousand stumps. I sanded those with progressively finer sandpaper grits.  Commercial furniture makers would have sanded with 16 (very coarse) grit to remove the chain saw marks, buffed the wood with finer 80 grit, and then put on the varnish."

Expanding the National Park System #10- Georgia—by MorrellWI1983: "Here is the tenth diary in my Expanding the National Parks System series. Last time I got sunburned while walking the beaches of Florida, this week I turn north to the Peach State, Georgia. Georgia has 3.8% of its area owned by the feds,  which is 29th in the country. Currently Georgia has three national monuments, two national forests, 10 wildlife refuges and 10 other historic sites. As with the other states, I propose to add more monuments to the tally. Proposed Monuments: • Chattahoochee River—Upgrades Existing recreational area to monument status. Estimated area: 10000 acres. • Georgia Coastal—Would protect coastal waters up to 20 miles offshore, including all islands, as well as open land up to 10 miles inland. Estimated area: 2 million acres. • Okefenokee—Upgrades existing wildlife refuge to monument status, covering the entire swamp. Estimated area: 440,000 acres. • Oglethorpe—Sets aside the portion of the Oconoe forest in Oglethorpe county, as well as the church Oglethorpe is buried. Estimated area: 5000 acres."

Eco-Philosophy & Essays

Can “Upcycling” lead to real change or do we need an “Economy for the Common Good”?—by Gus Hagelberg: "Reading the book 'The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability - Designing for Abundance' by Michael Braungart and William McDonough has encouraged me to contribute to the debate on sustainability and the role of business in meaningful change. I was impressed and inspired by the author's ideas about seeing natural resources in a continuum. L. H. Lovins describes their strategy as follows: 'it is a holistic economic, industrial and social framework that seeks to create systems that are not only efficient but also essentially waste free.' [...] Humans are creating terrible damage by polluting too much. Is that the whole truth, however? Does it not feed in to a psychology of guilt? Does it not have a laming effect on us? Braungart and McDonough criticize the idea of “doing less bad”. By reducing our car emissions we add a little less poison into the atmosphere and we can feel a little less guilty about ruining the environment for generations to come. Braungart and McDonough encourage us to turn around our thinking. What if we stop talking about 'doing less bad' and start thinking about 'doing more good.' Are we really parasites or can we be productive and healing members of a complex biosphere?"

"Like a Book Burning" The Canadian government is closing scientific libraries and destroying docs—by Pakalolo: "As reported by The Tyee earlier this month and again here, scientists are sounding alarms about libraries dismantled by the government, including Maurice-Lamontagne Institute, which housed 61,000 French language documents on Quebec's waterways, as well as the newly renovated $62-million library serving the historic St Andrews Biological Station (SABS) in St Andrews, New Brunswick. (Famed environmental scientist Rachel Carson corresponded with researchers at SABS for her groundbreaking book on toxins, Silent Spring. The station's contaminant research program has been axed by the Harper government.) Also shut down are the famous Freshwater Institute library in Winnipeg and one of the world's finest ocean collections at the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland. Scientists who use the libraries say priceless information—essential for the legal and political security of Canada's waterways as well as the defence of the longest coastline in the world—was thrown into dustbins, burned or scavenged by private consultants. In Winnipeg, a consultant's group operating for Manitoba Hydro backed up a truck to collect materials from the dismantled library."

Tree Sitter's Mom says "get down, get a job, and pay your bills"—by ban nock: "I'm pretty easy, tell me something is environmentally friendly and I'm all for it. I like the 100 year cycle to the cutting, the leaving of big old trees, and the leaving of a significant amount of dead and downed trees. I like wildlife, martens need old dead trees to make houses in, deer and elk need sunlight to reach the forest floor to make grass and bushes. I like the diversity of tree species and protections of water sources. In reading about the bill on environmental blogs, it appears not all are so wild over the idea, particularly the Sierra Club and Oregon Wild. I can't think of a way to diplomatically say what I think of those two orgs so I'd best say nothing. I read a lot of environmental type blogs, and when I read this comment I just busted a gut. Merryl Eng • 10 hours ago − I am Joshua Eng's Mom. It does not look safe. for him to be sleeping & living in that. tree he needs to come home & get a job where he can his bills & not family who cannot afford it pay it for him."

Robert Reich: Fear Is Why Poor States Vote Against Their Economic Interest—by GleninCA: "For years many Democrats have wondered why poor and middle class Americans vote for conservative politicians that don't share their economic interests, especially in our country's poorest states like West Virginia. Is it some twisted ideology? Something to do with race or religion? It could be all of those things, but oddly enough, jobs could also be a factor. Or more specifically, the fear of losing those jobs. In a Facebook post today, Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich explains: Last week’s massive toxic chemical spill into West Virginia Elk River illustrates another benefit to the business class of high unemployment, economic insecurity, and a safety-net shot through with holes. Not only are employees docile, eager to accept whatever crumbs they can get. The public is also quiescent and unwilling to cause trouble. [...] For years political scientists have wondered why the citizens of West Virginia and other poorer states vote against their economic interests, hypothesizing it’s because economic issues have been preempted by others like guns, abortion, and race. But as wages keep sinking and economic security disappears, it’s also because people are so desperate for jobs they’ll vote whatever way industry wants them to. Bottom line: A strong and growing middle class is the best bulwark against corporate irresponsibility."

BP and Breaking Bad? Commonalities Between Walter White and the BP Cartel—by Cherri Foytlin: "I was cutting up sweet potatoes for Christmas dinner when I first sat down to watch every episode AMC’s Breaking Bad, in order, from beginning to end. Four days later, while I was continuing to watch Walter White slip further down his self-created rabbit hole, I began to think of the meth cooking, high school teaching, father of two, as very similar to the corporation BP. You see there has been a lot of news surrounding BP lately, mostly due to their relentless struggle to stop the settlement process that they helped to construct,  but also because of the large amounts of BP oil still coming in to my home state of Louisiana and across the Gulf Coast. The corporation wasn’t far from thought when I began to recognize that like Walt, BP itself had an uneven start back in 1904. According to the history page on their website, William D’Arcy was “close to despair,” just like the Breaking Bad character, when he risked his life savings on the oil game. D’Arcy too had a dream unfulfilled. He knew that far beneath the sands of Persia lay a petro colored gold mine, but time and his finances were on the brink of squeezing D’Arcy out of hope. After 6 years, a host of setbacks, and a learning curve that swung wide, the Anglo-Persian Oil Company—later to be known as BP, was on the brink of extinction when fate and the light of success shined upon the English gent. The man, the site reports, 'who had nearly lost everything, was richer than he had ever been in his life.'"

Freedom Industries deserves a break—by MMwriter: "What happened in West Virginia was a variation on a wicked theme from my futuristic satire The Execution Channel: A Political Fable in which the Ayn Rand/Tea Party crowd take control and create Real America (imagine Ted Cruz's political wet dream). One of the main heroes is Gov. Lawrence C. Bowie of the (renamed) Real American Republic of Texas who sells what remains of the state's governing assets to corporate interests, takes pride in a 30 percent unemployment rate and considers it a triumph of the human spirit that Texas has eliminated all environmental regulations to better promote a positive business climate. Consider this passage from an early chapter."

Products & Miscellany

Something to watch with LED lighting—by badger: "[T]otally unlike incandescent and substantially unlike a CFL, reliability and life expectancy go down hill sharply as soon as you install [an LED] anywhere that air is restricted. Guess what? A large percentage of places for LED's best value is in those place where access is difficult and air is restricted. LEDs do not target a 'table-lamp-only' marketplace."

How Did I Miss That? Neil Young Rocks Tar Sands; Polar Bear Cub Rocks Cradle—by swrussel: "In US news that turned into Canadian news, Rolling Stone critic Andy Greene opined that Canadian ex-pat Neil Young’s four-night stand at Carnegie Hall was 'spellbinding,' an opinion shared by Bruce Handy in Vanity Fair. Young is in the middle of a four show 'Honour the Treaties' tour with Diana Krall to benefit the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Legal Defense Fund. The First Nations benefit is the other bookend around Carnegie Hall, the first being Farm Aid. Cousin Ray’s remark that “the oil companies have the power, but we have the music” reminded me of another Canadian, Leonard Cohen, because oil companies can become as ugly as the scars they leave. Young has made an issue of the cancer rates among First Nations people living near the tar sands developments, provoking a response from the Prime Minister’s office trying to drive a wedge between Young the 'rock star' and 'hard-working Canadians.'"

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 01:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Kitchen Table Kibitzing.

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