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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 259 of these spotlighting more than 15,816 eco-diaries. Below are categorized links and excerpts to 87 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.]
NOAA: 2013 Was the 4th Hottest Year on Record, Globally—by rovertheoctopus: "The National Climate Data Center at NOAA has just released its statement on the global temperature of 2013 and concludes that last year was the 4th hottest on record going back to at least 1880, essentially tying with 2003. [...] Below is a chart showing a projection of NASA's global temperature records since 1880, with the December 2012-November 2013 period suggesting 2013's standing. [...] Whereas the United States experienced it hottest year ever in 2012, Australia had its own hottest year ever in 2013: the year of the "angry summer." In China, the soggy July and August heat led to new all-time record highs in Shanghai and Hangzhou, and the compound of air temperatures above 105 F with high dew points flirted with the wet bulb temperature—that which is the maximum temperature humans can still cool by sweating—while deadly smog alloyed with winter which produced another environmental disaster of its own. Floods in Alberta, central Europe, the Amur River of east Siberia, Pakistan/Afghanistan, and Colorado were unspeakable in their brute. California endured its driest year, with wildfires lapping the shores of Yosemite National Park. Oceanic heating spiked to record highs. Sea surface temperatures in the northern Pacific were sharply above average, and contributed to typhoon Haiyan's cataclysmic sustained winds of 190-195 mph at landfall with the Philippines. Sea levels continued to rise. Arctic sea ice improved from deep record lows set in 2012, but extent and volume remained dangerously below average."
NASA L-OTI 1880-2013
green dots
Donny Rico & Chevron make it a crime to defend the environment—by amazonwatch: "Today Amazon Watch released an edgy satire created by Pulitzer-winning animator Mark Fiore blasting Chevron's unprecedented tactics to avoid responsibility for its admitted acts of environmental destruction in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Despite losing a 20-year legal battle and receiving a $9.5 billion judgment, Chevron maintains that it will never pay for its damage. The company launched an extraordinary racketeering and extortion (RICO) lawsuit against the Ecuadorian plaintiffs, U.S. attorneys and various consultants alleging that the original case was “sham litigation." Fiore's piece comes on the heels of a campaign supported by a diverse coalition including Amazon Watch and the Sierra Club calling on members of the Senate to investigate and put a stop to Chevron's vilification of the environmental and human rights community. Chevron's actions set a dangerous precedent and represent a growing and serious threat to the ability of civil society to hold corporations accountable for their misdeeds around the world. Now a wide cross-section of U.S.-based environmental and corporate governance groups have condemned Chevron's most recent retaliatory attacks to intimidate the Ecuadorian indigenous peoples and farmers who have been harmed by the oil giant's massive contamination of their ancestral lands."
green dots
The News Just Keeps Getting Worse for West Virginia (and It Doesn't Stop There)—by Mary Anne Hitt: "We know the coal industry is getting away with poisoning our waterways nationwide, and a new study of federal data by the Associated Press shows just that. Coal industry chemicals and waste 'have tainted hundreds of waterways and groundwater supplies, spoiling private wells, shutting down fishing and rendering streams virtually lifeless.' And here's the damning detail: '(B)ecause these contaminants are released gradually and in some cases not tracked or regulated, they attract much less attention than a massive spill such as the recent one in West Virginia.' Coal-fired power plants are the nation's biggest water polluters, spewing millions of pounds of toxic metals and other pollutants like arsenic, boron, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, and selenium into surface waters each year. Beyond West Virginia, need another example of how close to home this contamination can be? Duke Energy's coal ash pollution is contaminating North Carolina's Mountain Island Lake—a drinking water source for more than 750,000 people in the greater Charlotte area."

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


Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
The Daily Bucket - a strike of feathered lightning—by Polly Syllabic: "Often, I find it hard to gather words to describe the small happenings in my backyard. I offer no apology for this diary or for my love of all the birds that make an austere living in season, especially in the bleakness of a harsh winter. The sharp-shinned hawk swept in fast from the east, banked steeply through the thick boughs of the spruce tree and landed on top of the bird feeder. Sharp alarms were screamed as the seed and suet eaters exploded in all directions. In panic and confusion, a large male red-bellied woodpecker slammed into the glass patio door with a sickening thud and fluttered onto the deck. 'eee-eee-eee-eeeeee-eee-eeeee' The screams from the woodpecker were piercing and heart wrenching, but there was nothing I could or would do to interfere."

A Day in the life of a Dolphin in Taiji Cove Japan—by yoda1117: "Japan's Taiji Cove really became known to the world with the release of the movie, "The Cove" by Louie Psihoyos and Richard O'Barry. This is must see movie. Period. But that's not why I am posting this for all of you to watch again. You might think that much has been done about this SHAMEFUL behavior by some Japanese. I want to reiterate the word "some" because not all Japanese are guilty of this actual crime against an endangered species. In fact, having lived in Japan for more than 7 years, many Japanese do not have the slightest idea when I mentioned this topic to them while I was still living there. Some of them got mad at me, some of them said it was just Hollywood "fake" movie to belittle and ridicule Japanese traditional customs and practices. And some just outright ignored it, even when I showed the videos."

Help Stop This Now!—by 4Freedom: "I'm a firm believer that how we treat animals is related to how we treat people. Those that would decrease lunch money for school children most likely couldn't care less about how pets are treated. Those who would limit access to medical care are probably the same folks who ignore the deaths of the 800 pets who are killed every HOUR in this country because we don't have adequate protections for them. The use of gas chambers and heart sticks to kill unwanted pets are horrific practices that cause the animals needless suffering. Please consider writing to the communities that use these methods of execution and voicing your objections. If you live in one of the areas that still gasses animals or kills them with heart sticks, you can directly impact the lives of pets by helping to eliminate the use of these practices."

Daily Bucket: Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?—by Lenny Flank: "OK, so Indiana Jones isn't alone—most people don't like snakes ... though nobody is born with a fear of snakes—people are TAUGHT to be afraid of them. I used to make my living doing educational reptile shows for school classes (I've kept about 100 different species of herps and invertebrates, including venomous), and I can attest that little kids are universally fascinated by them. The bright colors, the fluid legless motion, the unblinking eyes—kids are drawn irresistibly to them. Some factoids about snakes: There are about 2700 species of snakes living today. Snakes are evolutionary descendants of lizards. More specifically, they are closely related to the giant marine mososaurs that lived during the time of the dinosaurs. Their closest living relatives today are the monitor lizards. There is some controversy over whether snakes lost their legs because they took up a burrowing lifestyle, or because they took up a marine swimming lifestyle—most scientists accept the 'burrowing' hypothesis."

President Obama signs off on shooting 3 Endangered Species—by ban nock: "Why did the POTUS need to sign off on a rider to the budget bill over these critters? It was correcting a mistake made in 2012. Back then for whatever reason these animals came under the regulation of the USFWS (US Fish and Wildlife Service) because they are endangered. In order for Texas ranchers to hunt them they had to jump through all kinds of hoops including a month prior notice. Animal rights groups would challenge hunts leading to burdensome and costly impediments to hunting. Ranchers lost interest in offering the species to hunt, and populations dropped. [...] And President Obama? Considering everything else he has on his plate, species wise, he gets an A so far. I've no idea if he even weighs in on these decisions or if he just leaves it to Jewel and others who are supposed to know. Whoever is making the decisions they are being made based on science, not politics. Just as they should be. If I had to hazard a guess I'd say probably 100% of the Dallas Safari Club are not Obama voters, maybe 99%. Doesn't matter."

Bald Eagle
The Daily Bucket; Flying with Eagles—by burnt out: "The end of December we drove up north hoping to a see a snowy owl that was reported to be hanging out at a lake up there. We got lucky and found the owl no sooner than we arrived which left us with most of the day to check out other areas. We decided to drive east and then follow the Mississippi river back down as it's a great place to see eagles in the winter. They congregate in large numbers around all the locks and dams to fish in the open water just below them. Most winters, as in this one, by the end of December the river is locked in ice  except for small areas just below the dams where the turbulence keeps the water ice free. And at the same time many fish, mostly shad, are injured or killed as they are pulled through the gates by the strong currents. Eagles, being fish eaters, are naturally drawn to the area and sometimes gather in the hundreds to take advantage of this winter bonanza. Gulls, mostly ring-billed, are also drawn to the dams for the same reasons and we must have seen five, maybe ten thousand that day, or as bwren would call it, TMTC, (too many to count)."

The Daily Bucket: Harlequins on a winter afternoon—by OceanDiver: "January 20, 2014. Salish Sea, Pacific NW. Harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) winter along the coast in the Northwest, and then leave in spring for mountain streams to nest. Even in winter I don't see these small diving ducks often because they prefer rough turbulent water, feeding around offshore rocks. However the other day, in the last light of this January afternoon, I was lucky enough to see a flock in Outer Bay, from the road. Here are six of them, and a view of this bay, which faces the Strait of Juan de Fuca and swells from the open ocean."

Steelhead and salmon threatened by low water conditions on American River—by Dan Bacher: "The low water conditions on the American have spurred the Sierra Salmon Alliance to call on state officials to enact an emergency closure on the river to protect the remaining salmon redds and wild or river spawned steelhead. 'On behalf of our salmon brothers and sisters, Native Valley Tribes and future salmonid harvesters. the Sierra Salmon Alliance is requesting the emergency closure of the American River from Hazel Avenue Bridge to Ancil Hoffman Park to protect remaining salmon (Oncorhynchus tschawytscha) redds and wild or river spawned steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss ),' said Tyrone Gorre, co-founder of the group. This section of river was closed from 1994 to 1999 to protect steelhead as part of an effort by the Save the American River Association, United Anglers, American River Guides Association and other groups to restore wild steelhead populations to the river."

The Daily Bucket: The Shining Robe of the Silky Flycatcher—by AZ Sphinx Moth: "Looking up in the direction of a new call, I see a graceful dark looking cardinal. No, that can't be a cardinal. Wrong color and too small. I looked in my birding guide to find that it is a female Phainopepla. I had to wrap my brain around how to say the name so I could remember it. I muttered fay-no-PEHP-lah, fay-no-PEHP-lah, fay-no-PEHP-lah for the rest of the day. [...] The curious female, a rich slate color rather than a silky black, hung out on the tallest tree branches around my yard for a couple of days. In the meantime I researched the Phainopepla to better understand her interest in the area. It turns out that Phainopeplas has a special relationship with mistletoe. Reading at the Cornell lab of Ornithology online, I learned that they can eat about 1,100 mistletoe berries per day. As the bird moves to other locations, it drops the unharmed digested seeds along the way. This symbiotic relationship, or mutualism, gives the mistletoe a chance to find a new host and the bird ensures a reliable source of food for future generations."

The Daily Bucket; A bucketful of blackbirds? Maybe not....The not so common Rusty Blackbird—by burnt out: "Rusty Blackbirds are in very serious trouble. As shown by monitoring programs like the Christmas Bird Count, the Breeding Bird Survey, and regular everyday bird counts by birders all across their range, their numbers have been drastically declining for several decades.  The counts consistently point to a staggering loss of 85-95% since the 1960s. Some estimates go as high as 99%. Ponder those numbers for a moment, even taken at the lower value of 85, it's a shocking statistic. Because of that alarming information, in 2005,  the International Rusty Blackbird Working Group was formed to collaborate on research projects in order to better inform conservation efforts. From 2009-2011 they conducted the Rusty Blackbird Winter Blitz project in which they gathered much data from birders within the winter range of these birds. A great deal of information was gained through that three year study and is being put to use today to help this species but little is known about their migrations to and from those wintering areas."

The Ones Who Walked Away From SeaWorld—by swan217: "Even regarding the OSHA ruling, A.K.A. the government saying that they did something illegal enough to get fined, Sea World’s Banksters are unrepentant, appealing the fine for killing an employee from a supposedly budget-breaking $75,000 to $12,000, and still appealing that pittance. This should be outrageous to everyone, as should the way SeaWorld tried covering up throwing the trainers under the bus, first with the 'slip & fall' defense, then the 'ponytail theory.' They still insist to new team members at training that the trainer made a mistake, and the whale got confused."

The Empire Strikes Back: Seaworld Releases "Truth About Blackfish"—by swan217: "Following up on my last diary The Ones Who Walked Away From SeaWorld, SeaWorld, Inc. has posted an Official Rebuttal to the movie Blackfish. I for one think that they're lying about throwing Dawn under the bus, because there's clear evidence to the contrary, but they do have some decent points regarding other aspects of the film's veracity."

Snowy Egret, Dune Road, Long Island, NY
Dawn Chorus: Birding Long Island- Dune Road—by nookular: "I suspect that most birders think of themselves as lucky to live where they do- almost every location has something interesting to recommend it.  I know I consider myself lucky to live within a few miles of the Atlantic Ocean- a half hour drive and I'm able to access some of the most glorious real estate around, and to see lots of nice birds to boot!  One of my favorite local 'patches' is Dune Road, which traverses a barrier island on Long Island's south shore. Dune Road stretches in a straight east/west line, with Moriches Inlet at the western end and Shinnecock Inlet about 15 miles to the east. This places Dune Road roughly opposite the south shore communities of Westhampton, Quogue and Hampton Bays. The more famous hamptons, Southampton and Easthampton, lie a little further east. Dune Road, with salt marshes to the right and ocean out of view to the left. First off—a couple of the things that I think make Dune Road a prime birding destination.  First, there's a nice variety of habitat ranging from mud flats and extensive salt marshes along the north-facing bay side, sand dunes and ocean frontage along the south side, and two very different inlets at either end. This varied habitat means year-round birding—mudflats for shorebirds and terns in summer, marshes for migrating and breeding sparrows and egrets, the inlets and ocean for wintering waterfowl and alcids."

Eco-Philosophy & Essays

Whatever Happened to Social Responsibility—by Bob Thurman: "The oil barons and their sycophants in the media continue to trumpet the fairy tale that we're on the cusp of a new oil boom while ignoring the fact that production has remained essentially flat for a decade and prices continue to hover around $100 per barrel. This should signal that we've reached a limit, and it's time to wean ourselves off of the stuff. But that would look bad on the next quarterly report, so just kick the can on down the road. The evidence continues to mount that global warming is real, and it's going to cause literal hell if we don't do something to put on the brakes on the amount of CO2 we're pumping into the atmosphere. But the CO2 producers fight new regulations tooth and nail and continue to sow uncertainty and doubt in order to paralyze any attempt to take meaningful action. In the meantime the oceans continue to rise and acidify, weather events become more and more extreme, and a catastrophic tipping point looms nearer."

The Winter of our Discontent: Climate Change Jokes, On Us—by mrollando: "You must remember this: We pay more for a lack of knowledge than we do for university, church, firing range or street smarts. Not being immune to Japanese Tsunami, terrorists’ bombings, or corporate corrupted politicians, we must remember to follow the breadcrumbs discarded by the greedy, to find the sources that profit most by destroying our resources as easily as, adding chemicals to West Virginia water. To pick up the trickle down trail of cold Pennsylvania coal mining executive Cliff Forrest, bankrupting people’s health before attempting to bankrupt his way out of town, we must learn to want to connect the dots…."

Climate Chaos

Washington Post now partnering with odious climate change denier blog—by Laurence Lewis: "Brad Johnson has some disturbing news: The Volokh Conspiracy, a blog of climate conspiracy theorists, is now part of the Washington Post. When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took over the Washington Post, some climate activists hoped he would close down the Post’s editorial support for climate-science deniers such as George Will and strengthen the influential paper’s focus on the climate threat. Instead, the opposite has happened. [...] And Johnson provides a list of links to Volokh writers promoting even repeatedly debunked attacks on climate scientists, and generally dismissing what is the overwhelming and settled scientific consensus. Johnson notes that one Volokh writer even lauded the insipid idiot Sarah Palin for her insipid idiocy on climate change, during her 2008 train-wreck debate performance against then soon-to-be Vice President Joe Biden. And even worse, the Post is peddling the site's garbage as news, rather than as opinion, much less as the conspiracy-laden, anti-science opinion that it really is."

John Podesta Delivers Passive-Aggressive Response to Green Groups, Ignores Key Concerns—by Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees: "On Thursday, a group of 18 prominent environmental groups wrote to President Obama criticizing his "all-of-the-above" energy strategy. The letter highlighted how such a strategy, with its emphasis on boosting oil and natural gas production, undermines his professed commitment to combating climate change both domestically and internationally. The letter, which addressed the many dangers of increased fossil fuel extraction, highlighted three policy issues of concern: the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking on public lands, and drilling in the Arctic. State Department studies on the Keystone XL pipeline have been riddled with conflicts of interest. Obama has protected fewer public lands than his predecessors, instead opening up lands to oil and gas drilling.  The administration is also strongly supportive of drilling in the Arctic."

Arctic warmth - unprecedented in 44,000 years, reveals ancient moss—by Pakalolo: "Ancient moss samples exposed by modern Arctic warming have been found to date as far back as 44,000 years ago, according to radiocarbon dating. When the temperature rises on Baffin Island, in the Canadian high Arctic, ancient Polytrichum mosses, trapped beneath the ice for thousands of years, are exposed. Using radiocarbon dating, new research in Geophysical Research Letters has calculated the age of relic moss samples that have been exposed by modern Arctic warming. Since the moss samples would have been destroyed by erosion had they been previously exposed, the authors suggest that the temperatures in the Arctic are warmer than during any sustained period since the mosses were originally buried. The records suggest that in general, the eastern Canadian Arctic is warmer now than in any century in the past 5,000 years, and in some places, modern temperatures are unprecedented in at least the past 44,000 years. The observations, the authors suggest, show that modern Arctic warming far exceeds the bounds of historical natural variability."

NASA: 2013 continued 'long-term trend of rising global temperatures'—by Laurence Lewis: "Despite the clear scientific consensus, deniers of global warming and climate change continue to pretend that the evidence isn't evidence and the facts aren't facts. Most recently, of course, the bitter cold snap that slammed half the country was supposed to prove something or other, because winter means the planet can't be warming! There's also a much-debunked concerted effort by deniers to promote the lie that global warming has paused, and therefore isn't a problem. But the facts remain facts, and there was this, in December: Last month was the warmest November since modern temperature record keeping began in 1880, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today in its latest State of the Climate report, which summarizes climate-related news from around the world. With a combined land and ocean surface temperature of 56.6 degrees Fahrenheit, November 2013 also was the 345th consecutive month—and the 37th November in a row—with a global temperature higher than the 20th century average, the NOAA report added."

Dr. Michael Mann Stands Up Again for Climate Science; NRO Heads Explode—by LeftOfYou : "Dr. Mann had an OpEd in The New York Times this week that began like this: "The overwhelming consensus among climate scientists is that human-caused climate change is happening. Yet a fringe minority of our populace clings to an irrational rejection of well-established science. This virulent strain of anti-science infects the halls of Congress, the pages of leading newspapers and what we see on TV, leading to the appearance of a debate where none should exist. 'This virulent strain' may be a little harsh, but there really isn't much here to argue about with Dr. Mann. Unless, of course you are the 'virulent strain' itself. In Dr. Mann's world, that's the National Review."

5 “Jersey Strong” Climate Change Resources That Are Completely Under the Radar and Shouldn't Be—by Kayak: "As a coastal state, New Jersey is going to feel the impacts of climate change sooner than a lot of other places. This is especially true when it comes to sea level rise and flooding. (Both links highly recommended.) Even though our Governor doesn’t talk much about how climate change will impact New Jersey, a lot of other people are. (Including his own NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP): Read the June 2013 climate change impacts report.) With that in mind, I wanted to share five really great NJ climate change resources that are under the radar, but shouldn’t be."

NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center—by rebel ga: "NOAA's National Climatic Data Center is the world's largest repository of weather and climate data and information. NOAA Data sources are as varied as paleoclimatic samples to handwritten observations to satellite and radar imagery less than an hour old. The Center has the primary mission of preserving these data for future generations as well as making them available to the public, business, industry, government, and researchers."

Losing Nemo—by nicoleghio: "After his stop in Los Angeles, everyone’s favorite cartoon clownfish, Nemo, continued his tour of the U.S., stepping out in sub-freezing temperatures in Washington, D.C. to ask Americans to help him save his home, the Great Barrier Reef. What'€™s Nemo doing touring the U.S.? Is he lost again? While the Australian Embassy and Alliance 21 --€“ a partnership that includes large corporations and big polluters like DOW Chemical, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, GE, NewsCorp, Morgan Stanley and Raytheon —hosted a dialogue on energy and Asia as part of €œ'G'€™Day USA,'€ a month-long promotion of Australian business interests, Nemo hit the streets to protest possible U.S. involvement in plans that could destroy the reef. Not one-€“but two-€“companies, GVK and Adani, want to open new enormous coal mines in Australia'€™s Galilee Basin, and then dredge (the destructive operation of scooping up and moving sediment from waterways) within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Site to expand shipping channels to take the coal to Asia. But that'€™s not all."

Unbiased America, would this video be done by Climate Change Deniers?—by eeff: "[Unbiased America]—that's the name of a group on Facebook. Tonight they have this post up: According to the IPCC's own numbers, the cost of stopping global warming would greatly exceed the cost of global warming [...]"

Mass Extinction Number Six—by rktect: "We tend not to notice these any more, after all this is Mass Extinction Number Six we have already been through five and survived albeit never before as humans. It's sort of like the IPCC reports, Here we are Report Number Five already released in final draft last June, and nobody seems all that freaked out. I mean we are at 0.8° C of warming since the beginning of the industrial revolution and if you took it back to the Neolithic it wouldn't be that much more. In a few years we'll be at 1° C, then some where between 2035 and 2050 at 2° C,  and then by 2100 4° C or maybe more. We have had Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, shots across our bow so to speak, California is drying out, burning and turning into a desert, deserts being the best evidence of human habitation our planet provides. In the news we have the Polar Vortex warming Alaska and Siberia and freezing the Midwest and sometimes the East Coast and the South, Australia is on fire, 100 east coast cities are realizing that sea levels are rising so fast sea walls and levees can't save them and the IPCC is in dry scientific jargon patiently explaining that the tropics may be uninhabitable by the end of the century."

Coca-Cola and Nike Getting Behind the Science of Climate Change—by GalenSevinne: "NY Times today reported about  the difficulties international behemoths Coca-Cola and Nike are having with restocking their bottom lines because of increasingly inconsistent global weather patterns. They are openly attributing these unfriendly weather patterns to climate change. Coca-Cola: Coca-Cola has always been more focused on its economic bottom line than on global warming, but when the company lost a lucrative operating license in India because of a serious water shortage there in 2004, things began to change. and, 'Increased droughts, more unpredictable variability, 100-year floods every two years,' said Jeffrey Seabright, Coke’s vice president for environment and water resources, listing the problems that he said were also disrupting the company’s supply of sugar cane and sugar beets, as well as citrus for its fruit juices. 'When we look at our most essential ingredients, we see those events as threats.' Nike: Nike, which has more than 700 factories in 49 countries, many in Southeast Asia, is also speaking out because of extreme weather that is disrupting its supply chain. These aren't tree-huggers and fans of the Polar Bear but instead folks just worried about the really important stuff, MONEY."

The Silent Sun and Global Climate—by GreyHawk: "A recent article on BBC News (Is our Sun falling silent? by Rebecca Morelle) highlights a freaky silent period of solar activity that some say may lead to some colder winters in Europe. Prime fodder for denialists, particularly with their capacity to ignore large swaths of information in articles in order to cherry pick phrases."

Food, Agriculture & Gardening

fascinatin—by RobocopFollow: "General Mills recently made an announcement that one of their cereals, Cheerios, would henceforth be GMO-free. As they have pitted millions of dollars against campaigns to label GMO foods as such, it was somewhat perplexing as to why they made this move, particularly when Cheerios were virtually GMO-free to begin with.  There are, at this time, no genetically modified oats, but the relatively small amount of sugar, derived from GMO beets, and cornstarch needed to be altered. [...] I posit, however, that this particular marketing ploy will one day haunt the company, as well as the entire biotech industry. General Mills is making a statement it otherwise would not have made unless forced by consumer demand. The potential for a larger wave of consumers to launch dissatisfaction campaigns on company social media sites, regardless of activists such as GMO Inside, is now apparent. On its own, this move by General Mills will have no impact on the biotech giants, but it will be interesting to see if they have opened Pandora’s Box, as it were, and have created a larger and more aware base of consumers averse to GMOs."

important op ed on food by Mark Bittman—by teacherken: "Bittman points out that what we grow does not necessarily turn into nutritious and health food: • we grow corn for fuel • we turn otherwise healthy food into junk food products • we feed grains that should go to humans to meat-producing animals for whom it is not a natural food source (and which leads to many Americans eating far too much meat, with ensuing and expensive health problems associated with such a diet). He also points out how we fail to get adequate distribution of food here with specific commentary on how SNAP does not reach all that it good. We also do a horrible job of educating about food, with our financial support of such education being dwarfed by the barrage of 'fun to eat' ads for the food that is worst for us."

Saturday Morning Garden Blogging Vol. 9.49—by Frankenoid: "Denver's weather has been whipsawing this last week: on Thursday the morning low was 4°, the high was 24° and we got a couple of inches of snow; yesterday the high was 60°. We're forecast to get cold again on Monday. But it's the last Saturday in January, which means we're a month away from the 9th anniversary of Saturday Morning Garden Blogging. And I want to propose something a little different for this year's anniversary diary. It is a mid-term election year and now — during the subdued primary process — is our chance to get not just Democrats, but progressive Democrats, into our state, county or municipal offices. Call it planting the seeds for a harvest next November. So I would like to have the 9th Anniversary Edition be a fund-raising opportunity for local elections — the closer to home the better."


Peak Oil: Clear As Mud—by richturc125: "We have no more concerns about future supplies of oil except for all the concerns that we do. As is by now all-too familiar in discussions about the supply of fossil fuels in years to come, what you believe depends on what you choose to believe.The boom in oil from shale formations in recent years has generated a lot of discussion that the United States could eventually return to energy self-sufficiency, but according to a report released Tuesday by the International Energy Agency, production of such oil in the United States and worldwide will provide only a temporary respite from reliance on the Middle East."

How Do Activities Reported for Fukushima Radionuclides Relate to Concentrations in Seawater?—by MarineChemist: "So there is about 13 Bq/L of natural radioactivity on average is the oceans.  In high salinity areas (where conservative elements that scale with salinity like K and U have the highest concentration) activity can be as high as 22 Bq/L (Persian Gulf) and 15 Bq/L (eastern Mediterranean).  When chemical oceanographers report activities they generally report them in terms of Bq per liter of seawater (Bq/L) or in Bq per cubic meter of seawater (Bq/m^3 where 1 m^3 = 1000 L) when activities are very low. For example, activities of the Fukushima sourced radionuclide 137-Cs that was released in great quantities to the North Pacific Ocean currently present off the west coast of North America are on the order of 0.001 Bq/L or 1 Bq/m^3."


Worldwide Clean Energy Investment Falls for Second Year in a Row—by dizzydean: "In a short item from this weekend's Financial Times, the FT reports that worldwide investment in clean energy fell 11% in 2013 on the heels of a 9% drop in 2012. Why is this important? The International Energy Agency, the watchdog backed by rich countries’ governments, has estimated that about $1tn per year more needs to be invested in emissions-reducing industries to limit the long term increase in global temperatures to 2 degrees centigrade, the level deemed acceptable by UN member countries. Europe saw a decrease of investment due to the cutting of subsidies by Germany, France and Italy. Total European investment fell 41% to $57.8 billion. Thank you austerity. China and the US both cut investment, while Japan, Chile,Mexico and Uruguay all increased theirs. Japanese investment grew by 55% due to the goal of finding alternatives to nuclear energy."

One year update on solar crowdfunding—by Chico David RN: "So a year ago, I chanced on this diary about a company called Mosaic that is offering small investors - at least in some states—the opportunity to invest in solar projects. (I have no stake in this myself, other than as a small investor.)  I had some money around that was not committed to anything and there seemed to be no opportunities around for fixed income investments with any meaningful return—money market funds and bank CDs paying essentially zero—so I decided to take a small flyer on it. I promised to come back with an update and here it is. [...] I invested $1,000. A year later my investment has grown at pretty much the advertised rate—an average of 4.56% on 4 projects in which I am invested. I have chosen to leave the gains in and invest them in new projects—you can invest in increments as small as $25."

Crush it with solar power—by Save the Environment: "In your city, you may have noticed interesting curbside trash bins with panels on the side touting them as good for the environment.  These are solar-powered trash bins that compact the garbage placed in them.  By creating a smaller volume of garbage, the cities have to send garbage trucks around less frequently to empty the bins.  This saves the city money for fuel, and reduces the carbon footprint to fight global warming."


Pope is working on an environmental encyclical—by Aximill: "As an update to the post I had here in mid-November, it is now being confirmed that Pope Francis is prepping an encyclical, a letter to bishops and people worldwide, on the environment. [...] I think the Pope will have a part talking about fracking as well."

Favorite Comments from the Petition to Ban Fracking in Illinois—by Willinois: "The Fracking Fighter petition to ban fracking in Illinois got off to a fast start! It's just shy of the first 500 signatures. The comments people add are fun to read so here are some of my favorites, with each signer's town instead of their name because internet trolls."

Former marine protected area chair urges 'caution' in adoption of refinery safety guidelines—by Dan Bacher: "Only in California would a big oil industry lobbyist lead a panel to create 'marine protected areas' that exempt the oil industry and other ocean industrialists while removing fishermen and gatherers off vast areas of the ocean - and then lead a campaign to promote fracking while calling for the weakening of environmental and safety laws. And only in California, allegedly a 'green state,' would state officials and corporate 'environmental' NGO 'leaders' greenwash a process overseen by a big oil lobbyist and other corporate operatives by continually claiming that the process was the 'most open, transparent and inclusive' environmental process in the state's history—while it was anything but."

Say NO to Fracking Now—by StewartAcuff: "In the last two weeks I’ve just read that the energy industry  is seeking to transport fracking waste via inland waterways. So far the Coast Guard is blocking that. The Coast Guard wants to know what is in the waste. The industry says that information contains trade secrets. Given the coal industry’s poisoning of the water table and drinking water of 300,000 people in West Virginia, their practice of blowing tops off mountains, which results in subsequent environmental destruction, and given the lies fracking proponents have been caught in, IT ONLY MAKES SENSE FOR PENNSYLVANIA TO PLACE A MORATORIUM ON FRACKING."

Change of Heart on Fracking—by corwinabell: "My father was an important executive in the natural gas industry. Before he died in 1997, he had been president of a municipal gas company, president of the Southern Gas Association, and a board member of the American Gas Association. When my grammar school science book worried me by stating that the world would run out of fossil fuels within a century, he reassured me that we have enough coal to last a millennium and new deposits of oil and natural gas were being found every day. Still, toward the end of his career, I noticed that he was traveling farther afield either by helicopter to drilling rigs far out in the Gulf of Mexico or by private jet to Algeria to investigate new discoveries of natural gas. Was it getting harder to find gas? He would have been delighted at the current boom right here in America in hydraulic fracturing of shale deposits to release their natural gas. A chip off the old block, I have reveled, as he would have, in the dramatic results now being achieved with this method. However, my views have now been completely reversed by two documentaries, Gasland and Gasland Part II, and by the all-out and totally unscrupulous efforts by the gas industry to discredit the information provided by those two films. I have little love for environmentalists, but, when they are right, we must pay attention, and this is just such a case."

Keystone and Other Fossil Fuel Transportation

Obama's decision on northern leg of Keystone XL pipeline could fuel November's mid-term elections—by Meteor Blades: "Numerous sources say the State Department will present its final environmental impact statement on the Keystone XL pipeline sometime in the next few weeks. Given that the delivery of the EIS will trigger a 90-day period of comments by federal agencies, President Obama could announce a thumbs up or down on the $5.2 billion project sometime in May or early June. Just in time, report Peter Nicholas and Carol E. Lee, to make his decision a factor in the 2014 mid-term congressional elections. Senate and House Republicans and not a small number of oil- and coal-state Democrats support the disputed pipeline. [...] In his climate speech in June, President Obama said: 'The question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it's too late. [...] I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that's beyond fixing.' Good words. Encouraging words. Approving Keystone XL would turn them to ashes."

Urgent Request to Stop Southern Leg of Keystone XL Pipeline Ignored by White House—by Renewable Rider: "You wouldn't know it from the lack of focus and attention by the environmental establishment, but the 485-mile southern leg of TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has been built, is being filled and is scheduled to start up on Jan. 22. Front line reports from landowners in Texas and Oklahoma say that TransCanada has patrol planes flying up and down the line, with foot patrols searching for leaks. In a few short days, this 485-mile fuse to one of the biggest carbon bombs on the planet will be lit. Desperate to stop this, several prominent Texas landowners urgently requested a face-to-face meeting with President Obama in early December, only to be spurned by the White House. In response, I spearheaded an emergency direct action on Jan. 15, the 85th birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., outside the White House to demand that the President order the shut down of Keystone XL south."

Commissioners' meeting background: Pipelines, fracking and peering underneath the rock—by danps: "Pipelines have traditionally been understood as carrying oil, but that has begun to change with fracking. Companies now want to use them to transport various fluids associated with that process, and in places that do not already have lots of pipelines there is a new push to construct them. As the Columbus Dispatch reported last May: Officials of the oil and gas industry said the pipelines and the plant are safe and vital to their plans to develop Ohio's Utica shale. A lack of natural-gas processing, industry officials say, keeps shale wells from delivering to buyers and has slowed the pace of drilling and fracking. So places that have been targeted for fracking are seeing a new interest in pipelines. The first step in this process is securing the land along the route, and this is also perhaps the shadiest part of the process.  Pipeline companies subcontract out through what are called land men. These individuals go door to door attempting to negotiate the necessary legal agreement—and that is an exceedingly diplomatic, anodyne and generous way to describe how it sometimes works."

Train Derailments Another of Fracking’s Problems—by Walter Brasch: "The derailment of a 101-car CSX freight train on a bridge in a densely-populated part of Philadelphia this past week should be yet another warning to politicians who have become cheerleaders for oil and gas fracking. The train had been hauling crude oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota.  A severe snow storm delayed by several days removing the derailed cars and 80,000 gallons of crude oil from the decades-old bridge over I-76 and the Schuylkill River, which flows into the Delaware River. Oil and gas companies using horizontal fracking have made the Bakken the most productive oil shale in the country.Numerous articles and scientific research studies have already shown the link between horizontal fracking and health and environmental problems. But the transportation of shale oil and gas by trains, trucks, and pipelines poses more immediate threats."

Eco-Related DC & State Politics

McConnell, other coal company puppets seek to squelch EPA emissions rule for new power plants—by Meteor Blades: "When Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy announced carbon dioxide emission standards for new coal- and natural gas-fired power plants under the Clean Air Act last September, the opposition was already poised for reaction. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said: 'The president’s decision today is an escalation of the war on coal and what that really means for Kentucky families is an escalation of his war on jobs and the Kentucky economy,” Mr. McConnell said. “I will file a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to ensure a vote to stop this devastating E.P.A. rule.' The proposed emissions rule was published Jan. 8 in the Federal Register. That began the required two-month public comment period before the rule can be finalized. Nebraska officials immediately asked a judge to nullify it. And McConnell moved swiftly, too. On Jan. 16, he filed a resolution in the House Senate to repeal the rule under the Congressional Review Act."

Hope in Virginia? Republicans Help Block Bad Wind Bill—by TheGreenMiles: "When it comes to clean wind power, Virginia remains a black hole. Republican State Sen. Tom Garrett thinks the problem is that it's not being regulated heavily enough. [...] Wind energy is already heavily regulated by a range of officials and agencies charged with making sure its siting is as friendly to communities and wildlife as possible. Is it more likely Sen. Garrett was standing up for wildlife, or using anti-wind talking points pushed by polluter front groups to try to kill wind before it even gets off the ground?"

The Great Outdoors

Elk River, WV - Not the spill (photos)—by TrueBlueMountaineer: "With all the news coverage of how nasty the Elk River was I thought I'd post a few photos taken farther upstream from the chemical spill. If all you know about West Virginia is what you see on the news you might be surprised to find that the whole state hasn't been completely flattened by mountain top removal, the remaining land laid barren by strip mining and the rivers a toxic soup of leaking chemicals. Most of it is really quite beautiful."

Elk River near its origin.
☼ bridge sun ice sky lake ☼—by blueyedace2:
Sun and snow, 2014
❄ snowshoe saturday - winter wonderland ❄—by blueyedace2.
palmetto frond
The Daily Bucket - Florida woods and swamps—by foresterbob: "Let's start with a quiz. You are making your way through the Florida woods, wading through hip-deep palmettos. Directly in front of you is this scene. There is something that should make you very, very afraid. What is it? Let's see, there are greenbriars creeping through the fronds. They can cut you up if you aren't careful. But that's not the scariest thing. It so happens that I could easily walk around this palmetto cluster. What might be on the other side? Yes, it was a trick question. But nature is full of trick questions. Sometimes I solve the riddle with no problems. But had this been a summer day instead of a winter day, I might have been "riddled" with wasp stings. [...] The land I was on is a working forest.
palmetto frond with wasp nest
That's usually where I work, since there aren't many people or companies willing to pay me to survey trees in a wilderness area. This is flatwoods country not far from Gainesville. A foot or two of elevation change can make the difference between pine forest and swamp. Over the years, the owners of the land have experimented with various methods of improving tree survival and growth. A highly successful method of establishing a new forest after a harvest involves planting trees on raised beds, and applying herbicide to prevent grass, forbs, and woody vegetation from overwhelming the young pines."


Klamath Youth Travel to Brazil to Join Belo Monte Dam Fight—by Dan Bacher: "This wonderful delegation, organized by Dania Rose, Hoopa Valley Tribe Member and Klamath Justice Coalition Organizer, and Nat Pennington, Salmon River Restoration Council leader, is one that I wholeheartedly support. Local youth from the Klamath/Trinity River watershed are making plans to travel to Brazil to lend a hand in the fight against the world’s most destructive dam proposal, Belo Monte. The 'Belo Monte Dam Resistance Delegation' includes indigenous tribes and river activists from Northern California who will travel to Brazil to work with indigenous people in the Xingu basin, the heart of the Amazon, making a strong bond through mutual efforts to preserve and protect inherited cultures and natural resources from short sighted projects like the Belo Monte Dam.According to Mahlija Florendo, a 16 year old Yurok Tribal member who will be going to the Amazon, 'Our River is here to give us life, and we were created to keep the river beautiful and healthy. We need to keep every river alive because we cannot live without them.'"

How much are YOU saving, California?—by sailmaker: "It has been a week since Governor Jerry Brown asked for a 20% reduction in personal water usage. What are people doing in California to save water? I was in college the during the last drought. It marked me forever. We only flushed for number 2, ever. We put bricks (or something) in our toilette tanks to take them down from the then prevalent  5-7.5 gallons per flush. Today we have dual flush toilettes, mine have 4.5/3 liter flushes, but I still only flush during day light hours. One saved the cold water (for gardening) that was spent waiting for hot water to get to the faucet.  Today I have a recirculating pump for my on demand hot water heater. Short, interrupted showers and toothbrushing by hand with no running water are still the norm."

Governor promotes twin tunnels and fracking during record drought—by Dan Bacher: "Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, after hearing Brown's State of the State, emphasized that the Governor's plan to build two forty-foot tunnels under the Delta, at a total cost of over $60 billion with interest and operation expenses, 'will not add one drop of additional water to the system.' 'There is a better way to manage our water,' she said. 'First, we need to export a safe yield of water from the Delta without repeatedly depleting the watershed. Second, we need to reinforce levees to ensure that the water that can be shared from the Delta is secure for all Californians. Third, we need to retire drainage-impaired agricultural lands on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.'"

The Party of States Rights Sticks Its Nose in CA Water Problems—by Richard Lyon: "The usual electoral mating call of the GOP runs to the tune of keeping the federal government off the back of state  government and letting The People find honest solutions to their problems. Apparently we shouldn't expect to take them seriously about that when some of their large contributors aren't getting their way. Boehner backs GOP bill to send water from delta to farms: Amid the worst drought in California's recorded history, House Speaker John Boehner stood in a bare dirt field near Bakersfield to declare his support for taking more water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and sending it to the parched farms of the Central Valley. The bill would increase pumping from the delta to farms, as long there is water available, through 2015. It would also halt efforts to reconnect the San Joaquin River to San Francisco Bay and to restore salmon runs, which have been made possible by increased releases from the Friant Dam."

Eco-Activism & Eco-Justice

Going to Jail on MLK's B-Day to Stop Keystone XL South: "The Fierce Urgency of Now"—by Renewable Rider: "You wouldn't know it from the lack of focus and attention by the environmental establishment, but the 485-mile southern leg of TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has been built, is being filled and is scheduled to start up on Jan. 22. Front line reports from landowners in Texas and Oklahoma say that TransCanada has patrol planes flying up and down the line, with foot patrols searching for leaks. In a few short days, this 485-mile fuse to one of the biggest carbon bombs on the planet will be lit. Desperate to stop this, several prominent Texas landowners urgently requested a face-to-face meeting with President Obama in early December, only to be spurned by the White House. In response, I spearheaded an emergency direct action on Jan. 15, the 85th birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., outside the White House to demand that the President order the shut down of Keystone XL south."

Oregon Agency Proposes $1000 Fine Against Freedom of Speech—by 6412093: "A couple of years ago, a power plant speculator got his property rezoned, and tried to build a power plant across the street from a residential neighborhood. I worked with the angry neighbors to challenge the project. Power plants generate more noise than a hard-rock band, from many sources. The turbine is like a jet airplane engine, there are massive fans, and there would be a 'tub grinder,' which chews up whole trees into chips which are burnt in the plant boiler. I arranged for a guy to help us look at the noise issues, who'd fought similar plants in Northern California. He purchased a noise measurement device from Radio Shack, measured the existing nighttime noise levels (crickets) by the neighbor's houses, and then did the math on how much noise a turbine and tub grinder would add from 200 feet away. Since the power plant speculators hadn't even bothered to prepare their own noise study, his testimony during the public hearing was helpful and  the City Council imposed noise control measures. But now the Oregon Engineering Board has fined him $1000 for 'engineering without an engineering license,' because of his testimony during a public hearing before the City Council."

Pollution, Hazardous Wastes & Trash

The world's largest oil disaster just got worse—by Ashley Allison via Nathan Empsall SierraRise: "For three decades, Texaco, now part of Chevron, dumped 18 billion gallons of toxic oil waste into the beautiful Ecuadorian Amazon. Servio's family and thousands like it were left suffering a plague of deadly cancers and devastating birth defects. Now, despite losing a 20-year legal battle, Chevron continues to deny responsibility for the world's largest oil disaster. The U.S. Senate has the power to investigate and help stop Chevron's outrageous attacks on those who stand up to corporate greed. But it is up to us to make sure they use that power."

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?"

Why Did the GWB Air Monitor Go Down During Bridgegate?—by Kayak: "This is a problem because the state is missing some air quality information that's very important to public health officials. They use this data to inform people of potentially dangerous air quality conditions. People who have, or care for someone who has, asthma or lung problems need to know when they should stay inside or refrain from exercising due to poor air quality. That's why the state installs these air monitors in the first place. Nevertheless, data collected just as the Jersey monitor came back online, supplemented by another monitor in Newark, suggest that air pollution reached potentially dangerous levels during at least part of the lane-closure period from Sept. 9 to 12, as thousands of cars, trucks and buses waited for as long as four hours to cross the bridge."

West Virginia Chemical Spill

ER Visits for Chem Effects Doubled Since Water Declared Safe; West Virginia Gov Says No Problem—by FishOutofWater: "Emergency room visits associated with chemical exposure have almost tripled since West Virginia officials lifted the ban on using water in the Charleston area contaminated by a coal cleaning chemical that contaminated a river from leaking  tank just upstream of the water supply intake. A statement by the governor's office said that symptoms are topical, short lived, are easily treated, and will go away. The on line statement from the governor's office reassuring the public about water safety was similar to a statement made by West Virginia American Water Company. The governor's office admitted that the chemical is adsorbed by plastic pipes and minerals lining pipes, but stated the water is safe to drink. This is what happens when municipal water supply is privatized, federal environmental enforcement is given to the state government and the state government regulators are captive to the industries they are supposedly regulating."

Oh, by the way, says Freedom Industries, there was a second chemical leaking from that tank—by Meteor Blades: "Ken Ward Jr. at the Charleston Gazette reports: Federal and state investigators learned today that an additional chemical that wasn't previously identified was in the tank that leaked on Jan. 9 at the Freedom Industries tank farm just upstream from West Virginia American Water's regional drinking water intake. Company officials told investigators that the 'Crude MCHM' that spilled also contained a product called 'PPH,' which stands for polyglycol ethers, according to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board. The chemical, the company claims, has 'low oral toxicity.'"

Top CDC medical officer: Pregnant WV women should have been warned about water sooner. Ya think?—by Meteor Blades: "Among the other misconceptions Americans have is that regulations and avid enforcement shield them from potential health hazards like the spill that sent the coal-washing chemical known as Crude MCHM into the drinking water supplies of 300,000 residents of West Virginia. What we've seen instead is what could have been a tragedy of errors in the case of Freedom Industries' sloppy, reckless storage of that chemical and the others mixed with it. This may be the first time for Freedom Industries, but it's not the first time lax regulation and negligent management have tainted water supplies. And, until there's a much stronger Toxic Substances Control Act that doesn't allow potentially dangerous chemicals to be grandfathered into a category that aren't tested, it won't be the last time."

Water Still Needed After Coal Chem Spill In West Virginia (VIDEO)—by JesseC: "Water contamination from the coal industry is nothing new to West Virginians, who have lived with poisoned wells streams for generations. This spill, the latest and most dramatic in a long history of water contamination, exposes the problems of lax and inadequate regulation coupled with politicians that prioritizes the bottom line of the coal industry over the health and safety of people. The chemical 4-MCHM was exempted from federal laws that require disclosure. The tanks that held the chemical were not required to be inspected regularly, due to a loophole that exempted above ground tanks from inspection. West Virginian politicians with close ties to the coal industry have continued to defend coal companies from federal and state regulation, even as 300,000 of their constituents went without drinkable water. Speaking at an event hosted by the coal front group American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) last week, Joe Manchin, West Virginia’s junior senator and former governor continued to defend the coal industry from reglation. 'Coal and chemicals inevitably bring risk—but that doesn’t mean they should be shut down,' said Manchin. 'Cicero says, 'To err is human.' But you’re going to stop living because you’re afraid of making a mistake?' Manchin has significant financial ties to the coal industry."

WV Spill: Multi-Millionaire Tied to GOP Dark Money Fronts Freedom Bankruptcy Cash—by dharmafarmer: "While Charlestonians discuss ways to recoup their economic losses, the value of adequate regulations, and whether their restored water supply is, in fact, safe, another event is about to unfold which the good people of West Virginia may find equally rough and disturbing. Soon, residents will be watching the machinations of multi-millionaire, J. Clifford Forrest III, as he navigates the bankruptcy reorganization process to protect his $20 million dollar investment in Freedom Industries and sheds the corporate responsibilities and liabilities assumed through its purchase. Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that the trajectory of Charleston history should intersect with the personal story of Forrest—there is a common point-of-interest, after all: coal. Forrest is the owner of Rosebud Mining Company in Kittanning, Pennsylvania, which he established in 1979 after graduating in the same year from the University of Pittsburgh. During the ensuing two decades, he bought a coal cleaning plant and put eight mines into operation in western Pennsylvania."

The 1st Inaugural Mountaineer Bad Beard-Off for Clean Water—by Virally Suppressed: "As of right now, there are only two things in this world that I am absolutely sure of: • The first is that hundreds of thousands of West Virginians are currently suffering the effects of a massive chemical spill that has proven to be the most hazardous environmental crisis in the United States since the BP Gulf Oil Disaster, and that this crisis has garnered a collective "meh", from the national news media who prefer to spend their time speculating about who's running for President in 2016 and what specific drugs Jacqueline Bisset was on during her Golden Globes acceptance speech. • The second is that I cannot grow a proper beard to save my life. Now, to the untrained eye, it would seem as though these two things have absolutely nothing in common. [...] And, up until today, that untrained eye would have been right in thinking these facts to be unrelated...but not anymore. Because today is the start of the: First Inaugural Mountaineer Bad Beard-Off for Clean Water."

West Virginia governor: 'It's your decision' whether to drink water—by Laura Clawson: "Sterling leadership from West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin as concerns persist about whether 300,000 residents have safe drinking water after a chemical leak: 'It's your decision,' the governor told reporters during a news conference at the Capitol. 'If you do not feel comfortable drinking or cooking with this water, then use bottled water.' Yeah, it's your decision as long as you can afford bottled water, and in a state with 17.8 percent poverty and the third-lowest median income in the country, I'm sure everyone has plenty of money lying around for that added expense. Especially given reports of price gouging as demand for bottled water soared."

Company that contaminated WV water supply reaches bankruptcy deal, bemoans 'perception' problem—by Jed Lewison: "First, the news, with a dash of spin: The embattled company behind West Virginia’s chemical spill has reached a bankruptcy court deal for up to $4 million in credit from a lender to help continue operations, an attorney said. The arrangement reached Tuesday will allow the company to continue paying its employees and top vendors and also provide funds to cover environmental cleanup from the spill in the Elk River, said Freedom Industries attorney Mark Freelander. And now the jaw-dropper. [Freedom Industries President Gary] Southern said money isn’t the solution to lift the stigma on his company for its suppliers and customers. He said the spill was causing “perception problems” for the firm. Well, to be completely fair to Southern, I'm sure Freedom Industries does have a perception problem."

CrowdFunding For West Virginia Water Crisis: Day 2—by Virally Suppressed: "Really People? $25 after two days? I have promised to grow out a comically hideous beard for a month and eat enough sugarless gummi bears to make my ass spontaneously combust for your amusement and all we have to show for it is $25? I could understand that if all that money was going straight into my pocket, but it's not. It's going to the 300,000+ people in West Virginia who have had their water supply poisoned by a chemical about which next-to-nothing is known about, while their representatives in government collectively flip them the bird by advocating for legislation to LESSEN environmental regulations and with their own governor essentially telling them, 'Fine...drink the water or don't drink the water...I don't give a shit.'"

W. Virginia Gov on Drinking the Water: 'It's Your Decision...I'm Not a Scientist'—by Desi: "The ban has been lifted on all of West Virginia American Water’s customers to use and drink their water. But many of the 300,000 residents affected by the coal industry chemical spill remain doubtful, and not surprising given the appearance of what's coming out of their taps, warnings from health care professionals and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), as well as conflicting and lack of informationabout just what is in those "coal cleaning chemicals" that contaminated the Elk River water supply. At a press conference on Monday, West Virginia Gov. Ray Tomblin told residents: 'It's your decision, if you do not feel comfortable drinking or cooking with this water, then use bottled water.'"

WV Water Poisoning — more devastation by unfettered capitalism—by StewartAcuff: "My close friend John Christensen, a great environmental leader and a great trade unionist, has been at the West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston demanding answers from the company that poisoned the tap water of about 300,000 people in West Virginia, Freedom Industries. John has long worked to hold Big Coal accountable for all the costs they exact from the people and the environment of West Virginia. The water poisoning, which industry sources say is not toxic—but you’ll get sick if it gets in your system—is just another example of what happens when profit trumps the lives of our people and our land. And it is yet another example of what happens when capitalism goes unchecked. It is destructive, even fatal."

WVa water company says Freedom Industries loan "smells of collusion"—by 1BQ: "As first noted in the recommended diary 'WV Spill: Multi-Millionaire Tied to GOP Dark Money Fronts Freedom Bankruptcy Cash,' several aspects of the bankruptcy protection sought by Freedom Industries are, putting it mildly, irregular. I looked for a follow-up diary and since I didn't find one, thought I'd do a quick post. Apologies if this was diaried already; it's a few days old. Freedom Industries is responsible for the Elk River contamination in West Virginia. They claim that they cannot pay for the damages and have filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. The bankruptcy judge said that this case is 'one of the most unique Chapter 11 cases I've ever seen.'"

Proposal: Calamity Tax—by FogBelter: "In light of the West Virginia "Liberty Spill" I have been thinking about how we regulate industry in the United States, and how the current approach is failing the American People, Environment, and, frankly, Business.  Not all Business is irresponsible in terms of its maintenance of hazardous materials and the facilities that store them, but those who are are a costly threat to the United States, its People's health, and the perception of industry. We, as Citizens, forget that the only reason any Business exists in the United States is because our US Government accepts their Articles of Incorporation, or provides them with Business Licenses that allows the business to exist. Wrap your head around this for a minute ... doing Business in the United States, like driving, is a Privilege, not a Right. And for extending the Privilege of doing business, the Citizens should expect businesses to comply with regulations, not dodge them. My suggestion for industries that deal in hazardous materials is a Calamity Tax."


Will Write (And Do Pretty Much Any Damn Thing) For Donations To West Virginia Clean Water Groups—by Virally Suppressed: "Over the past couple of days, I have embarked on a couple of fairly unorthodox campaigns to try and get people to donate money so that the hundreds of thousands of West Virginians who have been left with nothing to drink and bathe with but poisoned, tainted tap water can have clean water to use on a daily basis. I have based these campaigns around my limited knowledge of the internet and modern fundraising which have led me to believe that beard and mustache-based fundraisers are more successful than their facial hairless brethren. [...] After a day or two, my impatience led me to amend this plan to include not just a bad beard growing challenge, but also to pledge to eat one sugarless Haribo gummi bear for every 5 dollars folks donated to help provide clean drinking and bathing water for the people of West Virginia, up to 200 gummi bears. [...] And yet, while I realize we're only three days in to this drive, we have only raised $65 out of our goal of $5,000. This simply will not do, so, I have come up with yet a third hair-brained idea to raise donation monies."

West Virginia Clean Water Drive Photo Diary—by Virally Suppressed: "I know it's really easy to forget about the water crisis in West Virginia right now, what with GMail crashing and Steve Stockman going AWOL and the Biebs getting arrested for being a drunk driving douchebag, but I implore you not to. The 150 year history of the state of West Virginia has been one of poverty, pollution and suffering that has been roundly ignored by most of the nation. Below, I have some pictures of some of the baby wipes and gallons/bottles of water that were bought with money raised during the 1st Inaugural Mountaineer Bad Beard-Off for Clean Water!"


State Dept's Keystone XL Contractor, ERM Group, Also OK'd Controversial Pebble Mine in Alaska—by Steve Horn: "A DeSmogBlog investigation has revealed Environmental Resources Management Inc. (ERM Group)—the contractor performing the U.S. State Department’s environmental review for the northern half of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline—gave the green light to Alaska’s controversial Pebble Mine proposal in June 2013. The proposed Pebble Mine, located in Bristol Bay in southwest Alaska, contains mineable gold and copper. It’s also a major hub for fishing and the seafood industry, leading the Center for American Progress to call the battle over Pebble Mine a 'resource war.'"

Transportation & Infrastructure

Elio Motors' Autocycle
Elio: the next big thing in transportation—by Ashaman: "I'm a big fan of new technology, especially when it's used for efficiency. I've got an electric scooter, used to own a Jetta TDI but now have a Ford PHEV, and would love to own a Tesla. But the downside of most of these choices is that they are moderately expensive, and many people can't afford the higher up-front costs even if it would save them money in the long run. What the world needs, especially the US, is a personal transportation choice that is both efficient and affordable. I'm now watching a new company that has exactly that plan, and I think they've got the formula right. I've put down a pre-order deposit, and hope to be driving mine early next year. I figure there are at least 3 groups of Kossacks that may be interested in this, the technology geeks, the global warming crowd, and the anti-big oil folks, so I'm doing one of my rare diaries. This is what I'm looking at, an autocycle from Elio Motors."

History by Ordinary People: Father-Daughter Pair Doing 6-Day Electric Car Coast-to-Coast—by Assaf: "On Tuesday, John, a 62-year-old man from Kentucky, posted this laconic message on the Tesla owner online forum: Heading cross country! January 21, 2014.  Drove from Kentucky to New York last week to pick up my daughter in Hoboken for my co- pilot. As I was exiting the freeway for JFK, I hit something in the road that blew out a tire and bent the rim. Called tesla service at 7:am Monday morning. They had a new tire and rim on by 9 am. Left JFK supercharger at 9:45. Stopped in Hoboken and on to Newark, De. Full range charge and left with 258 miles. Pulled into Somerset sc with 11 miles rang left. Somerset to Macedonia in 3 hrs. It was snowing so the leg to Maumee, Ohio was slow. Got in at 2:30 am and couldn't get to the supercharger because of the snow that hadn't been plowed. Went to a Hampton inn 1/2 mile away and called Tesla. The guy told me to get some sleep and he would see what he could do. I went back to the sc at 8 am and it was clear. Are these guys the best or what! Headed out to Mishawaka with temp at 6 degrees. I'll keep you up to date if there is interest.
'If there is interest...' Talk about modesty when embarking upon something never done before, and potentially as momentous as the first coast-to-coast in a car, or in a train."

* New Day * — Do you know how electric car batteries are made?—by paradise50: "In that diary I wrote about the need to include embedded carbon, which is the amount of CO2 created when building cars, whether gas powered or electric vehicles (EV's), in addition to knowing how much CO2 is generated while driving to determine the overall goodness in slowing down climate change. As a very short summary, it all depends upon the specific model of vehicle, but in general a Prius for example puts out roughly half the CO2 as does a Honda Accord. One big difference however is the carbon footprint of building electric and hybrid cars is a lot more compared to that of building a regular car, primarily due to the production of the batteries. The bottom line is you need to drive a hybrid car around ~90,000 miles before you hit the break even point in total carbon footprint compared to that of a typical combustion engine powered mid-sized sedan. After that, the Prius wins in having a smaller total carbon footprint. This is only true, it turns out, depending upon how electricity is made where you live."

Solar Powered Amish Buggy—by gmoke:

Sunday Train: California Sierra Club Allies with Tea Party Against High Speed Rail—by BruceMcF: "It's a quite odd alliance. The Sierra Club is fighting the Climate Suicide Club both on the side of Supply, with the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline as one example and the fight against the establishment of Coal Export Terminals in the Pacific Northwest and on the side of Demand, with the Beyond Oil campaign, which in the Green Transportation component promises among other points that: 'The Sierra Club will: Ensure that all Americans have access to safe, affordable, clean transportation options. ...' And now the Director of Sierra Club California, Kathryn Phillips, has stepped up her attacks on the High Speed Rail project from 'expressions of serious concern' to giving direct support for the attack from the Legislative Analyst's Office that is working in concert with the Tea Party attack that is their most promising hope for killing the project."

Why are gas prices still sky high?—by Farlfoto: "It's been years since Big Oil found excuse after excuse to jack up their prices.  In 2004 the price of a gallon of gas was about $1.50.  It spiked in 2008 and then fell dramatically, but since then went up and up and up to finally seem to rest at the current $3.40 or so.  So why is this?  Can anyone tell me?  Things in the Middle East seem to have taken on a relative stability.  Terrorism seems to be at a lull these days. If you're like me, cynicism may force you to conclude that this was a scam. You may think that all the forces colluded to raise prices and that we may never get back to cheaper oil. This is not a tax issue, where we tax oil on purpose to dissuade use and conserve. This is (still) an amazing windfall to the Oil Companies. In the meantime all of us are at the mercy of Lying, cheating industrialists that get richer and richer."

Products & Miscellany

The Noise in Our Lives—by John Crapper: "I contend there is more noise bombarding us, clouding our thinking and impeding our judgement than ever before. This increase in noise pollution has been an insidious yet consistent phenomena in our lives, yet we are largely unaware of it and its implications. [...] This increase has been slow and subtle but it has significantly altered our perceptive abilities and served to increasingly isolate us from our natural surroundings. [...] Everything beeps these days too. Lock your car - hear the beep. Unlock the car - hear the beep. Don't put your seatbelt on - hear the beep. Don't hang up the phone and hear the beep. Makes me go beeping crazy!! Wasn't that many years ago that the only thing that beeped at you was the alarm clock and I still hate the sound of that sucker!"

Caribbean Solar Sailboat Project—by gmoke: "Help empower coastal Caribbean communities with a solar sailboat that will provide workshops and materials for solar electric modules, solar cookers and phone chargers.  Campaign now going on at Indiegogo: $18,000 over the next 40 days. This is a project of Dr. Richard Komp, a solar scientist who has worked since 1977 empowering rural communities with solar energy projects around the world, providing both hands-on teaching and renewable resources."

Recycling fights global warming—by Save The Environment: "As kids, we were all taught that recycling prevents landfills from being over-filled, or that it would save some trees from being cut down.  But it does more than that.  It takes less cost and energy to make products from recycled material than from virgin material.  It adds a lot less to the carbon footprint."

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