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Climate truck
Tea Party Climate Truck
Many environmentally related posts appearing at Daily Kos each week don't attract the attention they deserve. Consequently, more than seven years ago, a new feature was launched to highlight those diaries. Initially called Eco-Diary Rescue, the name was changed to Green Diary Rescue after a couple of years. In April, because of the growing number of eco-diaries being posted at the site, the name was changed again, this time to Spotlight on Green News & Views. It appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The most recent Wednesday Spotlight can be seen here. So far, more than 17,000 environmentally oriented diaries have been rescued for inclusion in these weekly collections. As has all along been true, inclusion of a diary in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.
Bee shipping box
Bees!! (with photos)—by second gen: "As I promised in my diary two weeks ago, Help me help the bees, I'm writing to give a little update on my progress with my little contribution to help the bees. Although I still don't really have the extra funds to do what I need to do, time was running out to start my beehive this year, and I had to strike while the iron was hot. Special thanks to those who did donate to my initial start up costs. [...] I installed the bees on Saturday, and it was too hot to go out on Sunday to check on them, and they really didn't need to be bothered anyway. It takes a couple days for the queen to be released. There are two attendants in the cage with her, and there is a candy cork in the end that they slowly eat through. The attendants use the candy to make "royal jelly" to feed the queen. But Monday was a downpour with severe weather, so I couldn't get out to check on them which made for a very anxious wait for the weather to break. Tuesday was more of the same in the forecast, but there was a slight break in the weather for a few hours. My son's car broke down on his way to work (4 am) so I had to get him on his way which was a perfect opportunity for me to be up early and watch the weather. At about 7 am, it was nearly perfect, so I went out to check on them. They were "humming along" nicely. They were almost completely out of sugar water because they have no significant pollen source as yet, and no way to leave the hive to collect it with the weather. Refilled the feeder jar, I hope it's enough for the next 2 days."
green dots
Postcard from Medellin, Part 2: Are we better off being better off?—by citisven: "If life were a competition to attain the most material possessions or the biggest name—as is often posited by the marketing industry—the #1 regret of the dying would surely be the failure to have accumulated more stuff or gained more influence. However, as most of us would probably intuit, those ambitions don't make the list at all. It seems that what people ultimately want out of life once they drop their survival armor are softer, less outwardly measurable qualities like authenticity, friendship, time with loved ones, or a sense of belonging. I was struck by this paradox on my very first night in Medellín, right after the cab driver had dropped me off at the spacious apartment our Ecocity Builders crew was sharing in the upscale El Poblado neighborhood. As my friend and colleague Kirstin and I were walking the half mile or so along Carrera 46 to get some food and drink at the only nearby place to do so, a big box-type supermarket, we were immersed in a cloud of exhaust that made my eyes burn."
green dots
North Carolina Coastal Commission Votes to Ignore Long-Term Sea Level Rise—by FishOutofWater: "The North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission has found a solution to the political impasse posed by the conflict between science, which predicts the acceleration of sea level rise as the glaciers of western Antarctica collapse into the Southern Ocean, and Republican, money-driven politics tied to coastal development. The Coastal Commission voted to ignore long-term sea level rise. The Commission voted, with one lone dissent, to limit the period of consideration of sea level rise to 30 years. Keeping the period to 30 years allowed the Commission to avoid considering the consequences of the collapse of west Antarctic glaciers, the speed up of the melting of Greenland's ice cap and the slowing of the Gulf Stream. This vote will end the conflict between the Republican dominated state legislature and the Commission that happened in 2010 when the Commission's panel of experts predicted as much as 5 feet of sea level rise by 2100. The legislature rejected that report and prohibited state and local government offices from considering the possibility that sea level rise would accelerate."

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

Climate Chaos

Cost of Climate Inaction: $8 Trillion in just 2 years—by xaxnar: "That's the takeaway number from a New Scientist summary of a report from the International Energy Agency.  This is about the costs of converting to green energy in order to limit global warming to 2° C. As New Scientist's Catherine Brahic explains: In 2012 the IEA estimated the cost of the transition at $36 trillion, which is $8 trillion less than this year's figure. To some extent, the rise is down to quirks in the calculations, such as changes in the value of the dollar. But there is one big factor: the longer we wait to take action on climate change, the more it costs. Instead of investing in renewable energy now, companies are building coal power stations. These will have to be dismantled early to move to a greener grid, reducing return on the investment. What's more, a later transition must be faster so companies will struggle to roll things out in the cheapest way. Regardless of Climate Change, we still have to spend money on our power systems as they age and as demand increases. Short term thinking is killing us: the cost of green energy is more, up front—but over time it actually saves money."

The SoCal Climate is Changing—by Road to1 Escondido: "The seasons are subtle in Southern California. Winter is cool and rainy, spring is cool and foggy, summer is warm and dry, and fall is when hot dry Santa Ana winds spark fire season. Today's forecast for inland San Diego County calls for temperatures near 100 degrees for the third day in a row. The humidity in my suburban town dipped to two percent yesterday, the weather service reported. It's the second such heatwave for San Diego this May. For days, unseasonal Santa Ana winds have littered the streets with palm fronds and spring leaves sucked dry of moisture. Eucalyptus trees have toppled into streets and structures. Usually this time of year, Californians are moaning about low-lying clouds—May gray and June gloom—and high temps in the 60s. But not this year. There was no rainy season and no fog. The weather has changed. We've skipped spring, plowed through summer and gone straight to fire season. And fire season is all we'll have unless/until the rains return months and months from now in November."

An Act Of God? Nope, It's Climate Change And Insurance CO's Don't Want To Pay!—by pollwatcher: "Insurance companies aren't fools, they can be greedy, creepy little things, but they're not fools. They don't want to pay more for claims than they have to, and they're not going to ignore 97% of climate scientists describing a new rapidly changing climate that could easily bankrupt them.  Politics makes strange bed fellows and those fighting to stop the oncoming climate disaster just might find they have a new ally. Climate change is shaping up to be really expensive. So who picks up the tab? That’s the issue in a lawsuit filed recently by Farmers Insurance against Chicago and its suburbs. [...] Andrew Logan looks at the insurance industry for Ceres, a non-profit that coordinates private-sector efforts to address climate change. 'I think what the insurers are saying is: "We’re in the business of covering unforeseen risks. Things that are basically accidents," Logan says. ‘But we’re now at a point with the science where climate change is now a foreseeable risk.’"

What does U.S. look like with a 10 feet rise of sea level asks Climate Central—by HoundDog: "Ben Strauss of Climate Central asks What Does U.S. Look Like With 10 Feet of Sea Level Rise? Then provides some answers with excellent maps of Boston, New York City, and St. Petersberg. You'll have to follow this link to use their national map. The latest research shows the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has started melting in an unstoppable process that will increase global sea level by about 4 feet in the next 2 centuries and 10 feet by the time the process is finished. A 10 feet rise in sea level would submerge 28,800 square miles of land in the United States, which is now home to 12.3 million people reports Ben Strauss. Including apparently much of downtown Boston, The Esplanade, Logan Airport, and major part of Cambridge, including MIT. We should have known it was a dodgy prospect to build a city on swamps which is the foundation for almost all of it except for that hill in the middle of that sea of blue in the first picture."

Calculated for a 10-foot rise in sea level
Rapid 15mm/yr bedrock uplift in the Antarctic Peninsula explained by global warming ice loss—by HoundDog: "Anna Shane sends me this dramatic news that global warming has melted enough antarctic ice to change the shape of the earth to the extent scientists can measure it. RDMag reports the strange news that Ice-loss moves the Earth 250 miles beneath our feet. Yes, we seem to have lost enough ice that the reduced weight on the surface of the Antarctic continent is allowing the flows of magma 250 miles beneath the surface to cause a 15 mm bulging of the earth's surface detectable by geologists! Calling all climate change deniers! 'Call for global warming deniers, line 1.' Let's spell this out in a way that even climate deniers might understand: due to global warming enough ice has melted on the Northern Antarctic ice shelve to change the shape of the earth enough that geologists can measure it with existing scientific measuring devices!"

New Rule for Bill Maher: If You Want to Talk about Climate Change ...—by Bethesda 1971: "Don't have a panel consisting of coal-loving ex-Governor, a Republican quasi-denier and an Ed Grimley clone saying 'what's the use, China's gonna choke us with coal anyway.' Bill Maher was extremely concerned about climate change as he started his panel tonight.  He mentioned the glacier breaking off and breaking the 400 ppm mark.  He said Germany now has 75% renewables—why can't we? That was the high point.  Ed Grimley (actually some guy named Ian Bremmer) said Germany was turning back to coal.  GOP Shill/Pollster Kelley Anne Conaway grudgingly admitted that climate change was 'half' human caused. [...]  And Brian Schweitzer told us all about 'clean coal' and fracking. [...] [I]f I want to hear a bunch of chumps talking about fracking or the pipeline, I can DVR Morning Joe."

Energy

Big Coal is trying to jail climate activists just for speaking out -- sign the petition!—by Nathan Empsall SierraRise: "Fossil fuel divestment campaigns are working. They're working so well that Big Coal is scared and striking back, frantically trying to censor climate activists and ban these campaigns. Our friends at 350 Australia told us that the Minerals Council of Australia is trying to outlaw coal boycotts in their country, effectively criminalizing speaking out for the climate. Australia is the world's leading coal exporter. If Big Coal succeeds in silencing their opposition there, they will try elsewhere—including here in the United States. Australian colleagues have told us that their government is sensitive to American opinion. That means your voice matters on this—together, we can help stop Big Coal from censoring its opponents!"

Renewables

Solar Roadways Indiegogo - $158,000 and Counting—by New Minas: "In case you haven't heard about it, the solar roadway revolution is on its way. After a successful proof of concept design and significant start-up support from the Department of Energy, the family-owned startup called Solar Roadways is rapidly moving to the next phase of development. With a modest goal of raising only $1,000,000 to hire key technical and market support for the development of a market-ready product, the Indiegogo site is reaching a global audience that wants to see this technology a reality."

Fracking

Big Oil lobbyist praises EDF for “balanced approach” to fracking—by Dan Bacher: "Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and the former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called 'marine protected areas' in Southern California, has praised the supposedly 'balanced approach' to fracking advocated by the Environmental Defense Fund and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the recipient of millions of dollars of Walton Family Foundation money every year, is a supporter of the environmentally destructive practice of fracking for natural gas and oil. The group claims fracking would provide 'measurable environmental benefits' in spite of the enormous harm that fracking poses to human health, groundwater and surface water supplies, and fish and wildlife populations."

CA-Gov: 350.org Calls On Jerry Brown (D) To Meet With Families Impacted By Fracking—by poopdogcomedy: "Received this e-mail today from 350.org: Governor Jerry Brown thinks fracking is safe for Californians, but people in places like Kern County are living with the impacts of fracking every day—despite regulations in place to protect them. They've invited Governor Brown to come see for himself, and we're urging him to take them up on the offer. Will you join us in calling on Governor Brown to face the impacts of fracking? We want him to spend just one day with concerned community members in Kern County. We think it would do our Governor—and our state—a world of good. Kern is California's most-fracked county. It also has the worst air quality in the nation, as well as highly elevated rates of cancer and respiratory illness."

Keystone and Other Fossil Fuel Transportation

Kitchen Table Kibitzing: San Jose protests the Keystone Pipeline—by remembrance: "Last Thursday in San Jose, local kossacks joined with various environmental organizations to protest the Keystone Pipeline. We met up with navajo and her Daily Kos banner but wondered where all the protesters were that we expected to see. We found out that another group of protesters had been blocked off at Plaza de César Chávez, across from the Fairmont Hotel. Police and security would not allow them to leave their cordoned off area and kept us from leaving our corner and crosswalk too. This left a disconnect between group members who had organized this event. Protesters who planned on using the pre-made signs could not access them, and we could not rally as one crowd. We really had no idea how many people were in attendance and worried there were too few of us to make an impact."

Protesting the KXL Pipeline in San Jose, CA 5-8-14,
The Great Outdoors

The Daily Bucket--Mitigation Proposed for Lost Frog Habitat—by 6412093: "I am working in my garden every single day, whistling the Volga Boat Song, in time with my shovel hitting the soil. To my surprise, as I uproot weedy ornamental plants, and split fussy lilies, I keep discovering tiny frogs who hop swiftly to new shelters after I destroy their original digs. I feel guilty about inconveniencing frogs. Please continue reading below the orange Flore De Lee for the solution to my guilt. If, like me, you ever have to read government-written environmental assessments (EA), I share your pain. And you know that when a project destroys valuable habitat, the EA will often propose 'mitigation.' Since I recently rousted frogs from the sodden dirt beneath my dug-up Lamb's Ear and Day Lilies, said areas soaked from poorly functioning irrigation systems, I decided to implement a mitigation project of my own, to benefit the frogs. Mitigation Area #1 will be a restored forested wetland of about .0002 acres (9 square feet) underneath a dozen arborvitae trees of dubious character. A 4 foot high artificial waterfall will oxygenate the pumped water that will fall into the foot-deep water body."

Kitchen Table Kibitzing: Bridal Veil Falls and Lake Serene—by rb137: "Fair weather hiking season is underway in a lot of places. We had a lot of precipitation this year in the Puget Sound area, so it will be a while before we can get to the high places. There will also be a long avalanche season as the weather gets warmer. That said, there are still places to go -- and one of the more popular hikes in the area is Bridal Veil Falls and Lake Serene. [...] I want to say that the climb from the trailhead is about 2000 feet, but the last 1200 is really steep. If you visit the area and do this hike, be prepared to use your hands and feet to get there. Another thing: bring a friggin' rain poncho if you care about getting wet. And watch your step! Being stupid by a rapid fall doesn't always yield good results. But it's an easy hike up to this point (see the trail guide I linked in the intro for more information). The wicked-awesome kicks in when you start up to Lake Serene from here."

Southwestern Landscapes—by matching mole: "A few weeks ago I learned that fellow bucketeer Polly Syllabic was going to be vacationing in southern Utah and northern Arizona.  As chance would have it I visited the same area not quite a year ago. Here's a few images from that trip to whet her appetite for the great southwest. [...] The heat caused us to change our plans.  We opted to avoid staying near Zion which was lower elevation and thus even hotter and move south and up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. As luck would have it we managed to get a cabin at the last minute."

Kodachrome State Park
Eco-Related DC & State Politics

Sheldon Whitehouse slams Marco Rubio's climate denial comments in a publicized letter—by HoundDog: "Alex Lazar of the Huffington Post reports Sheldon Whitehouse Slams Marco Rubio's Climate Change Comments In New Letter, in response to Rubio's remarks on ABC's News on Sunday that he did not 'believe that human activity is causing dramatic changes to our climate the way scientists are portraying it.' Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is a Democrat from Rhode Island. Whitehouse recently traveled to Florida to observe the effects of climate change. In a letter ... he responded to Rubio's comments, saying they were out of step with what Floridians were experiencing. 'I met Floridians who know that climate change from carbon pollution is real, and who have to adapt to the effects while Congress does nothing to stop the carbon pollution causing these rapid changes.' 'Monroe County has a Republican mayor who is putting climate and energy policy at the heart of her 20-year growth plan ... [Miami Beach] Mayor [Philip] Levine is pushing a $400 million plan to make the city’s drainage system more resilient in the face of rising tides,' Whitehouse adds."

"Establishment" Rubio Twists Batshit Pretzel Logic RE: Climate Change/Abortion—by Reinvented Daddy: "If you listen to the Beltway Stenographers Association, aka Politico, WaPo, The Hill etc. you have been inundated with the meme that the moderates are taking back the GOP (except where their million dollar men are getting stomped by Tea Baggers,  I see you Nebraska) and how they are listening to people of all shades of Orange and the youths. Batshit cray-cray is so 2011 right? Well here's 'establishment pick' 'the next Romney' US Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, opening the fire hydrant of full strength Tea Party Nutsauce: (Politico) In an interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday afternoon, the Florida senator brushed off a backlash labeling him as a climate-change denier by aggressively accusing left-leaning critics as hypocrites given their abortion rights positions. He said emphatically that the “science is settled” that life begins at conception but that liberals 'will never admit' to it [...] 'Let me give you a bit of settled science that they’ll never admit to. The science is settled, it’s not even a consensus, it is a unanimity, that human life begins at conception,' Rubio said. 'So I hope the next time someone wags their finger about science, they’ll ask one of these leaders on the left: ‘Do you agree with the consensus of science that human life begins at conception?’"

Marco Rubio is confusing me a little—by player: "Actually I’m not confused at all and neither is he. He is obviously fishing for primary voters but still … He says the left should not accept the scientifically questionable fact that humans could possibly effect climate change, because we don’t accept the scientifically proven fact that people are people at the moment of conception. Well I don’t want to debate abortion as Mr. Rubio wants to switch the subject to."

NH-Sen: Scott Brown (R) Gets Burned After Telling GOP To Block Jeanne Shaheen's (D) Energy Bill—by poopdogcomedy: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blamed Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown for the stalling of a bipartisan energy efficiency bill. Brown is running for Senate against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), the lead sponsor of the energy efficiency bill with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). Brown previously served as a U.S. senator for Massachusetts, but now lives in New Hampshire. Shaheen and Portman's bill failed to get enough Republican support to overcome a filibuster on Monday. Republicans blamed Reid’s refusal to consider any amendments, but Reid said Republicans blocked the bill because Brown requested it."

Critters

Daily Bucket - A Spring Delight—by Attack Gardener: "Somewhere around ten years ago in the early part of spring, I rescued a tiny stick that had four or five small pink flowers on it. I had no idea what it was but, at that time in my gardening career, any flower was a good flower. It had been struggling in the shade of two huge maple trees, in an area we were trying to reclaim from poison ivy. You can imagine the fun we had trying to extract it from the vines without coming into contact with them. Follow me below the poison ivy tangle, and see more flowering goodness!By the end of it, I had a four foot tall twig, somewhat battered, with its bare roots hanging out, waiting for its forever home. At that time, I had little knowledge and lots of enthusiasm, a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Without even attempting to figure out exactly what I had in my hands, I planted the little darling about 4 feet back from the driveway. [...] A few weeks ago, at the height of this year’s bloom, I noticed some birds eating the flowers. I had never seen this behavior before. House finches and goldfinches both indulged, though in different ways. A male house finch would pull the entire flower loose from the tree and nibble off the base, letting the rest of the flower fall. Goldfinches, by contrast, would pull each petal off then eat the base still attached to the tree."

23.2% of bee colonies perished this winter, less than the 30.5% of last year but still a problem—by HoundDog: "John Schwartz of the New York Times tells us that Report Says Fewer Bees Perished Over the Winter, But the Reason Is a Mystery, according to a study conducted by the Department of Agriculture and the Bee Informed Partnership. [...] John Schwart reports that one controversy remaining unsettled is the impact of a class of pesticides known a neonicotinoids which some research has shown to have especially detrimental impacts on bees. One paper published his month in the Bulletin of Insectology found that 6 of 12 healthy bee colonies exposed to the pesticide died. Bayer, one of the leading manufacturers of neonicotinoid pesticides, has protested that the scientists exposed these bees to too test doses higher than they would receive in natural settings adjacent to farms using the chemical. Scientists challenged Bayer to specify what dosages Bayer thinks bees will be exposed to in those settings."

Super Amazing Cute Critter Photodiary—by Jill Richardson: "Hello from Monterey, CA. I drove up the coast from San Diego, visiting fellow Kossack David Atkins on the way up here. And I've ended up seeing tons and tons of what can be called 'charismatic megafauna.' That is, large, adorable wild animals. Fortunately, I had my camera. Also, here's a thought that comes to mind as I look through these pictures: I saw all of these animals for free, and even a whale watch in San Diego costs less than a ticket to Sea World. And there are no ethical questions about any of these animals because they are wild (as opposed to Sea World and their killer whales). [...] My next stop was near Hearst Castle, at Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery. The best time to see them is in the winter, when they breed and mate, because the entire population gathers on the beach. This time of year, there are only females molting and some juveniles. They come to shore and fast for four weeks while molting. Juveniles and males come back to molt at other times of the year. There were still some juveniles around when I visited, including some young males who were play-fighting, honing their skills for when they do it for real as adults in order to gain access to mating with females by establishing dominance."

The Daily Bucket - barred owlet watch 2014—by bwren: "The Forest's baby Barred Owlets have appeared around Mother's Day every year for almost a decade. Those of us who watch begin the vigil in late April. We stand and we listen and we watch and we share the gossip when we meet. By late April we can usually depend on the Crows bring us to the Barred Owl adults. They scream and they swoop through the canopy at their hidden targets. Sometimes the Little Birds set up the alarm before the Crows arrive, chipping out their danger calls - Hummingbird right in front, Robin and Jay in near proximity, Chickadee a bit farther out, Nuthatch in the rear. With luck and time we'll sometimes see an owl flush from the scrum, and if very lucky, we'll be able to follow it to a possible nest location. There's been almost no sound this year. Last week brought the first little bird cacophony. Yesterday was first day of Big Crow Talk. Neither was near any of the previous nest sites. Those have been silent, too, and we've all stood for long periods of time, watching. Our dogs know this routine now, and sleep at our feet while we watch. Few owls have been seen or heard, anywhere."

Eryops, an early terrestrial amphibian
Eryops, an early terrestrial amphibian.
The Fish That Walked—by Lenny Flank: "It was one of the most momentous events in the history of life--about 375 million years ago, a freshwater fish, probably related to today's lungfish, flopped out of the water onto dry land, gulped air, ate insects, and began the long pathway towards the evolution of land-dwelling amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals and, ultimately, us. [...]So why did these early lobe-finned fishes leave the water and take up a life on land?  We don't know for sure, but there are several possibilities. Plants had already established themselves on land by this time, and they were followed by insects who used the new land plants as food sources--and by other predatory arthropods (like scorpions and centipedes) who used the insects as food sources. So the lobe-finned fishes had a huge readily-exploitable food source available to them, if they were able to go on land to reach it. Another likely hypothesis is that the lobe-finned fishes lived in small streams and ponds that were susceptible to drying up in warm weather, and they developed the ability to walk on land so they could leave their shrinking waterholes and move overland to find new ones--eventually staying on land fulltime."

How Wildlife Is Thriving Because Of Guns and Hunting—by ban nock: "The above was made by the National Shooting Sports Foundation which actually is an industry trade group for gun manufacturers."

Water & Drought

California Wildfires Starting Way Too Soon—by Dartagnan: "Five separate wildfires were burning in and around San Diego today, three within a fifty mile radius, prompting the issuance of 23000 evacuation notices in Carlsbad alone (mostly mandatory), the closure of many businesses (including the huge amusement park, Legoland, its electricity knocked out by the fires), and a precautionary evacuation of the San Onofre nuclear power plant. A fire in San Diego prompted 5000 home evacuations. One of the fires covered 700 acres at Camp Pendleton Marine base. State authorities have confirmed at least 30 structures have been destroyed.  San Diego County proclaimed a local state of emergency today, as temperatures reached 100 degrees and humidity only 3-4%. The coastal town of Carlsbad was particularly hard hit. "

California Burning - The Consequences from Ignoring Climate Change—by Steven D: "This is your country. This is your country ignoring climate change. It's not a pretty picture. As of this morning there are nine (9) wildfires burning in and around San Diego.  With he current drought conditions and high temperatures expected this summer across the Western United States, this is only the beginning of what may become one of the worst wildfire seasons in our history. Then again, one could say that almost every year. [...] I imagine that when the Pentagon commissioned their study regarding the threat climate change poses to our national security, they didn't go to great lengths to examine the possibility that military bases and nuclear power plants would be endangered by wildfires this month.  I mean who could have anticipated."

The Flames of San Diego—by New Minas: "In her 42 years of living in Southern California, Sophie Payne of Carlsbad has "never, never, never" witnessed so many wildfires at one time. Three dozen raged overnight. Eight of them continued to burn Thursday in a patchwork across of San Diego County, ravaging 10,000 acres since Tuesday, and killing at least one person. Payne's hilltop house was an exhibit of their destruction: It was burned to the ground, except for a stone archway and several walls."

Wildfires of the Apocalypse—by New Minas: "Fires this spring will exhibit behavior seen more typically in fall.  Expect fires to grow rapidly in continuous fuels, even during weather conditions not normally associated with fire growth. More fires will also be possible in alpine areas as melt out will be much earlier than average this year. The National Interagency Fire Center—May seasonal outlook. This is really happening. This already looks to be the worst fire season in California State history, it has already been the worst drought in state history.  These things ARE absolutely CAUSED by global warming."

California's Drought is really America's Problem—by jamess: "The Golden State is in the midst of a three-year drought—and scientists believe that this year may end up being the driest in the last half millennium, according to University of California-Berkeley professor B. Lynn Ingram. Californians are scared, with good reason: Fire danger in the state is high, and drinking-water supplies are low. But the drought will have repercussions outside the state's borders, as well. California produces a good chunk of the nation's food: half of all our fruits and vegetables, along with a significant amount of dairy and wine. [...] You can't water crops—with water you don't have."

Solar Desalination Start-up is making Fresh Water affordable in California—by jamess: "This year, farmers in California's Central Valley likely won't receive any water through the federal irrigation program, a network of reservoirs, rivers, and canals that is normally replenished yearly by ice melt from the Sierra mountains. Crippling water shortages have made desalination technology more attractive, including a startup, WaterFX, that uses the sun to produce heat. The heat separates salt and water through evaporation. WaterFX has fewer environmental repercussions than traditional methods of desalination that rely on fossil fuels to generate electricity."

Sustainability

On the Need for a New Economic Paradigm—by lehman scott: "An unsettling number of observers and analysts have looked at our situation and become convinced that collapse is now unavoidable; they see absolutely no likelihood for the type of system-wide transformation that is needed at this point. I can’t say that I blame them, frankly. Things really do look pretty bleak and hopeless. I cannot and will not share that sentiment, however; I am by nature an optimistic person and believe that a fundamental shift in society’s trajectory is still possible. I recently submitted an abstract for a paper I am writing on this subject to the journal ephemera, which was accepted for inclusion in an upcoming special issue on Organizing for the Post-Growth Economy. This and my next four diaries are an adapted version of the presentation I was invited to give at last week’s related Post-Growth Conference at the Copenhagen Business School but which I was unable to attend. And so, I shall present my thoughts on this subject to you, my fellow Kossacks. I hope you enjoy them. Below the fold, then, shall we?"

Pollution, Hazardous Wastes & Trash

Los Angeles to Host This Week's Oil Spill Disaster - 10,000 Gallons Spilled Into Streets—by James Hepburn: "I'm sorry. But am I the only one who sees a pattern here? Every other week it seems, another energy related disaster. And every other week, our so-called leaders don't do anything about it—except to cover it up. The latest, a 'valve malfunction' that sent reportedly 10,000 gallons of raw crude oil (Daily Record says 50,000) into the streets of Los Angeles, actually resembles one of those '80s, LA-based sci-fi movies. Unfortunately, it's not fiction, and it will affect real people's lives for years to come. Right in one of our most populated cities."

Low Doses of Cesium Are Toxic—by Duckmg: "Even Tiny Amounts of Radioactive Food Made Caterpillars Become Abnormal Butterflies. The scientists collected plant material from around Fukushima and fed it to pale grass blue butterfly caterpillars. When the caterpillars turned into butterflies, they suffered from mutations and were more likely to die early [... even if they] had only eaten a small amount of artificial caesium [...] In other words, things don’t look good for the animals living around Fukushima."

Will the next coal ash disaster be in your neighborhood?—by Mary Anne Hitt: "Guess what - you might be living near a toxic coal ash dump that threatens your local water supply, without even knowing it. Today, the Sierra Club and Earthjustice are releasing a new report called "Dangerous Waters: America's Coal Ash Crisis" that highlights some of the most unsafe coal ash sites in the nation. Imagine living next to an unlined waste pit that leaked arsenic, lead, mercury, and scads of other toxins into your local groundwater, streams and rivers. What's more, imagine that those millions of gallons of this toxic sludge burst through its aging impoundment and fouled your drinking water, wrecked your local economy, or even inundated your community, destroying homes and endangering the lives of your family or your neighbors? These are the realities and threats that millions of Americans face every day living near coal ash impoundments. Coal ash is what's left behind when power plants burn coal for electricity - and it contains a toxic mixture of dangerous chemicals. Shockingly, despite decades of advocacy, there are still NO national standards in place for the safe disposal of coal ash."

Waste Ink Tank Full—by Grey Fedora: "My printer suddenly died. The error message was 'WASTE INK TANK FULL.' No problem, I'll just empty the tank. But I couldn't find it. There were no access covers or pull out drawers with a tank inside.  Neither my paper manual nor the online tech site even mentioned a waste ink tank. It occurred to me, even if I did manage to find and empty the waste tank, I still didn't know how to reset the error message. [...] Best Buy does not sell the replacement sponges. The Geek Squad does not make this repair in house. They send the machine out to a repair facility with a 2-3 week turnaround time, and an upwards of $250 estimate. Or I could go with Plan B: buy a new printer. While I might have been able to find a local, independent repair shop who could change the sponge and reset the algorithm, It became clear that Plan B was the faster, cheaper alternative.  So, I left the big box with a new printer and 10 pounds of toxic waste that had been my old one.[...] What really got my blood boiling was when I went back to the manufacturer's web site to fire off a complaint and noted the most prominent item on their home page: a landscape scene with a paragraph of soul butter and hogwash about how environmentally friendly they were. For every trash can we send to the landfill, there are 70 trash cans upstream filled with detritus of the manufacturing and distribution. How difficult would it have been, and how much more would it have cost to design an easily accessible sponge and write a feature in the printer driver to reset the algorithm?"

Mining

Turkish Mining Disaster: 285 Dead, Banks helping people in dire straits—by InAntalya: "The official death toll is now 285 with an unannounced number of miners - unofficially between 70 and 120 - still unaccounted for. Today, in an unexpected development, almost all of the banks in Turkey have announced that they will erase the debts of the miners who were killed. These banks also announced that if the miners who died had life insurance coverage on their debts, this is very common in Turkey, the money from the life insurance coverage would be given to the miners' families."

270 Dead, 120 still trapped in largest Turkish mining fire in their history, anger at P.M. Erdagon—by HoundDog: "In addition to 201 workers killed, at least 80 miners were injured. the deaths were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a fire in a power distribution unit. ... Authorities say the disaster followed an explosion and fire caused by a power distribution unit. Mining union leader Nurettin Akcul told Turkish television that this was probably the worst mining accident in Turkey' history."

Transportation & Infrastructure

The state of U.S. passenger rail - II—by ObamOcala: "Two innovations in the 1860s, the Pullman sleeping car and the dining car, had made rail travel tolerable. The railroads began ordering ever more lavish cars in an effort to make it chic. Watch a day's worth of old movies from the 1930s, '40s or '50s on one of the classic movie channels, and you're almost certain at some point to see a scene—or even an entire movie—set on one of the named trains of the period. But beneath the glitz and glamour of luxury trains like the Super Chief, Empire Builder, 20th Century Limited and Southern Crescent was a great deal of political and corpororate turmoil which nearly killed all rail service in the United States.From the start, the relationship between the railroads, shippers, labor and the government was one of near-constant tension as all sides sought to use newly-created government agencies like the Insterstate Commerce Commission to their advantage."

Public Infrastructure Investment an Opportunity to Lift Up Cities—by Kathleen Mulligan Hansel: "Renewed investment is long overdue, but it is not nearly enough. As local and national leaders ponder strategies for renewing America’s cities, they would do well to learn from the collaborations of community, worker, civil rights, and environmental leaders that are pushing regional and municipal leaders to get more for their infrastructure investments. Where they are able to partner with the local and elected officials who control public investments, they are leveraging greater benefits for cities that promise to reduce inequality and clean the environment while improving the health of our communities. The new vision for infrastructure investment focuses on how major public investments can yield benefits along multiple axes, putting unemployed communities back to work, cleaning and greening urban environments, and making sure infrastructure supports community needs rather than competing with them."

Roads are socialism—by tremayne: "The President made his push for renewed infrastructure spending in an outdoor speech in front of a dilapidated bridge. Obama said many bridges are in dire need of repair or replacement and he wants me to pay for it. You know what I say to that?: Bridges are socialism. In a free country if you want to cross a river you do something we used to call 'swimming.' That is, before the country got too lazy for that kind of effort. Now people just drive over bridges and think nothing of it. And why should they? Most of them are freeloaders, crossing raging rivers for free on the hard work of us freedom lovers."

Obama should commission a study on dikes - and get Repubs on the other side—by ItsYourMoney: "Obama should start a set of measures - commission some studies, push a bill to build infrastructure that will be needed to build dikes quickly, etc.  The Republicans will howl like crazy, and be on the record for the next N years as opposing any climate accommodation measures."

Miscellany

James Inhofe Calls for War with Russia, Raves at Climate Change Supporters—by Eternal Hope: "Politician Foot in Mouth Disease -- James Inhofe plays armchair psychologist on the men who advised the Department of Defense on climate change issues.'There is no one in more pursuit of publicity than a retired military officer,' he said of the report’s authors. 'I look back wistfully at the days of the Cold War. Now you have people who are mentally imbalanced, with the ability to deploy a nuclear weapon. For anyone to say that any type of global warming is anywhere close to the threat that we have with crazy people running around with nuclear weapons, it shows how desperate they are to get the public to buy this.' They ridiculed Jesus when he put forth the radical notion that the rich had an obligation to help the poor. They ridiculed Galileo when he proved that the earth revolved around the sun and not the other way around. People thought that the hippies were crazy, dreaming their lives away; however, they were much more reality-based on Vietnam than all the suits who made a living doing nothing but studying that situation. And now this."

Activism: No-sort recycling; promoting freecycle programs and electric cars—by Save the Environment: "For a while now, we’ve had all our recyclables picked up together in one container in our town instead of having to separate them. Recycling plants now can separate the different types of recyclable materials from one another automatically by machine, so this must be what explains it. A magnet might be used to separate out metal, and some other machine that relies on the different densities of the different types of recyclable materials separates out paper. Probably they still have employees to manually separate the different kinds of plastic from one other, since it seems like the different kinds of plastic are too similar to one another to be separated merely by some physical, mechanical process. Of course it’s easier on people to put everything in one barrel instead of having to separate it. But it also, encouragingly, somehow makes you think of how almost all of our garbage is recyclable now."

Saturday Morning Garden Blogging Vol. 10.13—by Frankenoid: "Good morning, and it's still weird here.  Welcome to Saturday Morning Garden Blogging. In Denver, warm-weather gardening season is considered to begin Mother's Day weekend. This year on Mother's Day we got snow.  And over-night lows below freezing. Since then we've been on the decidedly cool and cloudy side.  It didn't get back into the 60s until Thursday, and we've had spits and spats of rain—nothing major, just enough to keep the grass too wet to mow, and the veggie patch too wet to plant. I guess it's not a bad thing that the Mister's work on the shed has delayed my planting of the warm-weather crops in the veggie patch. We're supposed to have a couple of days of warmer weather this weekend, so I plan to make some progress on spring-time chores: mowing the grass, emptying then reloading the compost tumbler; replacing a broken section of soaker hose; and planting the seedlings."

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