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Bombus melanopygus - Black-tailed Bumble Bee
Bombus melanopygus - Black-tailed Bumble Bee
Many environmentally related posts appearing at Daily Kos each week don't attract the attention they deserve. To help get more eyeballs, Spotlight on Green News & Views  (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The most recent Saturday Spotlight can be seen here. So far, more than 18,000 environmentally oriented diaries have been rescued for inclusion in this weekly collection since 2006. Inclusion of a diary in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.
Home solar power with power storage will disrupt utilities say Barclay's as they downgrade bonds—by HoundDog: "A specter is haunting the traditional U.S. electrical utility companies and that specter is the coming boom in solar power storage systems. Solar power systems with storage are already competitive with utility generation rates in Hawaii and California, with New York and Arizona not far behind. 'The bank expects 20% of US electricity consumers will be able to have access to solar with energy storage that will be as cheap or cheaper than utility power within 4 years.' The downward trends in prices of renewable represent such a threat to the traditional utility industry that Barclay's has seen fit to down grade the U.S. utility industries bond rating even before taking into account the new E.P.A. regulations to reduced the carbon emissions of power plants by 30%."
green dots
What is causing millions of fish to die all over the world?—by don mikulecky: "Oxygen depletion seems to be one cause:  A lack oxygen in the water brought on by the recent Southern California heat wave is one of the reasons experts are suggesting for a huge fish die-off in the waters of Marina Del Rey. Back in 1965 I came back from my postdoc in Israel to take a job on the Biophysics faculty at SUNY at Buffalo, NY.  The department had a picnic on the shores of Lake Erie and we were witnesses to a huge fish die off:  Lake Erie: 'We have met the enemy and he is us.' In the 1960s, Lake Erie was declared 'dead,' though, ironically, it was full of life—just not the right kind. Eutrophication had claimed Lake Erie and excessive algae became the dominant plant species, covering beaches in slimy moss and killing off native aquatic species by soaking up all of the oxygen. The demise of Lake Erie even made it into a Dr. Seuss book, The Lorax. Many years later I was involved with making computer models of the Lake Erie ecosystem to try to prevent another catastrophe. We were concerned about the environment back then but things seem to have only gotten worse."
green dots
What to tell Climate-Confused Friends? That You don't "Believe" in Global Warming—by Assaf: "As global warming comes back to the fore of public discourse, environmentalists wonder how to overcome the polarization (this New Hampshire poll finds global warming to be the most partisan issue, second only to support for Obama) and help the broader public support critically-overdue climate action. One approach has been to stay away from the crux of polarization—whether one 'believes' in anthropogenic global warming or not, and why—and focus on areas of broader and near-bipartisan agreement, like support for renewable energy. I do not subscribe to that approach. I think we do need to talk to our conservative and/or climate-confused friends about the science. The title 'most polarizing issue' is a rapidly-changing 'flavor of the day' thing; it comes and goes. I feel the wind is in our backs on this issue (pun semi-intentional), simply because the other position is fast becoming a laughingstock. This is the time to push forward. But there's another critique of such engagement: that we should not dignify an anti-science stand by giving it unjustified 'parity' with solid science."

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

Eco-Philosophy, Eco-Essays & Eco-Poetry

A Tale of Two Counties (inspired by Three Cheers for Alpine County - by liberaldad2)—by Mark Lippman: "When oil and gas reserves underground can be recovered and delivered to market, they find the path of least resistance and they go. Their value make them unstoppable. That's the true nature of the challenge that Progressives face. The battle to stop fracking has been lost. Take a look at this interactive map of the 3,143 counties in the US, if you're interested. You may pan to a location, zoom in or out, and click on a county for information about employment and wages there. Of the 100 counties with the fastest rate of jobs growth, 70 are in the shale formation regions of North Dakota, Texas, and Oklahoma where fracking has taken holdThese are mainly sparsely populated rural areas. Williams County in North Dakota, where the town of Williston is located, is the epicenter of the Oil Rush. It's touted for the lowest unemployment rate in the country. However, even where the number of jobs doubled, it doesn't amount to big numbers. The New York metro area added more jobs than all the oil patch counties combined. It's the rate of jobs growth where fracking is widespread that stands out."

Twin Crises: Inequality & Climate Change—by StewartAcuff: "Just recently South African freedom fighter and faith leader Desmond Tutu called for a global boycott and disinvestment campaign against the energy industry. He is calling for an international effort to reduce global climate change and push for investment in renewable and sustainable non-carbon emitting fuels such as wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, and other forms of energy. We in the US know that many of our global competitors are making huge investments in this direction already including China, Germany, and Canada. In fact, during President Obama’s first term the US almost made such an investment until the Senate Republicans decided to deny the President any legislative victories and killed the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman Climate Change Bill. I have been a participant at two United Nations Global Climate Change negotiations. I bear personal witness to the frustration of the rest of the world in the unwillingness of the United States to play any constructive role in reducing carbon in the atmosphere and the consequent climate change."

Rage, Rage With West Virginia Against the Dying of Their Right to Clean Water—by Virally Suppressed: "In May of 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson gave the commencement address at the University of Michigan and first laid out the framework of what would become his vision for America's "Great Society." In the speech, LBJ reflected on the progress of our grand American experiment and our vision for the years to come, saying that: 'For a century we labored to settle and to subdue a continent. For half a century we called upon unbounded invention and untiring industry to create an order of plenty for all of our people. The challenge of the next half century is whether we have the wisdom to use that wealth to enrich and elevate our national life, and to advance the quality of our American civilization.' That half century has now passed and much of the nation has failed to meet the challenge of the Great Society and some places, like the bulk of West Virginia, has regressed. As I shared in my latest article, The Family Afterward: West Virginia Four Months After The Freedom Industries Chemical Spill, even something as basic as clean water is no longer guarantee, as the hundreds of thousands of West Virginians who have been running tainted water through their taps for the past 4 months can attest. And yet, there has been an almost complete absence of media coverage over this ongoing violation of our basic freedoms since the spill first happened. It has been up to us, the citizen journalists, the muckrakers, the advocates the passionate bloggers, to keep this story alive—to remind the rest of the country that '3rd world' problems are running rampant in parts of our '1st world' nation."

Owning your green spaces, even in Suburbia—by idbecrazyif: "So a few weeks ago, there in my neighborhood I got to watch a house literally torn asunder with an excavator. It was a pretty crazy event to watch from my front window. A company named Indiana Recovery Services plopped some equipment down in literally a matter of a day, and then in around a little over a week they had ripped the house down, torn the septic system up, and laid flat to the entire lot. It was something to watch really, on how efficient we can be when it comes to destruction. Being the curious one I am though, I was super inquisitive on how this lot came to be and what was going to become of it given it sat on the corner of my street and had some pretty wide open green space available. [...] I feel bad nagging on the public sector because I used to work for it, but I wanted to find out who might own this open land and see if it could be used for some type of community garden space, or even maybe a playground of sorts. Or heck, as much space as the lot provides a garden and even a baseball diamond slash football field. My catty corner neighbor across the street even joked to me that if we could flatten the space a little that it would make a nice practice spot. Not my choice, but hey community spaces are for the community right?"

Climate Chaos

In response to President Obama's greenhouse gas regulations, Republicans roll out their usual lies—by Laurence Lewis: "With the announcement this past week of President Obama's new greenhouse gas regulations, Republican knees were jerking to the point of spasms. If this weren't now such a standard reaction, the degree to which Republicans reflexively and dishonestly oppose any and all environmental protections would be astonishing. But Republicans long have proven that they just don't care about the state of the biosphere we just happen to inhabit. This is reason number one why the Republicans shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the corridors of political power. For their part, the traditional media fell back on their usual habit of promoting false balance or framing as politics, for an issue that is actually about scientific facts. Although President Obama's record had been decidedly mixed on protecting humanity from the most important crisis it has ever faced, that record has been dramatically improving."

Denial, delay, despair = defeat. What if an asteroid were headed our way?—by Meteor Blades: "Getting action on climate change has for the past 25 years been obstructed by global warming deniers and delayers. The deniers say it isn't happening or isn't a big deal or it doesn't matter because we can't do anything about it anyway. The delayers concede that it is happening, is a big deal, will matter very much to billions of people and other species, and agree that something should be done to avert utter catastrophe. But they won't get off their asses to really do it. On Friday, a new category debuted: the despairer. In a piece in Vox headlined 7 reasons America will fail on climate change, a very smart guy, Ezra Klein, explained in detail why he is a self-described climate pessimist. I urge everyone to read it. The essay is filled with truths about what climate change might mean as well what it almost certainly will mean given the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere."

Not all Kentuckians see EPA's emissions rule as onerous—by Meteor Blades: "In Kentucky, 92 percent of the electricity is generated by 56 coal-fired power plants, a few of them practically antiques. That's the largest percentage in the nation. Kentucky generates more carbon dioxide emissions per unit of electricity from all sources than any other state. That's why so many Kentuckians view with alarm the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed limits on those emissions. They see jobs being lost and expect electricity prices to rise as some of the oldest coal-burners are shut down.
The reality, as Trip Gabriel at The New York Times wrote over the weekend, is that the flexibility the EPA carved into its complex emissions rule that gives states wide latitude in how they comply means that Kentucky doesn't have such a rough path ahead. The EPA wants the state to reduce its emissions just 18 percent over the 2005 base year by 2030. The impact of that on jobs versus the impact of other factors in the energy business is likely to be small. [...] If we had a Congress actually in tune with what is required to deal with climate change, EPA rules—far stronger than the one the agency has just announced—would be combined with everything from infrastructure upgrades to bigger and better-tailored renewable subsidies to make the transition away from fossil fuels an even bigger boon, not just for the climate but for the jobs and the economy overall. Some of this will happen on its own, but government can help speed up the transition and to shape its direction so people in the bottom tiers don't get left out."

Cartoons & Climate Change! Great New Book by PhD "Stand Up Economist"—by cgibosn: "I just read the Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change, which I'm about to highly recommend to you and anyone you have ever known. I'll even tease you with pretty previews of the book's pages, below. But first, let me start with an admission: Environmentalists have a reputation for lacking in the humor department. This stereotype is unfortunate. My colleagues here at Greenpeace and most of my own crunchy friends are genuinely witty people with good senses of humor. Good enough to make me laugh soy-milk out of my nose once I'm alerted to the kale that was stuck in my teeth all day.* And websites like Grist have done a great job bringing some LOL's to the WTF's inherent in environmental reporting. But our subject matter can be overwhelming in scope: global climate disruption, deforestation, human rights violations abound, freshwater depletion, ocean acidification.....sorry, I just stopped listening to myself to avoid the temptation to hide in bed forever."

Krugman examines the real opposition to acting on global climate change—by Teacherken: "His opening paragraph provides a frame: There are three things we know about man-made global warming. First, the consequences will be terrible if we don’t take quick action to limit carbon emissions. Second, in pure economic terms the required action shouldn’t be hard to take: emission controls, done right, would probably slow economic growth, but not by much. Third, the politics of action are nonetheless very difficult. He does not think that the monetary stakes are as big a reason as do many others—although obviously people whose income comes from carbon-based fuels are playing a major role in the opposition. Yet even for some of them Krugman thinks it is less the matter of money than it is that of ideology."

President Obama on Climate Change—by xaxnar: "   Tom Friedman devotes his June 7 column to an interview he did with President Obama while he was preparing for the release of new carbon emission standards. If you didn't see it, it's well worth a look. (Yes, I'm actually saying that about a Friedman column!)."

Energy

San Onofre Nuclear Settlemt To Refund Millions to Customers: Meet'g June 16, Costa Mesa Comm'ty Ctr—by mettle fatigue: "TURN has entered into a settlement with SoCal Edison and SDG&E to refund millions customers have already paid for the failed steam tubes at the San Onofre nuclear power plant. This guarantees savings now rather than gambling for savings later through CPUC litigation. Under the settlement, Edison cannot charge you any more for the steam tube debacle or many other previously approved nuclear plant costs. The settlement will reduce your rates, and hold you harmless for Edison’s mistakes. If it turns out the steam tube defects were the fault of Mitsubishi, the manufacturer, you’ll share in any recovery Edison gets from them. In addition, customers will receive the lion’s share of hundreds of millions of dollars Edison will likely receive through sales of nuclear fuel. The terms, negotiated by TURN and the Office of Ratepayer Advocates, will immediately save customers $1.4 billion, with additional savings further down the road."

It Ain't How Much Energy We Generate, It's How Much We "Reject" (for the USA at least)—by gmoke: "Every year, I look at the US annual energy budget chart and figure out a rough percentage of how energy efficient our economy is, the percentages of 'useful' and 'rejected' energy (the terms Lawrence Livermore National Labs uses). Recently, I went back and looked at each year from 1991 to 2013 to see what the trends have been.  Three things stand out: we 'reject' or waste over half the energy we produce;  we haven't improved that efficiency over the last 22 or 23 years;  and we have spent the last 15 years or so at an energy plateau between 95 and 100 quadrillion BTUs. At some point, I might take a look at the growth rates of the economy since 1999 till now to get an idea at how US economic production fares under a relatively steady state energy regime."

Best Polywell Fusion news since early 2006—by Roger Fox: "Polywell is a branch of fusion research started by Dr Bussard of the Bussard Ramjet fame. EMC2 is a corporation set up to conduct research which has been funded by the Navy going back about 15 years. Since the Navy has funded Polywell fusion they have issued a publishing embargoe from the beginning of the funding. Until now. EMC2 has published a 12 page report found here. Here's the short version of what's been happening with Polywell over the last few years. When Navy funding increased to 3-4 million a year, EMC2 built WB-8 which was bigger than WB-7. WB-8 likely used liquid nitrogen to cool the magnets, a significant upgrade from WB-7. This allowed quicker cooling after a test run, or increased run time from 5-6 milli seconds to 5-10 seconds. WB-8 was test run possibly hundreds of times, ultimately it was found to have an issue with its E-guns. Conjecture at the time suggested a need to reposition or go big and build big honking E-guns. WB-8 did yield some good hints at proper scaling. Unfortunately, the Navy apparently wouldn't fund the big honking E-guns and the prevailing theory fell on the side of bigger E-guns."

Renewables

The Texas solar power enigma - highest potential, nearly lowest per capita solar - maybe changing—by HoundDog: "Texas is a solar energy enigma - having the highest renewable energy potential of any state in the U.S., but nearly the lowest per-capita solar energy. BClare Foran, Jason Plautz and Patrick Reis of The National Journal asks The New Energy Paradigm: Why Is Texas Terrible at Producing Solar Power? Texas is an energy superpower, and not just for fossil fuels. The Lone Star State produces more natural gas than any other state, but it also leads the nation in wind energy. It's also a massive, Southern, sun-baked state that is so full of the wide-open spaces needed for solar panels that it rivals California for the nation's largest solar-energy potential, according to an Energy Department report. Texas, the report says, is home to a full 20 percent of total U.S. potential for concentrated solar power. Solar energy developers have always kept an eye on West Texas, due to a combination of cheap land and lack of cloud cover. But obstacles such a poor quality transmission lines to the more populated centers of demand in East Texas, lack on any net-metering program, and lack of any state subsidies or incentives seen in many other states have held solar and wind applications back. Also, Texas has among lowest electricity prices in the nation due to plentiful and inexpensive sources of natural gas."

Sunday Train: The Solar Fight, Is Going Right, Deep in the Heart of Texas ...—by BruceMcF: "Well, what do you know? I look around, and see a story saying Solar power gains momentum after long struggle in Texas. And not in 'Grist' or 'Solar Energy News!' or any such ... but in the Dallas Morning News Business section from Wed, 4 June 2014. According to the story, Recurrent announced plans last month to build a 150-megawatt solar farm in West Texas after signing a 20-year power purchase deal with Austin Energy. That comes just months after First Solar, one of the world’s largest solar companies, began construction on a 22-megawatt farm near Fort Stockton with plans of eventually expanding to 150 megawatts. ... And an even more dramatic acceleration could be ahead. Solar developers have been flooding the state’s grid operators with applications for more solar farms, close to 2,000 megawatts worth, said Warren Lasher, director of system planning for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. 'It’s hard to say how much will actually get built,' he said. 'It’s been this way for more than a year. But it’s a significant increase from before. Join me for utility scale solar PV, utility scale solar thermal, onshore wind, offshore wind, and grid integration ... "

Warren Buffet invests additional $15 billion in renewable energy - now he is up to $30 billion—by HoundDog: "Harriet Green of Cityam reports Warren Buffett was spending $15bn on renewable energy. He’s now upped that to $30bn. Speaking at the Edison Electric Institute’s annual convention in Las Vegas, the guru investor turned to deputy Greg Abel for a reminder of the figure, before coming back with, as reported by Bloomberg: 'There’s another $15bn ready to go, as far as I’m concerned. We’ve poured billions and billions and billions of dollars in retained earnings, and several billion of additional equity … And we’re going to keep doing that as far as the eye can see,' he said. The firm’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy has $70bn in assets and over 8.4m customers globally, operates power grids here in the UK, and natural gas pipelines stretching across vast swathes of the US. One of Buffet's investments is a solar farm in California that will be one of the largest in the world when it is finished."

Fracking

Eco-Related DC & State Politics

ConservaDems vs. Trains—by Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees: "Yesterday, the House passed its Transportation and HUD appropriations bill. I would like to highlight two amendments in particular. Republican Jeff Denham (CA-10) introduced an amendment to prohibit the use of funds for high-speed rail in the State of California or for the California High-Speed Rail Authority. It passed 227 to 186. 221 Republicans and 6 Democrats voted for it. 183 Democrats and 3 Republicans voted against it. [...] Republican Pete Sessions (TX-23) introduced an amendment to prohibit the use of funds to support any Amtrak route whose costs exceed 2 times its revenues. It failed 167 to 250. 164 Republicans and 3 Democrats voted for it. 60 Republicans and 190 Democrats voted against it."

Tom Hayden greenwashes Governor Brown’s abysmal environmental record—by Dan Bacher: "In an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee Forum on June 1, former State Senator Tom Hayden touts the “green energy” policies of California Governor Jerry Brown, even though anti-fracking activists have dubbed the Governor 'Big Oil Brown' for his subservience to the oil and gas industry. [...] Hayden also touts the allegedly “visionary” energy policies of Jerry Brown. 'It’s a long way from the early days when Brown was ridiculed as a Zen outlier speaking riddles about renewables. None dare call him Moonbeam now,' says Hayden. The former Senator acknowledges the public outcry over fracking, as well as the acknowledging the necessity of  'making the connection between greenhouse gas reductions and environmental justice,' but doesn’t call for a ban on fracking like the majority of environmental groups in the state have called for. Hayden is right that none call Jerry brown “Moonbeam” now. Brown has transformed himself into 'Big Oil Brown,' one of the worst Governor’s for fish, water and the environment in California history."

President Obama admits he sometimes feels like "going off" on congressional climate deniers (video)—by HoundDog: "I'd pull all the stops, Mr. President. We will stand behind you and help. Or, even in front of you. All around you. Give these stupid morons some 'schooling' they desperately need and let see how vast they all start retreating like Speaker John Boehner and Governor Rick Scott of Florida did after they saw Senator Marco Rubio get trashed after his stupid remarks."

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL): If humans cause climate change, 'Then why did the dinosaurs go extinct?'—by Mother Mags: "Ha, gotcha! On Jansing & Co. Rep. Jeff Miller conceded that humans and dinosaurs did not roam the earth together. Jesus never perfected his parade wave riding atop a Tyrannosaurus since, according to Rep. Miller's expert view, dinosaurs went extinct without the help of people. The folks at the Creation Museum Sideshow in Kentucky won't be pleased to hear this, and no doubt Rep. Miller will be walking back his comments in 3... 2... 1... Actually, there've been a number of massive extinctions on our fine planet, none previously attributable to humans, who weren't really in the picture. But those events either played out over thousands of years, or they were, like the dinosaur story, probably caused by another big rock slamming into ours. But because humans did not cause the end of dinosaurs, that's proof in Rep. Miller's book that we can't be responsible for any of the current problems either."

Rep. Jeff Miller says man-made climate change is impossible because the dinosaurs went extinct—by Hunter: "There's that old (fake) anecdote about the state legislator who introduced a bill that would declare pi to be exactly 3 in his state because math would be easier that way. Current actual congressman Jeff Miller, R-FL, is dumber. [Rep. Jeff Miller]: [The climate] changes. It gets hot, it gets cold. It’s done it for as long as we have measured the climate. [MSNBC host Richard Liu]: But man-made, isn’t that the question? Miller: Then why did the dinosaurs go extinct? Were there men that were causing — were there cars running around at that point, that were causing global warming? No. The climate has changed since earth was created. In order to know that pi cannot be made '3' by legislative decision, you need to know what pi is. You don't need to know anything climate at all, however, to grasp the central and glorious stupidity of actual congressman Jeff Miller's theory that (A) the climate cannot possibly be changing due to man-made activities because (B) the climate has changed in the past. It's a common function of elementary logic, the sort of thing they might quiz you on in school while you're still young enough to be wearing Incredible Hulk-brand underwear."

Senators opposing fracking moratorium received 14x more money from Big Oil—by Dan Bacher: "Five days after a bill calling for a moratorium on fracking in California failed in the State Senate, a non partisan watchdog group revealed that those who voted against the legislation or abstained from voting on it received many times more in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry than those who supported the bill. State Senators voting 'NO' on the fracking moratorium bill on Thursday, May 29 received 14 times as much money the oil and gas industry, on average ($25,227), as senators voting 'YES' ($1,772) from January 1, 2009 to December 21, 2012, according to MapLight, a non profit organization revealing money's influence on politics. The report also said the Democrats who abstained from voting on the moratorium received, on average, 4.5 times as much money from the oil and gas industry as the Democrats who voted 'YES'."

CA-Gov: 350.org Calls On Jerry Brown (D) To Meet With Fracking Victims In Kern County—by poopdogcomedy: "Received this e-mail today from 350.org: Governor Jerry Brown thinks fracking has no impact on California or Californians—but we know a some folks in the Central Valley that disagree. Take Kern County, for instance: It has 246 of the 249 wells that have been disclosed this year—as well as the worst air quality in the nation and highly elevated rates of cancer and respiratory illness.1 Residents of Kern County have invited Governor Brown to come see the impacts of fracking for himself, and we're urging him to take them up on the offer. Will you help? For Kern County residents, fracking means an explosion of oil field traffic, methane flares, pipelines, and wastewater pits filled with secret chemical cocktails. Fracking for more oil also contributes to climate change, and climate impacts are hitting their home in the Central Valley hard."

HI-Sen: Brian Schatz (D) Praises Obama On New EPA Rules Limiting The Amount Of Carbon Pollution—by poopdogcomedy: "Received this e-mail today from climate hawk Senator Brian Schatz's (D. HI) campaign: I live on a small island, Molokai, so the risks of climate change to our communities are up close and personal to me. But working with Sustainable Molokai, I also know Hawai‘i’s unique potential to be a leader for the nation and to other Pacific islands by modeling how to build a clean energy economy. Senator Brian Schatz shares this passion for expanding clean, renewable energy in Hawai‘i and reducing our state’s dependence on imported fossil fuels. After leading the way in Hawai‘i, he’s taken that dedication to the U.S. Senate. I was glad to see Senator Schatz standing with President Obama’s strong new EPA rules limiting the amount of carbon pollution released by power plants, rules that will fight climate change and pave the way for more good clean energy jobs. But they’re sure to come under attack by well-funded fossil fuel groups that want to continue dumping carbon pollution for free, and their Republican allies in Congress."

The Great Outdoors

How to climb down a Mountain—by samsoneyes: "The U.S. National Forest and National Park Service are examples of government creating and preserving public goods against private gain.  They are part of a century's old legacy of reform and stewardship that is endangered most by public apathy. [...] What happens on a climb, it seems, is that you learn something. How fit you are, or unfit; how patient or impatient; how determined or how fickle. You learn how to do it and how not to do it. Hours after this first climb, I heard words of wisdom that I would not have understood had I heard them before ascending and then descending [Mt.] Osceola: 'On the way down there are two things to remember: don’t stop, and don’t rush.' Good advice when you’re on the side of a mountain. In fact, good advice almost anywhere, when you think about it."

Critters

Dawn Chorus: Print Edition—by lineatus: "Did I ever tell you about my book?  Okay, not exactly mine.  It's Peter Pyle's "Identification Guide to North American Birds, Part 2". But I did most of the illustrations and I have to say, it was a pretty cool experience. If you're a regular Dawn Chorus reader, you know I'm a serious plumage geek. That's how I got involved in the project, and the project definitely reinforced the geekitude.  Going through the process was a real education. [...] I first got involved in the book in 2003.  The original idea had been to have a number of illustrators do different sections of the book, based on their specialties.  I was going to do the raptors, but after talking with Peter a few times, we decided that I could try doing everything (except gulls - the author of that section, Steve Howell, did those drawings)."
Fly eating june bug
The Daily Bucket: Random Photos, Random Thoughts—by PHScott: "Not much to this Daily Bucket today - nothing was scheduled, so here ya go, some random photos. I am home since it was supposed to rain all day. Hah! It rained early in the morning and quite sunny now, but a huge mess of rain is off the Gulf Coast. Hate to lose a day since we are so close to finishing up the last section of Longleaf Pine restoration. This is one huge fly. Big enough to catch and suck up a June bug. It let me get right up next to it with the camera but when I got too close, it did not move off very far."

The Daily Bucket - On Being a Bee—by Milly Watt: "In my front yard, facing west toward Discovery Bay and the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the NE corner of the Olympic Peninsula, there are three fruit trees - one self-pollinating Montmorency (pie) cherry tree and two early apple trees that require cross-pollination, a Williams Pride and a Pristine.  They started blossoming on April 20th this year. It was still too cool for any native bumblebees and the mason bees weren't interested in emerging. What is an orchardist to do? [...] OK, I'm not an orchardist, but I do have neighbors who are. Just down the road is Alpenfire, a commercial, certified-organic apple orchard where they produce the most excellent hard ciders from over 900 French and English cider-variety apple trees. This spring, the owners, Nancy and Steve, weren't seeing any pollinators in their orchard either because of the chilly weather. While colony collapse in honeybees is clearly a disaster and populations of native pollinators have also been declining, in this case, we believe it was the weather.  It really had been too cold. Anyway, we got to chatting and bemoaning the lack of bees for our apples when we hatched a plan."

2014 Backyard Science Yardbird Race Tally #6—by bwren: "Welcome to the 2014 Daily Kos Backyard Science Yardbird Race! This is the 6th tally for 2014 and is the official place to post your sightings, ask for help, and brag some if you wish. All of the fine print can be found way below under the pile of squiggly orange bird poop. Here's what the race is all about: The Daily Kos Backyard Science Yardbird Race is a birding competition where, over the course of one year, participants strive to identify the most bird species - by sight and/or by sound - from the confines of their yards. There are a number of categories, so people who live in urban centers don't have to compete against others who have a lot of open space or waterfront views. Please let us know if you'd like to participate but find yourself not fitting into an established category - we'll work out one for you!"

Daily Bucket: Wild Florida -- Key Deer—by Lenny Flank: "For most people who see a Key Deer, their first thought is 'Awww, how cute!' Not much bigger than a dog, Key Deer look like an ordinary Whitetail that got left in the dryer too long and shrunk.

Key deer
Key deer
The Key Deer, Odocoileus virginianus clavium, is a subspecies of the ordinary ubiquitous Virginia Whitetail Deer, but the Key Deer is found only on the islands of the Florida Keys--particularly Big Pine Key. It is an example of a phenomenon known as 'island dwarfing,' in which a population of large animals that finds itself living isolated on an island, often responds by becoming smaller in size. Other examples include the pony-sized Island Mammoths that used to live on Wrangel Island near Siberia, dwarf Elephants that once lived on Crete, and dwarf Emus that once lived on islands around Australia. The Key Deer stand only 28 inches high at the shoulder and weigh around 75 pounds, compared to mainland Whitetail Deer at 48 inches high and 200 pounds. It is sometimes called the 'Toy Deer'."

awwww....—by blueyedace2:

Eco-Activism & Eco-Justice

Coca-Cola and Pepsi Should be Totally Embarrassed That They’re Guzzling Down Tar Sands—by ForestEthics: "Last week, dozens of activists disrupted business-as-usual for Coca-Cola and PepsiCo at the Sustainable Brands 2014 conference in San Diego. The conference drew thousands of corporate sustainability professionals for four days of speakers and workshops at a beachside resort. Coca-Cola and Pepsi were among the conference’s corporate attendees, and both companies were there to strut their stuff. But we know that neither Coke nor Pepsi (and no other company for that matter) can claim to be ‘sustainable’ if they continue to fuel their tens of thousands of cars and trucks with tar sands fuel. Yes, I’m talking about cancer-causing, strip-mined, uncleanable-if-spilled, carbon-bomb tar sands. Coke and Pepsi, two of America’s largest private consumers of oil, have not yet committed ditching tar sands fuel in their delivery vehicles. So activists from ForestEthics and Sierra Club stopped by Sustainable Brands to make sure every corporate attendee got the message: tar sands are the dirtiest oil on Earth, and no company should have any business using it. You can send a message to Coke and Pepsi, too."

Pollution, Hazardous Wastes & Trash

Japanese government rumored to be planning on doubling ambient radiation standards—by ypochris: "Finding it 'uneconomical' to clean up residual isotopes from the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex, Fukushima Central Television is reporting that the Ministry of the Environment is in negotiations with local municipalities to raise the residual ambient radiation limits from .23 microsieverts/hour to something in the .4-.6 range. However, this is not yet official policy - the Ministry for the Environment will be having a meeting with affected municipal governments on June 15, and the official announcement on the new policy is not expected for two to three months. It appears that raising the residual radiation standards is considered essential to 'recovery' from the nuclear disaster. Local governments have been complaining that current target levels for residual ambient radiation are 'unrealistic,' and that attempting to meet them is both too expensive and is taking too long. The general populace, however, is outraged that the government would consider raising the limits."

Transportation & Infrastructure

Solar Roadways: A proposition—by Le Champignon: "As an engineer, my first goal was to consider all the possible ways that it could fail. Luckily, these people know what they're doing. They were able to answer several valid engineering questions, some before I could even consider them. What about traction? Solved. They broke a university traction tester. What about load capacity? It's capable of handling loads over 250,000 lbs. That's three times the weight limit here in Texas. What about cost? Admittedly unknown right now, but then, any venture of this size isn't going to exist without some risk to people's wallets. Fact is, nothing ever starts out cheap. It becomes cheap after it is capable of being mass produced. So in short, I do believe this is a technically feasible project. I'm not saying it will definitely, indubitably work. It may prove too cost inefficient to do anything. Material costs may skyrocket, the manufacturing cost may not scale down as much as believed, there may be unforeseen technical challenges—who knows. But I believe it's grounded enough in reality that it warrants an attempt—a real attempt, not just sending them a million or two so they can build parking lots in Idaho. The question is, how do we overcome resistance from the fossil fuel industry to give this project a shot?"

Miscellany

40 Thai Environmental Protesters Bound and Beaten—by ban nock: "Quickly taking advantage of the military coup in Thailand, protesters at the site of a toxic gold mine in Loei province, were tied hand and foot, blindfolded, and beaten for hours by armed, extremely coordinated masked men numbering in the hundreds and operating just like... the military. Loei is in the NE on the Lao border up above Nong Khai. The gold mine had been leaking cyanide and mercury from it's sludge ponds and poisoning villagers for years."

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