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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 18,200 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.
Sea Stars wasting away - another rivet popping off the wing—by James Wells: "A family trip to the seashore revealed to us yet another instance of the natural world unraveling before our eyes. We had been on the lookout for Sea Star Wasting Disease this spring. Just two weeks ago, my daughter and I were looking at the purple sea stars around Boulevard Park and Taylor Dock - they all looked good. Today, my wife and I took our junior scientist out to Larrabee State Park to check out the epic low tide, usually the best time to see the critters of the intertidal. This is what we saw. Sea stars are the iconic form of sea life at Larrabee. Kids of all ages come to see them. Today, many were dead or dying. In addition to the stricken sea stars, we agreed that the population appeared to be substantially lower than we had seen at previous very low tides. Previously, it was normal to see clusters of a dozen of more sea stars in any given crevice in the mid to lower intertidal. Two common attributes for many of the sites are: (1) the period prior to wasting was characterized by warm water temperatures, and (2) the effects are dramatic. The implications are clear: Ecologists consider both sunflower and ochre stars to be keystone species because they have a disproportionately large influence on other species in their ecosystem. In fact Pisaster ochraceus was the basis of the Keystone species concept because of its potential to dramatically alter the rocky intertidal community in which it occurs."
green dots
Obama Set to Create Largest Ocean Preserve—by pierre9045: "Moving to protect fragile marine life, President Barack Obama announced plans Tuesday to create the largest ocean preserve in the world by banning drilling, fishing and other activities in a massive stretch of the Pacific Ocean. Using presidential authority that doesn't require new action from Congress, Obama proposed to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, which President George W. Bush designated to protect unique species and rare geological formations. Even amongst the most liberal of us here at dailykos, there is no end to the people who want to criticize President Obama and cite examples where he has not lived up to his potential. Still, as has been recently noted, Obama has made great strides in a great number of areas, and he deserves significant credit for that."
green dots
The Octopus's Garden—by fauxrs: "It is a great sadness to me that science based shows like "The undersea world of Jacques Cousteau" don't exist anymore, replaced by absurdly non-scientific shows like "Ancient aliens" and the pablum that is Honey Boo Boo and American Idol. The dumbification of America sure seems to me to be near to complete, Broadcast TV documentaries are a virtual extinct species, relegated now to deep into the cable channels or on PBS stations. I have to believe that if there were shows such as Cousteau's today on regular TV that showed the world the way his shows did, Climate change would be an easy sell. There are splendid specials like the BBC's "Planet Earth" but they are few and far between and are easily shouted out by fake hillbillies selling duck calls. Cousteau understood the value of conservation and I have no doubt were he alive today he would be one of the most vocal personae speaking out about Global Climate Change. I also have no doubt that climate deniers would be branding him a 'Libtard Socialist French surrender monkey.'"

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

Climate Chaos

Al Gore: We have reached the turning point and there is hope for the climate—by VL Baker: "Amazing new article by Al Gore in latest issue of Rolling Stone. Al sees the future and it is good. He sees a future where we have stopped the worst effects of climate change and have saved civilization as we know it. In the struggle to solve the climate crisis, a powerful, largely unnoticed shift is taking place. The forward journey for human civilization will be difficult and dangerous, but it is now clear that we will ultimately prevail. The only question is how quickly we can accelerate and complete the transition to a low-carbon civilization. There will be many times in the decades ahead when we will have to take care to guard against despair, lest it become another form of denial, paralyzing action. It is true that we have waited too long to avoid some serious damage to the planetary ecosystem—some of it, unfortunately, irreversible. Yet the truly catastrophic damages that have the potential for ending civilization as we know it can still—almost certainly—be avoided. Moreover, the pace of the changes already set in motion can still be moderated significantly. He writes about the stunning progress in solar and how even big business is coming around with companies such as Citigroup, which recently questioned the feasibility of new coal plants in Europe, North America and even China."

Last Gasps of the Pause—by ClimateDenierRoundup.

More "suppression" of "skeptic" "science"—by ClimateDenierRoundup: "Bishop Hill has a guest post by an anonymous 'Lone Wolf' who claims to be a UK university professor. The post tells the tale of a student with whom the author worked examining the Vostok Ice Core, which is one of the longest datasets in paleoclimatology, reaching back 420,000 years. After the anonymous author and student presented their work at a small conference, the author was shocked at the negative response from academia. [...] Skeptical Science has a nice rebuttal to this well-worn claim if you're still curious. But the short answer is that a skeptic didn't know the basics of the carbon cycle and blamed academia when they tried to spare him or her the embarrassment of publishing a hopelessly naive presentation."

Well, yeah, we could slow global warming. But it would cost too much.—by Bruce Brown: "Put aside, for a moment, the question of whether we can afford to keep polluting the Earth. Can we afford to push for a faster transition to cleaner energy? Or is cheaper more important, at least for now? [...] I favor doing everything we can to speed the transition to clean energy because—in my opinion—price matters less and clean air matters more. Which brings back that question I brushed aside earlier. Can we afford to keep polluting the Earth? How much does that cost? I am thoroughly pleased that state and local governments and small utilities like EPE keep working to speed the transition in spite of federal hindrances and in spite of influences from the likes of ALEC and Americans for Prosperity. I am thoroughly pissed that this transition gets so much hindrance and almost no support at the federal level. The primary target of my pissed-off-edness is Fred Upton, Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce."

Climate Change Denial! Here we go again!—by Verdi: "There is a new Climate Change denial ‘study’ started to circulate in right wing. It was supposedly done by some scientist in Texas University. Now, here is the actual LINK to study, supposedly denying Climate Change, being circulated within right wing sites:  http://www.utexas.edu/.... However, nowhere in the study (done by two credible scientist) [does it say] that there is no CLIMATE CHANGE, NOR the climate change is [not] caused by human activity. This study is for a particular 'Thwaites Glacier' that is melting in Antarctica….but no mention of the reasons for many other melting of the glaciers in Northern Hemisphere or other parts of Antarctica."

President says denying climate change is like thinking the moon is made of cheese—by HoundDog: "Katie Zezima of The Washington Post Blog writes Obama likens denying climate change to thinking the moon is made of cheese, during his commencement address at the University of California, Irvine, this afternoon. During a commencement speech to graduates of the University of California-Irvine, Obama said some in Congress duck the question of climate change by claiming that they are not a scientist, which, he said, translates to: 'I know that manmade climate change really is happening, but if I admit it, I’ll be run out of town by a radical fringe that thinks climate science is a liberal plot. So, I’m not going to admit it.' That view, the president said, is a 'fairly serious threat to the future,' but “at least they have the brass to say what they actually think.' 'I’m telling you all of this because I want to light a fire under you,' Obama told nearly 8,600 graduates at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. 'As the generation that is being shortchanged by inaction, you do not have to accept that this is the way that it has to be.'"

Food, Agriculture & Gardening

Why I favor GMO labeling—by rgantibully: "There are reasons why some people oppose food labeling for GMO foods. In this diary I analyze their rationales. I attempt to explain, why, in addition to the fact that the opponents of labeling haven't got a truthful nor rational reason for not labeling, why it is important that the pro-labeling forces win this fight. I also include suggestions for engaging the enemy. [...] The claim that GMOs are perfectly harmless is based on the available scientific research published in scientific journals.  Can that published GMO research be trusted?  An article in the August, 2009 issue of Scientific American (http://www.scientificamerican.com/....) explains that big agrotech companies such as Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta  require the purchasers of genetically modified seeds to sign an agreement that prohibits the seeds from being used for independent research."

Macca's Meatless Monday: Martha, my dear, you make it look so easy—by VL Baker: "In this series we have been discussing the many benefits of a vegetarian diet including: better health, food safety, animal rights, public health, food and water security and the immense contribution of meat production to climate change (pdf). Time for a Meatless Monday update to let you all know how Meatless Monday is taking the world by storm. [...] And I'm proud to welcome San Jose, CA as the latest US city to join the Meatless Monday campaign! You know we can't do this without providing fantastic vegetarian food options to ease the transition and today I'm going to feature some simple recipes from the iconic food diva: Martha Stewart. Martha so permeates our culture that sometimes she's taken for granted. But, Martha is her own force and as far as vegetarian and vegan cooking she is at the top. Her recipes are distinguished by their simplicity and creativity. Martha does indeed make everything look easy. So today I'm focusing on two of my favorite Martha recipes. You know that if they're my faves they have to be fast, easy, economical, healthy, earth friendly and delicious and these recipes definitely meet all my criteria."

Free cookbook shows you how to eat well on $4 a day..great for SNAP..download it right here!—by VL Baker: "Leanne Brown wanted to make a lasting contribution when she came up with the brilliant idea for  her final Master's project on Food Studies at NYU. It bothered me that so many ideas for fixing the food system leave out the poor: it seemed like they didn't have a voice in the food movement. I wanted to create a resource that would promote the joy of cooking and show just how delicious and inspiring a cheap meal can be if you cook it yourself. Even though Food Stamps help millions of people across the United States every day, benefits were reduced in November despite rising food prices. It's more important than ever to make the most of what you have with savvy shopping techniques and skillful cooking. That's Good and Cheap. On to the food! I like that the recipes are usually fast and easy (who has time to prepare time consuming meals when you're working two jobs etc.) and most are healthy and planet friendly too!"

Energy

Fukushima Ice Wall Not Working As Planned—by Duckmg: "The plan to stop contaminated water from the quake-crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant leaking into the sea by freezing soil and water is not working as well as Japanese officials had hoped. ... I ordered some wild king salmon the other day at a restaurant. Before Fukushima this would have been a healthy and wholesome meal.  Now fish are regularly testing for measurable amounts of Fukushima radiation. We are told by the 'experts' that 10BQ of Cesium per KILO is judged to be easily safe to the eat. I am worried about even 1 BQ of Cesium per KILO."

Renewables

wind power
Dept. of Interior to Double Off-Shore Wind Power, Adding 742,000 Acres—by ericlewis0: "From the Department of the Interior website: As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to create American jobs, develop domestic clean energy resources and cut carbon pollution, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Acting Director Walter Cruickshank today joined Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to announce more than 742,000 acres offshore Massachusetts will be available for commercial wind energy leasing. The proposed area is the largest in federal waters and will nearly double the federal offshore acreage available for commercial-scale wind energy projects. According to NPR, that's approximately 1,000 square miles of wind turbine power."

SolarCity's Chairman Elon Musk announces it will buy solar panel maker Silveo—by HoundDog: "Ucilia Wang of Forbes reports SolarCity's Bold Move To Become A Solar Panel Maker. SolarCity is one of the largest installers and leasers of residential solar panels, so buying a solar photo-voltaic manufacturing maker, Silveo, is described by Wang as an unusual move. SolarCity stock, SCTY i up 18.11%. The decision reflects SolarCity’s desire to control its equipment supply and, in particular, the supply of low-cost solar panels that are efficient at producing solar electricity, company executives said in a blog post. Just earlier this month, the California company announced it had inked a deal to buy 100 megawatts of solar panels from Norway-based REC Group. 'What we are trying to address is not the lay of the land today, where there are indeed too many suppliers, most of whom are producing relatively low photonic efficiency solar cells at uncompelling costs, but how we see the future developing. Without decisive action to lay the groundwork today, the massive volume of affordable, high efficiency panels needed for unsubsidized solar power to outcompete fossil fuel grid power simply will not be there when it is needed,' according to the blog post penned by SolarCity Chairman Elon Musk and the two co-founders, Peter Rive and Lyndon Rive."

Dow Solar Shingles
Solar shingle system comes online from DOW Powerhouse in North Carolina—by HoundDog: "Solar Shingles DOW Powerhouse Cary Sun Dollar Energy. Dawn Kurry of Biz Journals writes, Solar shingles system comes online in Cary, North Carolina. Don Hyatt is the first person in the Research Triangle, and maybe in the whole state, to install the new DOW solar shingles on his home. Don Hyatt says people have been stopping by his house to admire the shiny new roof. 'I've been waiting for them to become available in North Carolina,' Hyatt says. 'It's not like solar panels, which have the big blue rectangles that stick up above everything else and are obtrusive looking. These blend in nicely.' Sun Dollar Energy of Raleigh, owned by Dan Lezama, installed shingles on the roof of a home which double as solar panels. ... 'It’s a building integrated PV (photo-voltaic) module,' explains Lezama. 'Solar panel and listed roofing material in one. It’s perfect for a new home or a home that needs a new roof and the HOA won’t allow for traditional solar panels.' Lezama says the installation wasn’t easy, and the cost of materials was “double or more” than what he pays for solar panels. He says he hand-nailed all 306 solar shingles onto the roof himself."

Fracking

PA-Gov & 08: Kevin Strouse (D) & PA Dems Hit Tom Corbett (R) On Fracking On Public Lands & Forests—by poopdogcomedy: "Received this e-mail today on behalf of congressional candidate Kevin Strouse (D. PA-08) and the Pennsylvania Democratic Party: We all know that Tom Corbett is beholden to the big oil and gas industry. They’ve donated over $3.6 million to his campaign and in return, Tom Corbett’s given them handout after handout. But his latest giveaway to big oil and gas has really got us fuming. http://www.padems.com/.... Despite the fact that 57% of Pennsylvanians opposed the idea and against the advice of his own Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Tom Corbett opened Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests up to gas drilling."

Illinois Rejects Fracking, Chooses a Renewable Future. Statewide Day of Actions Monday, June 16.—by BrentRitzel: "Springfield, Chicago & Marion—Monday, June 16th is the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s famous speech in Springfield, Illinois where he proclaimed, 'A house divided cannot stand.' For too long politicians and the oil and gas industry have been working to divide Illinois. Just weeks ago, in an underhanded move, IL Representative John Bradley tried to rush through a bill on Memorial Day weekend that disregarded tens of thousands of Illinois citizens concerns and would have blatantly divided the state by providing a moratorium on fracking for Chicago, while creating a fracking sacrifice zone for those south of Chicago. Citizens of Illinois know the political promise of fracking is hollow at best. Fracking endangers our health and our precious natural resources: air, water and soil. Natural gas is not at 'bridge.' It is a dead end. Fracking accelerates climate change and makes our precious potable water even more scarce. Now is the time for bold action. Politicians must serve their constituents and not their financiers. Rep. John Bradley takes industry money and refuses to even meet with citizens concerned about fracking and those who are working on renewable solutions for the state. He canceled an appointment for Monday, June 16th to discuss renewable energy options for southern Illinois."

Keystone and Other Fossil Fuel Transportation

Breaking: Harper approves Northern Gateway Pipeline—by Agathena: "It will carry bitumen from the tar sands across Alberta and British Columbia, across First Nations territory, under pristine rivers, through woodlands and wilderness to Kitimat to be then shipped overseas in tankers.  The Harper government has approved construction of the proposed $7.9-billion Northern Gateway pipeline, setting up a battle in British Columbia with opponents who vow to use every means possible to block it. Environmental groups vow to make the Gateway decision a major campaign issue in the 2015 election. The Conservatives have 21 seats in the province and need to hold onto many of them if Mr. Harper is to win a second majority mandate. 'While Enbridge has overcome another hurdle with this federal approval, they still face a wall of opposition in B.C.,' said Nikki Skuce, Senior Energy Campaigner. 'First Nations, B.C. municipalities and the B.C. provincial government have all rejected Northern Gateway.'"

Breaking News: Canada's Prime Minister okay's Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline—by Gwennedd: "Just an hour ago, the Prime Minister of Canada approved the building of a twin pipeline from the tar sands around Fort McMurray, Alberta to Kitimat. British columbia. The approval is to a specific company, Enbridge. The plan is to build the pipeline to carry bitumen, aka dilbit, to a coastal city in BC, Kitimat, where it will be loaded onto immense tankers and shipped off to Asia (mostly China). Pretty straightforward it seems. Except for a few problems: First, the route that the pipeline takes is over an important and immense wilderness. It will cross hundreds of fish-bearing streams, rivers and lakes, fragmenting the habitats of the Northern Mountain caribou, wolves and bears including the grizzly bear. Along that route lie 130 First Nations communities and other small communities all of whom depend on the available fish, moose, caribou, deer and other wildlife and vegetation to supply their food."

Meeting Logs: Obama Quietly Coddling Big Oil on “Bomb Trains” Regulations—by Steve Horn: "When Richard Revesz, Dean Emeritus of New York University Law School, introduced Howard Shelanski at his only public appearance so far during his tenure as Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Revesz described Shelanski as, 'from our perspective, close to the most important official in the federal government.' OIRA has recently reared its head in a big way because it is currently reviewing the newly-proposed oil-by-rail safety regulations rolled out by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). [...] A DeSmogBlog review of OIRA meeting logs confirms that in recent weeks, OIRA has held at least ten meetings with officials from both industries on oil-by-rail regulations. On the flip side, it held no meetings with public interest groups."

White House Meeting Logs: Big Rail Lobbying Against "Bomb Train" Regulations It Publicly Touts—by Steve Horn: "The Obama White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) has held the majority of its meetings on the proposed federal oil-by-rail safety regulations with oil and gas industry lobbyists and representatives. But OIRA meeting logs reviewed by DeSmogBlog reveal that on June 10, theAmerican Association of Railroads (AAR) and many of its dues-paying members also had a chance to convene with OIRA. Big Rail has talked a big game to the public about its desire for increased safety measures for its trains carrying oil obtained via hydraulic fracturing ('fracking') in the Bakken Shale. What happens behind closed doors, the meeting logs show, tells another story."

Eco-Related DC & State Politics

Koch brothers' new target: Me. Climate activists. And all of us.—by RLMiller: "In the last few weeks I've picked up a sense of optimism on climate change activism within the Democratic party. From the Michigan senate race to the 90 year old activist at my local Democratic club telling us that climate change is our biggest issue, I'm finally seeing that Democrats grasp both the magnitude of the crisis we face and the ways it can help win elections. Tom Steyer's promise to put $100 million into climate-centric races has emboldened Democrats to speak on the issue. In response, the Koch brothers now promise to spend $290 million to oppose climate activists. The Daily Beast reports on their strategy to make climate activists targets: In the face of expanding energy regulations, stepped-up Democratic attacks and the ongoing fight over Obamacare, the billionaire Koch brothers and scores of wealthy allies have set an initial 2014 fundraising target of $290 million which should boost GOP candidates and support dozens of conservative groups—including a new energy initiative with what looks like a deregulatory, pro-consumer spin. ...The energy initiative is being created under the umbrella of the largest Koch network nonprofit in apparent response to a number of developments: the commitment by liberal billionaire Tom Steyer to steer $100 million into ads in several states to make climate change a priority issue in the elections; numerous setbacks at the state level where Koch network backed advocacy groups have been fighting against renewable energy standards; and the new EPA regulations to curb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants."

FL Gov. Scott stake in oil company tied to drilling near Everglades and endangered Panther habitat—by VL Baker: "Rick Scott has a six figure investment in a French energy company which is tied to drilling in Collier county near the Everglades and close to Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge. What does he have to say about this? Nothing if he can help it. His standard comment is that his investments are in a 'blind trust' so he has nothing to do with them. Rick Scott is the only Florida elected official with a blind trust. But the law is under challenge in a state lawsuit by Jim Apthorp, a former aide to the late Democratic Gov. Reubin Askew, who says that blind trusts violate the state Constitution's requirement that officials provide a 'full' disclosure of their finances. Meanwhile, Scott is evading questions and the press and it's easy to see why. What's Your Plan, Gov? is even offering a reward to anyone who can document Scott's response to a question on climate change. He evades interviews unless he can control the questions."

House Republicans plot to defund new greenhouse gas rules—by Hunter: "Huh. So it looks like House Republicans will be using a traditional device to block the Obama administration from enforcing new greenhouse gas rules in the radical attempt to perhaps not burn the planet down at the fastest possible rate. They'll ban spending any money on it. 'We’re going to take a serious look at [a funding ban],' Representative Ken Calvert, a California Republican and chairman of the Interior-Environment subcommittee, said in a separate interview at the Capitol. [...] Because the spending bill must pass to keep the Interior Department and the EPA running, it’s an attractive vehicle for bringing media and public attention to the emissions issue. Republicans would embrace a pitched battle over a carbon rule they say will kill jobs in coal-rich parts of the country. And while we must again point out that having six inches of seawater in your coastal place of business would probably be a much bigger job-killer, that's left to the bastards of tomorrow to figure out. Or as we often call them, our children. Sucks to be you, kids."

From Governor Moonbeam to "Big Oil Brown"—by Dan Bacher: "Jerry Brown, once known as "Governor Moonbeam" for his quirkiness and eccentricities during his first two administrations from 1975 to 1983, has in his third administration transformed himself into 'Big Oil Brown.' According to Jessie McKinley in The New York Times, The 'Governor Moonbeam' nickname 'was coined by Mike Royko, the famed Chicago columnist, who in 1976 said that Mr. Brown appeared to be attracting the moonbeam vote; which in Chicago political parlance meant young, idealistic and nontraditional.' (http://www.nytimes.com/....) Thirty-eight years later, Oil Change International, a research, communication, and advocacy organization focused on 'exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the coming transition towards clean energy' has given Brown a new nickname, 'Big Oil Brown,' for the large contributions he has received from oil companies and his support of fracking. The web page dedicated to 'Big Oil Brown' features Jerry attired in a suit and cowboy hat like a Texas oil baron right next to an oil rig (http://www.bigoilbrown.org/) 'California's Governor Jerry Brown has a problem: he wants to be seen as a climate champion who understands the science and takes this crisis seriously. At the same time, he just proposed new fracking rules in California that would amount to a gift to Big Oil. He can't have it both ways,' according to the web page."

The Great Outdoors

The Daily Bucket - Chocolate and Other Delights—by Milly Watt: "This week (Wednesday June 11), we went for our first-of-the-season wildflower walk up at Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park. The highlight of the walk was my first sighting of the Fritillaria affinis. I imagine that it has been blooming on previous hikes, but I've never seen it before. You really need to be looking for it since it doesn't stand out in bright colors. It is also known as Mission bells and Checker lily. We regularly take a couple of trips each summer up to Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park to see wildflowers. I'm beginning to collect enough data to be able to compare different years and have some expectation for what might be blooming at different times during the short summer season. The melt-off was early this year because of a low snowpack, so we went up earlier than we have ever gone before. We walked along the popular Hurricane Hill trail that we've done many times in the past. There weren't great views of the mountains because of the weather, but it was a spectacular show of wildflowers and that was my goal for the trip."

The Daily Bucket: Another Workday at Gholson Nature Park—by PHScott: "Another hot sweaty day made cooler by being in the deep woods, and another volunteer day at Angus Gholson Nature Park in Chattahoochee FL. The usual suspects - Diana from across the GA border hosting, Leigh and Carmen who are local, Guy and Jan from the other side of the Apalachicola, and me from the east side of the county. Maybe I ought to move west since I spend so much time over there. Diana is good with food so we had a chance for tea and cake before with more goodies after - all topped off with an exchange of notes on things we see and do. We were after the usual invasive plants (ardisia, nandina, privet, honeysuckle, etc.) but we were in an area where, altho we had not patrolled it before, did not have a lot of bad stuff. I helped Leigh on some kudzu near the power lines that run down to the river. She tried with a root jack, then I dug in with my stick, but the root grew from ½" to 1" thick and finally broke off when I tugged. It was a lot of root for a lousy 6 foot vine so I can see why they are hard to eradicate."

Critters

Dawn Chorus: Scorched Earth (Yosemite Edition)—by lineatus: "It was the first weekend in June, and Yosemite beckoned.  Last November, when we'd signed up for the class, the winter rains were late but we didn't yet know they'd be all but non-existent.  (Not that it would have deterred us.)  So what would await us this time? Nancy managed to grab a campsite so we could arrive a day early for our class, so we had one day of adventuring on our own so we tried a new-to-us trail from Porcupine Flat (along Tioga Pass Road) out to North Dome.  Though we didn't quite make it to North Dome, we did have a great walk, including one wet meadow with Hermit Thrushes in full song and several amazing vista points. [...] On Sunday we spent some time in the Valley before heading our separate ways. We started in The Fen next to Happy Isles. This swampy area is always one of the most birdy spots in the valley, and it did not disappoint. We had great looks at Yellow Warblers, Western Tanagers, Black-headed Grosbeaks and many others. Birds were in full song and really putting on a show... and mostly moving too fast for me to digiscope."

white-headed woodpecker
Told to stop hunting whales, he just ate whale steak for the cameras—by Nathan Empsall SierraRise: "An international court has ordered Japan to halt its illegal Antarctic whaling expeditions, ruling that the hunts are just 'a commercial venture masquerading as research.' Sounds like great news for these majestic ocean mammals, right? Except last week, Japan's prime minister promised to keep up his fight against whales: 'I want to aim for the resumption of commercial whaling.' His fisheries minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, went even further, calling it 'regrettable' that some companies refuse to sell endangered whale meat—then ate a piece of whale steak for the cameras."

Feeding a birding obsession with a new lens - a photo diary—by boriscleto: "Over the last few years I've developed a real obsession for birding. Not so much for identifying as many species as possible, though that is part of it (my eBird life list stands at 105), but for photographing birds. My father shares this obsession. As he contemplates retirement and moving back to upstate NY he decided to do something about my lens situation. For several years I've been using a 55-300mm lens. It is a fine lens in the right conditions, and if you can get close, but I needed something longer. I had considered switching from Pentax to Nikon as the selection of lenses wider for Nikon, and the lenses are more available. But this weekend he surprised me with a Sigma 150-500 F5-6.3 APO DG OSM (lil'Bigma). It still needs the right lighting conditions, and it helps to get close, but it is much more flexible than a 300mm lens. (Much heavier too)"

ducks
Death of an Icon—by LunarEclipse: "Mark Deeble is a photographer and writer who focuses on African wildlife. His work helps to document the presence of what is fast disappearing, the large bull elephants with nearly perfect tusks. This particular Iconic Bull was called Satao. He was recently poached, along with a number of other bulls. Poaching kills one elephant every fifteen minutes. At that rate, there will be no elephants left in Africa by 2025. The iconic image of the elephant, large bulls like Satao, are under the most pressure from poachers. Poaching ivory for trinkets is unforgivable in and of itself; the fact that poachers help provide funding for groups like Boko Haram gives the problem another dimension. And it's not only the loss of one bull when an icon like Satao is killed. Male elephants roam either independently or in 'bachelor herds.' They are responsible for the genetic diversity among elephant populations because they connect with breeding females anywhere in their travels."
The Daily Bucket--The Odd Duck—by 6412093: "Have you ever been lonely, and started tagging along with a group, acting as if you were part of them, hoping they would accept you?  Proceed below the orange NASCAR track for a touching example. This white duck, probably a Pekins species,  showed up a few days ago and began accompanying Ms. Mallard and her eleven young ones.  The mallards seem accepting, as this odd duck placidly waddles alongside them, too and fro. Wiki says the Pekins are domesticated ducks, bred from mallards, so this one may be returning to its roots. In 1873, 25 were imported, and 9 survived their journey to Long Island, until eaten. Ninety-five percent of ducks eaten in the US were Pekins. In this instance, I am fortunate the ducks turned away, because now I think I see the curled tail feather of the drake on the Pekin. Wiki says the Pekin are too heavy to fly much, and are gregarious and group with other ducks."

Sustainability & Extinction

ICYMI: What Happens When Climate Change Collides With Unsustainability—by xaxnar: "Hat Tip to Atrios for pointing to this article in The Nation on Saturday: Could Phoenix Soon Become Uninhabitable? William deBuys looks at the combination of factors that may render Phoenix, AZ, unviable. ...Phoenix’s multiple vulnerabilities, which are plenty daunting taken one by one, have the capacity to magnify one another, like compounding illnesses. In this regard, it’s a quintessentially modern city, a pyramid of complexities requiring large energy inputs to keep the whole apparatus humming. The urban disasters of our time—New Orleans hit by Katrina, New York City swamped by Sandy—may arise from single storms, but the damage they do is the result of a chain reaction of failures—grids going down, levees failing, back-up systems not backing up. As you might expect, academics have come up with a name for such breakdowns: infrastructure failure interdependencies. You wouldn’t want to use it in a poem, but it does catch an emerging theme of our time. Limited water supplies, ever rising temperatures, a power grid becoming more stressed, haboobs, brush fires, dysfunctional government, lack of coordinated planning…"

National Parks, Forests & Other Public Lands

Do You Have a Favorite National Park: Street Prophets Coffee Hour—by Ojibwa: "At the present time, the United States has 59 national parks which are operated by the National Park Service which is administered by the Department of the Interior (the same department that also administers the Bureau of Indian Affairs). America’s first national park was Yellowstone which was created in 1872. This was followed by the creation of Mackinac National Park in 1875 (this park was decommissioned in 1895) and Sequoia and Yosemite in 1890. The National Park Service was created in 1916 to administer the parks to conserve the scenery, the natural history, the historic objects, and the wildlife in theses parks. Of the 59 national parks in the United States, 14 have been designated as World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The parks which carry this designation must be of outstanding universal value. While national parks are owned by the United States, our current governmental policy calls for them to be operated as business which means that they service customers—people who can afford the admission price—rather than the general public. For a growing number of poor people, visiting and camping in the national parks is now too expensive."

President Obama announces creation of largest marine sanctuary in the world—by Jen Hayden: "Obama’s proposal for the central Pacific will increase the size of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument by almost a factor of 10, from 87,000 square miles to nearly 782,000 square miles. The national monument, established by President George W. Bush in 2008, currently applies to ocean surrounding small, unpopulated U.S. territories in the south Pacific. The Washington Post points out that the area to be protected accounts for only 1 to 3 percent of the U.S. tuna catch in the region, but industry groups may still object to the proposed fishing ban."

Pollution, Hazardous Wastes & Trash

Why I refuse to visit Victoria the city just to the West of my Island—by Lefty Coaster: "Victoria is a city of 78,000 located on the southeastern tip of vancouver Island, and is the capital of the province of British Columbia. I live on a large island adjacent from Victoria to the East. I can see the larger buildings of Victoria across the Salish Sea 27 miles away from my favorite local beaches. Yet I haven't visited Victoria in 20 years. Why? Because Victoria and its suburbs are still dumping their raw sewage directly into the Salish Sea as they have since my great-great-grandparents lived in Victoria back in the 1880s. A couple of days ago the provincial government refused to go ahead with the construction of the planned waste water treatment plant when Victoria's largest suburb of Esquimalt balked at being the site of the long delayed sewage treatment plant. In April of 2013 Esquimalt made zoning code changes designed to block the construction of the treatment plant. [...]The British Columbia government must make Victoria stop dumping untreated sewage into international waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, eight members of Washington’s congressional delegation said Friday in a letter to B.C. Premier Christy Clark. The letter was organized by freshman Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., and reflects longstanding frustration of Olympic Peninsula communities with the touristy 'Garden City' across the Strait."

Mining

Transportation & Infrastructure

 Solar Roadways: Road to a Brighter Future—by Yomby: "One of the most renowned thinkers of the early 1900’s foresaw a future brightened by the clean energy of our nearest star.  '[…] Sun, wind and tide.  I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy,' posited Edison, 'what a source of power!'  he exclaimed. While a small amount of the world’s total energy consumption is powered through solar energy, there is a potential for much more. Asphalt roads, which began in the late 1890’s, were popularized in the U.S by Edmund J. DeSmedt (Asphalt). These roads, blistering in the sun, provide us with very little apart from a surface on which to drive our vehicles; furthermore, there are several difficulties that asphalt is susceptible to.  The difficulty in maintaining roads, which constantly erode and form potholes, is not only a financial burden, but a constant danger to drivers and pedestrians. Scott and Julie Brusaw, founders of the startup company Solar Roadways, proposed a solution to this and many other problems posed by our primitive roadway infrastructure. Solar Roadways intends to replace asphalt roads with encased solar panels that will provide countless benefits to our society. While many may see the short term price tag as a deal breaker, it is important for the future of our society to remain with our sights set on tomorrow."

Sunday Train: California HSR Receives Cap & Trade Funding in Budget Deal—by BruceMcF: "Sunday Train has covered the California HSR project on a number of occasions in the past. However, there was no special attention given to what was widely covered at the time as the 'end of California HSR,' when a judge ruled that the proposed Business Plan did not meet the terms of the Prop1A(2008) which governed the sale of much of the $9m in state bond authority which had passed in 2008. The Sacramento Bee covered the issue at the time, including the appeal of the ruling to the Supreme Court. And the reason the Sunday Train did not cover that court judgement is IANDL (I Aint No Dang Lawyer), so I was waiting to see what actually happened with respect to funding for the project. And now it appears to me that funding for the original segment from north of Fresno to the outskirts of Bakersfield has been secured, with the news that part of the Budget deal has secured Cap and Trade funding for the HSR project."

Eco-Philosophy, Eco-Essays & Eco-Poetry

Has Big Oil Already Killed Us All?—by DavidECozad: " As the sweet spots are drilled out and depleted, the drillers have to move to less sweet spots (lower production rates) which are harder to drill (increased CapEx). So, the drillers have to replace the depleting former high production wells with less productive wells. And they have to drill more of the less productive wells to keep increasing total production. This leads to independent drillers spending $1.50 for every $1 they get from production. That is a fast way to go out of business. This applies for both wet and dry fracking operations. What is keeping this merry-go-round going is the game the drillers are playing with investment bankers and commodity investors. As long as the drillers are able to fool investors into the false promise of future increases in production, the investors keep giving the drillers money to keep drilling even as the losses continue to pile up. There is an article, The Shale Game, in the Fort Worth Weekly that describes this "game" very clearly. This looks like a bad case of boom and bust. It is worse because as the last financial disaster affected everyone on the planet, this will affect the food on everyone's table instead of their check book."

"Inconvenient Truth"—by hannah: "Al Gore has not done us any favors in publicising that phrase. He's managed to turn both "inconvenience" and "truth" into dysphemisms, touting truth as a threat and inconvenience as deserved punishment. Making life convenient for other people is supposed to be a virtue. Courtesy demands it. Making life difficult for other people, also referred to as making 'hard choices,' is not a praiseworthy attitude. Though politicians who see themselves as secular ministers seem to think it is. At a minimum, inconvenience, they suggest, is supposed to 'toughen people up,' preparing them for the fray, letting them prove they can 'take it.'"

Miscellany

Ending malaria using genetically modified mosquitoes to wipe-out the species Anopheles gambiae?—by HoundDog: "Lee Dye of ABC News writes How Sex Could Wipe Out Malaria, which tells the story of how scientists believe they have found a way to eliminate the species of mosquitoes, Anopheles gambiae, that transmits malaria which kills millions of people each year. By genetically engineering the DNA of test mosquitoes, in the lab, scientists from Imperial College London have produced a genetic variation that causes 95% of offspring to be male. With fewer and fewer females in each successive generation the entire population of the lab experiment was wiped out in six generations. The scientists transferred a gene from slime mold that produces an enzyme that chops up DNA when it finds a specific sequence. In this case it latched on to a section of the x chromosome which determines gender during the period when the male mosquito was producing sperm. Thus nearly all the offspring were males. 'We think our innovative approach is a huge step forward,' lead researcher Andrea Crisanti said in releasing the report. 'For the very first time, we have been able to inhibit the production of female offspring in the laboratory and this provides a new means to eliminate the disease.'Lee Dye encourages people not to throw out your DEET yet, because there are also 3,000 other species of mosquitoes that scientists would have to breed mutants for each one to totally wipe out."

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