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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 18,400 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.
JoNova's "Big News" skeptical climate 'mode' is one giant circle—by Keith Pickering: "For the past week, climate denialati have been breathlessly awaiting the 'BIG NEWS' being dribbled out on the well-known skeptical climate blog run by Joanne Nova, aka Australian blogger JoNova. Never one to pass up hype, JoNova describes this work (by her better half, Dr. David Evans) as 'a major advance,' 'extraordinary,' and 'a creative idea that breaks the current paradigm.' After six postings and 12,000 words, we now haven't seen new posts on the subject for two days, so it's safe to say that the BIG NEWS is complete, at least for now. And what's there is a model, which has only one input: Total Solar Irradiance, or TSI. And all you need to know is this key sentence, which is found near the top of part 2: We are envisaging some sort of black box, whose input is TSI and whose output is temperature. Aaaaand there's the problem in a nutshell. Evans starts by assuming the result he wishes to demonstrate: that Sun drives global surface temperature. And from here on out we're on a gigantic 12,000 word circular argument, bringing us right back to where we started."
green dots
Fighting the tar sands: Who are the Yinka Dene?—by Roger Fox: "The Yinke Dene are an alliance of 6 aboriginal indigenous First Nations in Northern British Columbia who have pledged to ban the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline from crossing any of their lands, territories, watersheds or the ocean migration routes of the Fraser River Salmon. The Yinka Dene consist of these First Nations: Nadleh Whut'en, Nak'azdli, Takla Lake, Saik'uz, Wet'suwet'en, and Tl’azt’en. The Save the Fraser Declaration was written in 2010, signed by the Yinka Dene and the St'át'imc Nation, today with over a 130 signatories, the above map shows First Nations lands united by the declaration. The Transmountain Pipeline was built in the late 1950's and is the process of twinning, a second pipeline is built parallel to the original. The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline is shown, talking tar sands to the coastal port of Kitimat, the site of a proposed supertanker loading facility. The Northern Gateway pipeline cannot be built without crossing into Yinka Dene lands. The Declaration is based on Indigenous law, Title, and Rights, and has status under First Nations law, Canadian law, and International law."
green dots
Climate: Inaction costs, action benefits. We're talking trillions in benefits—by A Siegel: "Simply put, the economic analysis related to climate change issues used in public debates has systematically gotten things wrong. The very nature of the analytical process fosters an exaggerated projection of costs and an understatement of benefits from climate mitigation and adaptation investments. This fosters a discussion of the "costs" of action, rather than a more honest and meaningful discussion of the extent and nature of the "climate mitigation return on investment."  Fully-burdened cost-benefit analysis would highlight the huge return to be secured from sensible climate investments. When it comes to cost-benefit analysis, two just released reports shed important perspective on this issue."

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

Climate Chaos

Hottest May on planet earth since we started records in 1880 says NOAA, may signal hotest year ahead—by HoundDog: "Jason Samenow of the Washington Post writes Earth has warmest May on record, may signal warmest year in pipeline. Last month was the warmest May on earth in the entire 134 years we have been keeping records, says, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, breaking the previous record set just in 2010. This finding is consistent with independent findings released last week by NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency, reports Samenow. Record warm ocean waters helped the planet’s temperature soar to record high levels, NOAA says.  The average temperature of the ocean surface rose to 1.06F degrees above normal - matching the biggest difference from normal in any month dating back to 1880. The warming of the oceans reveals the symptoms of a developing El Niño event in which sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific rise, pumping large quantities of heat into the atmosphere. The past warmest years on records – 2010 and 1998 – coincided with El Niño events. NOAA says there is a 70 percent chance El Niño develops this summer and 80 percent chance by late in the fall."

Continuing Story: El Niño Just Might Make 2014 Like 1997—by xaxnar: "El Niño is the name given to periodic changes in the Eastern Pacific near South America, when surface water temperatures hit a peak high. This has a cascading effect on weather, wildlife, fisheries, food production and more. (La Niña is a swing in the other direction.) Typically, this happens over the course of several years. Well, guess what? 2014 just might be the year when El Niño kicks in again. Big Time. Because it can take years for ocean temperatures to build to El Niño levels, long-term prediction is chancy. As the video above indicates, however, it looks like the process is well under way."

Hubbard Broadcasting co-sponsors Heartland Institute's climate denial disinformation conference—by Meteor Blades: "Every year, the propagandists at the Heartland Institute hold a conference to spread the word that scientists are wrong about global warming. No surprise that the sponsors make up a list of the usual suspects. But one sponsor this year is a bit unusual. It's Hubbard Broadcasting, which operates 13 television stations, 31 radio stations and two cable channels in Minnesota, Wisconsin, New York, New Mexico, Arizona, Illinois, Missouri, Washington, D.C., and Washington state. The billionaire owner, Stanley Hubbard, has called global warming 'the biggest fraud in the history of America,' according to Rolling Stone. Dave Dahl, chief meteorologist at Hubbard's flagship station in Minneapolis, calls global warming a 'political theory' adopted by scientists eager for grant money. Usually, corporate media do a bit better job of concealing their agenda by avoiding open sponsorship of disinformation specialists. So what's up?"

In a split Supreme Court decision on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA mostly wins—by Meteor Blades: "The court ruled 5-4 that the EPA cannot require facilities that are applying for operating or construction permits also to obtain greenhouse gas emissions permits if their only polluting emissions are those gases. But, by 7-2, with extremist Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas in dissent, the court majority stated that industrial plants and other large stationary sources that already must get permits for emissions of other pollutants can also be required to obtain permits for GHG emissions. The chief facilities affected by the EPA rules are oil and gas projects, cement plants and power plants. The ruling seems likely to have a relatively small impact on the EPA's overall ability to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, and it will have no impact on pending rules to curb those emissions from new and existing electricity-generating plants."

How the Supreme Court Boosted Intel and Endangered My Neighborhood—by 6412093: "This week, the Supreme Court approved the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to regulate  Greenhouse Gas emissions, but restricted the EPA's reach. Many commentators lauded the vote, and pointed out the ruling allowed the EPA to go after 83% of those polluters, although the EPA tried to target 86% of them. I, and tens of thousands of other folks, live within 2.5 miles of the biggest greenhouse gas polluter in Oregon [Intel]. It now escapes regulation for most of its emissions, some of which are also virulently hazardous. [...] Intel's fabrication process requires the use, and emissions of over 100 different chemicals, including the most aggressive acids, caustics, and solvents on earth. Many of these chemicals are a combination of fluoride and other chemicals, with names like Trifluoromethane. Some of these fluorinated compounds are 10,000 times more potent greenhouse gasses than the carbon dioxide that coal fired power plants spew. [...] But today I learned the Supreme Court has ruled there will never be a greenhouse gas permit review for companies like Intel.  We'll never have a regulatory lever to force Intel to  get rid of the hydrofluoric acid that endangers everyone for miles, and to use less harmful chemicals to etch and wash their wafers and chips."

Massive Koch Bros. Defeat: Supreme Court Rules EPA can Regulate Greenhouse Gases—by ericlewis0

Physicist offers $10,000 to anyone who can disprove "man-made global climate change"—by Lefty Coaster: "A Physicist and author on global warming Dr. Christopher Keating has just announced The $10,000 Global Warming Skeptic Challenge. Dr. Keating is putting up $10,000 of his own money to anyone who can disprove that man-made Global Warming is not occurring. [...] Scientists and Academics are not wealthy people, so Dr. Keating putting up $10,000 of his own money is a demonstration that the science is sound. Backed up exhaustive data collection and correlation across a number of related scientific disciplines, in tens of thousands of peer reviewed studies, Dr. Keating's $10,000 challenge is a big bet but a safe bet."

The $10,000 Global Warming Skeptic Challenge!—by windsong01: "last month a Physicist, Christopher Keating, Offered $10K To Anyone Who Can Prove Climate Change Isn’t Man-Made on his Blog. here is what he said: 'I have heard global warming skeptics make all sorts of statements about how the science doesn't support claims of man-made climate change. I have found all of those statements to be empty and without any kind of supporting evidence. I have, in turn, stated that it is not possible for the skeptics to prove their claims. And, I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is.' here is what he offered: I will award $10,000 of my own money to anyone that can prove, via the scientific method, that man-made global climate change is not occurring."

Former Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson: 'Climate change is the challenge of our time'—by Laurence Lewis: "Paulson says there are legitimate questions about the economic consequences of acting, but he says the economic risks of doing nothing are "profound." He easily eviscerates the argument that we can't act alone, and that the rest of the world needs to do its part, by pointing out that we can't lead if we're not taking care of our own responsibilities. He warns that the danger here is more dire than that of the financial collapse, because although many still suffer from that collapse, government action then was able to avert complete catastrophe. But climate catastrophe can't be averted by last minute action."

Risky Business—by Just Bob: "What do Henry Paulson, Michael Bloomberg, and Tom Steyer have in common beside money? They have a study scheduled to be released this week detailing the cost of doing nothing. That should be good reading and I'll be looking for it. For a preview, see Paulson's op-ed in the NY Times: For too many years, we failed to rein in the excesses building up in the nation’s financial markets. When the credit bubble burst in 2008, the damage was devastating. Millions suffered. Many still do. We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We’re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy. The warning signs are clear and growing more urgent as the risks go unchecked."

'Risky Business' a Bipartisan Report on "the Economic Risks of Climate Change" warns of huge costs—by Lefty Coaster: "As the astronomical costs of unabated Global Warming is becoming clear to leaders of business, and government, a bipartisan group of leaders from government and business came together to study what we as a nation stand to lose if we continue along our current dirty energy fueled trajectory versus taking varying levels of action to ameliorate Global Warming. Their report titled Risky Business is well worth reading with regional breakdowns for the future effects we're facing in the near future."

Reuters: "It will be functionally impossible to be outside" by end of century—by gnosticator: "I have often wondered where would be a good place for my young son to go one day to ride out catastrophic climate-changed earth. It is sounding more and more like there's nowhere to go that is best suited to survive the coming catastrophe. If climate change continues on its current trajectory, the report concluded, Midwesterners could see deadly heat-and-humidity pairings (which meteorologists call 'wet-bulb temperature') two days every year by later this century. 'It will be functionally impossible to be outside, including for things like construction work and farming, as well as recreation,' said climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University."

If we continue on the current path we're on ...—by jamess: "* If we continue on our current path, by 2050 between $66 billion and $106 billion worth of existing coastal property will likely be below sea level nationwide, with $238 billion to $507 billion worth of property below sea level by 2100. [...] * By the middle of this century, the average American will likely see 27 to 50 days over 95°F each year -- two to more than three times the average annual number of 95°F days we’ve seen over the past 30 years. By the end of this century, this number will likely reach 45 to 96 days over 95°F each year on average."

Gullible Telegraph goes Gaga for Goddard—by ClimateDenierRoundup: "Over the weekend the UK's Telegraph ran a brief piece on blogger Steven Goddard's work portraying NOAA's temperature record as having been "fiddled" with and "shamelessly manipulated." The core of his argument is that NOAA is deliberately changing the data to cool the past and heat the present in order to exaggerate global warming."

Denier Malaise—by ClimateDenierRoundup: "Jeff Condon of The Air Vent, one of the main blogs involved in the Climategate fiasco, has admitted in a post that he is "almost completely disengaged from climate science."  Most amusing is Condon's discouraged prediction that skeptics aren't going to be remembered, and suggestion that "a few billion $$" would be enough to make an impact on history. Apparently the $120 million donated to anti-climate science groups from 2002 to 2010 just wasn't enough. This is the latest in a string of deniers who appear to be getting burnt out, including many who have left their academic positions. Last year Lindzen retired from MIT (though he's still active with Heartland), James Cook University ended Bob Carter's unpaid adjunct professorial status, Judith Curry stepped down from her Chair of Georgia Tech's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Bob Tisdale retired from blogging, and John Coleman retired from his long time TV weather job."

Celebrate "Put Solar On It" day by putting a little light in your life—by VL Baker: "I was happy to receive a present of a little sun recently (that's it in the video below). It was perfect timing because this weekend we celebrate the summer solstice and what better way to celebrate then by adding some sun power into my life and reducing my carbon footprint.

The cute little sun light was the perfect gift for me. You see, I've been writing about reducing Black Carbon (soot) and other short-lived-climate-pollutants because reducing them gives us a fast, practical and economical solution to slowing and reducing the worst effects of climate change, and my new little sun light can help to do all that. These little sun lights are part of a global effort to replace kerosene lighting in developing countries; to improve health and safety and also to reduce the enormous Black Carbon emissions of kerosene lamps. Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has invested $5 million usd into the distribution of the little sun lamps."

Food, Agriculture & Gardening

Conquer food waste to feed the world—by petercgoldmark: "We don't hear much about it today, but growing enough food to feed the planet will be a significant problem before long unless we make some changes soon. A leading cause of the projected food squeeze is that agricultural productivity has not increased as fast this decade as it did during the second half of the 20th century. In other words, we are starting to consume more than we're producing ...The global population has grown at roughly 2 percent a year, but that trend understates the increase in demand for food. Standards of living in emerging markets such as China have risen, leading to increased consumption of items further up the food chain, such as meat. And those richer foodstuffs require more calories and energy (fertilizer) to produce than the basic grain diets on which the world's poor have traditionally relied."

Night of the Living Bread: The Dough Rises—by blueheronbakery : "As a natural baker for over 25 years I've watched with horror as GMO's have crept into our food supply. Some bakers at the Blue Heron Bakery are putting together a horror move about good dough gone bad. It would seem to me that humor is one of the greatest weapons against the insanity of genetic manipulation being unleashed on the natural world."

Environmental Factors & Autism Studies—by JDWolverton: "The idea that pesticides are toxic to adults, children and pets; plus cause a lot of unintended consequences (pdf) is as old as DDT. The comment thread on the diary was full of, lets call it, skepticism. It was skeptical of the idea that pesticides could be associated with increased autism incidence rates. The bibliography of the UC Davis study shows this study is only building on the idea that pesticides are associated with multiple neurological and behavioral issues. This study was only another brick in the wall. Being skeptical is one thing, but it became clear to me that no one was looking at the number of peer reviewed studies already published with findings that build a strong case to suspect pesticides as an environmental factor influencing autism."

Study links autism to pesticides, I'd like to know if Monsanto funds the antivaxxers now—by Horace Boothroyd III: "A study performed by the University of California at Davis has found a correlation between exposure to pesticides and autism. The author of the report suggests that families near agricultural fields being sprayed get their children out of town. The study also found that pregnant women after the first trimester had an increased risk of their infant becoming autistic with the exposure closer to the due date being the most harmful to the fetus. Organophosphates were the culprit identified. Developed by the Nazis in the 1940's these pesticides have a host of deadly and debilitating consequences when humans(and other critters) are exposed."


We Will Head Climate Change Disaster Off at the Pass—by Muskegon Critic: "Renewable energy in 2014 is about where the Internet was in 1994. Cities and states have advanced the infrastructure. It's cheap. It's accessible. Most folks have a rudimentary awareness of it. You've got the geeky early adopters who have been using the stuff for decades to show us the ropes. And now the slightly less geeky folks like myself are putting up solar panels on their garages just for kicks. And lawmakers are paving the way for this new reality. And you've got Americans making a living in renewable energy sectors all around the Conservative AND Liberal districts. [...] This really is just the beginning. Technology in the US has a landslide quality to it. One day it's kind of new. Then BOOM. It's taken over like a weed. We've seen this with cars. We've seen it with TV. We've seen this with computers. We've seen this with the Internet. We've seen this with cell phones. And NOW we're seeing it with renewable energy."

Obama Admin. Loosens 4 Decade Ban On Oil Exports—by deepsouthdoug: "Because gas and oil prices are cheap enough in the USA, right? From The Wall Street Journal: The Obama administration cleared the way for the first exports of unrefined American oil in nearly four decades, allowing energy companies to start chipping away at the longtime ban on selling U.S. oil abroad. In separate rulings that haven't been announced, the Commerce Department gave Pioneer Natural Resources Co. and Enterprise Products Partners LP permission to ship a type of ultralight oil known as condensate to foreign buyers. The buyers could turn the oil into gasoline, jet fuel and diesel."


Solar Panel Acreage Needed to Power the Entire Planet: 158 mi x 158 mi—by ericlewis0: "The three squares on the map, below, represent how much solar panel acreage would be needed to power Germany (marked "D"), Europe (marked "EU"), and the entire planet (marked "Welt"): Not that big, right? Just a small chunk of the Sahara Desert in Algeria."

solar needs acreage
This, according to a graduate thesis from the Technical University of Braunschweig, by Nadine May: area of 254 km x 254 km would be enough to meet the total electricity demand of the world. The amount of electricity needed by the EU-25 states could be produced on an area of 110 km x 110 km. For Germany with a demand of 500 TWh/y an area of 45 km x 45 km is required, which concerns 0.03 % of all suited areas in North Africa (BMU, 2004b). That's just 158 miles x 158 miles (c. 25,000 square miles) to power the whole world. It makes one wonder why the hell we aren't doing this already, though the obvious answer is suppression from Big Oil.

50% of Germany's electricity produced by solar in one hour on June 6, also achieves grid parity—by HoundDog: "Here are two remarkable pieces of good news from the German solar energy sector that I did not expect to see so soon. Germany is rapidly becoming one of our model countries for proving transitions to a renewable energy economy can be done, and it can be done now with continuous improvement to existing technology. Germans have a special word for it -'Energiewende', or energy transformation - which aims to power the entire country by renewable resources by 2050." Germans are now laying down a challenge for other countries saying there is no longer any excuse for countries to say this is impossible."

Buying into community solar gardens - solar power, not just for people with roofs anymore.—by HoundDog: "Diane Cardwell of The New York Times writes Buying Into Solar Power, No Roof Access Needed, which describes the emerging concept of a "community solar garden," that allows "customers buy into a solar array constructed elsewhere and receive credit on their electricity bills for the power their panels produce." This opens up solar energy as a possibility for the 85% of residential customers who cannot mount solar panels on a roof."

Utah Solar energy at grid parity even with no state Renewable Portfolio Standard—by HoundDog: "Eric Wesoff, of Greentechmedia, bring us the surprising and good news that solar energy production seems to have suddenly achieved grid parity in Utah in his article entitled, Solar at Grid Parity in Utah, a Coal State With No Renewable Standard, which also tells us that Rocky Mountain Power in Utah could soon pay less for solar-generated electricity than coal-generated electricity. Utah could go from a state with nearly no solar power to being a major player with hundreds of megawatts in just the next few years."


Breaking: Rick Scott Has Financial Ties to Company Fracking Our Everglades—by SemDem: "The Everglades is sacred to native Floridians.  So much so that politicians on both sides of the aisle ran on protecting it, including Jeb, his idiot brother, Mitt Romney, and even the environment-hating Allen freaking West. No politician in Florida has ever actually run against the Everglades--until now. We were shocked in September 2011 when Rick Scott said he supported drilling in the Everglades. Today under Rick Scott, FRACKING is now a reality in the Everglades.  I wrote about Rick Scott's record and the illegal fracking that has already been done, along with the Department of Environmental Protection's embarrassing response, on my blog last month. Scott's corrupt DEP actually issued 10 oil and gas exploration permits for that region to the Dan Hughes Drilling Company, Breitburn, Burnett Oil, and others. The DEP, which is supposed to protect the environment, (which I shouldn't have to say because it's in the damn name!), was run by Scott appointee Jeff Littlejohn, the son of the Chamber of Commerce president."

Keystone and Other Fossil Fuel Transportation

Which 17 Democrats Voted to Weaken Regulations on Oil and Gas Pipelines?—by Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees: "Today, the House passed the North American Energy Infrastructure Act (H.R. 3301), a bill designed to open up the export market for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and reduce environmental review for oil and natural gas pipelines, making it easier for pipelines like Keystone XL to get approved. H.R. 3301 weakens the process for federal approval of oil and natural gas pipelines and electric transmission lines that cross the border with Canada or Mexico by narrowing National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) applicability to only the piece of the pipeline actually crossing the border. The bill also allows any project found not to be in the public interest under the current permitting process to reapply under the new weaker process. It would exempt all modifications to existing cross-border pipelines, even major expansions, from federal review. The bill also allows for unlimited exports of liquefied natural gas to anywhere in the world as long as the LNG passes through Canada or Mexico."

Wisconsin: A Pipeline Runs Through It—by badscience: "Enbridge Energy is quietly working on a significant expansion of their pipeline Line 61 to carry toxic 'tar sands' oil through Wisconsin, putting the watersheds for Lake Superior and Lake Michigan at significant risk. [...] Enbridge has a history of crude oil spills in Wisconsin: 2007, 2009 and 2012 (see above link to Sierra Club for details of each spill). Shifting to 'tar sands' oil, at a higher capacity than their current pipeline, is a recipe for even more disasters. Remember that these are the same people who polluted the Kalamazoo River in 2010. Enbridge Energies has a poor safety record, with approximately 800 pipeline-related incidents since 1999, including a rupture in Grand Marsh in Adams County, in Wisconsin, in which an estimated 50,000 gallons of oil spilled and 17,000 tons of soil were contaminated."

Eco-Related DC & State Politics

NOW is the time for a Carbon Tax—by Gwennedd: "Recently a study commissioned by Citizens Climate Lobby was done by Regional Economic Models Inc (REMI) asking what the effects of a carbon tax would be on Americans and the economy. The answer was not, at least to me, all that surprising. Taxing CO2 can reduce carbon dioxide emissions and create jobs! The study posited that if a tax began at $10 per tonne and increased by $10 per tonne every year, revenue generated, recycled back into the economy, would generate 2.1 million jobs in 10 years. Not bad! 'Detractors have said that a carbon tax will kill jobs,' stated Mark Reynolds, executive director of Citizens Climate Lobby. 'The REMI study turns that assumption on its head.' Okay, you say, but exactly how does this tax create jobs?"

Global Warming: How much does a Republican charge to make himself look stupid in public?—by Bruce Brown: "On Wednesday, June 18, the day before the House Subcommittee on Power and Energy began its hearings on the Environmental Protection Agency’s new emission regulations, the League of Conservation Voters published an article by Jeff Gohringer, LCV’s national press secretary, listing 14 members of the Subcommittee who, according to the League, 'likely do the bidding of polluters.' Gohringer predicted that the hearings would produce 'the same old tired attacks on the proposal from those desperate to hold onto outdated, dirty, and dangerous sources of energy.' The Energy and Power Subcommittee is part of Chairman Fred Upton’s Energy and Commerce Committee. Upton is also a member of the Subcommittee, which has 31 members: 17 white male Republicans and a diverse cast of 14 Democrats. None of the Democrats are among those who stand accused by the LCV. The three Republican members of the subcommittee not included on Gohringer’s list are Joseph R Pitts (PA), Bob Latta (OH), Adam Kinzinger (IL. Gohringer makes his case using quotations attributed to the accused, and he lists career contributions as reported to OpenSecrets.Org as of June 17. Apparently, Gohringer is implying that some of these quotations are so baffling that he suspects Congressmen may be getting paid to make themselves look stupid in public."

IA-Sen: Environmental Groups Unleash $1 Million Campaign Against Joni Ernst (R)—by poopdogcomedy: "Shit's getting serious in Iowa: A trio of environmental groups on Tuesday launched a $1 million campaign to help Rep. Bruce Braley (D) win the race for U.S. Senate in Iowa by taking on his opponent, state Sen. Joni Ernst (R).
The League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club and the Environmental Defense Action Fund are combining forces in the effort, which kicks off with an LCV TV ad that ties Ernst to Sarah Palin and the Koch Brothers. The narrator says Ernst wants to "abolish the EPA, giving polluters a pass. That's why extremist Sarah Palin and the billionaire Koch brothers want Ernst in Washington.

NorCal lawmakers call for opening up secret drought bill negotiations—by Dan Bacher: "Six Northern California Congress Members on June 23 called on Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer to open up secret negotiations on controversial drought legislation that threatens salmon populations, family farmers and California Indian Tribes. [...]  In a letter to California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, the members noted that 'negotiations to date have left the public without adequate information or opportunities for input.' Any compromise between the Senate drought response bill and the destructive House-passed bill, the members argued, would ultimately be harmful to California. The House bill, H.R. 3964, severely undermines numerous state and federal statutes, would irreparably damage the Bay-Delta, degrade drinking water quality, and cost California thousands of jobs, according to the Representatives."

Trade & Foreign Policy

Tomgram: The New Oil Wars in Iraq—by Michael Schwartz via TomDispatch: "Does anyone remember what Iraq looked like a dozen years ago, when Saddam Hussein still ruled the country and the United States was about to invade? On the one hand, Iraqis, especially Shiites and Kurds, suffered under the iron heel of an oppressive dictator—who may have killed 250,000 or more of his own people during his 25-year reign. They also struggled against the privation caused by U.S.-led sanctions—some estimates at the time placed the number of sanction-caused infant deaths alone at 500,000. On the other hand, the country had a number of successful export-oriented industries like leather goods and agricultural products like dates that offered employment to hundreds of thousands of relatively well paid workers and entrepreneurs. It also had a resilient electrical, water, and highway infrastructure (though increasingly decrepit thanks to those sanctions). In addition, it had a best-in-the-region primary and higher educational system, and the finest (free) health care in the Middle East. In a nation of 27 million people, it also had—in comparison to other countries in the area—a large, mainly government-employed middle class of three million. These pluses all flowed from a single source: the 2.5 million barrels of oil that Iraq produced each day."

Fishy Business—by xaxnar: "There's an eye-opening piece in the NY Times on the absurdities of American food fish policies. Global trade, labor economics, sustainability - all of these things collide in a mish-mosh of insanity. Paul Greenberg has the details. Why Are We Importing Our Own Fish? is the question Greenberg asks. ... According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, even though the United States controls more ocean than any other country, 86 percent of the seafood we consume is imported. But it’s much fishier than that: While a majority of the seafood Americans eat is foreign, a third of what Americans catch is sold to foreigners. The seafood industry, it turns out, is a great example of the swaps, delete-and-replace maneuvers and other mechanisms that define so much of the outsourced American economy; you can find similar, seemingly inefficient phenomena in everything from textiles to technology. The difference with seafood, though, is that we’re talking about the destruction and outsourcing of the very ecological infrastructure that underpins the health of our coasts. Let’s walk through these illogical arrangements, course by course. To hit the high points, we've done a number of things that don't make sense. We've done a swap and replace thing several times, in which a locally available species has been decimated and we've ended up replacing it with imports instead of trying to sustain and restore native fisheries."

The Great Outdoors

The Daily Bucket-A Ten Lily Day—by 6412093: "Hi brothers and sisters. I often judge my day by how many water liles are blooming in my backyard pond. Today is a 10-lily day. The record is 11. The picture above has a bonus Rush plant and two of the lilies. Despite the cool and wet spring and summer, the blueberries are ripening nicely, faster than the robins can eat them. I'm not getting as many grape bunches as the first year, but more than last year. Will I get to eat any ripened grapes this year?  Only if I outsmart the squirrels."

Meadowbeauty or Rhexia spp.
The Daily Bucket: Only 2 Wildflowers?—by PHScott: "June 2014. Ft Braden Trails hike sponsored by the Apalachee Chapter of the Florida Trail Association  and Florida Forest Service (aka Fresh From Florida)  Previous hike covered here, but in winter. Meadowbeauty or Rhexia spp. - either a Pale or Panhandle Meadowbeauty. I saw all of 1 when we stopped to admire some young Longleaf pines that had been planted by FFS a decade ago. It was accidentally growing along a forest road where the ground had been torn up and compacted and tore up again to plant the pines. Native plants can be quite persistent."

breezy day at terrell's island—by blueyedace2. Photo Diary


Dawn Chorus: Why Birding the Big Island is like Going to the World Cup—by BCO gal: "There really are two things that initially stand out when birding the Big Island. One - you're not going to see a lot of marine birds. And two - there are a lot of introduced species. I mean, it's like going to Brazil now to see the World Cup. There are birds from everywhere! The birds I saw were primarily found on the western part of the Island (near the town of Kona) or on the south side in Volcanoes National Park. I'll let you know the ones I found in the latter."

Gray Francolin
Gray Francolin
Satao's Poachers Likely Caught—by LunarEclipse: "Near the end of May, the news came from Kenya that the largest bull elephant in the Tsavo region had been killed by poachers. The international outrage at the poaching of Satao was enormous. Today, good news from the Kenya Wildlife Service: the likely poachers have been arrested."

Daily Bucket: A Walk Along the Atlantic—by Lenny Flank: "A short while ago I was visiting the historic city of St Augustine FL, on the east coast of Florida, and took a walk along the beach at low tide. There were some limestone formations along the shore that trapped a few small tide pools, and I came across a few critters within--not as varied as a California tide pool, but much better than anything we get on the sandy shores of Tampa Bay. So here are some photos from my beach walk."

The Daily Bucket-Fishing like Kids—by Wood Gas: "Tide pools were my first introduction to marine biology, I can't say I've learned much, but I still like tide pools. Sometimes I'll still turn over a rock. I know little creatures can be injured, and little fingers as well. Some vices are just too rewarding. Red Sea anemones awaiting the turning of the tide."

The Daily Bucket: Gangsters moving in to quiet neighborhood—by Wood Gas: Photo diary.

Water & Drought

Water Wars: A prologue—by rlegro: "What to make of the following, gargantuan contradiction? 1. As climate change leads to ocean levels tens of feet higher later in this century, and as coastal cities already are estimating the initial costs of saving their shorelines in the tens of billions of dollars per community, the pregnant question is: Who should pay for that? Local citizens in all likelihood won't be able to absorb such costs on their tax base, even in some wealthy cities. Residents will resist relocation and demand to preserve their quality of life. Hello, in all likelihood, federal government, and hello as well to all you inland taxpayers who will foot much of the bill. 2. Meanwhile in Detroit, among 323,900 local water accounts, 150,806 are now in arrears and so the local authorities—egged on by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's  unelected bankruptcy machine—have announced they'll begin shutting off most of those delinquent accounts. Never mind that some of the water-bill debts have been rung up by low-income customers struggling to keep their utilities on, much less cope with other fundamental needs. Who should step in to help these unfortunates? Except for private charities on a small scale, no one has made a commitment. Michigan state government? Apparently it has washed its hands of the matter (excuse the metaphor). The feds? Well, the Obama administration has helped as best it can with Detroit's financial crisis but federal government is still badly constrained by GOP-imposed austerity limits. So will there be a national commitment to rescuing impoverished Detroit residents at risk of withering from thirst? That commitment would be tiny compared to the likely bill we'll all eventually be asked to pay for saving McMansions on barrier islands and walling off Miami beach, or Manhattan, or New Orleans. But don't hold your breath, especially if you're already under water."

Even BDCP-hired economist wouldn’t sign off on tunnel plan—by Dan Bacher: "In the latest episode in the sordid saga of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan 'BDCP' to build the peripheral tunnels, two environmental groups revealed on June 20 that even an economist hired by BDCP officials won't sign off on the controversial project. Dr. David Sunding, an economist on the faculty of the University of California-Berkeley and a principal with The Brattle Group, said at the recent Continuing Legal Education Water Law Conference in San Diego that 'given the financial uncertainties if he were a water agency, he would not sign off' on the BDCP, according to a news release from Restore the Delta (RTD). ( RTD and the Southern California Watershed Alliance responded to the Brown Administration’s latest claims of alleged benefits from the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and its huge water export tunnels."

Eco-Activism & Eco-Justice

Hey, Check Out My Backyard!—by freewayblogger : "Pretty impressive eh? Did it with a little bit of dumpster diving, a couple of earth posters and about six bucks worth of paint. The sad thing, apart from the obvious OCD, is that these are stacking up at my place instead of being out on the freeways where they belong. Unfortunately mom hasn't quite bounced back from surgery, so for the past three months I've been taking care of her and unable to go on road trips. You know how they say that taking care of an aging parent is really difficult and draining but also incredibly rewarding and sometimes devastating? They're right. But this diary isn't about that. Like most of my diaries it's about cardboard and paint and putting words in front of eyeballs. The best part of my day is once mom's asleep and I can go into the garage, turn on some music and crank up the overhead projector. Right now my wings are clipped, so I'm going to ask some of you to take up the slack."

Backyard full of climate change protest signs.

National Parks & Other Public and Protected Lands

Bill introduced to ban oil drilling in Vandenberg marine protected area—by Dan Bacher: "Fishermen, Tribal leaders and grassroots environmentalists have criticized the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative for creating questionable "marine protected areas" that fail to protect the ocean from oil drilling, fracking, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering. However, offshore oil drilling will be banned in one state marine protected area, the Vanderberg State Marine Reserve, if State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) has her way. Senator Jackson has introduced a bill, SB 1096, to ban offshore oil drilling from an area of state waters in the Santa Barbara Channel known as Tranquillon Ridge. The area is designated as a "marine protected area" because of its sensitive marine ecosystem, according to a statement from Senator Jackson's office."

Pollution, Hazardous Wastes & Trash


Transportation & Infrastructure

Sunday Train: Improving the Conventional Amtrak California services—by BruceMcF: "In HSR's history in High Income Industrial economies, building bullet train corridors take time. That's a general observation, in addition to an incessant complaint about the California project. The first French corridor, the Paris-Lyon service, began construction in 1976 and began its first services in 1981, on only a partial southern section, with the northern section coming into service in 1983. And the TGV used existing intercity passenger rail corridors to run its Paris terminal station. The first bullet train, the Japanese Shinkasen, received government approval in 1958, with the first bullet trains coming into service in 1964. And it is to be expected that the California HSR is going to take time, when taking into account the additional regulatory requirements of national EIS and state EIR analysis and the quite challenging terrain between the San Joaquin Valley and the LA Basin to its south and the Bay Area to its northeast. That's one of the reasons that its important to move ahead to breaking ground."

New High Speed Rail Route Proposed for Northern England—by Lib Dem FoP: "Today the Chancellor of the Exchequer (UK Finance Minister) gave a speech in Manchester which included a proposal for a new high speed rail route. This new section would link Manchester with Leeds on an east-west axis with further links to both Liverpool and Hull, presumably on existing lines. The effect would be to speed up links between the cities in a "Northern Powerhouse" to help generate an agglomeration effect (more of that later). [...] The thrust of the speech is to provide the conditions for an agglomeration effect by speeding up direct personal contact that is essential for a "global city". This is a relatively unfamiliar concept in urban planning but is seen as essential for economic growth. The Paris School of Economics has done a report for Manchester (.pdf) which includes the usefully simple explanation of the concept: At their broadest level, agglomeration economies occur when individuals and firms benefit from being near to others."

Eco-Philosophy, Eco-Essays & Eco-Poetry

Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Race, sprawl, and climate change—by TDDVandy: "It's 2014.  The fact that climate change is happening and that humans are causing it should be blatantly obvious at this point, and the question should be "what should be done about it?"  But instead, large swathes of the country continue to deny it and/or think that we should do nothing about it.  Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Crazy) said that climate change is all about 'the President's green dream.' UN Agenda 21 conspiracy theories abound.  I've come across conservatives on Twitter who think that climate change is all just a conspiracy for 'statist' world government. What the hell is going on?  Why are appeals to saving the environment falling on deaf ears among many voters?  The answer should be obvious to anyone who has observed the phenomena of white flight and the ensuing sprawl... or anyone who has even taken a look at the Racial Dot Map. Segregation."

Distraction and Disguise: Koch Tactics 101—by hannah: "So, to recap: the Koch Brothers acquired a near derelict enterprise to protect their primary interests in taking natural resources (coal and oil) to market for a profit and then they relied on the public's regulatory regime to protect themselves from critical inspection for at least three years. Which leaves us with the question what we would find, other than a rotting dock and railing-less walkways, if proper inspection of an industrial facility were done. What the aerial view seems to show is a dark plume in the Turtle River, indicating the presence of one or more discharge pipes—disguised as a dock and walkways. In other words, the off-loading isn't to the dock, but away from it. So, the load on the dock is minimal (whatever a 10" pipe full of waste water weighs) and inspecting the pipes can be done from below, making the whole installation largely superfluous, but expensive to remove. Not to mention calling attention to the effluent stream and the fact that, by distributing the discharge to two or more outflow points, the dilution solution to pollution is maximized."


New Bottle Caps for Coke: Second Life Design—by gmoke: "Coca-Cola is going to distribute 16 replacement caps for plastic Coke bottles which will serve a variety of after uses, including water guns, paint brushes, condiment dispensers, sprayers and misters [...] A cap that could pressurize the fluid inside and a simple bottle to bottle plumbing system would help with some ideas I've had for a number of years. We can design our packaging for secondary uses. Pizza boxes can become solar cookers, take-out cartons can become "haybox" cookers or solar cookers themselves. And then, of course, we can design our distribution systems so that we need little or no packaging at all."

My brother on sea level rise—by dot farmer: "When my brother stops by for a visit, the conversation eventually turns to some of the latest talking points he's picked up either from Fox News or AM radio. Since neither one of us has any say whatsoever in establishing policy, I don't waste a lot of energy trying to educate him or refute anything he says. At most I might try to redirect to something more local, like our mutual problem of skunks digging under the foundation and tearing up stuff under the house. A couple of days back, he said something so breathtakingly ignorant, I couldn't help but try to push back but soon realized it was hopeless and reverted to standard redirect mode. Here is my brother's reasoning on how sea level couldn't be rising. There's no telling how many boats and airplanes have sunk in the ocean. If there was anything to sea level rising, why hasn't it risen from that?"

Bearing Witness To The Climate Crisis — Welcome To Our Festival Of Song And Sound!—by WarrenS: "The Climate Message Video Festival is now underway! Step right up and hear some of the most beautiful music you've ever encountered — and a clarion call for the urgency of action against global warming! In the first few months of 2014, 132 musicians and poets from all over the world joined in The Climate Message; creating and submitting short video clips that combined moments of astonishing beauty with calls to action on climate change. This is our Festival. The video below is an introduction to all of the performers and their extraordinary artistry. Take seventeen minutes and enjoy the incredible variety of these musical excerpts...and the deep sincerity of each artist's message."

Coal Lobbyist Jeff Holmstead: Stuck in the Elevator with Greenpeace—by cgibosn: "If you're a coal lobbyist like Jeff Holmstead, getting stuck in an elevator with Greenpeace activists is an inconvenient occupational hazard. It's worse if you can't catch a cab during an uncomfortable conversation about your work to attack pollution laws. See this K Street confrontation for yourself: Link."

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