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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 Spotlight can be seen here. [Please note that the lack of a Wednesday Spotlight this week was a one-time schedule change.] So far, more than 19,090 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.
The Daily Bucket - The State of (the) Grapes—by enhydra lutris: "On August 16th I discovered that some of the pinot noir grapes in Sonoma conty were already being harvested. This seemed early to me and the one winemaker I talked to about it said, in essence: 'it is what it is, they're ready when they're ready and it varies from year to year.' I know it is well before normal 'end of crush' parties, so I decided to do some 'research' on the matter. Veraison is when grapes begin to visibly start to ripen. This happened at least a couple of weeks back with my cabernet sauvignon vine, which also has unusually large grapes this year. I noted it and reported it here on 08/03/14. Of curse, it may have happened as much as a week before that—I don't check them that often. According to one source Sonoma County harvest usually begins in August with the light-skinned grapes and ends in late September or October with the dark-skinned grapes. Another source states that harvest generally begins in mid-August for grapes used in sparkling wine, while Labor Day is typically the start of harvesting grapes for still wine."
green dots
Railroad ‘Bomb Trains’: Speeding to Disaster—by brasch: "Railroad derailments in the United States last year accounted for more than one million gallons of spilled oil, more than all spills in the 40 years since the federal government began collecting data. The oil pollutes the ground and streams; the fires and explosions pollute the air. Most of the derailments threatened public safety and led to evacuation of residential areas. One derailment led to the deaths of 47 persons, the destruction of a business district, and an estimated $2 billion for long-term pollution clean-up and rebuilding of homes and businesses. Three derailments, including one in a residential area of Philadelphia, occurred this past year in Pennsylvania. The derailment and explosions of 'bomb trains' became so severe that in May the Department of Transportation declared the movement by trains of crude oil from North Dakota derived by the process known as fracking posed an 'imminent hazard.' The federal government wants to reduce the speed limit for those trains carrying highly toxic and explosive crude oil."
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450,000 Solar Panels Closer To The ALT-E Threshold.—by pollwatcher: "Last week in Pueblo Colorado, the county commission gave its final approval to the Comanche Solar Project The largest solar project east of the Rockies. Comanche Solar project will supply 120 megawatts of solar generation to Xcel Energy ... The Comanche Solar project will ultimately be comprised of more than 450,000 mono-crystalline PV modules utilizing a single-axis tracking technology. The tracking technology will follow the sun as it rises in the east and sets in the west, producing power during Xcel Energy’s peak demand periods and generally providing a nice match to daily summer air conditioning loads. [...] Let me give you a quick background for those who've never run across one of my ALT-E threshold diaries. I am of the belief that the only way we're going to stop fossil fuel caused Global Warming, and save a future for our kids, is if we can get Alternative non-fossil fuel energy sources cheaper than fossil fuels. Trying to stop every pipeline, every fracked well, every deep ocean rig, every coal mine... around the world, is a morally admirable thing to be doing, but IMHO, it really isn't going to put a dent in the problem.  But once Solar/wind, and many other ALT-E sources become cheaper than fossil fuels, there will be a tidal wave switch away from fossil fuels."
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People’s Climate March swells to global mobilisation for action—by TierneySmith: "Large marches and rallies in Delhi, Jakarta, London, Rio de Janeiro, and Berlin will ensure world leaders heading to the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in September will be met with the largest mobilisation on climate change in history. Coinciding with the People’s Climate March in New York City—which will see hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of the city—the People’s Climate Mobilisation will provide a global call to action for governments around the world. Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org said: People from across the planet will be making sure that leaders gathered in New York know the demand for action comes from every corner. This is the first truly global problem, and it has spawned the first truly global movement. The UN summit will be one of the last chances for world leaders to come together and spark international progress before it becomes too late to avoid catastrophic climate impacts."

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

Climate Chaos

People's Climate March Blogathon

Climate March: Bill McKibben Chimes in From Boston—by Bill McKibben via boatsie: "I’m backstage at the very grand Boston Opera House, where we’re holding a pre-rally tonight to get people charged up for the People’s Climate March. It’s a great evening, as wonderfully diverse as this march is going to be: Sandra Steingraber, the soul of the anti-fracking movement, and Varshini Prakash, a leader in the national divestment movement; two top labor organizers in Bruce Hamilton and Joe Uehlein; Kalila Barnett, a veteran Boston environmental justice organizer, and the Rev. Fred Small (who has his guitar slung over his shoulder); John Kassel who runs the Conservation Law Foundation and Vanessa Rule, co-founder of Mothers Out Front. And to close the evening Ananda Lee Tan, dynamic fountainhead of every kind of climate justice activism. But the real joy is the people in the audience. They’re representatives of the thousands upon thousands that are going to be in the streets of New York. I’ve got no doubt now that this will be the largest demonstration about climate change in the planet’s history. I’ve also got no doubt that by itself it won’t solve the problem."

Join Naomi Klein Chat Today on Climate March—by boatsie: "Join 350.org's  Naomi Klein  in a video chat today to launch the one month countdown to the People's Climate March. The campaign kicks off Thursday with a 48 hour 'PCM Recruitment Storm.' Klein will be joined by other guests who are focusing on climate justice from faith, student and artistic perspectives. (Register for the chat here.) The chat begins at 6:30 PM ET(Click here for viewing link) and will provide participants with details about the campaign and the most effective ways you can become involved. The goal for the 48 hour Recruitment Storm is to register 10,000 people to join the  Sunday, September 21 march, which takes place just two days before the UN Climate Summit."

Longest Climate March to Meet Largest Climate Demonstration—by boatsie: "Here comes the Great March for Climate Action! Since March 1 we have been making our way from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., and it wasn’t long after the People’s Climate March was announced that we knew we had to be there. We will pause this longest climate march in history near the Indiana-Ohio boarder on September 18, and board a bus to get to New York City to meet the largest climate march in history. There are several dozen of us, expressing our commitment to action by taking time out of our lives to march across the country, from the refineries of Wilmington in Los Angeles to the halls of power in Washington, D.C. [...]
What will it take to reach a tipping point so that a critical mass of humanity is rising to the true scale of the climate crisis, and it is an ongoing part of national and international dialogue and action? We’re excited to come to the September 21 march because we expect it will play a part in getting to that tipping point, and provide the opportunity to take part in more conversations and organizing with many of the other dedicated and experienced people and groups who are working toward this goal."
350: 10 reasons to sign up for the People’s Climate March now (not later)—by boatsie: "10. Signing up now is exponentially better than later. When you sign up, it makes it that much easier for your neighbor to join you. And once they join, they’ll need time to convince their partner and kids. And once the kids are coming, their friends will want to join, but need to convince their parents. And so on. If we had all the time in the world, making this a huge march would be easy. But we don’t: we have one month, and we need everyone soon. 9. So that we can reserve enough buses. There will be buses heading to the march from all over the country — but you can’t rent a bus at the last minute. If you sign up now, it will be possible to get enough buses for everyone who wants one. (Yes, the rumors are true: there will be buses from Vermont powered by Ben and Jerry’s.) 8. Because what you see above is still happening. And it’s not slowing down."

People's Climate March: I March for 2050 Kids—by boatsie: "And so we begin. The first of a 48 hour People's Climate March Storm, tasked with inspiring 10,000 to RSVP to participate in New York City's September 2lst march. And while the logistics of the campaign have been expertly and creatively organized to make participation simple (a relatively carbon-friendly transportation network of buses, trains, ride shares at numerous destinations in most every state, Amtrack discounts, and Big Apple housing in churches, dorms, people's homes), I've been ruminating over  what might instrinsicly motivate thousands upon thousands to travel thousands of miles for a few hour march in the Big Apple."

Climate: "What then must we do?"—by Agathena: "The title is from "What Then Must We Do?" Tolstoy's 1886 book. It was used in Peter Weir's film The Year of Living Dangerously by the character Billy Kwan. It's also the title of the book I am reading "What Then Must We do?: Straight Talk about the next American Revolution" by Gar Alperovitz. The question really is, now that we know what is wrong, what is killing the planet and putting living creatures on a path towards extinction, what are we going to do about? We need to take action. Historically, marches and demonstrations have worked, even in dictatorships, because they make governments and policy-makers pay attention. The Climate March will inform them that this issue of Climate Change/Global Warming is very important to us."

Don't be fooled by pause in global warming caused by 30 year cycle in ocean currents warn scientists—by HoundDog: "An apparent slowdown in global warming caused by a 30 year ocean cycle could lull people into a misperception that global warming has paused when it has not, reports Math McGrath of the BBC. During his phase of the cycle heat is being pulled deep into the Atlantic Ocean. This phase could last another 10 years which, if this theory is true will be followed by another 30 year period where stored up heat is disgorged back into the atmosphere adding together with the longer term global warming causing global warming to increase at a much faster rate. Scientists have struggled to explain the so-called pause that began in 1999, despite ever increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. ... The researchers says this slow-moving current could continue to divert heat into the deep seas for another decade. However, they caution that global temperatures are likely to increase rapidly when the cycle flips to a warmer phase."

Procrastination: 8/21: People's Climate March—by LaFeminista: "There are two ways in a democracy to change things, one is in the voting boothe the other is by demonstration of will i.e. get out of the house and demand change happens now. At the moment voting and thereby the production of legislation is benefiting both denial and procrastination for the many reasons we all know, but mainly for short term profit. Some believe it will only change when things get bad enough that they have to, shame the planet doesn't have an on/off switch but has an immensely large turning circle. It has taken many years to get where we are at the moment and will take many years even to just halt climate change let alone reverse it. So my advice is if you want to change something, show you mean business, get out and tell them 'face to face' as it were."

Raga Against The Machine — Why I'll Be At People's Climate March 9/21—by WarrenS: "As a stay-at-home homeschooling dad with a daughter, a puppy, and a full schedule of music students, I don' t get out to social and political demonstrations much anymore. But it turns out that I'm going to be in New York on September 21, and furthermore, the how and the why of my presence there are tightly intertwined ... in a way that's interesting and revealing."

Kitchen Table Kibitzing 8/21: People's Climate March—by remembrance: "A new group was recently formed on Daily Kos, UN Climate Summit. This group acts as a home base for articles promoting the People's Climate March, the UN Climate Summit and the September 19-23 blogathon. boatsie is tirelessly working to promote a Recruitment Storm to register and invite friends to participate in the historic People's Climate March on September 21. The march is being held 2 days before the Climate Change Summit, where government and corporate leaders will convene to discuss action to address climate change. Tens of thousands are expected to march in NYC."

March on UN Climate Summit -- September 21—by rb137: "The US has been a primary source for the quicksand prior climate talks have encountered. They are slow realize their effect on the climate, and slower to make real commitments to changing their contribution to greenhouse gas emission.That said, the tone is changing, and US government officials are listening. The thing is that making a decision that something has to be done is quite a distance from making a decision to do something. And that is some distance away from actually doing. The US appears to be somewhere between those first two steps.That is why the head count at this march is so important. Climate is not a kooky fringe issue anymore. Everyone needs water. The folks in Washington understand that..."

Why We March: There is no Away, There are no Others—by James Wells: "Much of the discussion on climate in the past few years can be boiled to penetrating the fog of denial with one realization: There is no 'Away.' Long-standing human habit has been to send unwanted material away - down the stream and away from you (even if upstream of someone else), away into the unimaginably vast ocean, or away into the boundless atmosphere. The simple weekly ritual of putting the garbage at the edge of the road, where some person you have never met takes it away never to be see again, symbolizes the level of thought, or not, that most people put into the question of where it all goes.The ocean is filling with pollutants and debris, to a level than can be seen at every seashore and cannot be denied. Our atmosphere is steadily increasing in it's level of Carbon Dioxide, and our climate is changing. Yes, it really is possible for us humans to fill up the bin of our entire planet, and there is no curb to take it out to.Now, a more complex and ultimately more dangerous issue looms - the question of the Others."

Join the People's Climate March in NYC - All About CARBON -—by mimi: "Now, that this is out of the way, I should write about the tough part and convince you to participate in the People's Climate March. I let others speak. They are so much more persuasive and knowledgeable. Just follow me, watch and listen."

We're going all out for the People's Climate March—by nirsnet: "Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS)–and some 800 other organizations–are going all out this weekend to build support for the September 21, 2014 People’s Climate March in New York City. It’s a coordinated effort, so don’t be surprised if you see multiple March appeals in your inbox, on your Facebook page, in your Twitter feed, and maybe even flyers at your local coffee shop. This holds promise of being a historic, transformative occasion: one of those rare events that can literally upend the political landscape, much like the 1963 March on Washington did for civil rights; the November 1969 March on Washington did against the Vietnam War; and the 1982 New York City march for a nuclear freeze that a few years later led to the first serious nuclear arms reductions ever. But it will only be that kind of game-changing, rule-changing event if we all participate; if we all make a commitment to be there if at all possible, and to support the event if we can’t. From NIRS’ perspective, we fully expect this to be the largest Climate March in history. We also believe it can be the largest anti-nuclear power outpouring in decades–but that depends on you."

Climate: Desperately seeking transformation—by One Pissed Off Liberal: "Ignorance may be a choice or a not so surprising consequence of the daily struggle to make it, but the confusion is premeditated, imposed, orchestrated. The distractions are intentional. Monied interests go to great lengths to make it impossible for anyone not in on the heist to know what the hell is going on. Billions if not trillions are spent annually to deliberately confuse, divide and baffle the populace. Many people in our benighted society make a fabulous living off of their capacity for high caliber bullshit. Lies are concocted in corporate board rooms and sent out over the air waves and the backbone via the massively dominant mainstream media and associated propaganda organs. They execute coordinated programs of the vilest sorts of lies parading as news and commentary, fiendishly manipulating the public mind, pushing us all into a corner and usurping our power. Ordinary people are drowning in a sea of manufactured bullshit. The average citizen can perhaps be forgiven for not knowing up from down. Or at least they could be if the consequences were not so dire for all of us."

••• •• •••

World's largest icesheets melting at fastest rate ever recorded - twice as fast as five years ago!—by HoundDog: "Record decline of ice sheets: For the first time scientists map elevation changes of Greenlandic and Antarctic glaciers This doesn't look good. What is that expression?  'This is not going to turn out well.' Researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), have for the first time extensively mapped Greenland’s and Antarctica’s ice sheets with the help of the ESA satellite CryoSat-2 and have thus been able to prove that the ice crusts of both regions momentarily decline at an unprecedented rate. In total the ice sheets are losing around 500 cubic kilometres of ice per year. This ice mass corresponds to a layer that is about 600 metres thick and would stretch out over the entire metropolitan area of Hamburg, Germany's second largest city. The maps and results of this study are published today in The Cryosphere, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU). [...] The team derived the elevation change maps using over 200 million SIRAL data points for Antarctica and around 14.3 million data points for Greenland. The results reveal that Greenland alone is reducing in volume by about 375 cubic kilometres per year. 'When we compare the current data with those from the ICESat satellite from the year 2009, the volume loss in Greenland has doubled since then. The loss of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has in the same time span increased by a factor of 3. Combined the two ice sheets are thinning at a rate of 500 cubic kilometres per year. That is the highest speed observed since altimetry satellite records began about 20 years ago,' says AWI glaciologist Prof. Dr. Angelika Humbert, another of the study’s authors."

Deniers aim to entertain—by ClimateDenierRoundup: "Marc Morano gave an interview to the Sun News in Canada where he plugs his latest CFACT project, a documentary called, 'Climate Hustle.' CFACT is the 501c(3) group responsible for Climate Depot and is one of the longest-running anti-environmental groups, founded in 1985. Ever the hustler, in the interview Morano gets excited, cracks jokes, imitates Muhammad Ali and admits the main goal of the film isn't to educate. Apparently proud of this fact, it's one of the few things Morano chose to republish in a post at Climate Depot: 'We are shooing [sic] for entertainment value first as our goal and education as number two.' We can't help but wonder how the IRS feels about a tax exempt 501c(3) focusing on entertainment. Perhaps the hustle is going the other way, especially given that CFACT's idea of 'education' includes calling Heartland's foundering annual climate denial conference 'a joyous celebration of climate realism.'"

Terraforming Mars instead of fighting climate change—by ClimateDenierRoundup: "Over the Internet, sometimes it's hard to tell if someone is being serious or silly. The latest example is from Andrew Lilico at The Telegraph, who claims we can terraform Mars for the same price as mitigating climate change and that it'd be better to terraform Mars. According to Lilico, it would only take 100 years to create an atmosphere on Mars, and from there only another 200 to 600 years to develop the microbes and algae. So 'in a century that red dot in the night sky could be transformed into a blue dot, and a couple of centuries later into a green dot.' Lilico then goes on—in an apparent effort to convince his readers that the Earth is not worth saving—to lament the decay of Western culture into 'decadent pleasures' after reaching the Moon in 1969. He ends by asking who would choose to prevent 2-3 degrees of warming over the next 150 years instead of making Mars habitable for algae and bacteria over the same time. The answer, obviously, is anyone who values human life above algae and bacteria."

New paper refines cause of (faux) pause—by ClimateDenierRoundup: "A new paper in Nature Geoscience looks at the potential causes of the recent slowdown in global mean surface warming and identifies factors that, when combined, reconcile the long-term climate model projections with the observed short-term weather trends. The El Niño/Southern Oscillation is responsible for a cooling trend of about –0.06°C, while aerosols and reduced solar irradiance cause a slightly bigger drop of –0.07°C. What this means, the abstract concludes, is that 'there is little evidence for a systematic overestimation of the temperature response to increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations in the CMIP5 ensemble.' In other words, once you account for observed natural variability, climate models are doing just fine."

The "answer" to my letter on Global Warming—by don mikulecky: "Last week I sent a letter to our local weekly paper: My letter to the editor  This week there was an "answer" from a denier:Creating a ‘State of Fear’ about climate change I find the very idea that facts create a 'state of fear' rather amusing since the public is not nearly afraid enough by any measure out there. This writer reflects the way deniers operate in these situations. The sarcasm and cuteness angle is supposed to replace or refute facts. Look at these examples: O.K., so exactly what would Dr. Mikulecky and the others have us do? Strangle our economy and way of life in a futile effort to halt what is happening naturally? Would returning our nation to the pre-industrial era solve the problem? It mostly worked for 11 million of us then; not likely today. Possibly the consequences of the reality he denies are not as bad as his hypothetical straw man solution?"

How to Solve Global Warming—by Mokurai: "When I wrote about Global Warming only a year and a half ago in Global Warming: What Can I Do?, the task at hand was information and organization, and relatively small individual actions such as more efficient lighting, rooftop solar panels, insulation, and hybrid cars. We had not reached the tipping point that we call Grid Parity—renewables cheaper than fossil carbon—and the politics, the technology, and the markets were still looking rather unfavorable. But today all of the gloom and doom naysaying and handwringing, of the Left and Right both, on Global Warming turn out not to be the case. The people actually working in the technology and markets are doing every part of it, from R&D to installing wind and solar while retiring coal-fired power plants, at accelerating rates. Politics, denialism, and ignorance can no longer prevent the solutions, only delay them, because we are at Grid Parity in most of the world. The markets have spoken, as they often do when real money is at stake. So have financial advisers such as Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg, and almost the entire financial press except the Wall Street Journal editorial pages."

"Peru is experiencing many of the effects of global warming before the rest of the world."—by jencke: "Peru has 71 percent of the world’s tropical glaciers. Glaciers and ice caps in the Andes are shrinking rapidly—in the past three decades, Peru’s glaciers have shrunk by 22 percent—which means that Peru’s water security is at risk. The effect is widespread, with ice in retreat from the tropical Andes to the sub-tropical Andes [16]. This is ancient ice that hasn't melted for many thousands of years, so it's remarkable that all of the ice is going away in just a few decades."

Good bye, glaciers—by VL Baker: "It's happening faster than we could have imagined and yet the evidence was right before us all the time. The Earth Poles are the fastest warming areas of our planet and both North and South Poles are showing unprecedented rapid warming and melting. The conclusion of a new study published in Science Express journal shows that most melting of glaciers is caused by humans. While just 25 percent of the melt since the mid-19th century could be linked to human-induced warming—that fraction increased to 69 percent for the period from 1991 to 2010. The ongoing global glacier retreat is affecting human societies by causing sea-level rise, changing seasonal water availability, and increasing geohazards. Melting glaciers are an icon of anthropogenic climate change. However, glacier response times are typically decades or longer, which implies that the present-day glacier retreat is a mixed response to past and current natural climate variability and current anthropogenic forcing."

Extreme Weather & Other Natural Phenomena

Just To Let You All Know...—by rei: "... since it's gotten about zero coverage (it gets almost no hits on Google News).... It's a beautiful day here in Iceland. The weather is crisp. Clear skies over almost the whole country. Light breezes. Potential erupting globally-super-dangerous volcano. Chirping birds. The usual Oh, did I bury the lede that a globally-super-dangerous volcano might be getting ready to go off? Um, yeah, you might want to watch this one just in case... Bárðarbunga (BOWR-thar-Boon-kah, "Bárður's Bulge") is part of the same volcanic system, but is much larger than Laki. Barðárbunga stretches out over 200 kilometers long. It has a large eruption every 250-600 years. One of its eruptions before settlers arrived was 21-30 cubic kilometers of lava. Like her little brother Laki, she's associated with massive amounts of toxic gas release."

Bárðarbunga: rumble, rumble, rumble.... (volcano watch!)—by Rei: "It's eldfjallavakt time here at Daily Kos, as Iceland's extremely dangerous volcano Bárðarbunga keeps up its activity. Join me below the magma-colored squiggle for the latest news! (reminder: It's pronounced 'BOWR-thar-Boon-ka'. [...] 1. Is she still threatening to erupt? [...] The Icelandic Met office considers it likely that Bárðarbunga will go off. She currently has an orange indicator for aviation warning maps, the highest ranking possible without the volcano being in a state of eruption. Seismologists report that their GPS meters show continual uplift and that all signs show the magma is on the move. There is no indication that quake activity is on the decline. 2. Does that mean that she absolutely will erupt? No. It's quite possible that the magma could stop moving and she could calm down again. We don't know right now."

10% Of Iceland Is Now A Prohibited Area—by Rei: "This is part three of Eldfjallavakt, where we've been monitoring the serious situation in Iceland's largest volcanic system, Bárðarbunga. Picture the flow rate of a large (150-200 m³s) river—say, 3x the rate of the Thames at London, or 1/3rd the rate of the Hudson at New York City. Now picture it comprised of an explosive variety of very gassy magma, 5-10 kilometers underground. Now picture that it has nowhere to go, yet it's still flowing at that rate via plowing through solid rock by creating an earthquake every two minutes. And picture that it's doing this before having any sort of pressure release to help the process along. On a rift system that's caused regular eruptions that have released so much gas and altered the climate so much that they've frozen the Mississippi River at New Orleans and the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq. This is what's currently going on under Bárðarbunga, and is why we're watching it."

Strong Quake Strikes In Bárðarbunga's Caldera As Earthquake Swarm Continues—by Rei: "Another day, another eldfjallavakt, part of our ongoing series keeping up with the serious situation inside Iceland's largest active volcano, Bárðarbunga. The big news for the day is quite simple: the pattern has changed, and it's sending the system ringing. Volcanic earthquakes, as a general rule, don't get as large as tectonic quakes. The largest volcanic quake ever recorded in the cascades, for example, was a 5.5. Normally the maximum ranges from 4.5 to 5.5. So the fact that Bárðarbunga just experienced a 4.8 right on its caldera rim is no small matter. Needless to say, it's the strongest quake of this whole episode. Had this been even a lone quake it'd still be significant. But it's not. In the past 16 hours, a series of strong quakes has kept occurring."

Another study finds a strong link between Extreme Weather and Global Warming—by Lefty Coaster: "I think its worh noting that the Weather Network is the source for this article about a new study that establishes a strong link between an increase in extreme weather events and Global Warming. [...] Lately, global warming has been implicated in the fact that we're seeing more of these extreme patterns in the jet stream, largely due to the unprecedented warming that's been seen in the Arctic in recent years. This is due to a process called Arctic Amplification, where less sea ice in the Arctic Ocean to reflect sunlight back into space means more heat being absorbed into the ocean waters. This not only melts more ice, causing something of a cascade effect, but it also means that it takes longer for the Arctic to cool down in the winter, so there's even more open ocean for longer."

Bárðarbunga: Eruption!—by Rei: "They just interrupted a concert to announce that a lava eruption has begun under Dyngjujökull. It´s typical for volcanoes in this system to begin with small lava eruptions, and especially under the glacier, as it has to break through first before there can be an ash plume. No sign yet of a breakthrough, there's 150-400 meters of ice over it. The location not far from the edge of the glacier should hopefully limit the size of the jökulhlaup (volcanic glacial outburst flood), although it's still a major risk to all three bridges connecting northeast Iceland with north Iceland. Scientists are en route."

Code Red: Bárðarbunga Volcano Erupts—by FishOutofWater: "Bárðarbunga volcano has started erupting quietly under southeast Iceland's icecap but experts have issued a code red warning to aviation because the eruption could quickly turn from small and quiet to large and violent. As the pressure drops in rising wet magma stored under pressure at depth gas bubbles can form rapidly leading to explosive decompression. About 85% of Iceland's eruptions turn violent so the peaceful start of the eruption does not mean the eruption will stay peaceful."

Energy & Conservation

Initial Survey of Fukushima Children Finds No Detectable Internal 137-Cesium—by MarineChemist: "The purpose of this diary is to bring to the attention of interested readers a recent peer-reviewed, open-access study published in the Journal or Radiological Protection.  The investigators describe the design and manufacture of a whole body sensor whose purpose is the detection of 137-Cs (half-life ~30 years) in children who were proximate to radionuclide releases after the triple meltdowns at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant which began in March 2011.  The detector in question (called BABYSCAN) is demonstrated to have a detection limit of better than 50 Bq/body and has been installed in a hospital in Fukushima. Because children are most vulnerable to the impacts of ionizing radiation, 100 Fukushima children were scanned for the presence of 137-Cs and none were found to have detectable levels of the isotope in their bodies. Larger scale measurements of the population will be reported as the long term impacts of low levels of ionizing radiation present owing to the Fukushima disaster warrant further study."

So much radiation still pulses inside the crippled reactor cores that no one has been able to get cl—by Drewid: "But it is no big deal, they are gonna build a giant frozen ground damn or some thing. ...failed in an attempt to create an ice wall in a section of an underground tunnel connected to a damaged reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 power station to block the escape of high-level radioactive water."

U.S. and Japanese Scientists Report Genetic Abnormalities from Fukushima—by ypochris: "A number of studies in the respected Oxford journal Journal of Heredity report that the Fukushima nuclear disaster has caused genetic damage and population decline in a wide array of plants and animals around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants, which suffered a triple meltdown in March of 2011. One study compared abnormalities found near the Fukushima plants to abnormalities found near Chernobyl. For example, partially albino barn swallows have been found in both locations after their respective nuclear disasters. The author states that wild animal studies have demonstrated significant genetic, physiological, developmental, and fitness effects stemming from exposure to radioactive contaminants.[...] It is presumed that most of these effects have an underlying genetic basis although in some cases, direct toxicity cannot be ruled out. Genetic damage is, of course, more troubling, as these effects may be permanent. The author notes that, similar to Chernobyl, half as many species and a third the total number of birds were found in highly contaminated areas."

Renewables

38% of Spain's electricity demand in July met with solar and wind energy—by HoundDog: "Mridul Chadha of Cleantechnica reports that 38% Of Spain’s July Electricity Demand Was Met By Wind and Solar Power. Low carbon electrical sources supplied 55% of Spains electricity consumption. in the last month. 30% of total electricity was generated by wind. Nuclear accounted or 18% of production.Solar account for 4%. Do we have any readers other than myself who are old enough to remember the condescending and even mean discussion of long ago where the nuclear advocates will sneer at solar and wind, saying they could now become a major player? Is it wrong that I smile every time I read a report like this where solar or wind produce substantially more electricity for a country than nuclear power?"

Scientists discover that solar powered porous volumetric nanofluids produce steam at low temperature—by HoundDog: "A team of scientists from MIT have published an article in Nature Communications, entitled Solar steam generation by heat localization, that may open up new opportunities for inexpensive small scale, low temperature production of steam. Holy smokes folks, (or at least moister laden aerosols), hold on to your shorts and sit down because this development is more than just a lot of hot air! The scientific abstract in Nature is dense so lets start with Sebastian Anthony reporting in Extreme Tech that MIT creates graphite ‘solar sponge’ that converts sunlight into steam with 85% efficiency. MIT is reporting that it has created a new, cheap material—using a microwave, no less—that converts sunlight into steam with an amazing 85% efficiency. This could have major repercussions in the realms of desalination and sterilization, and perhaps for concentrated solar thermal power generation as well."

Sunday Train: The Two Transitions to A Renewable Electricity Supply—by BruceMcF: "The topic for this week's Sunday Train was brought to my mind when I listened to the Energy Gang podcast. They were discussing the question of whether 'CSP (that is, concentrated thermal solar power) is dead,' and the always entertaining, but not uniformly informative, 'energy futurist' Jigar Shah declared that "CSP is dead" (segment starts 30:29), backing the claim up with a set of bullet points that fell far short of supporting the claim. And listening to the set of bullet points, it seemed to me that he was talking in the context of the phase of the transition to renewable energy that we are presently in, and ignoring the phase of the transition that we will have to pass through if we are to survive as a national economy and national economy. In short, he seemed to be talking more as an energy presentist than an energy futurist, claiming that there was no plausible position for solar CSP power based on both the technology currently rolled out for a technology that is experiencing rapid development, and on context of renewable energy being added to an energy system which is untenable over the long term. But I do not mean to single out Jigar Shah, since as I have recently been exploring various discussion spaces talking about various issues in the roll-out of renewable energy, cross-talk between the different phases of the transition to renewable energy seems to be commonplace. So what I wish to write about this Sunday afternoon is the 'Two Transitions" to renewable energy: the Current Transition and the Next Transition.'"

Connecting to the grid just got easier for renewables—by VL Baker: "Major court ruling clears the way to let renewables into the grid. This is what we've been waiting for. Doesn't matter how much solar or wind energy is created if it can't transmit that energy where it's needed. Ari Phillips at Think Progress/climate brings the much anticipated news. [...] FERC Order 1000, as the order is known, makes a number of changes to how electricity transmission will be considered in the future. It requires grid investments that affect multiple states and utility jurisdictions to be coordinated—rather than the former system which allowed individual state regulators and utilities to opt in or out of regional efforts. It provides guidance on how to pay for expensive transmission projects and makes the process more flexible to help facilitate growth, especially for renewable efforts. It also eliminates utilities’ first right of refusal, which allowed incumbent utilities to decide first it they wanted to build transmission projects. This will help level the playing field for independent transmission projects. Perhaps most significantly, Order 1000 demands transmission plans account for state-level policies on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing renewable energy production. Currently around 20 states have Renewable Energy Portfolios operating to achieve these goals."

New transparent solar panels point to a day when we can harvest energy from windows too—by HoundDog: "Will Alexander of Motherboard brings us the fun news of an improvement in thin film solar panels that makes them transparent in the visible part of the EMF spectrum, but able to convert photons to electrons in  parts of the rest of the light spectrum. In, With Transparent Solar Panels, Windows Could Harvest Energy Too, Alexander notes that while these new transparent thin-film solar collectors are only 1% efficient, researchers hope they can achieve 5% efficiency. Current solar PVC typically range from 15% to 25% with some new technologies, yet to be offered economically in high production even higher. But under the 'smoke em if you got em' philosophy researcher asks 'why not pick up every bit of energy we can, from every surface available in large urban areas?'"

Fracking

The Frackonomics Bubble and Evil Environmentalists—by gjohnsit: "The fracking industry is looking more and more like a typical economic bubble. Based on data compiled from quarterly reports, for the year ending March 31, 2014, cash from operations for 127 major oil and natural gas companies totaled $568 billion, and major uses of cash totaled $677 billion, a difference of almost $110 billion. [...] Oil and gas fracking companies went out and sold $73 Billion in assets to partly fill that gap, which pleased analysts, but also left them with more debt and fewer ways to pay for it. Of course the EIA was quick to dismiss the debt spiral of fracking companies: that piling on debt 'to fuel growth is a typical strategy, particularly among smaller producers.' And besides, this ballooning debt would be 'met with increased production, generating more revenue to service future debt payments.' The obvious problem with this statement is the nature of fracking—there win't be 'increased production' coming."

"Get the FRACK out of Washington Co., Virginia!"—by Iechyd Da: "In Abingdon, Virginia, last week, 75 people picketed their Bd. of Supervisors for throwing out two years of Washington County Planning Commission work crafting an ordinance to protect landowners and citizens from damages from gas drilling and hydrologic fracturing. And there's these stories about a two-hour anti-fracking protest at the main intersection in Abingdon (pop. 8000) last weekend. At a recent hearing by the state regulatory body, Div. of Mines Minerals and Energy—a promotional outfit for energy companies—a regulatory panel member said 'There are no aquifers in Appalachian Virginia!' Damn, where does the water come from when we drill a well? Now, the Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, has requested differential state regulation (less regulation) for Appalachian aquifers from those in Tidewater Virginia. OUCH! Once again Appalachian communities are left without state protection from extractive industry."

Keystone XL & Other Fossil Fuel Transportation

Big Rail Cites Bin Laden, Al Qaeda to Fight Oil-by-Rail Route Transparency—by Steve Horn and Justin Mikulka: "While many states around the U.S. have released information to the public about the frequency and routes of trains carrying oil obtained from hydraulic fracturing ('fracking') in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin, holdouts still remain. Why the delay? Homeland security concerns, claim some companies. In an ongoing Maryland court case over the issue of transparency for in-state oil-by-rail routes, a July 23 affidavit from Carl E. Carbaugh—director of infrastructure security for Norfolk Southern—goes into extensive detail about the supposed risk presented by terrorism attacks on 'Bomb Trains.' In so doing, Carbaugh mentions Al-Qaeda."

Court: Key Environmental Law Doesn't Apply to Part of Enbridge Keystone XL "Clone"—by Steve Horn: "A U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that Enbridge’s 600-mile-long Flanagan South Pipeline, a Keystone XL 'clone,' is legally cleared to proceed opening for business in October. Approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers via a controversial regulatory mechanism called Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12), Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson, an Obama-appointed judge, ruled NWP 12 was not a federal government 'action.' Thus, Brown posited that Enbridge did not need to use the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulatory process and NWP12 was up to snuff. The case pitted the Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) against the Army Corps of Engineers and Enbridge and has lasted for just over a year [...]"

Investor Call: Enbridge's Keystone XL Clone Opens in October, Rail Facility to Follow—by Steve Horn: "In a recent quarter two call for investors, Enbridge Inc executives said the company’s 'Keystone XL' clone — the combination of the Flanagan South and Seaway Twin pipelines—will open for business by October. As previously reported by DeSmogBlog, Enbridge has committed a “silent coup” of sorts, ushering in its own Alberta to Port Arthur, Texas pipeline system “clone” of TransCanada‘s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Unlike Keystone XL‘s northern leg, however, Enbridge has done so with little debate. With the combination of the Alberta Clipper (now called Line 67, currently up for expansion), Flanagan South and Seaway Twin pipelines, Enbridge will soon do what TransCanada has done via its Keystone Pipeline System. That is, bring Alberta’s tar sands to Gulf of Mexico refineries and send it off to the global export market."

Oregon Refused Coal Export Facility - Vancouver Port Will Ship It Instead—by Th0rn: "In our globalized world trade system, if the environment destroyers are stopped from doing bad things in one place, they can always find another place that's willing to do their dirty work. Days after Oregon refused permission for a coal export facility, the Port of Vancouver, in BC, has agreed to do the dirty deed instead: Port Metro Vancouver has approved a controversial $15-million coal-loading facility at Fraser Surrey Docks despite concerns for human health and the environment. They claim there will be no significant adverse environmental or health effects. But of course they never consulted public health experts while drawing up the plan."

After Oregon Rejects Coal Export Plan, Long Beach Votes to Export Coal and PetKoch—by Steve Horn: "Just a day after the Oregon Department of State Lands shot down a proposal to export 8.8 million tons per year of coal to Asia from the Port of Morrow in Boardman, Oregon, the Long Beach City Council achieved the opposite. In a 9-0 vote, the Council voted 'yay' to export both coal and petroleum coke (petcoke, a tar sands by-product) to the global market—namely Asia—out of Pier G to the tune of 1.7 million tons per year. Some have decried petcoke as 'dirtier than the dirtiest fuel.' More specifically, the Council determined that doing an environmental impact statement before shipping the coal and petcoke abroad was not even necessary."

Your life is worth more than a tank car of oil—by MattKrogh of ForestEthics: "Imagine learning your home or even your child's school could be incinerated by a train carrying highly flammable oil. For 25 million Americans this is a frightening daily reality. Last month—after a record year of oil trains derailing, spilling, and exploding across the country—President Obama proposed new regulations for unsafe tank cars. But shockingly, these new rules cater heavily to Big Oil, protecting industry profits while sacrificing public safety and the health of our air and water. This summer, thousands took a stand against dangerous oil by rail by attending rallies across the country and submitting more than 5,000 petition signatures. Now it's time for the next step in the fight as the Obama Aministration accepts public comments on these new regulations."

Oil train lines .—by indycam: "I wondered what railroads were hauling oil where so I grabbed an old copy of Trains Magazine, the March 2014 issue and had a look see."

Agriculture, Food & Gardening

The Daily Bucket-- Intruders in the Frog Mitigation Area—by 6412093: "It was a dark and stormy night. The gang of restless teenagers stole into the darkness, recklessly cutting through the neighbors' yards as fast as their skinny legs could carry them. Fences proved no obstacle to their dash, as they careened into a series of ponds, heedless of their impacts on the carefully arranged plantings. [...] Fortunately, I managed to take pictures of some of these headstrong intruders. [...] Yes, there are now two frogs in the Frog Mitigation Area, a 5 x 5 pond and 25 foot creek and waterfall I recently dug into my side yard.  About half a dozen small frogs all arrived the day after last week's sudden thunderstorms, which continued into Wednesday night and Thursday morning, presumably providing the cover for the 2-inch-long juvenile bullfrogs (not including legs) to move into my backyard. After a little too much wine, I'd left the pond pumps on all night, so they may have heard the running water on their trek from Rock Creek, a mile to the east."

Daily Bucket - Frog War!—by Attack Gardener: "Frogs are adorable when they first grow their legs and start hanging out where you can see them. They perch on the edge of rocks or on lily leaves, looking just as cute as a kitten. Makes you want to pick them up and snuggle them. As time goes on, they grow to their full size, becoming less cute but, perhaps, more interesting. Larger frogs will eat their younger brethren if they can catch them, a practical exercise in survival of the fittest. One thing you will almost certainly NOT end up with is just one frog. [...] Eventually, your ecosystem will reach an equilibrium of predators and prey, unless you have a really ambitious bullfrog. One of those can clear the remaining critters out of a small pond in short order. This one was truly mammoth and disappeared before we had a chance to relocate it to the river."

Sustainability & Extinction

Routes of Extinction—by bannock: "It's seldom that such a widespread species is consumed in such a short period of time. The combination of wealth creation in China and road development in Laos has created a perfect storm of exploitation for the Rosewood that comes from Indochina. [...] In my travels about Laos I often come upon convoys of trucks carrying large logs. When possible I ask the drivers where they are coming from, where they are headed, and what species of tree they are carrying. My queries have never upset anyone, despite a nationwide ban on raw timber exports the drivers are delivering perfectly legal logs with all of the correct stamps and papers. It's impossible to break the law if you are the government making the laws."

logging
Transportation & Infrastructure

Mexico initiates major high-speed rail project—by roberb7: "On August 16, Mexican Secretary of Communications and Transport (SCT) Gerardo Ruiz Esparza and Governor Jose Calzada Rovirosa of the State of Querétaro announced the tender for a high-speed passenger rail line between Mexico City and  Querétaro, a city of one million people 218 km. northwest of Mexico City. There are five or six potential bidders, and the bids are expected in four months. The cost of the project is estimated at $3.2 billion. The train will travel at 300 km/hour, making the travel time 58 minutes. The one-way fare is expected to be $24. Trains will run every 20 minutes during rush hour, every hour at other times. The project will generate 20,000 direct jobs. The service should be in operation in 2017; the first segment of the high-speed rail line in California probably won't carry its first passenger until 2022."

Pollution, Trash, Hazardous Waste & Regulation

EPA Proposes New Regulatory Changes on Oil Refineries in Response to Citizen-Enviro Litigation—by LakeSuperior: "President Obama's Administration is proposing important changes affecting environmental and public health protection around the nation's petroleum refineries. And this EPA news release from today discusses an EPA report to Congress showing that the Administration's actions are working at reducing emissions and threats to public health around the nation's petroleum refineries and other industrial facilities. This diary is to let Kossack-enviro-enforcers know about the notices out on public comment and to note some of the issues and players in the litigation and how important this particular kind of work is to progressive Democrats in carrying on the traditions of Senator Edmund Muskie and realizing the public trust, public health and environmental protection benefits of the Clean Air Act."

Mining

Just Say No to Big Mines in Headwaters of Salmon Rivers—by akmk: "A serious industry and regulatory failure resulted in a massive poison tailings spill from the Mt. Polly gold and silver mine in BC into the headwaters of the Fraser River watershed this past week. Fraser River salmon runs are significant and important to many: About 1.5 to 2 million sockeye salmon, from the great Fraser River fishery shared by the U.S. and Canada, are headed for spawning beds in the Quesnel Lake region of British Columbia this summer, where they will run into a major mine disaster. The Monday breach of a tailings dam at the Mount Polley mine has dumped millions of liters of mine waste, with islands of debris already floating in Quesnel Lake. The Mount Polley mine is in the Cariboo region of central British Columbia.  Already, regional authorities have told humans not to use water from Quesnel Lake, Caribou Creek and the entire Quesnel and Cariboo River systems down to the Fraser River.Damages may be permanent according to a Vancouver researcher."

Eco-Related Candidacies, DC & State Politics

Secrets, coal, and a parking lot: business-as-usual Mary Rose Wilcox in Arizona-07.—by RLMiller: "A story about a parking lot is really a story about dark money, secrets, and dirty coal. This, in a long read on Mary Rose Wilcox, is ugly. Wilcox increased her net worth through land deals, with at least one in 2003 involving an acre purchased from Arizona Public Service for hundreds of thousands of dollars below market value. She didn't disclose that transaction even as she voted as a county supervisor on APS-related projects. What is APS? The largest electric utility in Arizona and 27th largest coal energy producer in the United States has ownership interests in three huge coal-fired power plants: the Cholla Generating Station, the Four Corners Steam Plant, and the Navajo Generating Station. It's a corporate funder of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and sits on its energy, environment, and agriculture task force. APS is notorious for its attack on net metering solar energy, pouring $9 million—or $9 per ratepayer—into an effort to convince regulators that Arizona's precious sunshine is so rare that solar panel owners must pay to access it. Last year APS caught flak for secretly funding a Koch-backed group to run anti-solar ads, after initial denials, and this year it's widely believed to be the dark money behind two pro-coal candidates for the ACC (Arizona's public utilities commission)."

Yes, Arizona Republic, climate matters in Arizona.—by RLMiller: "Ruben Gallego, running in a heated primary in central Phoenix's AZ-07, tried to talk climate change with the paper of record in Phoenix: He recalled that during a recent meeting with the Arizona Republic's editorial board, he raised the issue of energy policy but was told the newspaper wasn't interested in discussing it. 'We have the Navajo Generating Station right there up north, we have Palo Verde [Nuclear Generating Station], one of the biggest nuclear power plants in the state, we have a lot of coal generated up at the Four Corners area, and the biggest newspaper didn't even want to have a conversation about that,' Gallego asserted. The editors' response? They call the race a battle of personalities. This is horserace journalism at its utter worst. Ed Pastor is retiring after two decades of quietly representing the district, and suddenly the primary is one of the hottest races in the state. Voters deserve to know the issues. The Arizona Republic hasn't covered the secret sweetheart deal between coal-funded Mary Rose Wilcox and shrouded-in-dark-money APS. Nor has it covered the electric utility contributions to Wilcox. After all, it's not like climate change matters to Phoenix voters Phoenix may not survive climate change."

Climate scientists school Rick Scott on climate change give him F grade—by VL Baker: "Top Florida climate scientists meet with Gov. Rick Scott hoping for some leadership from the governor whose state is ground zero to be most severely impacted by climate change and rising seas. The Miami Herald reports that what they got was silence and evasion. Scott initially announced that his staff would meet with the scientists but he agreed to personally meet with them only after former Gov. Charlie Crist, a Democratic candidate for governor and climate change believer, announced he would personally meet with the experts. 'This is not complicated,' said David Hastings, professor of marine science and chemistry at Eckerd College, before the meeting. “We teach this to 18-year-olds every year and I’ve been doing it for 25 years. It’s not hard science.' [...] But Scott and his aide sat silently as Hastings urged the governor’s office to 'develop a transparent process” to prepare the plan that “brings all the stakeholders together.' The easy solutions, Hastings said, are to reduce or eliminate coal-fired power plants, increase efficiency to wean the state off carbon-emitting natural gas and oil-fired power, and to develop more alternative energy options."

Big Oil has spent $63 million on lobbying in Sacramento since 2009—by Dan Bacher: "While there are many powerful industries based in California, ranging from the computer and high tech industry to corporate agribusiness, no industry has more influence over the state's environmental policies than Big Oil. An ongoing analysis of reports filed with the California Secretary of State shows that the oil industry, the largest and most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento, collectively spent $63,947,616 lobbying California policymakers between January 1, 2009 and June 30, 2014. The Western States Petroleum Association, led by President Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create so-called 'marine protected areas' in Southern California, topped the oil industry lobby spending with $26,969,861. 'The oil industry is spending over $1 million per month lobbying Sacramento, with the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) as the second overall leading spender so far in 2014 with almost $3 million spent in the past six months,' according to Stop Fooling California (http://www.stopfoolingca.org), an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies efforts to mislead and confuse Californians. 'Chevron, with $1.3 million spent so far in 2014, is also among the top five. If money speaks, Big Oil has the loudest voice in politics.'"

Oceans, Water & Drought

California's Water Management Problems Worse Than Previously Thought—by TheOrchid: "In the midst of a severe-to-exceptional drought, researchers at the University of California at Davis have found that California has allocated five times more surface water than the State has available. The state has allocated a total maximum allowable use of 370 million acre-feet of surface water— more than five times the 70 million acre-feet available in a year of good precipitation, according to the researchers’ review of active water rights on record. The analysis was published today (Aug. 19) in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The scientists said the California’s water-rights allocation system is complicated and backlogged, which contributes to the mismatched accounting. For example, people sometimes take water, apply retroactively for the right to use the water and continue taking it—sometimes for up to a decade—while their applications are pending. [...] Needless to say, this lack of acccountability makes it virtually impossible for the State to regulate water usage, exacerbating an already serious water shortage."

Western USA drought: 63 trillion gallons of groundwater lost, and the surface of the Earth is rising—by Laurence Lewis: "The ongoing drought in the western United States has caused so much loss of groundwater that the Earth, on average, has lifted up about 0.16 inches over the last 18 months, according to a new study. The situation was even worse in the snow-starved mountains of California, where the Earth rose up to 0.6 inches. Researchers from UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the U.S. Geological Survey estimated the groundwater loss from the start of 2013 to be 63 trillion gallons—the equivalent of flooding four inches of water across the United States west of the Rocky Mountains. Hundreds of GPS sensors installed around the western United States to detect seismic activity also can detect shifts in elevation. Loss of the weight of all that groundwater seems to have allowed the very crust of the planet to rise, with the greatest amount measured in the Coast and Sierra mountains."

Shocking photos: This is what drought looks like—by Jen Hayden: "California is in the midst of a severe" drought: In May, 100% of California was experiencing 'severe' drought—the third harshest on a five-level scale—but since things have leveled off, that figure has only improved to 99.8%, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor report. Meanwhile, nearly 82% of California continues to suffer 'extreme' drought, and within that area, more than half the state is under the driest 'exceptional' drought category. Californians have been feeling the effects of drought for quite some time, with officials ordering water restrictions and pleading for residents to conserve water in all ways possible. Hell, even the 'Ice Bucket Challenge' is viewed as controversial in California because it wastes water."

Bridge over Lake Oroville, CA
Ice Bucket Challenge? CALIFORNIA? Water? Drought? Precious Resource World Wide? WTF?—by Trouper: "Since Fresh Water is diminishing world wide,  AND WE ARE IN A DROUGHT IN CALIFORNIA…. Don't ALL OF YOU CALIFORNIANS THAT ARE PARTICIPATING in  this Ice Water Challenge, THINK,  it is just a little over the top concerning your human hubris and your need to fill your narcissism by filming the dumping of our most precious state resource over your heads at this moment in time, so you can be noticed by the media to feed your  enormous egos, by posting the video of your Ice water challenge on all your social networks? Can Californians wishing to support ALS do something different to raise money, PLEASE?"

At 76, Jerry Brown Proves the Value of Experience With Passage of Bipartisan California Water Bond—by Doctor Jazz: "Last Wednesday California Governor, Jerry Brown signed a measure to place a $7.5 billion water bond on the November ballot. This measure will replace an existing bond negotiated by then Governor Schwarzenegger in 2009 which, at over $11 billion was considered too costly and unlikely to pass. Assembly members voted 77-2 in favor of the measure and in the Senate, the margin was 37-0. [...] Water is California's life blood, and considering the worsening drought there just isn't enough to satisfy the thirst of such a large and diverse state. California produces almost half of the country's U.S. grown fruits and nuts and is the number one state in cash farm receipts. California's water problems are also the nation's problems. So this bipartisan result was a major victory for Brown, who, at 76 is not only the country's oldest governor, but the most experienced to boot."

Tribal Members rally in Sacramento to stop Klamath River fish kill—by Dan Bacher: "Over 200 Tribal members and their allies from the Trinity and Klamath river watersheds held a four-hour protest at the Bureau of Reclamation offices in Sacramento on Tuesday, August 19 to urge them to release more water from upriver dams to stop a massive fish kill. Members of the Yurok, Klamath and Karuk tribes, as well as leaders of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, displayed an array of signs and banners with slogans including 'Fish Need Water,'' 'Let The River Flow,' 'Give Us Our Water,' 'Save The Salmon,' 'Tribal Rights Are Non Negotiable,' 'Release The Dam Water,' 'Undam the Klamath—Free the Trinity,' 'Fish Can't Swim In Money,' and 'Westlands Sucks The Trinity Dry.' They demanded increased water releases, known as preventative flows, from Lewiston Dam into the Trinity River, the largest tributaryof the Klamath River, to prevent a fish kill from taking place in the currently warm and low water conditions. They also asked federal officials to release more water from Iron Gate Dam on the Klamath."

Critters & the Great Outdoors

Wildlife in the Lens: A Photo Diary and Camera Review—by Lenny Flank: "For a couple years now, I've been using a Nikon Coolpix L810 camera. It's a nice camera, but its focus is verrrrry slow, especially on moving subjects. So I decided to hunt around for a new camera, and after a while, decided on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70. This camera has a 60x optical zoom (the equivalent of a 20mm-1200mm lens) and focuses much more quickly than my old Coolpix. So here are some of the test shots I've done with the Lumix over the past few days ..."

Limpkin
Limpkin
Why I'm Marchin' September 21st- Climate Change, and Knowing Your Birds and Your Bees...—by The Poet Deploreate: "Need proof of climate change, for those mercurial conversations with the Fraternal Order of Bill McKibben-Nye-haters? Got it right here; you could look it up under the birds and the bees. Literally. For example, take my adopted home region. I love winter in New England. The cold weather, the snow swirling around the steeples. The winter birds. When the birds of summer also become the birds of winter, there is some serious juju going on. Serious. JuJu. Up until 1958, no Cardinals had been spotted nesting in Massachusetts, let alone sitting on pine branches when the snow really started flying around here. Cardinals are a non-migratory species- when you are bright red, it’s tough to stay hidden when the snow flies. Unless you offer them something to eat. That’s why in 1903, they were described in most Bird Guides as a southeastern species of birds. Stragglers, east of Binghampton. But they are ubiquitous in New England these days. Even in winter, the shrubs and trees, and feeders are crawling with Cardinals."
The Daily Bucket: When you have buckets of work to do—by Elizaveta: "My growing restlessness, which led to a late-night decision to leave early in the morning to go for a hike at Mt. Rainier—northeast corner of the park out of Sunrise [...] The wildflowers are waning, though there were still quite a few blooms amongst the seed heads, and I watched a couple of chipmunks gathering dry needles and leaves from the ground before they disappeared into the low-growing bush--signs of summer ending at Sunrise. I'll make one more trip here mid-September before the Park closes that entrance for the winter (winter means October at the Mountain). Maybe I'll have the veggie garden where I want it by then. Or not. As I said, I'm restless."

Dawn Chorus: Owl be seeing you soon—by lineatus: "Your eyes are probably drawn to the owl's eyes, or the alert 'ears,' but ignore this Great Horned Owl's giant talons at your peril. The "ears" aren't really ears, they're just tufts of feathers that create that appearance. I don't know why so many owls developed this look; perhaps it helps break up the appearance of their face and help them blend into the tree trunks where they perch. Maybe it gives them a cat-like appearance to warn other birds not to bother them while they're sleeping, but I think looking like an owl is probably sufficient to scare anything. More staring, more scary talons, but somehow the Long-eared Owl looks a little less dangerous. Maybe that's how owls' images get softened."

owl
Rescue Me - The Marine Mammal Center - Sausalito, CA—by Pam LaPier: "We rescue marine mammals for many different reasons, including malnourishment, separation, entanglements, and diseases, but nearly 10% of the animals we rescue have been impacted by human interaction and hazards like net and fishing line entanglements, gun shots, illegal pick-ups, and boat strikes—making their rescue all the more our responsibility. What we do is more than kind-hearted consideration for the well-being of other living creatures. We recognize the fundamental relationship that binds humans, animals, and the ocean. Covering more than 70% of our planet, the ocean is Earth's primary life-support system—and these animals are critical bellwethers of its health. By caring for them, we care for all of life."

The Daily Bucket: A Different Pollinator—by PHScott: "As I mentioned recently in comments in other buckets (or my own), a few of us more stalwart FTA members have been doing trail maintenance on the FL National Scenic Trail thru the Apalachicola National Forest. Altho the forest is criss-crossed with 'forest roads' (from graded sand & clay to you-really-don't-wanna-go-down-that-one), it is as remote as it gets in FL. Small creeks, seasonal ponds and wetlands, and thickets of Titi and Palmetto limit the passable areas. Anyways—we were somewhere between Bradwell Bay (not a real bay but it sure is wet) and Tate's Hell (the local story of the guy lost for days who was said to have a Tate's compass.) After getting Mike's truck pulled out of a soft spot on one of those secondary forest roads we should not have tried, we stopped to check other sections of the trail and I wandered around taking photos. Here is something that made me smile—a grasshopper resting on a flower head and inadvertently pollinating."

bees
Saturday Morning Garden Blogging, Vol. 10.26: Backyard Beekeeping—by estreya: "My husband and i always enjoyed watching honeybees in our garden, but it's especially thrilling when we know the foraging bees came out of our very own hives. We never tire of watching one of our girls dart from flower to flower, eager to carry nectar or bloated baskets of pollen back to their respective colonies. In recent weeks, they've been feasting on Agastache ... As exciting as it is to see them flitting around in the garden, the hives themselves are an absolute wonderment.  Each comb is a living, ever-changing work of art.
A thick band of capped honey ... "

The Daily Bucket - one otter—by OceanDiver: "This River Otter lives in a bay near my house. He has distinctive dark facial markings under his eyes and nose. Dry, you can see them easily. Here he is entering the water from the beach earlier this summer. I am amazed by the size of those feet. Watching him fishing, and then hauling out a few days ago I saw some other interesting features. This bay seems to be easy pickings for otters and seals—I see them dive and bring up fish without spending much time searching."

dry otter running
National Parks, Wilderness & Other Public Lands

Expanding the National Park System -#20 Maryland—by MorrellWI1983: "This is the twentieth diary in my 'Expanding the National Parks' series. This week, I'm visiting Maryland. Maryland is a small state, covering less than 10000 sq miles  in land area. 2.8% of the state is protected federally, good for 34th in the country, just behind South Carolina and just ahead of North Dakota. Maryland currently has 2 national monuments, 5 Wildlife Refuges, and 15 historic sites other NPS units. I will be proposing additions to Maryland's monuments ledger."

Glacier Park: Mountains and Glaciers (Photo Diary)—by Ojibwa: "Glacier National Park is a landscape which was formed by massive ice sheets which were about 3,000 feet thick. These ice sheets began to melt about 10,000 years ago, revealing a landscape with chiseled mountains and U-shaped valleys. When the European invasion of traditional Blackfoot territory began, the area which would become Glacier National Park contained about 150 glaciers. Today there are just 25 left and these will become extinct between 2020 and 2030. The following photographs were taken in the Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park in Montana on August 20, 2014."

Glacier National Park
Cape Disappointment State Park: Driftwood (Photo Diary)—by Ojibwa: "The Pacific beach at Cape Disappointment State Park near Ilwaco, Washington collects a lot of interesting driftwood."

Miscellany

The Power of the Online Petition: Rebutting Misguided Objections to "Clicktivism"—by Nathan Empsall: "Online petitions are the biggest digital step yet in empowering local citizens, are one tool among many in the campaign toolbox, and can even sometimes win campaigns and secure progress all on their own. [...] Furthermore, these local campaigns DO matter. To address Coca’s own example about coal: Between the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, new EPA regulations, and the falling price of natural gas, 167 dirty coal plants have been retired in the past few years. Coca may argue that 167 drops isn’t a bucket, but let’s remember that the U.S. is the world’s second largest producer of carbon emissions — it doesn’t help anything to argue that we should redirect our domestic climate efforts to Indonesia and China. We can and must do both. Setting aside the global climate for a moment, let’s also remember that the environment is a social justice issue. Most coal plants, just like many smoggy freeways, are built in low-income neighborhoods. As a society, we routinely ask the poorest to bear the most. So when Omaha, NE, announced it was closing the coal plant in the middle of its poorest, blackest neighborhood (where I used to live), I cheered — everyone deserves clean air."

Media gets it wrong on Mann suit—by ClimateDenierRoundup: "Fox News and others are botching the reporting on the newest development of the ongoing case of Dr. Michael Mann vs. the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the National Review Online and one of its writers, Mark Steyn. Two of the few to get it right are Paul Krugman at the New York Times and syndicated columnist Gene Lyons. On August 11th, the American Civil Liberties Union and a number of major media organizations filed an amici curiae brief in support of the defendants. Unsurprisingly, they argue that free speech shouldn't have any constraints, even if it's defamatory, stating, 'the judicial system should not be the arbiter of either scientific truth or correct public policy.' Conservative media are reporting this as though Dr. Mann is simply upset at being criticized, which is completely wrong. As Greg Laden points out, the suit is not about scientific criticism, but rather 'a very specific and actionable libelous accusation of professional misconduct.'"

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