The spotlight is a weekly, categorized compilation of links and excerpts from environmentally related posts at Daily Kos. Any posts included in the collection do not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of them. Because of the interconnectedness of the subject matter, some of these posts can be placed in more than one category.
CRITTERS & THE GREAT OUTDOORS
The Daily Bucket: Come With Me On a Surfbird Safari by WordandBirds. Puget Sound is a bountiful destination for birders (and fisher people), and the Edmonds Fishing Pier has long been a favorite birding destination for Mr. WordsandBirds and me. Our third trip in eight days was on the early afternoon of Jan. 7th. As we arrived, we got our first surprise: Our friend and fellow Bucketeer Jeff and Ms. JG, his excellent spotting partner, were leaving, and they briefed us on their sightings. We didn’t see Bonaparte’s Gulls or Pigeon Guillemots, which they had, darn it — birds are always on the move, and a short time can make a big difference in who’s around — but we saw something special that they hadn’t mentioned. Looking out at Puget Sound, we saw Rhinoceros Auklets, Red-necked Grebes, Brandt’s Cormorants and lots of gulls too distant to distinguish. On our way back, as we scanned the breakwater, we got a big surprise: Surfbirds. I’d seen exactly one, about a year ago, and in roughly the same place. But here were three, busily foraging. And they led us to yet another surprise — two Black Turnstones.
Dawn Chorus: Anna's Hummingbirds Brave Winter Using Sugar-fueled Superpowers by WordandBirds. Unless you live on the West Coast, the hummingbirds you know in the warm season likely see waning day length as a signal to head south for the winter. Flying to Mexico or even Central America is a risky undertaking, but the payoff is a plentiful food supply. In the Pacific Northwest, however, Anna’s Hummingbirds (Calypte anna) are resident year-round. That’s right, they don’t migrate. But they aren’t native, either. They weigh only 0.1 to 0.2 ounces — no heavier than a nickel — but they’re hardy descendants of pioneers who struck out for the north from their traditional range of Baja California, Mexico, to California’s Bay Area. Dates vary, but it’s generally agreed that Anna’s arrived in Oregon and Washington by 1964. Why, you might wonder, would hummingbirds leave their native habitat of chaparral, oak woodlands and coastal scrub for the Northwest, with its colder winters and shorter season for the flowers they depend upon? The prevailing theory is that they were lured by the planting of blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) — exotic trees that bloom out of season.
The Daily Bucket -- Winter Lake Ice. Here today, gone tomorrow by clickadee. Being retired and living in the Detroit suburbs, I have easy access to two Great Lakes (Huron and Erie), one good lake (Lake St. Clair), and a couple very fine rivers (the St. Clair and Detroit). Fall and early winter were mostly comparatively warm, so I saw little ice on these bigger bodies of water. I’d been watching the weather forecast and knew we were in for an extended arctic blast, so I took time to check out my nearby lakes and rivers in early January. This week, I braved single digit temps to see what had happened partway through the two-week superchill. Pakalolo posted a recent story about winter 2023-24 Great Lakes ice formation. This Daily Bucket is an update and boots-on-the-ground report.
Daily Bucket, Friday Sequence - Coastal Cranes of Mississippi by CaptBLI. I charted a heading and aimed the bow of my
ship truck toward the Gulf of Mexico on January 3rd, 2024. My intention was to collect treasures from the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge near Gautier, MS. Below are entries from my preparations. I researched the species and found some interesting tidbits. Sandhill Crane are in the same family as Rails, Gallinule, Coots and Limpkin. I was expecting a connection with Herons and Egrets.I also discovered there were sub-species of this animal that doesn’t migrate at all. That intriguing fact prompted my quest because the rarest of the species is located near my home. After reading about and seeing all the great Crane photos and stories from folks here, I had to explore further. More information is expounded in a previous diary of mine. The link: Cranes of Mississippi.
Daily Bucket - Random shots of available birds by CaptBLI. My latest trip to Grenada waste water lagoons held the surprise of Bald Eagle hunting the ducks in the ponds. After speaking with the facility manager, he pointed out the active nest. A female was sitting in the nest while we watched from the office window. The male flew up and landed next to the nest. The following shot is the best of three I took of the proud parent.
The Daily Bucket: Looking out the Window on a Winter’s Day by Mentha. January 14 was an indoor day. We had near blizzard conditions the day before and into the morning on Sunday. We were happy to be inside, and that the power had been restored late Saturday night. The birds were hungry- it was about 10f all day. I looked back at temperature records for January 14, the last time it was below freezing was on 2019, and then it was a relatively warm 27F.
The Daily Bucket. Another weather window, hop on that bike by funningforrest. Saturday, the 13th, started with snow and then turned to rain. By Sunday morning however the rain had passed and it looked like a bicycle outing was in the cards. I took off just before 9:00 a.m. and as soon as I was over on the bicycle path I spotted a Red-tailed Hawk in a tree. Good start! After catching this hawk I made my way out to the airport and snagged the Baldy. On the way back I spotted yet another Red-tailed Hawk, a real looker, with good sun and lighting. In contrast to the eagle, this Red-tailed was only about fifty yards line-of-sight.From here I pedaled on back into town and then over to Dellinger’s Pond, and from there on out to what I’m calling “FRC Ranch”, a place about a mile west of town that gives me a nice stretch of Spanish Creek to check out. By this time, I’ve put on the better part of five and a half miles, with two and a half to get back home.
CLIMATE EMERGENCY & EXTREME WEATHER
When is it time to leave? Increasing climate migration within US by boatsie. Climate News reports over on BlueSky that at least 1 million Americans will need to relocate during 2024 to avoid flooding, wildfires, droughts, or other extreme weather. This figure may increase to 5 million during 2025 and 100 million by 2027. Just nine days into the year, massive storms, tornadoes, and floods have impacted the lives of millions of Americans. Maybe not yet to the point of forcing them to consider moving, but the writing is on the wall. Last year, there were 28 disasters in the United States, with price tags of $1B each. Those numbers are only expected to increase in 2024 as global temperatures continue to rise, causing more extreme heatwaves, flooding, and more powerful extreme weather events.
Doomer Alert by Dooey. Why waste your time and watch this? 1. Perspective. Eliot Jacobson breaks down the spectrum of perspectives on climate change. 2. Me. Eliot attacks? identifies? explains? examines? People like me who see this happening very quickly. I am of the belief that once we hit a blue ocean event things will ramp up faster than we can adjust. Jacobson completely disagrees with this scenario. So if my point of view is a piss off for you—here’s your ammo. 3. The Hope argument. Whenever extinction pops up in comments on KOS the whole — don’t crush hope debate comes up. Jacobson has a lot to say about this argument. I Googled on Jacobson and here are other links on his work and who he is: Jacobson’s website
Greenland melting 20% faster than thought, adding to worries over impacts to ocean circulation by Meteor Blades. In a new study scientists say they have found Greenland is losing 30 million metric tons of ice an hour, 20% more than had been calculated earlier. Published in Nature, the study—Ubiquitous acceleration in Greenland Ice Sheet calving from 1985 to 2022—adds to the concern of some scientists that this deluge of fresh water could mean the ocean currents of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation—the AMOC—could be closer to collapse than they previously thought. The study’s lead researcher, Chad Greene, a climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said, “The changes around Greenland are tremendous and they’re happening everywhere—almost every glacier has retreated over the past few decades. It makes sense that if you dump fresh water onto the north Atlantic Ocean, then you certainly get a weakening of the AMOC, though I don’t have an intuition for how much weakening.” The AMOC is an ocean conveyor belt carrying nutrients, carbon, and heat from the south to the north, where the water cools and sinks and continues its circular flow. A collapse would mean severe disruptions across the planet, from changes in weather patterns to food security. Not only western Europe and parts of North America would be affected, but even the Sahel in Africa could also face disruption of the crucial annual monsoon. Evidence for weakening of the AMOC has been growing ever since the system began being seriously examined in 2004.
There is something amiss with snowfall in the Himalayas from Nepal to Hindu Kush by Pakalolo. The Himalayan region – not just in India, but the entire Hindu Kush and Karakoram – has steep slopes that host snow or permafrost. These are vulnerable slopes, and as heat rises and there is a lack of sufficient snowfall, these areas are likely to become hotspots for disasters such as GLOFs." ( Glacier Lake Outburst Floods) Irfan Rashid is a geoinformatics professor at the University of Kashmir and a Kashmir cryosphere specialist. The lower and middle elevations of the Himalayas mountains receive their heavy snowfall in the peak of winter, which runs from December 21 through January 29, where up to five feet of snow covers valleys and slopes alike. There is little to zero snow from Nepal to the Hindu Kush this winter, and worries about climate change are in the region's mind. For good reason, according to the precipitation deficit for November, it is 80%, the December deficit is 79%, and so far in mid-January, it is 100%. There is some hope that snowfall will arrive this month's end, but temperatures reached 60 degrees Fahrenheit so far this month.
Trumps America: An Authoritarian Regime Feeding a Climate Disaster by Rick Elia. I’m talking about Project 2025 – a $22-million operation that the New York Times describes as “a well-funded network of conservative groups” headed by the Heritage Foundation. They’re preparing policies, personnel lists, and transition plans to maximize Trump’s power if he returns to office next year. Boosting the use of fossil fuels. • Shredding regulations to curb greenhouse gas pollution from cars, oil and gas wells, and power plants. • Calling for the government to stop trying to make automobiles more fuel efficient and to block states from adopting California’s stringent automobile pollution standards. • Encouraging allied nations to buy and use more fossil fuels rather than renewable energy. • Opening the door to drilling inside the pristine Arctic wilderness. • Declaring the federal government has an “obligation to develop vast oil and gas and coal resources” on America’s public lands. • Providing legal protection for energy companies that kill birds while extracting oil and gas. • Classifying climate change as an issue no longer worthy of discussion by the National Security Council.
Climate Change's Costs Are No Longer Hidden by Art Smart. Climate change is proving very costly. One of those new costs is the need for additional electrical generation capacity during peak load emergencies such as the one in which we now find ourselves. We have gone for well over a century thinking that we can belch all the carbon dioxide we want, totally free of charge. It is now time to start paying the hidden costs of that practice. My biggest fear is that as more polar ice melts, it may release large quantities of trapped methane, which is a much stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. If/when that happens, we're toast. But hey, I'm 70. It's y'all's problem to deal with, not mine.
Climate Change Breaks the Bank by Alan Singer. Climate change is rocking the home insurance industry, with price increases falling on homeowners. In California, climate-worsened wildfires led to a $8.5 billion increase in home insurance costs and State Farm and Allstate stopped issuing new homeowner insurance policies. In Florida and Louisiana, homeowners in hurricane prone areas have also been unable to purchase insurance. Since January 2022, homeowners in 31 states have had double-digit rate increases and in six states increases topped 20%. More than 25% of properties in New York City, including half of Brooklyn, and 80% of properties in Suffolk County are considered at risk of flooding and homeowners face steep insurance increases.
ENERGY, EMISSIONS & TRANSPORTATION
Renewable Tuesday: Double, Double, Make Good Trouble by Mokurai. Working in collaboration to help illustrate the path toward a just and equitable clean energy future, the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) has partnered with the National Urban League on the release of its 2023 State of Black America® report, “Democracy in Peril: Confronting the Threat Within.” For the first time, the report includes a special section focused on clean energy and climate, A Climate in Crisis: Solving the Challenge and Addressing Historic Inequities. This section helps chronicle the history of environmental justice in the United States; highlights current reforms underway nationally; and summarizes the clean energy workforce, economic investment, and restorative climate justice opportunities enabled under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) for Black and Brown communities.
Siberia's exploding tundra craters mystery may have been solved by Pakalolo. Over a decade ago, massive craters emerged in the Siberian permafrost. Reindeer herders in 2013 discovered the largest of the cylindrical and mysterious features first found in 2012. The Deryabinsky crater explosion was heard by indigenous villagers over 62 miles away, and the sky had an eerie glow in the Taimyr peninsula. This part of far north Russia is a region of deep concern for global climate scientists. It is saturated with methane buried in now thawing permafrost and is close to the Laptev, East Siberian, and Kara Sea's continental shelves that collectively form Earth's most enormous continental shelf with hefty stores of terrestrial methane and marine methane hydrates. The continental shelf contains vast deposits of methane hydrates; it is what renowned climatologist Jason Box said in 2014 that if even a small part of the gas is released, "we are fucked.” Methane hydrates in an ocean environment have historically been consumed by methanotroph bacteria, the organisms' only energy supply before the greenhouse gas reaches the surface and into the atmosphere. Methane bubbles have been detected in seas off of Siberia. This phenomenon can be explored in detail in another diary. The explosive craters are located only in Siberia, not Canada or Alaska. They are isolated in Russia, located only in the Western Siberian Yamal and Gydan peninsulas (map image). Only eight have been discovered. So why do these fiery explosions not occur elsewhere in the frozen soils of Eurasia or North America? Scientists believe that "hot natural gas, seeping up through some kind of geological fault, is building up under the frozen layer of soil and heating the permafrost from below." Siberia is warming five times as fast as the rest of the planet and has experienced multiple terrestrial and marine heat waves over the last few years, indicating that the permafrost may be an active tipping point.
Bottom trawling the seas is releasing huge quantities of CO2 by eeff. From the Guardian
Carbon released by bottom trawling ‘too big to ignore’, says study. Scientists have long known that bottom trawling – the practice of dragging massive nets along the seabed to catch fish – churns up carbon from the sea floor. Now, for the first time, researchers have calculated just how much trawling releases into the atmosphere: 370m tonnes of planet-heating carbon dioxide a year – an amount, they say, that is “too big to ignore”. Over the study period, 1996-2020, they estimated the total carbon dioxide released from trawling to the atmosphere to be 8.5 to 9.2bn tonnes. The scientists described trawling as “marine deforestation” that causes “irreparable harm” to the climate, society and wildlife. The study – Atmospheric CO2 emissions and ocean acidification from bottom trawling, written by a global team of climate and ocean experts – found that 55-60% of the carbon dioxide in the water released from the seabed by trawlers will make it to the atmosphere within nine years.
POLLUTION & PLASTICS
Microplastics, like Asbestos, Can Kill by thomhartmann. My father died young because the asbestos industry chose to lie to the public about the dangers of their product for decades. When I was born, Dad dropped out of college and went to work in a steel mill in Grand Rapids; as the hot steel came out of the furnace it passed over asbestos-covered rollers, causing him to work in a cloud of asbestos dust for over a year. He died in 2006 from mesothelioma; his story is here. As recently as 2015, that industry has been caught paying off Republican members of Congress to make it harder for people like my father to claim any sort of compensation for having their lives cut short. Now the plastics and chemical industries are fixing to do the same to our children and grandchildren. Already, they’re paying off Republicans in both the US Congress and in state houses across the country to keep our environment and food supply filled with potentially deadly microplastics.
FOOD, AGRICULTURE & GARDENING
City Agriculture - January 16, 2024 by gmoke. Liquid3, an urban photo-bioreactor that uses microalgae to remove CO2, produce O2, and biomass. Hat tip to MonkCanatella. Farm to wetland
Editorial Comment: Not exactly “city agriculture” but I’m betting wetlands can be scaled down similarly to Miyawaki Forests Farm to school in Washington D.C. Hat tip Craig Newmark. Tree Folio NYC: The right tree in the right place for urban forest. More on this from The Guardian. Paris begins an urban forest to cover up to half the city. Dallas sees a future in urban farming. Hat tip Henry Gordon-Smith
Saturday Morning Garden Blogging Vol. 20.03: Behind the Scenes at the Farmers Market by monkeybrainpolitics. How do those vegetables, fruits, cheeses, meat, nuts, flowers, arts and crafts materialize at your local farmers market every week? Who makes everything show up like magic, then disappears everything--tents and all--only for everything to reappear a week later? Well, farmers you might say. Maybe local town leaders. A church or charity. Maybe the chamber of commerce. The local tourism agency? Somebody has to organize the thing. I've been a "somebody" for four years now. As either Secretary or Treasurer on the board, I've had opportunity to view things from the organizational or financial side. Additionally, I'm a farmer vendor, and functioned for two years frequently as the market manager. Those roles are also perspectives on how the market comes together.
A Song of Zion: Eco-Kibbutzim by wasplover. Most people have some idea of what a kibbutz is. The closest English word is probably “commune,” and most kibbutzim operate with some level of collectivism, though nowadays not necessarily to the extent as when they were founded, mostly in the early 20th century, infused with socialist idealism. Traditionally most of them functioned as agricultural collectives, but as kibbutzim – and agricultural practices – have modernized, many of them have shifted or diversified their economic bases. One of the more interesting developments is the emergence in recent decades of “eco-kibbutzim.” With guest houses already in place to accommodate visitors, many kibbutzim were well placed to try their hand at ecotourism. While Israel tourism has tended to focus on religious heritage and archeological sites, eco-tourism is a natural match, given the commitment to environmentalism and resource conservation inherent in the philosophies and lifestyles of many kibbutzim. And Israel’s spectacular natural landscapes! Packed into a small space (New Jersey is typically cited for scale for American audiences) are deserts, green woodlands and wetlands, mountains high enough to be capped with snow in the winter, and varied and distinctive bodies of water (Med Sea, Red Sea, Dead Sea, and the freshwater Sea of Galilee).
ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION & MINING
Overturn Chevron, Kill Science in Government by dratler. When people talk about “Chevron” these days, they aren’t discussing the oil company. They’re discussing a 1984 Supreme Court decision involving that company, Chevron USA, Inc. v. Natural Resources Defenses Council, Inc. Our current Supreme Court seems poised to modify or overrule it. Yesterday the Court heard arguments to that effect, in a case involving fishermen, namely Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo. Unfortunately, all the current news and discussions about these cases that I’ve seen completely miss the point. And they miss it by a mile. Chevron is the decision that opened the door to science in government, and a bit of engineering, too. If our current Justices weaken or overrule it, they will take us back to the bad old days, before Galileo invented observational science in 1632. They will take governmental decisions involving science, health, medicine, industrial safety and the environment out of the hands of experts in our administrative state, our highly-developed expert bureacracy. Instead they will put these decisions in the hands of politicians or judges like themselves. In so doing, they will wipe out, in one deadly stroke, a mighty pillar of the Western Enlightenment. Science of course will carry on.
Does the EPA Die Today? by thomhartmann. Virtually the entirety of America’s ability to protect its citizens from corporate predation through regulation rests on what’s called the Chevron deference (more on that in a moment), which the Court appears prepared to overturn in today’s case. Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy says he wants to eliminate the Department of Education “on day one” if he’s elected president. If the Supreme Court has its way, he wouldn’t have to bother. It’ll become impotent. Far-right conservatives and libertarians have been working for this destruction of agencies — the ultimate in deregulation — ever since the first regulatory agencies came into being with the 1906 creation of the Pure Food and Drugs Act, a response to Upton Sinclair’s bestselling horror story published that year (The Jungle) about American slaughterhouses and meat-packing operations. Gutting these agencies is what Steve Bannon meant when Trump brought him into the White House and he said one of the main goals of that administration was to “deconstruct the administrative state.” If there’s any coherent explanation of the phrase “deep state” as used by Republicans, it’s our nation’s regulatory agencies.
More ethics at stake: Gorsuch asked to recuse himself from Supreme Court case over ties to oil baron by Charles Jay. Justice Neil Gorsuch is the latest member of the Supreme Court whose ties to money and power are being called into question. Gorsuch has been asked to recuse himself from a case that could significantly strip powers from federal agencies to enact health and environmental regulations. The issue at hand is the Supreme Court justice’s close ties to secretive billionaire oil baron Philip Anschutz, whom Gorsuch once represented as a private lawyer before he was appointed to the federal judiciary. Anschutz has also hosted the conservative justice at a mountain resort called Eagles Nest for weekends of dove shooting, The Guardian reported. The Guardian said the recusal request was made by a leading watchdog group, Accountable.US. The group’s stated mission is to take on the special interests obstructing progressive change.
Nonfiction Views: Pitfall:The Race to Mine the World's Most Vulnerable Places, by Christopher Pollon by DebtorsPrison. Christopher Pollon’s book Pitfall: The Race to Mine the World's Most Vulnerable Places, published last October, takes us to mining operations around the globe, focusing on the economic, environmental and social devastation surrounding them. It’s a problem that is getting worse, as the world’s consumption of the metals being mined is growing at an ever-faster rate. There are some scientists who believe that our demand for metal will soon outstrip our technological ability to mine it, and the cutthroat economics behind trying to keep up with demand promises to bring even more depredation on the world’s vulnerable peoples and places. Metal and mineral extraction grew almost five-fold between 1979 and 2017. The technology needed to achieve a slowing of the rate of global warming in the coming decades is estimated to require some 3 billion tons of metals and minerals. The industrialized mining of just seven of the world’s most needed metals already contributes 10% of global greenhouse gasses. Pollon notes that there was a similar cycle of increased demand coupled with a swift evolution of the mining industry. Up until the middle of the 19th Century, mining was more of a small-scale traditional enterprise, working rich veins of minerals. But as those rich veins were increasingly becoming tapped out, the new technology of open-pit mining was developed. Now, huge expanses of low-quality ore could be exploited. Without this new mining technology, it would have been difficult to meet the greatly increased demand for the copper needed for electrification, for the iron, gypsum, gravel and other metals and minerals are what enabled to growth of the transportation system and of cities. Our modern society owes its existence to the development of open-pit and strip mining. But this sort of mining is much more environmentally destructive...and it’s also expensive.
Note: The climate strike action began at San Francisco City Hall in 2019. The following entries are excerpts from “letters” that were issued each week of the action. Although the strike was focused on San Francisco, many of the same issues affect countless U.S. cities.]
What To Prepare -- Strike for the Planet week 189 by birches. It takes one step, then another, then another. That’s why this week’s topic is: What To Prepare. San Francisco is not ready. We’ve got little in place and less ready to respond to the climate disasters already on our doorstep. You know SF is not ready. You have 3 years and 33 weeks of information delivered to you on a weekly basis detailing just how unready SF is. You also know what you need to do to get SF ready. Yet again, for the 189th time, SF needs to have independent, sustainable sources of energy and water in order to survive. With those two things in place, SF’s survival is possible. Without those, the city dies and we all leave or die with it. These two bedrock needs make base level survival an option. They are a start and a start only. And yet you haven’t even started on them.
Why Prepare? -- Strike for the Planet week 188 by birches. An ounce of prevention works even in metric.That’s why this week’s topic is: Why Prepare? Prepare because: San Francisco is not ready to respond (see Strike letter for week 187). • The Arctic is melting. • The Antarctic is melting. • The permafrost is melting. • The seas are rising. • The biosphere is dying. • CO2 levels are jetting up. • Temperatures are rising. • Ocean circulation is stalling. • The polar vortex is failing. • Storms are increasing in intensity. • Extreme weather events are increasing in number. • Habitat destruction is producing new human diseases. • The human population is unsustainably large. • The Amazon rainforest is becoming a net carbon emitter. • Desertification is increasing worldwide. • Soil erosion and salinification are increasing worldwide. • Food nutrients are decreasing worldwide. • Plant and animal extinctions are increasing worldwide. • The west is in a megadrought. • We are near or past multiple climate tipping points. We are past the frog in slowly heating water and are teetering out of balance on the edge of a cliff. Prepare because what you’re doing now is neither sustainable nor survivable.
Reaction Guidelines Summary -- Strike for the Planet week 187 by birches. You think reacting to climate chaos is good enough? This is a summary of the Reaction Guidelines whose goal was to have procedures available to pick up and start putting in place when it’s too late to avoid disaster. How ready is SF for climate disaster?
Fire Reaction Guidelines -- Strike for the Planet week 186 by birches. Fire, to destroy all you’ve done. This is a resource for fire. The goal is to have responses on the shelf you can draw on when it’s too late to avoid or prepare for disaster. 1989 made San Francisco get serious about fire. We’re not in terrible shape if everything is still the way it was when SF made those post-earthquake plans. We have decent fire station coverage for most of the city, the water supplies for fighting fires are in line with 1990’s assumptions about need, we have close to the number of personnel specified in city plans and a strong community response system, and most of the equipment needed is mostly in working order — on paper it all looks decent. The theme of this strike, though, is that circumstances are changing rapidly in major ways. And for years you all haven’t done and still aren’t doing enough to give SF a fighting chance at survival. Is this true of fire response as well? Let’s see. Past fire plans are now mostly inadequate. Starting with the obvious, we’re in a megadrought. Freshwater supplies are below amounts fire response plans were built on, and water supplies will continue falling for decades. Add in the dying snowpack.
Transportation Reaction Guidelines -- Strike for the Planet week 185 by birches. This is a resource for transportation. The goal is to create procedures you can pick off the shelf and put into action when it’s already too late to avoid disaster. What are the threats to our transportation system? Flooding • Lack of fuel • Heat • Lack of operators • Lack of funds • Disease/pandemic • Earthquake • Hacking and sabotage • Lack of equipment, parts, and repair expertise The Amtrak tracks on the northeast section of the bay already flood. The ‘70s oil embargo demonstrated how ridiculously dependent we are on gas for transportation, and the situation hasn’t improved since then. High temps are already reducing plane flights, damaging roads, and threatening infrastructure. Lack of personnel and equipment, made worse by the pandemic, is already hurting both public and private transportation. Transit systems and other car alternatives continue to be grossly underfunded, in favor of cars. From 1906 and 1989, we know earthquakes can be devastating to transportation. And, while BART and MUNI haven’t been hacked yet, the dangers of cyberattacks and sabotage to all public systems are enormous, according to the FBI.
Saltwater Intrusion Reaction Guidelines -- Strike for the Planet week 184 by birches. This is a resource for saltwater intrusion. he goal is to have procedures you can pick up off the shelf and start putting in place when it’s too late to avoid disaster. What is saltwater intrusion?
It is when saltwater pushes into freshwater: in aquifers, groundwater, rivers, or on land. What causes saltwater intrusion? • massive storm surges • earthquakes • pumping of freshwater • channels, ditches, and canals • land subsidence • artificial levees. There are many ways to reduce saltwater intrusion, most of which are obvious. These include: • reducing pumping of freshwater • increasing water flow from the surface into the water table• artificially recharging the aquifer by pumping in recycled water • planting buffers • not building artificial levees • not contributing to land subsidence
WATER & INFRASTRUCTURE
Muddying the Waters: State Water Board’s Bay-Delta Environmental Analysis Falls Short by Dan Bacher. The State Water Resources Control Board’s long-awaited environmental assessment of the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta estuary correctly describes the dire state of current affairs: keystone native fish species are nearing extinction, commercial fisheries, sport angling and recreational opportunities are disappearing, costs for domestic water services are skyrocketing, toxic algal blooms are threatening human health and wildlife, and salinity is intruding far into the Delta, threatening domestic water supplies and arable farmland, according to a press statement from the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN). The Water Board also notes in the 6,000-page assessment that tree nuts – notoriously thirsty crops that have been the mainstay of San Joaquin Valley agribusiness for two decades – are now spreading northward into the Sacramento Valley. But while the Board has met its obligation under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to accurately report existing conditions, it has failed to present a coherent plan to remedy the crisis as required by law and the agency’s own policies, said Max Gomberg, a senior policy advisor for the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) and the former Climate and Conservation Manager for the State Water Board.
Sacramento judge rules that DWR lacks authority to issue revenue bonds to finance the Delta Tunnel by Dan Bacher. On January 16, a Sacramento court ruled that the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) lacks the authority to issue revenue bonds to finance the embattled Delta Tunnel, AKA Delta Conveyance Project. Kenneth C. Mennemeier, Jr., Judge for the Sacramento County Superior Court, denied DWR’s request for an order “validating” bond resolutions that would have financed the project. “Like its failed predecessors, the DCP would divert water from the Sacramento River near the Delta communities of Hood and Courtland out the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for export to portions of the Bay Area, South San Joaquin Valley and Southern California,” according to a press release on behalf of the counties of San Joaquin, Contra Costa, Solano, Yolo, Butte and Plumas and related water agencies These counties, Sacramento County and their related water agencies, among other litigants, challenged DWR’s authority to issue an unlimited amount of bonds to finance the DCP.
Delta Tribal Environmental Coalition Files Comments With State Water Board on Bay-Delta Plan by Dan Bacher. As the Delta Smelt has become virtually extinct in the wild and spring-run, winter-run and fall-run Chinook populations on the Sacramento River collapse, the Delta Tribal Environmental Coalition (DTEC) filed an administrative comment with the California State Water Resources Control Board on Friday, Jan. 19. The DTEC, including the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians, Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Little Manila Rising, and Restore the Delta, filed the comment with the Water Board. It responds to the Board’s Draft Staff Report for the Phase II Update of the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan (Bay-Delta Plan). The Coalition is represented by the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, according to a press statement from the coalition. “The coalition urges the State Water Board to expeditiously update water quality standards sufficient to protect Delta tribes and communities. The longer the Board delays, the more Bay-Delta tribes, communities, and ecosystems suffer. DTEC will continue to press the Board to fulfill its obligations to protect the Bay-Delta and its residents,” the coalition stated.
On “Daily Kos, the best response is people power” But not so much DK’s environmental response :-( by mikeymikey. On “Daily Kos, the best response is people power.” Sadly, this does not seem to apply to DK’s environmental response. On Saturday, January 6th, Jen Hayden posted a diary compilation (“ICYMI”) of recent noteworthy political diaries on DK, and as I scrolled down the offerings I was struck with her statement in reference to flipping George Santos’ vacant seat:“Time is short, and Republicans are rolling out their dark-money machine. But as we've always preached at Daily Kos, the best response is people power.” To judge from the numbers and what they say about interest, this does not appear to be the case when dealing with the most important political issue of all times, as environmental collapse has the horrendous potential to wipe the slate clean of all the others. Soon. Troublingly, “people power” on DK still stops short of committed aggressive environmental political action. [...] And so we dream of a statement like this: “Time is short and El Niño is rolling out darkness over mankind. But as we’ve always preached on Daily Kos, the best environmental response is people power.“
Overnight News Digest: Study: Americans’ climate concerns deciding factor in Biden’s 2020 victory by Magnifico. From Newsweek: A new report from CU Boulder's Center for Environmental Futures (C-SEF) revealed that many voters in the 2016 and 2020 elections were driven to cast their ballots based on climate change concerns. This influence may have won the Democrats the election in 2020. The researchers say the same concerns could influence votes in the coming 2024 election. The report concluded that if it wasn't for the climate change issue, the Republicans may have won a 3-percent swing, enough to win the 2020 election. "We analyzed multi-issue polling data from the voters in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. We found that how important voters considered climate change to be as an issue was one of the strongest predictors of whom they voted for in 2020, especially among independents," the report said.
Overnight News Digest for January 17 by Jeremybloom. From Slate: As expected, it looks like the Republicans on the Supreme Court are going to overrule the Chevron doctrine so it can arrogate the power of the administrative state to itself unabated: On Wednesday, the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority signaled its intent to overturn four decades of precedent and award itself even greater authority to strike down policies that govern every conceivable aspect of life in the United States. This revolution has been years in the making, the result of a lavishly funded campaign to transform the courts into a weapon against any regulation you can think of. The environment, the economy, health care, civil rights, education: All aspects of federal governance will be in peril, subject to the whims of unelected judges with zero expertise or accountability and a distinct bias toward deregulation. [...] Here’s the bottom line: Without Chevron deference, it’ll be open season on each and every regulation, with underinformed courts playing pretend scientist, economist, and policymaker all at once. Securities fraud, banking secrecy, mercury pollution, asylum applications, health care funding, plus all manner of civil rights laws: They are ultravulnerable to judicial attack in Chevron’s absence.
Overnight News Digest, Saturday Science by Rise above the swamp. From Rachel Ramirez at CNN. What is ‘new denial?’ An alarming wave of climate misinformation is spreading on YouTube, watchdog says: If you’ve been on YouTube lately, you might have come across someone claiming wind and solar energy don’t work, that rising sea levels will help coral reefs flourish, or that climate scientists are corrupt and alarmist. These are all false and misleading statements taken from a handful of thousands of YouTube videos analyzed by the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), which has identified a stark change in the tactics of climate deniers over the past few years. Where once climate deniers would outright reject climate change as a hoax or scam, or claim that humans were not responsible for it, many are now shifting to a different approach, one which attempts to undermine climate science, cast doubt on climate solutions and even claim global warming will be beneficial at best, harmless at worst.
Top Comments: Converting Carbon Dioxide to Solid Carbon Nanofibers by gizmo59. There are two possible strategies for combatting global climate change. The first is to reduce or eliminate the use of fossil fuels as a source of energy and replace these with renewable sources. The second is to remove the excess CO2 from the atmosphere. While some envision the ultimate fate of the CO2 removed from the atmosphere in the second strategy as simple sequestration, which comes with a raft of disadvantages too numerous to list here. A much better is to envision the captured CO2 as a chemical starting material to make useful substances that will have little or no likelihood of polluting the environment. Along these lines, a group of scientists associated with Brookhaven National Laboratory and Columbia University have devised a way to convert CO2 into carbon nanofibers, which are materials with useful properties and diverse potential practical long-term uses. One example of a use for carbon nanofibers suggested by the linked report is as a component of concrete to strengthen it. The carbon will be locked away for decades, or possible much longer.
Earth Matters: Haley no climate friend; largest renewables project in U.S. history now being built by Meteor Blades. More’s the pity that dealing with global warming doesn’t rank as the preeminent government priority in the view of the vast majority of Americans. However, there is a yawning gap between Republicans and Democrats on whether climate should at least be included among the top priorities. In a Pew Research Center poll, just 13% of Republicans agreed with that, while 59% of Democrats did. At the August GOP debate, candidates made climate comments typical of the bulk of elected Republicans, with the clown prince of nonsense, Vivek Ramaswamy, emulating Trump by calling climate change a “hoax.” [Nikki] Haley went a different route. She admitted that climate change is happening. Contrary to the surprised response of much of the media, however, this isn’t new territory for her. In a 2020 video released by her Stand for America group, she said that “man-made climate change is real, but liberal ideas would cost trillions and destroy our economy." Saying so relieved some conservative climate groups worried about losing young voters over the issue. But many other elected Republicans—including several who have been the worst climate science deniers in the past—have also switched from “hoax” to some version of “the climate is changing, it always has.” That, of course, is a truism.
Canadian climate denier who blamed Quebec wildfires on a government conspiracy admits to arson by Pakalolo. A Canadian man who had pushed a conspiracy theory that the Ottawa government started the record-breaking wildfires in Quebec rather than a result of an overheating planet was arrested and charged with 13 counts of arson and one count of arson with disregard for human life. Over 700 out-of-control wildfires in the province demanded the attention of Canadian firefighters—and international crews to mitigate the burn area. The arson took resources away from critical firefighting efforts. Thirty-eight-year-old Brian Paré admitted to having started all fourteen fires. The 700 fires were ignited by lightning strikes in the boreal forests of Quebec, not deliberately created by the government as Paré alleged. He was not the only one pushing the lie; even the Albertan Premier dished out the bullpucky. MAGA isn’t just for simple-minded Americans anymore.
FROM AP & OTHER PLATFORMS
A little fish at the Supreme Court could take a big bite out of regulatory power by Associated Press. Business and conservative interest groups that want to limit the power of federal regulators think they have a winner in the Atlantic herring and the boats that sweep the modest fish into their holds by the millions. In a Supreme Court term increasingly dominated by cases related to former President Donald Trump, the justices are about to take up lower profile but vitally important cases that could rein in a wide range of government regulations affecting the environment, workplace standards, consumer protections and public health. In cases being argued Wednesday, lawyers for the fishermen are asking the court to overturn a 40-year-old decision that is among the most frequently cited high court cases in support of regulatory power. Lower courts used the decision to uphold a 2020 National Marine Fisheries Service rule that herring fishermen pay for monitors who track their fish intake. A group of commercial fishermen appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.
Diet for a sick planet: Studies find more plastic in our food and bottled water by James Bruggers at Inside Climate News. If we are what we eat, there’s growing evidence to help explain how nanoplastics and microplastics are in our blood, in our intestines and in some of our organs. Two new studies published this week shed further, and alarming, light on all the tiny plastic particles that people are consuming every day. A liter of bottled water may contain nearly a quarter million pieces of the smallest particles of plastic. These nanoplastic particles are so small, scientists have found, that some pass through intestines and lungs or make their way into human blood and placental fluid. The bottled water study, done by researchers at Columbia and Rutgers Universities, was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Also published Monday, in the journal Environmental Pollution, was a paper from scientists at the University of Toronto and the Ocean Conservancy, which found that nearly 90 percent of 16 different kinds of protein commonly eaten by people, including seafood, chicken and beef—and even plant-based meat alternatives such as tofu and veggie burgers—contain microplastics.
More than 900 widely used chemicals may increase breast cancer risk by Liza Gross at Inside Climate News. More than 900 chemicals in widespread use could be increasing breast cancer risk, scientists reported in a peer-reviewed study published today. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women globally, and recently replaced lung cancer as the most commonly diagnosed form of the disease. Up to 80 percent of female breast cancers depend on estrogen and progesterone, and a growing body of research links increased activity of these hormones to breast cancer. “We have evidence from both human studies and animal models supporting the idea that chemicals that increase estrogen and progesterone are health concerns and increase breast cancer risk,” said Jennifer Kay, an expert on the adverse effects of environmental exposures who led the study for the Silent Spring Institute, a nonprofit research group dedicated to reducing toxic threats to women’s health.
How 3 Indigenous women are leading the way on climate change by B. ‘Toastie’ Oaster, Anna V. Smith and Joaqlin Estus at the19th. High Country News’ Indigenous affairs team has compiled three short profiles that center Indigenous people and their knowledge in the climate realm. The profiles showcase the efforts and expertise of people who are working, in one capacity or another, to address climate concerns through data and knowledge sovereignty, promoting the act of close listening, and helping everyone involved understand the power and truth of Indigenous ways of knowing and experiencing landscapes. They continue the work of their ancestors and remind us to take the time to really listen — not just to Indigenous stewards like them, but also to each other, and to the environment itself.