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This is an overview of the changing, up and down position of the administration on Climate Change ending on a high note, sort of. It's our most pressing issue today everywhere and anywhere.

In 2008 Obama's strong statements at an international conference in Los Angeles on climate change:

"Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all," Obama said. "Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high; the consequences, too serious."

"Few challenges facing America and the world are more urgent than combating climate change," Obama said. "The science is beyond dispute, and the facts are clear. Sea levels are rising. Coastlines are shrinking. We've seen record drought, spreading famine, and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season."

 "When I am president, any governor who's willing to promote clean energy will have a partner in the White House. Any company that's willing to invest in clean energy will have an ally in Washington. And any nation that's willing to join the cause of combating climate change will have an ally in the United States of America."

These statements were welcomed by environmentalists and climate scientists around the world.
Big Leaf Maple, Mystic Vale, Saanich BC
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#NorthernGateway Pipeline will originate in Alberta and cross the entire province of British Columbia from east to west.

It will carry bitumen from the tar sands across Alberta and British Columbia, across First Nations territory, under pristine rivers, through woodlands and wilderness to Kitimat to be then shipped overseas in super tankers. As you can see Kitimat is an inland port and the super tankers will have to negotiate a narrow channel filled with islands to get to the open ocean.
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but I have to write it, to get it off my mind. I don't blame people for not wanting to take part in this conversation. But it really demands our attention. This is a hopeful diary because I believe that if we change, we might survive. I highlight three other writers who are also hopeful.

Staff writer for The New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert is hopeful if we preserve what's left of our wilderness;

Duke University scientist Stuart Pimm encourages us to work to save the most endangered animals;

British writer George Monbiot in the Guardian wants us to change our economic system.

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Wed May 07, 2014 at 06:17 AM PDT


by Agathena

The origins of today’s mass extinction

That’s us in the title of Daniel Smith’s essay in Harper's on the book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert.

Kolbert begins coyly, with a kind of a fairy tale. “Maybe two hundred thousand years ago," a new species emerges on Earth. Compared with other species around at the time—mammoths, mastodons, armadillos the size of Smart cars, […]—the members of this new species aren’t very fast or very strong. But they’re shrewd, or reckless, or oth. “None of the usual constraints of habitat or geography seem to check them,: she writes. They start out in a small section of eastern African. There’s water there, and plenty to eat. But are they satisfied?
China's last wild IndoChinese tiger shot, killed and eaten, 2009.
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Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 12:05 PM PDT

Big Hero takes on Big Agribusiness

by Agathena

Tyrone Hayes

Biologist Tyrone Hayes battles one of the biggest agribusinesses in the world
I urge you to listen to this excellent interview podcast (24 minutes) included in the above link and you can judge Tyrone Hayes for yourself.

A powerful herbicide is a friend to farmers, but may not be a friend to frogs.

More than half the corn crops in the United States are treated with a herbicide called Atrazine. Golf courses and Christmas tree farms also get the Atrazine treatment to keep weeds under control. The chemical is used in Canada as well, though it is no longer used in the European Union.

In 1997, biologist Tyrone Hayes received funding from the maker of the chemical -- a company that would later become Syngenta -- to study its effects on the environment. He found Atrazine caused sexual abnormalities in frogs. He says Syngenta tried to stop him from publishing his findings and that it launched a campaign to discredit his research.

But Tyrone Hayes continued, looking into Atrazine as a professor of Integrative Biology at University of California, Berkeley. Documents released in a class-action law suit in 2005 suggest the company tried to side-line Professor Hayes and his work.

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The title was my reaction after listening to Young on CBC radio with Jian Gomeshi. Young is beginning a benefit Honour the Treaties Tour with Diana Krall. He wants Canadians to think for themselves, he is only telling them what he has seen and what he knows about the tar sands. He sympathizes with the workers up in Fort Mac but he is doesn't want his grandchildren to find themselves in the hole that they are digging there, a hole so deep they won't be able to see the sky.

Tar Sands and Boreal Forest

At a press conference in Toronto before his benefit concert for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and its fight against the big oil and the Canadian government, Young said

“It’s the greediest, most destructive and disrespectful demonstration of something run amok that you can ever see,”
“Get a grip and understand what is really happening,” he said. “It is hypocritical, some of the things that are being said by the leaders of this country. It’s embarrassing as a Canadian to have to listen to some of this stuff. It’s all marketing, it’s all big money.
“This oil is all going to China. It’s not for Canada. It’s not for the United States. It’s not ours. It belongs to the oils companies and Canada’s government is behind making this happen.”
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Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 11:27 AM PST

Hey Wolf Haters!

by Agathena

credit: Animal Welfare Institute
In the New York Times this morning an article Wolf Haters cites that in Idaho two recent frightening developments have been made possible by the delisting of wolves from the Endangered Species Act.
First was the hiring, by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, of a hunter to travel into federal wilderness to eliminate two wolf packs. The reason: wolves kill elk, and humans want to hunt elk. Normally the agency would just rely on hunters to kill the wolves, but because the area where these packs roam — in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness — is remote, the agency decided it would be more efficient to bring in a hired gun. A photo last week in The Idaho Statesman showed the hunter, Gus Thoreson, astride a horse, with three pack mules, looking like a modern-day Jeremiah Johnson.
Second is this weekend outside Salmon, Idaho, at a Coyote and Wolf Derby sponsored by a group called Idaho for Wildlife. A not-too-subtle poster for the event shows a wolf with its head in the cross hairs of a rifle scope and announces $2,000 in prizes to defend “our hunting heritage” against “radical animal-rights groups.”
This means that there is no area remote enough for wolves to survive away from hunting and trapping. Taking entire packs hurts the bio-diversity of the species.
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Mon Dec 23, 2013 at 06:57 AM PST

Seattle WA, Photo Diary

by Agathena

My daughter's Christmas gift to me was a trip to Seattle. We live in a small town but we are originally from a big city, so every now and then we love to return to a large metropolitan center, either Vancouver BC or Seattle WA. My favorite image from the trip:

refers to oil slicks on the water
"Oiling" 2012, hand-knotted carpet by Faig Ahmed, Azerbaijani, born 1982.
Showing at Seattle Art Museum,
"Quite different from the traditional prayer rug shown in this gallery, "Oiling" is nevertheless part of the same regional tradition. The artist Faig Ahmed uses his knowledge of ancient carpet-making designs and techniques in decidedly contemporary images such as this. Appearing as though a traditional rug's pigments are melting on the wall, "Oiling" refers to both the artistic flexibility of oil paints as well as the swirling patterns of an oil slick on water."
More than that there's the order into chaos as the rigid pattern which turns into a flow of color.
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Wolf pack in Yellowstone Park (credit: Save Yellowstone Wolves)
Wolves are social animals who survive in packs led by an alpha male and an alpha female with roles for each member of the pack under them. Care of the wolf pups is shared by other adults in the pack. If the two alpha wolves who are the best hunters are killed the pack will disintegrate and the pups will be orphaned.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to delist gray wolves nationwide is flawed because it’s based on the total number of wolves, a statistical approach that, according to wolf biologist Gordon Haber, is “ecological nonsense.”

Haber spent over 43 years observing Alaska’s wild wolves, mostly in Denali National Park, before dying in a plane crash while tracking the animals. To locate wolves, he snowshoed, skied and flew in winter; he backpacked and hiked in summer. He endured minus-50-degree Fahrenheit temperatures, blizzards, thunderstorms, mosquitoes and the risk of grizzly and moose attacks. Few modern biologists have such unassailable experiential authority.

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Gray Wolf, Photo Credit: GreenpeaceGray Wolf, Photo Credit: GREENPEACE

In Montana during the 2012-2013 season, 225 wolves were killed. In addition in 2013, 63 wolves were killed for preying (not always killing) on livestock. 18 were killed by cars or poachers. That's 306 dead wolves. Since then Montana has expanded the wolf rifle hunting season to six months, from September 15 to March 15. The bag limit has been increased to 5, silencers and electronic calling are legal. So far 6,000 licenses have been purchased at $19. each. The cost of out-of-state licenses have gone down from $250. to $50. causing a big jump in out-of-state hunters, 370 up from 55 last year.

Under that kind of "harvesting" program two hunters can kill a whole pack. Since this is trophy hunting, the biggest and the strongest wolves will be targeted. Only Yellowstone National Park can offer a safe haven but the bio-diversity of that group is threatened as they become more and more isolated by the hunting, trapping, bow-hunting surrounding the park.

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After the Manning verdict, four big issues remain untouched
This is from Canada's national paper, The Globe and Mail in an article by Daryl Copeland. There are many more links in the article showing how this newspaper covered the Bradley Manning case. The G & M newspaper, print version this morning had a centerfold on the trial with excellent coverage. It's worth looking for in international new stands.

From the section Exposing the Costs of the Global War on Terror

It can be argued that the most serious threats and challenges facing the planet have little to do with religious extremism or political violence, and flow instead from a constellation of issues which are rooted in science and driven by technology. Climate change, diminishing biodiversity, pandemic disease, and resource scarcity afflict us all, while the likelihood of being involved in a terrorist incident is roughly the same as being hit by lightening or drowning in the bathtub. Put another way, there are no military solutions to the most vexing problems of globalization, yet the lion’s share of international policy resources continue to be allocated to defence, rather than to diplomacy or development.
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Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 06:00 AM PDT

Victoria's Rose Gardens

by Agathena

White Rose
Beacon Hill Park, Victoria BC

White Roses 4
After a rain in Government House Gardens, Victoria BC

Victoria is a city of roses; they must love the acid and sometimes clay soil, the sea breezes, the winter rains. They grow in gardens along the sea and the salt spray doesn't deter them. You will find rose gardens in the public gardens like Government House Gardens and Beacon Hill Park. There are 2,000 rose bushes in Butchart Gardens, north of Victoria (Greater Victoria). The Empress, the landmark Hotel in the Inner Harbour has a beautiful rose garden between the Empress and the Provincial Bus Depot.

As a young artist I thought roses were clichés, overdone, the rose design overused. But when I had a large garden of my own where I inherited 20 rose bushes, their colours and fragrance cast a spell on me. I bought my first rose, a David Austen "Gertrude Jeckyll" fragrant pink rose. That was it, I was hooked on roses. At first I was daunted by the task of caring for 20 rose bushes because i had heard they couldn't survive without 3 major chemical products against blackspot, blight, aphids etc. After talking with a friend whose father had grown roses for 30 years I was more encouraged. She said that all he ever used was a few drops of detergent in water to spray away the aphids in the Spring and epsom salts (magnesium) on the soil around the bushes once a year. The pruning I learned from a horticulturist at Government House Gardens. Strip the leaves in the fall and prune severely in the early spring.

Gertrude Jekyll Rose
Gertrude Jekyll Rose, on my balcony
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