Green news roundup – from climate to the Bundy Trial

  • Published on September 28th, 2016

By Meteor Blades

FishOutofWater writes—Tropical Storm Matthew Forms, Moving into Caribbean’s All Time Ocean Heat, Looks Like a Killer“I have feared for over a year that the combination of global warming and El Niño would warm the tropical Atlantic to record levels producing the conditions that would allow a hurricane as destructive as Sandy or Mitch to form in the Caribbean or western Atlantic ocean. Matthew looks like it will be that storm. Matthew just formed, is still quite disorganized, but already has 60 mph (50Kt) sustained winds. Proximity to South America’s dry winds may slow intensification for the first 48 hours, but weather models are in agreement that Matthew will move, in 3 to 5 days, into the western Caribbean where conditions are favorable for rapid intensification to major hurricane strength.”

6412093 writes—Bundys’ Comeuppance, Informers, and the Clinton Foundation’s Uranium Deal: “After the Bundys and their ilk broke into the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in early 2016, for some reason they displayed venom towards Refuge Biologist Linda Sue Beck. […] Linda Sue Beck was the daughter of local ranchers. A degreed biologist, she helped manage a carp eradication program for the ranchers and the Refuge, to restore the area’s water quality and preserve native fish. This apparently irritated the Bundys. Beck took the stand recently in the Federal Criminal trial of the Bundy gang. She told the Court that the Bundys had left her office ‘completely trashed’ with ‘piles of stuff.’ The Bundy gang also kicked down the door of another office and stole archeological records, according to testimony. She found items “all shot up” elsewhere. Since Ryan Bundy is defending himself at this trial, he was allowed to cross-examine Beck. Just 7 months earlier, Ryan had sneered that he would never allow the “Carp Lady” to return to work, and that she was destroying America. Now they faced each other for the first time, and oh, how the world had turned. The Carp Lady has her office back, while the Bundys now hunker down in a prison cell.”

CRITTERS AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS

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Fiery-Throated Hummingbird

nookular writes—Dawn Chorus- 9 Days in Costa Rica- Part 2- the Interior Highlands and Caribbean Slope: “Part one of my Costa Rica birding travelogue- San Jose to the Pacific and down to the Osa- can be found here Dawn Chorus- Costa Rica- Part One. After spending the better part of a week birding along the Pacifc coast and Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, our next destination was the mountainous region of Central Costa Rica. The best route took us back up the Pacific coast to Dominical, then up the Pacific slope through the small town of San Isidro. As we gained altitude, the countryside and the climate changed drastically. Some of the vistas along the highway looked like they could have been straight out of hilly Pennsylvania, except for the lichen covered trees and frequent bromeliads. Eventually, though, we gained some serious altitude, topping out at about 11,300 feet.  We made a lunch stop at La Georgina, a high-altitude restaurant renowned for its hummingbird feeders and hot chocolate.  After having left the hot, steamy lowlands earlier in the day, we were now in a 50 degree rain squall on a mountaintop!”

asters and goldenrods still blooming in late September
Asters

fll7612 writes—Daily Bucket: The last of summer’s color: “September 28, 2016—A picture heavy diary to get the last of the summer blooms in. Fall is just about here. All but the first and last two pictures were taken with the defective, old camera. I promise no more fuzzy pics after this diary. […] These last photos were taken last week when the resident juvenile [Great Blue Heron] had to spend most of the day protecting his pond from potential rivals. I was still figuring out the new camera and was using the lcd screen so I did not capture any of the action, but there was a lot of indignant squawking, staring and finally aerial chasing. As you can see in the pic below he fluffed up his feathers to make himself look as big and intimidating as possible.”

owktree writes—Daily Bucket: Sportsball Fill-in (Duck Edition): “Featuring photos from a walk along the Schuylkill River on the 24th of September.”

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Spiny Orbweaver web

PHScott writes—The Daily Bucket: Early Morning Sunlight: “An early morning treat looking out my kitchen window. The little bit of sun that filters thru the woods is spotty at best, and moves off quickly. I rushed to get this photo. The web is the Golden Orbweaver aka Banana Spider aka Nephila clavipes. You can see it just off-center. Pretty sure about the ID without walking right up to it to check. That and the Golden are the most common Orbweavers in my woods.”

Attack Gardener writes—The Daily Bark-It: Ascent (and Descent) of a Naturalist (Photo Heavy): “Gracie the Wonder Pug has always enjoyed exploring her world. When she was a baby, the kitchen and living room of her forever home provided plenty of spaces to investigate. As she grew though, the lure of the outdoors became irresistible. Seeing her interest, her parents provided her with the best possible education and eventually, she earned her degree in Natural Science with a minor in Gastronomy. Her initial post-graduate studies were focused on the flora and fauna found in her own backyard. She was endlessly fascinated by the variety to be found right outside her door.”

CLIMATE CHAOS

Meteor Blades writes—Again, the climate crisis barely got a debate mention, and even then, only because Clinton raised it: “In last night’s debate, the climate crisis was just a blip, an afterthought. The issue only arose because Clinton brought it up, without a single question on the subject from Lester Holt. Media moderators argue that climate questions don’t make for good television. Really? How about asking the candidates what they think about the conspiracy of Exxon executives to withhold information about climate change they knew to be true and to spend hundreds of millions lying about it and smearing the climate truth-tellers for decades? That doesn’t make for good television? You would think—given their penchant for turning even small disasters into major events with intense coverage—the media would view the climate crisis with an eye to their viewership numbers considering how disastrous that crisis is already becoming and how much worse it will soon be. Why not coverage about what many cities and some states are doing? Hoi polloi progressives also need to become more aggressive. Dealing with this crisis isn’t just the job of our leaders to ameliorate the results of a quarter-millennium of burning fossil fuels so prodigiously. Climate Mobilization is where we need to be. See also Bill McKibben on this.”

Mark Sumner writes—One stroke of a pen could make a huge difference on climate change: “On Tuesday, opponents of the President’s plan will begin oral arguments in the DC Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals on the basis that the EPA has overstepped in regulating carbon emissions. Should the administration win the argument, implementation of the plan will continue for now, and there may be a marginal acceleration of the rate at which coal-fired power plants are being phased out. However, it’s actually market forces—cheap natural gas produced by fracking—that is currently driving the decline of coal, so even a loss in court won’t reverse that trend. Where a loss in court would sting would be for the federal government’s ability to commit to agreements like the Paris Accord. With few other tools for the regulations of carbon emissions, a bad ruling on this point would turn U.S. agreement to such international agreements into little more than lip service. However the DC Circuit rules, odds are this case is going to move right down the street to the Supreme Court … where the deciding vote could be the first judge seated by the new president.”

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Proof that Trump 

DoctorJohninDC writes—Hillary Won The Debate But Planet Earth Didn’t Do So Well – Maybe Next Time: “With one of the largest audiences ever to watch a presidential debate, it was a perfect opportunity to really get into climate change and protection of the environment.  Hillary did restate the fact that Trump said climate change was created by the Chinese. That makes it a de facto hoax. And it’s something he’s denied ever saying, but we have his tweet as proof. Yet it’s too bad we did not get into their policy differences very much because there’s no guarantee the next debate will have such a big audience given his dismal performance. Trump has no climate change policy. The closest he comes to talking about climate change is his energy plan, which is virtually 100% focused on fossil fuels. As a result, the policies stated on his website reinforce the fact that he thinks climate change is a hoax, whether he still believes it was created by the Chinese or not. Anyone caring about climate change will be particularly alarmed by his 100-Day Action Plan.”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—UK Deniers Try Leeching Credibility from Royal Society: “Last week we talked about a group in the UK who tried, but ultimately failed, to use a respected institution as the venue for a denial conference in an effort to drum up headlines. Now the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) is looking to try their luck at the same ploy- booking space at the Royal Society for a lecture from Matt ‘King Coal Ridley.In a statement published on New Scientist, the Royal Society defended its decision to rent out space to the GWPF. The Society acknowledges that the science on climate is clear, says that it opposes efforts to misrepresent climate science, and has disagreed strongly with the GWPF before. But the Society apparently thinks the GWPF has now accepted reality and is merely interested in discussing policies to address the climate problem. At least that’s the impression given by their last sentence: ‘If the GWPF use this opportunity to misrepresent the scientific evidence it would undermine the legitimacy of their views on policy responses to climate change.’ Except we already know there is no legitimacy to their views.”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Trump’s Denial Denial No Ebell-weather of a Change on Climate: “Sigh. For a few brief, shining hours on Monday night, it seemed possible that Donald Trump might actually acknowledge the reality of climate change. In the first presidential debate, he denied his statements denying climate change, entering the rarely-charted territory of denial denial. This, while not great, allowed us a night of peaceful sleep with dreams that he would make a statement denying his denial and accepting the reality that burning fossil fuels causes climate change. But the harsh light of morning dashed those dreams. On Tuesday, Trump’s spokeswoman was quick to set the record straight, telling CNN that Trump doesn’t actually believe that it’s a hoax, but rather he just doesn’t think climate change is man-made. So it is happening, just not because of human actions. (Pence partially agrees, saying ‘there’s no question’ that humans have ‘some impact’ on the environment and climate.) Given the addition of Myron Ebell to Trump’s transition team (to focus on the EPA), no one should be surprised that Trump’s stance on climate change remains the one preferred by fossil fuel-funded groups like the one that has employed Ebell for decades.”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Polluting Dogs Have Their Day: Clean Power Plan Arguments Begin: “Oral arguments on the legality of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) begin today, kicking off a series of arguments, appeals and apparently, advertisements. And regardless of how these judges (six appointed by Ds, four by Rs) rule in the D.C. District Court, a West Virginia vs EPA Supreme Court showdown is nearly a sure thing.   So here’s a run-down of preliminary coverage. Two GOP-appointed EPA administrators penned an op-ed for the NY Times that explains Why Obama is right on clean energy. Their main point is that the CPP is in line with 45 years of the federal government’s power to set standards that states find ways to meet. Also at NYT is an explainer about why the clerical error which stipulates that the EPA can’t regulate something twice (think double jeopardy) has bearing on the ruling. But one expert was quoted saying such an interpretation is not likely to be endorsed by the court, as it is ‘like exempting restaurants from food handling requirements because they are subject to the fire code.’ Law professor Alice Kaswan explains in The Hill that aside from the climate benefits, ‘the rule could prevent 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks, and 300,000 missed work and school days each year, leading to air quality-related economic benefits of at least $11 to $28 billion by 2030.’”

Lenny Flank writes—Study: Climate Change Will Likely Outpace Ability of Grasses and Cereal Crops to Adapt: “Climate change may soon threaten much of global biodiversity, especially if species cannot adapt to changing climatic conditions quickly enough. A critical question is how quickly climatic niches change, and if this speed is sufficient to prevent extinction as climates warm. Here, we address this question in the grass family (Poaceae). Grasses are fundamental to one of Earth’s most widespread biomes (grasslands), and provide roughly half of all calories consumed by humans (including wheat, rice, corn and sorghum). We estimate rates of climatic niche change in 236 species and compare these with rates of projected climate change by 2070.”

Hunter writes—Open thread for night owls: Earth’s atmospheric carbon levels pass milestone threshold ‘permanently’: “It’s all but official now: 400 ppm is the new normal. ‘Is it possible that October 2016 will yield a lower monthly value than September and dip below 400 ppm? Almost impossible,’ Ralph Keeling, the scientist who runs the Scripps Institute for Oceanography’s carbon dioxide monitoring program, wrote in a blog post. ‘Brief excursions toward lower values are still possible, but it already seems safe to conclude that we won’t be seeing a monthly value below 400 ppm this year – or ever again for the indefinite future.’ We may get a day or two reprieve in the next month, similar to August when Tropical Storm Madeline blew by Hawaii and knocked carbon dioxide below 400 ppm for a day. But otherwise, we’re living in a 400 ppm world. Even if the world stopped emitting carbon dioxide tomorrow, what has already put in the atmosphere will linger for many decades to come.

CANDIDATES, STATE AND DC ECO-RELATED POLITICS

Mark Sumner writes—Trump’s answers on climate and energy ranged from simply wrong to strictly illegal: “Trump’s ‘we invested … that was a disaster’ almost certainly refers to Solyndra. In 2009, Solyndra had a lock on a particular form of “thin film” solar cells that could be applied to surfaces. They were not as effective as silicon panels, but their flexibility—both literally and metaphorically—and their low cost promised to make the company a major player. At the time the company received a $535 million U.S. Energy Department loan guarantee, it was valued at $2 billion.Then it failed, taking those loans with it. But why Solyndra failed isn’t a story of ‘solar doesn’t work.’ In fact, it’s the opposite. What happened wasn’t that Solyndra’s technology didn’t work, or the market for solar was smaller than expected. What happened was that the cost of the more effective silicon panels dropped so quickly that there was no room for Solyndra’s less effective tech. In just 18 months, new techniques for making polysilicon dropped production costs of silicon panels by 89 percent.  In fact, 2010 was the start of an explosion in solar panel sales that’s seen the market grow at an astounding rate.”

wdrath writes—Three Key Points For Hillary To Make: She’s The Change Agent, Climate Change & Social Security: “There are a lot of important areas that need to be covered at tomorrow’s presidential debate. However, there are three main issues that have been gnawing at me for a several days now. First, that Hillary’s the real change agent. Second, she is the only one addressing climate change. And third,  she will protect and defend Social Security. Each of these are a major point of differentiation between Hillary and The Donald. Each of them would be welcome news to key constituency groups, including millennials.”

A Siegel writes—When graded on curve, @RealDonaldTrump flunks #Science”For nearly a decade, an effort has existed to try to drive attention to science issues in the Presidential Debates. Regretfully, Science Debate has not succeeded in getting prime time debates focused on “STEM” (or STEAM or…) nor even many serious questions asked of candidates in debates. However, the effort has succeeded in getting written responses from campaigns — including, in 2016, from all four ‘major’ campaigns to 20 serious questions ranging from scientific integrity to climate change to oceans to … These responses make interesting — often rather stunning (if not jaw dropping, head against wall) — reading.  These are the sort of substantive discussions that, in the minds of many, should have a prominent role in our political discussions as opposed to discussing Gennifer Flowers’ seating charts or Donald Trump’s hand size.”

WILDERNESS, NATIONAL FORESTS AND PARKS & OTHER PUBLIC LANDS

mikethegunguy writes—Maybe Wilderness Should Manage Wilderness Zones: “What chiefly makes the lands designated as ‘wilderness’ distinct from all other land owned or administered by government agencies is the concept of ‘permanence;’ or rather, the lack of any kind of permanent structures or facilities which would allow humans to exist within those spaces in any kind of permanent way. The law says that in these spaces “man himself is a visitor,” whose presence is both temporary and transient so as to protect the ‘primeval character’ of wilderness zones. Of the present 109 million acres of land designated as wilderness, 94% is located in 11 western states, of which Alaska alone contains 56 million acres, which is 52% of the total.  The only state east of the Mississippi containing more than 1 million acres is Florida, mostly within the Everglades National Park.  My state – Massachusetts – is third to last, containing only 3,244 acres which encloses a little piece of Cape Cod. So if I want to see any real wilderness, I have to get in my car, figure to be away for a week or more, and drive. Or do I?”

BYPRODUCTS, TRASH, TOXIC & RADIOACTIVE WASTE

LiberalTexan11 writes—Chromium 6 in our Drinking Water: “The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has release a report that found hexavalent chromium  in almost 90% of US drinking water. The report found that 219 million Americans’ drinking water succeeded the public health goal of .02 parts per billion set by the California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and that the drinking water of 7 million Americans exceeded California’s legal limit. […]Hexavalent chromium, or as it is commonly know as chromium-6, is the chemical compound made famous by the movie Erin Brockovich. The movie, which stars Julie Roberts, focuses on the real life story of the lawyer Erin Brockovich, now Erin Brockovich-Ellis, and her law suit against company Pacific, Gas & Electric (PG&C).  Brockovich-Ellis accused the company’s leaching of hexavalent chromium into the drinking water of Hinkley, California, of causing increase number of cancer and other negative health problems. While this may seem cause for concern it is important to put this report into perspective. The EWG is an environmental NGO that isn’t known for following science. Its famous “Dirty Dozen” list of foods containing pesticides has been widely discredited for failing to recognize that the pesticides in question fall far below the USDA accepted standard. Likewise Brockovich-Ellis also has been criticized for her claims about hexavalent chromium and its effects on the health of the residents of Hinkley.”

acqsys writes—Senate Allocates No Money for Flint Water Crisis – Email Congress Now! “Republicans in Congress are going through their usual hostage-taking during the critical government funding cycle. Much of the federal government will shut down after September 30 if Congress does not approve temporary funding by then.  So far, the Senate has a bill to extend funding through December 9. That bill also has funding to combat the Zika virus and to assist victims of the recent flooding in Louisiana.  It does NOT provide urgently needed help to the people of Flint, Michigan to fix the lead contamination in their drinking water. They have just been told that they’ll need to keep filtering their water or buying bottled water for months, or even a year longer; that’s a temporary and inadequate fix.”

wilderness voice writes—KosAbility: Parkinson’s and Pesticides: “ ‘Pesticides have been associated with Parkinson’s disease (Parkinson’s disease), and protective gloves and workplace hygiene can reduce pesticide exposure. We assessed whether use of gloves and workplace hygiene modified associations between pesticides and Parkinson’s disease. … Protective glove use modified the associations of paraquat and permethrin with Parkinson’s disease: neither pesticide was associated with Parkinson’s disease among protective glove users, while both pesticides were associated with Parkinson’s disease among non-users … permethrin OR 4.3 … p = 0.05.’ In other words, workers who used protective gloves did not have an elevated risk of Parkinson’s, versus workers who did not use protective gloves had increased odds of acquiring Parkinson’s by a factor of 4.3, and that result was statistically significant.”

MarineChemist writes—Update on Fukushima Related Science Communication: “The purpose of this post is to update the community here on the outcome of legal proceedings that I have been preoccupied with as of late. I wanted to thank the Daily Kos community for their support and attention to the Integrated Fukushima Ocean Radionuclide Monitoring (InFORM) project these last number of years. We are likely to continue efforts to monitor for Fukushima derived contamination in Canada’s marine environment and to scientifically evaluate risk to ecosystem and public health for a further 3 years into 2019. A brief report of the trial was published in the Japan Times yesterday under the title: Canada activist found guilty of harassing scientists over Fukushima fallout.”

ENERGY

Pipelines & Other Oil  and Gas Transport

6412093 writes—The Pipeline Excavation Avoided all Graves, Claims North Dakota State Historical Society: “Six days ago, seven archaeologists from the State Historical Society fanned out over the bulldozed area to access the damages. They walked back and forth over the cleared ground in the construction corridor. They found nothing. Their conclusion: ‘No cultural material was observed in the inspected corridor. No human bone  or other evidence of burials was recorded in the inventoried corridor.’ There’s no question but that the pipeline route runs near historic Native American cultural sites.  During three or more prior archaeologists’ reviews, the scientists had identifed scores of important locations close by. A tribal researcher, Tim Mentz, claims to have recently discovered almost thirty Native American gravesites, including the likely  burial site of an important Chief, near the pipeline route.”

thebarrel7 writes—I have a few questions about the actual Pipeline materials used for the Bakken Pipeline in N.D. “Who is welding the pipe joints?  Who is making absolutely certain that EVERY weld is X-RAY grade qualified when complete?  Where did the pipe come from?  Was the steel tested to superior grades before use?  Before already being buried?  Since most pipe was pre-stacked outdoors for months, the covering sheath, (the colored stuff), probably protects the body of the pipe, but what coating prevented pitting and corrosion of the ends where the welding occurs?  News reports of the pipeline presuming installation, stacking hundreds of pipes in Newton Iowa, showed rusted ends on the pipe months ago.  If this pipe came from China, it probably has salt damage inside as well … even, in my mind, we should be told where the welding wire comes from and what type and rating …? Since this awful raw oil is corrosive, what isolates it from the interior of the pipeline generally and especially at the inside of each weld so the corrosion can’t occur over time?  Any corrosion at all can NOT be tolerated. (Means the pipeline is EXPECTED to fail …)”

Meteor Blades writes—N.D. pipeline activism sparks White House to plan consultations with Native tribes on infrastructure: “The success so far of the spectacular and growing tribal opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline spurred three departments of the federal government to send a letter Friday inviting the nation’s 567 federally recognized tribes of American Indians and Alaska Natives to a series of meetings discussing the impact of infrastructure projects on their lands. The seven meetings—conducted jointly by the departments of Justice, Interior and the Army—will begin October 11 and continue until November 21. Though sparked by the actions of the North Dakota Water Protectors to block the pipeline that would carry 470,000 barrels of Bakken Formation oil each day when completed, the White House move promises to be not just about DAPL but rather the bigger picture. […] If you’re an Indian with even a smidgen of knowledge about the history of interactions between the United States and indigenous people on this continent, there’s every reason to be suspicious of such a letter. For more than two centuries as a nation (and a century and a half before becoming one), the general meaning of “consultations” by American governments with the people who had already been here for 300 or so generations has been: We Talk, You Listen.”

AGRICULTURE, FOOD & GARDENING

enhydra lutris writes—Big Sugar and Heart Disease: “UCSF reveals how sugar industry influenced national conversation on heart disease written by Elizabeth Fernandez , UC San Francisco. The article opens with the following: A newly discovered cache of industry documents revealed that the sugar industry began working closely with nutrition scientists in the mid-1960s to single out fat and cholesterol as the dietary causes of coronary heart disease and to downplay evidence that sucrose consumption was also a risk factor. An analysis of those papers by researchers at UC San Francisco appears Sept. 12 in JAMA Internal Medicine. The article then continues to show how the media attention to the heart disease risks of sucrose consumption was buried and derailed by a Harvard ‘literature review’ debunking any connection between sugar and heart disease and asserting that reducing cholesterol and saturated fat were the only dietary changes needed to prevent coronary heart disease. That literature review was, of course, bought and paid for big sugar.”

gmoke writes—City Agriculture – September 25, 2016: A small collection of helpful links.

(Originally appeared at DailyKos.)

About the Author

Meteor Blades is a writer and contributing editor at DailyKos. He believes there is something profoundly wrong with our system. - the unchecked accumulation of wealth and power into the hands of a very small group of corporate business interests has contributed to the wholesale corruption of our political system. For an understanding about the level of corruption in our country, he encourages you to view these two PBS documentaries: (1). ,The Untouchables; (2) The United States of ALEC.