Spotlight on green news & views: Fire obliterates California city; judge says no to Keystone XL

CRITTERS AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS

The trail ends here. You have to climb over this pile of driftwood to get out onto the beach.

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket – foggy quiet beach: “Olympic Peninsula. The day we walked out to Second Beach it was pea soup fog. No wind. Not cold, so we were ambling. The beach was empty and quiet, the sand soft. Sounds muffled, even the waves. Feels like the world is close around us on such days. Restful. Peaceful.”

Besame writes—Daily Bucket: Monarchs cross the border but don’t arrive in time for Day of the Dead: “The monarchs hadn’t arrived in Mexico’s overwintering colony sites by November 1st, but further north people reported seeing hundreds — more monarchs on the wing than they’ve seen for years. 300 miles north of the sanctuaries in Nuevo Leon, a continuous flight of 90-100 monarchs per minute was report to Correo Real on October 31st. Although the monarchs’ arrival traditionally is in synch with Day of the Dead celebrations, records show their arrival is sometime within a week of this celebration. Oct 27 (2017), Nov 1 (2016), Nov 3 (2015), Nov 26 (2014), Nov 6 (2013), Oct 29 (2012), Oct 20(2011), Oct 26 (2010), Nov 5 (2009) This year, monarch migration encountered heavy rains and winds in Texas and Oklahoma, as well as the rain storms in the eastern U.S.”

PHScott writes—The Daily Bucket: Spiders, Bugs, and a Nasty Weed – Besame Evac ed.: “It’s a slow cloudy day in the Florida Panhandle but there is always something new outside, something I may or might not see again. And as soon as I posted this bit of daily obs and Bucket starter, Besame commented on their evacuation. Ongoing… November 2018. No really, there is not much going on. The Yellow and Black Garden Spider took up residence on my porch. She ran the first few times but then I guess it figured I was not worth the effort. Amazing how hairy they are.”

6412093 writes—The Daily Bucket–Secret Visitors: “I just returned from a SF Bay area vacation. In my absence, the various suburban wildlife could forage uninterrupted. Some plants would surrender to the lure of Autumn.”

fossilbird2.jpg

6412093 writes—The Daily Bucket–How Female Birds Ended Their Sexual Assaults, But it Took Millions of Years: “As millions of years rolled by,  the flying dinosaurs evolved, replacing scales with feathers, and the larger dicked dinosaurs died off without breeding, and without heirs. The flying dinosaurs eventually became birds, and by then the bird penis has been naturally selected out of existence, and replaced by a cloaca. In some cases, such as raptors and shorebirds, the females are also often larger than the males. The manly Eagle or strutting rooster? No penis. Over 95% of the bird population? Dickless. Instead most male birds have a universal opening for excreting, pissing, and ejaculating, called a cloaca, and breed via a cloaca “kiss” with the female. Only ducks, and some flightless birds, still have penises.”

DSC01461.JPG

Sandbear75 writes—The Daily Bucket – The Great Sagebrush Hunt: “Being new here, I really should start at the beginning. I am a professional model railroader. For seven years I have been building a museum depicting the Union Pacific Railroad between Cheyenne, Wyoming and Ogden, Utah. Our time frame is the beginning of September of 1957. I try to be as accurate as I can with my work. One of my lifelong pet peeves has been the unrealistic re-creation of what is arguably the most numerous plant species in the western U.S. If one builds a model railroad anywhere west of Nebraska, there needs to be sagebrush on it. Yet, no one seems to have nailed it to my eyes. How hard can it be?Well, it turns out to be one of the harder challenges I’ve faced so far. I go to great lengths to get the ‘feel’ right. That includes road trips to Utah and Wyoming to collect dirt and plant samples along with weeks of research at any museum, historical society or college I can find. But sagebrush shouldn’t be a problem. After all, I’ve spent my whole life walking by the plants on hikes or going fishing. I certainly know what it looks like in my minds eye.”

CLIMATE CHAOS

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Latour Gave Deniers The Tools To Deconstruct Science, But Now He’s Trying To Save It: “Last week, New York Magazine ran a lengthy profile of Bruno Latour. Writer Ava Kofman dove into what Latour, “France’s most famous and misunderstood philosopher,” is doing in a world that has embraced his post-modern and post-truth ideas in a way he’s not exactly thrilled with. Latour recognizes how his seminal mid-century philosophical work, which explored and illuminated how science and facts are not discovered but created by humans with bias working within large social networks, has been weaponized by partisan or biased critics of science. Specifically, Kofman explains, “corporate-funded climate skeptics” use Latour’s “arguments about the constructed nature of knowledge to sow doubt around the scientific consensus on climate change.” The denier’s mantra—that climate science is tainted by biased researchers pursuing grants from partisan or otherwise corrupt funding institutions-—is a bastardized version of Latour’s ideas. Latour argues that the production of science is a social undertaking with findings that are inseparable from the context in which they were created. We all carry some sort of bias that even science can’t fully untangle or sanitize, but acknowledging that doesn’t invalidate the scientific process. In fact, it makes it stronger.

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Yes, Warming Helps Pests and Weeds but Hurts Pets and Crops: “One of the supposed contradictions deniers love to point out is that climate science shows warming benefits certain species but causes problems for most others. Most recently, for example, Faye Flam’s Bloomberg column on an impending warming-assisted ‘rat explosion,’ crop-destroying pests and ‘cockroaches of the ocean got both WUWT and JoNova posts in response. As blogger Joanna Nova put it, ‘Climate change only makes bad things live and grow stronger.’ Though that doesn’t always hold true. For example, a recent Reuters story on the Tsetse fly finding its traditional home too hot to handle sort of flipped the script, yet deniers’ responses didn’t change. The story explains that the flies are likely responding to the overheating by moving to cooler locations, bringing their dangerous sleeping sickness to new territory. Because of this assertion, Bjorn Lomborg lamented on Twitter last week that ‘you can’t just say that occationally[sic], global warming does good things.’ ‘Come on Bjorn, you know the drill,’ a former Heritage stooge replied. ‘Cute/good fauna go extinct, while ugly/deadly fauna simply move or even expand.’ Strangely, there’s actually some truth to this denier’s statements about the lopsided biological impacts of climate change.

jeremybloom writes—GOP members of Climate Solutions Caucus lose big in blue wave – who’s left, and what’s next? “Congressman Carlos Curbelo’s Florida district is getting swamped by the rising seas of climate change. Likewise, he and half the GOP members of the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus he founded were swamped last night by the Democratic blue wave that washed over the country. Twenty members escaped the bloodbath, while 23 either retired in the face of the blue wave, or lost their re-election bids last night, leaving an uncertain future (the fates of the two GOP delegates from Samoa and Puerto Rico have not yet been determined). The caucus had always been problematic—many of the members appear to have joined only to shore up their centrist credentials in the face of the rough 2018 midterm playing field, and when it came down to actual votes in favor of actual climate solutions, nearly all bailed to join their Republican colleagues.”

Extreme Weather & Natural Phenomena

Jessica Sutherland writes—This is what it looks like when an entire California town is destroyed by wildfire: “Climate change presents itself in various ways across these United States. Devastating hurricanes, droughts, blizzards, and floods are pummeling communities from coast to coast, and it’s horrifying to see the carnage. The wildfires that challenge the West Coast are no less heartbreaking. Twitter users are sharing shocking footage and images from Paradise, CA, a sleepy mountain town of nearly 27,000 people and 11,700 acres that has been obliterated from the map, leaving five dead so far, with additional deaths being investigated. Just 80-ish miles due north of Sacramento, the city of Paradise is gone, thanks to what Cal Fire is calling the Camp Fire. The fire, which began early in the morning of November 8, is just 5 percent contained, and has already burned through 70,000 acres in Butte County as of this writing.

Doctor Jazz writes—Apocalypse in Paradise CA, Foothill Community Gone in Less than a Day, Thousands Flee, Fatalities: “While many of us have been focused on other horrific news, as Blue Aardvark posted here, Paradise, a community of about 27,000, and just a few minutes east of my home town of Chico, is basically gone. 2,000 firefighters on Friday were racing to stop the explosive growth of the Camp fire in Northern California, which spread to 70,000 acres overnight and has destroyed about 2,000 homes and buildings across parts of Butte County. The fire advanced at a rate of 80 acres per minute. People had no time to prepare, they just drove en masse down the Skyway. Surrounded by flames on both sides, many, including law enforcement, had to abandon their cars on the road when traffic jammed and were forced to run on foot down toward Chico. Burned out cars had to be bulldozed off the road so fire trucks and other emergency vehicles could gain access. My friend, Jim, told me Chico was overwhelmed with shell shocked refugees, many ending up in the parking lot of a Raley’s Market with nothing but the clothes on their backs.”

blue aardvark writes—Paradise, California, population 25,000, engulfed in flames. Total evacuation: “The entire town has evacuated. The flames started on the east side but then jumped to the west. Paradise is on a ridge and there is poor road access to safety. One of my sons drove through flames to get a client out. Firefighters are pulling people out of cars, telling them they can’t make it, and having them shelter inside large concrete buildings like a Walgreens. Fire is spreading at greater than an acre per second. My daughter the social worker got a call from an oldster client who was saying goodbye — he can’t really drive and he could see flames on both sides of his house. Of course she called the police to send someone, but who can get there? The hospital is already gone. They managed to evacuate first.”

201811-SC03.JPG Longleaf Pines — showing the sandy subsoil one foot down.

PHScott writes—The Daily Bucket: Shiver Me Timbers, Michael Blew Thru Here: “Photo diary about the destruction of the natural woods and pineland along the east side of the Apalachicola River in the Florida Panhandle. Images of trees thrown violently here and there or viciously snapped in half. November 2018. Work work work – there is so much to cleanup, repairs to start, piles of trees and litter to haul away. Last week I spent 3 days helping rangers from the FL Forest Service cut and move trees on the Ft Braden Trails west of Tallahassee near me. We did a lot of detours around falls and leaners. In one place thru a Gallberry depression, there was maybe 200′ of big trees criss-crossed down the trail like giant pick-up-sticks. Hardwood trees piled one on the other, worse than these Longleaf Pines.”

OCEANS, WATER, DROUGHT

Dan Bacher writes—Breaking: Delta Stewardship Council staff finds California WaterFix inconsistent with Delta Plan! ””The Delta Stewardship Council staff today released a draft report finding that the California WaterFix is not consistent with the Delta Plan after considering the appeals filed by an array of organizations, Tribes and governments to the ‘certification of consistency’ filed by the California Department of Water Resources. ‘In light of claims raised by nine appellant groups, Council staff recommends that the Council conclude that substantial evidence does not exist in the record to support the Department’s findings that California WaterFix is consistent with the Delta Plan. Staff further recommends that the Council remand the matter to the Department for reconsideration, pursuant to Water Code section 85225.25,’ according to the report. The Council staff found that there was no evidence that indicated the Delta Tunnels project would be operated in a manner that meets Delta water quality standards; that DWR did not use the best available science; that DWR did not provide evidence that water suppliers who would benefit from the tunnels would reduce their reliance on the Delta; and DWR failed to demonstrate that ‘the project is consistent with respect to compatibility with local land use plans.’ What does this all mean? ‘That means the tunnels will be stopped if the Council members go along with the staff recommendations,’ said Michael Brodsky, lawyer for the Save the California Delta Alliance. 

WILDERNESS, NATIONAL FORESTS AND PARKS & OTHER PUBLIC LANDS

SwednSwedn writes—Rainforest Reaper: “THE NEW PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL WANTS TO STEP UP AGRIBUSINESS AND MINING EXPLOITATION OF THE AMAZON – THE BIGGEST LUNG OF THE WORLD. HOW WILL OTHER PRESIDENTS, GOVERNMENTS, ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS AND NORMAL PEOPLE ON THE PLANET REACT TO THAT? Agriculture by Big Farma in the Amazon not only is destroying vital parts of the lungs of the planet, it’s also poisoning the soil with chemicals, syntethic fertilizers and GMOs. In the not so long run, this means transforming rainforests into desert. Still another ugly unfalse fact: an important part of foreign investments to the soy and beef sector in the Brazilian Amazon are paid from tax havens, possibly with money from tax evasion and money laundering. This was pointed out out to me by a friend of mine, a scientist at the Resilience Centre of Stockholm University. With some colleagues in Stockholm and Amsterdam, he revealed the dirty connection using data from Brazil’s central bank. In Europe their findings got a great deal of publicity, also some in Brazil, but I have not found this scandal reported in US mainstream media.

ENERGY

Fossil Fuels

Dan Bacher writes—Judge orders moratorium on offshore fracking in federal waters off California: “A federal judge today ordered the Trump administration to stop issuing permits for offshore fracking in federal waters — waters over 3 miles from shore — off California. U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez concluded that the federal government violated the Endangered Species Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act when it allowed fracking in offshore oil and gas wells in all leased federal waters off California, according to a news release from the Center for Biological Diversity. ‘Stopping offshore fracking is a big victory for California’s coast and marine life,; said Kristen Monsell, oceans program legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. ‘We’re glad the Trump administration lost this round in its push to expand dangerous oil operations off California. This decision protects marine life and coastal communities from fracking’s toxic chemicals.’ This order is an important step in addressing the expansion of fracking off California, although it doesn’t impact state waters within 3 miles from shore, where most of California’s offshore oil wells are located. Fortunately, litigation has prevented fracking from taking place in state waters for several years.”

Renewables, Efficiency & Conservation

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—No, Wind Farms Don’t Kill 75% of Birds Nearby- Birds Just Don’t Hang Out Around Turbines: “Deniers are crowing over a new study in Nature that’s supposedly claiming wind turbines are killing 3/4ths of birds in the areas around them. Obviously that’s absurd, so what the flock is going on?This new myth took flight with a Daily MailOnline story with a headline claiming ‘Wind farms are the ‘new apex predators’: Blades kill off 75% of buzzards, hawks and kites that live nearby, study shows.’ The GWPF quickly posted the Mail story on its site, WUWT lazily copied GWPF’s copy of the Mail, and JoNova excerpted it. The problem is that the study did not, at all, in any way or at any point, show that wind turbine blades ‘kill off 75% of buzzards, hawks and kites.’ While it mentions once, in passing, that turbines can kill birds and bats by direct impact, the study has no tally of bird corpses or anything dealing with avian mortality at the study site.

Pipelines & Other Oil  and Gas Transport

Lefty Coaster writes—Judge halts the Keystone XL Pipeline: “In a major victory for environmentalists and indigenous rights groups, Judge Brian Morris of the District Court for the District of Montana overturned President Trump’s permit for the Canada-to-Texas pipeline, which the president signed shortly after taking office last year. […] The Trump administration had tried to argue that federal courts didn’t even have the right to review Trump’s approval, saying that it extended from his constitutional authority over border crossings. The court rejected that argument. In rejecting the permit, Morris relied mainly on arguing that the State Department, the agency that analyzed the project, didn’t properly account for factors such as low oil prices, the cumulative impacts of greenhouse gases from Keystone and the Alberta Clipper pipeline and the risk of oil spills.This comes on the heels of a Canadian Judge blocking another Tar Sands pipeline to Vancouver British Columbia.”

Mark Sumner writes—Judge blocks construction of Keystone XL pipeline, accuses Trump of ignoring climate information: “The U.S. District Court in Montana has ruled that construction of the Keystone XL pipeline cannot proceed, because the information provided by the government ignored evidence of the impact on climate and on cultural resources of Native Americans. At his morning press gaggle, Trump called the ruling a ‘disgrace,’ but what the judge in the case found disgraceful was the way Trump EPA officials had “discarded” evidence that was available on the impact of the pipeline—evidence that caused President Obama to suspend construction in 2015. Trump has claimed that construction of the pipeline would create as many as 28,000 jobs. However, even the firm charged with building the pipeline has suggested that the number of temporary construction jobs would peak at less than half of that number. The State Department estimates that the pipeline would create a fraction of that number during construction and lead to fewer than 50 permanent positions. Trump has also claimed that the pipeline is vital for “American energy independence” though the diluted tar that would pass through the pipeline is actually sourced from Canada. Similarly, Trump had promised to require that the pipeline be made from American steel, but most would be constructed from already existing pipeline material sourced from Canada, Mexico, and elsewhere.”

REGULATIONS & PROTECTIONS

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—By Scott! DOI Chief Zinke Reaches the Absurd and Bizarre Stage Of His Scandal-Ridden Tenure: “Before Scott Pruitt finally resigned, the tenor of his tenure’s scandals had gone from obvious industry favoritism and a sweetheart rent deal with a lobbyist, to abusing his government power and privilege by insisting his drivers turn on the sirens to get him to dinner on time, to finally just purely bizare stories about sending aides to find used Trump Hotel mattresses, seeking out a job for his wife, and buying fancy pens and snacks. Since Pruitt’s exit, Ryan Zinke over at the Department of Interior has taken the lead as cabinet member under the most investigations (and with Dems controlling the House, there will be many more to come). Reports about these investigations are starting to leak out, as is evidence Zinke violated his ethics pledge, prompting Trump to express some skepticism. Politico suggests the secretary may be eying the revolving door to Fox News or energy companies, so keep an eye on Has Ryan Zinke Been Fired Yet dot com.  And as Zinke continues to rack up negative headlines, it seems he has followed the Pruitt playbook and entered the world of absurdities.

AGRICULTURE​, FOOD & GARDENING

mexico2.jpg

kernals writes—Norman Borlaug: The Man Who Saved 1 Billion People: “The story of how one agronomist prevented mass famine in the Third World during the 60s and 70s is proof that not all heroes wear capes. It also shows how some people can be punished for feeding the poor.Borlaug was born in Cresco, Iowa, to a family of farmers. He attended the University of Minnesota and after earning a P.h.d. in plant genetics in 1942 went to work as a microbiologist at DuPont.  In 1944, the Rockefeller Foundation, with assistance from the Mexican government, created the Office for Special Studies. It was to employ Mexican and American scientists in improving agricultural yields. The Mexicans saw this as a way to boost their economic progress. Borlaug was hired at the Office, despite DuPont offering to double his salary if he stayed. During his time in Mexico, he managed to breed new types of wheat with thicker steams that could grow taller without falling over and could resist stem rust. By 1963, 95% of Mexican wheat was Borlaug’s dwarf variety. His work meant more prosperity for Mexican farmers.

Merry Light writes—Saturday Morning Garden Blogging Vol. 14.45 – A Walk Down Memory Lane: “Good morning, fellow gardeners and all others, and be welcome!  I’m warned by Flickr that I have to pay them money or they’ll take all but 1,000 photos of mine away.  I have had a Flickr backup app on my phone for several years and so I tended to gather many pictures there.  Over 3,000, to be more exact. So I was looking through them and trying to figure out which ones to delete and which ones to keep. I’ve selected a few photos from over the years that I think you’ll enjoy. Most were taken in November, although not always. I found photos of my early garden. This photo is from 2005, the year after we purchased the house. I have photos of the ever-evolving ex-tree garden from the very start. I remember sitting in the back of the house all winter looking out the window and thinking, I cannot wait for spring so I can dig out those giant  juniper bushes. You know the ones I mean, the 50 year old spider home behemoths that they used to plant in the old days. I only regret that I did not take a ‘before’ photo.”

TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE

joe1010101 writes—CA’s gas tax should be higher to provide an infrastructure that works like the Incan Royal Highway: “Californians are faced with the decision of repealing a gas tax that was enacted by the state legislature last year. The gas tax will raise billions of dollars which are allocated to general infrastructure spending. It is a $.13 tax increase on gasoline, $.20 on diesel and a slew of new fees. With this tax it is said that we would be able to get California roads back to where they should be. But I voted for the repeal of the gas tax. Something I never thought I’d do. I’ll state my reasons after the history lesson about one of the greatest road systems in history. The Qhaqaq Ñan, which in Quechua means the Royal Road, was the greatest road system in the 15th century. And I mean in the world. It is comparable to the Silk Road of Eurasia, although it was maintained much better. Reports of the Silk Road mention that it was in general disrepair and very dangerous. The Qhapaq Ñan was safe, easy to follow, provided lodging and postal service. It even had features that protected from the elements.

Continue reading...