Spotlight on green news & views: New climate studies show action needed now; Zinke is 'disaster'

CRITTERS AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS

sccampbell writes—Why Eradicating Coyotes is Wrong: “Of all the mammals that Wildlife Services attempts to eradicate, coyotes are the animals they go after the most. Killing almost one million coyotes within the past decade, a more appropriate name for this agency would be Wildlife Exterminators. Why should you care? Because these killings are financed by your hard-earned tax dollars. It is estimated that Wildlife Services spends $80 million annually to kill coyotes. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/08/coyote-america-dan-flores-history-science/ This is money down the drain because coyotes possess a truly amazing ability to quickly repopulate when their numbers have been decimated. Even if you kill 70% of the coyotes in a given area, by the following year, their population will have rebounded back to their original number. Besides being costly and ineffective, the kill tactics used to eradicate these coyotes are also inhumane and dangerous. Wildlife Services guns coyotes down from helicopters, poisons them using compounds like cyanide that lead to a very painful death, and ensnares them via leghold traps. These traps are so barbaric that they have been outlawed in 80 countries.

calang writes—Border wall is trumping the butterflies: ”I’m surprised that the national news media has not picked up on this important crisis. My dad who lives in South Texas brought this article in the San Antonio Express News to my attention.  Bulldozing of protected butterfly refuge land is supposed to begin this weekend, destroying crucial refuge habitat for migrating butterflies, such as monarchs. This essential refuge is falling prey to wall construction that is, in short, dehumanizing political grandstanding. Hundreds of thousands of butterflies flit through the center’s 100-acre sanctuary in Mission. …  Construction through the refuge could start in February. Typically construction projects through sensitive habits have to pass through important layers of legislative protection before they can be approved. Projects have to prove that the environmental impacts of a project will be minimal compared to the benefits of the construction. However, the federal government has been allowed to bypass these federal laws.”

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket – Mom’s annual calendar edition: “For some years I’ve been putting together a wall calendar for my mom with nature photos I’ve taken, using an online company that prints it out and mails it to me. I know physical wall calendars are anachronistic these days (I don’t even have them myself except for tide calendars), but my mom, 93, is one of the few folks who still uses them for noting scheduled events, appointments etc. Appreciation for beauty is something we share, as well as creative artistic endeavors, and to my mind xmas gifts should be based on what we share with a recipient. I’m still putting together next year’s calendar —  this xmas’s gift —   but in keeping with my tradition over the past few years I’m posting a bucket with the picture pages from the previous year’s calendar. Each collection of photos has a theme; 2018’s was Flotsam. She’s been looking at these pictures this past year. Flotsam is what floats by itself, jetsam is what is deliberately thrown away (en.m.wikipedia.org/…).”

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket – frosty days: “December 2018. Pacific Northwest. We’ve had a week of frosty days here. Not really a cold snap per se since it hasn’t gone below freezing except in some low spots, but between days in the 30s and low weak winter sun we have frost on the ground and marshes are freezing over. On Tuesday Dec. 4, I stopped by Otto’s Marsh to see who was there. About half the 38 Trumpeter swans and uncountable ducks were way over on the far side. That spot is popular in cold weather, doesn’t seem to freeze over as quick. That’s where runoff enters the marsh. The marsh is deepest over there. Unfortunately for me it’s a long ways from the road so I don’t get good looks. The marsh is about 30 acres.”

Desert Scientist writes—Roaming the Southwestern Grassland: “I had almost made it back down the muddy ranch road to the main highway leading to Folsom, New Mexico, when I failed to avoid a slide into the ditch and my Ford F-150 was stuck in the mud. I could see the highway only a few hundred yards to the west, but there was zero traffic, it was Sunday morning and I needed to be in Springer by noon or the crew might fly off without me. I was stuck in more ways than one. I had gotten into this predicament because my research partner had decided that I needed to retrieve the pitfall samples from a ranch along the Colorado-New Mexico line that our field crew had missed collecting. The reason they missed it was because of a bent axle on their truck and a summer thunderstorm that dropped about two inches of rain on our research site before they could get it fixed. I argued (correctly as it turned out) that the pitfalls would be flooded and we could actually get no data that was usable, but he was adamant. We needed the data and if there was a chance to collect it I should give it a try. Of course the pitfalls were flooded and now I was stuck. I walked down the ranch road to the highway and at last hitched a ride on a passing car. They dropped me off at the next ranch house and I waved them off (stupid of me) only to find a note on the ranch house door — ON VACATION! I then hiked back along the highway in the general direction of Folsom and after a mile or so found someone at home. The ranch wife told me her husband would be along shortly and he soon arrived and pulled my truck from the mire. As I drove on to Raton on my way to Springer I could hear the crew calling me on what passed then as a two-way radio, but I could not get them to hear me. Needless to say I pretty well burned rubber on the freeway south from Raton and found that despite threats to leave me behind, the crew had waited for my arrival.”

IMG_2054.JPG

6412093 writes—The Daily Bucket–When Eagles Attack: ““Salmon Woman and I walked near Bethany Lake in Washington County Oregon yesterday. We saw a gull. But you probably would rather hear about the three eagles we saw, although I’ve good pictures of the gull. We heard the eagles before we saw them; a high pitched conversational chatter. I knew where to look; they have a favorite spot in the highest tree. I saw two, perched away from each other. […] After a couple of passes, the overhead eagle flew south. The two eagles in the tree chattered to each other for several seconds, and this happened.”

IMG_2283.JPG The birds compete for these few square inches of water access.

6412093 writes—The Daily Bucket: Frog Court Investigates Reclamation Violations: “The balding, hooded-eyed robed judge rapped the gavel. ‘Frog Court comes to order!’ The bailiff cried. ‘First Matter; In RE: Redwoodman.  The hell is this?  Where’s the defendant?’ The Judge barked. ‘I’m right here your honor,’ I stammered as I stood. ‘I’m under a consent decree and must report my compliance.  The decree mandates that I’m here every month to prove up my efforts to provide the little brown birds with a consistent water source, among other requirements.’ ‘My neighbors may be luring birds with fancier foods in their bird feeders, but my water sources never freeze over. As long as I have my ponds, I’ll never be alone.’ Oddly, three masons had attempted to lay and relay pavers in that single corner, but none could close that  corner angle. One said it was some kind of vortex.”

tule_decoy_134512_1000.jpg Canvasback decoys ca. 400 BCE–100 CE from Lovelock Cave, Humboldt County, Nevada, made of tule rush, feathers, cordage, and paint.

giddy thing writes—Dawn Chorus: Wildfowl Decoys: “Two millennia ago on an icy fall morning, a Native American hunkered down in the thatch of a tule marsh in what is now northwest Nevada. A frigid north wind brought with it great clouds of wildfowl that hovered over the marsh like a clinging mist. Offshore a few yards, a group of ‘ducks’ crudely fashioned from tule reeds, white feathers, and red ochre paint pitched in lapping waves, moored to the muddy bottom by stone anchors. In the distance a swiftly moving flock of Canvasbacks banked shorewards toward the tule ducks, drove headlong in and cupped their wings to land. From the shore, a swoosh of an arrow and twang of a bow-string! Then again, and again. Two of the arrows hit their marks.The ingenious idea of the hunting decoy — to deceive and lure wild birds within range of arrows, nets, and guns to gather food—was born, and its pivotal role in North American hunting traditions would be without precedent in the world.”

CLIMATE CHAOS

CharlesII writes—ClimateFortnite: a fun way to discuss climate change: “Thanks to Professor Katharine Hayhoe, Texas Tech Climate Change Director and Heny Drake, postdoc Henry Drake, and climate Professor Andrew Dressler at Texas A&M, climate change scientists have come up with an effective and low-cost method to communicate climate science: through the popular video game Fortnite. They call this ClimateFortnite: Every Sunday for two hours, Drake jumps into Fortnite, bringing climate-themed guests — such as Dessler and Peter Griffith, the founding director of NASA’s Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems Office — with him. While they play (and stream to Twitch), they chat about climate change. The three-month-old squad has set out to make climate change information accessible to Fortnite fans. The setup is akin to a TV chat show with virtual gunplay: the squad hopes their streams will be watched by climate-curious gamers who can send in questions for them to answer midgame. The sessions are invite-only, so the chat is private until the streams are uploaded. Right now, the only thing the squad exchanges with other gamers is gunfire. You must view the videos in order to hear the climate banter.

Meteor Blades writes—Studies show climate action can’t wait. That means sweeping aside deniers, delayers, and despairers: “As in any major crisis, there is of course potential for failure no matter how heroic and innovative and relentless the response. True enough, climate action may notrescue us. We could also have lost World War II to the Axis despite all the expenditure of lives and treasure. We will never know. But we do know that we surely would have lost if Americans had chosen not to retool the whole economy to meet the needs of the war effort. We need to treat climate change as our ancestors treated the crisis of World War II as the Climate Mobilization folks say. […] Fortunately, thankfully, climate activists are showing fresh energy. Young leaders are stepping up. In Congress and state legislatures and governors’ mansions, advocates of far-sighted climate policy are seeking to end the footdragging  and are speaking up and crafting measures to take the actions that should have been taken long ago. Progressives should look to them and support them as antidotes to delay and despair.”

Pakalolo writes—New Antarctic feedback-atmospheric warming delay, speed in sea level rise, tropical rain belt shift: “Antarctic ice melt will have the minimal impact of delaying atmospheric warming by a decade and a half but will raise sea levels rapidly and change precipitation patterns worldwide “because the tropical rain belt will shift north” according to new research published in the journal Nature. The increasing rate of meltwater will significantly alter climate projections. It is the first newly identified feedback loop in 20 years according to senior author Joellen Russell. Ugh. The new study came out recently, it was funded by NOAA, with data provided by the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, the University of Arizona led the research. I was stunned to see that NOAA’s climate.gov web page showed up in my google search because as you know, the Trump regime has been furiously removing science from government websites since day one. It appears the source datasets were scrubbed by the fossil fuel interests that Trump embedded in those agencies tasked with protecting the environment. GFDL is an NOAA laboratory located at Princeton University. Check the dead link yourself here.”

Pakalolo writes—Beyond ridicule, EPA relies on Daily Caller to tell untruths about the National Climate Assessment: “I really should have titled this diary, Dis and Dat on the Climate Front, because I have shared tweets on some real whoppers taking place across the political world. Climate science only attracts a few eyes, partly because of the daily scandals and distractions of the Trump regime so preventing a mass extinction event is critical. Visibility of the topic is one of the few ways we can keep the raking of our climate in the news. But: because of the jaw-dropping news out of the EPA, how could I not resist and highlight the stunning parody of a US government that is so hostile to facts that they choose to lie to the world on the essential science humanity must understand and accept if we have any chance to save ourselves from planetary catastrophe. Here are a few tweets that you might have missed among all the daily chaos and scandals of the Trump regime.”

Pakalolo writes—Bering Sea ecosystem is collapsing. Climate change threatens northern shorebird migration: ““We have never been here before” — Gay SheffieldI keep vigil. Scientists are warning of massive change to the Bering Sea ecosystem. The most significant changes are the scarcity of sea ice and warming temperatures. Populations of walleye pollock and Pacific cod have exploded by 5000 percent and 2000 percent respectively, while forage fish have declined. ‘For example, the biomass of smelts and Arctic cod, important fish to northern Bering Sea marine wildlife, has dropped by 98–100 percent between 2010 and 2017.’ There are other changes in the Arctic not discussed in the brief presser. For example, erosion of the permafrost is impacting the marine food web. Trump’s approval of ocean oil exploration in the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific, may just finish it all off because oil is discovered in the ocean by seismic testing.”

samin662 writes—Climate change is the single biggest issue facing the millennial generation: “We have been here before. We know previous mass extinctions also happened from high carbon dioxide numbers in the atmosphere that disrupted the natural cycle of the earth, caused ocean acidification and resulted in catastrophes that we cannot come back from. We were supposed to be getting into an Ice Age. The planet should be cooler, but we have altered nature in never-before seen levels and the planetary cycle is not where it needs to be. Make better choices. As Trump continues to kill environmental regulations, vote for environmental ‘radicals’. Vote, not just for Congress and President and Governor, but for your assembly. Vote, not just for establishment capitalists. Communism has killed many, it cannot be denied. Communism is not the answer. But there has been to an answer that is not capitalism, or unregulated capitalism. I write this as a 21 year old who sees his peers simply not care enough and his elders keep voting for people who keep existing establishments in place and are complicit in the damage we commit to the world. Climate change is the single biggest issue facing us, not immigration.”

First Amendment writes—His head in the sand, Trump only leader at G-20 who doesn’t support fighting climate change: “Climate change denier Donald Trump embarrasses America again. Trump was the only leader at the G-20 summit to ignore the battle against climate change. Meanwhile, the U.S. once again marked its differences with the rest of the G20 by reiterating in the statement its decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and its commitment to using all kinds of energy sources. The other members of the group reaffirmed their commitment to implement the Paris deal and tackle climate change, taking into account their national circumstances and relative capabilities. You would think that after a dire climate change report, from multiple U.S. federal agencies, Trump would rethink his denier position. Especially as the reports noted the future impact to our economy.”

mettle fatigue writes—4th National Climate Assessment FULL linx w/ V.2 Ch15 Tribes/Indigenous People, Ch20 Caribbean: “NCA4 2017/2018 is a 1,500 pg TWO VOLUME report by the U.S. Global Change Research Prog. (USGCRP) released October 2017 and Nov 2018, 4th in the National Climate Assessments series mandated by law through the Global Change Research Act of 1990 , starting with years 2000, 2009, and 2014. Use the top link for wikipedia info. The following contents come from the online versions. Many sections have their own links for downloading, metadata, sharing, etc. Links for Volume II Chapter 15 Tribes & Indigenous Peoples, and Chapter 20 U.S. Caribbean, are below the second redwhite&blue baton. Some material from those chapters is copied-in. Virtually all of this diary is selective blockquoting for informative summary purposes, so blockquote halftones are mostly omitted in the interests of space. That being said, there may be the occasional typo, as simple/straight copypasta wasn’t possible for all material.”

Karen Rubin via NewsFeaturesPhotos writes—Climate report, Trump’s gut & Congress: Is carbon dividend to address climate change possible? “One of the problems now is that the economic cost of carbon-emissions – on health, on environmental degradation, pollution and destruction –  is not incorporated into decisions whether communities and companies should invest in clean, renewable energy, even though the obvious historic trends are that the cost of fossil-fuel-based energy goes up (supplies are limited, more difficult and costly to extract, transport, process) while the cost of solar, wind, geothermal and other clean-energy solutions is coming down with advances in technology and wider use. As climate disasters literally wipe out the old, communities and utilities should be sweeping in the new. Trump may be willfully, malevolently ignorant, but there is a hint of bipartisan consensus in Congress to take action. Last week, five House members – Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL), Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) – introduced the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.

Angmar writes—The Daily Bucket(of Controversy): Geoengineering…? “ ‘Scientists studied a number of volcanic eruptions including Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.’ This kind of revolutionary ‘solar geoengineering’ — known by some as the ‘Pinatubo Strategy,’ after a volcano whose 1991 eruption shrouded the planet in a sulfurous cloud — was once relegated to a far corner of academia. But a number of scientists and environmental advocates said this week that the IPCC report — punctuated by Hurricane Michael, which hit the Florida panhandle and may have been intensified by global warming — argues for speeding up the study of the once unthinkable. news.com/… A last-ditch global warming fix? A man-made ‘volcanic’ eruption. Scientists and some environmentalists believe nations might have to mimic volcanic gases as a last-ditch effort to protect Earth from extreme warming.”

COP24: Katowice, Poland

Lefty Coaster writes—David Attenborough at COP 24 conference: “The collapse of our civilizations is on the horizon”: “This is an important message for all of humanity to grasp. Renowned nature broadcaster Sir David Attenborough addresses world leaders. ‘Right now we’re facing a man-made disaster on a global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change,’ he says. ‘I am only here to represent the voice of the people to deliver our collective thoughts, concerns, ideas and suggestions,’ he says. “The people have spoken. Leaders of the world you must lead. If we don’t take action the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon’.

jamess writes—Arnold calls Trump ‘Crazy’ for backing out of the Paris Climate Accord: “Heard about this on Public Radio today. It struck a chord with me, so I thought I pass it along. […] Arnold Schwarzenegger says the United States is ‘still in’ an international accord to curb global warming despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to walk away from the agreement. The actor and former California governor told delegates gathered for United Nations climate talks in Poland on Monday that ‘America is more than just Washington or one leader.’ Calling Trump ‘meshugge’—Yiddish for ‘crazy’—for deciding to withdraw from the landmark climate accord, Schwarzenegger insisted the 2015 agreement has widespread support at the local and state levels in the U.S.

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Heartland’s Big COP Event Draws an Audience of Ten: “Every year, Heartland and others spend what is surely thousands of their fossil fuel donors’ dollars to try and cause a scene at the UN climate negotiations. And pretty much every year, they fail to get any coverage for their antics, because when thousands of real diplomats are carrying out tense negotiations, no one cares what the crazies are doing. And the one or two stories they do get tend to make fun of them. This year, the closest Heartland’s big event on their “fossil fuels are good” report got to real coverage was a tweet from AP reporter Frank Jordans and a brief mention in his story, and a DeSmogUK post. But wait, a mention in an AP story is quite a hit! Let’s check out how the AP described Heartland’s big pro-fossil fuels event for its global audience: ‘About 10 people attended.’ But what about the livestream? According to DeSmog, the event ‘was watched by about 50 people’.

OCEANS, WATER, DROUGHT

Dan Bacher writes—Assemblyman Jim Frazier to Sen. Feinstein, Gov. Brown: End Reckless Support for Delta Water Theft: “Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay) just issued the following statement regarding Gov. Jerry Brown, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s proposed extensions to the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act): ‘As Co-Chair of the California Legislative Delta Caucus, I urge Senator Feinstein, Governor Brown, and Representative McCarthy to end their support for the misguided and harmful WIIN Act extensions currently under consideration in Congress. By pursuing this power grab, they are sending a clear message of support for billionaire agribusiness and contractors at the expense of local fishermen, farmers, and the water quality of an entire region. Instead of giving water away to billionaires, I ask that they stand up for the Delta that we call home, and the millions of Californians who believe that small businesses and the Delta’s precious environment should have a fair chance to thrive.’ The WIIN Act, passed in 2016, enacted temporary changes to protect both water supply reliability and the ecological health of the Delta in the aftermath of a historic drought in California. The proposed extensions would prolong those short-term emergency provisions until 2028, without regard to actual drought conditions or Delta water quality.

Dan Bacher writes—Senator Kamala Harris Opposes Big Ag Water Deal by McCarthy, Feinstein, Brown and Trump: “In tweet today, Senator Kamala Harris announced her opposition to the controversial Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act) proposed by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and supported by the Jerry Brown and Donald Trump administrations in a deal designed to increase water deliveries to agribusiness. ‘We must invest in sustainable water projects that protect critical ecosystems while also supporting our important agricultural economies across the state,’ said Senator Harris. ‘Extending the controversial and detrimental policies of the WIIN Act is not the way to do this.’ In response to Harris’ tweet, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), tweeted, ‘This is what leadership in water policy looks like. Thank you Senator Kamala Harris!’ 

Dan Bacher writes—Brown Administration Withdraws Key Document Necessary for Approval of Delta Tunnels: “In a major setback for Delta Tunnels proponents, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today sent a letter to Randy Fiorini, chair of the Delta Stewardship Council, announcing  the withdrawal of the Department’s ‘certification of consistency’ for the California WaterFix. The ‘certification of consistency’ with the Delta Plan is required under the Delta Reform Act of 2009. In their controversial document, DWR claimed that the Delta Tunnels would be ‘consistent’ with the Delta Plan’s’“co-equal goals’ of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem, but nine appellant groups challenged this contention.

Meteor Blades writes—Open thread for night owls: EPA will release its new rule gutting the Clean Water Act next week: “A NEW WATER rule will greatly reduce federal water protections, imperiling drinking water, endangered species, and ecosystems across the country. According to the rule that the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release next week — some details of which were leaked Thursday — streams that are dependent on rainfall and wetlands not physically connected to year-round waterways will no longer be covered by the Clean Water Act. As a result of the change, an estimated 60-90 percent of U.S. waterways could lose federal protections that currently shield them from pollution and development, according to Kyla Bennett, director of science policy at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Alaska and the arid west will be hit particularly hard by the new rule, which will be subject to a comment period before it is finalized. Environmentalists are bracing for what they predict will be disastrous consequences for our nation’s waterways. “For some parts of the country, it’s a complete wiping away of the Clean Water Act,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity.”

STATE AND FEDERAL ECO-RELATED POLICY

hudsonkd writes—Why we should be supporting the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act: ”I love the Green New Deal, but it is unlikely to get any support from Republicans and is even more unlikely to pass Congress in the next two years. We simply cannot afford to wait for the perfect time when we might pass such an expensive proposal. How many of you realize that right now we have a very good bipartisan bill proposed in the House, one which we should all be supporting? The bill has three Democratic sponsors and three Republican ones. It is of course only a trial run. It will die in the lame duck session, but this is the first time in 10 years that such a bill has been introduced with a Republican cosponsor. Whether we like it or not, we cannot succeed without Republican support. This bill isn’t perfect, but it is very very good. It starts with a carbon fee at the source. If we want a bill like it to be successful in the next Congress, we should be supporting this one now. Contact your congressperson to let him or her know you want to see a bill like this in 2019. How we respond will determine whether a bill like it will be reintroduced.”

TXL writes—Right-wingers just can’t stop getting their panties in a bunch over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “On Tuesday, Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that ‘the transition to 100 percent [renewable] energy as the vehicle to truly deliver and establish economic, social, and racial justice in the United States of America.’ And within hours, right-wingers across the country got their panties in a collective bunch. National Review, Hot Air, and— of course— the Daily Caller all had a mega-meltdown because, to quote Hot Air, ‘She really let the cat out of the bag here, admitting that the left views climate change as a ‘vehicle’ to achieve their social and economic goals.’ This is how conservatives see this: They’re not capable of recognizing that the least privileged among us— who tend to be minorities— are the ones who suffer most from climate-change-related natural disasters, and other environmental degradation (see here, here and here for a hyper-local example of this where a GOP-connected property developer basically is getting waved right along by the Texas Council on Environmental Quality as he tries to build a toxic waste dump right next to where a bunch of poor, Hispanic Texans live— and in the middle of a floodplain). It’s nice that some Republicans are getting on board with more policy like carbon taxes aimed at reducing the aggressive warming of the planet, halting it or even reversing it, but it’s mostly lip service and too little too late.”

Paul C writes—Global Warming Denier Set to Lead Democrats on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee: “I received an ominous email Friday from Oil Change USA’s Climate Truth Action saying that unless Sen. Schumer intervenes, global warming denier Sen. Joe Manchin is in line to “lead” Democrats on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (I will quote the email extensively as this is an action notice not an article): Senator Manchin as ranking member in the Energy Committee would be a complete disaster. Senator Manchin has proven time and time again to be a fossil fuel money puppet, having accepted $965,288 from the coal, oil, and gas industries throughout his tenure in the Senate. Just this week, Manchin was the only Democrat on the Energy Committee to vote with the Republicans to advance climate denier Bernard McNamee’s nomination to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Senator Manchin voted against protecting the Arctic Refuge from drilling, against phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, and in support of rolling back a rule that protects waterways and ecosystems from toxic coal mining waste. And Manchin voted in favor of the worst choice for EPA Chief in the history of the agency, Scott Pruitt.  To show that that wasn’t a mistake, Manchin doubled down by voting for Andrew Wheeler to take over from Pruitt when the latter was given the boot for record levels of corruption.”

Karen Feridun writes—The Planet Is on Fire. Senators, Stop Fanning the Flames: “Tomorrow afternoon, the Senate will vote on Bernard McNamee’s nomination to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. If approved, he will become one of a 5-member commission that: 1) regulates the nation’s energy market; 2) reviews (read, approves) natural gas pipelines. He is a professional climate denierHe is a Trump/Rick Perry loyalistHe is pro coal bailoutHe spent 4 months as director of Life:Powered, an initiative of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a member of the State Policy Network, the policy, communications, and litigation arm of ALEC. He told an TPPF audience earlier this year that “What this is really about is changing the hearts and minds of the American people about what they think about energy and to start believing in it again, understanding that fossil fuels are not something dirty, something you have to move and get away from, but understand that they are the key, not only to our prosperity, but to the quality of life, but also towards the environment.” And ‘The green movement is always talking about more government control because it’s the constant battle between liberty and tryanny. It’s about people who want to say, “I know what’s better for you”.

Karen Feridun writes—Pennsylvania’s Climate Change Advisory Committee Roster Reads Like Shale Gas BFF List: “As Pennsylvania’s Climate Change Advisory Committee reviews the state’s most recent Climate Action Plan, it’s worth noting that several members of the board have close ties to the fossil fuel industry. Two members of the 20-member committee are listed as private citizens. They are Patrick Henderson, currently the head of Government Relations for the Marcellus Shale Coalition who served previously as Governor Tom Corbett’s Deputy Chief of Staff and Energy Advisor and Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and James Felmlee, Past President of the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs who was appointed to the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission by Corbett. One of the leaders of the Board is Dennis Davin, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. When Governor Tom Wolf announced that the controversial Royal Dutch Shell ethane cracker plant would be built, he said, ‘Since first taking office, I have worked in close collaboration with my Secretary of Community and Economic Development Dennis Davin, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, local officials in Western Pennsylvania, and Royal Dutch Shell to make the proposed plant a reality’.

poopdogcomedy writes—CREDO Action Puts Pressure On Chuck Schumer To Deny Joe Manchin Energy Leadership Position: “Received this e-mail today from CREDO Action: It’s a nightmare scenario for climate and energy policy: Sen. Joe Manchin – the coal-loving West Virginian who once used a rifle to shoot a climate change bill in a campaign ad – could soon be the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.1 Sen. Maria Cantwell, the current top Democrat on the committee, is reportedly considering leaving the post to serve as ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee.2 If she does, Manchin would be next in line to lead the committee based on seniority. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has the power to stop this and ensure that Democrats’ work on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is led by someone who supports bold action to fight climate change instead of a coal industry cheerleader like Joe Manchin. But we know from years of experience that Schumer can’t be trusted to do the right thing without overwhelming grassroots pressure.”

BYPRODUCTS, TRASH, TOXIC & RADIOACTIVE WASTE

Rambler797 writes—Environmental impacts: an artist suffers: “Reposting this story from Toronto News about an artist whose work with natural materials was making her sick because of embedded toxins. The artist ‘spent 15 years sanding and grinding mussel shells to create my sculptures. Then was diagnosed with heavy-metal poisoning.’ Read on for the full story. Gillian Genser’s work work is remarkable.  Her choices were informed by an ‘innately female approach as “gatherer”.’  Her story is   a terrible commentary on our indiscriminate dumping and refusal to clean up after ourselves.”

ENERGY

Nuclear

Earl Marriott Secondary School sampling for InFORM at Bamfield Nov. 2018 Students from Earl Marriott Secondary School collecting the Nov. 2018 seawater sample for InFORM at Bamfield Marine Science Centre, Bamfield, British Columbia, Canada.

MarineChemist writes—Update: Citizen Scientists’ Continued Efforts to Monitor Fukushima Derived Contamination in Canada: “The purpose of this post is to provide readers with a brief update on our citizen science sampling program that is monitoring seawater concentrations of contamination derived from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) meltdowns. This post is part of an ongoing effort to provide scientifically sound information regarding the environmental and public health impact of the disaster and to combat misinformation commonly found online. Coastal sampling is carried out by our volunteers at 16 locations up and down the coast of British Columbia to complement offshore sampling in the north Pacific and Arctic Oceans by scientists working from research vessels. Results of samples collected up until May 2018 indicate the following: 1. Levels inshore continue to increase as the bulk of contamination released from FDNPP in March-April 2011 arrive at the coast; 2. Seawater contamination levels are ~8-10-fold lower than those measured here at the height of atmospheric nuclear weapons testing between 1958-1963 last century; 3. Levels measured now do not approach levels known to represent a significant health risk to marine organisms or human beings; 4. Given that release rates of radiologically significant isotopes from the FDNPP site are very small compared to rates at the height of the disaster in March-April 2011, levels of contamination and risk are unlikely to increase in the future.”

Fossil Fuels

accumbens writes—Russia and Saudi Arabia “Collude” on Oil Output: A Sad for Trump: “Remember last month when Trump groveled up to the Saudis in the middle of the uproar over the killing and dismemberment of the Jamal Khashoggi to thank them for lowering oil prices? Apparently, the Saudis don’t. They just agreed with the Russians to lower oil output, which should, and in fact has, raised the price of oil. To wit: Crude prices soared on Monday as optimism ahead of an OPEC meeting grew after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman agreed to extend output cuts on the sidelines of the weekend G-20 meeting. […] West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery …  on the New York Mercantile Exchange surged $2.26, or 4.4%, to $53.20 a barrel. The contract rose about last 1% last week, but for the month of November tumbled 22%, the biggest monthly fall since October 2008, amid concerns about a global crude glut.”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—COPs and Robert Murray Trying to Keep Coal on Life Support:Last week, coal magnate and (former?) Trump favorite Bob Murray told Axios that he’s lost faith that Trump will make coal great again. ‘I don’t know if it’s going to happen,’ Murray said when asked if the president was still going to carry forward a plan to bail out failing coal plants. ‘I don’t know. It’s the government. They are still studying that.’ And if they couldn’t get something done with both chambers of Congress, odds are only looking worse now that Democrats will take control of the House. While that may not have a direct effect on what the executive branch chooses to do, it does mean that whatever decisions get made will be put under the microscope of congressional oversight. So while coal use in the US continues to drop, it seems international orders are keeping the industry afloat. Apparently, that’s ‘the only thing that’s saved a lot of us in the coal industry,’ Murray told Axios, as coal exports for his company went from 6% of production last year to 30% this year. This is especially relevant in Poland right now, as it is displaying literal lumps of coal at the UN climate negotiations this year–not exactly surprising given that several coal companies are sponsoring COP24.

irawhite writes—Why Do We Still Cling to Oil?Oil has become the driving force that has made several families, some of them wealthy to start with, incredibly rich. They are so rich that they are able to buy up whole governments to make their way to even greater fortunes. But the downside is that use of oil as a fuel for energy has grave implications for the environment and even the continuance of life on this planet. One wonders why the rich, in the face of incontrovertible evidence that global warming will destroy civilization as we know it and possibly the entire human race along with many other living beings, don’t put all their money into cornering the market on renewable energy. It would seem the smart thing to do. The obvious reason is that the rich have too much of their money tied up in oil contracts, drilling rights, machinery, and refineries to let go. All this investment in oil is certainly one reason not to let go of this dirty industry but there are other reasons as well. One of the biggest is plastics. Oil byproducts are used to make plastic. Plastic has become one of the most used materials on the planet with billions of pounds made every year for a multitude of purposes. This translates into billions of dollars for those involved in plastic production. It is also a reason that despite the damage done to the environment and the availability of less polluting plastics that can now be made of hemp, the production of hemp in this country has been set back at every turn.

Mark Sumner writes—Coal falls to level not seen since 1979, as Trump prepares final effort to bail out failing industry: “Donald Trump has done everything he can think of to try and make it appear as if he’s “saving coal.” He’s signed a bill to allow more coal waste to be dumped into streams and rivers without remediation. He’s halted a study on the health issues of coal miners and another on the health effects of surface mining on nearby residents. He’s relaxed regulations on emissions from coal power plants, killed the entire Clean Power Plan, opened up new areas of federal land for mining, relaxed emissions standards, and put forward a plan that would simply nullify most federal regulations over coal power plants. He’s disbanded the EPA’s air pollution panel and proposed allowing power plants to send more mercury and heavy metals into the atmosphere. Along with can-you-believe-he’s-still-Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, Trump even tried to use emergency powers not touched since the 1950s to force utility companies to use more coal. That last attempt was stopped at the last minute, because Trump’s own advisers finally convinced him—for the moment at least—that it was both idiotic and illegal. But in spite of all Trump’s promotion, coal plants closed at a record pace in both 2017 and 2018. And on Wednesday, the Energy Information Administration reports that coal consumption has plunged to levels not seen since 1979.”

5a349c60b42c75.086796361513397344738.png This is what Trump’s ‘winning’ looks like for coal.7

Lincoln green writes—Putin and MBS high-five. OPEC and Russia agree to cut oil production. Gasoline prices will rise: “Two days ago, President Trump tweeted ‘The World does not want to see, or need, higher oil prices!’ But yesterday, Foreign Policy published Keith Johnson’s piece ‘Are Putin and Mohammed bin Salman Getting Ready for Another High-Five?’, which noted: … deeper cooperation between Riyadh and Moscow to manage the world’s oil supply—even if that means bucking the directives of the White House—could be one lasting outcome of this week’s OPEC gathering. And Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have reason to repeat their notorious high-five at last week’s G-20 meeting. And today, after closed-door negotiations, OPEC and Russia agreed to cut oil production by 1.2 million barrels per day. World oil prices immediately jumped about 4%, and presumably we’ll see more price hikes at the pump soon. Now we know why Putin and the Saudi crown prince were high-fiving at the G-20 meeting.”

Pakalolo writes—Trump doesn’t give a rats ass that doom is upon us-tries to hoodwink people of color to support coal: “Scientific experts from throughout the world arrived in the heart of Poland’s coal country for the Conference of Parties (COP 24)  held in Katowice and were stunned when they were welcomed to the industrial city by the Polish Coal Miners Band along with displays of soap and jewelry made from coal. Climatologists were scratching their heads wondering how a climate change summit, funded 80% by the coal industry with the blessing of the Polish President Andrzej Duda, was even possible leaving attendees with ‘a sour taste in the mouths of those who are committed to climate action.’ Poland is not alone in making a mockery of critical climate action, the United States is there to troll the conference as well.”

Renewables, Efficiency & Conservation

Michael Brune writes—A Tale of Ten to the Two Cities: “Three years ago, when the Sierra Club launched its Ready For 100 campaign to encourage cities to commit to 100% clean, renewable energy, we knew that local action would be a key component of speeding the transition from fossil fuels, but we didn’t know just how important it would become. Thanks to the federal government’s forced retreat from climate action under Donald Trump, the policy momentum for clean, renewable energy is now coming from local governments, with states like Hawaii and California, and cities from Atlanta to San Diego, leading the way. Trump can double down on denial and fawn over fossil fuels until he’s red in the face, but he can’t stop progress. And so it is that this week Ready For 100 passed a major milestone as Cincinnati became the 100th city in the United States to officially commit to 100 percent clean, renewable energy. As successful as our Ready For 100 campaign has already been, I think we’ll see even greater faster progress in the years to come.”

REGULATIONS & PROTECTIONS

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—EPA Tells ALEC Red Team Effort Is Off the Table: “Admittedly a little late, but we have some news to be thankful for! We’ve known for a year now that the red team effort to attack climate science was put on the back burner, much to the chagrin of deniers. But now we appear to have confirmation that the effort is not just sidelined, but dead. The Guardian’s Emily Holden tweeted on Friday that ‘Mandy Gunesakara at EPA tells ALEC that red team, blue team debate on #climate science is off the table.’ This, plus the fact that the NCA was just released and that was thought to be a potential target for the red team, is likely as close to a corpse as we’re apt to get. So Hurrah! Huzzah! Hurray! (Wins are pretty few and far between these days, so we’ll take what we can get.) Now, of course it’d be nice if the EPA were to make that an official public announcement, and explain why exactly it was considering an attack on its own science and scientists in the first place.

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—UCS Report: Trump And Zinke Making Science Inferior At the Interior: “The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report yesterday detailing how science is under siege at the Department of Interior. This is not going to be welcome news for Secretary Zinke. He’s already fending off calls for his resignation by Rep. Grijalva, who will chair the House committee that oversees DOI in the upcoming Congress. And there will be plenty to look into. On day one of the Trump administration, for example, the DOI’s Twitter feed fell silent on climate–a stark change from its regular climate content. That’s the first of dozens of examples, which range from relatively benign omissions like not saying climate on Twitter, to more dangerous ones like when Secretary Zinke and his staff canceled a study on the health impacts of coal mining after lifting a moratorium on leasing public lands for coal mining. Then there was the staff shuffling which forced climate expert Joel Clement to cash fossil fuel checks until he quit while at the same time brought on political appointees with deep ties to the fossil fuel industry: from a press secretary (Heather Swift) who worked for the fossil fuel PR group famed for its astroturf efforts (DCI), to a former Koch lackey Todd Wynn leading external affairs, to Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt, whose career as a fossil fuel lobbyist has made him a walking conflict of interest. Well, the joke’s on Zinke. Now Clement is working with UCS, and wrote a post for Scientific American summarizing the UCS report.

Mark Sumner writes—Scott Pruitt tried to get the EPA to hold a climate change ‘debate’: “It’s hard for climate change deniers to argue that there is serious scientific debate over human-directed global warming when such debate does not exist. So Scott Pruitt tried to make it exist. As the Daily Beast reports, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency attempted to not just get the EPA to ignore climate change, but turn the EPA into the go-to source for climate change skepticism. Specifically, Pruitt proposed that the EPA host a “public debate” over climate change. Because there’s no better way to claim there is a public debate than by having a public debate. But the brilliant idea of Washington’s worst house guest didn’t meet with a lot of enthusiasm among the EPA staff. The scientists in the crew, those who Pruitt hadn’t already sent packing, worried that turning the EPA into an openly science-hostile agency was a bad idea. And even Pruitt’s personal team of professional science-deniers thought the whole thing sounded like a recipe for embarrassment. After all, the climate skeptics only want to pretend there’s a debate. They don’t want to actually debate.”

Dartagnan writes—Department of Interior under Zinke is a “monumental disaster” for the environment: “The Trump Administration’s transformation of huge, publicly-funded federal agencies such as the Department of the Interior into crass looting vehicles for private gas, mining and oil interests has led to a disaster of “monumental” proportions for this country’s environment, according to a new article by former Senior Interior staff member Joel Clement, published in Scientific American. At the Department of the Interior (DOI), with its mission to conserve and manage America’s natural and cultural resources, the Trump administration’s political appointees are stumbling over one another to earn accolades for disabling agency operations. I should know; I was one of dozens of senior executives targeted by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for reassignment in a staff purge just six months into the new administration. Zinke’s insidious corruption of Interior’s intended mission and purpose—to preserve what remains of the nation’s natural beauty and intelligently manage its finite resources–is starkly detailed in a report titled ‘Science Under Siege at the Department of the Interior, published this week by the Union of Concerned Scientists.”

AGRICULTURE​, FOOD & GARDENING

vape standish writes—WRI Report: Stop Eating Beef Now, or Say Goodbye to The World’s Forests in 32 Years: “A new report by The World Resources Institute (WRI) has found that unless world consumption of Beef, Lamb and dairy products is drastically curbed, the additional farmland needed to provide meat for 10 billion additional people will wipe out all forests and lead to catastrophic climate change by 2050. As of right now meat and dairy production use 83% of farmland and produce 60% of agriculture’s emissions. A 10 billion figure increase in beef consumption (which takes place mostly in richer countries) at it’s current rate would require clearing the earth’s remaining forest land for agricultural use to provide grazing ground for beef cattle, sheep and cows.”

Downheah Mississippi writes—Saturday Morning Garden Blogging, Vol. 14.49: The Most Wonderfully Weird Time of the Year: “Okay, I admit it; I’m always pretty much “out of sorts” this time of the year. Things get screwy…. No Bama Football for almost a month…the weather is either cold & rainy, or warm & rainy…people I haven’t seen in years are popping up wanting to talk…because, ‘the holidays’.

TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE

Rei writes—Electric Cars and Road Tripping: Yes, We Can: “One of the greatest, if not the greatest reasons that many people hesitate to switch to an electric vehicle is the fear of… “What if I can’t get There from Here”? Well, here’s the good news: You absolutely can. We’ll start with Teslas, as they’ve long been the road-tripping champions, and then move onto other vehicles available today. [Below] is the Tesla Supercharger network as it stands today. While it’s planned to double in density by the end of 2019, let’s forget about that and look at the present. Note that in the continental US, the only place with no coverage is north/eastern Montana and North Dakota.  That said, clearly some places are sparser than others. Let’s try to make the challenge tough on ourselves; let’s say that you want to go from one “hole” — say, southeast Oregon (McDermitt, perhaps?) to another “hole” — say, Liberal, Kansas?  Let’s pull up A Better Route Planner (a trip simulating tool with conservative parameters), and tell it that we start at 100% charge in a Model 3 RWD Aero, and never want to run down below a 15% state of charge […]”

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TexasBill writes—Kill the EV credit: we can do better:I got another request-to-sign petition from the Daily Kos. It asked me to petition Congress to renew the tax credit for electric vehicles.
I declined. It’s not because I am a Trump supporter or Republican spy. It’s also not because I don’t like electric cars. Even before the environmental groups, Arab oil embargoes and climate change concerns, I believed that electric propulsion was the real future of transportation. I was following the progress of fuel cells more than 20 years ago. Besides, as the late Sir Arthur C. Clarke once observed, oil is far too useful a chemical to just burn it up. I recently wrote a Medium article which you can read if you wish. It is not behind Medium’s paywall. My opposition to extending the tax credits is that they are yet another tax bennie for the well-to-do, who already have enough goodies courtesy of the rest of us.

MISCELLANY

Galtisalie writes—Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Liberate the working class to oppose Saudi outrages and climate destruction: “If we really want to do our part to save our planet and to have the courage to say no to murderous regimes around the world, as we should, we must unite as a working class in the U.S. to (a) demand societal provision of healthcare and education, AND the basics, as our human rights, and (b) to exert dominion over and quickly disempower energy companies operating within U.S. territory. We can no longer afford their profit-centered model, which is ruining our planet. We the people are ultimately responsible for running our economy for the common good and for every motor vehicle and smokestack belching out pollution in our territory for the common bad. Let’s take democratic control of our destiny before it’s too late. The wisdom of the ruling class, which has taken over our political system, is the artificial intelligence of capitalism. It is not up to the task. One final note: Merely nationalizing energy companies is not a panacea. Saudi Aramco is a state-run company. Beyond its financing of a repressive regime, the track record of state-run energy companies has been mixed. (My next ACM piece will be on this subject.) The atmosphere does not care whether the pollution came from fossil fuel from a corporate or a state-run oil well or coal mine.”

Lefty Coaster writes—The Navy plans to ruin one of most stunningly beautiful spots in the US: Central Whidbey Island: “The US Navy is planning to ruin the place I call home. Why? The Navy brass decided to spend a bunch of the money Trump is throwing at them to increase size of their EA-18G squadrons from five planes to seven. So they have informed the residents of central Whidbey Island  that they would be increasing the the number of their practice landings four-fold at their outlying field. (Coupeville OLF). These flights that come shrieking over my neighborhood at noise levels up to an intolerable 130 decibels.  High noise levels raise stress levels involentarly.  You can’t talk on the phone. Teachers have to interrupt their classroom instruction every time a EA-18G flies over. If you unfortunate enough to be outdoors you wish you were inside. That will decimate our local tourist dependent economy. We live in a very special place, and the unique juxtaposition of sea and Islands that is the driver of our local economy.

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