|Every week Daily Kos diarists write dozens of environmentally related posts. Many don't get the readership they deserve. Helping improve the odds is the motivation behind the Green Diary Rescue. In the past seven years, there have been 229 of these spotlighting more than 12,894 eco-diaries. Below are categorized links and excerpts to 68 more that appeared in the past seven days. That makes for lots of good reading during the spare moments of your weekend. [Disclaimer: Inclusion of a diary in the rescue does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.]|
Putting the Culture Back in Agriculture: Reviving Native Food and Farming Traditions—by Bev Bell (and Tory Field): "Native peoples’ efforts to protect their crop varieties and agricultural heritage in the US go back 500 years to when the Spanish conquistadors arrived. Today, Native communities throughout the US are reclaiming and reviving land, water, seeds, and traditional food and farming practices, thereby putting the culture back in agriculture and agriculture back in local hands. One such initiative is the White Earth Land Recovery Project in Minnesota, which is recovering healthy stewardship of local tribes’ original land base. They are harvesting and selling traditional foods such as wild rice, planting gardens and raising greenhouses, and growing food for farm-to-school and feeding-our-elders programs. They are reintroducing native sturgeon to local waters as well as working to stop pesticide spraying at nearby industrial farms. They are also strengthening relationships with food sovereignty projects around the country. Winona LaDuke, the founding director of the project, told us, 'My father used to say, ' don’t want to hear your philosophy if you can’t grow corn'… I now grow corn."
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Measuring CO2 -- the Vulcan way—by jamess: "Vulcan is also the name for the Project which attempts to scientifically measure and model the Carbon Dioxide sources and sinks in the Biosphere, otherwise known as the surface of Earth. [...] A new, high resolution, interactive map of United States carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels has found that the emissions aren't all where we thought. The maps and system, called Vulcan, show CO2 emissions at more than 100 times more detail than was available before. Until now, data on carbon dioxide emissions were reported, in the best cases, monthly at the level of an entire state grid. The Vulcan model examines CO2 emissions at local levels on an hourly basis. Purdue researchers say the maps are also more accurate than previous data because they are based on greenhouse gas emissions instead of estimates based on population in areas of the United States."
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“Hey Canada! Take Your Carbon and Stick It… Back in the Ground!”—by Glen The Plumber: "Tonight President Obama is coming to Palo Alto, CA for a fundraising event and he will be met on the streets by 350 Silicon Valley and others. Our message is simple, say no to the XL pipeline and let’s get serious about Climate Change. Mother Nature is screaming out to us because we pumped the atmospheric CO2 levels to 400ppm; she is pushing back with record hurricanes, heat waves, tornados, droughts, arctic ice melts and fire seasons. We need people to amplify this message. Bring your friends and family."
Below the fold are more rescued diaries for your reading pleasure.
Russian Arctic Researchers Await Rescue on Shattered Sea Ice Battered by Storms—by FishOutofWater: "A strong Arctic storm is endangering Russian scientists who have been studying the Arctic from a research station anchored to moving Arctic sea ice. The Arctic ocean's surface is starting to resemble a giant frozen Margarita after being stirred by a series of storms that began in mid-May. Even the thickest ice near the Canadian archipelago is cracking up under the strain. The Russian research station, on a sea ice floe near the Queen Elizabeth Islands, where some of the thickest ice in the Arctic is normally found, is being evacuated because the ice is breaking up. Now the third strong storm in the series of Arctic ocean storms is battering the station with strong winds which are stressing the block of weakened sea ice the station is resting on."
New White House policy admits social cost of carbon higher than they thought—by dturnbull: "Last week, the Department of Energy announced a little-noticed update to its energy-efficiency standards for microwave ovens. And there was a surprise buried in the fine print: The agency is now using a significantly higher figure for the “social cost of carbon” in calculating the benefits of the rule. Instead of assuming that the harm caused by carbon-dioxide emissions comes to $22 per ton in 2013, regulators are now using a figure of about $36 per ton. Read that again. The official policy of the Obama administration now asserts that the costs to society of carbon dioxide emissions are some 60% higher than they previously had estimated.Shifts like that don't happen without good reason. Perhaps it was the wildfires, droughts, floods, and Superstorms we've witnessed in our backyards in recent months. The Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition of the House of Representatives recently put out some startling facts and figures regarding how much extreme weather has cost the United States in the past two years. They estimate that extreme weather events in 2011 and 2012 cost US taxpayers some $136 billion, or $1,610 per taxpayer."
Wildfire season is 2 months longer, more destructive now than in the 1970s—by Magnifico: "Wildfires burn twice as much land as they did 40 years ago and the fire season is two months longer than in the 1970s because of climate change, the chief of the U.S. Forest Service told a Senate committee hearing today. The Forest Service has nearly doubled spending on combating wildfires since 2000, going from $540 million to $1 billion last year and despite predictions that hotter, drier conditions in 2013 will increase the likelihood of fires in the West and Southwest, sequestration budget cuts mean the forest service will hire about 5 percent fewer fire fighters this season and the money spent by the forest service on fire prevention has been cut in half."
Methane Cell Phone Sniffers—by gmoke: "Read about this study from BU (http://www.bu.edu/....) about the amazing amount of methane leaks in Boston and wondered if there was a way to enable citizens to crowdsource such leaks and report them to the authorities and utilities. Of course, our noses can be effective natural gas detectors and Smell Something, Say Something is crowdsourcing methane leaks based on smell. Yet, a cell phone methane sniffer would be useful and it looks like it is coming, along with a battery of environmental sensors for cell phones. The age of cell phone enabled citizens' monitoring will be here directly."
Tornadoes and Climate Change: the Battle of Dualing Forces; Inadequate Data—by jamess: "Atmospheric moisture is increasing, while Winds are decreasing. The result many scientists say may be a wash— that the needed ingredients for Tornado formation may end up just cancelling each other out."
World Wildlife Fund Liveblog—by New Minas: "This is a liveblog for the live streaming event that is starting RIGHT NOW! 'The Alarming Science Behind Climate Change’s Increasingly Wild Weather,' featuring Jennifer Francis and Stu Ostero."
Climate Change in the News—by xaxnar: "Here's a quick write up of several news stories of interest to those tracking global climate change - which should be all of us at this point in time! The BBC is one source. Daily they do great coverage of science news. New Scientist is another place to get a good overview of the latest developments.
Today's rundown looks at the connection between Ireland and Greenland, and adds the Mystery of the Plants."
If only we got this pissed off about Climate Change—by Ellinorianne: "All the scandals, all the rants and the anger, it all matters, but I would probably be shocked to death if people got this angry over climate change and environmental issues in this Country as they do about all these scandals, the phone issues, and the necessary changes we need to make to gun laws, etc. Imagine if people got just as angry? I can't. And it saddens me to no end. I mean, I know there are people who do get upset, as I do, about these issues, but not as many people are as upset as should be upset about the impending climate change issues that are going to just get worse and worse."
Food & Agriculture & Gardening
Four in 10 poultry workers have carpal tunnel, and the government wants to make it worse—by Laura Clawson: "It's insane, incredibly stupid, or brazenly disingenuous to think that if poultry plants have more chickens to process, they won't try to make their workers do it faster. This is an industry with a lot of immigrants and other vulnerable workers, people the companies can push to the point of physical harm while exploiting them economically as well. And the USDA doesn't have to care about that. The USDA is about keeping food safe, not keeping workers safe. Which is why someone else in the Obama administration should be looking at this situation and saying that even if the USDA thinks it can inspect chickens faster than it is right now without compromising the safety of consumers, the workers cutting up those chickens deserve some protection, too."
Monsanto throws in the towel in Europe—by Horace Boothroyd III: "Despite throwing money at the political process via lobbyists the efforts of Monsanto have not been effective in convincing anyone their products are worthy of European consumers and farmers alike. Because of this the company has decided to discontinue lobbying in Europe in the face of overwhelming distrust in the chemical company's promises of abundant healthy crops. This is good news for European farmers and consumers alike. For the farmers they will no longer be in perpetual debt because they would have to buy Monsanto's seeds every year instead of planting the seeds from the crop before. The farmers will also save money because those same seeds require chemical additives that can only be bought from Monsanto, and I'm sure priced accordingly. The consumers will feel safer knowing a chemical company known for causing extensive harm with their untested products will not be controlling their food supply."
I have a serious question about Monsanto—by The Baptist Death Ray: "Are there any health concerns about genetically modified foods? More specifically, are there any studies that give actual weight to health concerns? Is there any data showing that genetically modified foods are somehow worse for you than naturally grown foods? I can see a lot of good reasons to try to scientifically engineer food."
GMOs: What we can all agree on—by MrAnon: "First off, it is probably important for me to note that I consider myself "pro-GMO". I have several friends who are well-versed in the science, and I see great potential in addressing problems of world hunger and malnutrition. That said, I can understand concerns with the business practices of the largest biotech companies, notably the way Monsanto exploits a patent system to force dependence on their seeds. I believe that to resolve differences in opinion among the DK community, we have to look at areas where we can all agree. The Consumer should always be Informed and Educated when making his or her Decision."
Roundup on Monsanto—by DRo: "Last week's report that an unapproved strain of GM wheat developed by Monsanto was found on an Oregon farm (tested more than 10 years ago but never approved for commercial production) has rattled markets and led to a ban by Japan and Korea on imports of U.S. wheat. This has the potential to spread and threatens all of our exports. The European Union is urging members to test what would amount to 80 percent of its imported U.S. wheat."
My Question About Monsanto and the Government—by ramara: "At what point do we call this a coup d'etat?"
Mijo: Healing the earth through permaculture—by One Pissed Off Liberal: "Cultivate Abundance is the name of [my son] Daniel's new blog. He's also just starting his first farm. It's owned by an uncle, but he's been given free range to permaculturize it and he's going about it with great zeal. He's been doing his homework for quite a few years now, and his focus has been impressive. There is very little about permaculture he doesn't know. He's also developed a broad familiarity with a number of related topics like plant biology, mycology, green architecture and soil science. He hopes to one day establish a school, or perhaps a series of schools around the world, to teach and spread permaculture."
Macca's Meatless Monday...How Can I Tell You About Tempeh?—by beach babe in fl: "Most actions for mitigating climate change and slowing global warming temperatures have relied on reducing C02 emissions. C02 emissions remain in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, so even if we went completely C02 neutral today, there would still be the damaging remains of the past use of C02 lingering in the atmosphere preventing us from stopping the most damaging effects of Climate Change. We need a short term solution which will reduce short-lived warming gases to buy us the time to take the long term solution of reducing C02. Livestock production is a significate contributor to all of the short term climate forcers including: Black Carbon, Methane and Ground Level Ozone."
How I Found My Bliss at the Farmers' Market—by sharistuff: "Alabama is known for its peaches. But let me tell you, I scored the juiciest, sweetest, richest strawberries. The color popped a bright hot red. The berries glowed under the warm loving blue skies. As we walked along, coming to the last little white tent, I finally made up my mind to buy those strawberries. We had passed half a dozen tents already laden with shiny strawberries, “Why this tent?” my daughter asked. The farmer gestured to a basket of berries, 'Try one.' he beckoned. We did, heaven!! Sold!"
Saturday Morning Garden Blogging Vol. 9.16: Concrete Ideas—by John Crapper: "Anybody can go to the store and buy paving stones and building blocks. You can also easily find professionals to install anything your heart desires. All you have to have is the money and the willingness to pay the price. I had neither. I like free. I like to use my imagination. I like to use recycled building materials. I also like doing things myself. That is why I used broken concrete."
Big Oil abandoning Cuban coastal oil blocks—by Pakalolo: "Russia's oil giant, Zarubezhneft, has finally joined 6 other foreign oil companies in abandoning their plans to drill off of Cuba's northern coast. Zarubezhneft was the last to pull out of the island nation's only active drilling project dashing it's quest for black gold. One problem the companies have encountered is very hard rock, which quickly wears down drilling bits and is so dense that oil does not easily flow through it. Though there is oil it can not with current technology be produced. [...] In researching this diary I did uncover a interesting fact about our former Vice-President. He along with George Will lied to the country, shock I know, about China drilling in Cuban waters. The lie, of course, was part of their effort to push more domestic drilling in sensitive areas in this country such as the GoM, the Outer Banks and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Cheney was forced to retract his lie due to criticism."
Iowa Pulls the Plug on Nuclear Power—by Paul Deaton: "Pursuit of new nuclear power in Iowa was a bad idea when then governor Tom Vilsack began promoting it, and remains so. MidAmerican Energy's announcement in the Des Moines Register today, that the utility 'has scrapped plans for Iowa’s second nuclear plant and will refund $8.8 million ratepayers paid for a now-finished feasibility study,' was welcomed by people throughout the state. In the end, talk about nuclear power was a weird combination of the vaporous breath of politicians combined with a financially stable and well capitalized public utility owned by one of the richest men on the planet. The discussion Vilsack started is over for now."
Big Win in Nevada on Clean Energy, Retiring Dirty Coal Power—by Mary Anne Hitt: "The Moapa Band of Paiutes and Sierra Club have fought for several years to retire the Reid Gardner coal plant, which sits immediately adjacent to the Moapa River reservation. Paiute families have been suffering for decades from high rates of asthma, heart and lung disease, and cancer they believe are related to the plant's air pollution. [...] Under Senate Bill 123, which is called the 'NVision' plan, the Reid Gardner coal plant will retire earlier than planned – closing units 1-3 in 2014 instead of 2020, and unit 4 in 2017 instead of 2023."
Climate Change and Coal Export: Taking Responsibility—by James Wells: "They put out this fossil fool plan for public comment, and got over 124,000 comments. Well, they asked. Now, our favorite permitting agencies have a good idea what many members of the public have to say of the planned Gateway Pacific coal export terminal, which is widely understood in our community to be Pretty Much the Dumbest Idea Ever. While many of those comments were marshaled by organizations like 350.org through their web sites, over 10,000 of them - that's ten thousand! - were individually written comments by people who took the time to understand the issues involved in coal export, and then provided focused comments on the significance of those impacts they were most concerned about. A huge concern: Stoking the fires of climate destruction by sending 48 million more tons of coal, per year, to China, to be turned into 68 million metric tons of CO2 emissions each and every year. There are not too many projects that are up the Keystone category of scale - ultimately contributing CO2 emissions measured in gigatons over a few decades."
Yosef Abramowitz Takes the World Solar—by ramara: "CNN ran a story about Yosef Abramowitz on its show Next List, hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. I just heard about the story from Rabbi Barry Leff of Rabbis for Human Rights, who is friends with Yosef and his family. I thought there were people here who would be interested in the story of this man who has plans to bring solar power to countries like Rwanda (already happening), Haiti, Romania, and more countries that have been torn by war, poverty, and other disasters. He lives in Israel, where he has already built their first solar field, and is negotiating to build a second for a Bedouin village, where he has the support of the village leader and is working to get government approval. Politically that may be tricky, since the government plan is to get the Bedouin out of the area."
Time to celebrate a small victory against Big Energy—by dbprods: "The news is just coming out, but as of this morning, Southern California Edison has officially announced that they are permanently closing the "Nuclear Disaster Waiting to Happen" formerly known as the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). [...] For those unfamiliar with the situation, SONGS was a nuclear plant that operated on the edge of one of the most densely packed suburban / urban areas in the country with a potential NRC-defined 50 mile fall-out zone that encompassed 8.5 MILLION Americans. The potential effects of a small or large problem at San Onofre would have likely caused a disaster unprecedented in American history."
World's Largest Coal Company Turning to Solar to Lower its Utility Bills—by beach babe in fl: "A remarkable statement from the largest coal company in the world. Coal India produces more than 80 percent of India’s coal, and not only is it turning to solar as an efficient business practice, it understands India cannot power itself by coal.The company, which is listed but government controlled, and which accounts for more than 80 per cent of coal production in India, is installing a 2MW plant at its Sampalbur coal plant in Odisha. It plans to install solar at its operations across the country, including at its mining research arm, the Central Mine Planning and Design Institut. Officials told local media DNA that the installation of solar PV at mines and staff housing areas is aimed at reducing Coal India’s own energy bills. But the most striking aspect of the decision is the company’s own recognition that fossil fuels are depleting, and that solar is approaching grid parity."
France says "No" to fracking because of "damage it has done in US"—by beach babe in fl: "Business lobbies in France trying to rescind France's ban on hydraulic fracking received a strong rebuttal from the French Environmental and Energy Minister Delphine Batho during a radio debate. 'We have to have our eyes wide open about what is going on in the U.S.,' Environmental and Energy Minister Delphine Batho said during a radio debate. 'The reality is that the cost of producing gas doesn’t take into account considerable environmental damage.' Earthquakes, aquifer pollution, heavy metal contamination, increased truck traffic and damage to the countryside are consequences of fracking, the minister said. France outlawed fracking in 2011 under the government of former President Nicolas Sarkozy because of environmental concerns. His successor Francois Hollande has said he supports the ban."
Fracking America’s Food Supply—by brasch: "The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES), basing its analysis upon more than 25,000 wells, reports almost 47 percent of wells that use fracking were developed in areas with high or extremely high water stress levels; 92 percent of all gas wells in Colorado are in extremely high-stressed regions; In Texas, 51 percent are in high or extremely high stress water regions. Water is so critical to fracking that oil and gas companies have been paying premium prices, as much as $1,000–$2,000 for about 326,000 gallons (an acre foot) and outbidding farmers in the drought-ravaged parts of the country for the water; the normal price is about $30–$100 for the same amount. Oil and gas drillers have also been trucking in water to the Midwest and southwest from as far away as Ohio and Pennsylvania. The companies are 'going to pay what they need to pay,' said Dr. Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University."
“FrackNation” Part Two: The Koch Industries Astroturf Ties That Bind—by Steve Horn: "Perhaps “FrackNation” is playing by the American Petroleum Institute‘s employee advocates’ “corporate citizen” playbook. In a presentation given at an industry PR conference attended by DeSmogBlog in Houston, TX titled, 'Educating Employees On Key Issues To Encourage Brand Management Energy Nation: Empowering Employee Advocates,' API’s Director of External Mobilization Tara Anderson explained how – in essence – to create an armada of fracking advocates from within the employee base of oil and gas corporations."
Exposed: Tea Party-Tied “FrackNation” Deploys Tobacco Playbook Responding to “Gasland 2″—by Steve Horn: "Both “Gasland 2″ and “FrackNation” cover hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), the toxic horizontal drilling process via which unconventional oil and gas is obtained from shale rock basins around the country and world. Co-produced and co-directed by Irish couple Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, 'FrackNation' purports to be 'funded by the 99 percent to combat the misrepresentations by the 1 percent of urban elites who want to tell rural Americans how to work and live.' McAleer and McElhinney also say they are independent journalists working independently of corporate funding. McAleer was referred to by the San Francisco Chronicle as 'climate denial’s Michael Moore' and both McAler and McElhinney are listed as 'experts' by the climate change-denying Heartland Institute."
If were going to Frack through our Groundwater -- shouldn't we know whats in those "Trade Secrets"?—by jamess: "[D]rilling with intensive hydraulic pressure is done with "Trade Secret" often toxic chemicals. Yet too few people, blissfully go on their eazy-energy way. Out of sight out of mind. But when the Toxicity somehow finds its way into their consumption (food and drink) to ill effect, too many people want to know WHY (and what poisoned me). Then. After the fact."
David Letterman on Fracking: "Ladies and Gentlemen, We're Screwed!"—by citisven: "He starts in his usual self-deprecating way—<Let's talk about fracking. I'm not smart enough to understand it. Before showing that he knows quite a bit about it. Here's what I know about fracking: The greedy oil and gas companies of this country have decided that they can squeeze every last little ounce of oil and gas out of previously pumped wells by injecting the substrata of our planet with highly toxic, carcinogenic chemicals, which then seep into the aquifer and hence into the water supply of Americans.Then of course, the verdict. Ladies and gentlemen, we're screwed!"
California Legislators kill fracking moratorium under oil industry pressure—by Dan Bacher: "If passed as initially drafted, Assembly Bill 1323, introduced by Holly Mitchell (D-Culver City), would have halted fracking and mandated a review of the risks it poses to the environment and public health. State legislators first weakened and then voted down this bill, which would have placed a moratorium on the controversial and environmentally destructive method of oil and gas extraction - even as a new poll shows few Californians support fracking!"
Keystone and Other Fossil Fuel Transportation
The Keystone XL Shuffle—by Renewable Rider: "For the past year, most blog posts, action alerts and appeals to 'Stop Keystone XL,' 'Reject Keystone XL,' 'Fight Keystone XL' and 'Resist Keystone XL' have focused on blocking the pipeline’s northern leg, while ignoring President Obama’s support for the 485-mile southern segment. During this time, TransCanada has been busy building that southern leg, which is now 75 percent constructed. This should alarm every climate activist. As Mark Karlin, editor of BuzzFlash at Truthout, warned in a recent editorial, when the Obama administration endorsed Keystone XL’s southern leg, 'the spigot was opened to transport the climate-killing tar sands oil to refineries and ports in Texas.'"
Dirty Details: Dents, Faulty Welds Found Along Keystone XL Southern Half in Texas—by Steve Horn: "Public Citizen's Texas office explained, "Dozens of anomalies, including dents and welds, reportedly have been identified along a 60-mile stretch of the southern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline, north of the Sabine River in Texas."
Obama should never have brought up climate change with Keystone XL in his hands—by pierre9045: "Had he not made public commitments to climate change with Keystone XL in the works, he would not be risking a fracture in the alliance between activists who actually want to see meaningful action on climate change and the rest of the Democratic Party. He would not be making the most visible statement that his administration belongs to corporate donors and lobbyists and not the grassroots organizers and door knockers who engineered back-to-back popularly-supported elections. He would have a bit more political room to maneuver on Keystone XL."
If the Keystone Pipeline is such a great idea why are Private Investors fleeing?—by Things Come Undone: "France’s Total SA (NYSE: TOT) will sell its 49% stake in its Canadian oil sands project to Suncor Energy Inc. for $500 million, netting the French oil giant a $1.65 billion loss on the beleaguered project. Total would have had to spend another $5 billion (at least) on the Alberta oil sands Voyageur Upgrader project over the next five years—an investment that cannot be justified according to its executives,"
Eco-Related DC & State Politics
Pro-Obama Group Goes After Darrell Issa on Climate Change—by pipsorcle: "It may be the end of May 2013 but with regards to the issue of climate change and global warming, nothing's too early anymore. In the case of the local San Diego Chapter of President Obama's Organizing for America group, 20 of its campaigners showed up in front of the infamous Congressman Darrell Issa's Vista, CA office this past Wednesday afternoon in an effort to urge the Congressman to take action on climate change."
I sure am suffering from all the pollen how about you?—by Lefty Coaster: "Grass pollen season has started and I'm wiped out from all the pollen in the air. Turns out its another detrimental effect from Climate Change."
The Great Outdoors
The Daily Bucket: Even More Thoughts About Names (Part 2- Species)—by matching mole: "Names are important. It is very difficult to communicate if you don't use names. Here on the Daily Bucket diaries each diary and comment are full of names. But names also tell us how we think. What sets of things get lumped under a single name? The first diary focused on the rules governing taxonomy, most notably the rule of precedence which governs which scientific name is the correct one. We also discussed two different ways that this can result in a name change for a species with a well known and long-used scientific name."
The Daily Bucket: Night Sounds of Summer—by matching mole: "Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make! (from Dracula by Bram Stoker). Night sounds are particularly evocative for us humans. In the age in which Stoker wrote urbanization was a more recent phenomenon and far more people would have first hand experience with the sounds of owls, nightjars, and other nocturnal creatures. Much further back in time, night would have been a time of danger for a diurnal ground living primate with poor night vision and weak senses of hearing and smell. Summer nights in particular are full of sound. Summer nights in the south can be downright cacophonic."
Fish & Wildlife
Action: African Elephants Extinct by 2020—by ranger995: "African Elephants are being slaughtered at an unprecedented rate. An article in the UK Telegraph in 2008 quoted researchers saying they would be extinct by 2020. Newer research shows that their predictions were correct or even conservative.Samuel Wasser, of the University of Washington, said the elephant death rate from poaching was currently 8 per cent, higher than the 7.4 per cent rate which led to the international ivory trade ban in 1989. Writing in the journal Conservation Biology, Dr Wasser and fellow researchers warned that without public pressure to ensure a strengthening of anti-poaching measures, most remaining large groups of elephants will be extinct by the end of next decade."
2013 Backyard Science Yardbird Race Tally #7—by bwren: "Welcome to the 2013 Daily Kos Backyard Science Yardbird Race! This is our seventh tally diary of the year, the official place to post your sightings, ask for help, and/or crow some if you wish. [...] Summer is almost upon all of us now, bringing the summer birds and their activities. Reports of fledglings in the southernmost racers' neighborhoods have shown up in recent Daily Buckets, along with active nest boxes in the middle part of the country and lots of courting up north. We'll see how the summer birds' presence has changed the race since the beginning of May."
The Daily Bucket; Oh, they're just starlings......—by burnt out: "I know that starlings aren't everybody's favorite bird. I know that they're messy and noisy in large numbers, and I know they aren't even native here, but in spite of all that, I think they're marvelous. So believing that they've been given an unfairly bad rap, and very little attention, and even less respect from many bird lovers, I thought I'd put them in the lime light at least for one day, and give them their own bucket. I like them for many different reasons. For one thing they're very intelligent birds, which I'm sure has a great deal to do with their rapid and complete success here in the USA since they were introduced in 1890. Those 60 original birds have now multiplied into many millions."
The Daily Bucket - Lake Chabot Heron Nest News—by enhydra lutris: "When we entered the park on Sunday, June 2, the person manning the entrance kiosk informed us that one of the "babies" had been seen walking on one of the hiking trails. This makes it a fledgling which has not only left the nest, but left the island and crossed a significant width of water to get to the trail. That was good news in itself, as well as evidence that the decline in the number of nestlings we noted in the prior nest count were due to the nestlings fledging."
Daily Bucket--Blackbird fly—by 6412093: "Two types of blackbird frequent the [northwest Oregon golf] course grounds; the red wing blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), and its less flashy relative, the Brewer's Blackbird (Euphagus cranocephalus).The male redwing blackbird proudly displays its scarlet chevrons on its wing shoulders, with a glossy black body, while the smaller female is a speckled brown. http://s3.amazonaws.com/.... The Brewer's are shiny black, with seemingly intelligent yellow eyes. Both types of blackbirds flock together on the course in groups ranging from 5 to 50, in the closely mowed areas, where they deplete the ample worm population."
The Daily Bucket--Modest Places—by 6412093: "South Houston, Texas, a few miles from the Ship Channel, just east of Hobby Airport, is probably in the quarter-finals for one of the most degraded places on the planet. Fifty yards from my motel, the water must be 90 degrees in the drainage ditch waters that are surging under the dully-named Airport Blvd, after flowing through the abandoned PCB refinery a mile upstream. Still, the doves watch the magpies dive at my head when I walk to the muddy-bottomed ditch, past the scattered, tall sunflowers among the weeds. The magpies must be nesting in the Acadia and palm trees that line the street. There’s a couple of feet of flowing water in the ditch. And there’s fish! Not just minnows, but a school of a dozen fish, some a foot long, making a life in this very modest place. Probably not carp, nor whiskery-faced catfish or bullhead, although the turbid water hinders identification. Maybe a drum fish, with a reddish cast?"
Bay Delta Conservation Plan's Actual Cost Will Be $54.1 Billion—by Dan Bacher: "Restore the Delta (RTD) today revealed that the actual costs of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels would amount to $54.1 billion, not the $24.5 billion touted by Natural Resources Secretary John Laird and Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin in a press conference and news release on May 29."
Eco-Activism, Eco-Justice & Sustainability
Black Hearts Trump Black Lungs—by Virally Suppressed: "Most people think of black lung as being some sort of antiquated disease like scurvy or smallpox that has been eradicated through technological and medical breakthroughs, but it has actually been increasing in prevalence over the past 20 years. After the passage of The 1969 Coal Mine Health and Safety Act, deaths attributable to CWP declined precipitously for about 25 years. However, sometime during the mid 1990s, that trend reversed and the death toll began to rise again. Between 1995 and 2004, The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety estimates that around 10,000 miners died from black lung."
I Wrote to My Senator about His Vote Against GMO Labeling. His Response Is Unconvincing.—by Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees: "The claim that GMOs increase crop yield is debatable. In a new report, funded by the USDA, University of Wisconsin researchers found that while some GM crops increased yields, others did not. They likewise found evidence of a 'yield drag,' i.e. 'the idea that manipulating the genome of a plant variety causes unintended changes in the way it grows, causing it to be less productive.'
Moreover, the United Nations has produced numerous reports in the past few years debunking the claim that we need GM crops to feed present and future populations. For instance, a 2008 report on food security in Africa argued that 'organic agriculture can increase agricultural productivity and can raise incomes with low-cost, locally available and appropriate technologies, without causing environmental damage.'"
Pollution & Hazardous Wastes
MI-Sen: Gary Peters (D) To Introduce Bill To Study Affects Of Pet Coke This Week—by poopdogcomedy: "With mounds of black petroleum coke visible in the distance behind him, U.S. Rep. Gary Peters announced Tuesday that he would introduce legislation next week calling for a complete study of the health and environmental impacts of the waste material being stored along the Detroit River. 'Certainly it’s time to be asking some very serious questions about the activity that is occurring here,' said Peters, D-Bloomfield Township. 'We better understand the health impacts of it. We better understand how we store this properly.'"
Detroit’s petcoke pile helps a struggling coal plant stay in business—by dturnbull: "The Times writes: A Canadian electrical power plant, owned by Nova Scotia Power, is chipping away at the three-story-high, blocklong pile of petroleum coke on Detroit’s waterfront. The company is burning the high-carbon, high-sulfur waste product because it is cheaper than natural gas. It turns out this power plant has been buying some of the petcoke that’s piling up in Detroit, citing 'competitive reasons.' In other words, the Canadian utility company saw a cheap source of fuel and jumped on it, despite that fact that petcoke is dirtier and more carbon intensive than even dirty conventional coal."
Sierra Club sues Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad for coal pollution in NW rivers & waterways—by Lefty Coaster: "Sierra Club sues Burlington Northern Santa Fe over coal dust in waterways. The Sierra Club filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against Burlington Northern Santa Fe, claiming tons of coal dust blows off the company's trains into Puget Sound and Washington rivers, including the Columbia.This is the same pollution of coal dust blowing into Northwest rivers and Puget Sound the train tracks follow as their preferred routes that I made the subject of my first public comment to the panel during the hearings on the Maritime Pacific Terminal near Bellingham."
Transportation & Infrastructure
Bike Share Comes to New York ... but, only for some people—by futurebird: "If not in NYC you might not have heard the news, but New York City has a bike share program at long last! The bikes are sturdy, with adjustable seats and are firmly locked in stations all over downtown, midtown and more the wealthy areas in Brooklyn. [...] There were plans to extended the network in stages to almost the whole city, but this is very much dependent one funding: Private funding. Private funding will want to concentrate where it can advertise best to those with the most "disposable income", not where it is really needed most. [...] The next phase should be based on population density not the income of the residents."
More bicycles means better driving—by BYw: "For the Masters of the Universe who object to Bike Share and all the changes that go with it. You get around be personal car and that's the way you like it. We get that. It’s cool. Follow me below the twisted tube and let me tell you how Bike Share makes you life better. The biggest contributor for traffic is cars. It’s noticeable when pedestrians or bicyclists block traffic or cause a nuisance because that is news. It’s unusual and so gets noticed compared to the constant inconvenience other cars pose. Something often overlooked is what happens when more people ride bike, walk, or use transit. Less people drive."
Better Place Goes Belly-Up. But Is the Switchable-Battery EV still Alive?—by Assaf: "Last week, the Israeli company called Better Place filed for bankruptcy. Better Place (BP) tried to base its business upon battery-switching and charging networks for electric vehicles (EVs). It will be remembered as the most heavily-funded and government-backed startup in Israeli history, raising some $700-800 million in a couple of years - and also as the one to have burned the most cash most quickly. BP built about 40 battery-switching stations across Israel, and a couple of dozen elsewhere - each costing some $2-3 million (at least 4x higher than predicted; cost back-calculated from their financial reports). It sold less than 1000 cars in Israel, all of them of the same Renault Fluence ZE model, the only model car makers have agreed to build for its network. You do the cost-per-car math. BP's finances are literally like Wile E. Coyote falling from a high cliff, and continuing to fall through the ground. It is so bad, that it's hysterically comical—except for the hundreds of stranded employees and customers."
Eco-Philosophy & Essays
The False Choice: Jobs vs. the Environment—by StewartAcuff: "I’ve heard Steelworkers President Leo Gerard say again and again, 'We need to put an end to the lies, the myths, the hysteria, that say you can have either a clean environment or good jobs,' Gerard says. 'You can have both, or you have neither.' This is a maxim that must be applied to our economy today."
Unemployment and climate change both addressed by one plan—by petercgoldmark: "On the economic front, the U.S. economy is stuttering and fragile—roughly 20 million people are unemployed or want more work than they can find, and investment is hesitant. Europe, for its part, is in a crippling recession. On the climate front, the increased frequency of severe storms and weather-related disasters is driven in part by global carbon emissions, which are rising sharply. We are heading rapidly toward a series of irreversible, adverse consequences including more destructive storms, severe droughts, reduced agricultural yield, decreased availability of water, and hundreds of millions of 'climate refugees.' Both challenges demand vigorous responses on a large-scale that can show results fast. And one program can both help create jobs on one hand and avoid frying the planet on the other. That single answer is a program that stimulates growth and creates jobs by investing large-scale funds in energy efficiency, retrofitting buildings around the world in order to level off carbon emissions."
Big coal is at war. With you. (If you work for a living)—by Mike Stark: "In sum, many suspect that Patriot was a fraud from the beginning. It was never meant to succeed as an independent enterprise. Instead, it was a way for Peabody Energy to escape 1) expensive promises they had made to their labor force; and, 2) environmental liabilities and clean-up costs associated with their Appalachian mines. This makes sense when one looks at the assets Peabody didn't spin off - their huge Powder River Basin (PRB) operations. There (in Wyoming) the coal is close to the surface and easy to mine. These operations require fewer miners. PRB coal has low sulfur content, making it easier to sell. The mines haven't been operating as long, so there are few (if any) legacy labor expenses (pensions/retiree health care costs). For all of these reasons (and others), Peabody's western assets are profitable. None of them were spun off into Patriot."
Lewis Lapham: The Ocean as Desert—by TomDispatch: "We needn’t call upon an angry god to make the sea an object of no small terror. Every year we withdraw from it 160 million tons of fish, deposit in it 7 million tons of garbage. Poisonous chemicals in the Gulf of Mexico have formed a pool of dead water equivalent in size to the state of New Jersey; among the several hundred dead zones elsewhere in the world, one encircles the Chinese coastline. If the sea levels continue to rise at their current rate, the day is not far off when Miami and Atlantic City become beds for oysters. The fishing in the sea that was once near the surface now is done by trawls the length of locomotives dropped to the depth of a mile and dragged across the bottom, reducing many thousands of square miles of the ocean floor to barren deserts no longer giving birth to the tiny organisms from which emerge the great chains of being that sustain the life of the planet."
Capitalism, Global Warming, And Austerity—by Ray Pensador: "A market economy focused on meeting people's needs is sustainable. A market economy based on capitalism's expectations of rampant consumerism and constant growth is not sustainable, globally. The first sign that the current predatory (and parasitic) capitalist system has hit a wall is the alarming level of carbon dioxide concentration in the earth's atmosphere, at 400 parts per million. The effects of having crossed this threshold are going to be increasingly devastating for hundreds of millions of people around the world, with increased frequency."
Blame it on Climate Change and Monsanto—by Vijaya: "From corn-chip to computer-chip is but a step. GM-corn to nano-chip. Nice! And so crunchy, man! So flavorful! So full of silicon-dioxide!"