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Hurricane Ridge
Many environmentally related posts appearing at Daily Kos each week don't attract the attention they deserve. To help get more eyeballs, Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The most recent Wednesday Spotlight can be seen here. So far, more than 18,780 environmentally oriented diaries have been rescued for inclusion in this weekly collection since 2006. Inclusion of a diary in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.
Feeble, Fiery, and Frustrating: The Top 10 reasons to hate Obama’s new standards for oil trains—by ForestEthics: "Today after months of study and, unfortunately, time spent listening to the oil industry, President Obama proposed weak new standards for oil trains. How weak? Well, they give the oil industry a license to continue threatening the safety of millions of Americans with hazardous, flammable oil trains. I’d hoped that when these proposed regulations were announced they would be a step in the right direction — getting dangerous exploding tank cars off the tracks, rerouting trains around population centers, and giving communities the ability to say no. Especially since the nationwide danger of oil train routes is so clearly visible. But, the administration instead prioritized the oil industry's agenda to barrel dangerous tank cars through our cities and by our homes, leaving communities and emergency responders high and dry."
green dots
Twenty-five Seconds too Late?—by 6412093: "Underground injections of millions of gallons of chemicals and water, called 'fracking,' have liberated massive amounts of cheap oil and natural gas in the US. The oil and gas giants are chafing at the bit to freeze the natural gas and export it to Japan, Europe, and India as LNG (liquefied natural gas), where it sells for triple the US prices. There are nearly two dozen pending applications to export the gas. Opening these export markets would vastly increase the demand for more gas, and that increased demand would trigger even more fracking, which is already causing severe air quality impacts, and many claims of water pollution. The Sierra Club and others are fighting these gas export schemes.  [...] But the latest Sierra Club appeal against a gas export dock on these and other grounds may flounder for a gut-wrenching reason; it was filed 25 seconds too late."
green dots
State of Emergency in Siberia's Permafrost Region due to Wildfires—by Pakalolo: "The fires were touched off by thunderstorms that produced no rain. The Siberian Times reports that over 1000 people had to be evacuated from their homes due to fire in the Sakha Republic, also known as Yakutia, with its landmass as permafrost and 40% of that area within the arctic circle. States of emergency are also in effect in the Russian Federation regions of Kransnoyarsk and Irkutsk. Vyacheslav Popov, head of the republic's Forestry Department, said: 'The area of wildfires doubled. There are 37 active wildfires in the republic right now covering the territory of 76,000 hectares. There is a threat to eight settlements in five areas of Yakutia'."

You can find more rescued green diaries below the sustainable squiggle.

Climate Chaos

Infiltrating The Heartland Conference—by ClimateDenierRoundup: "In a very brave act of reporting, Vice's Brendan Montague risked his own sanity by attending the Heartland Institute's recent conference in Las Vegas. His efforts yielded a great story detailing the majesty of the event, from descriptions of the 'run down' hotel to the attendees who wandered its halls. These participants might envision themselves misunderstood geniuses comparable to Galileo, but the story reports they looked more like 'sad sacks.' Notable events include an outburst by Climategate-breaking journalist James Delingpole after being asked how many study abstracts he's read lately (the answer is zero)."

One Man's Attempt To F*** Up The Planet—by LaFeminista: "Who is the saboteur? Who can wield this amount of power? The retreat represents a win for climate deniers in Australia who dismiss the looming dangers of climate change and the science behind it. (It's 'absolute crap,' claimed Abbott, echoing Tea Party-type rhetoric in the United States.) It's a win for energy and mining interests who claimed the Australian [carbon] tax was too burdensome. The retreat also signals a victory for Rupert Murdoch, the Australian native whose media empire, News Corp., did everything in its power to elect Abbott last fall and to attack the tax. Days before the repeal vote, Murdoch spoke out again against climate change science, telling an Australian interviewer it should be treated with great skepticism. Murdoch's dismissal stands in stark contrast to his 2007 proclamation that 'climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats.' Well one can only assume that he thinks that 'catastrophic threats' are a business op[po]rtunity."

Obama's linkage of climate and wildfire—by ClimateDenierRoundup: "President Obama recently stated that the record-breaking wildfires currently burning in Washington state have 'a lot to do with…drought…changing precipitation patterns…and climate change.' Sierra Rayne at the American Thinker then criticized Obama's connection to climate change, claiming that Washington has not seen a decline in annual precipitation or an increase in average temperatures. It's ironic that Rayne, who failed to cite her sources, should then call on Obama to use 'quantitative datasets that scientists can verify' when it is she who has failed to check the facts. According to both theNational Climate Assessment and Washington's own Impacts Assessment (.pdf), temperatures have increased across the region by 1.5°F since 1920. Perhaps Rayne should also check out this article published in the American Meteorological Society journal about the unusual number of droughts in the Pacific Northwest, in part due to warm temperatures."

McGill Debunks Climate Change Denial and Explains Why We Can't Afford to Go Back—by Scientistocrat: "Skeptics of climate change claim again and again that in the absence of soaring temperature and whatever they deludedly think global warming constitutes, the theory is complete baloney. In yet another blow to their arguments, a paper published by McGill that statistically examines climate patterns in the past FIFTEEN years deals another blow to their arguments. Professor Shaun Lovejoy explains: In a paper published this month in Geophysical Research Letters, Lovejoy concludes that a natural cooling fluctuation during this period largely masked the warming effects of a continued increase in man-made emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The new study applies a statistical methodology developed by the McGill researcher in a previous paper, published in April in the journal Climate Dynamics. The earlier study -- which used pre-industrial temperature proxies to analyze historical climate patterns -- ruled out, with more than 99% certainty, the possibility that global warming in the industrial era is just a natural fluctuation in the earth’s climate."

Climate Change is Greatest Business Opportunity—by DocSalvage: "Climate-change is the greatest business opportunity since the American westward expansion of the 1800s. American unbridled imagination could lead the world in adapting to it. That is, if government stopped coddling businesses already making more profits than they know what to do with on financially safe, but dirty and wasteful, old technologies."

Extreme Weather

Climate Weirding; July 16, 2014, eastern Oklahoma low record was beat by 10 degrees F—by Churchill: "It's just stunning.  On July 15-16-17 In Tahlequah, eastern Oklahoma; and central Oklahoma; the old all time low record was 69 in 1996, and they hit 59 F that day.  Also, the high that day was 68, which was lower than the record low.  Holy Cow!  This weather or Climate Change stuff is UN-BE-LIEV-A-BLE....!!!!!"

Food, Agriculture & Gardening

Wildflower Islands—by hungeski: "Three years ago, I wrote about my plan to keep a yard of wildflowers by mowing just once a year, in early spring. But, after a glorious first year, the yard came to fill with much tall grass and few wildflowers. This year, I have a new plan. While mowing, when I come across a nice patch of wildflowers, I mow around it. If at the next mowing the patch still shows bloom or promise, I keep it. During the last mowing, as I came up on a patch of clover and ground ivy, I weighed whether it had bloom enough worth saving. Then I saw a bee working the flowers there, and chose to mow around that patch. In this way, I hope to keep a mowed lawn with wildflower islands, enjoyed by both human and bee."

GMO LABELING, SIMPLY SPEAKING—by rgantibully : "I can't help but wonder why certain obviously intelligent diarists deliberately confuse and muddle the Genetic Modified Organism (GMO) Labeling issue.  (I was prompted to write this after reading the Daily Kos diary "GMO/Food Labeling-Let's Get Serious" (7/12/14) and some of the accompanying comments. Rather than speculating about possible motives, I would like to add some clarity to the issue of GMO labeling. [...] GMO labeling is based on a simple question. Do you or don't you believe American consumers should have the basic human right to know what they are eating? If not - end of discussion. Put a period. Move on. If we shouldn't have that right, then food manufacturers should not have to indicate whether a food is genetically engineered. And they may as well stop listing food ingredients on labels, as well. And why shouldn't food processors be allowed to add whatever they want to our food without telling us, like they do in China."

Saturday Morning Garden Blogging Vol. 10.22 - The Squash that Ate the Doghouse edition—by Merry Light: "This last Monday at 5:30 pm, my sunroom and the side porch on the west side registered 102 degrees. We've had a lot of hot days and fairly warm nights this summer - 90's in the afternoon and 60's in the mornings. I have been running around every day with watering cans to keep all the plants watered and happy. Then Wednesday the monsoonal moisture started showing up with afternoon and evening thunderstorms. We have rain forecast again for the weekend. Wednesday's humidity was a whopping 40%! (I know, you east-coasters and mid-westerners, don't laugh! Humidity usually doesn't even register on our indoor/outdoor sensor). The sunflowers love it. Heck, we all love it!"

The Case Against GMOs—by Karen from Maui: "This testimony was submitted by bioengineer Juanita Mathews on the Maui GMO Moratorium initiative which is being considered by the County Council prior to going on the ballot in November. My name is Juanita Mathews and I have a PhD in molecular biosciences and bioengineering from the University of Hawaii Manoa. My graduate work was the genetic modification of bacteria for biofuel production. My postdoc work was the genetic modification of mouse and human cells for stem cell therapies. I am very familiar with how genetic modification is done and what kind of risks the technology has. I find it very disturbing that this relatively new technology has been, in my expert opinion, irresponsibly applied to our food supply. When genetically modifying cells in the lab, one of the number one concerns is to make sure that what we make in the lab does not get released into the environment. We sterilize everything prior to disposal and have numerous protocols in place to make sure that accidental release does not occur. It therefore greatly concerns me that agricultural companies are not only releasing genetically modified organisms into the environment, but also releasing organisms that we consume and could potentially contaminate other parts of our food chain. Genetic modification is not an evil technology, indeed it has the potential for great good, but as with anything that has great potential, it can also cause great harm."

Energy & Conservation

Not Just the Atlantic: Obama Leasing Millions of Gulf Acres for Offshore Drilling—by Steve Horn: "Deploying the age-old 'Friday news dump,' President Barack Obama’s Interior Department gave the green light on Friday, July 18 to companies to deploy seismic air guns to examine the scope of Atlantic Coast offshore oil-and-gas reserves. It is the first time in over 30 years that the oil and gas industry is permitted to do geophysical data collection along the Atlantic coast. Though decried by environmentalists, another offshore oil and gas announcement made the same week has flown under the radar: over 21 million acres of Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas reserves will be up for lease on August 20 in New Orleans, Louisiana at the Superdome. On July 17, the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)  announced the lease in the name of President Obama’s 'all of the above' energy policy."

Fukushima's Biggest Mess: MOX Reactor #3—by Joieau: "The Tokyo Electric and Power Company, a.k.a. TEPCO, has announced that they estimate some 1.1 trillion becquerels of radioactive contamination were released during a 4-hour period on August 19, 2013 during debris cleanup at the #3 reactor plant. Now, we who pay attention to all things Fuku have known for a long time that TEPCO is not particularly trustworthy in its 'estimations' of either contamination levels or releases, so take that for what you will. #3 is the reactor burning MOX plutonium fuel, which blew up so spectacularly on March 14, 2011, three days after the earthquake caused a power outage in the northeastern Japan region. TEPCO left it pretty much alone for two and a half years, as the levels of contamination in the wreckage were—and still are—too high for humans. Debris removal was begun at unit 3 in August of last year (2013), using primarily robots and remote control heavy equipment."

Renewables

Wind power to double by 2018 and will soon generate 7% of our world's electricity!—by HoundDog: "Starting from our current 3% of world's electricity, Navigant Research reports world wide generating capacity will double in the next five years. Navigant Research, which has been following wind trends for 19 years now, projects that wind, both onshore and offshore, will provide 7.3 percent of the electricity consumed worldwide by 2018. That’s despite a 20 percent dip between 2012 and 2013, which the researchers attribute to the effects of the 2008 financial crisis on European markets. This growth is projected to occur, CleanTechnica notes, despite the non-efforts of countries like Spain and the U.S., the latter of which has 'failed to demonstrate an ongoing political commitment and renew tax credits for wind development, which have traditionally stimulated investment.' New wind installations here plummeted 93 percent in 2013. [...] We can thank the Republicans for "bonking" the Production Tax Credit incentive essential for kickstarting our nation's wind energy production. We have some small hope, this may be restored after the election, however, if there is one thing investors in multi-billion dollar projects can not stand is regulatory uncertainty. This glaring example of how the anti-government attitudes of our Tea Party and extreme right-wing ideological zealots are damaging our country and our economy."

Keystone and Other Fossil Fuel Transportation

Oil Train derails in Seattle underneath major arterial - Rally Tonight in S. Seattle—by Lefty Coaster:—by Lefty Coaster: "A train carrying explosive Bakken Crude Oil derailed in Seattle underneath a major arterial street. Three railroad tank cars carrying petroleum crude oil derailed under the Magnolia Bridge in Interbay early Thursday morning. No oil escaped and the cause of the accident is still under investigation, according to Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad spokesperson Gus Melonas. The train included 100 tank cars, two covered hoppers full of sand and three locomotives. All the tank cars were carrying crude oil from North Dakota. The oil was bound for a refinery in Anacortes, Courtney Wallace, another BNSF spokesperson said. All three of the derailed tank cars were CP-1232 models. Unlike an older type of DOT-111 tank cars, the newer CP-1232 includes additional safety features, including reinforced walls."

The Great Outdoors

The Daily Bucket: Hurricane Ridge Wildflowers (July 1)—by matching mole: "By now regular bucketeers should be familiar with Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.  Milly Watt has posted several diaries on the phenology of the wildflowers and, at her encouragement and that of other Washington bucketeers, I visited HR on July 1.  I have diaried about the rather spectacular mammal activities already and am now following up with my own wildflower observations. The species I saw were similar to those seen by Milly on her last visit which was 20 days earlier on June 11. [...] Unfortunately I can't claim that this was a complete list.  Due to a rather serious road accident involving a chemical spill on a two lane highway our arrival at the trail head was delayed until late in the day. Although with the long hours of daylight we still had time for the hike I didn't linger and photograph quite as much as I would have otherwise.  As a result I probably missed some of the less common species along the way."

Ecotourism - Zip It!—by John Crapper: "Ecotourism
1. Tourism involving travel to areas of natural or ecological interest, typically under the guidance of a naturalist, for the purpose of observing wildlife and learning about the environment. 2. Tourism which is designed to contribute to the protection of the environment or at least minimize damage to it, often involving travel to areas of natural interest in developing countries or participation in environmental projects. 3. Tourism to exotic or threatened ecosystems to observe wildlife or to help preserve nature. Everywhere you go these days you see tour companies and travel agencies, cruise lines, and resorts tout their practice of ecotourism."

Sustainability & Extinction

Scientists warn we are on the brink of the next major mass extinction event—by Faith Gardner: "Biologists (yet again) sound the alarm in this latest article via Stanford News Service, warning that 16 to 33 percent of vertebrates are now endangered. Larger animals such as elephants, rhinos and polar bears face the highest decline rates, which follows in the pattern of past extinction events. The loss of such creatures would mean devastating trickle-down effects on the human population and other species. [P]revious experiments conducted in Kenya have isolated patches of land from megafauna such as zebras, giraffes and elephants, and observed how an ecosystem reacts to the removal of its largest species. Rather quickly, these areas become overwhelmed with rodents. Grass and shrubs increase and the rate of soil compaction decreases. Seeds and shelter become more easily available, and the risk of predation drops. Consequently, the number of rodents doubles -- and so does the abundance of the disease-carrying ectoparasites that they harbor. 'Where human density is high, you get high rates of defaunation, high incidence of rodents, and thus high levels of pathogens, which increases the risks of disease transmission,' said Dirzo, who is also a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. 'Who would have thought that just defaunation would have all these dramatic consequences? But it can be a vicious circle.' Vertebrates aren't the only species on a troubling path of defaunation. Over the last 35 years, while the human population has doubled, invertebrate numbers have plummeted by 45 percent."

Critters

raven 3
The Daily Bucket - ravens playing—by OceanDiver: "My neighborhood is a playground right now for a troupe of 5 ravens. Possibly they are this year's youngsters of the pair that lives around here. The adults go about their raven business, as mysterious as it is to me, with apparent seriousness and direction. These 5 cavort amongst the trees calling - no, yelling is more like it - to each other in higher pitched voices, from early in the morning on. It carries. I know where they are. The other day they had a play session in the air over the bay while I was out there. Swooping and gliding, flipping upside down, jabbing at each other, tumbling in three dimensions, then gliding in unison. And screeching all the while. It was quite a scene for a while, filling the sky. I snapped some pics as I could. Here are a few. Impossible to get more than 3 at a time. Imagine deafening squawking at the same time!"

NOAA thinks about protecting Pacific bluefin tuna—by DWG: "The human contribution to the extinction of other species continues unabated. Our systematic destruction of bluefin tuna populations in the Atlantic and Pacific is further proof of our inability to manage natural resources. The population of Pacific bluefin tuna in the wild is on the verge of collapse. An assessment by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in March of 2013 was bleak. After a brief recovery in the 1990's from overfishing, population estimates of breeding stock and total biomass have returned to record lows. Stocks have declined by 96% since the dawn of industrial fishing operations. Now most of the fish harvested are sexually immature juveniles. The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) was set up to sustainably manage tuna harvest, but it lacks any real regulatory power. With respect to the Pacific bluefin tuna, the IATTC has agreed to limit the annual catch to 5000 metric tons, which was reached early this month. A meeting to discuss stopping further harvest failed thanks to objections by Japan, Korea, and China."

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit
Eastern Cottontail Rabbit
Daily Bucket: My Former Backyard—by Lenny Flank: "Last week I went back to eastern Pennsylvania, where I grew up, to visit my sister and her kids. And here are some critters and wild things I saw during my visit (most of these are from the Gettysburg battlefield; a few are from Central Park in New York City)."

The Oceans, Water & Drought

PETA to Detroiters: We'll help you get your water back--but you have to become a vegan for a month—by Christian Dem in NC: "The department put the shutoffs on a temporary hiatus, but people’s water bills are mounting. So with the help of a generous PETA member, we have come up with one small way to assist Detroit residents and save animals, too. Thanks to this donor, PETA will be able to pay off the water bills for 10 families who commit to going vegan for one month. We’ll also help them get started by giving each family a basket of healthy vegan foods and recipes. This is so offensive on so many levels I don't know where to start.  Using a crisis to blackmail people in this manner is beyond the pale.  Moreover, access to clean water is a right--and in a crisis, that access should come with no strings attached.  PETA should have taken a cue from the Council of Canadians, who rolled into Detroit yesterday with 700 gallons of water from Windsor--and distributed it for free."

Lake Mead, Nevada
Shocking drought data from NASA—by Jen Hayden: "It's bad. Real bad: A new study by NASA and University of California, Irvine, scientists finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought. This study is the first to quantify the amount that groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states. According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal water management agency, the basin has been suffering from prolonged, severe drought since 2000 and has experienced the driest 14-year period in the last hundred years. Scientists were shocked at the results of their latest study: 'We don't know exactly how much groundwater we have left, so we don't know when we're going to run out,' said Stephanie Castle, a water resources specialist at the University of California, Irvine, and the study's lead author. 'This is a lot of water to lose. We thought that the picture could be pretty bad, but this was shocking.' If you live in the western and southwestern part of the United States, it's even worse."

Experts to criticize BDCP fiasco, call for new draft EIR—by Dan Bacher: "Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Governor Jerry Brown’s rush to build Peripheral Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, and salmon and other Pacific fisheries, announced today they will hold a teleconference on Monday, July 28, to call for a new Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS). 'The opponents will charge that the EIR/EIS is fatally flawed due to its failure to include a viable funding plan, exclusion of no-tunnels alternatives, failure to comply with the Endangered Species Act as evidenced by numerous scientists’ red flabs, and lack of public outreach to non-English speakers,' according a news advisory from Restore the Delta."

PPIC Poll: 51% of likely voters would back $11.1 billion water bond—by Dan Bacher: "The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) has just released the results of a statewide survey, 'Californians and the Environment.' The poll revealed that a 'slim majority' of likely voters, 51 percent, would support the $11.1 billion water bond, while support for a lower bond amount is slightly higher. The bond has been postponed twice so far, first in 2010 and then in 2012, because lack of voter support. The poll was published as California Legislature continues to discuss downsizing a controversial $11.1 billion state bond for water projects that is currently on the November ballot. The measure was authorized by the water policy/water bond package of 2009 that creates a clear path to the construction of the twin tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta."

Miscellany

USDA Certified Organic Seed&Plant Nursery Project in Central Valley—by mettle fatigue: "Just learned from a very reliable friend about a local start-up business project Flora's Organics by Mona Twocats-Romero, in Bakersfield, that only has until August 21 at kickstarter. Even if pledging is not something you can do, please consider posting positive comments at this kickstarter page and 'share' this project around to help move it up into better visibility at kickstarter. Here's most of the information in blockquote, further details at the actual page including Kickstarter website links and others you may want to use, information about seed-packet rewards for funders, etc."

"global warming, climate change, is the greatest market failure ever seen"—by xaxnar: " PRI's Living On Earth is a great source of thoughtful news about the environment. The quote used for the title of this post comes from a Steve Curwood interview with Naomi Oreskes about the book she and Eric Conway have recently published: The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future. The year is 2393, and the world is almost unrecognizable. Clear warnings of climate catastrophe went ignored for decades, leading to soaring temperatures, rising sea levels, widespread drought and—finally—the disaster now known as the Great Collapse of 2093, when the disintegration of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet led to mass migration and a complete reshuffling of the global order. Writing from the Second People's Republic of China on the 300th anniversary of the Great Collapse, a senior scholar presents a gripping and deeply disturbing account of how the children of the Enlightenment—the political and economic elites of the so-called advanced industrial societies—failed to act, and so brought about the collapse of Western civilization."

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