Archive for Environment


Exxon Playing Dumb

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Leave ‘Em Alone

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For people who build our computers and smart phones, the Chinese have remarkably retrograde ideas about medicine.

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Great balls of foreboding

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With Hillary Clinton getting Swift Servered in the media for being, you know, Hillary Clinton, and with Bernie Sanders being used as a progressive effigy by Black Lives Matter, Washington-level Democrats are feeling a bit uneasy about their 2016 prospects this week. Opposed as they are by a Republican cornucopia of clowns, that’s saying something.

BuzzFeed News reported yesterday that, according to “a senior Democrat,” Al Gore supporters are “getting the old gang together” to explore the prospect of Gore entering 2016 presidential race:

“They’re figuring out if there’s a path financially and politically,” the Democrat said. “It feels more real than it has in the past months.”


A member of Gore’s inner circle asked to be quoted “pouring lukewarm water” — not, note, cold water — on the chatter.

“This is people talking to people, some of whom may or may not have talked to him,” the Gore adviser said.

It is not clear what the purpose is of floating this story to BuzzFeed, but it smacks of some foreboding about Clinton’s electability. A retired white woman I spoke with last week expressed dislike for Clinton, if that’s any indication. She had voted for Obama, and now is eager for Joe Biden to jump into the race. It’s not just about trust, but likeability.

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Wyoming’s Sergeant Schultz Act

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Wyoming calls it the Data Trespass Bill. But it sounds more like the Sergeant Schultz Act: You will know nothing, see nothing, and hear nothing! Via Charlie Pierce, this mind-bite from Think Progress:

Passed by the Wyoming state government and signed into law by Gov. Matt Mead (R) in March, the law makes it illegal to “collect resource data” from any land outside of city boundaries, whether that land be private, public, or federal. Under to the law, “collect” means to “take a sample of material, acquire, gather, photograph or otherwise preserve information in any form from open land which is submitted or intended to be submitted to any agency of the state or federal government.”

Pierce writes:

That last provision is just bizarre. Clearly, it’s meant to punish anyone who submits photographic proof of environmental damage to the responsible federal authorities. It is nullification by a thousand cuts — make it illegal to cooperate with The Government in protecting yourself from being poisoned. The Invisible Hand’s second career as a proctologist is going quite well.

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Categories : Environment, National
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From The First Earth Day

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Saw this at the very first Earth Day.


Categories : Breather, Environment
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The 6-percenters

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An animated map of the progression of the historic 2012–2014 California drought, spanning from December 31, 2013, to July 29, 2014. The map highlights the rapid spread of Extreme and Exceptional Drought conditions across over 75% of California during 2014. This drought is officially the worst drought California has experienced in 1,200 years.
(Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.)

Hearing yesterday morning that the snowpack in the Sierras is six percent of average nearly drew a gasp. Records have been shattered:

The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which typically supplies nearly a third of California’s water, is showing the lowest water content on record: 6 percent of the long-term average for April 1. That doesn’t just set a new record, it shatters the old low-water mark of 25 percent, which happens to have been last year’s reading (tied with 1977).

Things are so bad that Governor Jerry Brown decided to slog into the field for the manual snow survey on Wednesday morning. He didn’t need snowshoes but he did bring along a first-ever executive order mandating statewide water reductions.

“We’re in a historic drought and that demands unprecedented action,” he told reporters who made it to the Sierra survey site off of Highway 50.

In the Central Valley, farmers would drill wells if they could stand the two-year wait, the half-million dollar cost, and if there was any point. California celebrates its gold rush history in the appellation, the 49ers. I’m wondering if the 6-Percenters might have a future in California lore.

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From the red wood forest to the xxxx xxxxxx waters

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I got yer trickle-down right here, pal. Those melty glaciers in the Antarctic and Greenland? Well:

The Gulf Stream that helps to keep Britain from freezing over in winter is slowing down faster now than at any time in the past millennium according to a study suggesting that major changes are taking place to the ocean currents of the North Atlantic.

Scientists believe that the huge volumes of freshwater flowing into the North Atlantic from the rapidly melting ice cap of Greenland have slowed down the ocean “engine” that drives the Gulf Stream from the Caribbean towards north-west Europe, bringing heat equivalent to the output of a million power stations.

Scientists say the change has largely taken place since 1970. According to Stefan Rahmstorf at Potsdam’s Institute for Climate Impact Research, this could be … bad:

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And the loser is…

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By Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA (Google Power) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Remember Solyndra, that failed solar tech startup the GOP tried to hang around President Obama’s neck like an albatross? Mitt Romney campaigned in front of the closed Solyndra factory in 2012, trying to deflect attention from his vulture capitalist record at Bain Capital. See, the problem was that Big Gummint was perturbing the economic gods with clean energy subsidies, “stifling free market competition by picking economic winners and losers.”

Yesterday, I concluded a post noting that it is some kind of article of faith on the right that “government shouldn’t pick winners and losers.” Rather than call them hypocrites this fine Sunday morning, let’s just say they apply that principle somewhat unevenly.

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Climate change gets biblical

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[from yesterday]

Two stories this morning bookend the ongoing saga of climate change: sea level rise and drought. Biblical plagues almost.

Rolling Stone’s Jeff Goodell visits the Norfolk naval station to see the impact of sea level rise on naval operations. Large tides and heavy rains already leave some areas underwater. A storm had moved through the area the night before, leaving trucks at the main refueling depot axle-deep in seawater:

“Military readiness is already being impacted by sea-level rise,” says Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, who mentions that with all the flooding, it’s becoming difficult to sell a house in some parts of Norfolk. If the melting of Greenland and West Antarctica continues to accelerate at current rates, scientists say Norfolk could see more than seven feet of sea-level rise by 2100. In 25 years, operations at most of these bases are likely to be severely compromised. Within 50 years, most of them could be goners. If the region gets slammed by a big hurricane, the reckoning could come even sooner.”

Already, employees have a hard time getting to the base when the roads flood. The state of Virginia is in charge of 300 miles of flood-prone roads in the Norfolk area. However, addressing that threat is not a priority for climate deniers in the legislature.

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Categories : Global Warming
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Image public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Oil rigs in the “Graveyard of the Atlantic“? Someone tell the president April 1st isn’t for two months yet:

(Bloomberg) — The Obama administration proposed opening to offshore drilling an area from Virginia to Georgia in a policy shift sought by energy companies but opposed by environmentalists worried about resorts such as the Outer Banks or Myrtle Beach.

The offshore plan for 2017-2022 marks the second time President Barack Obama has recommended unlocking areas in the U.S. Atlantic for oil drilling, and it drew a swift retort from allies who say the payoff doesn’t justify the risk of a spill along the populated coast. The agency said Atlantic leases won’t be auctioned for at least six years and drilling wouldn’t start for several more years.

Well, that’s a relief. Plus, you know, with the Gulf Stream and all, a massive oil spill 50 miles offshore of the Outer Banks might never reach Cape Hatteras.

“Offshore oil spills don’t respect state boundaries,” said Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts. “A spill in North Carolina could affect Massachusetts.”

Heads up, Nantucket.

The proposal is still preliminary, officials suggested:

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told reporters the proposal was a “balanced” approach, but she stressed that it was only a draft.

“It is not final, we’re in the early stages of what is a multi-year process,” Jewell said, cautioning that some regions listed in it “may be narrowed or taken out entirely.”

That caveat and the timing make the announcement a mite suspect. Days ago, the Obama administration had Alaska livid over its request “to designate parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a wilderness area” off-limits to oil drilling. The request left Sen. Lisa Murkowski fuming. Something about decisions on federal land made Outside being a violation of state sovereignty. Other Alaska legislators were similarly put out:

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker was “outraged” at the timing of the announcement, which comes amid low oil prices and declining production “despite having more than 40 billion barrels of untapped resources, mostly in federal areas where oil and gas activity is blocked or restricted,” the joint statement said.

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, called the plan “callously planned and politically motivated” in the same statement.

On the heels of the Alaska announcement, the Atlantic drilling proposal is generating predictable howls from East Coast environmentalists:

“This proposal sells out the southeast fisheries, tourism, and coastal way of life,” says Sierra Weaver, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. “This is an area that has never been drilled for oil production. These are places and communities that rely on natural resources like clean air and clean water for the quality of life and the lifestyle that they know.”

The White House surely knew its twin decisions would raise firestorms from both the left and right.

A head fake in advance of a Keystone pipeline veto? Or a sop?

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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