Spotlight on green news & views: 'The Uninhabitable Earth'; Tesla price cut irks some owners

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CRITTERS AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Leafless dormant Garry oaks (Quercus garryana), with Seaside juniper in front of the ferryboat and on the cliff, its more typically shrublike habit.

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket – a verrrry late spring, so no blooms yet…trees n stuff instead today: “First week of March, 2019, maritime Pacific Northwest. With our exceptionally cold February and now March, our usual spring wake up has been delayed in my neighborhood, the northwest of the Pacific Northwest. Aside from some Eurasian weeds and bulb-posies, I’ve been seeing no flowers yet. Even deciduous leafage is scarce so far. So instead, I’ll share some nice trees, and a few other plants that provide the greenery hereabouts just now.”

Organ Pipe National Monument
Some prickly citizens of Organ Pipe National Monument.

sandbear75 writes—The Daily Bucket- Welcome To The Borderlands: “Organ Pipe National Monument is located on the Mexican Border. In the above picture, the scar running across the bottom of the valley floor is a fence. There are 1400 border agents assigned to this segment. In recent years, it feels like a militarized zone. It is a hostile land, if your not ready for it. But the beauty here is as rare as anything on earth. There are more plant species here than any other desert in the world. Think of it as forest of pain. […] For all of the wonder that is here, one miss step and your in a world of hurt. Everything around you is designed to bite back if touched.

matching mole writes—Dawn Chorus: The Evolutionary Origins of Birds: “Nowadays almost everyone has heard that ‘birds are dinosaurs’.  What does this mean?  And what is a dinosaur anyway?  This is going to be a long diary but I will break it into parts.  In it I will briefly survey the evolutionary history leading up to dinosaurs, talk a bit about dinosaur diversity, and then delve into the history of the group of dinosaurs that includes birds.  Along the way I’ll point out when characteristics of modern birds first appeared.  I’m going to do my best to minimize obscure terminology while still including a significant amount of detail. Birds are Amniotes.  An amniote is a vertebrate that has an amniotic egg.  The amniotic egg has membranes that allow the egg to exchange gases with the environment (or in the case of amniotes that are live bearing (e.g. mammals) to exchange gases and nutrients with mom).  The shelled eggs of birds allow the embryo to develop in a dry environment by providing food and moisture but still allowing for the exchange of gases.  There are three major, ecologically diverse and dominant groups of living amniotes: birds (about 10,000 species), snakes and lizard (also about 10,000 species) and mammals (about 5,000 species).  There are also three smaller groups of living amniotes: turtles (350ish species), crocodilians (just over 20 species), and tuataras (2 species).”

Algae to feed trapdoor snails.
This glob of algae placed in a container with trapdoor snails was gone in three days.

6412093 writes—The Daily Bucket–The Snail Whisperer: “I recently set up a 5 gallon aquarium and germinated lotuses in it from storied seeds.  I purchased two Japanese “trapdoor” snails to eat the aquarium’s algae.  They just had a half-dozen live young, so I am sort of a grandfather of snails. This covey of snails swiftly ate all of the Lotus tank’s algae, to my surprise. But the trapdoor snails had a reputation for depleting algae, while not molesting other plants. The responsibility for feeding all these hungry infant snails in an algae-less aquarium now weighed heavy on my shoulders. Fortunately I have several hundred pounds of algae in my backyard ponds. Not even trapdoor snails can eat algae that fast. […] So I went out to gather algae for my snails in freezing weather.  I had to carefully identify a clump of algae, and scoop it with my bare hands in 32 degree water and splash it into a bowl. The stuff’s incredibly slippery. Gaia’s best polymers are at work. There’s a jellylike substance attached to the long twines of green algae.” 

durrati writes—Trump NOAA Official Says Seismic Air Gun Blasts Don’t Harm Whales, so Rep. Joe Cunningham Blasts Him: “Rep. Joe Knows how to make a point.

The Washington Post: A hearing on the threat seismic testing poses to North Atlantic right whales was plodding along Thursday when, seemingly out of nowhere, Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) pulled out an air horn and politely asked if he could blast it. Before that moment at a Natural Resources subcommittee hearing, Cunningham had listened to a Trump administration official testify, over and over, that firing commercial air guns under water every 10 seconds in search of oil and gas deposits over a period of months would have next to no effect on the endangered animals, which use echolocation to communicate, feed, mate and keep track of their babies. It’s why the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gave five companies permission to conduct tests that could harm the whales last year, said the official, Chris Oliver, an assistant administrator for fisheries…” 

committed writes—whale of a horn: “Need more of this, my new hero! A Trump official said seismic air gun tests don’t hurt whales. So a congressman blasted him with an air horn. A hearing on the threat seismic testing poses to North Atlantic right whales was plodding along Thursday when, seemingly out of nowhere, Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) pulled out an air horn and politely asked if he could blast it. Before that moment at a Natural Resources subcommittee hearing, Cunningham had listened to a Trump administration official testify, over and over, that firing commercial air guns under water every 10 seconds in search of oil and gas deposits over a period of months would have next to no effect on the endangered animals, which use echolocation to communicate, feed, mate and keep track of their babies. It’s why the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gave five companies permission to conduct tests that could harm the whales last year, said the official, Chris Oliver, an assistant administrator for fisheries.

Angmar writes—The Daily Bucket: it’s meteorological Spring (& Spring is Aurora Season- NASA): “Meteorological Spring (March 1) ‘The spring season associated with the vernal equinox, called astronomical spring, happens on or around March 20 in the Northern Hemisphere, but meteorologists recognize March 1 as the first day of meteorological spring, which is based on annual temperature cycles and the Gregorian calendar.’ […] What are the signs of spring? They are as familiar as a blooming Daffodil, a songbird at dawn, a surprising shaft of warmth from the afternoon sun. And, oh yes, don’t forget the aurora borealis. Spring is aurora season. For reasons not fully understood by scientists, the weeks around the vernal equinox are prone to Northern Lights. Canadians walking their dogs after dinner, Scandinavians popping out to the sauna, Alaskan Huskies on the Iditarod trail—all they have to do is look up and behold, green curtains of light dancing across the night sky. Spring has arrived!

CLIMATE CHAOS

BL Hokie writes—The Uninhabitable Earth, the book report: Introduction: “David Wallace-Well works at New York magazine and in 2017 he wrote ‘The Uninhabitable Earth” as an article in New York magazine.  It was criticized, partially, for being too pessimistic.  I remember seeing an article in The Atlantic about how Wallace-Wells’s claims were too dramatic, and that it wasn’t going to be as bad as all that. Well, it seems that every day we get new news about more things going wrong in theenvironment, and human civilization seems to be whistling past the graveyard. I went out and bought the book and started reading it.  I want to get some more attention for climate change out there, so I am going to write a book report on “The Uninhabitable Earth” broken down into the different sections of the book as I finish reading them.”

BL Hokie writes—The Uninhabitable Earth: Part I, Cascades: ““It’s worse, much worse than you think.”You know that you are going to be in for an uplifting time when this is the introductory line in the book that you are reading.  But I didn’t buy, “The Uninhabitable Earth – Life After Warming” to be cheered up.  I wanted to read it to shake myself out of complacency.  I think everyone should read this book, because I want its ideas and message to get out to as many people as possible.  But, in lieu of that, I want to help disseminate what I find important in the book along with my thoughts, to you, in diary form. Part I: Cascades. This is the introduction to the book where David Wallace-Wells lays out what is currently happening to the Earth because of climate change, how much worse it can get, and  how and why we should fight. Wallace-Wells begins by highlighting the fact that many of the things that we tell ourselves about climate change to rationalize our inaction are myths or delusions. The climate is changing faster than we have anticipated and planned for.  And we are accelerating that change.”

BL Hokie writes—The Uninhabitable Earth: Part II Elements of Chaos: Heat Death: “In science, more specifically astrophysics, heat death refers to a theory of the way that the universe will end. The theory postulates that the universe will end when all matter is and energy is evenly distributed throughout. Some refer to this state as being ‘The Big Freeze.’ […] If the planet suffers 7 degrees Celsius of warming there will be parts of the world around the Equator, with humidity, where it would be impossible for humans to cool down outdoors, to the extent that they would die within a few hours. ‘At 11 or 12 degrees Celsius of warming, more than half of the world’s population, as distributed today, would die of direct heat.’ It would could take centuries to reach that milestone, though.In one analysis, if emissions continue at their current rate (which would likely lead to 4-5 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100), by the year 2080 there could be between 100 million to 750 million ‘person days’ of the most severe heat waves and 1 million ‘person days’ of temperatures beyond human survivability.  (A ‘person day’ is a unit of multiplying the number of people affected by the number of days affected). We have already seen days of extreme heat and deadly heat waves in India, Russia, Europe, and the Middle East. At one point in 2015 the heat index in the Persian Gulf was 163 degrees Fahrenheit. Tens of thousands of people have died. Train tracks have buckled. Roads have melted. There have been days in Arizona where it is too hot to fly.”

NHLib writes—It is so much worse than you thought : “Palm trees in Northern Canada?  Equatorial areas uninhabitable? By the end of this century? In this week’s episode of his “Why is this happening” podcast (also known as WITHpod), Chris Hayes interviews David Wallace-Wells about his book The Uninhabitable Earth. From the introduction: Is it too late for us? Scientists have spent decades sounding the alarm on the devastating effects of climate change. And for decades, society decided to do pretty much nothing about it. In fact, over the past 30 years, we’ve done more damage to the climate than in all of human history! Now, there’s a real chance we may have waited too long to avoid widespread tragedy and suffering. […] Wallace-Wells depicts a catastrophic future far worse than we ever imagined…and far sooner than we thought. It is undoubtedly a brutal truth to face, as you will hear in this episode, but if there’s any hope to avert the worst case scenarios, we have to start now.”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—College Students Calling Out Climate Denial Machine That’s Older Than They Are: “DeSmog published a story this week from the Climate Investigations Center that touches on an interesting angle that’s emerging in the climate world as kids lead the way. The article describes a conference last month at Brown University that featured a 90-minute panel built around a recent study in Nature Climate Change showing how decades of concerted misinformation played a key role in the current climate of climate denial. The event was convened by Brown’s Climate Development Lab. Brown students at the lab recently compiled and published a report giving the backstory on a dozen climate denial coalitions. Some are long gone, like the Global Climate Coalition, others are still very much alive, like the Cooler Heads Coalition, which counts Trump advisors Myron Ebell and Steve Milloy among its members. As pundits and deniers increasingly chide children for daring to speak out about the state of our planet, remember that these kids are speaking out against a misinformation machine that’s older than they are. For the students who put together this report, the fact that there’s a well-funded, widespread propaganda effort to protect polluters at the public expense isn’t some new revelation–it’s simply a fact of life. Just like how no one born since February 1985 has ever experienced a month in which the global temperature has dipped below the 20th century average, this report shows that no one under 30 has lived in a world free from the fossil fuel industry’s misinformation campaign.

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Out Of Real Excuses, Deniers’ Arguments Gosar off the Rails: “With record levels of Americans recognizing the scientific consensus on climate change and beginning to experience the impacts of warming first hand, some Republicans have begun shifting their language to reflect a softer form of denial, focused on buzzwords like ‘innovation.’ But not everyone appears to be on board. For example, at a press conference that might’ve had more participants than audience members, Arizona Rep Paul Gosar responded to a young person’s question about his plan to address climate change with a pretty clear botching of the ‘CO2 is good for plants’ line of denial. (You might remember him as the candidate whose own siblings encouraged the public NOT to vote for him in part because, in the words of his sister, ‘it would be difficult to see my brother as anything but a racist.’) Gosar told the young questioner that they ‘haven’t been taught about photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is where plants take carbon dioxide to produce oxygen. That’s a problem in today’s world. We haven’t taught kids exactly what’s going on in America and in science’.

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Our Planet Isn’t Fragile, But the Living Things On It Are: “Over at the Daily Signal, columnist (to use the term lightly) Walter Williams took a break this week from denying the reality of transgender people, attacking marijuana, and lamenting the ‘Demonization of White Men’ (Williams is black, for the record) to offer his thoughts on the status of the planet in a piece headlined ‘Our planet is not fragile.’ According to Williams, the fact that volcanoes exist and asteroids have hit the Earth in the past means we have nothing to worry about when it comes to climate change. Williams cites the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, which had the force of ‘13,300 15-kiloton atomic bombs, the kind that destroyed Hiroshima in World War II.’ He then mentions an even more powerful 1815 eruption, which led to ‘the year without a summer.’ But this doesn’t show the planet’s resilience, it shows just how much havoc a change in climate can wreak, with a short-term global cooling causing crop failures and famine.” 

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Heartland’s National Security Argument Predictably Dumb, So Obviously Trump Will Love It: “News broke last month that the Trump administration is putting together a red team to cast doubt on the NCA and various reports explaining how climate change is a national security threat. Seems the denial playbook that has operated for decades and killed millions is alive and well. While real national security experts are adamant that this new alternative-facts climate advisory panel would itself be a threat to national security, industry propagandists, like those at Heartland, have other ideas. This week, the Koch and Mercer-funded organization put out a press release for a new policy brief arguing that climate action is the real threat to national security. The brief doesn’t seem to have gotten any actually media pickup, but since we know polluters have a direct line into this White House, it’s probably worth taking a look at the report’s main arguments. After all, it’s likely only a matter of time before someone slaps the White House seal on it… Heartland argues in the report that because fossil fuels are cheap, and ‘energy prices closely correlate” with the unemployment rate and economy broadly, anything that reduces fossil fuel use will raise prices. The economy suffering from higher energy prices, in turn, means we can’t spend as much money on the military. But even if that whole “correlation isn’t causation’ thing didn’t apply, this argument falls apart when renewables become cheaper than fossil fuels–which is already happening.

Lefty Coaster writes—60 Minutes features the ‘Climate Kids’ Lawsuit that could transform US policy on Global Warming: “Of all the cases working their way through the federal court system none is more interesting or potentially more life changing than Juliana v. United States. To quote one federal judge, “This is no ordinary lawsuit.” It was filed back in 2015 on behalf of a group of kids who are trying to get the courts to block the U.S. government from continuing the use of fossil fuels. They say it’s causing climate change, endangering their future and violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property. When the lawsuit began hardly anyone took it seriously, including the government’s lawyers, who have since watched the Supreme Court reject two of their motions to delay or dismiss the case. Four years in, it is still very much alive, in part because the plaintiffs have amassed a body of evidence that will surprise even the skeptics and have forced the government to admit that the crisis is real.

Meteor Blades writes—Climate deniers, delayers, and despairers must be shoved out of the way: “I am so bloody sick and tired of deniers, delayers, and despairers. So sick of people, especially politicians, who claim to accept the reality of what scientists are telling us regarding the climate crisis but continue to counsel a go-slow approach to deal with it. Drastic, radical, immediate action is required. Denying that fact, or delaying that action, or wallowing in despair in the belief there is nothing we humans can do to ameliorate the impacts of what we humans have been doing to our planet’s atmosphere and oceans are all prescriptions for the greatest disaster to face the world since our species emerged in Africa 200,000 years ago. The longer we allow the promoters of the three Ds to hold us hostage to their views, the more drastic and radical any response will have to be to make a difference in the severity of the catastrophe bearing down on us.”

Seashells writes—Schumer Calls For Senate Climate Change Committee. Energy Committee Discusses It After 7 Year Lull: “Senator Schumer is moving to create a new committee focused on climate change. In related news, the Senate Energy Meeting finally held a meeting about climate change after a seven year lull. Also, McConnell is forcing a vote on the ‘Green New Deal’ in August as Republicans try to turn the discussion of climate change against Democrats running in 2020. ‘We need a committee focused on this, to bring Democrats and Republicans together on an issue that demands progress. So I will introduce a resolution to create a new committee on climate. Democrats believe this is an issue of surpassing importance,’ Schumer said from the Senate floor.”

Daniel Ross of the Independent Media Institute writes—A Climate Change Solution No One’s Talking About: Better Land Use: “Much of the conversation surrounding what to do has our heads turned skyward—reduced emissions from power plants, for example. Many companies are also vying to produce the first to-scale, commercially viable negative emissions technology—one that sucks and stores away more CO2 than it uses. But a growing number of experts say we need to look downward, arguing that the carbon sequestering capacity of the soil under our feet has the potential to help tackle and reverse, perhaps significantly, human-caused global warming. That’s because soil holds about three times more carbon than the atmosphere. But the way humans have cultivated and managed the planet over millennia—think industrial farming practices and drainage of wetlands—has led to the loss of huge quantities of carbon from the soil. Different estimates pin this number at anywhere from 130 gigatons—one gigaton is a billion metric tons—to 320 gigatons of carbon lost.So, with a fundamental shift in the way we cultivate the world’s soils to revitalize their carbon  content, it is ‘possible that we could make a major dent’ in atmospheric CO2 levels, said Marcia DeLonge, senior scientist in the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. DeLonge is far from alone in her thinking.” 

ENERGY

Green New Deal

rasfrome writes—Hopping the Green New Deal: “The AOC/Green New Deal (GND) needs a little help. Here’s a few thoughts, part technical part political. First, political, don’t change anything. Suck all the parties into the discussion with the socialist rhetoric. That gets everyone’s goat, making it sound like the govt must spend a gazillion dollars to save the planet. The right thinks they are onto a big winning streak riding the cow farts to the sky. The incumbent Dem types instinctively go running to lock the gates. Don’t worry about these idiots. Second, political. Be prepared to win, and to own the victory. Be gracious. Act centrist during the period of victory. For the reasons below it might feel like you are just declaring victory because the GND morphed a lot, but don’t think that way. Even though some of the stodgiest Republican outfits and biggest polluters are the ones making the biggest changes, who cares. Enjoy the victory. This isn’t sarcasm.”

Walter Einenkel writes—Conservatives are literally saying that the Democratic Party wants to take your cows away from you: “A few weeks back, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, along with others, rolled out their hopes and expectations for a meaningful environmental political platform and direction for our country. Called the Green New Deal, it set forth the very ambitious goals we must all work to achieve in the hope of slowing down the change in our climate. A set of FAQs about the deal mentioned ‘farting cows,’ a reference to cutting back on the number of cows we herd in the hopes of reducing the enormous amounts of methane they put out into our atmosphere. There are people working on solutions for the cow methane problem;  some have seen positive results, such as adding seaweed to cows’ diets. But the word ‘fart’ really hit the Republican imagination, since Republicans don’t have much of an imagination when it comes to policy ideas. People like Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska quickly saw an opportunity to distract from, for instance, their cowardly histories in defense of putting suspected sexual assaulters on the Supreme Court.”

Lefty Coaster writes—Jay Inslee schools Meghan McCain’s RW nonsense about the Green New Deal: “Inslee, who announced last week his bid for president in 2020, pushed back on ABC’s ‘The View’ against Trump’s speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference over the weekend in which the president mocked the Green New Deal and Democrats’ focus on wind power. ‘When Donald Trump said that, you know, we’re not going to have toasters and TVs if we have wind power, that’s just simply moronic is the best way I can say it,’ Inslee said. ‘He is just such a pessimistic and a narrow-minded thinker,’ he added. ‘He needs to get with the rest of Americans that understand the country that sent a man to the moon can develop a clean-energy economy’.

123practical writes—If Climate Change is your highest priority: “I just donated to the presidential campaign of Jay Inslee: jayinslee.com. Not because I think he will win the nomination, but because he is the one candidate that is focusing on my number one issue: climate change. It has been the top of my list for decades. Finally, someone is putting it front and center. All the other issues are important, but climate change is essential. I want his ads on television. I want him to qualify for the debates. I want him to make sure Democrats understand that this is the issue, as Inslee says, that is the most important challenge of our generation. And it is fixable. We just need someone out there with the megaphone to get the country headed in the right direction. Give Inslee that megaphone, money for ads, polling that will get him in the debates. He doesn’t have to get your primary vote. He just needs to be there, making that case front and center, because we need someone to do that.”

hankg writes—The Urgency of a Green New Deal and a New Type of Politician: “Umair Haque wrote an excellent article on Medium: (Why) the Green New Deal is Awesome, Urgent, and Necessary. It’s Shouldn’t be Radical Politics to Want to Save The Planet, the Economy, Democracy, and Us. It Should Just be Common Sense. Umair puts our environmental crisis in the context of our economic crisis. Both brought on by a political framework that has served the capital class and has defined what is allowable, ‘reasonable’ and within the mainstream. A political framework that has been supported by both parties that will allow only policies that will result in economic and environmental armageddon. ‘It shouldn’t be radical politics to want to save the planet, the economy, democracy, and us. It should be what it is: common sense’.”

Nuclear

Flintoid writes—Clean energy might not be what you think it is: I’ve been concerned about climate change since the 90s and I always bought what they told us about nuclear power: that it was the deadliest, most dangerous source of power, worse than carbon. Three Mile Island and Chernobyl both happened during my lifetime, and I was young and impressionable when I learned of them. I was all about ‘No Nukes.’ I recently came across this article, ‘Why Renewables Can’t Save the Planet,’ and found it very compelling. Considering that a Green New Deal is on the table, I think it’s important to make nuclear power part of the conversation. What I learned from this article and from its source website, Environmental Progress, came as a surprise.”

Fossil Fuels

Dan Bacher writes—Bay Area refinery expansion would impact local health, climate & increase tanker traffic: “The tar sands expansion proposal at Phillips 66’s San Francisco Refinery in Rodeo would impact local health and the climate by increasing refinery emissions and worsening air quality for nearby communities, while also increasing tanker traffic and the risk of a devastating oil spill in the San Francisco Bay Area. Local environmental and community groups hosted a town hall on Thursday evening, March 7, in Rodeo to discuss the risks of the proposal to bring in more oil tankers and process more heavy crude oil like tar sands. A video of the event is at facebook.com/standearth

Pipelines & Other Oil  and Gas Transport

law.jpg
From Fort Smith National Historic Site

Winter Rabbit writes—MSNBC Covered Apology to Native Americans & Keystone XL Pipeline Last Night: “At approximately 10:12 p.m. last night, MSNBC covered Native American issues. ‘It’s high time we started covering these critical concerns affecting American Indians that are in our own back yard, at least as much as we cover what happens across the ocean in other countries,’ one MSNBC commentator said. ‘History is repeating, because ‘Indian courts had no civil or criminal jurisdiction over nonmembers of the tribes,’ and in this case — that’s amazingly a foreign company.’ I couldn’t believe my ears as to what they reported next. Indian Affairs Head Makes Apology: The head of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs apologized Friday for the agency’s “legacy of racism and inhumanity” that included massacres, forced relocations of tribes and attempts to wipe out Indian languages and cultures. ‘By accepting this legacy, we accept also the moral responsibility of putting things right,’ Kevin Gover, a Pawnee Indian, said in an emotional speech marking the agency’s 175th anniversary. Gover said he was apologizing on behalf of the BIA, not the federal government as a whole. Still, he is the highest-ranking U.S. official ever to make such a statement regarding the treatment of American Indians.”

OCEANS, WATER, DROUGHT

Dan Bacher writes—Reclamation allows only two weeks for comments on Klamath Environmental Assessment: “The Bureau of Reclamation yesterday announced a controversial two week public review and comment period on a draft environmental assessment for the Klamath River titled, Implementation of Klamath Project Operating Procedures 2019-2024. ‘The draft evaluates the proposed action for the Biological Assessment that was transmitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Dec.21, 2018, as modified on Feb. 15, 2019,’ according to Reclamation. The 2018 BA can be referenced at www.usbr.gov/mp/kbao The draft EA is being completed for the Endangered Species Action Section 7 Klamath Project Reinitiation of Consultation process that is expected to culminate in coordinated Biological Opinions from the NMFS and the USFWS by April 1. Fish advocates criticized Reclamation for the failure to include input from Tribal scientists in the assessment and for the reduction in spring flows.” 

 Dan Bacher writes—Fishing Groups: Voluntary Agreements to Replace Bay Delta Plan Update Are All ‘Smoke and Mirrors’: “A coalition of fishing, river and environmental groups today released a 10-page analysis challenging a controversial voluntary settlement proposal submitted last week by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) as an alternative to the Bay Delta Plan Update now before the State Water Resources Control Board. Forty-forty individuals, including water agencies, irrigation districts and big NGOs, such as American Rivers, Environmental Defense Fund, the Nature Conservancy and Trout Unlimited, signed on to the proposal submitted. The documents, available on the Natural Resources Agency website, “reflect progress since December to flesh-out the previously submitted framework to improve conditions for fish through targeted river flows and a suite of habitat-enhancing projects including floodplain inundation and physical improvement of spawning and rearing areas,’ according to a press release from the agency. ‘Further work and analysis is needed to determine whether the agreements can meet environmental objectives required by law and identified in the State Water Board’s update to the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan’.”

avatarabbiehoffman writes—California Water Wars: Broccoli Brigade vs Boat Battalion: “I was checking on reservoir levels to see how they are filling up after our very wet February here in Norcal, when I came across an interesting story. From San Luis Obispo’s The Tribune online: Nacimiento residents sue Monterey County for $120 million over declining water levels — The Tribune. Authored by Lindsey Holden: A group of Lake Nacimiento residents is suing Monterey County for $120 million, claiming officials ignored the needs of recreational users by releasing more water from the reservoir than necessary. The lawsuit was filed January 19. I haven’t seen any follow up stories yet. The Nacimiento Regional Water Management Advisory Committee (NRWMAC) — which represents approximately 6,500 residents living around the reservoir — on Tuesday filed a civil lawsuit against the Monterey County Water Resources Agency (MCWRA). The reason Monterey County oversees a reservoir in San Luis Obisbo County is stated below. The 377,900 acre-foot reservoir was built in the late 1950s, and its $7 million price tag was primarily financed by Salinas Valley growers.”

CANDIDATES, STATE AND DC ECO-RELATED POLITICS​

Seashells writes—Schumer Calls For Senate Climate Change Committee. Energy Committee Discusses It After 7 Year Lull: “Senator Schumer is moving to create a new committee focused on climate change. In related news, the Senate Energy Meeting finally held a meeting about climate change after a seven year lull. Also,  McConnell is forcing a vote on the ‘Green New Deal’ in August as Republicans try to turn the discussion of climate change against Democrats running in 2020. Senate Dems to introduce resolution to create climate change panel Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday said that Democrats are introducing a resolution to create a Senate committee on climate change. ‘We need a committee focused on this, to bring Democrats and Republicans together on an issue that demands progress. So I will introduce a resolution to create a new committee on climate. Democrats believe this is an issue of surpassing importance,’ Schumer said from the Senate floor.”

Meteor Blades writes—With Democrats in charge, the House has conducted 15 climate hearings in the past 65 days: “For the past eight years, a hearing on the climate crisis in either house of Congress was a rare occurrence, and any that did take place overflowed with scientific illiteracy and climate science denial. Since the Democrats won a solid majority in the House of Representatives last November, however, at least 15 climate-related hearings have been conducted in the 65 days Congress has been in session this year. And while the overlapping cohorts of incumbent numbskulls and deniers are still present, and some testimony from expert witnesses still reflects the Exxon-Koch agenda, realism about what impacts climate change is having now and what we may face from it in the near and distant future have been the dominant themes. Remarkably, some Republicans known in the past for vigorously rejecting the scientific consensus about the climate crisis have changed their tune a bit. How much of this is a genuine change of mind and how much is a smokescreen shielding their real views is anybody’s guess.”

REGULATIONS & PROTECTIONS

Pakalolo writes—NASA tried to fly a pollution-spotting plane over Houston after Hurricane Harvey-Trump’s EPA said no: “Just when you think you could not possibly loathe the 45th President any more than you already do, along come’s a report that Trump’s Pruitt run EPA comes along to pick a scab off a healing wound. His cruelty and lack of empathy for his fellow human beings that is the true story. This administration is vicious. Incredible journalism from The LA Times. They report that NASA had a DC-8 stationed in California that ‘is used to collect and analyze atmospheric samples from around the world.’ Apparently, NASA wanted to fly over the flood-ravaged Houston, which had endured over 60 inches of rain that flooded huge swaths of Texas. But Scott Pruitt gave it a thumbs down, instead, deferring to a toxicologist who had stated that pollution was ‘beneficial to human health.’ The plane, had it been deployed, ‘would have provided the most comprehensive and detailed analysis of air quality in the region, allowing for a more thorough understanding of the situation.’ Because as you know, that part of Texas is home to some of the most polluting industries in the world, and the flood waters in combination with the wind storm were able to reach many of them. Harvey had spilled toxins into bayous, rivers and neighborhoods.”

ClimateDenierRound-up writes—Bad News Abounds: From PAC’s Tennessee Star to Trump’s Fox to Koch’s Daily Caller: “We talk often, perhaps too much, about how the Daily Caller isn’t a media organization but the Koch’s propaganda arm, and how the Caller’s Michael Bastasch isn’t a reporterbut a Koch political operative. One may be inclined to rise to his defense by suggesting that even if he’s nothing but a Koch-backed political hack, he still might be good at journalism. That even if the Daily Caller is a key part of the EPA’s defense plan, that doesn’t mean Bastasch is incapable of, say, competently interviewing someone. But a recent 8-minute interview Bastasch did with EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler proves that, bias aside, Bastasch is kind of a bumbling doofus. It appears that Bastasch had no interest in getting Wheeler off the talking points during their chat, resulting in an interview nearly indistinguishable from the ones Wheeler gave Fox or Breitbart. (This is probably not a coincidence, given the EPA’s recent history of scripting interviews with friendly ‘media’ outlets.)”

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE & ECO-ACTIVISM

Winter Rabbit writes—DAPL Company Ordered Cultural Genocide, Wants “rogue eco-terrorist groups” Muffled: “Energy Transfer LP gave the orders to commit cultural genocide, which were followed.  And now the destructive company wants to muffle the “network of not-for-profits and rogue eco-terrorist groups” with debilitating litigation (from ACLU). The Dakota Access Pipeline Company Is Abusing the Judicial System to Silence Dissent. The pipeline company, Energy Transfer LP, filed the lawsuit in 2017 against Greenpeace organizations and others, including individual Standing Rock protesters. It relied on defamation law and the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, a federal statute designed to prosecute mob activity. The company alleged that Greenpeace and the other defendants, in criticizing the pipeline’s potential environmental and cultural damage to the nearby Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, engaged in a criminal network of fraud and misinformation.

gmoke writes—Friday, March 15 #Climatestrike: “Friday, March 15 is an international school strike for climate.  In Boston it will be in front of the State House at 11 am-3 pm. As part of the global movement, youth from across Massachusetts will be striking on March 15 to fight for our futures & demand that our lawmakers put an end to climate change. If you care about our future, please join us! #YouthStrikesUSA #ClimateStrike #YouthClimateStrike#GreenNewDeal We are striking to demand the following: 1. A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in line with the October 2018 IPCC Special Report on Global Warming. 2. World leaders come together and take action that ensures global warming remains under 1.5 degrees Celsius. 3. U.S. leaders implement the Green New Deal and other legislative actions that help to solve the climate crisis. We are youth organized and youth centered, but all are welcome who are passionate about this issue and want to save our planet. #Fridaysforfuture #Climatestrike Find a local Friday climate strike in your area here.

robbinsdale radical writes—Kristi Noem answers TransCanada’s call: “South Dakota’s new Governor, former US Rep Kristi Noem, just dropped two bills on the Legislature, at the absolute last minute. These are lobbyist written bills, given to the legislator well after the regular-order deadline to suppress significant legislative debate, or public input. (There are only seven legislative days left of our 40-day session.) The Governor’s press release is breathtaking in its masterful Newspeak: The legislative package introduced today will help ensure the Keystone XL pipeline and other future pipeline projects are built in a safe and efficient manner while protecting our state and counties from extraordinary law enforcement costs in the event of riots [sic]. South Dakota already has several laws against incitement of riot, but SB 189 and SB 190 invent a whole new crime: ‘riot boosting’, so if you did as much as send water or pizza to support our beloved water defenders, or perhaps blog in support, you may get the bill in the mail. This is how she makes this sound innocuous and wonderfully innovative: Under the PEACE fund and the Riot Recovery Fund, the state, counties, federal government, pipeline companies and rioters will share in law enforcement costs,” concluded Noem. ‘This first-of-its-kind plan is a transparent way to spread costs and risk without raising taxes’.”

Meteor Blades writes—SD’s Gov. Noem seeks to undermine foes of Keystone XL pipeline with law against ‘riot boosting’: “Republican Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota has a new target: free speech. In what foes call a last-minute effort to undermine public protest and the regular legislative process, Noem presented two proposals in the state legislature Monday as ‘emergency’ bills because they were introduced beyond the normal deadline for new legislation. Because the legislature ends its current 40-day session next Monday, both bills must be voted on by the end of business on Thursday. That, of course, limits opportunities for opponents to organize against them. Liza Kaczke reports:We are developing a plan to ensure that the Keystone XL pipeline is built through the state of South Dakota in a safe and efficient manner, while protecting our state, our counties, our water, our environment and our people throughout that build,’ Noem said in a Monday news conference.” Senate Bill 189 adds to state law the term ‘riot boosting’ as a way to open the door for the state to file lawsuits against out-of-state people or groups who fund pipeline protests in an effort to stop the funding flow to protesters. The bill allows for the state to file lawsuits in agreement with ‘a third party having an interest in preventing a riot or riot boosting.’ In other words, an organization or individuals who contributed money or in-kind support to protest groups that the state later determined had rioted could be at risk of prosecution. Hard to believe this could be constitutional, but we live in times when ‘hard to believe’ has become all too believable.”

AGRICULTURE​, FOOD & GARDENING

CACourtsMonitor writes—Asbestos-Style Lawsuits Growing in N.C. Agribusiness Trials:Recently, North Carolina has been making national headlines for its tawdry and tainted congressional election, but for some observers, an equally interesting civil courts drama is playing out in the Tar Heel State: Iconic big-money asbestos lawyers are now driving hog farm lawsuits. This week, as in four previous trials, plaintiffs suing hog farms for being an unreasonable nuisance are represented by Michael Kaeske, a Dallas attorney known for asbestos cases. His team is joined by Lisa Blue, the widow of Fred Baron, who made the Dallas-based Baron & Budd an asbestos litigation giant. Baron & Budd is also known in North Carolina because of Fred Baron’s close relationship with former VP candidate John Edwards, allegedly helping conceal Edwards’ former mistress, Rielle Hunter, during Edwards’ VP run. Baron & Budd is also notorious for its involvement in witness coaching described in the “Mystery of the Missing Memo.” (I wrote about this strange practice in the Huffington Post back in December of 2017.) The memo is an asbestos-lawsuit legend, and significant because N.C. critics of the hog farm lawsuits claim that similar tactics are being utilized in their cases. There are multiple cases filed so far and in three of the four trials last fall, juries awarded a combined half-billion dollars in damages, although N.C. personal injury law caps should reduce that amount to approximately $100 million dollars. All the cases are being appealed.” 

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A place for interaction and play that changes over time.

nkgodfrey writes—Saturday Morning Garden Blog Vol. 15.10: Gardens at Cornerstone Sonoma: “Good morning and welcome to Saturday Morning Garden Blogging! A month ago, I had to run errands around the town of Sonoma and decided to stop at Cornerstone to walk through the constantly changing Sunset Test Gardens as well as the Cornerstone Gardens. There are a number of garden-focused shops at Cornerstone. Spoiler alert:  today’s blog features supersized whimsy! During the summer, the gardens are in peak bloom and Cornerstone can be busy with tourists and events. The day I took these pictures, I had the gardens to myself.”

Dan Bacher writes—Fish Groups Slam FDA Lifting of Import Ban on GMO Frankenfish: “The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced that it will lift the import ban on eggs of AquaBounty’s genetically modified salmon product, drawing praise from the company and strong criticism from fishing organizations. ‘Today, we are taking another important step by deactivating a 2016 import alert that prevented GE salmon from entering the U.S.’ claimed FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. ‘The FDA’s approval of the application related to AquAdvantage Salmon followed a comprehensive analysis of the scientific evidence, which determined that the GE Atlantic salmon met the statutory requirements for safety and effectiveness under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.’ AquaBounty Technologies, Inc. said the lifting of the import alert would allow the Company to start farming AquAdvantage Salmon in Indiana.”

TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE

Rei writes—Today in EVs: Cobalt: What is it good for (absolutely nothing?). Plus: 250kW Superchargers go live: “Of all of the components of a lithium-ion battery, cobalt has historically been one of the more expensive and controversial. The three most costly raw materials, generally, are battery-grade cobalt oxide (~$80/kg as of November, likely less now), nickel sulphate (~$4/kg, down significantly from last year), and lithium carbonate ($14/kg, again down significantly). While cobalt only comprises a minority of the cathode mass, it still is a significant cost. More controversial, however, has been its origin. Cobalt is usually recovered as a byproduct of mining for other metals, such as copper and nickel. While significant cobalt deposits are found around the world (including, for North American manufacturers, in Canada and Cuba), the richest are found in the war-torn and impoverished Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As a result, over half of the world’s cobalt production occurs there. Therein, around 20% of its cobalt is produced in ‘artisanal’ (improvised) mines, ranging from villages mining their own land, to unscrupulous foreign investors which pay slave wages to mine illegally. Artisanal cobalt has a negative reputation, and for good reason. Such mines are generally highly dangerous. Foreign-owned mines often have workers in abusive conditions, and child labour is a rampant problem.”

Rei writes—Today In EVs: Prices go down? BOO! Prices go up? BOO!Making EV news today: Hyundai and Tesla generate price dissatisfaction… but for opposite reasons! Tesla Prices Go Down? Some Existing Owners Angry. In response to Tesla announcing a massive reduction in prices in the Model 3 to launch the $35k variant,  most people were pleased by the price reduction. Some people, however, who recently purchased the vehicle at the previous prices have been taking to social media to vent. A prime example is tweets from comedian Christopher Titus:

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In China, a group of angry customers staged a protest against the price cuts in front of a store.”

mattinjersey writes—California bullet train is a dumb way to spend $100 billion: “What would you do with $100 billion in public money? Fight homelessness? Fund public schools? Give everyone a tax break? Instead California is spending $100 billion on high speed rail. The project has been scaled down to a line between Bakersfield and Merced. These are two small towns that no one ever really goes to. No one has ever said, ‘we need a high speed link between Bakersfield and Merced.’ I guess the idea that it is a starter piece of the puzzle. But if your starter piece costs $100 billion that is a pretty big starter piece. I mean how much will the next piece cost. Even if you love trains, hate global warming, whatever, this endeavor is ridiculous. It always was and always will be. No one will ever ride a high speed train between Los Angeles and San Francisco because that train will never exist.” 

Proginoskes writes—California High Speed Rail might fall victim to a Trump-er tantrum: “The Federal Railroad Administration is threatening to withhold $929 million in grants to fund high-speed rail in California. California High-Speed Rail Authority President and CEO Brian Kelly stated that the termination of the agreement would be ‘unwarranted, unprecedented, and legally indefensible, and it would gravely harm a historic project on which the FRA and the CHSRA have collaborated productively for nearly a decade.’ Kelly also called the attempt by the Trump Administration to claw back the $2.5 billion in federal grants that California has already spent on the project unlawful, and argued that instead of engaging in partisan political battles the Authority and the FRA should should share a mutual goal: the successful delivery of America’s first truly high-speed rail service.

This is (yet another) example of Mr. Trump breaking his campaign promises (related to rebuilding our infrastructure).”

MISCELLANY

Daisiesarepretty writes—Thanks To Don Bone Spurs’ Tariffs, My Florida Town Suspended Our Recycling Program. We’re Not Alone: “When it comes to recycling, even my husband says I’m ‘a little obsessive.’ I essentially memorized the list of accepted recyclables on the website of the waste company that my town contracted for collection to ensure no recyclable ended up in the landfill — a service for which the county raised our 2018 property taxes. I was happy to pay the extra tax. I was happy to pay out of pocket for the two extra bins we needed to accommodate our recycling efforts — a total of four bins filled every week. Alas, as of February 1st, 2019, everything  now goes into the big, wheeled trash bin and ends up at the landfill dump. It’s been about four weeks since this policy went into effect and the contrast is stark and depressing.

MarkAlpert writes—The FUN Way to Save the Earth: “From: The American Society of Advertising Executives. To: God, the Creator, Ruler of the Universe, etc. First of all, we’re honored that You came to us for help. There’s an old saying in the advertising business — “A good product sells itself” — and what product could be better than this beautiful planet You’ve created? So it’s perfectly understandable that You’re appalled by the threat of global warming and the failure of humanity’s efforts to stop it. But don’t give up! We have some new ideas for You. With all due respect for Your divine wisdom, we think You need to get more aggressive. You’ve provided plenty of warning signs of the coming apocalypse — record-breaking temperatures, furious storms, the die-offs of thousands of species — but in today’s fast-moving digital world, that’s not enough. Most politicians are still ignoring the problem. Emissions of heat-trapping gases are rising, not falling. What’s the solution? The Creator needs to get creative! Here are our suggestions […]” 

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