Home / Politics / Spotlight on green news & views: Bret Stephens is a BSer; Trump expands offshore drilling

Spotlight on green news & views: Bret Stephens is a BSer; Trump expands offshore drilling

CRITTERS AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS

6412093 writes—The Daily Bucket–Tidal Wave of Tadpoles: “I constructed and expanded the Frog Mitigation Area in my side yard near Portland Oregon two years ago. It currently includes two small ponds (4 x 4 and 6 x 6) and a waterfall discharging into 20-foot-long stream, 2 feet wide, 1 foot deep that connects the ponds. Importantly, I kept fish out of these ponds, so the frog eggs and tadpoles have a better chance of maturing without getting eaten. […]  I dug this out last fall so this is its first year to host tadpoles. The frogs began arriving in the middle of February, 2017,  about the same date as in 2016.  However they established a presence more than before. Frogs vocally occupied the ponds all day and all night long.  I could easily see them in the ponds, and I often find them in the grass and among the garden plants. Previously, I might go weeks without seeing a frog.”

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Here is Upper Pear Pond and the waterfall. About 200 tadpoles currently occupy it.

Besame writes—Daily Bucket: the answer isn’t 42, it’s 30 (trillion tonnes) and it’s all ours: “The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything may be 42, but after excluding the universe part, the answer is thirty. It covers the life and everything part of this question: what is the weight of our influence on earth?  We have plopped out 30 trillion tonnes of impacts to earth in order to stay alive — luxuriously alive in some cases. This manmade stuff includes bridges, buildings, bird feeders, and books. It’s our landfills and mines, farms and fishing, pens and paper, computers and cars.  To reach this number, an international team of scientists assessed ‘the scale and extent of the physical technosphere, defined here as the summed material output of the contemporary human enterprise,’ and published their findings in The Anthropocene Review. The study quantified all the ‘active urban, agricultural and marine components humans used to sustain energy and material flow for current human life….’  The authors note that coming up with precise numbers wasn’t possible, but the orders of magnitude are correct. So this accurately shows the relative proportions of our technospheric impacts. (Tonne = 1 metric ton = 2,204.6 pounds.)

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket – rainy trip home: “It was raining all day yesterday, our travel day back to the island from a quick trip over to the mainland. The previous night had been terrifically dramatic: a major thunder and lightning storm, pouring buckets of rain. Storms like that are very rare in the Pacific Northwest, so it was fun to watch. On our way home we had a few spare moments before the ferry so I checked out the usual spots. Out on the Skagit flats the fields are plowed and crops emerging. At Jensen’s access I saw the eagle above surveying the mostly empty bay. There were a few gulls and shorebirds but no big flocks. Further along our way near Padilla Bay there was one group of Snow Geese, about 200, the only white-wings visible anywhere on the Flats. These are stragglers — most geese and all the swans appear to have departed for their breeding grounds north.”

CLIMATE CHAOS

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Bret Stephens Continues Shoveling BS into Times Opinion Section: “Here we go again. Bret Stephens, apparently riding high on a wave of hate-clicks, has another column that yet again deceives readers with a bait and switch. In his second column, Stephens takes on ethanol, a worthy topic for inquiry: the benefits of ethanol are questionable when the full life cycle is considered. Which is why the Sierra Club is opposed to it, NRDC pointed out problems back in 2010, and Times editorial board itself expressed its opposition in 2008. (So much for Stephens bringing diversity…) But instead of diving into an honest argument, Stephens sets up a strawman to burn down. In the column, he attempts to debunk a 1999 DOE pamphlet praising biofuels (which he describes as a ‘paper,’ lending it a false degree of authority) with a 2008 report (which is actually a paper, published in Science) showing corn ethanol increases, not decreases, emissions.

Hunter writes—Open thread for night owls: Scientists ask Times to correct error-riddled climate column: “Media Matters: On April 29, former Wall Street Journal columnist and longtime climate denier Bret Stephens published his first column, ‘Climate of Complete Certainty,’ for The New York Times. The column was roundly criticized for being full of errors, ‘unfair comparisons,”’‘straw men,’ ‘logical fallacies,’ and ‘lazy’ and ‘disingenuous’ arguments. Notably, in the one instance where Stephens actually quoted data to make an assertion, the Times was forced to issue a correction, clarifying, ‘An earlier version of this article misstated the area that warmed by 0.85 degrees Celsius as noted in the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel report. It was the globally averaged combined land and ocean surface, not only the Northern Hemisphere.’ Now climate experts have issued an open letter calling for the Times to publish a more substantial correction. It notes that Stephens inaccurately and misleadingly uses the term “modest” to describe the rise in temperatures since 1880, cherry-picks ‘only one side of the range of uncertainties” associated with climate projections, and ‘mischaracterizes both the certainties and uncertainties regarding climate change, and misrepresents how science reports uncertainties.’”

Michael Brune writes—The Good, the Bad, and the Bigly: “Donald Trump signed another executive order last week and, no surprise, it was awful. This one aims to expand oil drilling off our coasts, in Arctic seas, and in marine sanctuaries. It also seeks to revoke safety regulations that were implemented after the Deepwater Horizon spill (which occurred exactly seven years and eight days prior to Trump’s order). I could spend the rest of this post recapping why Trump’s order would guarantee more disasters like Deepwater Horizon, while doing zilch to achieve U.S. energy independence. But, really, isn’t it already obvious that giving Big Oil free rein to sink more wells off our coasts and beaches is a bad idea? So instead, let’s look at how this executive order epitomizes a different kind of bad — a kind we’ve seen over and over from this administration: Bad as in ill-conceived. Bad as in ineffectual. And, perhaps most importantly, bad as in illegal. In a way, all those kinds of bad add up, potentially, to an odd sort of good — because the worse these things are, the easier it is for the Sierra Club and our allies to fight back against them.”

Mark Sumner writes—Trump White House prepares to ditch Paris Agreement on climate change: “The White House has hidden the data, and now it’s ready to take the next step. President Donald Trump may pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement on climate change as early as next week, sources with knowledge of the plans told HuffPost on Tuesday. President Obama hustled through the approval of the agreement to push it past the threshold for implementation. As of now 144 of 197 parties have ratified the agreement. Honestly, the Paris agreement has no enforcement, and no penalties. It’s more a matter of committing to do the right thing, with each country setting its own targets and determining the best way to reach those goals.”

Eric Nelson writes—Trump EPA denies Americans access to climate data. Former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy responds: “Rachel Maddow:  ‘..a lot of people sort of saw this coming and tried to preserve what they could, in terms of public facing data on climate and other EPA data.. worried that the Trump administration might do this. What’s your reaction to them dropping this data off the public facing website?’ former EPA Admin. Gina McCarthy: ‘I have to say that it’s pretty disturbing, because it really isn’t just about “updating some policy perspective.”  This is a wholesale wiping out of historical record of what this agency has been doing with public dollars, for decades, not just the past eight years. This is unprecedented in terms of the scope of information that’s been taken down. Information that’s public information. People have a right to be able to access it. And no president has ever done this before… … you know it is simply denying that the agency has been working on climate for decades; the science we’ve developed and the actions we’ve taken, and why we took them.”

OCEANS, WATER, DROUGHT

Dan Bacher writes—Your Attendance Needed at Next Delta Stewardship Council Meeting! “Do you want to help stop Governor Jerry Brown’s environmentally destructive and unjust Delta Tunnels? Well, your attendance is needed on  either 5/25 (Thursday) and/or possibly 5/26 (Friday) at the next meeting Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) at the Grand Sheraton Hotel in Sacramento. ‘Although DSC staff informed us that a vote will not occur in May on the incorporation of these amendments, we must attend every one of these meetings in order to participate in the decision making process and have our opposition heard throughout,’ according to an announcement from Restore the Delta. ‘This is an important step in stopping the tunnels!’”

Dan Bacher writes—Winnemem Wintu Chief: California WaterFix Is The Biggest Water Problem State Has Ever Faced: “Governor Jerry Brown receives largely fawning coverage from the mainstream media about his environmental policies as he jets off to climate conferences and other photo opportunities, but Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, can see right through his ‘green’ facade. Chief Sisk exposed the folly of Brown’s ‘legacy project,’ the Delta Tunnels, at her speech at the ‘March for Science’ on Earth Day 2017 before a crowd of 15,000 people at the State Capitol in Sacramento. She pointed out how the tunnels, rather than achieving the co-equal goals of water supply reliability and ecosystem restoration, would instead devastate salmon and other fish populations while doing nothing to supply clean drinking water for people in impoverished rural communities in the San Joaquin Valley.

CANDIDATES, STATE AND DC ECO-RELATED POLITICS​

Dan Bacher writes—Oil Money Out, People Power In Rally Set for May 20 in Sacramento! ”While California is often portrayed as the nation’s ‘green leader,’ the reality is much different. California is in fact the third largest oil producing state in the nation — right behind Texas, the number one state,  and North Dakota, the number two oil producer. Over the 2015-2016 Legislative Session, the oil industry spent a historic $36.1 million to lobby California lawmakers.  During the last 6 years, the industry has spent $122 million in Sacramento, more than any other interest group. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) was the top overall oil industry spender during the 2015-16 session, spending $18.7 million. As is normally the case, WSPA ranked #1 among all lobbying spenders last session. ‘This spending spree has paid huge dividends for these companies, allowing them to dismantle and crush any meaningful legislation that might significantly curb their power to drill and pollute in California,’ said David Braun, www.rootskeeper.org. ‘Pay-to-play politics has allowed the dirtiest polluters in the world to legally poison our communities and exacerbate the climate crisis’.” 

ENERGY

Fossil Fuels

Walter Einenkel writes—Oklahoma’s largest earthquake has been scientifically connected to the oil and gas industry: “When unpopular heathen Donald Trump’s EPA pick Scott Pruitt isn’t violating the Hatch Act to raise money for Oklahoma Republicans, he’s trying to dismantle the EPA. Why would someone do that? Because Scott Pruitt has zero interest in the environment and even less interest in being forced to face the facts that many of our industries, specifically the fossil fuel-based ones, have a long and also recent history of violating our planet’s safety, as well as the people on it. For some time now, scientists have known that the injection of wastewater related to oil and gas operations is the likely culprit in the rise of earthquakes in much of Oklahoma. However, as Inside Climate News explains, the very large 5.8 magnitude quake last September that proved destructive to the Pawnee area of Oklahoma fell outside of the existing understanding. But not anymore. It turns out that the wastewater culprit just snuck in a couple of years earlier.

Emissions Controls & Carbon Taxes

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Law and Order: Environmental Protection Unit: “Who would have imagined a year ago that one day we would be hoping for a court decision on the Clean Power Plan and for our president to weaken the newly-signed Paris Agreement? With the GOP disorganized and Trump in the White House, the Judicial Branch appears to be the last bastion of competent, sane governance. It’s in the courts, then, that the resistance will rise. Yesterday Politico Pro rolled out story after story- ‘Greens sue for Pruitt’s schedule, emails at 11:40am, ‘Greens sue over EPA stay of coal plant discharge rule at 12:13pm, Greens ‘sue to block Trump’s offshore drilling order’ at 1:18pm. But court cases aren’t always as cut and dry as we might hope. Case in point is the recent decision on the Clean Power Plan. Well…non-decision, really. It’s all a bit murky, but in our not-at-all-a-lawyer opinion, it looks like a loss for those of us who don’t like kids dying of asthma, but not as much of a win as Pruitt and the Polluters had hoped.

Renewables, Efficiency & Conservation

Liberalismiscommonsense writes—Net metering scheduled to die in 2022 in Indiana: “Update to the anti-solar bill in Indiana […] On Tuesday, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed a bill that shreds incentives for rooftop solar, delivering a blow to solar installers and their customers. Currently, if rooftop solar owners generate more electricity than they use, the power utility will buy the excess power at the retail rate — around 11¢ per kilowatt-hour. This practice is known as net metering. Under the new law, the utility would buy the excess power at a little more than the wholesale rate — around 4¢ per kwh. • It ends net metering for new customers after 2022. • It ends net metering for existing customers who replace or expand their solar system after 2017. • It empowers utilities, with the approval of the regulatory commission, to charge rooftop solar owners an additional fee for ‘energy delivery costs.’ Additionally, the bill may be interpreted to end net metering for homeowners who lease their panels or subscribe to a shared solar array — what’s known as community solar.”

Observer 343 writes—Further development of wind energy stifled in Huron County, Michigan: “Yesterday, voters in Huron County, Michigan made it more difficult to add more wind turbines to the local energy grid. […] Lincoln Township forming its own planning commission will likely make it harder for wind turbines to be developed in said township, and the (noise limiting) ordinance restriction in Sand Beach Township is likely to do the same. Wind turbines DO make noise, but even normal human speech is louder than the turbine noise, even when one is near the access paths to the turbines. Well, this sucks. Wind  is quite abundant in Huron County, to the point where we can get wind storms that are capable of snapping utility poles like twigs along with causing power cables to fall to the ground.”

Pipelines & Other Fossil Fuel Transport

Meteor Blades writes—Oil, pipeline industries want Trump to renege on promise to make them build only with American steel: “

Just four days after he took office, Pr*sident Donald Trump fulfilled one of his campaign promises by issuing a memorandum calling for a Commerce Department study on making all-new, retrofitted, repaired, or expanded U.S. pipelines to be built with American steel. The problem for Trump is that it’s likely no way can be found to craft a domestic-steel-only policy that’s legal. And even if that obstacle could be overcome, a majority of Congress opposes the idea.

The White House soon exempted the Keystone XL pipeline because it is underway, with much of the pipe already stacked ready for installation. According to KXL builder TransCanada, about half the pipeline’s steel will come from abroad, half from a plant in Arkansas.

Trump is used to breaking promises, of course. And his vow in this matter has all along had nothing to do with invigorating the U.S. steel industry but in getting more pipelines built. Standard fakery.”

POISONED AIR, WATER & LAND

Jen Hayden writes—8,000 Flint residents put on notice—pay bills for lead-poisoned water or face foreclosure: “Who wants to pay for toxic water? That’s the position many residents of Flint, Michigan find themselves in today. With 8,000 residents having past due water bills, the city is laying down an ultimatum: pay up or face strict liens on their homes. From NBC 25: Thousands of people in Flint are at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure if they don’t pay up on their water bills. After recently putting out shuts off notices the city is now back to threatening tax liens on people’s homes. “’ got scared, for probably the first time since this all started this actually scared me,’ said Melissa Mays, who is a mother and water activist who lives in Flint. Failure to pay could allow the city to eventually foreclose on her home. The city is also in a tough position, they desperately need the revenue.”

WILDERNESS, NATIONAL FORESTS AND PARKS, OTHER PUBLIC LANDS

MorrellWI1983 writes—China to create world’s largest national park in Tibet: “As President Trump tries to trash America’s best idea, China is creating its own  National Park Service and creating immense national parks to conserve tigers, pandas and other wildlife. Part of this  effort will now include the largest national park anywhere on earth, at 2.5 million kilometers (or 1.55 million sq miles, or about 1 billion acres) , you could fit two Alaskas inside of it, with another 200000 miles to spare. The current largest national park is Northeast Greenland national park which covers 375000 sq miles (972000 kilometers) of the Greenland Ice cap.  this park will be 4 times as big as that park, and 250 times bigger than Yellowstone. The new park, called the Third Pole National Park, will cover all of the Tibetan Plateau as well as the mountains surrounding it.  China’s three largest rivers, Yellow, Yangtze, and Mekong, all originate in the area, along with major Asian rivers such as the Indus and Salween.

Fromthepitofdespair0 writes—Trump Resorts Coming Soon At Your Favorite “National Monument”? Only A Signature Away: “It’s likely he’s lining up the contractors right now. Why not? He’s going to have to move fast so by the time lawsuits roll around, it’s too late. The resorts have been built and Ivanka’s fashion line is for sale in the high end strip mall that will look out over the most stunning views. Don’t scoff this couldn’t happen…He’s completely bypassing Congress now. Like a bully on the playground, he’s discovered a baseball bat called the “Executive Order”=we don’t have a democracy anymore and maybe we never have, not a real one anyway–so it’s easy to drive that last nail in. www.huffingtonpost.com/… If you have a National Monument in your state, you are going to have to fight like hell right now to save it.”

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Stonehenge War Memorial.

Ojibwa writes—Public Lands: Maryhill State Park (Photo Diary): “Maryhill State Park is a 99-acre camping park with 4,700 feet of waterfront on the Columbia River in Klickitat County, Washington. The park includes camping areas for tents, groups, and RVs, as well as a large day-use area with a boat launching area and swimming beach. There is lots of space for picnicking. We camped at this campground in mid-April. Note: this is not a quiet, wilderness campground—there is noise from the trains (there are tracks adjacent to the park as well as across the river) and traffic (the interstate is across the river and a major highway runs next to the park).” 

AGRICULTURE​, FOOD & GARDENING

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Pear blossoms in April

kishik writes—Saturday Morning Garden Blogging ~ Vol 13.18 ~ Almond Along: “I live in the northeast.  Not the super cold part of the northeast, but on Long Island, NY, where the climate is tempered by the Atlantic. Around 1995 or so, I decided to plant an almond tree.  It was tagged as “Hardy Almond” and I couldn’t resist.  I thought it might do well tucked behind the neighbor’s new fence and sheltered on the other side by the house.  It was about 4 feet tall. Since it’s been planted, it’s survived nor’easters and a couple of hurricanes. At around the third year it was in the ground in my yard, it produced some almonds. Just a handful. The tree has produced a varying number of almonds every year — and mostly they get devoured by the squirrels.  But they are delicious.  Fresh almonds taste mostly like almond milk — delicate and floral.”

TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE

plan9pub writes—Falling auto sales, looking from a different angle: EV sales: “In the first 4 months of 2016, 40,992 EV/PHEVs were sold. In 2017 that number jumped to 54,387, up over 33%. That trend will get a big boost later this year with the next generation Nissan Leaf and the hotly desired Tesla Model 3. The M3 has 400,000 people who shelled out $1000 just to reserve it. While Tesla will not deliver on that back log of demand until 2018, maybe 2019, 400,000 cars is roughly the amount of EVs sold by all other auto makers and Tesla in the last three years. Depending on who you believe, Tesla will deliver 10-30K Model 3s this year, which means a roughly 7%-20% additional cars sold. So, the 2017 EV/PHEV market could be up 40%-53% over 2016. Add to this similar growth in the solar/wind/battery markets and you get a STARK contrast between the economy Trump likes and promotes, and the economy Trump and conservatives hate and deride.”

MISCELLANY

Jen Hayden writes—Trump ‘directly involved’ in search for rogue National Park employee who sent inauguration photos: ”We have a petty, vindictive mad man in the White House. His ego is so fragile, he became directly involved in the hunt for a rogue tweeter: Newly inaugurated President Donald Trump was ‘directly involved’ in the search for the person who, using the official National Park Service account, retweeted side-by-side comparisons of the crowds at Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration ceremony and former President Barack Obama’s 2009 ceremony, CBS News has confirmed. The retweet was deleted soon after it was posted and the Twitter accounts of the National Park Service and other U.S. Interior Department agencies were briefly shut down. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told CBS News two days later in an email that the White House neither demanded the retweet be taken down, nor ordered the Interior Department accounts to be suspended.


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