Home / Politics / Spotlight on green news & views: Trump slices and dices nat'l monuments; Calif. wildfires raging

Spotlight on green news & views: Trump slices and dices nat'l monuments; Calif. wildfires raging

CRITTERS AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Snowy Owl
Everyone loves the beach

RonK writes—The Daily Bucket: Snowy Owls and Trumpeter Swans are Snow Birds to the Pacific Northwest: “At the Edge of the Salish Sea. These two snowy white birds have recently returned to our area after summering and breeding in Alaska (Trumpeter Swan) and the arctic tundra (Snowy Owl). One does not have to be an avid birder to celebrate their annual arrival as both are real showboats with their white feathers and their relatively large size. The snowy Owl is the largest by weight of the NA owls  and has a 50” wingspan while the Trumpeter Swan is our largest native waterfowl, stretching up to six feet and weighing up to 26 lbs. […] ”Cued by our local online birders’ group, I was informed of the presence of a Snowy Owl within an easy 25 mile drive of home. They are occasional visitors to our area as we have some of the type of habitat they seem to prefer for their winter digs along coastal beaches and shore areas.”

Sunset, boat, Pacific Northwest
Homewardbound

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket – winter light on the sea: “Our most  recent boat excursion out and around Whale Rocks was on a day between storms. The light was especially beautiful that day. Winter brings wonderful skies on some days. The tide was very high, which is typical in daylight hours in winter. The sealions had limited real estate on the rocks. Many were out swimming around.”

Trumpeter swans
Trumpeter Swans

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket – calm sunny day in the PNW (with swans): “A very strong ridge of high pressure has settled into the Pacific Northwest, bringing sunny dry weather and light northerly winds. Temperatures are about normal, 30s at night, low 40s in the daytime. […]Such calm clement weather brought a small flock of swans out onto the bay yesterday. There’s nothing for them to feed on there; they’re just hanging out in the sun, perhaps for a change of scene. Feeding has been good this fall, our wetlands and ponds filled with ample November rainfall. In the dozen paddling lazily across the bay I saw two pairs of adults with juveniles: one pair with a singleton, the other with two gray youngsters. It’s been a pretty good year for Trumpeter swans.

Lenny Flank writes—The Archerfish: “There are seven species of Archerfish in the genus Toxotes, all of them native to Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, and the southern Pacific islands. Most are just three or four inches long, though the largest, the Large-Scaled Archerfish (T chatareus) reaches up to 16 inches. In habitat, they are found mostly in brackish estuaries and mangrove swamps, but also sometimes venture into freshwater rivers and streams. The species seen most often in public aquariums is the Banded Archerfish, T jaculatrix. They are approximately hand-sized and triangular in shape, with a silvery body and dark crossbands. Although they are occasionally seen on pet dealer lists, they do not breed easily in captivity and are not often available except as wild-caughts. Although they are attractive fish, they are popular public aquarium exhibits because of their unusual way of hunting prey: the Archerfish have built-in squirt guns. When they spot an insect on a leaf or branch overhanging the water, they creep up to the surface, take careful aim, and suddenly squirt a jet of water that knocks the prey off its perch and into the stream, where the fish can easily grab it.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
“Digiscoped” fiddler crabs

matching mole writes—Dawn Chorus: Late Autumn in Florida: “No great theme this week.  Just a series of pictures from the last month or so, mostly from St Marks National Wildlife Refuge, a short distance south of Tallahassee. Most of these pictures are digiscoped. One adventure that I don’t have documented was our successful quest to find Sprague’s Pipits at the Apalachicola Airport. The pipit is a fairly rare grassland bird that breeds in the northern prairies and winters mostly in Texas and adjacent regions. The airport in Apalachicola (the place where air conditioning was invented) is known as an unusual eastern location where this bird regularly winters. The airport was very obliging. They gave us orange vests and a walkie talkie so we could venture across the runway safely. There were several pipits in the grassland around the runway. We got a lot of good, if distant views of them on the wing but never got a look at one on the ground. My first North American life bird in a while.”

CLIMATE CHAOS

Pakalolo writes—A Giant Iceberg in West Antarctica Is Disintegrating, And Scientists Are Worried: “Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier are the most vulnerable ice streams to human induced climate change in Antarctica. Warm ocean water is decaying the marine extensions of these glaciers, causing them to crack and fall apart in ways that have not been seen before. The calved ice eliminates whatever buttressing effect they perform in holding back the land ice from emptying inTO the sea. Both glaciers combined hold 4 feet of global sea level rise. When the West Antarctic ice shelves collapse it will have catastrophic effects worldwide. […] While the fracturing process itself might seem unremarkable, the way the iceberg broke free from the glacier was not, scientists say, and could signal an alarming new precedent in calving processes. […] This calving signature – if that’s what it is – could foretell a disturbing trend in the Pine Island Glacier, which accounts for about a quarter of all of Antarctica’s ice loss, thought to be some 40 billion tonnes of ice each year.

stockdoc77 writes—We’re Winning the Fight on Climate: “Driving [down] the peak of carbon emissions will be the shift to electric vehicles.  In the next few years a slew of long range electric cars will be coming on market around the world.  India has mandated only electric cars after 2030, as have the French and British. It is likely that we will see the end of gasoline vehicles within the next 25 years. Electrics have gotten much cheaper, and they will be less expensive than gasoline vehicles sometime before 2025. This will be when everyone starts to shift over, with or without government mandates. In 2016, solar and wind accounted for over half of all new electric capacity around the world. This was accomplished with about 250 billion dollars in investments. Going forward, every year solar and wind get cheaper, while the world gets richer and spends more on green energy. The ‘business as usual’ case now must assume that renewables drop in price by 5% per year (solar dropped 30% in the last two years alone), while the world gets richer by 3% per year. Plug those numbers in and the amount of renewables installed each year doubles in 9 years, and quadruples by 2035. It is obvious that we are going to have a green grid within 20-30 years, even with BAU.”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Everything Is Upside-Down: Daily Mail Correctly Skeptical of New Climate Study: “Dr. John Christy, the University of Alabama-Huntsville scientist and longtime denier who runs the NASA climate satellites with Roy Spencer, released a new paper last week with his other frequent collaborator, Richard T. McNider. Published in the obscure Asia-Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, Spencer and McNider have cooked up a new way to measure climate sensitivity. In the paper, they decide that climate models over exaggerate warming and that really, they were right when they said doubling CO2 wouldn’t cause much warming back in 1994. This is just the latest of Christy’s shoddy science–nothing particularly interesting or new here. What’s much more interesting is that the Daily Mail actually did a decent job covering his latest denial! The headline, in typical screaming Mail fashion, is framed exactly the opposite of what you’d expect from the historically denier-friendly outlet: ‘Notorious climate skeptic under fire for new paper that “manipulates actual temperature measurement” to show the effects of CO2 emissions have been overplayed.’ Here we have coverage of scientists who are literally manipulating the data to get a result supposedly confirming what they have said all along. Ironically, the Mail article isn’t a hit piece by David Rose. Remember how Rose was censured by the UK’s press watchdog, and forced to append the lengthy ruling before his story alleging that NOAA’s Tom Karl had improperly manipulated data to prove warming was real?

Extreme Weather, Wildfires & Natural Phenomena

The Progressive Allen writes—Here We Go Again: SoCal Wildfire In Ventura County Now the Approximate size of D.C.: “Things like this make me spew long strings of expletive-deleteds, so I’ll try to keep this brief and SFW… Just a mere few months after the Napa and Sonoma counties were devastated by the Cascade, Atlas and Tubbs fires, This fire is possibly going to  comparable and horrendous. Who knows what the death-toll will be, but the possible numbers scare me, now that ti’s eating through the edges of Ventura. The fire-fighters are having so much trouble in containing this new blaze, they’ve said, ‘The prospects for containment are not good,’ Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said a news briefing overnight. ‘Really, Mother Nature’s going to decide when we have the ability to put it out.’ ”

Pakalolo writes—Wildfire sweeps into Ventura, burning through heart of the sleeping city: “Scary news out of California this morning. There appears to be a real possibility that the City of Ventura could be engulfed in flames from a wildfire. Prospects for fighting the fire are slim to none in the hot and dry conditions as winds are gusting at 60 mph making water drops useless. I hope that the citizens of California get more then “thoughts and prayers” from our GOP overlords. I have no doubt that we will be told that this is not the time to discuss climate change. Grrrr. Exactly where is the fucking media ? This could become apocalyptic. The GOP should know that this is what terrorism looks like on a large scale. It’s a pity they don’t believe in science and we should make sure to vote as many of them as we can out of office.”

AKALib writes—The Supermoon Trilogy: “The one and only Supermoon of 2017 occurs this weekend, the first of a trilogy of successive supermoons this season. This Moon, also known as the Frost Moon, the Cold Moon and the Moon Before Yule, will make for great viewing on Saturday and Sunday night. The moon will turn full at 10:47 AM EST Sunday morning; the Moon’s closest approach to Earth (perigee) will occur about 17 hours later, around 03:47 AM EST Monday morning. At the time of the full Moon, the Moon will be will only be 492 km further away from the Earth than it will be at its closest (perigee), making it appear 13.6% larger in diameter and 29% larger in area than if it were the distance of apogee (farthest point in orbit) on December 18, 2017.

OCEANS, WATER, DROUGHT

Dan Bacher writes—Delta Caucus Town Hall Challenges Financial Feasibility of Delta Tunnels: “On the morning of November 30, Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay) and Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) held a town hall in Walnut Grove that examined the financial feasibility of the Delta Tunnels and discussed related issues, including the recent report by the State Auditor Elaine Howle’s Office that documented the project’s major cost over-runs and mismanagement. Over 200 people, including family farmers, fishermen, business owners, and local residents, showed up at the Jean Harvie Community Center to hear the speakers and show their opposition to the California WaterFix, a project that could cost a total of anywhere from $18 billion to over $68 billion. After Mike Tilden and Jordan Wright of the State Auditor’s Office discussed their report on how the cost of tunnels planning skyrocketed from $13 million to $280 million, Assemblyman Frazier said, ‘All I can say, honestly, is thank God for the state auditor’s office.’ The State Auditor’s report concluded that the planning phase of the project experienced ‘significant cost increases and schedule delays because of the scale and increased complexity of the project’.”

CANDIDATES, STATE AND DC ECO-RELATED POLITICS​

CarterforVirginia writes—Fighting against Dominion’s dangerous plan for coal ash in Virginia: “After reading Dominion Energy’s state-mandated report on coal ash, I’m more committed than ever to the fight for coal ash disposal that protects Virginian’s drinking water and our environment. The report, prompted by Senator Scott Surovell’s Senate Bill 1398, shows that Dominion’s Possum Point Power Station in Dumfries has around 4 million cubic yards of coal ash stores in 120 acres of coal ash pondsThere are 25 million cubic yards of coal ash in Virginia that need to be moved – according to Surovell, enough to fill up the Pentagon six times over. There are also several Prince William County residents that have reported polluted groundwater wells and associated health challenges. The report also indicates that heavy metals are leaking from the retention ponds in each of Dominion’s four studied locations. We need to recycle coal ash, rather than “cap-in-place” storage, which has proven to be unsafe for our communities.

ENERGY

Fossil Fuels

Colorado Blue writes—Nationalize The Oil Industry (and coal too while we’re at it) because Enough Already: “I am so upset about Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante and the despicable bribe of Lisa Murkowski — tacking an oil drilling amendment in priceless Alaska wildlife preserve in exchange for her vote on a DEPLORABLE tax cut bill that includes among other things dismantling the ACA for all intents and purposes, I broke down and cried at the shrink today. Then when I got over feeling sorry for myself I got mad.  And I started to wonder, what would happen if we just nationalized the damn fossil fuel industry and took the profits for the American people?  Because wtf.  They are stealing OUR resources, destroying OUR land, air, water and environment and getting ung*dly rich doing it. So? I decided to do a little research and lo and behold and come across this article in Business Insider proposing that exact thing!  And, it mentions our current Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, no less — note this was written in 2011 so he was still head of EXXON, ie Biggest Thieves in the Known Universe Outside Of Russia.”

ban nock writes—The Biggest Oil Spill of 2017: “This is a huge oil spill in one of the worst places it could possibly have happened. To give you an idea of scale, it’s equal to 17 Exxon Valdez spills, says the EPA. 193 million gallons is the amount we spill onto our streets and from there into our storm drains and into our wetlands, ponds, streams, and rivers. 193 million gallons is our oil spill, you and I. 193 million gallons is a heck of a lot of oil by any measure. That’s 3,800 times as large as the recent spill on the lower Yellowstone river. Nine hundred times larger than the recent KXL spill onto some farmer’s field. The photo above is where the spill occurred, or should I say one of the places it is occurring. The oil we put into our watersheds every year is put there by us. We pollute daily. Our cars leak oil, even our electric cars have lubrication somewhere, and even if you have no car, you still use taxis and busses and very likely aircraft to fly down to your family vacation in the Caribbean. Single point pollution is far worse at that specific place. Despite the clean up from the crude spilled recently in that farmer’s field, I doubt his field will ever really be the same. Our water pollution into storm drains might not be as graphic as an oil soden field but it’s much more widespread and much more damaging.”

GoodTXDem writes—Coal CEO: Senate tax plan ‘wipes us out’. Will DTrumb voters in coal country come to their senses? “We all knew that coal is unsustainable, but these DTrumb voters believed this meme of coal revival and the face of this meme is Coal CEO Robert Murray who is a fraudster & con man in the mold Donald Trump. Here is what he had to say on GOP tax plan:Coal CEO: Senate tax plan ‘wipes us out’ Coal CEO Robert Murray warns that if the Senate version of tax reform is enacted by President Trump he’ll be destroying thousands of coal mining jobs in the process. “We won’t have enough cash flow to exist. It wipes us out,” Murray told CNNMoney in an interview on Tuesday. Murray, a fierce supporter of Trump’s efforts to revive coal, condemned the Senate bill as a “mockery” that would inflict a devastating tax hike on beleaguered coal mining firms as well as other capital-intensive companies. Good riddance for the sake of the planet and also for despicable human beings like Robert Murray & Donald Trump.”

Renewables, Efficiency & Conservation

gmoke writes—Solar Backpack and Bicycle Back Up: “My backpack became a solar backpack when I sewed a $5 solar tail light and a $10 solar headlight to it.  The plastic blister pack is the holder for the headlight.  I’ve been assembling my own solar backpacks from off the shelf materials for close to a decade and a half now and this is the third version. This Solar headlight (links to sellers are from a search made on 11/26/17 and you should probably check others out even though these are now commodity products made in gross quantities) https://www.gearbest.com/bike-lights/pp_425123.html costs about $10.  I’ve been using one for a year or two and it works fine.  The on/off button top came off during the first winter but it hasn’t affected the switch’s performance. The solar light comes with a mini-USB to USB plug so I can supply battery power to another small device. This solar tail light costs about $5 www.newegg.com/… and, again, I’ve been using two for a year or two, one on the rear fender of my bike and another sewn to my backpack, given one or two away, and they work fine.”

Will Driscoll writes—Arlington, VA to Add Solar on Five Schools, For Largest Such Procurement in the State: “Arlington has solicited bids to add rooftop solar panel systems on at least five schools by 2020, for the largest solar-on-schools procurement to date in Virginia.  School system staff designed the solicitation to achieve a competitive price for solar, and to avoid financial headaches such as roof repairs down the road. The solicitation is structured to attract competition among bidders, yielding a competitive price, by: Specifying a larger project size of five schools (with an option for more), rather than the two schools initially envisioned; and Reducing the cost of bidding, by providing bidders with ready access to structural and electrical system information for each of the five schools, as well as each roof’s age, type, and warranty information.The resulting bids will be easy to compare on price, because each bidder must set a fixed price at which it will sell solar electricity to the school system over a period of 15 to 25 years.  This contrasts with many existing solar power purchase agreements that specify a starting price and an annual price increase—a more complex approach that is harder to compare across bids.

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Wind Turbine Sickness: Still Not A Thing: “News that the Cape Wind project off of Massachusetts’ shores is officially dead is unfortunate. However, as MassLive reports, other projects that aren’t visible to the homes of the stupidly rich stand much better chances of moving forward. Opponents of the wind farm, which united members of both the Kennedy and Koch families, weren’t ready to sacrifice their ocean views for a little thing like saving the world. Their self-interested anti-wind campaigning is hardly unique. It’s been obvious for years now that fossil fuel money supports anti-wind advocacy campaigns. One of their main lines of attack are spreading information about the supposed health impacts of turbines, through public events or writings and videos that warn of a range of health threats. But are those warnings valid? It may surprise you to hear that they are, in fact, a load of nonsense.

WILDERNESS, NATIONAL FORESTS AND PARKS, OTHER PUBLIC LANDS

Meteor Blades writes—The squatter in the White House whacks hunks off of two nat’l monuments. See ya in court, Don: “In his smarmy but mercifully brief speech today at the state capitol, Trump said he would be ‘reversing federal overreach’ by ‘restoring this land to its citizens,’ as if these public lands belong solely to Utahns. If Trump’s proclamations shrinking the two monuments and breaking the remnants into bits were to pass court review, Bears Ears would go from 1.35 million acres to 201,397 acres, not all of them contiguous. And the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument established by Bill Clinton two decades ago would be cut nearly in half from 1.88 million acres to 997,490 acres. In a speech dotted with several detours into upside-down land, Trump declared his decision means that ‘Public lands will once again be for public use’.”

rye777 writes—Open Season: Utah Public Lands: “SUWA (Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance) just sent out letters: Grand Staircase was shrunk by 48 percent, with just 1 million acres remaining. And in a slap in the face to the five tribes who advocated for it, Bears Ears was decimated, its 1.35 million acres reduced by 83 percent to just 228,700 acres. Trump just announced this atrocity in his speech in Salt Lake City. Even though our representatives and Senators who flanked him are all in favor of selling this land to oil, coal and other mining industries, not only are the environmentalists of Utah opposed, but also the very conservative hunters and fishermen of Utah. Most of the surrounding communities, which are almost solely based on tourism to this uniquely beautiful landscape will also suffer. Even the people who come out here on ATV and Razors prefer not to have to drive around oil wells.

Dan Bacher writes—Breaking: Tribal Leaders Slam Trump’s Move to Revoke & Replace Bears Ears National Monument: “Leaders of the five Tribes that advocated for creation of the Bears Ears National Monument expressed indignation over President Trump’s unlawful and unilateral move to revoke and replace Bears Ears National Monument. Despite multiple requests from tribal leaders to meet with him on Bears Ears, President Trump made up his mind and acted without meeting with the Tribes whose cultures, lands and history the monument is intended to protect. This is in keeping with Secretary Zinke’s failure to adequately consult and engage with the Tribes on Bears Ears. ‘President Trump’s illegal action is a shameful attack on Tribes, and it will not stand,’ stated Carleton Bowekaty, Zuni councilman. ‘The President’s action is without legal authority and without respect for the Native Americans that worked for decades to protect these resources. His proposal is a strong statement to Tribes across the nation that Native American values and interests are not important to the Trump administration.’ ‘Bears Ears isn’t just about a few artifacts in isolated locations. Our cultures are still here and still thriving,’ said Shaun Chapoose, member of the Ute Indian Tribal Business Committee.”

Senor Unoball writes—From 2 Monuments to 5; Down 2 Million Acres: “Details are starting to come out regarding President Trump’s plans to reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the current Bear’s Ears National Monument will be split into two monuments, and the current Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument will be divided into three. The Trib says Bear’s Ears will be divided into Shah Jaa at 129,980 acres and Indian Creek at 71,896 acres. Those will total 201,876 acres, compared with the current 1.35 million acres that President Barack Obama named last December. Grand Staircase will be divided into three monuments: Grand Staircase at 209,993 acres, Kaiparowits at 551,034 acres and Escalante Canyon at 242,836 acres, for a total of over 1 million acres, down from the current 1.9 million acres.”

annieli writes—Frack Trump and the GOP: Looting the Treasury, UT National Monument giveaway for development: “Trump’s plans add up to the largest elimination of protected areas in American history. He is a vandal in our midst, coming in person to lay waste to the land. Trump goes to Utah on Monday to announce more GOP predation on natural resources in favor of mineral exploitation and against the Earth itself. Because Trump is all about undoing Obama’s legacies, and if native peoples are subjugated also, then all the better, because Trump’s codetalking is all about oxymoronic wise use and as recent boorishness reveals, racial animus.”

Jen Hayden writes—Outdoor gear maker Patagonia will sue the Trump administration over shrinking national monuments: “This is a mega-giveaway to the handful of billionaires who stand to gain from logging, mining, and otherwise destroying our protected federal lands. And this is just the beginning, as conservatives like the Koch brothers have been targeting our federal lands for their personal gain for years. And the Republican party appears happy to turn over our lands to the hands of a greedy few. Outdoor gear maker Patagonia isn’t taking this lying down. Committed to protecting federal lands, they announced they will sue the Trump administration. From CNN: ‘I’m going to sue him,” says Yvon Chouinard, founder and CEO of outdoor gear maker Patagonia. “It seems the only thing this administration understands is lawsuits. I think it’s a shame that only 4% of American lands are national parks. Costa Rica’s got 10%. Chile will now have way more parks than we have. We need more, not less. This government is evil and I’m not going to sit back and let evil win.’ Thank you, Patagonia and thank you, Yvon Chouinard!”

Jen Hayden writes—Navajo Nation announces lawsuit against Donald Trump for largest rollback of protected lands: “The Navajo Nation and four other Native American tribes are following through on their promise to sue Donald Trump in federal court over his decision to massively shrink the Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. From The Hill: ‘Through the Antiquities Act, Congress delegated to the president the limited authority to designate national monuments and retained to itself the power to revoke or modify national monuments,’ the tribes wrote in a statement. ‘The proclamation signed by President Trump today is so extreme that it revokes and replaces Bears Ears and thereby violates the Antiquities Act and seizes authority that the Constitution vests solely in Congress.’

gchaucer2 writes—Call Patagonia: Ask for Royal!!!! “Ok, Patagonia is putting its reputation on the line to save our abused country’s hosts’ lands.  I can’t do links to ads but someone here will. Open their page and you will immediately see their “The President Stole Your Land” ad. I just called to thank them for doing their good works whilst looking to order some brilliant article for my opera buddy for xmas.  A guy named Royal (sp?) thanked me profusely and said I was the first positive response — they are getting slammed by negative assholes (bots as well). Call — thank them. And if you have the $$ to buy a gift for someone — do it. 1-800 638-6464.”

noweasels writes—Tomorrow: Protest Pr*sident Trump’s Trip to Utah to Reduce Size of Important National Monuments: “Tomorrow, so-called Pr*sident Trump will travel to Utah for the purpose of greatly reducing the side of these national treasures.  Please read Meteor Blades’ diary about this here. Why? Apparently because he thinks he can. This awful person — who had the temerity to stand before a portrait of Andrew Jackson and make a racist joke while supposedly honoring WWII heroes whose bravery saved countless lives — has no respect for America or Americans.  His Pr*sidency has been an affront and assault on patriotism, civility, history and values. The people will not stand for this. Protests against this latest wreckage took place this weekend. More are planned tomorrow.”

Morrell1983WI writes—Expanding The National Parks System- # 42- Tennessee: “This is the forty-second diary in my ”Expanding the National Parks.” Prior diaries are located at the bottom of the diary. This time, I’m in Tennessee; last time I was in South Dakota. 3.2% of the state is federally owned, 31st in the nation, slightly behind Oklahoma, and slightly ahead of New Jersey. Currently Tennessee has 1 national park, 1 national forest, 7 wildlife refuges and 11 historic sites and other NPS units. I will propose giving the state its first monuments.”

Seismic_work.jpg

bannock writes—Bears Ears Early Days – Photos-Some Helicopters-Some Climbing-Some Writing: “I spent a few months in the Bears Ears area mostly up what is now called Indian Creek. That’s N Sixshooter peak in the background above, it’s really a tower in canyon parlance. It was the early 80s, I and a bud named Scott rented a 4 bedroom house in Moab for $300. It was a time before mountain bikes. I think N Sixshooter is in more photos than the actual Bear’s Ears Butte. The climbing is steep and I was just learning how to climb, here I got sick of the etrier and just started free climbing. I had all passive devices for pro, no spring loaded cams, all hexes and tube chocks. […] Rain isn’t common in the desert, I like how it brought out the red colors of the rock. I think the butte across Indian Creek is called Bridger Jack. We were doing a portable seismic survey. Walking and flying, nothing but footprints and skid prints. We are setting jumpers to go down the cliff here. Every time we came to a cliff we’d attach jumper cables to braided nylon rope and lower it down to the bottom. Some cliff bands were 300 feet of vertical.”

IntoTheOutdoors writes—Why Grand Staircase Escalante NM & Bears Ears NM Are So Special: “I’m a long time member of Daily Kos but don’t post much.  I’m also lucky to live in Durango, CO, on the edge of the Colorado Plateau and have hiked, backpacked, and explored the desert southwest for over 30 years.  Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument are unique in the world and deserve protection.  They are our public lands and what the human stain has done is unprecedented.  Five years ago I picked up a camera and started taking pictures, here are a small sample of some of the images I’ve taken.  All images were taken by me and are owned by me, all are from either Bears Ears NM or Grand Staircase Escalante NM.

GSENM___BENM5-3.jpg

Michael Brune writes—No Shame, No Future: “Donald Trump considers himself exceptional and, on this one thing, he’s absolutely correct. His gift for unprincipled pandering to exploitative greed has no peer. This week’s announcement that Trump wants to eliminate 85 percent of Bears Ears National Monument and half of Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument is historically disgraceful. It would be by far the largest elimination of protected areas in U.S. history, and it would undercut the principle of permanent protection that underpins the security of all America’s wildlife refuges, national monuments, and national parks. If Trump succeeds in this action, it might be the worst act of vandalism ever committed on our public lands. I say ‘might’ because — unless something changes — the Republican tax bill that comes out of conference between the House and Senate could open the door to oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and that’s got to be a contender. And based on the yesterday’s news that Interior Secretary Zinke wants to shrink the borders of or reduce protections for eight additional monuments, the vandalism is just getting started. For anyone who cares about wilderness and our public lands, this past week made it easy to get discouraged. Don’t.”

MINING

politicalhaze writes—Trump’s EPA Secretary Gets Rid of Rule that Forces Mining Companies to Clean up their Pollution: “Thousands of abandoned mines are littered across the country. Coal, for example, was once the world’s main fuel. Now, all of those mining companies are deserted. An abandoned mine however, will continue to rot the beautiful earth surrounding it forever. After all the miners have left, there still remains a pollution in the mine that gets in the water and taints every root and rock that it gushes past. The EPA spent $1.1 billion on cleanup work at abandoned hard-rock mining and processing sites across the U.S. from 2010 to 2014. Since 1980, at least 52 mines and mine processing sites using modern techniques had spills or other releases of pollution, according to documents released by the EPA last year. ChicagoTribune So these huge mining companies drain all of the valuable resources from an area, and then leave. We the tax payer are forced to clean up their mess. That seems like a real sweet deal for these fossil fuel companies.”

TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE

Rei writes—The era of electrified freight shipping has begun: “This article got me thinking.  It’s about the launch of the world’s first kilotonne-class electric freight ship (ironically, a collier): 70,5 meters long, 13,9 meters wide, dual 160kW motors, and 2,4 MWh of batteries, to take 2000 tonnes of coal on a 50mi / 80km trip.  As waterborne shipping is one of the largest global consumers of petroleum, this is a first step in something huge. But how close are we to being able to convert oceanic freight shipping? […]  In short: conversion of freight shipping to electric power is not a ‘distant future, when 10x better / 10x cheaper batteries hit the market’ scenario. It’s doable in the surprisingly near term, as global battery production continues its exponential scale-up curve and floating wind / solar power generation matures. No new technology is required – just maturation and scale-up.Note: To head off the notion that invariably pops up: no, the world is not going to run out (insert-your-favourite-resource here). All of the components that go into modern li-ion batteries and electric motors (PM or induction) are available in abundance globally, while exploration and improved extraction technologies for them are only just now starting to get the attention that they deserve. And even the amount of the ‘rarer’ components used in batteries (such as cobalt – although even that is not a ‘rare’ substance) are declining, on a per-kWh basis.


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