The Watering Hole, Tuesday April 1, 2014 – Environmental News and Food Politics

April Fools!!!!!!!

 

Too tired to be clever, so I’ll leave that to others.

1. Time to Vege Up! Cut out the meat and the cheese if you want to save the world.  

“If agricultural emissions are not addressed, nitrous oxide from fields and methane from livestock may double by 2070. This alone would make meeting the climate target essentially impossible.”

2. Last week it was Chernobyl, this week Three Mile Island is celebrating an anniversary. I actually remember this one pretty well. Just met Cats and lived in Reading, PA, about 60 miles downwind of the disaster. Have we learned anything yet?

3. GMO labeling won’t go away. Food Democracy showing signs of resurgence in California, Colorado. Referenda – the people speak.

 

OPEN THREAD!

The Watering Hole; Friday March 21 2014; Monarch Roundup

Sometimes it only takes a simple one page email letter to tell it like it is. This one, from the Natural Resources Defense Council popped up in my inbox just yesterday, and it took me maybe thirty seconds to act, to add my name to the petition of protest.

Monarch butterflies are in crisis, and we must take immediate action to protect them!

Less than 20 years ago, an astounding 1 billion monarchs migrated to Mexico for the winter. This year, a mere fraction of that — just 33.5 million — made the journey.

Why? In large part it’s because industrial agriculture is killing off the native milkweed on which monarchs depend with a new generation of potent herbicides.

Tell the EPA to adopt tough new restrictions on the weed killers that are wiping out monarchs!

By placing commonsense limits on Big Ag’s rampant use of herbicides like glyphosate — marketed as Roundup by Monsanto — the EPA could dramatically increase the monarch’s chance for survival.

But the EPA is unlikely to do that unless it hears from hundreds of thousands of us!

Monarchs can’t live without milkweed — it is the only plant on which they lay their eggs.

What’s at stake here? One of the most astounding and extraordinary migrations on the planet — a true natural wonder.

Each year, as they have for countless generations, North American monarchs undertake an epic journey, flittering upwards of 3,000 miles across the U.S. and Canada to just a relative few wintering grounds, including Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountains.

But as industrial agriculture has ramped up its use of genetically engineered crops resistant to weed killers like glyphosate, it has also dramatically escalated its use of herbicides — and monarch populations have plunged.

This is the ninth year in a row that the population of monarchs wintering in Mexico has fallen below its long-term average, and this year it hit an all-time low.

Please tell EPA the time to act is now!

Thank you for joining NRDC at this critical moment in our fight to save the monarchs.

Sincerely,

Frances Beinecke
President
Natural Resources Defense Council 

So: a common agricultural herbicide (Monsanto’s Roundup) is very likely a major player in the apparently impending destruction/extinction of the Monarch Butterfly. Good old Monsanto. From herbicides to pesticides to genetically modified seeds, the destruction of the biosphere continues unabated . . . because there’s a lot of money in it. And nothing else matters, dontcha know.

I do hope that everyone who reads this will (a) sign the petition, and (b) spread the word far and wide. It’s time that we find the means to destroy something other than butterflies. As for Monsanto? — great place to begin the undoubtedly interminable process of destroying the destroyers. Gotta start somewhere, though.

0718-Butterfly and shadow on sunflowers

OPEN THREAD

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 3rd, 2014: Who Are You Gonna Believe?

On Saturday morning, I was visited again by my (in my opinion as one who had barely woken up) way-too-perky Jehovah’s Witness ‘friend’ from previous visits. (I’m sincerely sorry that I cannot remember her name.) After a fairly brief chat, I was given some new leaflets. The Witness had picked these out particularly for me, based on our last discussion during which I had professed my belief in science vs religion. The leaflet that I decided to start with is entitled “Was Life Created?” An excerpt from the introductory page, prefaced by the question “What do you believe?”:

“Many religious fundamentalists believe that the earth and everything on it was created in six 24-hour days, just a few thousand years ago. Some atheists would have you believe that God does not exist, that the Bible is a book of myths, and that all life is the product of random undirected events.”

Now, right there, I have issues with the statement about atheists: first, note the difference in the wording between the two sentences, i.e., “Many religious fundamentalists believe…” as opposed to “Some atheists would have you believe…” The implications that a) the beliefs of religious fundamentalists/literal Creationists are somehow more valid and earn more respect than the beliefs/non-beliefs of atheists, and b) that atheists want to force people to abandon their religion (whatever flavor it is) seem pretty obvious to me. This inference is made again a little further down the intro page, under the heading, “What is the purpose of this brochure?”:

“It is not the purpose of this material to ridicule the views either of fundamentalists or of those who choose not to believe in God.”

Again, carefully worded, “those who choose not to believe in God”, as if we picked the wrong side, or refused to join their club. They won’t “ridicule the views…of fundamentalists” (even though elsewhere in the introduction it states that religious fundamentalism and atheism are considered to be “opposing ideas”) simply because the fundamentalists believe in a god and his bible. And obviously, by “God” they mean only the god of the Old or New Testament, not the Muslim’s Prophet or any of the other major non-Christian religions of the world.

The intro wraps up with:

“Will you trust the claims of those who say that there is no intelligent Creator and that the Bible is unreliable? [YES!] Or will you examine what the Bible actually says? Which teachings are worthy of your trust, your faith: those of the Bible or those of evolutionists? Why not review the facts?”

The “facts” that are subsequently presented to advance the “intelligent Creator” argument are, oddly enough, all discovered through scientific research: how the planet Earth is in the ideal location to sustain life [sure, life as WE carbon-based oxygen-breathing life forms know it]; how the Earth’s tilt is just right, along with the planet’s speeds of rotation and orbit, to create the ‘ideal’ for human habitation: four seasons and 24-hour days. Also presented as “evidence” of an intelligent Creator are the size of our moon and its distance from the Earth [and here the JWs make Bill O’Reilly look like the idiot that he is, by mentioning that the planet’s tides are affected by the moon); along with the laws of nature and science, i.e., the cycle of precipitation, photosynthesis, your basic Earth Science curriculum, and the multitude of species of animals. All of these scientific laws are indication to the JW’s that a divine hand was involved.

If, as believers such as the JWs think, humans were made in god’s image, I think that that god has a lot of explaining to do. Humans are the only species that is capable of completely ruining the beauty and wonder of our planet’s unique ecosystems, as well as our own sources of food and water. What god would make a species such as ours?

Instead of (and possibly in answer to) the question being “What do you believe?”, I believe that the question should be “What do you KNOW?”

This is our daily open thread–feel free to air your thoughts on, well, anything, including but not limited to Jehovah’s Witnesses (or any other religious group), etc.

Watering Hole: Tuesday February 4, 2014 – Tidbits (bite-size morsels on food and environmental politics)

Is Monsanto giving up on GMO Foods? Well maybe not cash cows like corn and soy, but veggies don’t seem to want to respond in ways that make them better through genetic manipulation. Mother Jones has the whole story… No GMO Monsanto!

House votes to de-fund food stamps in Blue States. After de-funding the left, the Right’s next goal is to make the poorest among us grovel for food on the street. I guess getting free food when so many Americans are working for theirs is just too much for them to bear.They would much rather have the poor begging in the streets (again)

Monarch butterflies drop, migration may disappear. The famed annual migration of monarch butterflies to Mexico is at an all time low and may be history. Who to thank? Start with the big M. Urban sprawl is a boogeyman here as well. Read on…
Flight canceled.

And now for some good news…
Slow Cities: The Growing Movement Putting Sustainability and Community Back in the Forefront. It all starts in Europe, of course. First it was the Slow Food movement, and now out of Italy again Cittaslow, an expansive vision of how smaller places can remain viable. Here are the variables in play:

Contain fewer than 50,000 people
Commit deeply to preserve and sustain the environment.
Encourage thoughtful development and use of new technologies for sustainability.
Foster local culture and preserve heritage traditions.
Promote healthy eating and lifestyle.
Support local artisans and businesses.
Welcome visitors.
Encourage active participation in community life.
Read on…
Create a slow city (or neighborhood) near you.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 25th, 2014: Animals, Birds and Kites – Oh My!

As always, The Weather Channel is great for more than just checking the forecast. Since I’m suddenly standing in for Wayne, today’s thread is going to explore a few recent articles from TWC:

First, from “A Race Against Time: Photos Capture Animals Before They Disappear”, by Michele Berger:

“Joel Sartore has ambitious plans: To photograph all 10,000 or so animals currently in captivity before they go extinct. Over the course of nine years, this National Geographic photographer has made great progress, capturing some 3,300 animals to date. Still, he thinks getting the remaining creatures will take the rest of his life — and he’s ok with that because he believes in this project.

It’s called Photo Ark, and Sartore sees it as both a snapshot of our time and as a call to action.” … “We really need to show people that this is a tragedy and it is the issue of our time,” he said. “It is folly to think that we can doom half of all species to extinction and think it won’t harm humanity.”

Among the animals included in the 15-photo slide show is the adorable Coquerel’s sifaka:

Coquerels sifaka (from the Bronx Zoo Gallery)

Coquerels sifaka (from the Bronx Zoo Gallery)

Next, we’re going to the birds with “Stunning Bird Portaits from Around the World”, also by Michele Berger. The 41 photos by Andrew Zuckerman include representations of such oddities as:

~ The Silkie Bantam Chicken, “…one of the few breeds with five toes instead of four.”

Silkie Bantam Chickens (photo courtesy keepingchickens.com)

Silkie Bantam Chickens (photo courtesy keepingchickens.com)


~ The Wattled Curassow:
Wattled Curassow (source psms29-com)

Wattled Curassow (source psms29-com)


~ The Lilac-Breasted Roller
Lilac-Breasted Roller

Lilac-Breasted Roller


~ And the Twelve-Wired Bird of Paradise
Twelve-Wired Bird of Paradise

Twelve-Wired Bird of Paradise

Finally, apparently I was unaware of the recent week-long international kite festival in parts of India, but there’s a photo gallery of 40 pics to prove it. (Some Bollywood actor is the subject of too many of the photos, but the kites are unusual.)

This is our daily open thread–if you’re somewhere freezing like Wayne and I, stay warm today!

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 14th, 2013: More KXL BS

Going through my emails, one from moneynews.com (the $$ division of Newsmax.com) caught my eye: “Pickens: Keystone Pipeline Would Make OPEC Obsolete” Huh?

But first, in an earlier, related article by John Morgan, titled “Steve Forbes: Build the Keystone Pipeline and Frack, Baby, Frack”, failed Presidential hopeful Steve Forbes lies about the proposed pipeline’s safety:

Forbes magazine editor Steve Forbes, a stalwart defender of the Keystone XL pipeline, says approving the pipeline would actually help prevent oil spills, not cause more environmental damage, and that fracking is a key element of America’s energy future.

“If you don’t approve pipelines, we’re going to be moving more and more oil on trains, which is just begging for accidents,” he told Yahoo.

Forbes maintained the Keystone pipeline would create 20,000 jobs, more than some other estimates. The fate of the proposed pipeline, which would push an estimated 830,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Canada to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast, may be decided in a final ruling from the White House by year-end.

Forbes noted that fracking is boosting local economies in some areas. “Because of fracking, Pennsylvania is prospering, towns are moving up — areas that had been depressed before.” By contrast, upstate New York, where fracking is not permitted, “looks more and more like East Germany before the Wall fell,” Forbes said.

Forbes, CEO of Forbes Media and a staunch Republican, said a big problem with U.S. energy policy is that President Barack Obama “does not like oil, gas or coal.” “He seems to like windmills, a nice medieval technology,” Forbes said.

“The inconvenient truth is that we have not had an increase in temperatures in 15 or 16 years even though we are pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”

Mr. Forbes, you are delusional. An oil corporation with a history of leaks and spills is going to build a pipeline that is so amazingly safe that it will actually “prevent” oil spills? And, while rail transport may not be ideal, one can count on one hand the number of rail accidents involving oil (my apologies to the victims of the accident in Quebec.) How many spills have Keystone and other oil corporations already caused, and are still trying to clean up? And for the record, upstate NY looks pretty much the same as it always has, thankyouverymuch. Nice Gore-bashing at the end, Mr. Forbes, stay classy.

Okay, now fast-forward back to “Pickens: Keystone Pipeline Would Make OPEC Obsolete” ~

From Friday, October 11th, an excerpt from an article by Dan Weil:

The Keystone XL oil pipeline would eliminate the United States’ dependence on OPEC, says energy entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens.

“Canadians say they have 250 billion barrels [of oil]. That’s exactly what the Saudis claim they have,” he tells CNBC. “You’re sitting there with the same amount of oil available to the United States from Canada . . . as [from] Saudi Arabia.”

“You could make them [OPEC] obsolete two or three different ways, and that [Keystone] is one of them.”

The Keystone pipeline would run from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. President Obama must decide whether the pipeline can be built.

Pickens would like to see an oil transportation system combining the United States, Canada and Mexico.

As United States energy output, we are on pace to overtake Russia as the world’s biggest producer of oil and natural gas and may already have done so, according to The Wall Street Journal.”

Okay, so (maybe) Canada has the same amount of oil as Saudi Arabia. But both are sold on the world market, so it’s not like the U.S. is getting a discount from Canada (at least not that I’ve heard or read.) But let’s consider the real concrete difference: Saudi oil is NOT being transported straight through the “heartland” of the U.S. The inevitable spill(s) along an almost 1200-mile pipeline would cause an environmental disaster for the local wildlife, ecosystem, and humans. If the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies the drinking water for millions of American citizens, became contaminated, those millions of people would be at risk. In the article, Mr. Pickens “explains” (maybe ‘complains’ would have been a better word?) that the ‘U.S. Navy protects the Strait of Hormuz so that 17 million barrels of oil travels through it a day.’ Since I’m sure that the U.S. Navy presence in the Strait of Hormuz is for more than just keeping the oil flowing, if his point is that we’re wasting taxpayer money by being there, that dog won’t hunt. The U.S. will always have its fingers in the Middle East pie. What price tag would you put on the lives of millions of citizens? Oh, BTW, Mr. Pickens, what are those other “different ways to make OPEC obsolete”?

Note that neither Mr. Pickens nor Mr. Forbes mentioned renewable energy sources.

Now…for some of the riper turds from the shitstorm of comments after the article:

“The MESSIAH is far too concerned with MAKING ALL OF US HURT, to be bothered with being a LEADER. Like MICHELLE, he wants all of us to suffer and become third-world surfs like she sees us and he wants us to be. Neither will be happy until they see the muslim emblem replace our stars and stripes. Keystone is very possible, but we need to get congress to grow up and start doing what they were elected to do…. the OATH they all took..!!!!!!”

“I know former president Jiminy Carter is in the pocket an Arab emirate, and Slick Willie Clinton is in everyone’s pockets, but how or why does Obama not want to get ahead. The only explanation is that he wants the American middle class to fail first. We are being betrayed by a failing presidency.”

“If the Fed Govt. would open Keystone which is by far safer than Obama’s/Warrens Oil Train that hauls hundreds of thousands of gal. of oil through all the cities and town to the refineries and makes an extra $10.00 a barrel more than the pipeline transportation.Sure you could have a pipeline spill but the technology is much better now and they can turn the valve of.”

And my personal favorite:
“This muslim Islamic puke doesn’t want the pipeline because right now we are supporting the Arabs with our money to buy oil at a premium price, and then we go to the gas station and buy the gas from them again and they make more money off of us. This Hitler pig just wants us to support them and the hell with us here. We need millions of good jobs here and this pig gives everything back to them and our country goes down in flames just like the demoncrap pigs have done with Detroit, they will do with our entire country and then the Islamic murdering pigs come in and take us over and anyone that does not fall to islam, well they will be beheaded, that’s how that cult of pigs deal with what they call infedels. Well, I say….screw them, I am a Christian and been that way all my life and I’ll stay that way.
so go screw you Hitler moron!!!!!!!!!!!”

I’d put a pretty picture up to cleanse your visual palate, but this is already too long. Sorry!

Open Thread – so, what else is new?

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 16th, 2013: Monday Medley

As you are all aware, I love going to The Weather Channel online — not just to find out the local forecast, but for their unusual variety of photo galleries and and links to other interesting and frequently educational stories and news.

Today’s crop includes:

- updates on the Voyager 1 probe (and be sure to scroll down for links to space photos from NASA’s Spitzer telescope, and photos of a newborn star from a Chilean telescope.)

- Photos of recent tornadoes, including (but not limited to) several photos taken last week from Kenosha, Wisconsin.

- Photos of lightning storms – check out two in particular that I liked, one called “Lightning Under the Stars” and one called “Fire In The Sky.”
Lightning_weather_Wallpaper_hflv9

- Photo gallery of the “10 Longest Bridges In the U.S.

- Photo gallery of “12 Spectacular Castles of the World

The Bojnice Castle in Bojnice, Slovakia

The Bojnice Castle in Bojnice, Slovakia

This is our Open Thread. Enjoy the views!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, August 17, 2013: Your Coriolis Is Showing

It occurred to me that the reason we get storms in the East and droughts in the West is because we have the Atlantic Ocean “sloshing” up against our shores, bringing more hurricanes and precipitation to our side of the country, while the West doesn’t have an ocean of water sloshing upon it. Likewise, the Pacific Ocean brings typhoons to the Eastern shores of Asia, while Europe gets droughts because there isn’t as much water coming its way. Okay, so I’m not the first one to notice that.

The oceans are absorbing more carbon dioxide because of the fossil fuels we burn. Carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere, which reflects heat back toward the Earth. More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means more carbon dioxide falling in to the oceans. Which means the oceans are warmer. Warmer oceans give more energy to the storms that are produced. (There aren’t necessarily more storms being produced, but the storms that are being produced are stronger.) And we get, every once in a while, a Hurricane Katrina or a Superstorm Sandy. Except we’re no longer getting them “every once in a while,” we’re getting them all the time. How many times have you heard we were getting “the Storm of the Century”? How many centuries have you been alive?

This got me thinking about the Coriolis Effect. Here’s an interesting short explanation of it and how it affects the weather. Enjoy.

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss the Coriolis Effect, the Dunning-Kruger Effect, or any other Effect you wish.

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 13th, 2013: ‘Hu-mons’ and Animals – I’ll stick with the Animals

Well, the argument over gun legislation isn’t going to go away anytime soon, especially as long as Americans are being shot, deliberately or in tragic “accidents”, every day.

First, a frightening story from a commenter at TP:

“My son tried to make plans with a few friends to see the new Batman movie in Aurora. His plans fell through. The next day we talked. Grateful that he wasn’t there, I just felt sad. Then he told me about how hard to tried to be there. It jolted me awake. I kept thinking of how different my day, his day and our lives would have been had he been in that movie theater. I am more grateful for my son’s life than I have been since he was quite young. Gun regulation is personal to me. It is time. I will stick with this movement. It is time.”

Next: From a (somewhat outdated, as it was from November 2012, therefore does not include the Newtown shooting nor the 3000 or so gun deaths since December 14th) Mother Jones article listing mass shootings in the U.S. from 1982 to 2012, excerpts from the comment section:

Someone trotted out the “hammers kill more people than guns do” bullshit story (the report actually said that hammers were used to kill people more often than rifles, not guns); when another claimed disbelief, a pro-gun person who had been the main commenter on the thread responded:

#1.. proof of hammers.. GOOGLE IT.. in under 10 seconds you will find links showing proof..

As for where are the stats from? The FBI… national crime stats. The same thing can be had via StatsCan as well as other sources.

It sounds absurd to ban or regulate hammers as well. Why? not only are they used for non-malicious purposes an uncountable # of times every day (the same as firearms are) it again would NOT actually accomplish anything good at all.

It would not stop the rapist that uses the hammer to subdue his victim.. it would not stop the “armed robber” from robbing the local 7-11.. it also won’t stop the moron whom wallops his thumb with it either. Instead it would make “work” and waste of $ within gov regulation.. so you have to prove you are “competent” etc etc to put a nail in the wall with a “deadly and dangerous hammer”. Meanwhile criminals would just get an illegal hammer and use that… while the law abiding home owner has to wait to hang up a picture for gov approval.

As for the Nuclear bomb.. no.. that is not a fair comparison at all.. it is a very stupid comparison.

Explosives (Nuclear or otherwise) are already highly regulated to try to prevent lunatics such as Timothy McVeigh from causing mass destruction.

Why? Simple.. what practical use would a nuke be for people to have? You You can’t take it to a range to and practice with it.. you can’t carry it for personal protection and the protection of others. Not to mention it is a BOMB

You also neglect the fact that the lunatics such as McVeigh and Lanza are not stupid. If they did not have access (legal or illegal) to firearms they would find another way to inflect the damage they are intent on. It’s not hard to learn how to build a bomb online.. (though I won’t help educate anyone here how.)

As for pools and accidents.. yes they matter. But the anti’s love to pull the “if it saves one kid” crap. It’s crap since those saying such don’t care that a kid dies.. they care HOW they die. otherwise they would actually look at the real problems and try to find a solution. Such as education. We teach our kids safety with a pool.. why should they not be taught safety with a firearm? That alone is the single most effective way to reduce accidents (same for some adults). We also do not rely on the gov to regulate education about swimming pools. it is COMMON SENSE. The absurd stigma the uneducated use with firearms is unbelievably ignorant. Something sadly only made worse by the sensationalized BS spewed by the media.

Contrary to the media’s typical BS such as showing “Hollywood” scenes and constantly mislabeling firearms.. as well as the lie of “assault weapons” (There is no such thing btw as I’ve explained before… or do I need to explain it again?).. they have been caught flat out bold face LYING to the public. (Wolf Blitzer for one prime example and he was called on the carpet and publicly embarrassed for it)

So once again.. the aim of your post is to in effect place blame upon the inanimate objects and to punish those whom have done no harm. You aim to make those same people less able to defend themselves and others from the very people whom do cause harm. That is insanity to say the least since we already know the lunatics and criminals don’t obey the law. So it is completely destined to failure as gun control always has been. (Unless you are the dictator wanting control such as Hitler etc etc)

Once again the proof of the inanimate object doing no harm: http://montego.roughwheelers.c…

You were tempted to “refute every major contention” I’ve made. Sorry but the only way to try to do so would be to LIE. I am only telling the truth. Not trying to twist and cherry pick like the Anti’s do constantly. It is a cold hard and realistic view of the issues and the world. I for one refuse to fall for “feel good” legislation that does only harm to the general public. It is the absence of emotional rhetoric so commonly found with incidents such as Sandy Hook

It is not a lack of compassion for the victims of such either. It is the opposite. I would much rather those teachers had been armed and shot Lanza in the head on the spot. I would much rather the rapist is killed by the would be victim. I would rather the armed home invader that raped and robbed an 80 yr old woman last yr instead be shot by her.

As for incidents such as Lanza.. if I had been there I’d have attacked him even unarmed.. because it is the right thing to do. If I had been armed I’d have not even blinked at the need to shoot him on the spot.

Remember it is about personal responsibility. Unlike those blaming the firearm(s).. or blaming hollywood movies.. or video games etc etc.. none of those matter. I have played those games, watched those movies and I’ve been around firearms for most of my life. Funny.. I’m not a rampaging murderer… nor are you (I assume). They are all merely objects that are easy and conveniently to blame when trying to blame anyone or anything but ourselves.

Society failed for Sandy Hook not due to lack of moronic gun control… or lack of game control etc etc.. but they failed due to mental heath system in the US. His mother was trying to get a conservatorship of her Adult son (very hard to do).. and to have him committed. Also her firearms were locked up and he apparently got the code(s) w/o permission. If the system had not failed her, him and everyone else that incident could very well have been avoided entirely. And not a single “gun control” law would have been needed to accomplish such.

If you want to actually accomplish something good.. stop focusing on the object.. focus on the actual problems.

There is evil in the world.. and all the well wishing, idiot laws and tantrums by the anti’s won’t make that go away.

Oh and something I posted elsewhere you also should read:

You cannot child proof the world… but you can try to world proof your child.

“It is the Soldier: Not the minister Who gave us freedom of religion. Not the reporter Who gave us freedom of the press. Not the poet Who gave us freedom of speech Not the campus organizer Who gave us freedom to protest Not the lawyer Who gave us the right to a fair trial Not the politician Who gave us the right to vote It is the soldier who salutes the flag,Who serves beneath the flag, Whose coffin is draped by the flag, Who allows protesters to burn the flag” – Adapted from Charles M. Province

and

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” – Voltaire

That which was fought for and died for you have the privilege of enjoying. Do not waste such a gift by spitting in the faces of those whom fought and died so you have it in the first place.

You enjoy the 1st and 2nd in the US… it comes from the Magna Carta. Learn history and defend it since the rights you do not defend you loose.

And the same commenter later:

“Of course they are not telling the whole truth. They are cherry picking stats in order to try to twist the truth. Sadly very typical of the anti’s to try to promote their own agenda.

As for Oz [I believe this refers to Australia].. Deaths / injuries via violent crime and suicides have climbed and remained relatively stable respectively after GC. South Africa skyrocketed after GC. etc etc… it has all been thoroughly listed.. though they refuse to accept the reality still.

GUN CONTROL is a failure and always will be.”

A commenter for gun control:

One more thing, speaking of gun defense…I find it interesting, that we have the most guns of any “developed” nation..we have the least restrictive laws…and we don’t have this “gun paradise” of less crime because armed vigilantes saving the day.

We have the opposite. More gun deaths than any other developed nation.

Yet gun ownership seems to be declining. So if we don’t have a “safer” country with the amount of guns we have now, and less people want/have guns…then that hypothesis will never come to pass.

Unless this is the safe society we get with an armed citizenry?

And that same commenter also said later:

“Ugh, the “guns don’t kill people”, is such a trite argument.

I keep having to reference the stuff you throw out there. First off, we regulate cars in all sorts of ways. We regulate at the federal level of what a car maker can make. We regulate what safety features must be had. If you want to drive the car, even once, you are required to register with the state regularly. You have safety inspections regularly. You have to have insurance. You are required several months of intensive training. The state can revoke your license at will, including your Alzheimer’s patient. There are school zones where you have different rules to follow. All done to protect people. So let’s do all that in a mandatory way on every gun.

As you said, it’s just an object. Let’s treat it like every other dangerous object, which is to minimize the damage and casualties.

And once again, your premise is wrong. Guns do kill people, because they were designed to. Near the Newtown shooting, there was a school stabbing in China where 20 kids were attacked. How many died by the gun here? 20. How many died in China with the stabbing? 0. So…the gun does kill people. It kills people that otherwise may have lived.

Let’s get away from self-destructive ‘hu-mons’ (“ugly bags of mostly water”) and hang out with Nature:

While depressing, this photo gallery of rare and endangered animals is worth the look; on a brighter note, check out “Earth as Art”, shown just below the linked article, for a different look at our world.

Next, unusual albino animals; and, in somewhat the same vein, a few rare dog breeds.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to comment on any claims made above, or on any topic on your mind.

The Watering Hole, Monday, April 22nd, 2013: Last Chance

I have written off and on about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and the many reasons why building it should not even be considered. Thousands of people have protested (and been arrested) against the proposed pipeline, and, thus far, the State Department has yet to decide on it.

Today is the last day for public comments on this proposal. If you have not yet submitted a comment, please, please, send an email to keystonecomments@state.gov. This is too important to our nation, our planet and our future.

Here’s the email that I sent:

I am writing this letter in objection to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Advocates of the pipeline say that it will create thousands of American jobs. This is a lie. While it may create a certain number of temporary jobs in the construction stage, fewer than 50 permanent jobs will be created.

Advocates of the pipeline say that, once the pipeline is finished and the tar sands oil is refined, it will provide the U.S. with a plentiful supply of oil, lowering oil prices and lessening our dependency on “foreign”, i.e., “Middle Eastern” oil. They say that because of this, our “national security’” will be enhanced. This is a lie. The tar sands oil, once refined, will be sold on the world market, not directly to the U.S.

Advocates of the pipeline say that the pipeline will safely bring tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, through several U.S. States, to refineries in Texas. This is a lie. Keystone’s own track record as regards previous spills, i.e., in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River (which to date, several years later, still has not been ‘cleaned up’) belies this notion. Tar sands oil is the filthiest form of oil, and the pipeline’s route would take it through hundreds of ecologically sensitive areas; most importantly, it will run through, or perilously close to, the largest aquifer in the country, which provides drinking water to several states.

Any claim that Keystone may make to guarantee that the pipeline will be safe would be a lie. Regardless of anything that the final Environmental Impact Statement may say, there is no technology on this earth that can clean up the kind of disaster that a tar sands oils spill would cause. Consider the ineffective efforts to contain the BP Deepwater oil spill in the Gulf, and the ridiculouis use of paper towels to attempt to clean up the recent Mayflower oil spill.

Are even 50 permanent U.S. jobs worth even the slightest possibility of a pipeline leak and the subsequent ecological and human disaster? Are 50 jobs worth ruining the drinking water of millions of Americans? I say NO, and I would hope that anyone with any critical thinking skills would have to agree.

Please, I implore you, just say NO to Keystone.

Respectfully,

Jane E. Schneider
Pawling, NY

This is our open thread — what will you say to the State Department?

The Watering Hole, Thursday, February 21, 2013: Genetically Modified Salmon Will Soon Be At A Store Near You

Image

Genetically Engineered Salmon Nears FDA Approval

 The Food and Drug Administration has determined genetically engineered salmon won’t threaten the environment, clearing it of all but one final hurdle before it shows up on shelves throughout the nation — and igniting a final 60-day debate on whether it poses health risks before it’s officially approved.

Although it’s been nicknamed “Frankenfish” by critics, health professionals say they aren’t worried the lab-engineered salmon will cause more allergies or other harmful effects than any other breed of fish.

While labeling of genetically modified food of any type is not guaranteed and so we won’t know if we’re buying it.  And we certainly won’t know if it is harmful to ingest.  There is always a chance that it will interfere with indigenous species.  Should we have learned a lesson from the destruction the common carp has created since it’s introduction?

History of Common Carp in North America

A Fish once Prized, Now Despised
By the turn of the century, the introduction of the carp was such a “success” that both public agencies and sportsmen had come to regard the fish as a nuisance. While tons of free-swimming carp were being harvested from area waters, they were comparable in taste to neither the selectively bred pool-cultivated carp of Europe nor, it was believed, to many of the native “game” species, and were thus useless as a food source. Moreover, their rapid spread appeared to threaten both water quality and native species, as commissioners nationwide noted a deterioration of formerly clear and fertile lakes and waterways upon the arrival of carp.

Salmon Nation: Genetically Engineered Salmon

While not on anyone’s dinner table just yet, genetically engineered salmon are just a pen stroke away. GE salmon are being developed by a U.S. company called Aqua Bounty Farms and are preferred for their ability to grow two to four times faster than other farmed salmon…

Research at both Purdue University and The National Academy of Sciences points to the “considerable risks” that genetically engineered (also called “transgenic”) fish pose to nearby populations of native fish:

“Purdue University researchers have found that releasing a transgenic fish to the wild could damage native populations even to the point of extinction.”
Sigurdson, C. (2000). Transgenic fish could threaten wild populations, Purdue News.

There is little doubt that transgenetic fish will, if raised, escape to the surrounding waters. Estimates of farmed salmon escapees in British Columbia total at least 400,000 fish from 1991 to 2001:

“According to the Canadian government, in the past decade nearly 400,000 farm-raised Atlantics escaped into British Columbia waters and began competing with wild species for food and habitat. (That number relies primarily on escapes reported by fish farmers; environmentalists put the actual figure closer to 1 million.)”
Barcott, B. (2001). Aquaculture’s Troubled Harvest, Mother Jones, November/December.

There is much more on the dangers to our waterways at Salmon Nation.  Although you’d think common sense would be enough to know that this is a very bad idea.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to talk about salmon, genetically-modified foods, or anything else you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Friday Feb. 8 2013; “Of Man, Of Wolf”

Of Man, Of Wolf

of man of wolf

As mountain throws its livid purple haze 
As waning sunlight strays across the skies
And skims a craggy ridge, Man’s towers rise
From valley’s darkened floor as if ablaze
In ego – soaring – bluster unconstrained
By reason – or by feigned humilities.

Beyond the morrow’s sunrise where the trees
Stand tall, the lone wolf’s paw print, water-stained,
Impales his visage on a sandy trail.
Instinctive stealth, the weapon of his choice,
And fearsome howl – man’s bête noir in voice –
Expound on reasons men, themselves, must fail:

“My birthright is to live!  Run wild!  Run free                
Of shackled chains! . . . No wonder YOU fear hate ME!”

Man’s completely irrational fear and hatred of wolves is obviously boundless, as evidenced in a most disheartening letter I received a few days ago from Defenders of Wildlife. It read, in part:

We’ve reached a heartbreaking milestone:

The 1,000th wolf has died from hunting and trapping in the Northern Rockies since Congress stripped gray wolves of their Endangered Species Act protection in 2011. 

Mothers, pups and packs have fallen to hunters’ bullets and traps – 1,001 at last count in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. It’s a tragic, unsustainable toll, and it cannot be allowed to go on.

Among the most recent victims of this reckless killing was OR16, an Oregon-born male wearing a radio collar. He was shot on January 19th in Idaho.

OR16 was a remarkable wolf. His wanderings took him through three states and he even swam the Snake River. Yet, after his astonishing journey, he made the tragic mistake of crossing into Idaho. He lasted only 33 days there, and was the second Oregon wolf to be killed in Idaho.

Now we’re looking at the loss of over 1,000 wolves in just two years. This accelerated killing is an example of how states like Wyoming are managing wolves as vermin to be eliminated, not as wildlife to be managed responsibly. There is no basis for allowing this many wolves to be killed this quickly. It’s 100% politics that is driving state management.

The restoration of wolves in the Lower 48 is one of the greatest success stories of the Endangered Species Act. It’s tragic that in this day and age we are still fighting myths, misconceptions and old hatreds toward these magnificent animals.

Let me be frank: I am an environmentalist. A RADICAL environmentalist, at least in the perception of a great many of the intellectually unwashed who see no virtue in any concept that might somehow define the realm which lies just beyond the narrowness of their own existence. I’ve been called a tree hugger, an eagle freak, a wolfer, a greenie, a screwball, nutcase, communist, socialist . . . you get the drift. Oddly enough, in said context all those epithets might well be reasonably accurate. Sort of, more-or-less, generally speaking, etc.

In any case, because my sympathies generally lie within the wild and natural world and NOT within that realm imposed upon this planet by my own species, I pay attention to and am a member of various ‘environmentalist’ organizations.  included are Defenders of Wildlife, the Wilderness Society, the Center for Biological Diversity, plus a variety of other organizations which dedicate their efforts to preserving (and restoring) that which is natural, that which we humans have diminished or destroyed for no good reason other than our all-too-common notion that we are . . . ummm . . . created in the image of some sort of ‘god’ who granted us “dominion” over . . . well, over everything. The old “It is written” ploy.

But other things, too, have been “written,” and in words which make far more sense to me, the Radical Environmentalist, than virtually any that pretend to bless the presence of humans here on this speck of galactic dust we like to call “Earth.” So I shall, for the moment, defer to some of those others who have proven far more able than I to pen the words that most accurately describe and enhance recognition of environmental realities and concerns. Following are a few quotes selected from the sizable handful I’ve accumulated over the years, specific source(s) attributed when available.

First, the Idiot shouts:

“It’s the funnest thing I’ve done in years!”
So spoke a gleeful Montana TV ‘Reality Show’ host after shooting and killing a wolf with a high-powered rifle (his idiotic comment was forwarded to the world by the Center for Biological Diversity on August 21, 2012)

Next, Intelligence adds its soft-spoken but ever-varied voice:

“One of the problems that comes with trying to take a wider view of animals is that most of us have cut ourselves off from them conceptually. We do not think of ourselves as part of the animal kingdom. Indians did . . . not because [they] did not perceive the differences but because they were preoccupied with the similarities.” ~Barry Holstun Lopez, in Of Wolves and Men, 1978

[To the Lakota]  “The animals had rights — the right of man’s protection, the right to live, the right to multiply, the right to freedom, and the right to man’s indebtedness — and in recognition of these rights the Lakota never enslaved an animal, and spared all life that was not needed for food and clothing.  This concept of life and its relations was humanizing, and gave to the Lakota an abiding love . . . The Lakota could despise no creature, for all were of one blood.”  ~Lakota Tribal Chief Luther Standing Bear

“What monstrous folly, think you, ever led Nature to create her one great enemy — man . . . And how instinctively she taught the fear of him to the rest of her children!”  ~John C. Van Dyke, in The Desert, 1903

[When European colonists first arrived in America]  “The whole continent was one continued dismal wilderness, the haunt of wolves and bears and more savage men.  Now the forests are removed, the land covered with fields of corn, orchards bending with fruit and the magnificent habitations of rational and civilized people.”  ~John Adams, 1756 (as quoted by Barry Holstun Lopez, in Of Wolves and Men, 1978)

“[Man] was born and equipped as an excellent animal, but he sold his birthright for a mess of pottage called culture and took on fear and a whimper as a part of the bargain.” ~John C. Van Dyke, in The Desert, 1903

“Wilderness . . . the love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need — if only we had the eyes to see.  Original sin, the true original sin, is the blind destruction for the sake of greed of this natural paradise which lies all around us.”  ~Edward Abbey, in Desert Solitaire, A Season in the Wilderness, 1968

“The precise origins of man’s unusual fear of the wolf are obscure. The wolf is human’s most feared animal, even though there has never been a verified account of a healthy wild wolf attacking and killing a human in North America. There have been many maulings caused by bears, and many a diver has experienced a shark attack, but never a wild wolf attack. So why are wolves so feared and hated?”  ~Jill Missal, in Wolves, Humans, and the Myth

“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes.  I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes — something known only to her and the mountain.  I was young then and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, then no wolves would mean a hunter’s paradise.  But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”  ~Aldo Leopold, in A Sand County Almanac, 1949

“Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf.”  ~Aldo Leopold, in A Sand County Almanac, 1949

And finally, one of Universal Truth’s most abject pinnacles:

“We have doomed the wolf not for what it is but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be: the mythologized epitome of a savage, ruthless killer — which is, in reality, no more than the reflected image of ourself.”
~Farley Mowat, in Never Cry Wolf, 1963

Indeed. The essence of “We the people” was most ably summed — some fifty years ago — by Canadian environmentalist and wildlife biologist Farley Mowat. Consider, if you dare, only today’s murderous iceberg tips, the ones in view right now as we speak: in the United States, within just the last two years, more than 1000 wolves have been slaughtered in the northern Rockies, most by gunfire, and not a single one of them for any good reason; less than two months ago twenty children, ages 5 and 6, plus six educators were murdered — by gunfire — in Newtown, Connecticut; and nationwide, assuming gruesome averages continue to hold true, at least 1000 people will die every month in the United States. From gunfire . . . gunfire which can no longer even be heard over the screams(!) of anguish emanating from those for whom gun possession is the only ‘sacred’ adherence.

We are a nation with a shriveled soul. We are a nation OF shriveled souls. I realize it’s far too late to overturn the Second Amendment, to confiscate and destroy all guns in the land and thereby save tens upon hundreds of thousands of human lives and millions more in the wild kingdom, but perhaps we could at least rewrite the Second Amendment to make it a bit more accurate, more palatable? How about this:

A non regulated Militia, being unnecessary to the security of a free State, the right of Shriveled Souls to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Wolf Cubs, photo credit ©ODFW (from Defenders of Wildlife)

Wolf Pups, photo credit ©ODFW (from Defenders of Wildlife)

This is today’s open thread; go for it!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, December 6th, 2012: Close Encounter of the Bald Eagle Kind

Bald_eagle_warwick2
According to the DEC’s website regarding the bald eagle population in New York State, back in 1976,

“One pair of bald eagles still nests in New York, but there are no young birds. In fact, year after year eggs are laid in the nest, but they collapse during incubation, their shells thinned by DDT in the parent birds’ bodies.”

But here’s some good news:

“Through the work of New York’s program and those in other states and Canada, the magnificent bird that symbolizes our nation is coming back from the brink of extinction. Higher population levels and successful reproduction mean the bald eagle is on a firmer footing today than it has been for half a century. In fact efforts have been so successful that the bald eagle has been removed from the federal endangered species list.” [However] “Its status in New York has been changed from Endangered to Threatened.”

The DEC project took pre-fledgling bald eagles from other states and transplanted them to suitable habitats in New York; through a process called “hacking”, the fledglings were raised on specially-built nesting platforms and carefully fed from behind a blind to avoid human contact. The project, started in 1976, achieved its goal of ten nesting pairs in 1989. The DEC’s website reports that “Conservation efforts have increased that number to 173 pairs in 2009.”

Although the nearest habitats where bald eagles populations have been increasing due to the DEC’s program are along the Hudson River (about 30-35 miles to the west of our area), on very rare occasions over the last dozen years or so, I have spotted one or two bald eagles here in southeastern New York, close to the Connecticut state line. On the first occasion, two eagles were flying high above Interstate 684; luckily, I was driving on a fairly straight part of the highway, with little traffic, so I was able to observe the birds long enough to ascertain that they were, indeed, bald eagles. The second occasion occurred when I was getting out of my car at the grocery store, and I stood and watched as the eagle flew south over a nearby hillside.

Yesterday morning was quite different from my previous sightings. I had slept late, and was heading to work a little after 10:00am. Fortuitously, I had decided to cut over to the highway (I-84) via one of the local county roads, rather than go straight down NYS Route 22 – one of those “six-of-one, half-a-dozen of another” decisions, as both routes normally take about the same time. So, heading west toward the highway, I suddenly became aware of a huge bird with an amazing wingspan flying almost directly toward me over the eastbound side of Route 311. As the bird began to angle toward the fields and trees on the southern verge of the road, I spotted the white head and tail (along with whatever prey it was carrying–I tried not to study that) and realized that it truly was a bald eagle. It was flying low enough that, had the usual earlier-morning traffic of school buses and 18-wheelers been heading eastbound at that moment, the eagle might have been hit from behind. Luckily, there was no other traffic on the road; unluckily, I didn’t have a camera with me, and, even if I had, there would not have been time for me to pull over and try to locate where the eagle had headed so that I could try to photograph it. All in all, though, the experience helped to lift my spirits by a brief, up-close glimpse of such a glorious sight.

This is our daily open thread — seen anything inspirational lately?

The Death of a Nation (a retrospective on the W. Bush era, Part 5: ENVIRONMENTAL)

Environmental destruction certainly isn’t anything new; it’s been going on, thanks to the human presence, for centuries millennia at least. Nonetheless, it really picked up speed during the first years following the W. Bush presidential (s)election of December, 2000, during which time he carried forth and invariably served “the dream” of Republicans everywhere, i.e. their unending pursuit of biosphere destruction and collapse — courtesy mainly of inborn stupidity, but always in consort with that eternal greed-based quest for evermore profit and power.

There seems little doubt that the policies of W. Bush greatly accelerated the rush toward the environmental ‘tipping point’, i.e. that moment when human-caused (global) environmental changes become permanent, when the biosphere modifies sufficiently to insist the extinction of species after species after species simply because the planet’s physiography has gradually deteriorated in ways unfriendly to the vast majority of existing life forms.

Following is a (March, 2005) review of various elements implicit in the Bush environmental travesty. Embedded may well be found an occasional ‘editorial’ comment, one which may be (properly) interpreted as being somewhat biased toward the views of the writer, an obviously passionate environmentalist-tree-hugger. Me.

Sadly, the issues which drive environmental destruction are not dead; they are, in fact, as alive today as ever, and will become exceedingly moreso should the Romney-Ryan ticket prevail on November 6, 2012.

(Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

**********

   Environmental:

“. . . with the coming of civilization the grasses and the wild flowers perish, the forest falls, and its place is taken by brambles, the mountains are blasted in the search for minerals, the plains are broken by the plow and the soil is gradually washed into the rivers.  Last of all, when the forests have gone the rains cease falling, the streams dry up, the ground parches and yields no life, and the artificial desert — the desert made by the tramp of human feet — begins to show itself. Yes; everyone must have cast a backward glance and seen Nature’s beauties beaten to ashes under the successive marches of civilization . . .” (John C. Van Dyke, ca. 1900)

It’s a non-arguable fact of life, so to speak, that the earth’s environment, especially the biosphere, the earth-atmosphere interface in which life exists, is critical to … well, it’s critical to the existence of life.  That is, of course, unless one happens to be a Bush Republican, at which point the biosphere becomes little more than just another big word, one that sounds like something a tree-hugger might speak in the same breath as ‘ecology’ or ‘endangered species’;  tree-huggers: you know, those weirdos that think trees and owls and undeveloped land are worth more than the money they can bring in.

I would only wish that last statement be hyperbole and not an understated fact.

There’s but one way to say it charitably:  George W. Bush is the most environmentally destructive president this nation has ever had, bar none.  To read of his actions, or even to watch him attempt to circuitously lie his way out of the environmental atrocities which he’s heaped up around himself and across the nation is to realize that here must surely stand a man devoid of character, devoid of soul.  How else, after all, to explain such solicitous contempt for one’s only home?  It’s sometimes difficult to imagine the origins of those who are so callous; it’s difficult to ponder how it is that anyone can devolve sufficiently to exist as if a completely vacant lot, a slab of such emptiness, a shallowness so deep that nothing – not even the barest weed of life can manage to wend its way to the surface. Continue reading

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 6th, 2012: You Said It, Sister!

As some of you know, I have been invited to start my own blog on the local ‘Patch’ online newspaper. Before getting set up in my ‘new digs’, I thought I’d take a look around at the other blogs on the Patch site, to see what they looked like, what personal info showed, etc. While doing so, I ran across a blogpost from the Fourth of July, written by M. Doretta Cornell, RDC, of the Sisters of the Divine Compassion, and thought it well worth sharing.

While I do not agree with 100% of the good Sister’s sentiments, she makes excellent points, based on her interpretation of her faith, the Constitution, and in science. A few excerpts:

Our founders were declaring independence from rule by birth, by a class of people whose only claim to that rule was their parentage. No test of ability or morality or vision for the country and its people was necessary, only birth into the “right family.”

Hmm, sounds like a recent Republican President and a current Presidential hopeful we all know.

In our current economic crisis, we have much to reflect on:
- How faithful are we to this basic tenet of our country that all people are created equal and have equal rights to life, justice, ability to make a decent living – even happiness, as our founders claimed?
- How can we reform our laws and policies to create a nation in which all could prosper?
- What are we doing to close the rifts between races that are still deep in our culture, in spite of all the scientific evidence that race is a superficial characteristic?
- What are we doing to close the newer abysses that have been created between people of different religions, particularly since September 11, 2001?

Sister Mary Doretta certainly sounds like quite the liberal – just as so many of us believe Jesus would have been. Personally, I believe that today’s “Christians” would, at least figuratively, crucify him if he showed up now.

“Another aspect of independence that comes to my mind is that, for many people, independence today seems to be synonymous with egocentric individualism: the feeling that no one has contributed to this person’s achievements, and therefore that person has no responsibility for anyone but him—or herself.”

(Psst…Republicans, faux-Christians, and Libertarians, listen up, I think she’s talking to you. C’mon, even the god of the Old Testament got pretty pissed when Cain asked “Am I my brother’s keeper?”)

“…along with Independence, we must also celebrate today our Interdependence! Interdependence—not subservience. Subservience is what our founders were rebelling against in founding this new nation: the belief that some are inferior and others superior by nature, and therefore people have different rights.

Interdependence says that we all have the same “inalienable rights” and that these rights are intertwined, as are all elements of our very existence.

And here’s what I found most impressive and inspiring about Sister Doretta’s piece:

Over the last few decades, we have been learning just how deep our interdependence is, at microscopic levels of ourselves and of the world around us. Astronomy and cosmology teach us that each molecule of our bodies is inherited from one pool of matter, each breath we take is dependent on the exhalations of trees and other plants. Even the tiniest shift in temperature, or chemical makeup of the air, position of the sun, or radiation in the atmosphere would render Earth unable to support human life. We are all interdependent—people, animals, grasses, stars, Earth.

Independence, then, demands that we reflect on and adjust our understanding to the interdependence of all things and all people on each other. It also demands that we learn to act in ways that support that interdependence—ways all our moral and religious educations have taught us. And, as Jesus taught, “the greatest of these is love,” and understanding of the essentialness of each creature to the enterprise we call life.

If more Christians were this enlightened about the role of their faith’s principles and their implicit responsibility to each other and the planet that we call home, this world, or at least this country, would be an infinitely better place.

This is our daily open thread — Got anything you feel like discussing?

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 20, 2012: Does it really Matter?

Ok, so for the next few months, if you’re in a “swing” State, you’ll be inundated with SuperPAC commercials designed to get you to vote against your own best interests. We will also be systematically bombarded with messages from the Mainstream Media designed to influence our thinking.

IT’S ALL A SHOW. IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.

If the Powers That Be really want Obama out, all they have to do is raise gas prices to about $5.00/gallon. Instead, gas prices are going down, heading into the summer vacation season. That’s not to say they won’t go up between now and the election – but they are an accurate predictor of where our economy will head. So, pay attention to the pump, not the talking heads.

Ok, that’s my $0.0199 cents. And you?

OPEN THREAD
JUST REMEMBER
EVERYTHING I SAID
DOESN’T REALLY MATTER

 

The Watering Hole, Thursday, February 2nd: Don’t Frack with New York!

When I was young, my parents managed to scrape together enough money to take us on a week’s vacation nearly every summer, usually to somewhere within reasonable driving distance from our home in southeastern New York. Several of these vacations were in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, but some of our other trips were to the Catskill Mountains, a much shorter drive away. While I have only vague memories of a small rustic cabin shadowed by huge pine trees, the highlight of our trips to the Catskills, for me, was a visit to Catskill Game Farm. The game farm was a small zoo, complete with lions, llamas, monkeys, English fallow deer, giraffes, zebras, sheep, goats, etc. Being very small, my favorite part of the visit was feeding the deer and goats. One could buy a handful of feed from a dispenser, and immediately be surrounded by a small herd.

Mum, Jane, and siblings Bobby and Anne with a friendly goat at Catskill Game Farm


Although our visits to the Catskills centered primarily around the Game Farm (which, sadly, closed down in 2006 after 73 years of entertaining families), the Catskill Park itself offers a whole lot more. The entire park consists of 700,000 acres, about 300,000 of which is the publicly-owned Catskill Forest Preserve. The Preserve was established in 1885, starting with 34,000 acres. Situated just to the west of the Hudson River, its rounded, heavily-forested mountains, valleys, waterfalls and streams provide a home to black bears, bobcats, bald eagles and other wildlife. The park’s large landscapes and small, secluded ecosystems are a photographer’s dream. Its reservoirs and streams provide much of the drinking water for New York City.

Unfortunately, with its proximity to the Marcellus Shale, this pristine area is now under threat of being tainted by proposed fracking activity. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has put out an alert to try to stop New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NYSDEC from allowing fracking in the Catskill area. The public comment period on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) expired on January 12th, but there is still time to sign the NRDC’s petition to save yet another irreplaceable national jewel from being ruined. This is an area that is near and dear to me personally. and I hope that you’ll all add your signatures for this worthwhile cause.

UPDATE: Apparently only New York State residents can sign the petition, but perhaps an email to Governor Cuomo might help, for those of you who also treasure the Catskills.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to present your thoughts on any topic that comes to mind.

quark quark

Black Oystercatchers at Cape Meares NWR, Oregon. Actually feeding mostly on small mussels, they are very adept at dodging the surf as they pick along the  rocks. As we wait for news from Cern about whether or not the elusive “god particle” is spotted wearing sandals and a beard, creation will go on about it’s business of picking amongst the flotsam and jetsam for whatever it needs to spin on.

Another mussel consumer, the surf scoter.

The Watering Hole: Tuesday November 1, 2011 – The Sandoz Spill

Twenty-five years after a fire caused a major chemical spill near Basel, questions are still being raised about how much pollution remains at the blaze site.

Basel Country environment officials say there is no need for action, a claim contested by a chemicals site expert.

In the early hours of November 1, 1986, fire broke out at a warehouse belonging to chemicals company Sandoz at the Schweizerhalle industrial area just outside Basel. Around 1,351 tonnes of pesticides and agrochemicals went up in flames.

The accident turned the River Rhine red, killed thousands of fish and sent acrid smoke over the city. It was one of Europe’s worst environmental disasters and made world news. (read full story)

Recently authorities have decided that no further clean-up was necessary. There are only a few hundred kilos of Oxadixyl left in the ground. It is said to  be a non-hazardous substance. The fish beg to differ.

This is our Open Thread. Open Up!

Sunday Roast, August 21st, 2011: Just Say “NO” to Oil

Amidst all of the beer, car, cell phone, erectile dysfunction and other pharmaceutical commercials, lately I’ve been seeing a lot more commercials for various oil and natural gas companies, touting all of the research they do or how ‘clean’ their product is. The latest push from Exxon/Mobil is for “oil sands” technology.

“Oil sands” or “tar sands” according to Wikipedia, are defined as “a type of unconventional petroleum deposit. The sands contain naturally occurring mixtures of sand, clay, water, and a dense and extremely viscous form of petroleum technically referred to as bitumen (or colloquially “tar” due to its similar appearance, odour, and colour).” One of the largest deposits is located in Alberta, Canada, and a proposed pipeline, the Keystone XL, to run from Alberta to Texas, is currently the center of a whirlwind of controversy, involving the State Department, Congress, the EPA, ranchers and landowners, environmental activists, protests and arrests, and opposing labor unions.

Whooping Cranes

The Keystone XL, owned by the TransCanada company, starts in Alberta, Canada, home of the magnificently beautiful but endangered Whooping Crane, of which there are only about 400 left. The process by which the oil sands are accessed starts with bulldozing forests, then stripmining, then steam-heating the bitumen product. The proposed 36″ diameter pipeline would run through several states, and more importantly, would run through the Ogalalla Aquifer, the “largest underground reservoir on the planet”, part of which is located under the Sandhills of Nebraska. Existing pipelines from the Alberta oil sands facility to parts of the U.S. have already had a history of leaks, including last year’s spill into the Kalamazoo River. Why would anyone even entertain the notion that the 2000-mile-long proposed pipeline would be less likely to be plagued by the same problems? I seriously urge everyone to read the entire Incite article (also linked to above), as well as related articles in this month’s edition of the Audubon magazine, as this post cannot encompass all of the pertinent information, including the sleazy and despicable actions of TransCanada in their efforts to force affected landowners off their lands.

While billions upon billions of dollars are being poured into this proposed pipeline, estimates of U.S. jobs the project could purportedly create are only around 20,000 – a mere drop in the bucket considering the millions of unemployed right now. Are 20,000 jobs really worth the possibility of a slow leak or spill in such a varied and important range of ecosystems through which the pipeline would pass, and especially the possibility of a catastrophic leak into an underground reservoir which serves as a water supply to eight states? The Final Environmental Impact Statement is due out around now, and, once it is published, the Obama Administration has 90 days to review it and make a decision. I sincerely hope that they come to the conclusion that a mere 20,000 jobs is not worth the potentially disastrous risks, and give this proposed pipeline the thumbs down that it deserves.

This is our Sunday open thread — What do you think?

The Watering Hole: August 11 – The Mayan Calendar

The Aztec calendar, an adaptation of the Mayan calendar

August 11, 3114 BCE in the Gregorian calendar marks base 0 or creation on the of the Mesoamerican Long Count or Mayan calendar. December 12, 2012 marks when the 5th creation is slated to start.

That is when all shit hits the fan. It is not clear whether the new creation is in a new universe or the one we live in will be replaced in its stead. In any case, plan for a short Xmas shopping season and be sure to turn out the lights if you are the last to leave.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to present your thoughts on any topic that comes to mind.