The Watering Hole, Tuesday June 21, 2016

Hope everybody celebrated Summer solstice yesterday. The days are getting shorter now. And if you lost track, only 5 billion years until the last switch is flipped. In the meantime, people with a short attention span want to improve solar fuel devices. But the good news is that no one has told California condors that it will be freezing cold and dark in 5 billion years. Their numbers are expanding.

 

 

 

The Watering Hole, Tuesday June 7, 2016 -Environmental News and Food Politics

Apologize for missing last week. Monday holidays throw me off.

OK so more research is surfacing on the effects of micro-plastics on marine life, with profound implications for the food chain (we’re a part of it, by the way).

Not So Healthy: Young Fish Eat Microplastics Like Fast Food

“In non-exposed waters, the perch eggs hatched at a rate of about 96 percent. This dropped to just 81 percent if large quantities of polystyrene were present. The perch that did hatch in these waters tended to be slower and smaller than those observed in cleaner bodies of water.

Furthermore, the researchers observed that juvenile perch in high-plastic environments were more likely to ignore the chemical signals that alert them to the presence of predators — in this case, pike. While half of the young perch in clean waters survived predator interaction over a period of 24 hours, in waters with a high concentration of plastics, all of the perch were consumed.

In total, perch in the high plastic environments were four times more likely to be eaten than those in the clean water. While researchers weren’t able to measure the potential impacts on predator fish, there is some evidence of wider food chain effects.”

Photo from Narooma Aquaculture

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 16th, 2016: Wrong, As Always

Recent opinion pieces at The Christian Post website demonstrate that the “Christian” right – and these aren’t all what I would consider to be real RWNJs – continues to steadfastly ignore reality.

On Earth Day, Dr. Richard D. Land posted “Earth Day: How Environmentalists Hurt the Environment”. Some excerpts:

Many advocates for drastic measures to combat climate change (i.e., global warming) assert that human caused global warming is now “settled science.”

And yet, recently published data from the Department of Energy reveals that the U.S. has reduced carbon emissions for the past fifteen years by more than 10%, more than almost the entire rest of the world combined. How did America accomplish such a feat? The answer is hydraulic fracturing or fracking, which involves releasing fossil fuel (oil and natural gas) trapped in rock formations by injecting millions of gallons of water and chemicals into the formations.

As a result of widespread usage of this controversial technology, the U.S. has become the world’s No. 1 oil and natural gas producer. As a direct consequence of fracking, the price of natural gas is one-fourth what it was a decade ago, and since America has a virtually inexhaustible natural gas supplies, people keep using more and more of this environmentally clean and very inexpensive fossil fuel. [Will someone please explain to me why anyone would want to literally undermine the land to access what is, by definition, a limited energy source?]

EPA studies declaring fracking can be done safely and cleanly moved U.S.A. Today to declare that “to help the environment and economy, keep on fracking” (4/19/16). U.S.A. Today also observed in the same article that fracking “has spurred a remarkable U.S. energy boom and . . . this boom has created jobs, boosted manufacturing and brought the USA closer to energy independence.”

Still, environmental activists on the left continue to oppose fracking, as well as the only clean energy “technology with an established track record of generating electricity at scale while emitting virtually no greenhouse gases: nuclear power.” In fact, in a “Pew poll of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 65 percent of scientists want more nuclear power” (Eduardo Porter, NY Times 4/19/16).

Apparently Dr. Land is completely ignorant of WHY environmentalists – and any humans with a fairly basic knowledge of science and some critical-thinking skills – are against fracking and nuclear energy. Has he not heard about the earthquakes being caused by fracking? Is he somehow privy to exactly which chemicals are being used in fracking? The “EPA studies” that declared “fracking can be done safely and cleanly” did not say that fracking IS BEING DONE “safely and cleanly”, more simply that it “can” be done. (Here’s the Christian Science Monitor’s take on this.)

And “nuclear”?! Does “Fukushima” ring a bell? Sorry, but Indian Point is way too close for me to want any part of nuclear power. Not to mention disposal of nuclear waste, which has already been an environmental problem for decades. Or that nuclear facilities make lovely targets for terrorism. Where the hell has Dr. Land been?

Then there’s Ken Blackwell’s ridiculous drivel, “Trump is Bad But Not Worse Than Hillary”

[The blurb says “Ken Blackwell is the Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment at the Family Research Council. He serves on the board of directors of the Club for Growth and the National Taxpayers Union. He is also a member of the public affairs committee of the NRA. Mr. Blackwell is also the former Mayor of Cincinnati and a former Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.” As Blackwell says in a different context below, “What more needs to be said?”]

“…no one should doubt Hillary Clinton’s determination to expand the state at every turn.
Trump the businessman has experience in confronting bureaucracy, and the Democrats are prolific regulators. President Barack Obama has imposed costly new rules at a rapid pace. Clinton likely would set new records.

Then there’s the judiciary. Antonin Scalia’s death has upset the delicate balance on the Supreme Court. Turning those appointments over to a liberal Democrat would lose the court for a generation, undermining any future conservative political victories.

America’s international security and standing also are at stake. Clinton had a disastrous hand in her husband’s presidency, noteworthy for the debacle in Somalia, unnecessary war in the Balkans, and broken agreement with North Korea. Then she was the first term Secretary of State for President Obama. What more needs to be said?”

1) What exactly has Hillary Clinton said or done to indicate a “determination to expand the state at every turn”? What is your definition of “expand”, and the vague phrase “at every turn”?
2) Trump the con-man has minions, er, “people” – the “BEST” people – to “confront bureaucracy” for him. And those minions don’t always win, either: it’s probably not a good idea to mention “Scotland”, “golf course” or “windmills” in front of The Donald.
3) Hillary Clinton is not a “liberal” Democrat.
4) WTF did First Lady Hillary have to do with Somalia, the Balkans, and North Korea? How does being “the first term Secretary of State for President Obama” disqualify her? And finally,
5) “What more needs to be said?” A whole hell of a lot more!

Donald Trump’s expected nomination comes as a disappointment for many Republicans. However, by every standard Clinton is worse. Conservatives might reluctantly vote for Trump. But, they should consider a vote
for him nevertheless, if he becomes a standard bearer of our platform. A platform that has made us the majority party in the United States.

Is Trump smart enough to do the right thing and are we smart enough to beat Hillary?

Politics is the art of the possible. That doesn’t mean abandoning principle. But if the good is unavailable, it means preferring the politically unattractive to the politically ugly. Too much is at stake for conservatives to treat the presidential election like a kamikaze mission or for Trump to be dumb.”

Two pieces about “Christian” megachurch pastor and devout Trump supporter Robert Jeffress demonstrate the extremely hypocritical and morally reprehensible “values” of religious conservatives. In one piece, Jeffress defends Trump’s childish tweet in response to criticism of Trump by another Evangelical, Russell Moore, with the equally childish (and un-Christ-like) argument that “Moore had it coming because he provoked Trump.” In the second piece, Jeffress calls Christians who won’t vote for Trump “fools”:

“Pastor Robert Jeffress, leader of the influential 12,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, declared Wednesday that Republicans who have vowed never to support Donald Trump if he becomes the Republican presidential nominee are “fools.”
“It is absolutely foolish to do anything that would allow Hillary Clinton to become the next President of the United States … at least Donald Trump has voiced a belief in a pro-life movement, he has at least talked about religious liberty as he did last Friday, you don’t hear either things coming from the lips of Hillary Clinton,” he continued.
“I believe any Christian who would sit at home and not vote for the Republican nominee … that person is being motivated by pride rather than principle and I think it would be a shame for people to allow Hillary Clinton four or eight years in the White House,” he said.

So much for ‘separation of Church and State’ – I’d like to see the IRS have a little talk with ‘Pastor’ Jeffress.

This is our daily Open Thread–talk about whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Tuesday January 12, 2016 – Environmental News and Food Politics

Some position statements from the candidates we love to hate most. These are random quotes and not position papers. Some might surprise you. Research source – ontheissues.org:

.
Donald Trump

Q: Would you cut departments?
TRUMP: Environmental Protection, what they do is a disgrace.Every week they come out with new regulations.
Q: Who’s going to protect the environment?
TRUMP: We’ll be fine with the environment. We can leave a little bit, but you can’t destroy businesses.
Source: Fox News Sunday 2015 Coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Oct 18, 2015

Ben Carson

Protecting environment logical for capitalists & socialists

Greed really encompasses most of the other negative aspects of capitalism, such as lack of regard for the environment. Many of the industrialists who helped propel our country to the forefront of the global economy were much more interested in growing their businesses than they were in protecting the environment. The result? Dangerous pollution and the compromised habitat of many animals. Protecting the environment is neither a Democratic nor a Republican position, but rather it should be a LOGICAL position for capitalists AND socialists, because everyone should be looking out for the interests of future generations and trying to protect their own health as well. If our government were able to identify what needs to be done in our country to protect our environment, and our representatives (who are supposed to be looking out for their constituents) agreed on our policies and followed through on them, it would benefit us all.
Source: America the Beautiful, by Ben Carson, p. 76 , Jan 24, 2012

.

Ted Cruz
Don’t pick winners & losers like RFS’ ethanol in gasoline
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas flat out opposed the RFS [the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires corn-based ethanol], saying Washington shouldn’t be “picking winners and losers.”
“I have every bit of faith that businesses can continue to compete and continue to do well without having to go on bended knee asking for subsidies, asking for special favors,” he said. “I think that’s how we got in this problem to begin win.”
Ethanol proponents argue that because oil companies own gas stations, consumers are unable to access ethanol and therefore it needs the government’s support to break through oil’s stronghold of the market. Cruz acknowledged that his view wouldn’t be well-received: “Look, I recognize that this is a gathering of a lot of folks who the answer you’d like me to give is, ‘I’m for the RFS, darn it.’ That’d be the easy thing to do. But I’ll tell ya, people are pretty fed up, I think, with politicians that run around & tell one group one thing, tell another group another thing.“
Source: CNN coverage by Ashley Killough, of 2015 Iowa Ag Summit , Mar 7, 2015

More offerings next week.

The Watering Hole; Thursday November 5 2015; Protect America’s Public Lands

Mt. Wilson, 14246 ft, in the Uncompahgre National Forest near Telluride, Colorado; July 2007

Mt. Wilson, 14246 ft, in the Uncompahgre National Forest near Telluride, Colorado; July 2007

“Nature makes only dumb animals. We owe the fools to society.”
(Honore de Balzac)

In the United States, Public Lands are, simply stated, all lands which are not privately held or owned. They consist of designated Wilderness and Primitive areas, National Parks, National Monuments, Bureau of Land Management acreages, National Forests, also state parks, state forests, county parks, city parks . . . the list of options is as varied as it is lengthy.

Today’s corporate monsters — those who believe that the most direct way to gain their power and wealth ‘fortunes’ is to extract the Earth’s resources — remain secure in their faux premise that all is well, knowing that even if the Earth should one day decide to fight back, it won’t matter . . . because by that time (in the immortal words of George W. Bush), “We’ll all be dead.”  Meanwhile, the planet warms steadily because of the CO2 released when fossil fuels are burned. As a result, hurricanes and typhoons increase in number and power. The polar caps melt. The ocean levels slowly rise and coastal areas submerge even as severe droughts and wildfires devastate once vibrant landscapes nearby.

And the demand to develop more and more fossil fuel resources constantly and continuously increases.

Humans have been here for but an eye’s wink of geologic time, yet ‘we’ consider our tenure more significant than all else combined, even as we fail to realize that Nature will one day soon teach us that she cares not whether we persist and survive. Or perish. One might conclude it would be useful, then, for us to at least TRY to comprehend appropriate details, then act to correct the ‘error(s) of our ways,’ to learn, to understand Nature in her very REAL sense, as opposed to, for example, the Biblical-Genesis non-sense. Such does not yet seem to be the case, however.

Sunrise over the Four Peaks Wilderness, Mazatzal Mountains, Arizona, ca 2005

Sunrise over the Four Peaks Wilderness, Mazatzal Mountains, Arizona, ca 2005

Regarding our Public Lands, disdain for them as a public resource is not new. It may seem more accelerated today, given the “urge” on the part of the fossil fuel industries to extract ever more carbon from the ground and make ever more profit in the process — a bad thing for sure — but beyond even that lies the Libertarian disparagement of anything other than private ownership, most especially of “Socialist” (read: public [government]) ownership and management. Almost ten years ago, for example, Canadian Libertarian Professor Ronald Homowy wrote, in April 2006, an essay that was highly critical of the environmental movement’s association with (and its support for the concept of) Public Lands. Homowy noted that

“. . . most environmentalists have extended [the] notion of public ownership to the whole of the natural world. They write of the ‘common heritage of all humanity’ and of ‘sharing the world’s resources equitably.’ It is as if each of us, when born, inherits our pro rata share of all the wealth of the world, the land and the oceans of the earth, and all that is on, above, or below it, without regard to the prevailing ownership of these resources. . . .”

Homowy continues his tirade, this time to the disparagement of any form of life that doesn’t contribute its ‘all’ to human PROFIT.

“If we were to accept the claims put forward by . . . ‘the deep ecologists,’ that rights extend to all forms of life and, in some instances, to inanimate objects as well, humanity would be frozen into inaction lest it trespass on the prerogatives of nature. What is particularly alarming is that this senseless conclusion, a clear reductio ad absurdum to most, is actually espoused by many prominent environmental spokesmen, whose antipathy for all human endeavor is one of the more repugnant aspects of their creed. For these writers humanism is a term of derision, which asserts the superiority of human life over animal and plant life and denies to non-human entities the rights that a properly construed morality dictates they possess. . . .”

So environmentalists don’t believe in human “superiority” over everything else? Environmentalists don’t or can’t understand that humans rule, period? And worse, they view “humanism” derisively? They believe that certain ‘rights’ extend to ‘all forms of life’? Gee. Whatever gave them such silly ideas?

Young deer, Apache National Forest near Bear Wallow Wilderness, Arizona

Young deer, Apache National Forest near Bear Wallow Wilderness, Arizona; ca 2002

About a year after Homowy wrote the above-noted screed, another Libertarian — Manuel Lora — added his two-bits worth and in the process brought forth the travesty of Public (not PRIVATE, i.o.w.) Land to the discussion. The following excerpts pretty much summarize Lora’s views and attitudes.

“I am not against nature or the preservation thereof. What I am against is the use of the state — the agent of institutionalized aggression — to advance the agenda of the conservation movement. It is imperative that the distinction be made between freedom and statism. While freedom involves property, prosperity, and free exchange, statism involves theft, plunder, and poverty. . . .”

“National parks are socialist parks. The same economic analysis used to determine the consequences of socialism can be applied to national parks, namely, that without a market there is simply no way to determine if the resources dedicated to the park system are being allocated efficiently. . . .”

“A natural park is a higher order good that could have alternate uses such as a residential development. And this is determined by the price that people would be willing to pay for that park or for similarly priced parks . . .”

“Lack of property rights is the problem; the value of endangered species is effectively zero. The state has claimed ownership rights over certain animals and bans their trade. There is no market for the polar bear or the bald eagle. And even though people value them because of their relative scarcity, there is no legal way to show demand for those animals in the market. . . .”

“The case that I have presented is a fairly simple one: the abolition of government parks and nature preserves. Only by having a market can there be a sane profit-loss policy. If we love nature and want to preserve it, true property rights are needed.”

Public Lands are “socialism.” “Residential development” in “a natural park” implies “a higher order good.” Also, private ownership of public lands would allow “endangered species” the chance of obtaining “market value” and hence, possibly even a viable reason to try and save them from presumed extinction. That to “preserve” the “nature” we all “love” there can be no public ownership of lands. Fascinating.

I’m guessing that the undercurrent in both Homowy’s and Lora’s theses is that MONEY is all there is, period, that defines the value of anything that exists anywhere on the planet. Period. No monetary value? Useless.

Dibe'Ntsaa -- Navajo Sacred Mountain of the North, San Juan National Forest, Colorado

Dibe’Ntsaa — Navajo Sacred Mountain of the North, San Juan National Forest, Colorado; 2003

The bottom line is that if left to the money-interests and to the far right political movement(s), land preservation — first initiated in the U.S. by that famous Republican President, Theodore Roosevelt — is doomed. As I write this, for example, I’m aware of the effort to officially grant a (foreign – Chilean) corporation the right to jeopardize the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota via Sulfide Iron Mining. It’s the money. Meanwhile, in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest, there is an effort currently underway to disallow the formal handing over of access to a parcel of land that is sacred to the Apache people — Oak Flat — to an Australian-British mining company (Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of the largest mining company in the world, Rio Tinto). There is apparently a vast underground copper reserve under Oak Flat, and that clearly means more to the world than do the sacred rights of a defeated tribe of aboriginal savages. It’s the money.

Greenhorn Peak Wilderness area in San Isabel National Forest, Colorado; 2008

Greenhorn Peak Wilderness area in San Isabel National Forest, Colorado; 2008

There is some potentially good news, however, in re the fight to protect Public Lands from destruction by the corporate money and political power interests. A “Keep It In The Ground” bill has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Merkley – OR (Lead Sponsor), with co-sponsors Sen. Barbra Boxer – CA, Sen. Ben Cardin – MD, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand – NY, Sen. Patrick Leahy – VT, Sen. Bernie Sanders – VT, and Sen Elizabeth Warren – MA. The bill clearly states the scientific reality that we must keep a significant percentages of earth’s remaining fossil fuel reserves underground to avoid climate disaster, and that if we have any hope of avoiding the worst effects of climate change, we must act to keep publicly-owned fossil fuel reserves completely off-limits.

Can such a bill — one that acknowledges Public Lands are NOT resources to be used by corporate and other private interests, that they are instead the people’s equity — actually pass through all congressional hurdles and make it to the President’s desk for signature? Doubtful, but it’s at least a start, a mega leap over a long history of inaction. Time will tell; we can hope.

“Could we, by some act of common will, change our natures and
become proper stewards, gentle gardeners taking care of all of the
natural life of our planet? I would sooner expect a goat to succeed
as a gardener than expect humans to become
responsible stewards of the Earth.”
(Dr. James Lovelock, author, “The Gaia Hypothesis”)

Sunset over the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Arivaca Arizona; 2003

Sunset over the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Arivaca Arizona; 2003

Join the fight to save ALL of our Public Lands.

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