Category Archives: Environment

Likely Trump science pick a climate change skeptic


And he calls colleagues who believe in it “glassy eyed cultists.

Oh, and he also favors censoring federal scientists.

From the Guardian:

The man tipped as frontrunner for the role of science adviser to Donald Trump has described climate scientists as “a glassy-eyed cult” in the throes of a form of collective madness.

William Happer, an eminent physicist at Princeton University, met Trump last month to discuss the post and says that if he were offered the job he would take it. Happer is highly regarded in the academic community, but many would view his appointment as a further blow to the prospects of concerted international action on climate change.

“There’s a whole area of climate so-called science that is really more like a cult,” Happer told the Guardian. “It’s like Hare Krishna or something like that. They’re glassy-eyed and they chant. It will potentially harm the image of all science.”

Trump has previously described global warming as “very expensive … bullshit” and has signalled a continued hardline stance since taking power.

>snip<

Happer also supports a controversial crackdown on the freedom of federal agency scientists to speak out about their findings, arguing that mixed messages on issues such as whether butter or margarine is healthier, have led to people disregarding all public health information.

Map of the day: Record heat wave Down Under


From NASA’s Earth Observer:

blog-australia

And now for their report, remarkable for avoid any mention of words climate change, clear evidence of the chill felt throughout the ranks of the scientists who draw their paychecks from Uncle Sam:

Heat waves are not unusual in Australia. A subtropical belt of high pressure that flows over the continent regularly delivers pulses of hot, dry air to the surface in the summer. Yet even by Australian standards, the intense heat wave of February 2017 has been remarkable.

When a high-pressure system stalled over central Australia, extreme temperatures emerged first in South Australia and Victoria and then spread to New South Wales, Queensland, and Northern Territory. With overheated bats dropping from trees and bushfires burning out of control, temperatures smashed records in many areas.

This map shows peak land surface temperatures between February 7 and 14, 2017, a period when some of the most extreme heating occurred. The map is based on data collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. Note that it depicts land surface temperatures, not air temperatures. Land surface temperatures reflect how hot the surface of the Earth would feel to the touch in a particular location. They can sometimes be significantly hotter or cooler than air temperatures. (To learn more about LSTs and air temperatures, read: Where is the Hottest Place on Earth?)

On February 12, 2017, air temperatures rose to 46.6°C (115.9°F) in the coastal city of Port Macquarie, New South Wales, breaking the city’s all-time record by 3.3 degrees Celsius (5.9 degrees Fahrenheit). Two days earlier, the average maximum temperature across all of New South Wales hit a record-setting 42.4°C (108.3°F)—a record that was broken the next day when it rose to 44.0°C (111.2°F).

In some places, the duration of the heatwave has been noteworthy. Mungindi, a town on the border of Queensland and New South Wales, endured 52 days in a row when maximum temperatures exceeded 35°C (95°F)—a record for New South Wales.

Many scientists see exceptional heat waves like this as part of a broader trend. For instance, one study published by the Climate Council of Australia concluded that heatwaves—defined as at least three days of unusually high temperatures—grew significantly longer, more intense, and frequent between 1971 and 2008.

The sacred landscape: DAPL, tradition, & profit


For somebody like Donald Trump, who sees a stretch pristine coastline as merely the opportunity of a golf course and a landmarked historic building as an inconvenienced to be bulldozed to make way for a new hotel,  nothing must get in the way of turning a quick buck.

So it was only natural that he’d reverse the freeze on the Dakota Access Pipeline in order to keep the profits flowing for his campaign contributors.

But for many Native Americans, the landscape through which the pipline passes is a sacred text, a living presence integral to the stories of their origins and being.

Rosalyn R. LaPier, a Native American scholar and Visiting Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies, Environmental Studies and Native American Religion at Harvard University, explains in an essay for The Conversation, an open access academic journal written for the lay reader:

For several months Native American protesters and others have been opposing the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The plans for construction pass through sacred land for the Native American tribe, Standing Rock Sioux.

But, within days of taking office, President Donald Trump signed a memorandum supporting the construction of the pipeline. Recently a U.S. federal judge denied a request by tribes to halt construction on the final link of the project.

On Wednesday, however, the protesters appeared to have received support from none other than Pope Francis, a long-time defender of indigenous people’s rights. The pope said indigenous cultures have a right to defend “their ancestral relationship to the Earth.” He added,

“Do not allow those that destroy the Earth, which destroy the environment and the ecological balance, and which end up destroying the wisdom of peoples.”

As a Native American scholar of environmental history and religious studies, I am often asked what Native American leaders mean when they say that certain landscapes are “sacred places” or “sacred sites.”

What makes a mountain, hill or prairie a “sacred” place?

Meaning of sacred spaces

I learned from my grandparents about the sacred areas within Blackfeet tribal territory in Montana and Alberta, which is not far from Lakota tribal territory in the Dakotas.

My grandparents said that sacred areas are places set aside from human presence. They identified two overarching types of sacred place: those set aside for the divine, such as a dwelling place, and those set aside for human remembrance, such as a burial or battle site.

In my forthcoming book “Invisible Reality,” I contemplate those stories that my grandparents shared about Blackfeet religious concepts and the interconnectedness of the supernatural and natural realms.

My grandparents’ stories revealed that the Blackfeet believe in a universe where supernatural beings exist within the same time and space as humans and our natural world. The deities could simultaneously exist in both as visible and invisible reality. That is, they could live unseen, but known, within a physical place visible to humans.

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Cal’s DroughtWatch anxiety is shifting to WetWoes


Yep, California is shifting from the longest dry spell in modern times to a year which looks to go down as it’s wettest-ever, at least foir major regions of the Golden State,

From the Los Angeles Times:

The frantic effort over the last few days to lower water levels at Oroville Dam after the structure’s two spillways became damaged is part of a larger drama playing out as California rapidly shifts from extreme drought to intense deluges.

Large swaths of the region are on track to experience their wettest winter on record, with many areas having already surpassed their average precipitation for an entire year.

And all that water is putting new strains on the network of dams, rivers, levees and other waterways that are essential to preventing massive flooding during wet years like this one.

The biggest danger zone lies in the Central Valley at the base of the Sierra Nevada, whose tall peaks can wring the skies of huge amounts of rain and snow. The area is essentially one giant floodplain that would be easily transformed into an inland sea without man-made flood control. At 400 miles long and 40 miles wide, it has only a tiny bottleneck from which to drain — a one-mile opening at the Carquinez Strait at San Pablo Bay — before water heads into the San Francisco Bay.

“You got this big bathtub — water doesn’t flow out of it very quickly,” said Jeffrey Mount, senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California and former director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.

DroughtWatch: Another week, another decrease


Today’s map from the United States Drought Monitor reveals another major decrease in the area currently impacted by Golden State’s drought of the century.

While there was only a modest decrease in the total area of California officially free of drought [from 43.94 % to 41.46%], there was a massive decline in the regions affected by its worst effects [46.99% to 24.19%].

So while most of the state [56.06%] is still in one or another drought condition, the area of California impacted by the worst categories [Severe, Extreme. And Exceptional drought] dropped from 46.99% to 24.19%], leaving the largest impact only the modest Abnormally Dry:

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Kansas/Oklahoma fracking quakes erupt anew


The latest from the U.S. Geological Survey, showing the earthquakes in the Kansas/Oklahoma border region over the past seven days, quakes now conclusively linked to fluids from fracking oil and gas wells as well as underground wastewater disposal from conventional oil and gas conventional   [click on the image to enlarge]:

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Headline of the day II: Come hell or high water


In California, where we’ve lived these last five decades, it’s one extreme or another. . .as in epic drought, or this, via the London Daily Mail:

‘A hazardous situation is developing’: More than 162,000 residents near America’s tallest dam are told to leave as water continues to burst through an eroded spillway – prompting fears of massive floods

  • Residents in Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties in Northern California are under mandatory evacuation orders
  • Authorities fear the collapse of the emergency spillway at Lake Oroville Dam
  • Releases through the dam’s main, heavily damaged spillway have increased to 100,000 cubic feet per second in a frantic effort to drain Lake Oroville below 
  • Oroville lake depths are decreasing rapidly
  • Water should stop flowing over the emergency spillway in several hours
  • This doesn’t mean the dam won’t collapse from severe erosion
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