Category Archives: Environment

Another Oklahoma fracking seismic quake storm

From the U.S. Geological Survey [the Kansas Oklahoma border is shown as the line toward the top of the map]:


Steve Benson: Pipe dreams of another sort

From the editorial cartoonist of the Arizona Republic:


Headline of the day: Pipeline victory a pipe dream?

You could see this one coming from a mile away.

From the London Daily Mail:

Trump WANTS the Dakota Access pipeline and will review Obama administration’s decision to sideline crude oil project after months of protests

  • Spokesman for president-elect said ‘we support construction of’ the pipeline and we’ll review the full situation once we’re in the White House’
  • Army Corps of Engineers said Sunday that it would not grant an easement for the Dakota Access pipeline to cross Lake Oahe, seeking an alternative route instead
  • House Speaker Paul Ryan called the move ‘big-government decision-making at its worst’
  • Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer called it ‘chilling signal’ to infrastructure builders, and said ‘I can’t wait for the adults to be in charge on Jan. 20’
  • Company behind DAPL accused government of ‘currying favor with extremists’ by caving to protesters

Headline of the day: Finally, some really good news

At least until Trump takes office, that is.

From the London Daily Mail:

Victory! Dakota Access protesters WIN as the feds block oil pipeline that was to be built next to Native American land – kicking off wild celebrations in Standing Rock

  • Dakota Access Pipeline protesters cheered as the news emerged and cried ‘Mni Wiconi’, or ‘water is life’
  • Corps of Engineers said they would not be granting an easement for the DAPL to cross Lake Oahe
  • Federal agency said on Sunday afternoon that they would explore alternate routes for the pipeline
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Council Chairman Harold Frazier told that he was ‘shocked’
  • Thousands of veterans arrived this weekend to support the protests as temperatures hovered around 30F
  • Clashes were thought to intensify after evacuation was ordered and area was to be shut down on Dec 5

DroughtWatch: Another week and no changes

California continues to struggle in its fourth year of an epic drought. With no changes from last week, 87.97 percent of Cailfornia remains in official drought conditions.

From the United States Drought Monitor:


Map of the day: Massive drought in South America


From NASA’s Earth Observatory:

Even before the 2016 dry season started in South America, a marked deficit in rainfall was apparent across much of the continent. Parts of the Amazon, for example, were already far drier than in 2005 and 2010, the last serious drought years. Now, as the wet season approaches, intense drought still runs deep across the Amazon basin and much of Brazil.

The map above shows the accumulated deficit in rainfall flowing into surface and groundwater storage as of October 2016. The data were compiled by the Global Precipitation Climatology Centre, which analyzes precipitation data collected from rain gauges. Red areas show the level of the rainfall deficit compared to the norm for October, while blue areas had more than usual amounts of rainfall.

Some areas fared better than others. For example, Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo, is located between areas that were anomalously dry (to the north) and others that were anomalously wet (south). The city has reportedly received sufficient rain since late 2015 to begin raising the water level in its main reservoir system.

But as the map also shows, rainfall elsewhere in Brazil and the Amazon was far below normal for October. It remains to be seen whether the rainfall associated with the wet season can break the ongoing drought.

“In Brazil, the rainy season is the austral summer, from December to March,” said Augusto Getirana, a hydrologist and remote sensing scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “It’s hard to tell if this summer will be the same, but considering the pattern of previous years, my guess would be a yes.”

Getirana knows well the patters of recent years. In February 2016, he published a satellite-based study showing that southeastern Brazil lost 6.1 centimeters of water per year from 2012 to 2015. That may not sound like much, but in terms of volume over the entire area, that’s 56 trillion liters of water.

Trump’s climate science war heats up; earth, too

Donald Trump is a fool.

No, we don’t mean he doesn’t have smarts. He clearly does, or else he would be headed to the White House.

But his overwhelming ego and his love of praise from folks who matter to him leave him easy prey to the really smart guys who exploit his vanity to accomplish their own ends.

That said, Trump has been mentored by some of the most duplicitous tricksters ever to appear on the American political scene, most notably Roy Cohn, the lawyer who got his start as Sen. Joseph McCarthy‘s right hand man during the years McCarthy was terrifying the American public with his made-up numbers of secret communists at the heart of American government. And, yes, there were Soviet agents in the government, which gave his spurious claims a germ of credibility.

You can see more than a little of McCarthy in Trump’s bombastic and contradictory claims made during the campaign. You can see more of McCarthy in Trump’s play to the deep and justifiable fears of many Americans that their country is being taken from them by a deep conspiracy of forces beyond their control.

And Trump, like McCarthy, pointed them away from the real conspiracy, that of the wealthy and powerful who have long controlled the American political scene and manipulate it to enlarge their wealthy and extend their power.

People, this is, just like Donald Trump.

As the New York Times reported in June:

For 13 years, the lawyer who had infamously whispered in McCarthy’s ear whispered in Mr. Trump’s. In the process, Mr. Cohn helped deliver some of Mr. Trump’s signature construction deals, sued the National Football League for conspiring against his client and countersued the federal government — for $100 million — for damaging the Trump name. One of Mr. Trump’s executives recalled that he kept an 8-by-10-inch photograph of Mr. Cohn in his office desk, pulling it out to intimidate recalcitrant contractors.

The two men spoke as often as five times a day, toasted each other at birthday parties and spent evenings together at Studio 54.

And Mr. Cohn turned repeatedly to Mr. Trump — one of a small clutch of people who knew he was gay — in his hours of need. When a former companion was dying of AIDS, he asked Mr. Trump to find him a place to stay. When he faced disbarment, he summoned Mr. Trump to testify to his character.

Mr. Trump says the two became so close that Mr. Cohn, who had no immediate family, sometimes refused to bill him, insisting he could not charge a friend.

And then there’s Roger Stone, self-described Republican Hatchet man, the dirty trickster who engineered the so-called Brooks Brothers riots during the 2000 election Florida presidential recount.

From Salon:

It was Cohn who introduced Trump to a young political operator named Roger Stone in 1979. Stone had cut his teeth in the Nixon campaign of 1972 where he posed as a student socialist who donated to an opponent and then made the contribution public. The fake scandal helped scuttle antiwar congressman Rep. Pete McCloskey’s presidential bid and ensured that Nixon was around to give America three more years of a disastrous war and Watergate.

Brilliant and perpetually aggressive—“attack, attack, attack” is his motto—Stone teamed up with Trump to create an ersatz presidential bid in 1987, and the two have been political partners ever since. Like Cohn, Stone is a risk-taker. He and Trump got caught breaking campaign rules as they fought the development of Indian casinos and state officials levied a hefty fine. Stone counsels clients to “Admit nothing, deny everything, launch counterattack.” He once told a reporter that it was his practice to always, “Get even.” “When somebody screws you,” he added, “screw ‘em back—but a lot harder.”

Trump’s version of the Stone credo, as he told me, is to “hit back 10 times harder” whenever he feels attacked. Like McCarthy and Cohn and Stone, Trump loves to gossip and trade in information. He too cultivates an air of menace to keep his opponents off-guard and he hates to apologize, or back down. And, like Cohn, he insists that the kind of talk his critics consider offensive is really just the truth expressed without the social amenities. This is an ingenious tactic for someone who wants to be free to say almost anything, even if it’s insulting, and get away with.

It was Stone who came up with the nutball theory that Ted Cruz’s dad whacked JFK. That and so much more.

Both Cohn and Stone played Trump, enhancing their own power while boosting Trump’s ego.

Trump, an ignoramus of the first order

Trump is perhaps the most profoundly ignorant man ever to win the White House.

He reveals his ignorance at every turn n statements uttered with absolute conviction.

And because he is both immensely rich and profoundly angry, he is a man few dare contradict face-to face.

His wealth, power, avarice, arrogance, and ignorance make a powerful and dangerous combination, especially when harnessed by others more cunning and eager to advance their own agendas.

And there are no forces more powerful than banksters and Big Energy.

And they have found their perfect tool in the the Vulgarian-in-Chief, who is setting out out to destroy climate change science in this country.

From the Guardian:

Last week, Donald Trump’s space policy advisor Bob Walker made headlines by suggesting that the incoming administration might slash Nasa’s climate and earth science research to focus the agency on deep space exploration. This caused great concern in the scientific community, because Nasa does some of the best climate research in the world, and its Earth science program does much more. Walker suggested the earth science research could be shifted to other agencies, but climate scientist Michael Mann explained what would result:

It’s difficult enough for us to build and maintain the platforms that are necessary for measuring how the oceans are changing, how the atmosphere is changing, with the infrastructure that we have when we total up the contributions from all of the agencies … we [could] lose forever the possibility of the continuous records that we need so that we can monitor this planet.

Walker’s comments set off alarm bells for another reason. Were it simply a matter of transferring Nasa’s climate and earth science programs to other agencies, what would be the point? Such a transfer would be logistically difficult, and if the research funding weren’t cut, it wouldn’t save any taxpayer money. And it’s not as though the branches doing Nasa’s climate research are distracting other branches of the agency from conducting deep space exploration.

The suggestion does however look a lot like a Trojan horse whose true purpose is to cut government-funded climate research, perhaps transferring some of Nasa’s programs and budget to other agencies and simply scrapping the rest.

Bob Walker’s politicized science

In an interview with The Guardian, Walker accused Nasa of “politically correct environmental monitoring” and “politicized science.” Carol Off from CBC’s program As It Happens conducted a follow-up interview with Walker and asked for examples to support his accusations. Walker cited the example of Nasa’s announcement that 2014 was the hottest year on record, claiming:

The fact that they have reported temperature that they said was the highest temperatures…in history…it turned out that they were only 39% sure of that figure. Well that’s a press release, not a scientific kind of statement. I’m interested in scientific integrity. I’m interested not in scientific analysis that goes to a politically correct outcome.

The reason Walker knew that Nasa estimates gave 2014 a 38% (not 39%) chance of being the hottest year on record (Noaa put its odds at 48%) is that Nasa and Noaa included this information in their announcement. There is uncertainty in every scientific measurement. That’s why scientific theories and conclusions aren’t proven; they’re only supported or disproved by the available evidence.