Sen. Whitehouse ends his weekly climate speeches; EVs rise

 Sen. Whitehouse ends his weekly climate speeches; EVs rise

CRITTERS AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Cartwheeling bald eagles

Jeff Graham writes—The Daily Bucket: Bald eagles ‘cartwheels in the sky,’ wooing or warning: “My wife and I witnessed a ‘cartwheel in the sky’ (or ‘death spiral’ which she didn’t like the sound of since the eagles don’t die) when visiting the Skagit Valley area the day before Inauguration Day. Since then, I’ve done a lot of reading and watching of YouTube videos on the subject. Since I love the photography more than the writing, I’ll give a brief accounting here and leave it up to you to research as far as you want to go on your own. Have you ever played or watched two kids holding hands and twirling?  There is a lot of centrifugal force. There comes a point where hands are released and the kids go flying. Bald eagles, as well as other birds, have to learn to do this both to keep their territory and to prove their worthiness to a mate. How do you know which it is?” 

OceanDiver writes—Dawn Chorus: Birds and Driftwood: “Driftwood is tree flotsam, big hunks of wood from forests, eroded by tossing, transported by currents and washed up on beaches. Pacific Northwest coast shorelines have lots of driftwood due to our extensive forests and and massive rivers. Some driftwood comes directly from slopes above beaches, but mostly it’s trees and branches that have fallen inland because of erosion, watershed development, logging or flooding. In our winter wet season rivers run high and fast, carrying logs down to the ocean, where they drift in ocean currents before being deposited high up on shore by big winter surf. The varied provenance of driftwood makes each piece unique and fascinating. Driftwood isn’t just beautiful and dramatic. It has environmental benefits too, like preventing shoreline erosion and providing habitat for wildlife. Shorelines in general are attractive to birds and other animals for foraging, so birds share this zone with driftwood and make use of it. Driftwood makes a great roosting site, for getting up high to survey the area. It’s also a great place to forage for food. Wind and waves wash all sorts of detritus to the  edge of the sea, where it gets lodged in the cracks of these washed up logs as well as in the spaces between and beneath them. Wind from the land blows plant material into the driftwood. Edibles birds find there include seeds, pollen, crustaceans, algae, bits of fish and inverts, bugs, orca poop, and who knows what all might have washed and blown in. Yummy stuff for little birds.” 

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket – a few winter ducks: “January 2021. Pacific Northwest. Winter ducks are a big plus to this stormy season. I see them everywhere. Do you see winter ducks? These are a few spots I came across them in the past week. In a wet field that becomes a giant puddle in winter (while out doing a swan count, no swans in my assigned site but definitely ducks).” 

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket – January 2021 Salish Sea news:Human-caused ‘dead zones’ threaten health of Puget Sound. “Washington state’s Department of Ecology is taking action to reduce the increasing occurrence of “dead zones” —  areas of the sea so depleted of oxygen that marine life dies (or leaves if it can). Dead zones are almost always anthropogenic, and in this case they are the consequence of our booming population growth in western Washington. People poop, and poop is full of nutrients which cause algae to proliferate. Oxygen is used up when algae dies and decomposes. 70% of the excess nutrients (mainly nitrates) running off into the sea come from wastewater treatment plants (the remainder being agricultural fertilizers, livestock waste, and individual septic systems). Most treatment plants don’t treat for nitrates, but Washington Dept of Ecology is currently revising permits to require filtration to remove them.”

6412093 writes—The Daily Bucket–Goose with a thousand names: “The local internet buzzed. The local goose had tangled itself in a loose strand of fishing line, with a barbed lure tearing at her throat. The local goose was an odd duck. My best effort called her a Greylag or an Anser Anser. She was mean and would chase children.  She had a shakedown scheme whereas she’d block the hiking path and extort bread crumbs with her posse, from the hikers. I figured most folks would think good riddance. But she’d hung with a posse of mallards. They’d often swim behind her in tight formation, like ducklings. She was the lone, abandoned Greylag goose on the Lake; sort of a Lost in Space vibe. The goose who thought she was an Alpha duck. And when word went out that the nasty lonely goose needed help, about a dozen neighbors showed on a freezing foggy morning. They brought nets and blankets and baskets and waders and all were determined to capture the mean goose and deliver it to the Audubon Society for medical attention.” 

funningforrest writes—The Daily Bucket. Snow News is Good News: “JANUARY 27, 2021.  QUINCY, CA. There’s a major winter storm happening in the northern Sierra Nevada mountains. It started here around 8:30 last night. As I write this, at 3:30 a.m. the morning of the 27th, the snow has stopped falling and we’ve got about four inches accumulated. The weather forecast calls for continued winter snowstorm conditions for the next several days. Snow is much more than (as one Floridian I know of has oft described it) ‘…that cold, lumpy white stuff, right.’ It’s a pain in the butt for some, employment for others. It can be playtime and serious athletic competition, inspire incredible artistic creation one day and wreak destruction and death the next. There’s an entire science in the study of snow. Following the tradition of science to come up with unpronounceable and dazzling terminologies, it’s called, uh , Snow Science. Actually, it’s not even capitalized.  It’s that boring.” 

CLIMATE CHAOS

Meteor Blades writes—President Biden issues flurry of new executive orders commanding action on climate: “In a speech prefacing the signing of the orders today, Biden delivered a climate message from the White House that we have not heard with such fervor ever before. His focus on well-paying jobs, people’s improved health from the elimination of fossil fuel pollution, and the transformation of our crumbling, outdated infrastructure into a green economy ought to bring smiles nationwide. But as serious as Biden is showing himself to be on this matter, as bold as the changes he has put forth are, as encouraging as the appointments are, and as much as he should be applauded for moving rapidly and early in his administration with these actions, they still aren’t enough. Many additional steps will need to be taken. Biden was, of course, right today when he said, ‘We have already waited too long’ to address the climate crisis, which is a ‘existential threat.’ What a difference it makes to have this kind of talk from the White House after four years of malicious idiocy on the subject.

Meteor Blades writes—One of the best mandates in President Biden’s ‘Climate Day’ orders: the Civilian Climate Corps: “In an omnibus executive order Wednesday—Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad—President Joe Biden announced a reinvention of the program that The New Republic in 1935 named ‘Roosevelt’s Tree Army.’ The heads of the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, and other departments now have 90 days to present their plan to ‘mobilize the next generation of conservation and resilience workers and maximize the creation of accessible training opportunities and good jobs.’ Unlike the original program, this one will avoid the brazen racism and recruit women as well as men. While a modernized CCC has often been proposed, including by me in 2009, the Civilian Climate Corps, as the new version is named, is one of the many climate-related recommendations of the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force and a concept Biden made note of on the campaign trail.”

A Siegel writes—Four Wednesdays in January: From insurrection to innovative climate action: “It has been a momentous month (so far) and, of course, the four Wednesdays, the 4 Is, only begin to touch the surface of what has happened / is happening over the month (from COVID19 to unemployment to …). However, consider the four and it does say much about the moment and the potential for positive action to come. […] Innovation, the fourth Wednesday of January, provides a signpost that government has again become part of the solution and that the President will be leveraging all tools of governance (with the sad constraints of continued climate denier power in Congress ready to fight to stymie action) to address the imperative for serious climate action (along with other serious problems and opportunities). Four Wednesdays … a journey from • • • the nadir of thugs assaulting the Capitol to • the painful necessity for accountability to • the joy of positive chain in government to • the promise that government will be there for us (the U.S.), And, reason for hope that President Biden will be the Climate Hawk that the U.S. and the rest of humanity requires.”

Karen Rubin via NewsPhotosFeatures writes—Biden Should Treat Climate Crisis as a National Emergency: “Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (gosh that sounds great), in remarks to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, said President Joe Biden should declare the climate crisis a national emergency in order to take action with the urgency it deserves and prevent the Republicans from using their obstructionist tactics to block legislation. Coming after a year of record wildfires in the West, hurricanes in the Atlantic, record global warming, Biden recognizes that the climate crisis is existential, threatening democracy, health, prosperity, and if you thought immigration was a concern, imagine 200 million climate refugees as sea level swamps coastal communities. (See The New York Times, I’ve Said Goodbye to ‘Normal.’ You Should, Too.) Biden has already demonstrated the high priority he puts on climate action – it was a constant theme in his campaign, in his cabinet appointments, and in his inaugural address.”

senorjoel writes—Next up: Climate Emergency Declaration by Biden? “Alternet reports that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has called on President Biden to declare a Climate Emergency. ‘I think it might be a good idea for President Biden to call a climate emergency,’ said Schumer [in an interview with Rachel Maddow]. ‘Then he can do many, many things under the emergency powers of the president that he could do… without legislation.’ ‘Now, Trump used this emergency for a stupid wall, which wasn’t an emergency. But if ever there was an emergency, climate is one,’ Schumer [added]. This is actually huge. And it seems likely to go forward, with Schumer — who has generally not been considered any kind of activist — pushing for it.”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Will Gab Rise As Climate Denial and The Right’s New Social Media Empire? No: “Since Twitter and Facebook finally decided to start enforcing their terms of service and removed tens of thousands of violent and deranged Q-posters, there’s been a steady drumbeat from conservative accounts complaining about this heinous assault on their clout. Some, who are not quite odious enough to be banned, but are bad enough that they noticed many of their followers were, have opted to flounce out. Enter Gab. Started up a few years ago when social media companies inched toward moderating their content and kicked off some transparently bad faith trolls, triggering a similar round of faux outrage from the hatemongers who lost followers or accounts, Gab has predictably become the heir apparent to these forsaken (would-be) free speech martyrs.  At the moment, it seems like it might just take off. Tony Heller, who complained about being censored by ‘the Nazis at Twitter way back in 2015, is still flirting with leaving the site, and has been complaining about how Twitter “is a criminal operation” that has ‘stolen thousands of his followers and about how much more engagement he gets at Gab.

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Out With the Old Deniers, In With The New Scientists (Who Actually Shouldn’t Shy Away From Politics): “A new study in Environmental Research Letters, led by Viktoria Cologna with Reto Knutti, Naomi Oreskes and Michael Siegrist as co-authors, surveyed scientists and the public in US and Germany to see what expectations the public had for scientists, and how they would react to scientists’ advocacy on climate change. They found that the public is supportive of scientists working ‘closely with policymakers to integrate scientific results into climate-related policymaking.’ Similarly, a majority of both German and US citizens think “scientists should advocate for climate-related policies, in general,” though that support decreases slightly as policy options get more specific. Interestingly, they report that while a fictional professor’s open support for a particular policy  “did not affect perceptions of Prof. Jones being trustworthy and honest,” it did ‘negatively affect’ their ‘perceived objectivity, yet positively affect perceptions that she acts in the interest of society’’.” 

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Roy Spencer Feigns Offense At Climate Denier Label, Then Speaks At Denial Org And Posts More Denial: “A couple weeks ago, when we were laughing at how Legates and Maue cratered their credibilty by joining the violently seditious, white supremacist Trump administration, only to get caught posting denial without approval, the pamphlet author Dr. Roy Spencer was mad enough about being labeled by us (and the New York Times) as a denier that he posted a rebuttal claiming otherwise. Dr. Spencer acknowledges that fossil fuels are causing warming, and that he expects warming to be on the low end of IPCC projections. He then claims that it’s because of his support for fossil fuels for ‘the world’s poor,’ that he has been ‘declared evil.’ Two days after claiming not to be a denier and being offended at such a notion, Dr. Spencer posted about his upcoming talk with Friends of Science, a Canadian climate denial organization, about ‘why there is no climate emergency.’ Then, on January 21, he posted about part of his presentation, in which he cooked up a chart to claim that Canada is only warming half as much as model simulations. It’s essentially a sequel to his buddy John Christy’s popular (and debunked) US version that, well, we’ll just say will probably never pass peer review.” 

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—A Few Good Things President Biden’s Doing to Undo Deniers’ Damage To Science In Government: “President Biden made a splash this week with an executive order on the climate crisis, and with good reason. It shows a commitment to prioritizing climate and environmental justice throughout the government, domestically and internationally. But he also signed two other important documents on Climate/Jobs/Infrastructure Day: an executive order establishing a President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology; and a memo on ‘restoring trust in government through scientific integrity and evidence-based policymaking.’ As the last year has brought into piercingly sharp focus, a president’s willingness to acknowledge empirical evidence, listen to scientists, and cope with reality, can mean the difference between life and death on a massive scale. And that’s what makes these other two moves so important. By making a point to bring in experts, the Biden administration can… well, govern. The scientific integrity memo is particularly interesting, in that it literally instructs the federal government to review every anti-science move since January 20, 2017, essentially preparing to hit ctrl+z on everything Steve Milloy and other pollution peddlers tried to do.

AceDeuceLady writes—A Plea to President Biden: Address the Nation on Climate Change: “In 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression and a devastating bank panic, Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the nation in his first “fireside chat”. In the radio broadcast, he used layman’s terms to explain the banking crisis and describe the actions he was taking to address it. That address succeeded in calming fears and building support for Roosevelt’s legislative agenda. We are now faced with a crisis that, while less obvious than the Great Depression, is no even more serious and urgent: Climate change. While the science is clear, the public discourse is confused and confusing. A large swath of the public, hearing doubts expressed with such conviction, simply doesn’t know what to think, and instead focuses on issues that seem closer to home. This swath of the public needs to be addressed directly, in layman’s terms, explaining the science, the consequences, and the urgency of global warming. On inauguration day, President Joe Biden asked the country to listen to him, and for a brief period of time, people will. But that period will be very short. Please speak to us now.” 

Pakalolo writes—Suffragist Eunice Foote was first to describe the greenhouse gas effect- a man got the credit: “Eunice Foote was born in NY state in 1819. She had gone to university at the Troy Female Seminary (N/K/A Emma Willard School), where she was encouraged to attend a nearby college to study science. It was there where she learned her scientific skills for her free-thinking experiments. In fact, she was not only a scientist, but she was also a dear friend of the well-known suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She was so active in the movement that she was a signatory of the Declaration of Sentiments drafted by women at the 1848 convention held in Seneca Falls for women’s rights.  Her heroism was not limited to the women’s movement of her time. She was the first person to describe the greenhouse gas effect in climate science over 150 years ago. Greenhouse gases, as you know, help heat the planet, and they are the reason why civilization was able to survive and thrive on earth for thousands of years. She described how these gases would change the globe’s temperature. Little did she know how a population explosion and relentless carbon emissions would doom humankind to unimaginable horrors. She was unable to present her findings as they were prohibited by the 1856  American Association for the Advancement of Science. Three years later, a male scientist presented her findings and has since been known as the father of climate science.” 

Pakalolo writes—Siberia’s peat climate bomb is burning despite minus fifty-eight degree Fahrenheit temperatures: “I keep vigil. Last summer, record-breaking wildfires in Siberia, ‘in and around the Arctic circle,’ continue to smolder and burn; the fuel feeding the fires is peat, decomposing organic matter that has been stored in the earth for millenniums. According to NASA estimates, at least half of wildfires burned in Siberia in the past couple of summers is peat. Parrington noted that fires in Arctic Russia released more carbon dioxide (CO2) in June and July 2020 alone than in any complete fire season since 2003 (when data collection began). That estimate is based on data compiled by CAMS, which incorporates data from NASA’s MODIS active fire products. ‘The destruction of peat by fire is troubling for so many reasons,’ said Dorothy Peteet of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. ‘As the fires burn off the top layers of peat, the permafrost depth may deepen, further oxidizing the underlying peat.” Peteet and colleagues recently reported that the amount of carbon stored in northern peatlands is double the previous estimates. Fires in these regions are not just releasing recent surface peat carbon, but stores that have taken 15,000 years to the accumulate, said Peteet. They also release methane, which is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.”

Michael Brune writes—Our Odds of Solving the Climate Crisis Just Went Way Up: “Yesterday, the Biden-Harris administration showed that it was serious about using every tool at its disposal to tackle the climate crisis and environmental injustice. Just a week after Inauguration Day, it unveiled its second major set of executive actions and presidential memoranda. Finally, we have an administration whose actions reflect the fact that we are in a climate emergency, with just a few years left to avert catastrophic climate change. What a breath of fresh air! These new executive actions make addressing the climate crisis and environmental injustice a priority in every government agency, as well as in our foreign policy and national security. They reaffirm the Biden administration’s commitment to making our electricity sector carbon-free by 2035, our entire economy carbon-neutral by 2050, and tying climate action to some of this country’s most deeply held values: uprooting injustice, ensuring economic opportunity for all, and protecting our lands, waters, and wildlife. Yesterday’s executive actions show that the Biden administration understands that without addressing environmental injustice, there is no solving the climate crisis.” 

Angmar writes—“Climate change Climate crisis: world is at its hottest for at least 12,000 years – study”: “The planet is hotter now than it has been for at least 12,000 years, a period spanning the entire development of human civilisation, according to research. Analysis of ocean surface temperatures shows human-driven climate change has put the world in ‘uncharted territory,’ the scientists say. The planet may even be at its warmest for 125,000 years, although data on that far back is less certain. The research, published in the journal Nature, reached these conclusions by solving a longstanding puzzle known as the “Holocene temperature conundrum”. Climate models have indicated continuous warming since the last ice age ended 12,000 years ago and the Holocene period began. But temperature estimates derived from fossil shells showed a peak of warming 6,000 years ago and then a cooling, until the industrial revolution sent carbon emissions soaring” 
 

OCEANS, LAKES, RIVERS, WATER & DROUGHT

Aysha Qamar writes—West Virginia’s oldest river becomes America’s newest national park: “Despite some of the beautiful landscapes and great outdoors West Virginia is known for, the state wasn’t home to a national park until last year. Last December, Congress passed a bill that declared the opening of America’s 63rd national park in West Virginia. The move redesignated West Virginia’s New River Gorge from a national river to a federally protected tourist destination: New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. New River Gorge spans over 70,000 acres, but under Congress’ designation act, it will be divided into two sections: the park and the preserve. The park is made up of about 7,000 acres and will include some of the most scenic slivers of waterfront. The remaining 60,000+ acres will make up the preserve, allowing space for people to continue hunting and fishing legally, according to Thrillist.” 

Dan Bacher writes—Delta Adapts Vulnerability Assessment Findings to be released on February 4, 2021: “The Delta Stewardship Council, together with community partners from Restore the Delta, Fathers and Families of San Joaquin, Little Manila Rising, and Third City Coalition, will hold the ‘Delta Adapts Vulnerability Assessment Findings’ virtual public workshop on February 4, 2021 from 6:00 to 7:30pm. The Assessment represents ‘an effort to better understanding of the Delta vulnerabilities and was that Delta communities, infrastructure and ecosystem can adapt to future conditions,’ according to an announcement from the Council.” 

Dan Bacher writes—Group files lawsuit against CDFW for approving project that would destroy Ballona Wetlands: “On January 29, Defend Ballona Wetlands and two individuals, Molly Basler and Robert van de Hoek, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court challenging the California Department of Fish & Wildlife’s (CDFW) approval of an environmental impact report (EIR) that they claim would allow for the “complete destruction” of the fragile Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve in Los Angeles County. In 2000, California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 12, creating a $2.1 billion bond ‘to spend on acquisition, development, and protection of recreational, cultural, and natural areas,’ according to the lawsuit. Twenty-five million dollars of the bond was specifically to be allocated “to acquire, protect, and restore wetlands projects that are a minimum of 400 acres in size in any county with a population greater than 5,000,000,” referring specifically to Ballona Wetlands. ‘Ballona Wetlands is currently home to approximately 1,700 animal and plant species—some threatened and endangered, and the last remaining coastal wetlands in Los Angeles,” the petitioners noted.

ENERGY

Fossil Fuels & Emissions Controls

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Oil Industry Pulls Numbers From Hat To Scare Public About President Biden’s Climate Action: “Rumor has it that after today’s signing of a moratorium on oil and gas leasing on public lands, President Biden’s going to personally deliver one million pink slips to beleaguered workers, light billions of dollars on fire, and then rub dirt in their eye while he’s at it. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but it’s basically the gist of what the oil industry and it’s stalwart WSJ editorial board and front-group defenders are saying about Biden’s move to stop selling companies the fossil fuels buried under the land we share as a nation. Histrionic caterwauling of professional crybabies aside, what’s the reality of President Biden’s expected move to stop selling out America’s lands to the industry that’s destroying it? First off, oil companies aren’t exactly hurting for new leases, so the immediate impact is going to be pretty small. After all, the Trump administration made a point to give out thousands of permits last year (4,700, to be exact, about the same quantity they snatched up when gas was twice as expensive) so by the final weeks of his first and final term, oil majors weren’t even interested in leases being offered.

Alonso del Arte writes—The one thing that’s missing from Enbridge’s Line 5 fact sheet: “Enbridge is a company that has oil pipelines going through Michigan and through the Great Lakes. Nothing could possible go wrong with that. Jim Malewitz reports for Bridge magazineThe crew of a barge and tugboat whose six-ton anchor struck Line 5 last year in the Straits of Mackinac had no clue it was being dragged on the lake bed until nearly two days later near Indiana. The anchor dented Enbridge Energy’s dual Line 5 oil pipelines and sliced Wisconsin-based American Transmission Co.’s three underwater power cables, causing $100 million in damage to the cables and releasing 800 gallons of mineral oil into the Straits on April 1, 2018. Suppose that it had been the other way around, that the anchor dented the power cables and sliced the oil pipeline. I don’t think $100 million, or even $100 billion, would have covered the damage. It would have been a preventable disaster that would have made Flint look like an innocent screw-up.” 

TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE

joelado writes—Pete Buttigieg, a Word on EV Infrastructure:The number one problem that we are facing as a deluge of long range EVs reach the market is our wrong headed approach to EV charging infrastructure. The problem is with the charging infrastructure model that we have been following so far is based on low range vehicles of around one hundred miles range and low wattage charging stations known as level 2 chargers. Both home and work charging allow for long stretches of charging time where these low watt and slow charging level 2 stations using the SAE j1772 standard, are somewhat fine. The j1772 standard for these level 2 chargers is followed by all electric vehicle manufactures today, even Teslas can access these chargers with an adaptor. The j1772 plug also works with the portable level 1 charger that can use a regular household 110 volt outlet and typically comes with the purchase of your EV. The j1772 plug is also used with level 2 at home chargers that use 240volt household current. The level 2 standard is fine for use. And it works perfectly fine when using your EV for commuting purposes and driving around your home to run errands. The low range low wattage model no longer works with a base model 200 mile EV as the new standard.

AGRICULTURE​, FOOD & GARDENS

nailkeg writes—Tomatoes in the Woods!This story is about how I planted the tomatoes. Without disturbing the soil, I laid down a newspaper. On that newspaper, I placed the leaf part of the tomato.  I then placed a newspaper on the root and stem part of the newspaper. As there were some dried leaves and rocky dirt under the woods, I gathered enough to place on the newspaper to hold it down so it would not fly away. I never touched my garden again until the plants began bearing.  The only variable would have been the fact that it was still raining almost every day and so keeping my plants watered was not a problem. The first question I will address is ‘How did my tomatoes produce so well without added fertilizers or soil amendments?’ We have been bombarded for years about commercial fertilizer utilizing Nitrogen, Potassium, and Potash and a few others like sulfur or magnesium etc.  We miss the true meaning of a productive soil.  For those who are unfamiliar with real soil, I suggest you watch “Kiss the Ground” (I wrote a story about this movie for DaiyKos:  ‘Kiss the Ground). You will learn that soil is a living organism with billions and billions of microorganisms living in it that have the purpose of providing the plant with the minerals needed to grow and produce.  The soil under the edge of the woods had not been tilled or sprayed with any available poisons (read my ‘Herbicide drift on my Garden) so it would have been alive. In addition, a tree root extends deep into the earth bringing up the minerals necessary for it to grow. Then, many of the minerals are shed when the leaves fall in the fall. This would mean that the soil I was using had all it needed to be productive.  If I had used this plot again the following year, I would probably have added more minerals in some form to adjust for those used by my tomato plants.

NAT’L FORESTS, PARKS, MONUMENTS & OTHER PUBLIC LANDS

Meteor Blades writes—Republicans ask Biden to end Rep. Deb Haaland’s nomination for secretary of interior: “When President Biden named Rep. Deb Haaland to be secretary of the interior, most of the public response was immensely positive. Here was a Native woman, a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, chosen to oversee a department with an impact on Indigenous Americans greater than any other except the War Department. Authority over the Native population was transferred to the Department of the Interior in 1849, although the Indian wars continued for another four decades. Anyone who has followed the Interior Department’s often atrocious handling of American Indian matters over the years knows just how big a deal Haaland’s appointment could be, and what possible changes she could promote in the Biden-Harris administration. However, while the chorus of support for Haaland was widespread, especially among the tribes and progressives, Republican opposition against her nomination is rising, and there is speculation that her confirmation hearing, still expected by close observers to happen next week, could be held off for weeks or even until March. That opposition crystallized this week in a letter from Minnesota Rep. Pete Stauber and 13 other House Republicans directly challenging the nomination as a job-killer. Several Native tribes have strongly objected to Stauber’s move.

SquireForYou writes—We’re destroying the very things—and people—keeping us safe: “Old growth forests are one of the most important parts of the Earth’s ecosystem. These trees last for generations, even millennia (or longer!), and provide protection to hundreds of thousands of species of plants and animals, and do the very work to keep the planet alive and habitable for the human race. The trees that make up forests are highly sought after. They’re incredibly durable. and useful in so many different functions. Unfortunately, every tree cut down is a tree gone forever, leaving a hole that cannot be replaced, even by replanted trees. The indiscriminate felling of these trees is not just folly, it’s potentially suicidal, leading to an acceleration of climate change that could make human life on the surface of the planet completely untenable. I think about those forests a lot when I think about what’s going on amongst healthcare providers in the United States of America. As an ER nurse, I’ve written about the effect the COVID-19 crisis has had on emergency and acute services providers on more than one occasion, but I think it’s clear there are a lot of people who don’t appreciate the magnitude of the apocalypse on the horizon.

Username4242 writes—What’s OUTSIDE Yellowstone? Exploring hidden beauty in the mountains north of the park (Video): “Exploring a little-known trail outside Yellowstone National Park that leads to the remains of a long abandoned ranch. Some astonishing beauty outside the park. 🙂” 

POLLUTION, TRASH

Dan Bacher writes—Earthworks report reveals California fails to safely manage radioactive and toxic oil and gas waste: “Between 2008 and 2018 alone, oil and gas companies created a statewide total of over 1.3 trillion gallons of oil and gas wastewater in California, enough liquid to fill over 17.6 million household bathtubs. That’s one of the many findings of a new report released by Earthworks, along with allies VISION California and Center for Biological Diversity. The report reveals that California, often portrayed by the state’s politicians and national media as the nation’s “green” leader, is actually one of the worst states in the U.S. when it comes to regulating the oil and gas industry’s waste. The regulatory failures range from allowing crops to be irrigated with potentially toxic and radioactive wastewater to storing waste in unlined pits or injecting it into protected groundwater aquifers, according to a press release from Earthworks. These problems are just the latest in a legacy of regulatory failures in California, a history that government agencies and NGOs have documented in report after report — and I have documented in article after article — for many years.” 

MISCELLANY

Meteor Blades writes—Earth Matters: Global ice loss rises 60%; cicadas prepare to emerge; climate and the federal budget: “BIG ENERGY BUYERS SAY WHAT THEY WANT BIDEN-HARRIS TO DO WITH FEDERAL POLICY. Thirty-six companies have signed onto a statement (which you can download here) from the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance laying out what they think the federal government’s top energy priorities should be. The companies include Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Cargill, Clorox, General Motors, Disney, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s, Target, and Walmart. Some of these companies have already pledged to reduce their carbon footprints to zero within one or two decades. Amazon and Google are investing in gigawatts of renewable power. But there are obstacles to getting the electricity to net zero carbon emissions by 2035, which is the goal of the Biden-Harris administration. One of these is the nation’s wholesale energy market. John Parnell at Green Tech Media notes that the Republican majority at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) made decisions that are expected to weaken the competitiveness of state-subsidized wind, solar, and nuclear power in many markets. ‘We agree that’s got to be fixed before you can talk about expanding markets,’ REBA Policy Director Bryn Baker said, noting that it’s likely that FERC, now led by Democrat Richard Glick, will focus on that ‘right out of the gate.’ In addition, REBA calls for adding more money to the federal budget for clean energy research, development, and demonstration. It also wants to see a decarbonizing the grid for all: ‘To green the grid for all customers faster, affordably, and equitably, REBA urges the federal government to take swift action to harmonize and update the current patchwork of clean energy policies’.”

Meteor Blades writes—Earth Matters: GM rocks automotive world with EV vow; shark populations plummet; 15 sequoias toppled: “ELECTRIFYING THE FEDERAL FLEET WITH VEHICLES MADE IN AMERICA BY UNION WORKERS HAS A PROBLEM President Biden wants to goose the electric vehicle market by transforming the federal fleet of 645,000 fossil-fueled vehicles with EVs. Not just any EVs, but ones made in America by unionized labor. One problem: nobody who fits that bill makes them. While Tesla cranked out several models totaling nearly half a million EVs in 2020, the company’s workers aren’t unionized. And although it’s been unionized since 1937, General Motors, which sold just 20,754 EVs in 2020, did so with more than 50% foreign-made parts. That doesn’t meet the government-set threshold for a whole car being considered American-made. On the other hand, changing over the federal fleet is likely to take a decade since only about 60,000 of its vehicles are replaced each year. And by the mid-’20s, GM will presumably be turning out millions of EVs if it expects to meets its 2035 zero-emission goal for its entire production run of cars and light trucks. And by then, maybe there will be a union at Tesla. ‘Do I think GM and Tesla will contort to access a big U.S. government market? Yes I do,’ said Scott Sklar, director of sustainable energy at the George Washington University’s Environment & Energy Management Institute. ‘They follow the money’.

Pakalolo writes—Marjorie Taylor Greene believes a laser beam from space caused the 2018 California Campfire: “When California’s deadly and worst wildfire struck the state of California, intense drought provided the fuel necessary when a PG&E Pacific Gas and Electricity sparked the catastrophe. California has a Mediterranean climate, which is particularly vulnerable to our climate crisis. That explanation was too much for the simple-minded QAnon nutballs. To them, it had to be something else, and wow, did they ever deliver the cuckoo. From Media Matters: In November 2018, California was hit with the worst wildfire in the state’s history. At the time, future Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) wrote a bizarre Facebook post that echoed QAnon conspiracy theorists and falsely claimed that the real and hidden culprit behind the disaster was a laser from space triggered by some nefarious group of people. Greene’s post, which hasn’t previously been reported, is just the latest example to be unearthed of her embracing conspiracy theories about tragedies during her time as a right-wing commentator. In addition to being a QAnon supporter, Greene has pushed conspiracy theories about 9/11, the Parkland and Sandy Hook school shootings, the Las Vegas shooting, and the murder of Democratic staffer Seth Rich, among others.

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