Archive for July, 2008

More Oil, When Are We Going To Change That Picture, Soon I Hope

July 31, 2008

I wrote a long blog and got kicked off before I published it. The jist of what I wrote was…We have 2 oil men in the White House who are trying to take advantage of our country when it is weak on the oil issue. That is what I see. 

Why dont, we as a country, look, now for alternative forms of energy. This will help solve some of our Global Warming problem; in which I see the US as a major factor and think China and India will follow our lead, but it is not going to happen with Bush and Cheney in the Oval Office. Do you hear my sour grapes going of? I sure do. I thinfkbig oil should drill what they legally can now, and they can. I do not like to see those wealthy person’s stand in front of the line in the US with their hands out. I fear they are hoodwinking the public of the US when the US is down and oil cost a lot. Talk about low tatics for high greed!!!!

I see a lot of kayaks around here and Mckensie drift boats for trout. I think the trout streams will turn to walleye streams, northern pike and there will be a lot of yellow perch in the lakes around here. I see that within ten years. I hope I am wrong but I do not think I am.

Fires are still burning near here.

Matt

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Rick Bass Wrote An Excellent Book, Why I Came West

July 30, 2008

There is a lot to be sad about Rick Bass’s latest book. The chapter on Bear Spray is actually very funny. But now Rick is an “Old Timer” in a land that sorely needs some Wilderness.

My thought is that Bass is one of those agreeable tenacious types who outlive many of his enemies (for lack of a better word) in the Yaak, as I said, a strange part of Montana in the far Northwest corner of a very large state. The bear spray chapter just tells you that Rick has been around the Big Sky long enough to build up credibility…I mean 21 years is a long time in anyones book, and my guess is that Bass will see Yaak rangers come and go.

The only thought I have is that the USDA Forest Service should be so lucky to have such a nice guy to work with.

Bass has blended in with a tough part of the world. He raised family in the Yaak and saw a tough community change. Libby and Troy are parts of Bass’s world that he certainly must, and has learned better than anyone I know, to deal with. Bass’s book, Why I Came West, is a goord read for anyone who wants to know the Montana way and what sheer stubborness can do. I would like to put a capital W wilderness up in the Yaak, where it is well deserved, just to get Rick Bass, the most famous resident of the Yaak, to write another book about the Yaak.

I have observed that Labrodor Retrievers with large heads (male dogs more abundant than female dogs)are, by far, the most common dog in this SW Montana college town. The dogs eat better than there owners, mostly college students…

Red Lodge fires are still burning.

Matt

Montana, Burning Up

July 29, 2008

There are over 6,000 acres of public land burning nearby here. That seems like a lot to me but to folks around here the wildfire is just getting started.

I notice around here that bycicles are heavily used by the student crowd, you see about 4 times as many here as you see in MD.

Global Warming is not a bad word around here and that is good, because I expected it to be. Many of my environmental cohorts are still fighting battles around here and have yet to make the connection to what they are fighting to save and Global Warming.

Matt

I Am Back

July 28, 2008

It is good to be back to a very changed west. Maybe I have changed, but already the local paper has had two articles on Global Warming. That is in 2 days! That is more than bear, wolf, elk, bison and trout articles and that is really saying something around here.

There are 2 wildfires east of here. This is the month for wildfires around hear, so I am not bent out of shape or saying, “the sky is falling”.

I did read Rick Bass’s book, Why I Came West. He is such an excellent and poetic writer from a hard part of the world that my children and I refered to as the land of the “mushroom people” 20 years ago.

He and George Wuerthner really epitomize authors from this area. Rick Bass is a heck of a writer. Weurthner is way more known for his activist and science mix, but back in the early nineties he wrote one heck of a travel guide to Yellowstone National Park. Did you know Dave Quamen of, Song of the Dodo, fame and author of the follow up book to “Song”, Monsters of God, is also from this area of Montana.

Matt

Goodbye For Now

July 23, 2008

I am done with the East Coast for now. I was born near here, in Washington D.C. . I lived in Washington for 17 years of my life. It is definitely very close to me.

 I lived in Montana for much of my adult liife. I consider it home. I think it will burn up with Global Warming. I remember the Yellowstone fires. I remember touring Dukakis and his band around Yellowstone when Yellowstone was, as far as I could tell, burning down.The fire’s, then seemed large. Are they bound to get larger?

 I am going to take a several day’s break from this blog.

I will write when the Hurricane off the Texas coast will hopefully have good news to report and not be another Katrina. Goodbye for now!!!!

Matt

The West Is Ground Zero For Global Warming

July 22, 2008
This article is very interesting to me.
Matt
San Francisco Chronicle
Jane Kay, Chronicle Environment Writer
Monday, July 21, 2008

On July 6, U.S. Forest Service Hot Shots set a backfire n...

California has been hit by 2,000 fires this year, and climate scientists are predicting that the situation will worsen as temperatures rise.

 

 

has been hit by 2,000 fires this year, and climate scientists are predicting that the situation will worsen as temperatures rise.

 

The American West has been warming dramatically during the past 60 years at a rate surpassed only by Alaska . This year has been particularly dry for California , with less snowfall, earlier snowmelt and lower summer river flows.

Some of the state’s top scientists say the changing water picture is caused by humans producing greenhouse gases, and the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts more intense and longer droughts with warmer spring and summer temperatures in the West.

That, scientists say, leads to increases in the length of the fire seasons, number of fires, time needed to put out the fire and size of the burned area.

“The snow melts sooner, the dry season gets longer and rivers crest earlier. That gives more of a chance for drying out and therefore a likelihood of more fires,” said Tim Barnett, a climatologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego who led research on the effects of greenhouse gases on the changing hydrology in the western United States .

“If you look at where we will be in 20 or 30 years, we’ll have serious problems,” he said.

Scientists are quick to caution against blaming one fire or heat wave on global warming. But, Barnett said, “At the minimum, you’re getting a glimpse of your future. Do you like it? I think not.”

Complex causes

Research by teams of scientists at Scripps, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the U.S. Geological Survey and other institutions have probed associations between land-use patterns and climate change because of increases in fires during the past 25 years.

The picture is complex, particularly in Northern California , they say.

With warmer and earlier springs, moisture has been uneven, and winter precipitation in some parts tends to come as rain, not snow. At the same time, logging and mining have changed the character of forests, and the practice of preventing low-burning fires in past decades may have made the forests more susceptible to wildfires, experts say.

But taking all of the factors into consideration, including weather patterns shown in tree rings over past centuries, they conclude that the intensity of fires is linked most closely to the rising temperatures, less snowpack, earlier snowmelt and a longer, drier fire season.

The peak time of melting snow is already about 10 to 15 days earlier in different parts of the West. Scientists have projected a speed-up of 25 to 35 days earlier by the end of this century. A study just released by Purdue University found that at the end of the century, the snowmelt could come 70 days earlier. The effect of the lost snow, and increased heat from solar radiation absorbed in the exposed ground and vegetation, would raise temperatures more than have previously been expected.

Temperatures rising

In the western United States , temperatures for the past five years have risen an average 1.7 degrees when compared with the 20th century. California ‘s average temperatures between 2003 and 2007 rose 1.1 degrees above the past century’s. That is slightly more than the 1 degree rise for the planet as a whole. The Colorado River Basin , Arizona , Montana , Utah and Wyoming have had temperatures rise more than 2 degrees in the past five years compared with the past century.

Turning up the heat

The West has had more frequent and severe heat waves, with the number of extremely hot days increasing by up to four days per decade since 1950, according to research supported by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, a coalition of 17 local governments, businesses, nonprofits and Colorado ‘s largest water provider.

The West has warmed more than east of the Rocky Mountains .

Drought is now more common in the West, while east of the Rockies it is noticeably wetter in general, said Kevin Trenberth, head of the climate analysis section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, operated by a nonprofit consortium of research universities. Trenberth attributes the difference between West and East to basic climate conditions, but also to the nature of changes in atmospheric circulation.

“All of this indeed promotes wildfire risk, and the ‘dry lightning’ is disastrous, especially in areas where trees are damaged such as by bark beetle,” said Trenberth, a lead author of the center’s 2007 scientific assessment of climate change.

This year followed the trend.

“We had very dry conditions in April, May and a bit of June,” said Scott Stephens, associate professor of fire science in UC Berkeley’s department of environmental science, policy and management. “This year, we had almost zero rain. When the dry lighting strikes came through, we had 1,000 fires in one weekend, June 20, one of the highest we’ve ever experienced,” something not seen in at least 50 years, he said.

So far, more than 900,000 acres have burned, destroying about 100 houses and threatening thousands more. People were evacuated in Big Sur, the Sierra foothills and Butte County , communities around Santa Cruz and other spots in Northern California .

“We’re going to have more surprises like this,” Stephens said.

Duration of burns increases

Since 1980, U.S. wildfires have burned an average of 8,500 square miles per year, a jump from the 1920-1980 average of 5,000 square miles per year.

In the past three decades, the wildfire season in the western United States has increased by 78 days, according to work led by Anthony Westerling, formerly at Scripps, now at UC Merced. Roughly half that increase was due to earlier ignitions, and half to later control. Burn duration of fires greater than 1,000 acres has increased from 7.5 to 37.1 days in response to a spring-summer warming.

People on the fire lines see that the wildfire intensity and size have changed and question whether global warming is to blame, Stephens said. “They know that the temperatures are increasing, and the snow is leaving earlier. One thing is certain: Weather and fire are tied together. They know that better than anybody.”

The U.S. Forest Service has a study in progress that examines the severity of forest fires in the Sierra Nevada . Hugh Safford, regional ecologist, and analyst Jay Miller led a team investigating about 200 fires that occurred between 1984 and 2007 in the Sierra Nevada .

The researchers found that fires had increased in severity beginning in the 1980s and continued until today. By analyzing state and federal data, they also showed that fire frequency, total burned area and average fire size have also increased during the same period.

Rising temperatures play a part, they said. But at the same time, they found that increases in forest density because of 70 years of fire suppression are also to blame.

The study concluded that “in light of recent alarming projections for increased temperatures and fire-season length by the end of the century,” it is time to rethink the current policy of suppressing fires and, under the proper circumstances, let more fires burn to reduce problem fuels.

Wildfires and climate by the numbers

Climate scientists predict a continuing trend of rising temperatures in the West. The warmer the spring, the earlier the snowmelt, the drier the summer, the longer the fire season and the higher the frequency of big fires, they say. Multiyear droughts degrade trees’ abilities to generate defensive chemicals, increasing their susceptibility to insects. Higher winter temperatures allow a larger fraction of overwintering larvae to survive. Spruce budworm in Alaska , mountain pine beetle in British Columbia and tent caterpillar in Alberta are providing dead, desiccated fuels for large wildfires. The greatest increases in forest fires are in the northern Rocky Mountains, followed by the Sierra Nevada, southern Cascades and Coast ranges of Northern California and southern Oregon .

— Since 1980, U.S. wildfires have burned an average of 8,500 square miles a year, a jump from the 1920 to 1980 average of 5,000 square miles a year.

The forested area that burned in the western United States from 1987 to 2003 is 6.7 times the area burned from 1970 to 1986.

In the past three decades, the wildfire season in the western United States has increased by 78 days. Roughly half that increase was due to earlier ignitions and half to later control. Burn duration of fires of more than 1,000 acres has increased from 7.5 to 37.1 days in response to a spring-summer warming.

Sources: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

E-mail Jane Kay at jkay@sfchronicle.com.

Todays Washington Post Has a Very Good Predator-Prey Article on A-6

July 21, 2008

The reason I am reporting the article , Warming Alters Predator-Prey Balance, by Kari Lydersen in the Washington Post today, is because it cites something that influenced my youth and it tells just how complicated global warming is to most conservation biologists, formerly wildlife biologists, ecologists and such.

First a piece of trivia I learned today by reading the article…I did not know that Isle Royale was our countrie’s least visited National Park.

As a teen youngster I read Durward Allen’s book, The Wolves of Isle Royale. Later, in college, I read Rolf Petrsons book about the same subject.

Before insects and ticks were a real problem on Isle Royale, I visited the now park. I have seen very many wolves and moose since then but then I was lucky to see tracks of wolves and moose.

Insects and ticks have always been a problem for wolves and moose, but they seem more so now. Parvo-virus desimated the wolves in the eighties. Caninines were impacted heavily by parvo-virus. Ticks, mosquitos and flies may be more  important now to moose.

Isle Royale is boat accessable, still isolated and in Lake Superior, near Michigan mainland, and wolves and moose have been studied their longer than in any area I know of. Michigan Tech sponsor’s the study.

Hats off to Petreson and Allen, we have learned a lot from the wolves and moose of Isle Royale, and if they survive global warming, a big if, I cannot wait until we learn more from Isle Royale wolves and moose.

Matt

Meet The Press: Gore On Global Warming

July 20, 2008

Meet The Press was very good today, no Russert but Tom Brokaw interviewed Albert Gore about Global Warming, and I found I largely agreed with Gore.

Some reactions I had went like this. I found that Tom Brokaw was the level of reporter to take the place of  Russert, who I thought was irreplaceable.

I thought Gore was taking his window as a prospective VP choice for Obama as a chance to put forward his Global Warming agenda, thought to be very hard for its 10 year window by Tom Brokaw.  Gore had no beard and lost weight as I could not see him well from the nose bleed section of Constitution Hall, and I view the interview as  Gore taking advantage of his VP window for vetting. I do not see Gore as Obama’s VP or Energy Czar. I do not think Gore sees that.

I am glad Gore put some thoughts on the table and I am glad he took a political hard line on Global Warming. He said his view is hard to handle but we are there now. I might  have made our window to convert over to alternative forms of energy 5 years in the US, as opposed to the hardline, but much more palatable Gore viewpoint of ten years, for alternative energy conversion.

I think China and India will regret not adjusting to global warming, so will we in this country if we do not.

I hate nuclear energy, I am actually suspicious of wind farms put in migratory wildlife corridors, I am more prone to like solar energy. But I have an open mind on most forms of alternative energy and I do like Gore. I do not get the sense that he is partizan on Global Warming and I do not get the sense that Gore is trying to use Global Warming to his advantage. I think he is using his notoriety to forward a realist, well thought out, Global Warming agenda.

I think of clean coal as a joke and think of it as a transitionary form of energy, for a very short time  when we resolve the carbon dioxide sequester problem. Like Gore, I am intrigued by T. Boones Pickens ideas on this matter and I do not care if he gets richer prooving he is right (Pickens that is).

I see the Gore types as leaders on the issue of Greenhouse Gas, and see them as way more right than wrong. I see that as the nature of leadership.

This (Global Warming) is to important to fail on. Brokaw framed the debate well, and Gore did a good job rising to the bait.

Matt

Should We Move Species To Save Them

July 20, 2008

 

My feelings about this are the big NO!!!!!! We have tried to play God before and it did not work!!!!!!!!!!!

Matt

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer Thu Jul 17, 7:30 PM ET


WASHINGTON – With climate change increasingly threatening the survival of plants and animals, scientists say it may become necessary to move some species to save them. Dubbed assisted colonization or assisted migration, the idea is to decide how severe the threat is to various species, and if they need help to deal with it.
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“When I first brought up this idea some 10 years ago in conservation meetings, most people were horrified,” said Camille Parmesan, a biology professor at the University of Texas.

“But now, as the reality of global warming sinks in, and species are already becoming endangered and even going extinct because of climate change, I’m seeing a new willingness in the conservation community to at least talk about the possibility of helping out species by moving them around,” she said. Parmesan discusses the idea in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.

It’s an idea that makes conservation biologists nervous.

There are plenty of risks in moving plants and animals to new locations. They may not survive, or they may become invasive, growing wildly without predators and crowding out natives of their new location.

And it’s not possible to relocate every species that may need it, so how to decide who gets moved and who gets left behind to become extinct?

Stanford biologist Terry Root has been traveling the country urging her colleagues to come up with a plan for “triage” to decide which species should be saved from global warming and which can’t. After other biologists complained about the word “triage,” Root said she now calls it prioritizing which species should be saved.

“We’ve got to work on the ones we have a prayer of saving,” Root said.

Some species will have to be written off, she suggested, such as threatened and endangered species of the Sky Islands in Arizona and New Mexico because “they don’t have any place to move to.”

“Those species are functionally extinct right now,” Root said. “They’re toast.”

When deciding which species to save and which to watch die, Root said one key is uniqueness. That’s why she said she’d save the odd-looking Tuatara of New Zealand, a lizard-like creature with almost no living relatives, over the common sparrow.

The risk of extinction has to be balanced by the potential hazard to the community where a species is relocated as well as the time and cost of making the move, Parmesan says.

“Ultimately, the decision about whether to actively assist the movement of a species into new territories will rest on ethical and aesthetic grounds as much as on hard science,” she said in a statement.

“Passively assisting coral reef migration may be acceptable, but transplanting polar bears to Antarctica, where they would likely drive native penguins to extinction, would not be acceptable,” she said.

“Conservation has never been an exact science, but preserving biodiversity in the face of climate change is likely to require a fundamental rethinking of what it means to preserve biodiversity,” Parmesan said.

___

AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this report.

___

Bear Article In Post Blatent Poppycock

July 18, 2008

There is an article on line entitled, A Bears Best Friend by Michael Gerson. It is in the Washington Post.com. I am not the writer that Geason is by any stretch of the imagination, nor do I profess to be. I am one of those Enviro.’s Gerson refers to in his article and he refers to people like me as one of the reasons the earth, thus bears, will go down the tube.

Lets just say I bristled as I read this collum while eating a bowl of Raisen Bran this morning. I think it is the effect people like Gerson are going for, and he certainly achieved that effect by spouting out old stereotypes about the environmentalist movement in the good old USA.

First of al, Gerson is right, I am suspicious that I am on the same team as the GE’s of the world. I am very suspicious of the Exxon-Mobile’s of the world. I know I fought GE in court over such things as toxins they were responsable for putting in human drinking water fewer than twenty years ago. For Exxon-Mobile, I say, get in line everyone, including my non-environmental neighbors. They seem to be everyone’s “wipping boys” these days, not just mine, and for me the anymosity goes way back.

Lets go to yesterday as I waited with what seemed like a couple thousand enviros to get into the Gore speech in the Washington D.C. heat. Anti-Gore elements were outnumbered ten to one. But the anti-Gore elements were photographed by the press, much more by far, than pro-Gore elements and they were given a wide birth by the Enviro.s and allowed to protest in the face of a very pro-Gore crowd. They even put Gore’s carbon footprint number in front of a CCAN group, that was ever present at the event and was respectful of the anti-Gore right to demonstrate. These anti-Gore protestors stood in the only shade and recieved a light banter every now and then from the pro-Gore people. I could only think the press got the wrong story, just as Gerson did.

I remember thinking how horrific the folks in Bangeladesh and the folks in Myanmar got nailed by cyclones, in fact I thought of the politics of both places and thought about how our, Katrina was an equal devistation and that many good people would suffer because they had no clue what nature had in store, or could not get out of the way of the hurricane for whatever reason. In the case of Katrina everyone stood by in shock. In the case of Pacific Cyclones it was severe poverty and in the case of Myanmar mix that in with “strong men” and an old fashioned dictatororship looking out for number 1, and not the folks of Myanmar.

I saw nothing partisan about reactions from many groups that went down to help Katrina victoms or people who wanted to help the Pacific Cyclone victoms.

Back to Gore…The folks in front of me were school teachers, from the fifth grade, and they did not look anything like my stereotype of an enviro. The folks behind me were Move-On .org old hippies and they were having a raucus political disscussion with the couple behind them. The couple behind the Move-On folks were talking, also, about the size of Constitution Hall and not to worry about getting in without G tickets (or in my case cut off the G tickets, the very thing you got in on). We were all of 5 feet from the anti-Gore folks and read the anti-Gore posters, just shook our heads and said nothing to anti-Gore folks who were half our age. We all, I am, liked polar bears, even though Iam sure we all had differing perceptions of polar bears and we had differing experiences with “ice bears”. What struck me was that half of the well behaved crowd at the Gore event were wearing ties and the thought of saving bears never came to them, nor me, for that matter. A lot of folks had federal ID’s and I thought what an interesting place and a way to spend lunch. When I got home I was told I could redo the Gore Speech on You-Tube, and I did.

Back up a little. On my way home I rode a subway bus full of Zoogoers and read my book quietly.

Twenty years ago I would do the same thing, feel very bad, as now, for the bears and the people, I would be very much like the persons who live around me very non-partisan and very non-angry except when an unjustice is wreaked, percieved, or actually so. I would gladly sit by a GE employee and discuss things like dye or PCB’s in the water or Exxon oil spills over several hundred miles of coast for that matter; as persons from both parties in Alaska happily recieved their oil subsidy checks and cashed them. I am an Enviro., do you really think I care more about bears than people. Is there room to care about bears and people. I do. As far as Gerson’s stereotype go’s I would be hardpressed to care equally, but as far as reality is concerned, there is nothing partisan about caring what happens.

Matt