Archive for November, 2008

Al Gore On Opra

November 29, 2008

I have seen the Opra show twice. Recently she did a show on cooking Thanksgiving Dinner. I thought the news was on and got caught up in her show. The day after Thanksgiving I was again looking for news and I caught Al Gore on Opra and the show was called Global Warming 101. Of course I watched. I missed the part Opra liked about a polar bear coming out on the ice but I read something about polar bears and global warming almost everyday.

This is not the time to be a bear lover, which I am because polar bears do have shrinking ice and more of a lack of prey than ever. So this may be their last century on the earth. Many groups are trying to change that and more power to those groups.

I was going to write about the good work of the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance in Laramie, Wyoming. They have done a great report on the citation of wind energy farms in Wyoming as it relates to wildlife. Write Erik Molivar for a copy-check out their website for sure.

But Gore was patient and Opra showed what looked like real empathy for the topic of our times.

I am no doubt a fan of Gore’s and see him as more professorly on this important topic then as the former VP of the US.

Of course Opra did have some skeptic on, who sounded reasonable, but was way off base about this topic of Global Warming. I am so tired of these people and Gore had the right argument of a scientific, irrefutable consensus on this topic.

I do not see NY city, or part of the city, underwater anytime soon but I do see a couple of feet of sea-level increase on our coastlines soon, and thar will cost us ecologically and financialy also and I do see the Greenland Ice going, the Arctic ice going and I do not know enough about the Antarctic, but what I have read is not good and I do agree that it has been warmer than ever.  I see the facts backing that up and I know that 120 degrees is a lot of degrees for a summer day in South Dakota. A lot of Walleye Fishermen or women are not going to be out along the Missouri at Pierre in those kinds of temperatures…they are not fools.

Continue to ignore the facts at your own peril but I am glad Gore is out there talking about Global Warming and someone like Opra listens and believes him.

Matt

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The Bald Eagle and Toxins

November 26, 2008

I was sitting in my son’s living room in Bozeman, Montana two days ago and an adult Bald Eagle flew overhead, two blocks from downtown Bozeman. Ten days ago Bald Eagles, eight of them, were flying overhead, or perched, in the Cottonwoods nearby, offering exceptional looks in Montana at a place called Ennis Lake. In Northern, Virginia I saw a Bald Eagle perched on a Tulip Tree in Potomac Overlook Regional Park near Washington D.C last year.

 

Forty years ago you would have been hard pressed to see such a site, even in places like Bozeman, Montana. Now eagles are nesting across the United States, even in large urban areas where they had not been seen in years. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have de-listed the Bald Eagle from the Endangered Species Act.

 

In an article published in the New York Times on 11/25/08 the Bald Eagle is identified as a bird that might become endangered again as toxins are more common in the eagle’s food source. This is significant because the Bald Eagle is a symbol of our country.

 

The article identifies Mercury as the source of concern, but there are many other toxins of concern in the eagle’s habitat. In the early 1970’s there was 1 nesting pair of bald eagles in the state of New York, there are now 145 nesting pair’s of eagles in New York state, according to the New York Times. That is a lot of eagles for one of the nation’s most populous states.

 

In the early seventies DDT was a problem for eagles as well as the endangered Peregrine Falcon, and now the successful nesting of Bald Eagles may in fact be slow because of Mercury contamination in places like the Catskill region of New York, according to this article.

 

Eagles, like all predatory species of animal, act like “canaries in a mind shaft” and in the Catskill region of New York, there are several reservoirs that are drinking water for several million US residents in New York City. I was not aware of that.

 

The biodiversity Research center of Maine is studying how methyl mercury is ending up in a food chain where Bald Eagles and human beings are sitting at the top of. The Bald Eagle eats fish that are contaminated with methyl Mercury. Humans drink the water that is partial habitat for the eagles and humans eat fish from places where these types of toxins are relevant.

 

Mercury in eagles is cropping up throughout the US in other populations of the Bald Eagle, according to the New York Times. There is now more scrutiny in this kind of toxin contamination and in the near future it will become a major problem for Bald Eagles and humans if nothing is done. 

 

Protection under the Endangered Species Act really helped the Bald Eagle become a success story. That protection lapsed when the eagle was delisted 2 years ago. Toxins have always been a problem for all raptorial birds, but now more so than ever the toxins are a real problem that has increased over many boundaries.

 

Eagle’s, formerly considered doing well, are now dying at an alarming rate from toxins they get from their food; like ducks with lead in them and fish and road kill with Mercury. It’s hard being at the top of the food chain like the Bald Eagle when you regularly eat foods with high doses of toxins in them.

 

Last year I saw another formerly beleaguered bird near Washington D.C., again in Northern, Virginia on a lake near Alexandria, a bird that was brought back from the brink, like the Bald Eagle, which also was scarce and in danger of extinction, the Peregrine Falcon.

 

The Peregrine suffered, like the eagle of today, from toxins, in the case of the peregrine it was now banned in the US that is DDT poison. The falcon’s eggs were getting too thin for the bird to reproduce successfully-so many groups went to work to bring the birds back from the brink of extinction.

 

We have to make sure the eagle does not fly near the edge the way its cousin the Peregrine Falcon did.

 

Now you can see Peregrines commonly as they migrate along coastlines dive bombing shore birds from Eastern North America. You can even watch them in cities like Boise, Idaho, as they harass the local rock dove population.

 

Many organizations, are working to remove these toxins from our environment. The work gets tricky as the Federal Government and large corporations try hard to block meaningful environmental efforts. Many groups work hard to identify these toxins and eliminate these harmful toxins from our environment. One of the Nationaly prominant groups that work on toxins is the NRDC.

 

This is a hard topic but it will be cracked for sure!!!!

Matt

Wind Turbines, Raptors, Other Wildlife and Global Climate Change

November 25, 2008

Raptors are daytime predatory birds. Hawks, falcons and eagles are different but they are raptors and owls are not. They migrate in windy areas. Wind turbines are one of the alternative forms of energy that will impact raptors.

 

Citing wind turbines, so that they pose the least amount of threat to migrating raptors, that use the winds when they migrate, can be difficult, but is worthwhile to one of our important migratory wildlife resources. Wind energy is being evaluated in states like Montana where the wind blows almost continuously and hard in the eastern part of the state and where raptor species like the Ferruginous, Swainson’s and Red-tailed Hawks and Prairie Falcons and Golden Eagles nest, and later migrate, where wind power is being developed.

 

During their migrations raptors will concentrate and fly high in huge kettles or clusters, away from wind turbine sites or fly in wind prone areas at low altitudes, vulnerable to wind turbines.

 

Raptors will, seemingly, fly against the wind following updrafts right into wind power sites.

 

Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), a major National conservation group, supports the use of wind turbines. These turbines are already placed where they can, and do, negatively affect raptors and other forms of wildlife. Wind energy is a viable form of alternative energy that is supported by the NRDC in its fight to curb the affects of global climate change on wildlife.

 

There are guidelines to put wind turbines in places so that the impact on raptors and other forms of wildlife is minimal, to non-existent.

 

With a simple internet search we can protect raptors, and all other birds, bats and butterflies as well as other animals as we mitigate and arrest global climate change and we develop wind energy and place wind turbines so their impact on raptors and other wildlife is minimal.

 

Matt

 

Carbon Dioxide and Wildlife Mitigations

November 24, 2008

Carbon Dioxide is a bi-product of “clean coal”. In places like Montana where coal is abundant I see this (sequestering) as a viable way of developing energy, that is a 2 step, to alternative forms of energy. I see some serious wildlife questions that  need to be addressed from my standpoint. These concerns as evidenced by Wyoming’s Biodiversity Report are being addressed.

They say we can develop alternative forms of energy in SE Wyoming. I lived down there for 2 years and saw a lot of Burrowing Owls and black-tailed prarie dogs. We have to look hard at more than just grizzly bears. Just a precaution from me, a canary in the mine-shaft.

Matt

Bush And The Endangered Species Act

November 21, 2008

Yesterday on the early morning news was a snippet of news that really caught my attention. There was a picture of Bush at a speaker’s lecturn talking in great disarticulatio and smiling. The jist of what he was happy about, and what he just did, was that he just finished tinkering with the Endangered Species Act. Bush let Federal Agencies determine, for themselves, whether some action that the agency would propose would impact, or not, an Endangered Species. What he did was let “foxes guard the henhouse”. This is a good analogy for what Bush is doing for many things.

 Bush is more dangerous in  this role than in most any role he has done…and that is really saying a lot about a man or a person that I have never seen the likes of. That says a lot also.

Matt

Bone Picking And “Clean Coal” Sequestration

November 20, 2008

Bone To Pick:

Why did the Auto CEO’s come in seperate private jets to Washington D.C. ? Talk about really, really bad signals.

Why is Hummer still advertising…does anyone buy those beasts at all? Talk about the wrong idea.

Sequestration:

Montana got a grant for 67 million dollars for Montana State University to see if sequestration will work for “Clean Coal”. Talk about a great place in the US to research a Sequestration model for coal. It is definitely a step in the right direction.

Matt

Friedman, Right On

November 18, 2008

Hello All:

I see Friedman as right most of the time and I see him as spot on on this topic. I hope Obama read’s Friedman…we know that Bush doesn’t.

Matt

November 13, 2008

Section: Editorial

BAILOUT FOR DETROIT?: HOW TO FIX A FLAT AUTO INDUSTRY

 

THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN SYNDICATED COLUMNIST


Last September, I was in a hotel room watching CNBC early one morning. They were interviewing Bob Nardelli, the chief executive of Chrysler, and he was explaining why the auto industry, at that time, needed $25 billion in loan guarantees. It wasn’t a bailout, he said. It was a way to enable the car companies to retool for innovation. I could not help but shout back at the TV screen: “We have to subsidize Detroit so that it will innovate? What business were you people in other than innovation?” If we give you another $25 billion, will you also do accounting?

How could these companies be so bad for so long? Clearly the combination of a very un-innovative business culture, visionless management and overly generous labor contracts explains a lot of it. It led to a situation whereby General Motors could make money only by selling big, gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles and trucks. Therefore, instead of focusing on making money by innovating around fuel efficiency, productivity and design, GM threw way too much energy into lobbying and maneuvering to protect its gas guzzlers.

This included striking special deals with Congress that allowed the Detroit automakers to count the mileage of gas guzzlers as being less than they really were – provided they made some cars flex-fuel capable for ethanol. It included special offers of $1.99-a-gallon gasoline for a year to any customer who purchased a gas guzzler. And it included endless lobbying to block Congress from raising the miles-per-gallon requirements. The result was an industry that became brain-dead.

Nothing typified this more than statements like those of Bob Lutz, GM’s vice chairman. He has been quoted as saying that hybrids like the Toyota Prius “make no economic sense.” And, in February, D Magazine of Dallas quoted him as saying that global warming “is a total crock of [expletive].”

These are the guys taxpayers are being asked to bail out.

And please, spare me the alligator tears about GM’s health care costs. Sure, they are outrageous. “But then why did GM refuse to lift a finger to support a national health care program when Hillary Clinton was pushing for it?” asks Dan Becker, a top environmental lobbyist.

Not every automaker is at death’s door. Look at this article that ran two weeks ago on autochannel.com: “ALLISTON, Ontario , Canada – Honda of Canada Mfg. officially opened its newest investment in Canada – a state-of-the art $154 million engine plant. The new facility will produce 200,000 fuel-efficient four-cylinder engines annually for Civic production in response to growing North American demand for vehicles that provide excellent fuel economy.”

The blame for this travesty belongs not only to the auto executives, but must be shared equally with the entire Michigan delegation in the House and Senate, virtually all of whom, year after year, voted however the Detroit automakers and unions instructed them to vote. That shielded General Motors, Ford and Chrysler from environmental concerns, mileage concerns and the full impact of global competition that could have forced Detroit to adapt long ago.

Indeed, if and when they do have to bury Detroit , I hope that all the current and past representatives and senators from Michigan have to serve as pallbearers. And no one has earned the “honor” of chief pallbearer more than the Michigan Rep. John Dingell, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who is more responsible for protecting Detroit to death than any single legislator.

OK, now that I have all that off my chest, what do we do? I am as terrified as anyone of the domino effect on industry and workers if GM were to collapse. But if we are going to use taxpayer money to rescue Detroit , then it should be done along the lines proposed in The Wall Street Journal on Monday by Paul Ingrassia, a former Detroit bureau chief for that paper.

“In return for any direct government aid,” he wrote, “the board and the management [of GM] should go. Shareholders should lose their paltry remaining equity. And a government-appointed receiver – someone hard-nosed and nonpolitical – should have broad power to revamp GM with a viable business plan and return it to a private operation as soon as possible. That will mean tearing up existing contracts with unions, dealers and suppliers, closing some operations and selling others and downsizing the company … . Giving GM a blank check – which the company and the United Auto Workers union badly want, and which Washington will be tempted to grant – would be an enormous mistake.”

I would add other conditions: Any car company that gets taxpayer money must demonstrate a plan for transforming every vehicle in its fleet to a hybrid-electric engine with flex-fuel capability, so its entire fleet can also run on next-generation cellulosic ethanol.

Last, somebody ought to call Steve Jobs, who doesn’t need to be bribed to do innovation, and ask him if he’d like to do national service and run a car company for a year. I’d bet it wouldn’t take him much longer than that to come up with the GM iCar.

Electric Cars And More Opinions

November 15, 2008

I see one electric car, sitting lonely (like most cars or gas “guzzlers” these days) on a dealers lot, around Bozeman, Montana. I am told this car can travel 50 mph in town. That speed would frustrate some, but I think we can survive driving 50 mph anywhere.

When I think of electricity I think of raptors (predatory birds that are “hawklike”) frying themselves, or choking themselves on power wires and I see wild salmon trying to leap up a ladder to get above dams. Or wind turbines placed willy nilly, with no concern for wildlife use areas; something that does not have to happen as we explore where to place wind turbines (it is a power form that will happen in windy places.)

So what is the solution?

My guess is we do not have a choice here. The days of using oil and coal are over, or numbered to end soon, in spite (I can only hope) of falling gas prices.

When persons start applying some of those responses they have to the financial crisis, and subsitute their frugality for energy efficiancy we will survive, as the disco songs fortuitous words ring out “I will survive” who is the “I” its not me (is it my children? Others). I will not be around for that party.

So I ask persons who will be around, where, and what kinds of wildlife will survive an even larger fiasco then the financial crisis, that is a changing climate, global warming…and I do believe our thoughtless habits, mine included, did contribute in a “speed up dramatically” way.?

My feeling is that “Mother Nature ” will make her corrections in spite of wild forms of life and in spite of our deliberations.

Matt

61 Trees Per Person

November 13, 2008

Two days ago on NPR, the public radio show, had a guest who said there are 61 trees per person on the earth. (t sounds like a lot to me), but after listening to how these trees are literally used up it really is not a lot of trees per person. As you probably know, trees use up Carbon Dioxide for respiration, cleaning up one of the most harmful gases that we know.

Trees can be as important as human efficiancy and the use of alternative fuels.

The number of trees per person should be more like 400 trees per person, which is a very achievable goal. Those trees need to be planted, which is very labor intensive…so what a way to make money; especially for youth, and much stronger backs.

Planting trees is a lot of work, but should be on the table and considered for our changing world.

Matt

Transition

November 12, 2008

 (11/11/2008)

Darren Samuelsohn, E&ENews PM senior reporter

President-elect Barack Obama plans to move quickly to implement his campaign promises on energy and global warming after taking office in January, Obama’s transition co-chairman, John Podesta, said today.

Speaking to reporters from Obama’s transition office in Washington, Podesta did not directly address a question about whether the economic downturn would influence the incoming administration’s decision on whether to regulate greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act. Instead, Podesta, former chief of staff to President Clinton, offered a broad outline of where Obama would go with global warming and energy issues.

The Obama Administration

“I anticipate him moving very aggressively and very rapidly on the whole question of transforming the American platform in the United States from one that’s based on high-carbon energy to one that’s based on low-carbon energy,” Podesta said. “To move toward clean energy. And to make the right kinds of investments, which I think that will again serve the three goals of dealing with the security challenge of our oil dependency, of our environmental challenge that we face from global warming in particular, as your question implied, and the economic challenge of creating new investment, new innovation, putting people back to work and getting the economy moving again.”

Podesta also avoided providing a direct answer when asked if Obama planned to grant California’s request for a U.S. EPA waiver that would allow it and more than a dozen other states to enforce state laws limiting greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles.

“As you know, the president-elect during the campaign suggested he wants to rely on science,” Podesta said. “And I think that’s a matter that’s under review by the transition. And we’ll move forward consistent with what he said during the campaign.”

Ethics rules

Obama’s transition team — with 450 employees and a $12 million budget — is split between downtown Washington and the federal building in Chicago. During today’s briefing, Podesta detailed ethics rules that he called “the strictest and most far reaching ethics rules of any transition team in history.”

The rules include a prohibition on accepting any donations from federal lobbyists, as well as a blackout that stops anyone from lobbying while they are working on the transition. Obama also will block anyone from working on the transition in a field they lobbied on in the last 12 months. And no one who worked on the transition can lobby the Obama administration on the same issue for 12 months.

“I’ve heard the complaint that we’re leaving all this expertise on the side, we’re leaving people out in the cold,” Podesta said. “So be it. That’s a commitment that I think is one that the American public expects. It’s one that the president-elect made. It’s one we intend to enforce during the transition and I know he intends to enforce in his government.”

Obama transition officials have also started doing background checks on potential Cabinet nominees. While Podesta would not comment on any names, he said most of the announcements would come while Obama is in Chicago, “though I can’t guarantee that.”

“When he knows someone casually, my expectation is he’ll want to spend more time with that man or woman before making that selection,” Podesta explained. “With each and every one of them, whether he knows them well or whether he knows them less well, before offering the job of a Cabinet position, he’ll want to have a serious conversation about the direction that they want to take the policy of that Cabinet department and what he sees as the priorities of his administration.”

Asked about timing for the announcements, Podesta referred to past transitions. He explained that since President Kennedy, only President George H.W. Bush has announced any of his Cabinet appointments before December. “We’re going to try and accelerate that,” he said.

Starting Monday, Podesta said that Obama would have transition teams stationed at some 100 departments, agencies and commissions across the government and at the White House. Names of people leading the transition teams for the individual agencies will be released later this week at www.change.gov. Specific transition members will also be named as they are cleared through security.

Sources say former Clinton Interior Deputy Secretary David Hayes is in charge of transition planning for all of the key energy and environmental agencies, including U.S. EPA and the Interior, Energy and Agriculture departments. At EPA, Obama has picked Robert Sussman and Lisa Jackson to run what will be a 10-12 person transition team, developing key policy recommendations and also monitoring the status of final Bush administration actions.