Archive for May, 2009

I Am Still Waxing About Life

May 29, 2009

Lester Brown wrote what I see as one of the best books on global warming, Plan 3.0 B. Brown calls North Korea  a failed state and it is. The North Korean Leader is a desperate man and one of his deperate last acts might be to toss nukes. Since I have no control over his insanity my response is introspection.

I, like most of you, have seen some insane things and have even been insane myself. I have also seen some neat things, so I am lucky.

Today was one of those days. This is a pretty chunk of the world but it is changing for my worse as global warming becomes more of a reality here and some smart people and the world just go around.

Today it got hot, but early in the morning it was cool and I was birdwatching along what used to be called the Linear Trail. I saw the snow covered six mountain ranges that surround this valley and I saw some migrating birds, even a bird that is not supposed to be here. But there he was at the top of some Black Cottonwoods singing and feeding. Two female birds were with the showy male Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Fire was burning somewhere. Farmers burn acres of fallow lands, before they plant. That must have been going on the benchlands above here.

Over the yearsI have seen moose, black bear, elk, mule deer and whitetailed deer along this trail.

I have seen some neat birds to along this trail, like the Gray-crowned Rosy Finch, Roughed Grouse and several Bald Eagles.

What a glorious morning, in spite of North Korea and changes that will come as the earth warms up and if Kim does not go insane with the nukes.

Matt

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Anecdotes On Life

May 27, 2009

I feel compelled to write down some things because I am listening to the news in the background and it is very frustrating. The newscasters, seemingly as fickle as and as shallow as the bankers of Wall Street and their gambling with other people’s money ways.

I really think the news of North Korea catching an insanity cold is, by far, the news of the day. Reporters are completely lathered up about the presidents supreme court nominee and gay marriage  and Burris (Senator from Illinois) and North Korea and it’s nukes are just a sidebar.

Pundits, like extreme right wing radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, are actually given credibility as they are part of the news and so on…

I just shake my head and breathe a sigh of relief that I will not be around for the worst of global warming. But the chances are good that my children will. I do not have faith that we will step in to save ourselves from the ravages of global warming.

Gloom and doom you say…probably so. So I will just “cool my jets” and write about some interesting experiances that may be interesting or just may be the waxing of a curmudgeon. Do not expect any hard journalism from me. I am not trained at all in journalism.

-I recall birdwatching in Costa Rica. I was afraid I was going to step on a fer de lance or bushmaster poisonous snake as I walked a mile back from dinner in the jungle dark in which there was no seeing in for me. I left a head lamp in my room in a small cabin. This cabin had no air conditioning but it had a great back porch to bird watch from and it had a shower and fan but I was stunned by the humidity of the area.

-I looked at birds on the famous  Costa Rican Ossa Peninsula. A huge highlite for me was to see Scarlet Mcaws feeding on palm nuts  in front of my tent. My tent was adjacent to a great looking beach and spectacular rainforest. Jaguar tracks were in a straight line down the beach nearby.

-I had savahna baboons in Africa, twice, try to get into a tent I was in. In Costa Rica I had simular encounters with white faced monkeys in a tent camp.

-Some of the best birdwatching I had was from porches in Central America and Africa (in the East).

-I  have seen brown bears (includes grizzlies) in the middle of nowhere, Wyoming and northern British Columbia. Large male bears were subserviant to fiesty female bears half their (male bears) size.

-I remember seeing wolves rendezvouing at an abandoned Tsim Tsam lodge on an island in the northern coast of British Columbia.

-A brown bear charged me because I was in its line of sight for a group of calving elk that the bear was watching and hungry for the elk herd’s calves.The bear “turned on a dime” before I reacted. This happened in Alaska.

-Once, in Alaska, I was sunbathing in the tundra when a large female brownie and her 2 cubs of the year were grazing right for me about forty yards away. They were distracted by their grazing so I  scooted  watching her all the way and literally slid down a mountain of spiny devil’s club (a type of plant) and thick alders.

-Once while in the Northwest Territories above the Mackensi Barrens I was on a mountaintop and saw ptarmigan flushing low and was told by a biologist that when ptarmigan flushed low like that that a Gyr Falcon or a Perigrine Falcon were hunting ptarmigan as opposed to a wolverine. We were trained well by this particular biologist who told us we would see what we saw.

-Have you ever crawled in a ber den? I have been in the den of a North American black bear, grizzly bear (brown bear) and a polar bear. The grizzly bear den belonged to a 600 pound (large for a Yellowstone area grizzly) who was just down the hill according to his radio collar.

-I still am, and was declared, disabled by the federal government. I caught the subway and walked (could not drive) to a spectacular birding spot near where I lived as a child. I did this several times. Much has changed since then from a birding spot perspective, but it was a great spot and we saw lots of neat birds there that is why I kept going back.

My impression is that global warming will make many of these experiances, fun experiances, things of a past that will not be possible in our future. We cannot follow a green line to a succesful life but someone will have many new experiances to relay in some medium.

I have heard the ultimate of gloom and doom scenarios resulting from our inability to respond to global warming. I have heard that if we act now to mitigate global warming we will save ourselves and some of this earth’s neat biodiversity. I am not sure what will happen to us as a species as global warming rears it’s head.

Matt

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Ecological Impacts of Climate Change

May 27, 2009

This is a 28 page long booklet and everyone who is involved in climate change needs to read this booklet, The Ecological Impacts of Climate Change. It is the best price…FREE. Put the title into your URL bar. This booklet is from the National Acadamie’s Press.

Matt

Carbon Caps Supported By Global Business Leaders

May 26, 2009
Please read this article. I was quite put back that this cap and trade program is not supported, unanimously, by all environmental groups. Interesting. I wonder if these changes will preserve much of the biodiversity in the world?
Matt
 By JOHN HEILPRIN
 COPENHAGEN -Global business leaders added momentum to prospects for a new U.N. climate treaty by agreeing Tuesday that the world must cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by mid-century by setting specific limits on carbon.
Government officials reported little progress in setting such limits, however, showing how distant a new treaty remains.
Some 500 CEOs and other top business experts said at the conclusion of the three-day World Business Summit on Climate Change in Denmark that “immediate and substantial” emissions cuts were needed by 2020, followed by cuts of at least 50 percent of 1990 levels by 2050. They said governments should use the marketplace to set a global price on carbon instead of taxing it, according to a statement from conference organizers.
Under cap-and-trade, the government establishes a market for carbon dioxide by selling credits to companies that emit greenhouse gases. The companies can then invest in technologies to reduce emissions to reach a certain target or buy credits from other companies that already have met their emission reduction goals.
But there is widespread dispute over the details of how cap-and-trade would work, with critics saying it would lead to higher costs for some consumers and could hurt bruised economies.
The business leaders said governments’ overriding aim at a December U.N. meeting in Copenhagen on replacing the 1997 Kyoto Protocol should be limiting the global average rise in temperature to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius.
Global temperatures have risen 0.22 degrees (0.12 degrees Celsius) since 1990, according to one U.S. government estimate. The U.N.’s chief panel on climate change estimates that the risk of increased severe weather will rise if the global average temperature increases between 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) and 3.6 degrees (2 degrees Celsius) above 1990 levels.
“There is nothing to be gained through delay,” the statement said, and the richest countries should be the first to make the biggest emissions cuts.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen told participants “your words are sweet music in my ears,” and called for developed countries to lead the way and enact emissions cuts of 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.
But doing that will be difficult. At a separate meeting in Paris, French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo, playing host to talks among the world’s biggest polluters, said the United States had backpedaled on promises to slash carbon emissions but China appeared “absolutely determined” to make deep cuts.
Borloo suggested President Barack Obama wasn’t following through on an earlier call for requiring deep cuts in U.S. carbon emissions.
“We want to tell them, ‘Yes, you can,’ you can do a lot more,” Borloo told Europe-1 radio in a report card on the Major Economies Forum, which brought together the 17 countries that produce four-fifths of global carbon emissions.
Obama has called for an 83 percent reduction in greenhouse gases from 2005 levels by the year 2050 using cap-and-trade. His budget plan banks on raising $646 billion in revenues from 2012 to 2019 from auctioning emission credits to companies. The money would fund renewable energy projects and provide a tax credit to help families cope with higher energy prices.
If governments agree in Copenhagen in December to set new limits to make carbon dioxide a scarcer commodity, CEOs said, their companies can lead the way to a greener economy.
“We’re going to have to fundamentally redefine our business models in a low-carbon world,” said James Rogers, chairman of U.S.-based electricity provider Duke Energy Corp.
The 1997 Kyoto Protocol’s mandatory cuts in greenhouse gases, which have produced mixed results, expire in 2012.
The United States never signed on to Kyoto, citing the costs to the economy and lack of participation by China, India and other fast-developing countries. But some of those countries have said rich countries are not aggressive enough in cutting their own emissions.
The hosts of the Paris meeting said they made progress on finding $100 billion a year to help poor countries limit pollution and adapt to climate change.
The next major round of U.N. climate talks toward a new treaty will begin in days in Bonn, Germany.

Swan Lake Flats Drying Up

May 26, 2009

I do not want to belabor this point but there was a lake, and I saw it for the thirty plus years. I looked there for black bears, grizzly bears, wolves and birds of all kinds, it was named Swan Lake flats. Twelve years ago it was loaded up with lesser scaup, a diving duck that prefers deep lakes.

The lake has since shrunk, vastly and back then when there was water on the lake there was a lot of waterfowl and now my friend walked on sedge lands where there was formerly water. We heard toads and sandhill cranes where for many years I saw nesting Barrow’s goldeneyes and nesting Trumpeter Swans, yellow-headed black birds,and many species of nesting waterfowl,  bears, and later, wolves.

In an earlier post I wrote about potholes at a place called Little America which has potholes dry and drying up. Swan Lake Flats, by road, is about 50 miles west of Little America, and for those who have been in this area, about 10 miles South of Mammoth, Wyoming, in Yellowstone Park.

We have serious global warming issues now and it seems that trained eyes, or eyes like mine away for a decade and trained to be ecologically observent, can see global warming of this planet coming fast like a wild fire on grasslands.

Matt

Birding and Gore

May 25, 2009

I went to global warming News on Yahoo and read that Albert Gore was saying we need to act on global warming now…nature does not give bailouts.

I can only hope we survive global warming and we act sooner than later. Under Obama the world is not so insane, but you have to admit this guy has a lot of balls in the air and the energy ball and the global warming balls are huge in spite of being ignored by the press and a lot of persons (voters).

I went birding in one of my favorite spots where I have birdwatched for twenty plus years. We are at the height of spring runnoff but the stream I have birdwatched along for twenty plus years is gone, bone dry. Talk about canaries in the mine shaft…I feel like a canary and see more and more of these kind of things in my world.

The other day while drinking coffee at my favorite coffee shop a friend commented, “you know Matt we had one day that was 91 degrees this year and for the past ten years it has been warmer in the spring for about ten days per spring”…it is sad but even the telivision weather men or women are ignoring these trends as they tell their viewers to get the barbques out.

Matt

Global Warming Solutions

May 23, 2009

I am listening to the news in the background and I think most newscasters really do not have a clue about most of anything. Their goal is to report on what in the short term is contoversial and what snippet of news might increase their ratings. Their priorities are much different then most person’s I know. 

This may seem oxymoronish but we need to hear a reporters point of view on most things but we also need to listen or watch for more than that. This realization has occured to me for many years, but my respect for the press has transcended all of this for just as long.

You say there is not enough time in the day to keep up with all of this news. My advice to you is to do this while you can and when you can but only watch it until you feel yourself going down, because news tends to be a downer or most telivision news is not good news. Focus on the news that you see as important.  Thats what I do, because I am encouraged to watch the news for these reasons: 

 I see places that are important to me disappearing as I write this post because of global climate change, something I see as very real, seemingly slow and very complex.

I see life forms that were a part of my life dying out.

I have progeny that will be seriously impacted by global climate change.

I have a good friend who tells me there is nothing you can do to stop global climate change. That may be true but I will try anyways (stubborness runs in my family, it is certainly a trademark of mine).

I enjoy a good battle and will go down trying to do what is not possible…change an unchangable view of global warming. What can be done:

Support measures (that makes sense) to actually promote “clean” energy, aka renewable forms of energy (the stimulus is where you currently see this). Make sure the Obama people do not change their course (because of politics) on new fuel emmisions guidelines by writing a lot of personal notes to the Obama folks thanking them for what they are trying to do. Tell Waxman and Markey to protect their bill which is now in the Senate; a great place for vulnerabilities of any bill to shine. Encourage your govenor, or wherever it is happening  (these things may be out of the pervue of a govenor but what a great place to start), to sequester carbon dioxide or methane  gas where it is geologically feasable to do so. Support “big-ticket” water conservation and soil measures that make sense for a viable society. Water and soil will be limiting factors in almost all cases to mitigate the impacts of global climate change.

To review :

I see vehicle emmisions as important, the use of alternative to fossil fuels energy and we must advocate for “clean” forms of energy.

I Support the sequestration of carbon dioxide, methane gas and all fossil fuel gases where possible. I Support, actively, water and soil conservation.

You can do each of these things and personal letters supporting these actions do help. Supporting these things may be way better than supporting many of the top 10 lists you see on living green lifestyles (but do not ignore what these lists say. The lists are usually right).

Matt

More On The Waxman/Markey Bill

May 22, 2009

I really hope, for a lot of reasons, that the Waxman/Markey Climate Bill passes. It passed the house relatively signable and with no real surprizes like the gun bill attached to the credit card bill. Talk about mixing breeds. Now that is an example of mixing gone crazy.

It scares me that Waxman and Markey’s bill is now in the Senate where there are enough Dem.s still running scared after the Bush years (its hard not to) and where conservative leaning Democrats rule.

There will be changes. But enough to make a decent bill toxic…I do not know.

Matt

African Penguins Are Up Against Global Warming

May 21, 2009

I looked at Yahoo News on global warming and saw many interesting articles like one where France’s Sarkosy is asking Obama to do more on global warming. I agree with Sarkosy but Obama is way ahead of the “Bushies”  on this issue and we need the Chineze and Indians to come along with us.

Ultimately I see global climate change as the issue that may overwhelm all other issues if we do not take action to mitigate global climate change now.

What stood out to me as a bird person was the plight of African Penguins. They are sharply declining from  human overharvest of penguin food and global warming decimating penguin habitat. Like the polar bear and ice seals, et. al., way to the north, they are quickly becoming a victom of global climate change. Can we change this?

How hard are we to fall?

Matt

Policy Work Marches On

May 21, 2009

I find during these times, like most times, politicians are a necassary evil. Lately politicians, in the guise of helping us average Americans, have instead realy helped the ultimate necassary evil in our country, the financial institutions.

All of this is going on while Waxman and Markey get a lively debate from congress on their bill, on climate change, potentially one of Congress’s great achievments if the bill does not get too watered down and gets to Obama’s desk relatively unscathed. We will see. As much as I love to loathe politicians I have to say that Waxman and Markey really are going all out to produce a good climate bill and I am impressed with their deliberations. More power to them.

Matt