Archive for July, 2009

More On the Belaguered Whitebark Pine and the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear

July 24, 2009

In todays Bozeman Chronicle, the local paper says that this year is a good year for whitebark pine nuts near Jackson, Wyoming, about 200 miles south of here.

I do not want to sound like a pessimist but I do think white bark pine is on its way out.  The pine will either go the slow way…by blister rust, an exotic, man introduced fungus or faster by the mountain pine beetle, an artifact of a warming planet which I also think was caused by man. The white bark pine, which over the long haul will not be here and it is a primary food in the Yellowstone Ecosystem for grizzlies. 

Grizzly and black bears, eat the hard work of red squirrels, which harvest, then bury, the cones. Clark’s Nutcrackers, in the jay family, also eat these cones. These cones grow in about 4 year cycles and they are a major food source for the grizzly. When white bark pine nuts fail bears will often end up in towns or in hunters camps in the fall where they are often shot. Problem is we do not have many grizzly bears. The white bark pine is being petitioned to be listed under the protection of the Endangered Species Act by a national group the Natural Resources Defense Concil (NRDC).

Matt

I Am Back

July 23, 2009

For two days I have had glitches….but I am back now.

This article writes`about an issue that is huge in states in the midwest and the rockies, where I thought this bill would die on the vine…unfortunately. This makes me very optimistic. Please read.

Matt

New USDA Analysis: Economic Benefits Of Waxman-Markey For Farmers ‘Easily Trump’ The Costs

 
 
In testimony before the Senate Agriculture Committee today, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will debunk conservative fearmongering of the cost of cap-and-trade legislation on American farmers. Right-wing organizations from the Heritage Foundation to the American Farm Bureau have presented flawed analyses of the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) to claim that a cap on global warming pollution would lead to a “permanent drought season” for the agricultural sector. At the request of Republican Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Mike Johanns (R-NE), the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted their own analysis of the clean energy legislation. As Vilsack will testify, the USDA found that “the economic benefits to agriculture from cap and trade legislation will likely outweigh the costs”:
 
HR 2454’s creation of an offset market will create opportunities for the agricultural sector. In particular, our analysis indicates that annual net returns to farmers range from about $1 billion per year in 2015-20 to almost $15-20 billion in 2040-50, not accounting for the costs of implementing offset practices.
 
So, let me be clear about the implications of this analysis. In the short term, the economic benefits to agriculture from cap and trade legislation will likely outweigh the costs. In the long term, the economic benefits from offsets markets easily trump increased input costs from cap and trade legislation. Let me also note that we believe these figures are conservative because we aren’t able to model the types of technological change that are very likely to help farmers produce more crops and livestock with fewer inputs.
 
This analysis comports with the findings of the Brookings Institution, which found that a cap-and-trade system without an offset program would have little economic impact on the agricultural sector. Furthermore, not only does the USDA analysis not take into account the rewards of technology innovation, demand for biofuels, or opportunities for wind farms, it fails to account for the costs of inaction. Global warming has already hit American farmers hard, leading to reduced crop yields from droughts, floods, extreme storms, heat waves, seasonal shifts, and increased pestilence. In coming years, these disasters for farmers are expected to increase dramatically if no action is taken to address global warming.
 
The reality is that Waxman-Markey is both necessary for the survival of American farmers and an economic boon. The real debate Washington should be having is whether the concessions made on behalf of existing industrial agricultural giants weaken that opportunity — not only for the American public at large, but for the farmers themselves.

Cloud Formation, Rising Sea Levels and More Extreme Weather is due to Global Warming

July 20, 2009

More things in store for us as we continue to do nothing about the largest disastor of our times…just how hard are we going to fall. I am looking around for chicken little and his falling skies and cannot seem to find him!!!!

Matt

Friday, July 17 03:36 pm

Reuters Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

Cloud formation, sea level rises and extreme weather events are among areas set to get more attention in the next U.N. report on global warming due in 2014, the head of the Nobel Peace Prize winning panel said on Friday. Rajendra Pachauri also said the panel did not plan to issue more frequent reports as suggested by some governments, reckoning that several years were needed to come up with robust findings. The last series of reports was in 2007.

“We would certainly have much more greater detail,” in the next reports, Pachauri told Reuters in a telephone interview from Venice, where leading scientists have been meeting from July 13-17 to work on an outline to be approved later this year.

“In the case of clouds we will certainly provide much greater emphasis in this report — clouds, aerosols, black carbon. These are issues that we will certainly cover in much greater detail,” he said.

The 2007 report pointed to cloud formation as a big uncertainty in climate change. Warmer air can absorb more moisture and so lead to more clouds in some regions — the white tops can reflect heat back into space and offset any warming.

In an opposite effect, black carbon — or soot from sources such as factories or forest fires — can blanket ice and snow with a heat-absorbent dark layer and so accelerate a thaw.

“Sea level rise is another issue that…will get much greater in-depth attention,” he said.

Scenarios for sea level rise this century in the 2007 report ranged from 18 to 59 cm (7-24 inches). But it said that 59 cm should not be considered an upper limit because of uncertainties about a possible melt of Greenland and Antarctica.

HEATWAVES, MUDSLIDES

And the panel, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is also planning an extra report on extreme events such as droughts, floods, heatwaves or mudslides projected because of global warming.

Pachauri said the next report by the IPCC, which shared the 2007 Nobel Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, was intended to guide nations after the planned agreement of a new U.N. climate treaty in Copenhagen in December.

He welcomed an agreement by major economies at a Group of Eight summit in Italy last week to recognize a broad scientific view that world temperature rises should not exceed 2 Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.

But he said too little was being done to achieve the limit.

“It’s a step forwards. I wish they would have made some commitments on what would ensure limiting the temperature increase to 2 degrees,” he said.

“In the (2007 report) we said if you want to limit temperatures to that range all we have is up to 2015 as the year when global emissions must peak and they must decline thereafter,” he said.

Greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, have risen fast in recent years although recession is now curbing industrial activity in many nations. China has overtaken the United States as top emitter.

Of 177 scientific scenarios in the 2007 report, only 6 looked at tough emissions curbs needed to keep temperature rises below 2 Celsius.

Governments have put more funding into scientific research into higher emissions limits that they judge to be more likely.

“We’re certainly going to look at much more stringent mitigation,” Pachauri said, when asked if governments were still reluctant to put money into looking at curbs needed to achieve the 2 Celsius limit.

(Editing by Philippa Fletcher)

Cronkite

July 18, 2009

Goodbye to a great American, icon to an interesting time in America. Goodbye to Walter Cronkite.

I remember seeing him report the shooting death of President John F. Kennedy. I remember being in  a Catholic School classroom and the teacher put on the rabbit eared antenna, black and white TV we had in the classroom. Cronkite was the newscaster and before we left school for the day I recall Cronkite emotionally pronouncing the death of Kennedy. My dad, a nice guy, really liked Cronkite and he was on my dad’s newscast every day.

I will miss him and miss our country at a time when Cronkite was the voice of America.

Matt

Many Blogs Out there, Here Are Two Good Ones

July 17, 2009

I hope you read some of the same wildlife blogs I have. There are not many but there are some good ones and they write about a variety of topics. These blogs have a lot of good information and I certainly am very much impressed by them.

Of National Groups I have a huge bias towards anything the NRDC puts out…and they are GOOD writers and hard workers and smart, passionate people. They cover a lot of environmental topics in the US. They write a lot about a lot of good topics that include articles about endangered species and global climate change.

More regional, and also from a huge area is the Yellowstone Ecosystem which is covered by Ralph Maughn. Ralph Maughn’s blog, named Ralph Maughn’s Wildlife News. It is excellent and it can be very topical. The only thing is I wish is that Maughn would right more posts.

The good news for Maughn is that he is probably out in the hinterlands of Yellowstone roaming around.

I sure did in my past. Many of my best ideas were hatched while looking at a myriad of stars in the unlighted backcountry skies, or after the adrenylan flow that happens when you have a close encounter with huge, shaggy bison, antlered bull elk, or any elk for that matter, or the clacking huff of a mad bear.

Matt

Ruminations Again

July 16, 2009

The country is focused on Sonia Sotomayor and healthcare. Both are issues where a smidget of common sense helps a Senator with an easy decision. We are far from out of the woods on the financial crisis and the press seems focused on whatever gets ratings or “gotcha” journalism. I find these things hard to focus on even healthcare an issue that has, and still is influencing my life in a major way.

Let me just write, I do want us to pass  the cap and trade bill on the senate side. I can look around Montana and from my perspective I see a lot of nonsense being spouted by those that oppose cap and trade. I have Bozeman friends who see my desire  for mitigations for climate change as spinning my wheels. Am I?

I met an angry person yesterday and see myself as angry when I fume about letting our good earth slip by the wayside as critics like Palin, Inhoffe and the so called Swedish Environmentalist, Lomberg, I believe, helping “we the people” over the cliff of climate and a changing planet.

I just want to sit back and fish, while I can, for smallmouth bass along the Snake River at Hell’s  Canyon. I want to watch a hungry harpy eagle kill and eat it’s prey, or a Bengal Tiger, in the  Asian savanah, from the back of an Indian elephant. These might be “pipe dreams”.

There are still many things to do in this world and I am more able now to do some of these things.

Climate change can stop me dead in my tracks. I dont know why but I believe I see it dancing in the  hazel-blue eyes of my six year old daughter.

Matt

Baked Alaska and Palin

July 15, 2009
I hope Palin runs out of steam on this issue of Cap and Trade. I see this issue as a real, ecological issue in Alaska and think this issue will rear its head soon so that not even extremists like Palin can ignore it. She makes a hard issue harder.
Matt
http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/paltman/palins_recipe_for_baked_alaska.html
It was a surprise when Sarah Palin announced that she would step down as Governor of Alaska. But it isn’t so surprising that America’s biggest quitter doesn’t think Americans are up to the challenge of creating a clean energy economy supported by new industries, businesses and jobs.
In her first act as “What the…??”-in-Chief, Palin announced her intention to campaign against clean energy, saying in a guest editorial in yesterday’s Washington Post: “what is foremost on my mind and where my focus will be [is] President Obama’s cap and trade energy plan.”
Wow. If that’s what’s foremost on the mind of a Governor that just quit her job…I guess I’m back to being surprised..
Palin reviews all the reasons she is against the clean energy agenda. You’ve heard this recipe before. Start with three cups of well-kneaded numbers from the Heritage Foundation; add five or six hefty talking points from any brand of ExxonMobil front-group; slowly stir in 2 cups of tears from dirty energy executives lamenting the oncoming age of clean energy. Bring to a slow boil, stirring constantly.
How did she come up with this recipe? Well, Sarah Palin is from Alaska, where “we understand the inherent link between energy and prosperity, energy and opportunity, and energy and security.” And the rest of us don’t, you see.
And the links Palin suggests we consume are made out of the three fossil-food groups: coal, oil and gas, with nukes on the side. As she puts it: “Many states have abundant coal…Westerners literally sit on mountains of oil and gas, and every state can consider the possibility of nuclear energy.”
Ok, what I don’t understand is…how many Westerners can literally sit on a mountain of oil and gas? And how do they literally stay on top? But I digress.
Something Governor Palin doesn’t seem to understand is that her dirty energy entrée is spoiling prosperity/opportunity/security in Alaska. The US Global Climate Science program’s analysis of the impacts of global warming throughout the US – conducted under the Bush administration – documented that
  • Over the past 50 years, Alaska has warmed at more than twice the rate of the rest of the United States’ average. Its annual average temperature has increased 3.4°F, while winters have warmed by 6.3°F. The higher temperatures are already causing earlier spring snowmelt, reduced sea ice, widespread glacier retreat, and permafrost warming.
  • Warmer temperatures are already thawing Alaska’s permafrost, which threatens homes, and infrastructure. According to the report “Economists estimate that thawing permafrost will add billions of dollars in repair costs to public infrastructure.”
  • The combination of thawing permafrost and warmer temperatures are the likely cause of shrinking lakes across two-thirds of Alaska, lakes that are breeding grounds for waterfowl and shorebirds on which Alaska’s native people depend.
  • “The ground beneath some communities is literally crumbling into the sea. The rate of erosion along Alaska’s northeastern coastline has doubled over the past 50 years.”
  • “Fires are also increasing. By the end of this century, the area burned in Alaska is projected to triple under a moderate greenhouse gas emissions scenario and to quadruple under a higher emissions scenario.”
Now you’d think that as Governor, Sarah Palin must have noticed the melting permafrost, collapsing roads and buildings, villages falling into the sea, burning forests and so on. Apparently Governor Palin favors Baked Alaska.
As for the rest of us, if we want prosperity, opportunity, and security, clean energy is the right dish. We need to send Palin’s dirty energy entrée right back to the kitchen.

Palin Weighs In On Cap and Trade

July 14, 2009

Wrong! I wish she would just fade away. Wishful thinking? Read this drivel.

Matt

By Sarah Palin
Tuesday, July 14, 2009

 

There is no shortage of threats to our economy. America’s unemployment rate recently hit its highest mark in more than 25 years and is expected to continue climbing. Worries are widespread that even when the economy finally rebounds, the recovery won’t bring jobs. Our nation’s debt is unsustainable, and the federal government’s reach into the private sector is unprecedented.

Unfortunately, many in the national media would rather focus on the personality-driven political gossip of the day than on the gravity of these challenges. So, at risk of disappointing the chattering class, let me make clear what is foremost on my mind and where my focus will be:

I am deeply concerned about President Obama’s cap-and-trade energy plan, and I believe it is an enormous threat to our economy. It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage.

American prosperity has always been driven by the steady supply of abundant, affordable energy. Particularly in Alaska, we understand the inherent link between energy and prosperity, energy and opportunity, and energy and security. Consequently, many of us in this huge, energy-rich state recognize that the president’s cap-and-trade energy tax would adversely affect every aspect of the U.S. economy.

There is no denying that as the world becomes more industrialized, we need to reform our energy policy and become less dependent on foreign energy sources. But the answer doesn’t lie in making energy scarcer and more expensive! Those who understand the issue know we can meet our energy needs and environmental challenges without destroying America’s economy.

Job losses are so certain under this new cap-and-tax plan that it includes a provision accommodating newly unemployed workers from the resulting dried-up energy sector, to the tune of $4.2 billion over eight years. So much for creating jobs.

In addition to immediately increasing unemployment in the energy sector, even more American jobs will be threatened by the rising cost of doing business under the cap-and-tax plan. For example, the cost of farming will certainly increase, driving down farm incomes while driving up grocery prices. The costs of manufacturing, warehousing and transportation will also increase.

The ironic beauty in this plan? Soon, even the most ardent liberal will understand supply-side economics.

The Americans hit hardest will be those already struggling to make ends meet. As the president eloquently puts it, their electricity bills will “necessarily skyrocket.” So much for not raising taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 a year.

Even Warren Buffett, an ardent Obama supporter, admitted that under the cap-and-tax scheme, “poor people are going to pay a lot more for electricity.”

We must move in a new direction. We are ripe for economic growth and energy independence if we responsibly tap the resources that God created right underfoot on American soil. Just as important, we have more desire and ability to protect the environment than any foreign nation from which we purchase energy today.

In Alaska, we are progressing on the largest private-sector energy project in history. Our 3,000-mile natural gas pipeline will transport hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of our clean natural gas to hungry markets across America. We can safely drill for U.S. oil offshore and in a tiny, 2,000-acre corner of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge if ever given the go-ahead by Washington bureaucrats.

Of course, Alaska is not the sole source of American energy. Many states have abundant coal, whose technology is continuously making it into a cleaner energy source. Westerners literally sit on mountains of oil and gas, and every state can consider the possibility of nuclear energy.

We have an important choice to make. Do we want to control our energy supply and its environmental impact? Or, do we want to outsource it to China, Russia and Saudi Arabia? Make no mistake: President Obama’s plan will result in the latter.

For so many reasons, we can’t afford to kill responsible domestic energy production or clobber every American consumer with higher prices.

Can America produce more of its own energy through strategic investments that protect the environment, revive our economy and secure our nation?

Yes, we can. Just not with Barack Obama‘s energy cap-and-tax plan.

The writer, a Republican, is governor of Alaska.

EGADS

July 13, 2009

Oh Beautiful, for spacious skies—–This statistic wowed me and I somewhat know this process. Who does congress truelly represent.WOWEE!!!!!! Democracy?

Matt

“This week, the public interest groups Common Cause and the Center for Responsive Politics reported that, “According to lobby disclosure reports, 34 energy companies registered in the first quarter of 2009 to lobby Congress around the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. This group of companies spent a total of $23.7 million – or $260,000 a day – lobbying members of Congress in January, February and March.”

You Can Get the Full Report

July 13, 2009

This report is a measure of what is happening in certain parts of the globe and the report is well worth the read for climate change true believers. Please read some, or all, of this excellant National Wildlife Federation report. Here is their website for the report.http://www.nwf.org/extremeweather/pdfs/NWF_FloodReport_). Some of these problems, like the snow discharge, are happening now and here..!

Matt

Increased Flooding Risk Demands Better Choices to Manage Flood-Prone Areas

 

Washington, DC (July 9) – The United States is getting more heavy storms and major floods these days, detailed in a new report from the National Wildlife Federation.

“Global warming is partly to blame for these heavy rainfall events,” said Dr. Amanda Staudt, climate scientist, National Wildlife Federation. “Warmer air simply can hold more moisture, so heavier precipitation is expected in the years to come.”

To explain the bigger picture and provide recommendations for how to cope with projected changes and how to avoid the worst impacts of global warming, National Wildlife Federation’s mini-report Increased Flooding Risk: Global Warming’s Wake-Up Call for Riverfront Communities details:

  • How global warming has caused more heavy rainfall events
  • America’s over-reliance on levees and other strategies for taming rivers
  • Communities that are on the frontlines
  • What must be done to confront the realities of global warming

 

In the Midwest and Northeast, big storms that historically would only be seen once every 20 years are projected to happen as much as every 4 to 6 years by the end of the 21st century. At the same time, shifts in snowfall patterns, the onset of spring, and river-ice melting may all exacerbate flooding risks. In the Pacific Northwest, snow melt discharge occurs 5 to 20 days earlier than it did 50 years ago, and it could be an additional 30 to 40 days earlier by the end of the 21st century if global warming pollution is not curbed.

The last year has been no exception:

  • In June 2008, the rain-swollen Cedar, Illinois , Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and their tributaries topped their banks and levees, leaving hundreds of thousands of people displaced across the Midwest . Over $15 billion of agricultural and property losses were racked up and 24 people lost their lives.
  • In January 2009, floods in the Pacific Northwest caused $125 million of damage, evacuations of more than 30,000 people, and shutdown of major roads and rail service.
  • And, March brought record-high levels to the Red River bordering North Dakota and Minnesota , following an unusually wet fall and winter. Fargo narrowly averted a major disaster through a massive effort to build temporary sandbag levees and to evacuate thousands of people.

Many of our attempts to control rivers and our choices to live and farm in floodplains only serve to compound the risk of flood-related damages. The realization that the future will bring more flooding risk means that we need to make better choices about how we manage the landscape in flood-prone areas.

Grand Forks, North Dakota has done just that. Following devastating floods in 1997, the city took the bold action of buying out hundreds of properties in the floodplain and converting the land to parks, public recreation and habitat areas. They installed new grass covered levees and removable flood walls well back from the river’s edge, thereby allowing more space for the river to swell as it would under natural conditions. Grand Forks has absolutely reaped the benefits of these investments. None of the major floods in recent years have caused significant damages to the city.

“Now is the time to confront the realities of global warming, including the increasing frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall events across the country,” said Dr. Staudt. “We must aggressively move toward a cleaner energy future and reduce global warming pollution, thereby ensuring that we avoid the worst impacts.”

Important steps to reduce the risks to riverfront communities include discouraging development in flood-prone areas and protecting the natural systems, such as wetlands, that help to buffer against floods.