Saturday, August 30, 2008

Deconstructing Sarah Palin

The selection of Sarah Palin as veep contender yesterday has led to a media frenzy on the merits of McCain's pick. Aside from being really shocked that someone with so little political experience could even be considered (especially when everyone makes such a big deal about experience in these races), we're also disgusted by the blatant anti-feminist statement that such a choice makes. But, you don't really come to us for generalized political critique, do you? So, let's turn back to her lousy environmental record:

"Palin Worse Than Bush on Environment" (Daily Kos)
Sarah Palin has been very busy in her short time in office. Busy raping and pillaging the environment. The extent of her short-sightedness and irresponsibility is nauseating. And this was just scratching the surface, pre-coffee on a Saturday morning.
Palin's Wildlife Cartel Represents Circumnavigation of Ethics, Truth(Alaska Wildlife Alliance- presumably these folks have some insight)
Alaska has become a state which is run by and for the corporation and special interests....

Palin's wildlife cartel represents the greatest circumnavigation of ethics, truth, science and morality ever perpetrated on the people of Alaska by their government. Palin appointed a commissioner and Board of Game sympathetic to the special interests of the Alaska Outdoor Council and the Safari Club. Our state biologists have been reduced to hired guns. Science has been twisted or completely abandoned in favor of manipulation. Conspiracy? Psychosis? Probably both!
Defenders of Wildlife says that she's to the right of the Bush Administration. We didn't know there even was any room to the right of the Bush Administration, but we're shaking our heads in wonder now.

U.S. News and World Report has a handy list of 4 things Ms. Palin believes about the environment, and they all favor resource extraction. Surprise!

And finally, and we'll leave it here for now: She's a proponent of teaching creationism in the schools and:
In addition to her unscientific views on evolution, Palin has said she does not believe that human activities are contributing to global climate change, a fact of planetary life on which the world’s best scientists have reached complete consensus.
We hope that she's praying to her Creator about all of this, because the Intelligent Designer seems to have fallen asleep at the wheel.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Oh brother! McCain picked Palin?

McCain picked Alaska's industry-friendly polar bear-hating Governor as his running mate. This maneuver is so patently designed to give McCain appeal with non-geriatrics, and so clearly a ploy to make the Republican Party look sexy and hip again that if Ms. Palin had any self-respect (and she doesn't), she would object to being used in this way.
Ms. Palin is known to conservatives for choosing not to have an abortion after learning two years ago that she was carrying a child with Down’s syndrome. “It is almost impossible to exaggerate how important that is to the conservative faith community,” Mr. Reed said.
Right. It's important that we save the lives of unborn fetuses of humans, all other species and future generations of ours be damned.
Palin has pushed to build a natural-gas pipeline from Alaska's North Slope and for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, and recently sued the Interior Department over its decision to list the polar bear as a threatened species. Palin also recently proposed eliminating Alaska's gas tax and got the state legislature to pass a bill to provide each Alaskan $1,200 to help with energy bills. (via)
She's clearly of the same ilk as McCain and Bush- owned by the oil and gas industry, out of touch with climate reality, and far too right for most people with brain's in their heads.

We can probably expect Dick Kempthorne will keep his job if these two win in November. He's certainly playing their games.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A New Low

Scary article about the sea ice in today's NY Times.

WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE FOR PEOPLE TO REALIZE WE'RE IN THE HANDBASKET?

OK, not going to think about it. Did you see the twins?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Awesome article on crows

The NYT has a great article on crows and their remarkable memories. Don't miss the video. It's so cool!
Crows and their relatives — among them ravens, magpies and jays — are renowned for their intelligence and for their ability to flourish in human-dominated landscapes. That ability may have to do with cross-species social skills. In the Seattle area, where rapid suburban growth has attracted a thriving crow population, researchers have found that the birds can recognize individual human faces.
Ravens, too, we'd bet.

Animals are awesome.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ever feel like just sticking your fingers in your ears to block out the sound?

When we read stories of polar bears swimming unfortunately long distances because the sea ice is melting, we just find ourselves wishing for ignorance. Bliss, right? Because this is torture.
Ten polar bears, an unusually large number, were seen swimming in open water off the northern coast of Alaska recently, some heading for shore and some heading toward the retreating ice in the Chukchi Sea, two federal officials confirmed Friday.
Ah, that melting ice stuff again! We can't stand it!

Forget it. Read this instead. Much less depressing.

No?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Si se puede, BLM!

Earlier this summer, we said we were happy with the BLM again, making that some kind of annual record for 2008. However, today the new plan for the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument came out and we're almost unhappy enough to cancel out July's undue exuberance.

Almost.

You see, the C-S plan does intend to protect the monument’s biological diversity by closing roads and tightly regulating activities, like snowmobiling and logging, so we're slightly happy about that, depending on the extent of "regulation." However, and here's the bummer, the BLM failed to provide any removal orders for livestock on the Monument, perhaps the most contentious use to date.
Dominic Della Salla is with the Ashland-based National Center for Conservation Science and Policy.

He says the [new] plan is not restrictive enough, particularly on livestock grazing. He says President Clinton’s presidential proclamation was clear.

Dominic Della Salla: “If livestock was found to be incompatible with protecting the monument’s special features, then the cows had to go. Now, it’s been eight years since, there have been numerous studies in that monument, including by the BLM itself, and they’ve all concluded that the grazing is impacting the monument’s rare species.”

The BLM says the final plan postpones any further restrictions on grazing practices until this winter.
That sounds all too familiar. Seems like the BLM wouldn't quite know what to do without cows, cowboys, and a obsession with providing a special interest group with cheap access to vegetation on Monument lands. Have they no imagination?

Come on, BLM! You can do it! Imagine yourselves as a conservation-centered stewardship agency, not as the same pathetic "Lousy Management" shop you've been for years. You can transform yourself! Really!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mas chupacabras!

You may remember earlier this summer when we flagged your attention to the ESA listing potential of chupacabras. That may not be necessary.

Now, sightings of the the so-called mythic beast are becoming commonplace in Texas. Even a sheriff reports having seen one. (OK, not really a reliable indicator of credibility.)

But here's what is interesting- there is now some speculation that these latest sightings might be a coyote-Mexican gray wolf cross. Does anyone think this is a real possibility?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Arctic Sea Ice

We apologize that the link to the National Snow and Ice Data Center got removed a while back. Some of our savvy readers noticed and so the link to the source of the Arctic Sea Ice News and Daily image has now been restored (see the list over there on the right). Check out the graph on this page- you'll see that while still icier than last year, we're below the average.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Since when has the Government cared so much about expediency?

Today, the Department of Homeland Security denied a Texas county's reasonable proposal to minimize ill-effects of the border wall by mixing it up with a much-needed levee system. Seemed like a win-win solution for the human communities of this area, but no. Meeting the needs of the affected parties "isn't feasible."

And, why is that?

We're with the Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos, who believes that the driving force of this non-cooperation was the congressionally-mandated deadline to build 670 miles of pedestrian and vehicle fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border by year's end. (Read: before the current President and his evil minions get kicked out of D.C.)

The Bush Legacy. What a mess.

Monday, August 18, 2008

That Dam(n) Border Wall

The border wall is an ecological disaster, that much is plain. The myriad ways this disaster will manifest over time have yet to be enumerated, but one thing is for sure: it's serving as a dam in ephemeral cross-border washes and causing significant cumulative effects.

First came the ridiculous flood event in Nogales, Sonora. Not only did the border wall serve as a dam, but the Border Patrol managed- without permission- to screw up the flood control infrastructure that has been protecting these border towns.

Then came the extensive flooding in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and in Tohono O'Odham territory. The National Park Service said this:
Simply put: The fence did not live up to promises made by officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Border Patrol or Kiewit Western Co., the private company that built the fence for $21.3 million, the report said.

"As a consequence, natural resources of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and National Park Service infrastructure will be impacted, as well as resources and infrastructure on neighboring lands in the U.S. and Mexico," the report said.
The report goes on to identify a lot of erosion occurring around the base of the wall, which we take to be good news. This wall is going to require so much maintenance in our taking economy that it clearly only a temporary obstacle, a brief tribute to the stupidity of the Bush Administration.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

'Cause you don't really love me, you just keep me hanging on....

What will the Bushies think of next?

Yesterday, they announced plans to cut the northern spotted owl's protected habitat by 1.6 million acres. It's pretty depressing, in context of a species whose population is already plummeting towards extinction.
Environmental groups are already promising to take this decision to court, which means that this story is far from over. But decades of lawsuits haven't rescued the northern spotted owl yet; what we really need is a government that actually cares about saving them.
Godspeed the end of the Bush DOI.

Here's one more funny take on the what the current administration is hoping to achieve: motivation!
It's as though the Bush administration is employing hard-nosed management techniques to spur the owl toward recovery. As a species, the owl is underperforming (down four percent annually, not even accounting for inflation), so the administration will send it a message by cutting benefits. Next it will be the parking space, then the key to the executive wash room. Fear can be strong motivation.
Except that we don't think that this particular wrecking crew wants to owl to recover, do you?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Going down swinging at the Endangered Species Act

We didn't really expect that the Bushies would relinquish the opportunity to dismantle parts of the Endangered Species Act before they left office. We had hope that they would simply be content to ruin the economy, foreign relations, and the U.S. Mexico border region. But no.

The Bush Administration wants parts of the Endangered Species Act too.
New regulations, which don't require the approval of Congress, would reduce the mandatory, independent reviews government scientists have been performing for 35 years, according to a draft obtained by The Associated Press.

The draft rules also would bar federal agencies from assessing the emissions from projects that contribute to global warming and its effect on species and habitats.

If approved, the changes would represent the biggest overhaul of the Endangered Species Act since 1988. They would accomplish through regulations what conservative Republicans have been unable to achieve in Congress: ending some environmental reviews that developers and other federal agencies blame for delays and cost increases on many projects.
Damn those critters! Why don't they just go extinct already!

The ignominious Dale Hall had this to say about his shameful shamming:
"We are trying to be more efficient, which means not do consultations that result in a difference for the species," Hall said.
Was that some kind of typo or Freudian slip? Did we misread that?

UPDATE: There is a 30 day comment period on the rule change, but that clock doesn't start running until the notice is published in the Federal Register. More info and links can be found here. (Thanks for your request! Good to see folks wanting to participate, and we will try our best to highlight public comment opportunities in the future.)

UPDATE AGAIN: The Federal Register notice with info on how to comment can be found here. Thirty days starts now.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Nothing's Sacred

* Dook'o'oosłííd—Diné (Navajo)
* Nuva'tuk-iya-ovi—Hopi
* Dził Tso—Dilzhe’e Apache
* Tsii Bina—Aa'ku (Acoma)
* Nuvaxatuh—Nuwuvi (Southern Paiute)
* Hvehasahpatch or Huassapatch—Havasu 'Baaja (Havasupai)
* Wik'hanbaja—Hwal`bay (Hualapai)
* Wimonagaw'a—Yavapai
* Sunha K'hbchu Yalanne—A:shiwi (Zuni)
* 'Amat 'Iikwe Nyava[10]—Hamakhav (Mojave)
* Sierra sin Agua Spanish
* The Peaks—Anglo Arizonans
* Sewage-worthy- Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Capitalism stops at nothing. The Snowbowl in Flagstaff won't have to stop at climate change, which has induced a lack of natural snow on the ski slopes, and now it doesn't have to stop at pouring shit-water on a holy mountain in its quest for greasy bucks and fake snow.

A federal court ruled this week in favor of the Capitalists:
The court majority said the use of the wastewater won't violate the U.S. Religious Freedom Restoration Act because it doesn't "substantially burden" the native groups' religious practices.

The Indian groups contended the wastewater snow would desecrate the mountain, deprecate their religious ceremonies and offend their religious feelings.

But Judge Carlos Bea said in the majority opinion that the effect on the Indians' "subjective spiritual experience" does not qualify as a substantial burden under the law because the Indians will not be denied access to or use of the mountain for religious practices.
So, basically the Court said, "Screw you, Tribes." It ruled that since the Native Americans still get to go to the Peaks, it doesn't really matter what is done to the land. Isn't it lucky that Anglos worship money?

We expect widespread protests from skiers everywhere who will boycott the shitty Snowbowl. This means you.

And, let's not forget that these oinkers are operating on public land.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Gee, this wouldn't have anything to do with oil, would it?

Alaska, cold Alaska, demonstrates that it has an icy heart when it comes to the charismatic polar bear. Yesterday Alaska sued Dirk Kempthorne and the US Fish and Wildlife Service over the polar bear listing decision.
Gov. Sarah Palin and other state officials fear a listing will cripple offshore oil and gas development in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in Alaska's northern waters, which provide prime habitat for the only polar bears under U.S. jurisdiction.
Basically, Alaska cares more about oil and gas revenues than it does about endangered species, but that really should come as no surprise. Last week's indictment of Ted Stevens was only the tip of the iceberg in how industry money controls the state. Oh, wait, maybe it controls the entire country? Look at this: W praises criminals!

OK, back to polar bears before we lose our lunches:
Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity, the lead author of the petition that led to the listing, said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists addressed skeptics' objections during the listing process. She called the [Alaska] lawsuit "completely ridiculous and a waste of the court's time."

"This lawsuit and her head-in-the-sand approach to global warming only helps oil companies, certainly not Alaska or the polar bear," Siegel said. "Gov. Palin should be working for sustainable, clean energy development in Alaska instead of extinction for the polar bear."
Yes, Kassie, in a perfect world, she would be. But the destruction of our environment and the fate of the planet take a backseat to keeping the capitalists fat and happy, stupid and short-sighted as their appetites may be.

Monday, August 04, 2008

"What's Wrong with What We Eat"

Go to the WWP blog and watch this video which exposes a lot of what is wrong with our food chain . It's 20 full minutes, but it's worth each one.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Ah, but who will listen?

This piece in today's NY Times (who doesn't love the e-Times on Sunday?) tells of a new warning flag being raised by jellyfish.
The explosion of jellyfish populations, scientists say, reflects a combination of severe overfishing of natural predators, like tuna, sharks and swordfish; rising sea temperatures caused in part by global warming; and pollution that has depleted oxygen levels in coastal shallows.
Nothing says "summer" like some beach reading and a jellyfish sting.
But while jellyfish invasions are a nuisance to tourists and a hardship to fishermen, for scientists they are a source of more profound alarm, a signal of the declining health of the world’s oceans.

“These jellyfish near shore are a message the sea is sending us saying, ‘Look how badly you are treating me,’ ” said Dr. Josep-María Gili, a leading jellyfish expert.
(S)he sees sea pleas by the sea shore.