Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

Wildfire: Let It Burn

August 11, 2017

Wildfire: Let It Burn

“Scientists at the cutting edge of ecological research … argue that the century-old American practice of suppressing wildfires has been nothing less than a calamity. They are calling for a new approach that basically involves letting backcountry fires burn across millions of acres.

In principle, the federal government accepted a version of this argument years ago, but in practice, fires are still routinely stamped out across much of the country. To the biologists, that has imperiled the plants and animals — hundreds of them, it turns out — that prefer to live in recently burned forests.”

“Scientists are still trying to figure out how regularly forests burned in what is now the United States in the centuries before European settlement, but reams of evidence suggest the acreage that burned was more than is allowed to burn today — possibly 20 million or 30 million acres in a typical year. Today, closer to four million or five million acres burn every year.

‘From an ecological standpoint, everything I’ve learned teaches me this is a good idea: Stop putting out fires,’ said Jennifer R. Marlon, a geographer at Yale who was among the first to use the term “fire deficit” to describe the situation. ‘These forests are made to have fire.’

Human lives are at stake, too. Firefighters die, more than a dozen in some years, putting out fires that many scientists think should be allowed to burn.”

— Let Forest Fires Burn? What the Black-Backed Woodpecker Knows,” Justin Gillis, New York Times

More:

“The Future of Fighting Wildfires in the Era of Climate Change,” Bob Berwyn, Pacific Standard

“Benefits of Fire,” SmokeyBear.com

“Adapt to more wildfire in western North American forests as climate changes,” Tania Schoennagela, Jennifer K. Balcha, Hannah Brenkert-Smith et al., PNAS

“Fire Ecology,” Pacific Biodiversity Institute

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Short link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-qk7

Top image (“Smokey Says ‘Let It Burn'”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Forage Fish

August 9, 2017

Herring, menhaden, anchovies, sprats, silversides, smelt, sardines. These fish play a massive role in the ocean’s ecosystem. Jim Toomey illustrates why they’re important. Produced by the Pew Trusts.

More about forage fish here.

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Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Wildfire Strategy: Let It Burn

July 14, 2017

Wildfire Strategy

Every year since the dawn of time, the Santa Ana winds lash Southern California’s dry autumn brushlands into explosive, blazing infernos. Every year since the dawn of the last century, Southern Californians express surprise as they are engulfed in a sea of flame. With climate change, things won’t get better.

“We will never be able to control wildfire,” explains Tania Schoennagel of the Institute for Alpine and Arctic Research, “We have to learn to live with it and adapt, just like we do with droughts and flooding. Our current wildfire policies can’t protect people and homes.”

More:

“The Future of Fighting Wildfires in the Era of Climate Change,” Bob Berwyn, Pacific Standard

“Adapt to more wildfire in western North American forests as climate changes,” Tania Schoennagela, Jennifer K. Balcha, Hannah Brenkert-Smith et al., PNAS

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Short Link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-pC2

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com.

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Groundhog Day

February 2, 2017

Groundhog Day

It’s February 2nd, time to monitor Marmota monax and dream of winter’s end. Whether or not you believe in woodchuck weathermen, one thing is certain: you can’t have groundhogs if you want a backyard full of fresh garden veggies.

Groundhogs (aka woodchucks, whistlepigs, and marmots) are insecto-vegetarians and confirmed locavores. If you plan to plant this spring, harvest those hairy beasts now. Celebrate Groundhog Day with critter cuisine.

Serving suggestions:

Woodchuck au Vin

Canadian Fried Woodchuck

Groundhog Pie

Woodchuck Recipes from Michigan (Oriental Groundhog,Waco Groundhog in Sour Cream,Woodchuck Stew, Woodchuck Meat Loaf)

More groundhog lore and recipes here and here.

In his book Groundhog Day, Don Yoder reprints a classic groundhog recipe from Cooking with the Groundhog, published as a fundraiser by a hospital auxiliary in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, home of the “official” Groundhog’s Day Festival (there are more than a few others ). A Georgia groundhog is on Twitter.

Five years ago, whilst stalking the elusive picture book Geoffrey Groundhog Predicts the Weather, we espied an ad for the Range Kleen Preseasoned Cast Iron 10 Inch Fry Pan on the book’s Amazon.com page and cooked up today’s graphic. There’s obviously no “storybook ending” to this post if you’re a groundhog.

Related:

“Eight Things You Didn’t Know About Groundhogs,” Jason G. Goldman, Scientific American blog

“Groundhogs and Ground Squirrels: Winter Prognosticators,”  Sharol Nelson-Embry, Quest

“40 years of groundhog forecasts, mapped,” Kennedy Elliott and Shelly Tan, Washington Post

“Punxsutawney Phil: incompetent — or evil?” Phil Edwards, Vox

“Depressed Groundhog Sees Shadow Of Rodent He Once Was,”The Onion

“Where Did Groundhog Day Come From? ” Mental Floss

“A Short History of Groundhog Day,” Danny Lewis, Smithsonian.com

“Groundhog Day Explained,” CGP Grey (video)

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Short Link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-p8o

Image (“Marmot sauté, after John James Audubon”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Standing Rock

November 22, 2016

“Mni Wiconi: The Standing at Standing Rock,” a short film by Lucian Read about the Native American people of the Standing Rock  community who oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline project. “Mni Wiconi” means “Water is Life” in the Sioux language.

This week, some people are choosing to join them for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Updates:

“Medics Describe How Police Sprayed Standing Rock Demonstrators With Tear Gas and Water Cannons,” Alleen Brown, The Intercept

“Police defend use of water cannons on Dakota Access protesters in freezing weather,” Derek Hawkins, Washington Post

“Trump owns stock in Dakota Access parent company,” Harper Neidig, The Hill
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Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Dieselgate: Bosch Was a Co-Conspirator

September 8, 2016

Dieselgate: Bosch Was a Co-Conspirator
As we surmised, Volkswagen could not have installed emissions-test-cheating software on its 11 million diesel vehicles without the connivance of electrical engineering and manufacturing firm Robert Bosch GmbH. VW’s lawyers are claiming Bosch involvement in Dieselgate, and the Feds are investigating. Despite Bosch denials, there’s evidence the firm knew about the illegal VW cheat but didn’t alert German government regulators (or did they?). Bosch even demanded legal cover from VeeDub but the auto giant said “Nein.”

So we’ve got a mess that will cost billions to remedy, and two huge German corporations blaming each other for it. Bosch even wants people to call the scandal “VW-Gate” instead of “Dieselgate”. How do you say “Nice try!” in German?

More:

“Bosch worked ‘hand-in-glove’ with VW in emissions fraud: lawyers,” David Shepardson and Joel Schectman, Reuters

“Volkswagen Supplier Played Key Role in Cheating, Court Papers Say,” Jack Ewing, New York Times

“Bosch Knew VW Might Get Nailed For Diesel Cheating, Demanded Indemnification: Report,” Patrick George, Jalopnik

Update:

“Volkswagen engineer pleads guilty in emissions scandal,”Megan Geuss, Ars Technica

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Short Link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-om9

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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BP’s Bill for the World’s Largest Oil spill: $61.6 billion

July 14, 2016

BP’s Bill for the World’s Largest Oil spill: $61.6 billion

On April 20, 2010, a well blowout a mile under the Deepwater Horizon exploration ship sent a surge of oil and gas up to the rig, setting it on fire and killing 11 crew members. The well leaked for 87 days, and 3.19 million barrels of crude oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico. BP just totaled up the amount of legal bills, damage settlements, restoration costs, and fines it has paid to hundreds of lawyers, 400 local governments, thousands of claimants and the federal government, and the tab comes to $61.6 billion.

More:

“BP’s big bill for the world’s largest oil spill reaches $61.6 billion,” Steven Mufson, Washington Post

_________________

Short link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-o8L

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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State Workers In Flint Got Water Coolers a Year Ago

February 4, 2016

State Workers In Flint Got Water Coolers a Year Ago

“Employees at the state office in Flint, Mich., have been drinking from coolers of purified water since last January — the same month that representatives from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality assured residents the water was safe to drink.”

— “State workers — but not residents — in Flint, Mich., have been getting purified water for more than a year,” Yanan Wang, Washington Post

More:

“Amid denials, state workers in Flint got clean water,”Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press

“Document: Snyder Admin Trucked In Clean Water for State Building in January 2015,” Sam Inglot, Progress Michigan

“Flint water crisis: Michigan made sure state employees had clean water 8 months before everyone else,” Libby Nelson, Vox

“Flint Mayor: Water Still Showing Lead Levels Beyond What Filters Can Remove,” Alissa Walker, Gizmodo

(more…)

Groundhog Day

February 2, 2016

Groundhog Day

It’s February 2nd, time to monitor Marmota monax and dream of winter’s end. Whether or not you believe in woodchuck weathermen, one thing is certain: you can’t have groundhogs if you want a backyard full of fresh garden veggies.

Groundhogs (aka woodchucks, whistlepigs, and marmots) are insecto-vegetarians and confirmed locavores. If you plan to plant this spring, harvest those hairy beasts now. Celebrate Groundhog Day with critter cuisine.

Serving suggestions:

Woodchuck au Vin

Canadian Fried Woodchuck

Groundhog Pie

Woodchuck Recipes from Michigan (Oriental Groundhog,Waco Groundhog in Sour Cream,Woodchuck Stew, Woodchuck Meat Loaf)

More groundhog lore and recipes here and here.

In his book Groundhog Day, Don Yoder reprints a classic groundhog recipe from Cooking with the Groundhog, published as a fundraiser by a hospital auxiliary in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, home of the “official” Groundhog’s Day Festival (there are more than a few others ). A Georgia groundhog is on Twitter.

Five years ago, whilst stalking the elusive picture book Geoffrey Groundhog Predicts the Weather, we espied an ad for the Range Kleen Preseasoned Cast Iron 10 Inch Fry Pan on the book’s Amazon.com page and cooked up today’s graphic. There’s obviously no “storybook ending” to this post if you’re a groundhog.

(more…)

Dieselgate: VW & Bosch

November 21, 2015

Dieselgate: VW & Bosch
11 million Volkswagen diesel cars have emissions-test-cheating software that allows them to produce lower emissions when tested by regulators and higher-performance dirty exhaust while they’re actually on the road. Volkswagen engineers were certainly involved in this scam, but the Wolfsburg firm may not be the only one snared in the Dieselgate probe. VW electronic equipment and software is built by Robert Bosch GmbH, and Reuters is reporting that the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the Bosch involvement:

(more…)