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‘Green New Deal’ gathers more advocates; butterfly battlefield

CRITTERS AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS

robins

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket – cold snap: “We usually get a cold snap at some point in winter, in January or February. Cold snaps are good for knocking back pests and resetting vegetation dormancy. I was wondering if we’d get one this year considering how unusually warm it’s been all winter, with not even a frost. Our cold snap arrived a couple days ago, as it often does with a Fraser River outflow: cold air from the Canadian interior blasting down into the maritime lowlands of western Washington through a gap in the mountains due to a pressure differential. We had some snow flurries on the island but not enough to stick around, unlike much of the rest of western Washington. News reports indicated 6” or so. On the 3rd the temp started dropping through the day and by nightfall was below freezing. The wind also started blowing strongly. We set up the heat tape on the hummer feeder. On awakening yesterday morning the temp was 21° and the hummer feeder was frozen solid except where the heat tape was. We rushed around in a panic setting up another feeder and thawing out the frozen one. I worried for a while until our local three Anna’s showed up. Whew! Meanwhile a flock of robins were chowing down on the cotoneaster berries. They seem to leave those until late in winter. The cotoneaster bushes, like most of my landscaping choices, are for wildlife food and habitat.”

OceanDiver writes—Backyard BirdRace/The Daily Bucket combo – February edition: “Last month we introduced the new and revised version of the Backyard BirdRace, which had been slumbering for a while like a hummingbird in torpor, tucked against a branch high up in its fir tree on a cold winter’s night. As when the sun peeks over the hillside warming the canopy, and the hummer’s heart picks up the pace warming and wakening the little fellow for the next day’s adventures, we have awakened the BirdRace in its new form. To wit, we each watch for birds in our yard — however you want to define that —  and keep a list of them to share here each month in the BirdRace diary. We’ll each be keeping track of our own bird lists this time. eBird is a very easy way to do that. Or you can write them down in a notebook. We hope to generate some conversation amongst us comparing and contrasting who we see, and perhaps find some insights into the world of birds as they intersect with our lives. The “race” aspect is a form of gentle humorous encouragement to keep watching throughout the year…. perhaps you will see more birds than you thought, or than you saw last year or a decade ago, or your fellow regional kossacks, or other birdracers who live in the same kind of setting as yourself. It’s all a discovery, and meant to be fun.”

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket – gold & grey: “Winter weather in this corner of the country swings between heavy grey overcast and the occasional sunny stretch of days. I go out for walkies no matter what but weather sure makes a difference in the atmosphere of light and color. I take far fewer pictures on grey days, and that’s not just because it’s often wet on those days too. Some direct comparisons can be made since my route is along the same beaches most every day.”

jhop7 writes—The Butterfly Center IS the Battle Line: “Neocons love to portray liberals as putting something they deem inconsequential before people. I can smell the strategy now; Stephen Miller, Donald tRump, and Kristen Nielsen have selected the National Butterfly Center as the main battle front against ecologically sensitive areas of the border that they plan to destroy for no valid reason. Plus it is a proxy for how all the land rights fights will go. Allowing him an advantage in this first skirmish because it’s hard for ‘conservatives’ to fight for butterflies stands to lose us substantial ground in the groundwork surrounding the war over this wall. […] The depredations to beautiful and crucial migratory habitat are very real. They serve tRump’s crappiness to a T. They are reminiscent of when he hired a crew to selectively demolish notable architectural details of the Bonwit Teller Building. TRump loves destroying things that are important to other people.”

BlackSheep1 writes—Wall Endangers Century-Old Texas Church, Butterfly Refuge: “U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, announced a proposal that would prevent wall construction at the National Butterfly Center in Mission and in other environmentally sensitive areas, which comes just weeks before shovel-ready work is set to begin. Specifically, the proposal would prohibit construction in the following locations: Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, La Lomita Historical Park, the National Butterfly Center — all in Mission. Other locations include the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge in Alamo, in the northern or eastern vicinity of the Vista del Mar Ranch tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, and SpaceX, according to a release from the congressman.Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge, nearby, is left off the proposal because the federal government already owns that land. Congressman Cuellar rightly notes that the wall is a massively expensive 14th-century solution to a 21st-century problem.”

BlackSheep1 writes—USSC sides with Trump: Wall to split National Butterfly Center, cede acres to Mexico: “The wall is in fact going up—at least in parts of South Texas where its construction will destroy private property and sensitive environments dedicated to rare and endangered wildlife. Today may be the day the government seizes a butterfly reserve’s property: www.audubon.org/…The USSC has decided 28 different laws make no difference. www.msn.com/… The National Butterfly Center is a 100-acre refuge for butterflies and other pollinators just outside Mission, Texas. The USSC decided that an appeals court ruling allowing the administration to ignore 28 federal laws, many designed to protect our environment, in order to build its wall should stand. Suits by the Animal Legal Defense fund and two other organizations fighting the wall have thus failed. Bulldozers arrived yesterday.”

Angmar writes—The Daily Bucket Saving Earth Series-tourism: “loved to death”: “The negative environmental impacts of tourism … are substantial. They include the depletion of local natural resources as well as pollution and waste problems. Eco-tourism offers a greener alternative. There are 1 billion tourist arrivals in the world every year. That’s 30 every single second. By 2020 the number will increase by 60 percent. Tourism often puts pressure on natural resources through over-consumption, often in places where resources are already scarce. See tourism “clock” here: www.theworldcounts.com/…

matching mole writes—Dawn Chorus Throwback: Swallows in the Amazon: “This is a diary originally published to Dawn Chorus some seven years ago.  I haven’t had time to write anything new recently.  For my next Dawn Chorus in four weeks I hope to have an essay on the evolution of flight and the origin of birds. Let’s take a trip in time and space to the wildest reaches of eastern Ecuador way back in July of 2012 where my students and I experienced the wonder to the tropical forest. That sounds pretty good in February, doesn’t it? Two weeks immersed in the Amazon forest, living a life in which the most diverse ecosystem on earth was a constant element. A very pleasant summer ‘holiday’. And in some ways it reminded me of the carefree summers of my childhood. With birds.”

Frog Court
The (square) Lily Pond is in the upper left of the photo. It is northeast of the Frog Mitigation Area (not pictured, off to lower right). The long pond in the lower portion of the photo is the Quarter Dome pond.

6412093 writes—The Daily Bucket–There’s a thousand stories in Frog Court: “The ‘Frog Court’ originated as result of a sealed court settlement over an unfortunate incident regarding Nixon EPA Administrator Anne Gorsche, prescription drugs, a government limo, and a lost weekend in the early 1970s. The quiet settlement established the Frog Environmental Regulatory Commission, or FERC.  FERC’s mandate is the protection of native frogs in the Western US. FERC enforces its policies by providing a judicial forum at the Frog Court.  Under the original court settlement conditions, everyone and everything has ‘standing’ to speak on behalf of the animals, birds, trees, etc., in their petitions to Frog Court. But after a few years, eventually the animals began to speak for themselves at Frog Court. The Frog Court has jurisdiction in my own backyard in NW Oregon.  I restored 500 square feet of my back yard to shallow pond frog habitat.  I sought to register these new wetlands, called the Frog Mitigation Area, with the Frog Court in order to obtain ‘wetlands credits,’ worth in the high two figures. The Frog Court now settles various disputes in my backyard and vicinity.”

ECO-ACTION & ECO JUSTICE

Pakalolo writes—In a world of social injustice and climate paralysis, you may hold the power to make a difference: “If you or someone you know owns funds from BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard, this is for you. Give them a call, email and let them know that if they do not act their reputation will suffer. ‘If these influential companies don’t take a clear and principled stand against Mr. Bolsonaro’s promises to open the Amazon for business, they will also bear responsibility for abetting his plunder of the world’s largest tropical rain forest.’ The Amazon is the earths lungs if Bolsonaro succeeds it will be game over for the climate.

Alan Singer writes—European Teens Strike for Climate Action:In Europe, high school students are fed up with Trump, his enablers, and adults who fail to take up the challenge to stop the decimation of the Earth and reverse climate change. Last month European high school students in Belgium, Germany, France, Sweden, and Switzerland began a series of weekly school boycott days demanding international action to reverse global warming and climate change. A Belgium demonstration had over 100,000 participants. In France, an online student petition quickly drew over two million signatures. In Germany students carried signs reading ‘Climate S.O.S.’ In Sweden the school strike movement is called ‘Fridays For Future’.

CLIMATE CHAOS

Pakalolo writes—NASA discovers an enormous cavity in Thwaites Glacier signaling rapid decay over just three years: “I keep vigil.More devastating news out of West Antarctica. The Thwaites  glacier base is attached to the marine bedrock, or it use to be anyways. New NASA satellite imagery shows rapid deterioration of Thwaites from a gigantic ocean carved cavity in the most vulnerable area of Antarctica to climate change. Thwaites is known to scientists that study glacial ice as the ‘most dangerous glacier in the world.’ From NASA: A large cavity- two-thirds the area of Manhattan and almost 1,000 feet (300 meters) tall – growing at the bottom of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is one of the several disturbing discoveries reported in a new NASA-led study of the disintegrating glacier. The findings highlight the need for detailed observations of Antarctic glaciers’ undersides in calculating how fast global sea levels will rise in response to climate change.  […] About the size of Florida, Thwaites Glacier is currently responsible for approximately 4 percent of global sea level rise. It holds enough ice to raise the world ocean a little over 2 feet (65 centimeters) and backstops neighboring glaciers that would raise sea levels an additional 8 feet (2.4 meters) if all the ice were lost.

Pakalolo writes—Climate weirding: MIT Study finds that the surface ocean will shift in color in the coming decades: “’There will be a noticeable difference in the color of 50 percent of the ocean by the end of the 21st century it could be potentially quite serious. Different types of phytoplankton absorb light differently, and if climate change shifts one community of phytoplankton to another, that will also change the types of food webs they can support’.“  Stephanie Dutkiewicz, a principal research scientist at MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences and the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. An MIT press release has some bizarre and dangerous findings of the world’ s ocean surface. They found that climate change is changing the makeup of phytoplankton. That will intensify the blues and greens of the ocean. By 2100, our planet will be visibly altered.”

Climate change

Meteor Blades writes—71% of Republicans on House panels having climate hearings this week are science-denying numbskulls: “There are two kinds of numbskulls: the ignoramus kind and the calculating kind. The first kind truly believes the climate crisis is a hoax. They swallow the fabrications, smears, and other propaganda that the fossil fuel industry and its purchased media, phony think tanks, and congressional puppets have saturated us with for decades. The second kind don’t privately reject what scientific evidence shows is happening with the Earth’s climate; they just choose to publicly adopt the climate-science-denying stance for whatever economic gains and political advantages it offers them. With a Democratic majority now running the House, both the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on Energy and Commerce’s environment subcommittee (with the actual words “climate change” newly added to its name) will begin hearings on the climate crisis Wednesday, both at 10 AM ET. Twenty-nine Republican numbskulls on these two panels will shower us with their usual denier nonsense. And while the 12 other Republicans assigned to those two panels aren’t quite as stubbornly resistant to the overwhelming evidence of climate change, their environmental voting records are so grotesquely destructive that they might as well be deniers, too.”

Walter Einenkel writes—Trump’s wall bulldozers have arrived at Texas’ National Butterfly Center: “There is not a single positive thing that one can say about the Trump-proposed border wall. It’s not simply a useless symbol of an ultimately self-destructive immigration policy, it’s also an environmentally backward use of our country’s engineering capabilities. Back in December it was reported that the proposed wall would devastate the private, nonprofit National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. The center includes more than 100 acres of butterfly sanctuary, and Trump’s plan would take around 70 percent of it and stick it on the Mexico side of his stupid wall. The Butterfly Center was embroiled in a lawsuit against the administration as, they allege, Trump’s henchmen couldn’t even go about taking away people’s land with any competence, showing up unannounced and very likely illegally moving away habitat before securing the legal rights to do so. But that lawsuit and other similar ones have taken a big hit after the conservative-hijacked Supreme Court ruled that Trump and his administration need not pay attention to environmental concerns in the building of their mythical wall.

Rmuse writes—Trump is fatal to a livable climate and a majority of Americans are worried: “After denying science and empirical data over the past few decades, a majority of Americans have finally come to the realization that not only is anthropogenic climate change real, it is adversely affecting their daily lives. It is beyond refute that if there was not a concerted Republican effort to portray science as fake news, and warnings about climate change a witch hunt aimed at destroying America, it is possible that America would lead, and help win, the war to save the climate.  Alas, since Donald Trump’s poorly-attended inauguration, America stopped leading the war against climate change and is crusading to decimate what remains of what should be a fundamental human right  a ‘livable climate. Despite their concern over a climate that is unlivable, at this point there is nothing the people can do to prevent its demise – except get really sick and die prematurely.

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Polar Vortex Proves Deniers Are Dumb and Trump’s Coal Bailout Unnecessary: “Valerie Richardson, the organized denial machine’s reliable scribe at the far-right, Christian-cult-owned Washington Times, picked up a blog post by Roy Spencer to push back on the science connecting the vortex with climate change. (If our post last week wasn’t enough, Dr. Michael Mann has a snappy piece in the Guardian laying out the science and Carbon Brief also published a great explainer. The short version: a warming Arctic can lead to a weakened jet stream, which allows for the occasional mass of cold Arctic air to drop down over the US.) The pushback from Spencer, a longtime denier of the threat posed by global warming, took the form of a graph from his partner in crime John Christy showing that cold winter weather has gotten less frequent over the 20th century. But for anyone not blinded by denial, there’s no contradiction. An overall long-term warming trend, as the graph shows, isn’t going to be offset by a freak occurrence (a polar vortex) that happens a handful of times at the very end of that 120+ year record.

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Court Filings In California vs Fossil Fuels Case Tell Story of Organized Climate Denial: “Last week, there was a slew of submissions of briefs to the case in which a number of cities and counties in California are suing fossil fuel companies. These updates were reported by Dana Drugmand at Climate Liability News and made available at Columbia’s Sabin Center litigation tracker. A few of briefs focused on a rather mundane jurisdictional issue, like whether the case should remain in state court or be removed to the federal courts–the latter being what the fossil fuel companies want. Organizations representing cities and mayors described the case as raising ‘textbook claims under state law,’ not federal action, meaning it should remain in state court. This view was echoed in a filing by eight other states. The California State Association of Counties similarly argue in its brief that federal regulation of the oil industry “cannot justify tying the hands of local governments.’ Meanwhile, NRDC says in its brief there’s no ‘unique federal interest in climate change’ that would overrule these state law claims.

certainot writes—Until the GOP recognizes global warming anyone concerned Dems are going too far left is full of sh*t: “Until the the Republican Party recognizes the reality and challenge of global warming anyone in media or politics who shows ‘concern’ that the Democratic Party is going too far ‘left’ is full of shit and should be told so. The longer we wait to address climate change the more drastic the effects and adjustments will be. Going back to the tax rates of 30 or 50 years ago will seem trivial if we don’t begin significant transitions to renewables soon. Republicans need to acknowledge the reality of climate change before they can be taken seriously on any other major issue.”

Mark E Andersen writes—Yes, it is damn cold, but that does not mean climate change is not happening:I live in Wisconsin. It has been known to get cold here. The temperature above is real, and doesn’t include windchill. When I grabbed this screen capture, there was a difference of 96 degrees Fahrenheit between the temperature outside of my house and the temperature inside it. The air actually hurts your face in just seconds when it is this cold. Of course, to the scientifically illiterate, e.g., Individual 1 and his sycophants, because it is cold in Midwest, our climate cannot possibly be changing. […] The same day that Individual 1 tweeted his climate change ignorance, the University of Wisconsin Center for Limnology released a research study conducted by an international team of researchers and co-authored by John Magnuson, emeritus director of the center. This study shows that lakes in the Northern Hemisphere that normally freeze over in the winter show a trend that could have them experiencing some ice-free winters in the near future, with the possibility of there being no ice on them in the winter by the end of the century.

Laurence Lewis writes—Donald Trump’s climate stupidity is a threat to the United States and the entire worldDonald Trump is a deeply stupid man.

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Trump isn’t the first to blither such idiocy, and he won’t be the last. And while it’s sometimes unclear whether some of those promoting this drivel actually believe it or merely hope that their listeners and followers will believe it, there is no doubt that Trump believes it. Because he is a deeply stupid man. The best response came from actual climate scientist Kate Marvel, and you’ll want to bookmark this one, or screen grab it, or otherwise preserve it in whatever way you prefer. Because it’s the best single response to this oft-repeated idiocy you’re likely ever to see. [She tweeted] “I’m going to say something controversial. As a climate scientist, I predict a sustained, noticeable, and severe cooling trend across the Northern Hemisphere. The cold will begin soon, if it hasn’t already, and last until at least the end of the year. Some regions will freeze, it will snow, and climate deniers will gloat. The cause is a phenomenon that, while mysterious, is known to science. We call it ‘winter.’”

magnifico writes—Overnight News Digest: Climate Change Could Cause More Birth Defects in the US by 2025: “As Soon as 2025, Climate Change Could Cause More Birth Defects in the US. Looks like climate change may be breaking hearts in the near future. Literally. A new study out in the Journal of the American Heart Association Wednesday reveals the ways more intense heat and longer heat events as a result of our warming world will impact pregnant mothers and their unborn babies. In short: The U.S. will see more newborns with congenital heart defects by 2025, especially in the South, Northeast, and Midwest. The preliminary paper pulled data from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, the largest of its kind, which looked at about 482,000 births a year between 1997 through 2007 from California to Arkansas. The authors then coupled this data with climate models to project how the number of congenital heart defects would change in a warmer world.”

Interceptor7 writes—Overnight News Digest: Climate change wreaking global deadly havoc: “Some 45,000 homes across Sydney’s eastern suburbs have been hit by power outages amid a heatwave in the coastal city in southeastern Australia, with media reports of residents being trapped in lifts and one hospital losing electricity. Distribution company Ausgrid said on Thursday that emergency crews were investigating the cause of the widespread outage, which is uncommon in Sydney’s upmarket beachside neighbourhoods.”

Picture4.jpg
Cocoliztli epidemics wiped out millions on Native peoples.

AKALib writes—The Great Dying of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas caused Global Cooling in the 17th Century: “According to the authors of a new study, European colonization of the Americas killed 10% of the world population and caused a period of global cooling! The first European contact in 1492 brought diseases to the Americas which decimated the native population and the resultant collapse of farming and reduction in land use in the Americas was so significant that it caused a drop in atmospheric CO2 levels and likely contributed to the global drop in temperatures in the 17th century. [….] The authors conclude that ‘the Great Dying of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas led to the abandonment of enough cleared land in the Americas that the resulting terrestrial carbon uptake had a detectable impact on both atmospheric CO2 and global surface air temperatures in the two centuries prior to the Industrial Revolution.’ Please take a look at the full paper for details not covered here. The study also indicates that planting more trees will not solve the Climate Change threat that faces us in this century. The Great Dying resulted in an area the size of France being reforested and that gave us only a few ppm of CO2 reduction, worth just 2-3 years of fossil fuel emissions at the present rate. We have to reduce our carbon footprint.

Extreme Weather & Natural Phenomena

peregrine kate writes—Just How Cold Is It Where You Are? Almost everything publicly run is closed in our area (SE MI) due to this bitter cold. Currently the air temperature is a balmy -5F, up from about -10 earlier this morning — though the “feels like” temp is -29.  We’ll drop to -15F/-30F sometime in the next 24 hours, probably. The key indicator that things are unusual is that even the administration of main campus of the University of Michigan has yielded to concerns over the safety of students, faculty, and staff, announcing a two-day closure effective this morning.

Pakalolo writes—Crocodiles roam streets in Queensland, Australia, after record-breaking floods. Tasmania burns: “I keep vigil. Poor Australia. Extreme weather events are being amplified by climate change on the continent ‘as they are occurring in an atmosphere that contains more energy than 50 years ago” reports Sydney’s Climate Council report titled Weather Gone Wild. […] An increase in the severity and frequency of extreme weather conditions in Australia last year is ‘a new norm driven by climate change,’ according to a report released on Wednesday (Feb 6). Temperatures nudged 50 degrees Celsius, bushfires ravaged rainforests and people were at increased risk of cardiac arrests because of heatwaves, the Sydney-based environmental group Climate Council said in its report. It comes as hundreds of people wait in evacuation centres after 10 days of torrential rain and flooding in north-east Australia, while month-long bushfires have ravaged almost 200,000 hectares of land in Tasmania.”

OCEANS, WATER, DROUGHT

Dan Bacher writes—Breaking: Reclamation releases Biological Assessment for California water operations:The Bureau of Reclamation released late yesterday the Biological Assessment for the re-initiation of consultation on the coordinated long-term operation of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project. The document was transmitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service for consideration in developing new biological opinions covering CVP and SWP operations. Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources re-initiated consultation in 2016 based on new information related to multiple years of drought and ongoing science efforts.

Dan Bacher writes—Fishermen and Winnemem Wintu Sue State Water Board to Protect San Joaquin Salmon: “Less than two weeks after they filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Water Resources over its Delta Tunnels proposal, a coalition of fishing, Native American and environmental groups led by the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA) filed suit in Sacramento Superior Court against the State Water Resources Control Board in an effort to protect imperiled runs of San Joaquin River salmon. The plaintiffs, represented by the Law Offices of Stephen P. Volker, demand that the State Water Board “use its own recommendations based on science and environmental law to enact a Water Quality Control Plan protects fish in the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced rivers and in the main stem San Joaquin River below their confluence,” according to a PCFFA press release,”

CANDIDATES, STATE AND DC ECO-RELATED POLITICS​

Hunter writes—Still bent on fouling government, Trump nominates lobbyist to head the Interior Department: “Donald Trump’s team of diehard archconservatives (we can probably dispense with giving Trump himself agency in these decisions, given that his own ideological preferences begin and end with ‘how much did person so-and-so suck up to me today?’) has been doing a bang-up job of installing crooks into government. These are people who are specifically and publicly at odds with the central premises of the agencies they are supposed to head; people who have come directly from regulated industries into new positions re-writing the regulations their once and future companies are asked to abide by; people who don’t have enough patience to plan for that lucrative cash-out at the end of their terms and instead go for the more immediate satisfaction of jetting around the country on somebody else’s dime. Trump’s new nominee to head the Interior Department comes from columns A and B. David Bernhardt has been up until now the acting secretary for that department, having been elevated into the position after Ryan Zinke ducked out amidst a shower of ethics investigations. Before joining Team Trump, however, he had settled into a lucrative lobbying career—one so extensive that upon joining the department, he had to walk around with a small card listing off his 26 recent clients in order to keep track of which things he would ostensibly be required to recuse himself from.”

Dan Bacher writes—Conservation groups clash over Trump’s nomination of David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary:Conservation groups representing sportsmen are clashing over their assessment of President Donald Trump’s nomination of David Bernhardt to become Secretary of Interior, with a prominent salmon restoration organization criticizing the nomination and a prominent duck conservation group praising it. Bernhardt, a former Westlands Water District and Big Oil lobbyist, was appointed Deputy Secretary of the Interior in July 2017 — and has served as Acting Interior Secretary after Ryan Zinke resigned in January under a cloud of federal investigations. In a tweet yesterday, Trump said, ‘I am pleased to announce that David Bernhardt, Acting Secretary of the Interior, will be nominated as Secretary of the Interior. David has done a fantastic job from the day he arrived, and we look forward to having his nomination officially confirmed!. However, many fishing, conservation, Tribal, environmental justice and consumer organizations disagreed strongly with Trump’s assessment that Bernhardt has done a ‘fantastic job’.

Dan Bacher writes—PG&E Topples Western States Petroleum Association in California Lobbying Spending in 2018: “The Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) spent almost $10 million on lobbying California officials in 2018, surpassing even the Western States Petroleum Association in lobbying spending. Of the total money spent last year, the company dumped $9,580,357 into general lobbying, including total payments to in-house staff lobbyists and lobbying firms, along with paying for meals and other items for legislators. PG&E also spent $349,522 on lobbying the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the regulatory agency that regulates privately owned public utilities in the state, including electric power, telecommunications, natural gas and water companies. The company spent the most money in the seventh quarter of the 2017-2018 session, dumping $6,111,332 into general lobbying and $168,668 into lobbying the CPUC. This is one of the largest amounts of money spent on lobbying by any organization in one quarter.

citisven writes—State of the Union to be dwarfed by Green New Deal, says God: “With all the talk about God’s preferences for political candidates it should come as no surprise that the Almighty would feel compelled to make a statement of the highest divine order. By relegating what promises to be the most hatefully ignorant State of the Union address in the history of the universe to the same night as hundreds of Green New Deal livestream watch parties, the big boss woman is showing not only her sense of sweet irony but a commitment to keep reminding Americans of the message in her ancient #1 bestseller: So while most sentient beings are already pledging to skip straight to Stacey Abrams, according to the Executive Producer of Planet Earth the flagship prime time show tomorrow night will not be the broken slot machine of lies but the movement to build the political and public consensus that a Green New Deal is the solution anyone serious about climate change needs to support. With the recent blockbuster announcement strategically timed by the Divine Office of Public Exaltation (DOPE) that legislation by Senator Markey and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez laying out a Green New Deal would be unveiled this week, all doubts about which show the gal upstairs was going to tune in to (and spike ratings into the stratosphere!) were removed. To emphasize the point, she had one of her many wise sisters commit to boosting the signal tomorrow.”

billofrights writes—A Green New Deal on my Mind: “In a winding path towards writing the response that Maryland Governor Larry Hogan so deserves for his State of the State address, ‘A Middle of the Road Morning in Maryland’ (my tentative title)  I came across this fine essay by David Roberts: I haven’t read Roberts for quite a while; most of you may know him from his long stint at Grist, but he is now at Vox. This is the most readable yet comprehensive take on where we are, including the Democratic Party, and where he thinks we have to go. And I agree.  The only aspect he left out, unless I missed a reference to it, is to ‘The Victory Plan’ from The Climate Emergency group. But that doesn’t change Roberts grasp of the scope or sweep of the challenge the Green New Deal poses; if anything, the Victory Plan is the longest elaboration  yet for proposals that might make up part of ‘The Plan’ which the standing committee was mandated to produce, but which was derailed by the Democratic Leadership in the House.

gmoke writes—How to Support the Green New Deal: “The speakers were Aru Shiney Ajay, Jeremy Ornstein, and Naomi Wolfe.  Ajay and Ornstein are two young organizers for the Sunrise Movement and Naomi Wolfe played the part of the grizzled elder supporting the ‘kids these days.’ Those kids not only see but feel down to their bones that climate change is a matter of life and death NOW.  They see it effect their lives and expectations for the future today and they are determined to do something about it, something different, something commensurate with this wicked problem, and something that can not only rebuild an ecological future but also redress some of the grievances of an extractive and unjust economy.  They want nothing more than to rebuild the existing economy to stop climate change and create good jobs for all those who want to work. For them, the Green New Deal is a 10-year plan to become 100% renewably powered by 2030, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by the same date, to create and guarantee millions of jobs while promoting justice and equality.  They want a clear plan to transition completely off fossil fuels by 2030.  By collectively imagining a trajectory to climate sanity in the next decade or so, they want to open up the chance to build a beautiful present.

NHlib writes—The Green New Deal has a song! “This guy is very good.””

Idontknowwhy writes—Obtaining Support for the Green New Deal and Single Payer from Patriarchal Conservatives: “Some ideas, and a question, on how to use lessons from FDR and current linguistic knowledge to properly frame the debate to get the support from conservatives which we must have if we are to fully succeed. UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff, a cognitive linguistics expert, has identified the cognitive difference between conservatives and liberals as actually a difference between patriarchal Vs matriarchal thinking. […] I find this way of identifying our differences much more accurate than the conservative and liberal labels in use today.   Think about it.  Liberals do not want liberal gun laws.  The matriarchs among seek to help and nurture immigrants while the patriarchs seek to protect their tribe from the outsiders. […] When it comes to the green new deal the patriarchal conservative want’s security and tribal protection from flooding, droughts, food shortages and especially the millions of climate refugeesThe Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—basically, the world’s best weather and earth scientists—has just issued a report on rising temperatures and the problems they’re causing around the world. One of the problems is migration. People are fleeing the hotter parts of the world. If we keep burning coal and oil, we won’t be able to build a wall high enough to keep out the millions of refugees heading north.

poopdogcomedy writes—MA-Sen: Ed Markey (D) Teams Up With AOC To Introduce Green New Deal Legislation: “Details: It’s unclear to what extent the proposal will adhere to a draft legislative document circulating that describes the policy, which dates back to Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign website. • That document includes a goal of 100% renewable electricity within 10 years (up from 17% today), a federal jobs guarantee for people working in the low-carbon transition, and universal healthcare. • It’s light on details on how that would be funded and is also silent on whether the policy includes a price on carbon dioxide emissions, long considered central to climate change policy. Between the lines: The two Democrats leading the proposal represent a bridge between the old and new guard progressives. Markey was co-author of the last big climate-change legislation Congress considered a decade ago, while Ocasio-Cortez is the highest profile member of a new crop of House progressives.”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Trump’s Cabinet is So Corrupt, Polluters Don’t Even Need Lobbyists Any More: “Despite campaigning with a promise to “drain the swamp,” Trump has since his first day in office appointed numerous lobbyists to run the federal government, including Andrew Wheeler at the EPA and David Bernhardt at Interior. Basically everyone was suspicious about whether these appointees would serve the public or their former employers–and rightfully so. While these lobbyists could use their deep understanding of the regulatory system and industry they’re regulating to protect the public and environment, that hasn’t been the way things played out. For example: yesterday the AP reported that the Bureau of Land Management is going to go ahead and sell oil and gas leases on land near sites sacred to Native Americans in New Mexico. As it turns out, for some reason the government shutdown didn’t halt this process. Apparently, keeping national parks free of literal shit isn’t vital, but keeping the fossil fuel industry happy is.

Frank Vyan Walton writes—Scientists say Ocasio-Cortez is exactly correct about the urgency of Climate Change: “Although over the last week the issue of Climate Change has been reduced to a ridiculous tit-for-tat argument between SHuckabee and AOC over what is or isn’t “God’s province”…. Look, I don’t think we’re gonna listen to her [Ocasio-Cortez] on much of anything, particularly not on matters that we’re going to leave into the hands of a much, much higher authority, and certainly not listen to the freshman congresswoman on when the world might end.      

WILDERNESS, NATIONAL FORESTS AND PARKS & OTHER PUBLIC LANDS

randallt writes—DKos Asheville Open Thread: My backyard, Pisgah National Forest: “In celebration of the big thaw, please jump the fold and dream of an early spring. The 500,000+ acres of the Pisgah National Forest surrounding Asheville feature some of the most beautiful and rugged mountain scenery, and the best recreational opportunities in eastern North America. The Pisgah National Forest covers much of the north and central western mountains of North Carolina – with whitewater rivers, waterfalls and hundreds of miles of trails. It was established on October 7, 1916 with the first tract of land purchased under the Weeks Act, which led to the creation of the national forests in the eastern United States. It is also home of the first school of forestry in the United States, now preserved at the Cradle of Forestry in America Historic Site, and boasts two of the first designated wilderness areas in the east. All of this land was originally part of the Biltmore Estate! As part of its national Treasured Landscapes, Unforgettable Experiences conservation program, the National Forest Foundation (NFF) designated the Pisgah National Forest as a Treasured Landscape in 2017.”

ENERGY

Renewables, Efficiency & Conservation

gmoke writes—100% Renewables by 2030? “Here’s how Stanford’s Mark Z Jacobson’s team thinks MA could be 100% renewably powered by 2050 http://thesolutionsproject.org/why-clean-energy/#/map/states/location/MA Here’s the roadmap for Boston thesolutionsproject.org/…I wonder if we could think about 100% renewable by 2030. Just as a thought experiment. Jacobson’s team has 100% by 2050 roadmaps for all 50 states. thesolutionsproject.org/… 139 countries web.stanford.edu/… and 53 cities thesolutionsproject.org/… I wonder if we could talk them into 100% renewables by 2030. Just as a thought experiment. After all, we should be practical and demand the impossible.”

Walter Einenkel writes—Right-winger says some super dumb sh*t about solar energy and gets hysterically ratioed on Twitter: “Another cold day in the U.S., another right-winger saying something so scientifically ignorant it’ll make your hair blow back. The far-right website Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft, known for facetiously promoting school-shooting crisis-actor conspiracy theories, decided that the cold weather hitting our country was a perfect excuse to show everyone he doesn’t understand how the sun works. [He tweeted] ‘It’s a bit cold outside this morning in middle America… Aren’t you glad you aren’t heating your home with a solar panel like nitwit Socialist  @AOC is demanding?’ [She responded with a tweet of his own] ‘The Republican Party’s best and brightest is back at it today, I see.’”

AGRICULTURE​, FOOD & GARDENING

crocus

robctwo writes—Saturday Morning Garden Blogging Vol 15.05: Imbolc/Brigid’s day or some silly rodent, it’s Spring!!My friend Kim sent me this to announce Spring. We have a deal, first one to get a picture of a crocus wins, and it is officially Spring here. Imbolc is halfway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, and has been celebrated in one form or another for 5,000 years. We have been having a very nice week.”

epjmcginley writes—Growing Wild Plants:This is a presentation I delivered at the Urban Natural Areas seminar at the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture in Seattle, WA yesterday, January 30, 2019, to a group of people engaged in ecological restoration. It was accompanied by a slide show that I will aim to get online in due time. I hope some enjoy this.

The Forest is Dying.
In fact, it is increasingly difficult to see the forest,
For all of the dying trees.
I stand among them,
Gaze up into them,
And ponder their fate.
A still familiar but somehow newly fragile
Icon of the Pacific Northwest.
Maybe someday they’ll stand only as images,
The Cedars of the Pacific Northwest,
Like the Cedars of Lebanon.
The salmon of the Pacific Northwest,
Like the Salmon of the Thames.
The Forest is Dying.

The Forest is Alive.
This is the nature of the forest,
And the wetland, and the prairie, and any other wild ecosystem.
They transcend life
And death,
Even in death they cradle life. […]”

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