Losing the fight for biodiversity: An infographic

April 28, 2014

BusinessWorld infographic

BusinessWorld infographic

From BusinessWorld, a publication in India:

Even as India bats for biodiversity investments at a UN convention of experts from 193 countries, the planet is staring at an imminent crisis that could wipe out life as we know it.

Compiled by Yashodhara Dasgupta

Click Here To Download Infographic

Sources: International Union for Conservation of Nature,
World Wide Fund for Nature, Ministry of Environment and Forests

Graphic: Sajeev Kumarapuram

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 22-10-2012)
– See more at: http://www.businessworld.in/news/business/environment/the-losing-world/570570/page-1.html#sthash.mmSk4DDw.dpuf

This would be a good poster for geography, biology, general science and world history courses. Can your drafting class print this out for you in poster format?

When all of the “coal mine canaries” on Earth die out, how much longer have humans left to live on Earth?

What hope have we, with yahoos like this leading us in Congress?

ven as India bats for biodiversity investments at a UN convention of experts from 193 countries, the planet is staring at an imminent crisis that could wipe out life as we know it.Compiled by Yashodhara Dasgupta – See more at: http://www.businessworld.in/news/business/environment/the-losing-world/570570/page-1.html#sthash.mmSk4DDw.dpuf

ven as India bats for biodiversity investments at a UN convention of experts from 193 countries, the planet is staring at an imminent crisis that could wipe out life as we know it.Compiled by Yashodhara Dasgupta

Click Here To Download Infographic

 

Sources: International Union for Conservation of Nature,

World Wide Fund for Nature, Ministry of Environment and ForestsGraphic: Sajeev Kumarapuram

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 22-10-2012)

- See more at: http://www.businessworld.in/news/business/environment/the-losing-world/570570/page-1.html#sthash.mmSk4DDw.dpuf

ven as India bats for biodiversity investments at a UN convention of experts from 193 countries, the planet is staring at an imminent crisis that could wipe out life as we know it.Compiled by Yashodhara Dasgupta

Click Here To Download Infographic

 

Sources: International Union for Conservation of Nature,

World Wide Fund for Nature, Ministry of Environment and ForestsGraphic: Sajeev Kumarapuram

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 22-10-2012)

- See more at: http://www.businessworld.in/news/business/environment/the-losing-world/570570/page-1.html#sthash.mmSk4DDw.dpuf


World Malaria Day 2014 – How can you help beat the disease?

April 25, 2014

Poster from BioMed Central:

Poster from BioMed Central for World Malaria Day 2014

Poster from BioMed Central for World Malaria Day 2014

Time for a big push to smash the disease’s hold on humanity, maybe eradicate it.  Are you in?

No, DDT is not the answer, not even much of AN answer.

How can you help, right now?

  1. Send $10 to Nothing But Nets. Bednets are dramatically more effective than just insecticides, in preventing malaria infections and saving lives.  Your $10 donation will save at least one life.
  2. Write to your Congressional delegation, and urge them to increase funding to the President’s Malaria Initiative. Malaria does well when people in non-malaria regions turn their backs on the problem.  Malaria declines with constant attention to nation-wide and continent-wide programs to prevent the disease, by diminishing habitat for mosquitoes, curing the disease in humans so mosquitoes have no well of disease to draw from, and preventing mosquitoes from biting humans, with window screens, education on when to stay indoors, and bednets.

More:


Texas Education Agency looking for social studies books reviewers (and math and fine arts)

December 2, 2013

Last time the SBOE approved social studies books in 2010, the process was contentious.  This photo, from The Christian Science Monitor, shows protests on the books; photo by Larry Kolvoord/Austin American-Statesman

Last time the SBOE approved social studies books in 2010, the process was contentious. This photo, from The Christian Science Monitor, shows protests on the books; photo by Larry Kolvoord, Austin American-Statesman

Good news a few days ago was that the Texas State Board of Education approved science books that teach real science, for use in Texas schools.

But the Road Goes On Forever, and the Tea Party Never Ends:  Social studies books are up for review, now.

TEA is looking for nominations for reviewers for books in social studies, math and fine arts.  Here’s the notice I got in e-mail:

The Texas Education Agency is now accepting nominations to the state review panels that will evaluate instructional materials submitted for adoption under Proclamation 2015.

To nominate yourself or someone else to serve on a state review panel, please complete the form posted at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/WorkArea/linkit.aspx?LinkIdentifier=id&ItemID=25769808256&libID=25769808258 and submit it to the TEA on or before Friday, January 24, 2014.

Proclamation 2015 calls for instructional materials in the following areas:

♦   Social Studies, grades K-12

♦   Social Studies (Spanish), grades K-5

♦   Mathematics, grades 9-12

♦   Fine Arts, grades K-12

State review panels are scheduled to convene in Austin for one week during the summer of 2014 to review materials submitted under Proclamation 2015. The TEA will reserve hotel lodging and reimburse panel members for all travel expenses, as allowable by law.

  • Panel members should plan to remain on-site for five days to conduct the evaluation.
  • Panel members will be asked to complete an initial review of instructional materials prior to the in-person review.
  • Panel members will receive orientation and training both prior to the initial review and at the beginning of the in-person review.
  • Panel members might be asked to review additional content following the in-person review.
  • Because many of the samples will be delivered electronically, panel members should be comfortable reviewing materials on-screen rather than in print.
  • Panel members should also have a working knowledge of Microsoft Excel.

Upon initial contact by a representative of the TEA, state review panel nominees begin a “no-contact” period in which they may not have either direct or indirect contact with any publisher or other person having an interest in the content of instructional materials under evaluation by the panel. The “no contact” period begins with the initial communication from the Texas Education Agency and ends after the State Board of Education (SBOE) adopts the instructional materials. The SBOE is scheduled to adopt Proclamation 2015 materials at its November 2014 meeting.

Nominations are due on or before Friday, January 24, 2014.  The nomination form is posted on the TEA website at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/WorkArea/linkit.aspx?LinkIdentifier=id&ItemID=25769808256&libID=25769808258.

If you have any questions, please contact review.adoption@tea.state.tx.us.

***********************************************************

Thank you for your commitment to serving Texas students.

Social Studies Staff, Division of Curriculum, (512) 463-9581

Social Studies in Texas include history, geography, economics, government (civics), and (oddly) psychology and sociology, and “special topics.”

Please pass word along to the teachers you know in social studies, fine arts and math.

We recall that old Bette Davis line, playing Margot Channing in “All About Eve”:  “Fasten your seatbelts.  It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

More:


Annals of global warming: Great Lakes need water

November 13, 2013

Does Lake Michigan's record low mark beginning of new era for Great Lakes? At least 150 years of rhythmic pulses in Lake Michigan's water levels appear to have shifted abruptly with loss of winter ice.   Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Photo and caption from Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Does Lake Michigan’s record low mark beginning of new era for Great Lakes? At least 150 years of rhythmic pulses in Lake Michigan’s water levels appear to have shifted abruptly with loss of winter ice. Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Don’t get complacent, yet.  Has enough water fallen in the Great Lakes drainage area in the past six months to change this situation at all?  From the New York Times last June:

Drought and other factors have created historically low water marks for the Great Lakes, putting the $34 billion Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway shipping industry in peril, a situation that could send ominous ripples throughout the economy.

Water levels in the Great Lakes have been below their long-term averages during the past 14 years, and this winter the water in Lakes Michigan and Huron, the hardest-hit lakes, dropped to record lows, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Keith Kompoltowicz, the chief of watershed hydrology with the corps’s Detroit district, said that in January “the monthly mean was the lowest ever recorded, going back to 1918.”

While spring rains have helped so far this year, levels in all five Great Lakes are still low by historical standards, so getting through the shallow points in harbors and channels is a tense affair.

It’s not just storms, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers, you know.

The Great Lakes as seen from space. The Great ...

The Great Lakes from space. The Great Lakes are the largest glacial lakes in the world. NASA photo via Wikipedia

More:

Great Lakes in Sunglint (NASA, International S...

Great Lakes in Sunglint (NASA, International Space Station, 06/14/12) (Photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center)


Meanwhile, back at the rice paddy, global warming holds families hostage . . .

May 1, 2013

See this United Nations Development Program ten-minute video that, to the wise and concerned, lays out the stakes of delaying action against human-caused climate change.

Without enough funding, NGOs work to help farmers getting hammered in the Southern Philippines, and other places.

In the Southern Philippines, farmers’ lives and the weather are intimately interwoven, but something is changing, now that the rains in Agusan del Norte are too heavy, the sun shines too fiercely. Now there’s hope for poor farmers with the community-based approach monitoring and Weather Index-Based Insurance packages, to warn people when heavy weather is on the way.

Though, I do weary of the astonishing abuse of acronyms in this work-of-the-angels. “WIBI?”

Incidentally, though the phrase doesn’t appear anywhere in this material, this is exactly the sort of work carried on by the UN’s Agenda 21 project.  Doesn’t look subversive to me.

Tip of the old scrub brush to the UNDP and ILO Tweet:

More:

Map of the Philippines with Agusan del Norte h...

Map of the Philippines with Agusan del Norte highlighted. Wikipedia image


Anybody got photos of Texas’s Big Lake with, you know, water in it?

February 15, 2013

Contrary to popular rural and redneck legend, Caddo Lake is not Texas’s only natural* lake.  There’s also Big Lake, near the town of Big Lake.

Problem being, of course, that Big Lake’s water sources these days generally don’t flow.  So Big Lake is often dry.

Which produces a further problem for site like Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:  If Big Lake is really a lake, why are there no photos of the lake with water in it?

A comment at AustinBassFishing.com got me thinking about this again, no photos of Big Lake as a Lake.  In the previous post here, we featured a photo of Big Lake Playa, sans water.  I searched the internet at the time and found no photos showing water in the lake.  My authority on Big Lake, Brad Wachsmann, swore that he had recently seen water in the thing (“recent” being “in the last decade or so”).

So, sorta good news:  A few photos of Big Lake, with water, plopped onto the internet since our last search.  Here are a couple from Panaramio:

Big Lake, Texas, with water in it.  Photo by doning

Water in Big Lake, near the city of Big Lake, Texas, laps at the State Highway 137 passing nearby. This photo comes from 2004, by doning.

Water in Big Lake, Texas, June 2005; photo by evansjohnc

Photo of water in Big Lake from June 2005. Photo by evansjohnc.  This photo appears to be about midway along the intersection of the lake with State Highway 137.

Big Lake, Texas, in dry phase, by cwoods

Big Lake in its dry phase, from looking north from the southern end of State Highway 137’s transection of the lake. Photo by cwoods.

Sign noting location of Big Lake, Texas, during dry phase. Photo by cwoods

Non-historic marker for Big Lake, also along State Highway 137, looking west. Photo by cwoods. Photo taken during Big Lake’s dry humor phase.

Now:  Can we track down the rumors of other natural lakes in TexasSabine Lake?  Green Lake?  Natural Dam Lake?

And, Dear Reader, can you find good photos of Big Lake with, you know, water in it?

_____________

* Is Caddo Lake a natural lake?  Originally, the lake seems to have been formed by an enormous blowdown of trees, probably during a hurricane, well over 400 years ago.  In that sense, it was a natural lake when European explorers first found it, and during all of Texas’s “six flags” historic periods.  Or, what is known as the Great Raft, a log jam, dammed up the Red River near the confluence of the Big Cypress Bayou, in about 1799.  By 1800, Caddo Lake was wet all year-round, and deep enough for shallow boat navigation.  In 1835, Capt. Henry Shreve blew up enough of the logjam that steamboat traffic could get past (the guy after whom Shreveport, Louisiana, is named).  After the Civil War, locals tried to expand boat traffic by completely removing the logjam.  Instead of making traffic easier, this removal led shrinking water levels in the lake, and it destroyed navigation farther up the Red River.  Several efforts to restore higher water levels achieved some success by about 1915.  When oil was discovered under the swamp, pressures came from oil companies to make drilling easier — travel in the mud was difficult.  After the invention of the Hughes drill bit (by Howard Hughes‘s father, the founder of Hughes Tool Co.) to allow drilling through water and mud into oil-bearing rock, a dam was built near where the logjam had been, to raise the level of what is known today as Caddo Lake.  What is seen today is a human-enhanced version of the Caddo Lake known by the Caddo Tribe.  This is all preface to the current Texas water wars.

More:


Abraham Lincoln, inventor – only president with a patent?

February 10, 2013

Lincoln’s (and Darwin’s) birthday rolls around again next week. What do we know about our 16th president who was the subject of a great and a silly movie in the last year?

Some wag sent out this Tweet today.

Any visitor to Thomas Jefferson’s home at Monticello knows of Jefferson’s wide-ranging interests, and work in science and invention.  I was rather surprised to discover the depth of George Washington’s inventive work, in a seminar sponsorred by the Bill of Rights Institute at Mount Vernon a few years ago.

Abraham Lincoln, too?

Sangamon_River_near_Lincoln's_First_Home_in_Il...

Sangamon River near Lincoln’s first home in Illinois – Photo from Wikipedia

Lincoln lived along the Sangamon River, and he saw development of the river for commercial navigation to be a boon for his district’s economic growth.  Unfortunately, the Sangamon is not deep; boats had difficult times navigating over the many logs and snags, and shallows.

So, Mr. Lincoln offered a technical solution, for which he was granted a patent in 1849.  Details below, from Google Patents:

lincoln-patent-for-buoying_vessels_over_shoals

lincoln-patent-for-boat-buoying-in-jpg

Drawing for Abraham Lincoln’s patent of a boat bouying apparatus.

Was Lincoln the only president to get a patent?  Thomas Jefferson and George Washington worked hard at inventions.  Jefferson shared Ben Franklin’s view that new inventions should be for the benefit of all; does that mean he didn’t seek patents?  Washington’s inventions — including the 16-sided barn for threshing wheat — tended to be improvements on processes; I don’t know of any evidence he even thought of patenting any idea.

It’s possible that Lincoln was the only president so far to have held a patent.

Lincoln’s invention was never built, and that patent never used.

This is an encore post with additions.

More, and miscellany:

 


Nightfall, video essay on Los Angeles

September 26, 2012

You wondered how anyone could ever fall in love with the modern megalopolis that is Los Angeles?

Along comes Colin Rich with this video ode, visual poetry to an essential chunk of America.  Oh, yeah, it’s got lots of time-lapse. Notice how the photography turns simple airplanes into something akin to shooting stars, and notice how even an ugly old radio tower crowded with microwave and digital communication antennae turn into things of grace, if not beauty:

More information from Colin Rich:

Music: M83, “Echoes of Mine” off of ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.’ Available from Mute Records, EMI Music
Download the song/album here here: itunes.apple.com/us/album/midnight-city

Cinematography, Direction, and Editing by: Colin Rich: facebook.com/colinrich1
Produced by Pacific Star Productions pacstarpro.com

A big thanks to Matthews MSE (msegrip.com) especially to Bob Kulesh, Tyler & Ed Phillips for their generous support and patience of this lengthy endeavor. Most of the linear motion control shots were captured using their FloatCam DC Slider, a wonderful piece of engineering for the time lapse world.

‘Nightfall’ is a three minute tour of light through the City of Angels.

I shot “Nightfall” in an attempt to capture Los Angeles as it transitioned from day to night. As you probably know, LA is an expansive city so shooting it from many different angles was critical. Usually I was able to capture just one shot per day with a lot of driving, exploring, and scouting in between but the times sitting in traffic or a “sketchy” neighborhood often lead to new adventures and interesting places.

Nightfall in particular is my favorite time to shoot time lapse. Capturing the transition from day to night while looking back at the city as the purple shadow of Earth envelopes the eastern skyline and the warm distant twinkling halogen lights spark to life and give the fading sun a run for her money- this will never grow old or boring to me.

In this piece, it was important to me for the shots to both capture and accentuate the movement of light through the day and night and the use of multiple motion control techniques allowed me to do so.

I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed creating it.

An English translation of the lyrics-

“It is late. I am looking for my other home, taking an unfamiliar path: a small trail near the factories and the city, cutting through the forest. I can barely see nature when suddenly, night falls. I am engulfed by a world of silence, yet I am not afraid. I fall asleep for a few minutes at the most, and when I wake up, the sun is there and the forest is shining with a bright light.

I recognize this forest. It is not an ordinary forest, it is a forest of memories. My memories. The white and noisy river, my adolescence. The tall trees, the men I have loved. The birds in flight, and in the distance, my lost father.

My memories aren’t memories anymore. They are there, with me, dancing and embracing, singing and smiling at me.

I look at my hands. I caress my face, and I am 20 years old. And I love like I have never loved before.”

Surely this film can be used, at least for a bell ringer or warmup, in geography classes.


Geography Awareness Week, November 11-17; Texas poster contest

September 20, 2012

Press release from the Texas Alliance for Geographic Education (TAGE):

This year’s Geography Awareness Week theme is Declare Your Interdependence! Geographers around the nation will celebrate our interconnectedness November 11-17, 2012!

To celebrate, TAGE is sponsoring the 25th Annual Poster Contest

How are you connected to the rest of the globe on a daily basis? What images demonstrate interdependence for you? This year’s posters should illustrate different forms and examples of interdependence. Focus on the physical and cultural processes that keep you connected around the globe, and how this shapes your daily life.

More information on the Poster Contest, including rules, registration, and resources at http://www.geo.txstate.edu/tage/geography-awareness-week.html
Poster Contest Registration: Deadline October 19; Posters due to the TAGE office by October 25

Information on National Geographic’s Geography Awareness Week, http://www.geographyawarenessweek.org

Please contact us if you have any questions, and feel free to share with us new resources or ideas that you may have. We will continue to add resources and links as we find them to help you demonstrate interdependence to your classroom.

Let’s make this the best poster contest yet!

Maggie Hutchins

Texas Alliance for Geographic Education
Department of Geography
Texas State University
601 University Drive
San Marcos, TX 78666
http://www.geo.txstate.edu/tage/
phone: (512) 245-3827
fax: (512) 245-1653

Related Articles and Resources:


On the Road with Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub – Scott, Kansas

July 16, 2012

Little towns in Kansas look like neutron bomb test sites.  Especially on a Saturday afternoon, there are no people.  Many of the buildings look as though they haven’t been occupied since Dwight Eisenhower was president.

But there’s a cafe in Scott, Kansas, about the intersection of U.S 40 and U.S. 83, that looks like a new business in an old building, the Road Kill Grill.  It’s motto:

“Road Kill Grill:  For diners with discerning tastes.”

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

(Of course, that establishment is not the only place on Earth with a similar idea.)


7 billion people on Earth?

October 25, 2011

Exponential growth’s potential to rapidly change the numbers of a situation tends to fall out of the thoughts of most people, who don’t see such things occur in daily life.

You should stop and think about this one for a minute:  World population will tip to over 7 billion people soon, maybe in the next week, but most assuredly by next spring.

A very large crowd in a stadium

Seven billion people? Really? Are the concessions adequate? The restrooms?

Joel E. Cohen wrote about the event in Sunday’s New York Times:

ONE week from today, the United Nations estimates, the world’s population will reach seven billion. Because censuses are infrequent and incomplete, no one knows the precise date — the Census Bureau puts it somewhere next March — but there can be no doubt that humanity is approaching a milestone.

The first billion people accumulated over a leisurely interval, from the origins of humans hundreds of thousands of years ago to the early 1800s. Adding the second took another 120 or so years. Then, in the last 50 years, humanity more than doubled, surging from three billion in 1959 to four billion in 1974, five billion in 1987 and six billion in 1998. This rate of population increase has no historical precedent.

Can the earth support seven billion now, and the three billion people who are expected to be added by the end of this century? Are the enormous increases in households, cities, material consumption and waste compatible with dignity, health, environmental quality and freedom from poverty?

(Joel E. Cohen, a mathematical biologist and the head of the Laboratory of Populations at Rockefeller University and Columbia University, is the author of “How Many People Can the Earth Support?”)

We’re in for some dramatic shifts in concentrations of people, if not shifts in how we think of the world (thinking is always slower than reality).

While the bulge in younger people, if they are educated, presents a potential “demographic dividend” for countries like Bangladesh and Brazil, the shrinking proportion of working-age people elsewhere may place a strain on governments and lead them to raise retirement ages and to encourage alternative job opportunities for older workers.

Even in the United States, the proportion of the gross domestic product spent on Social Security and Medicare is projected to rise to 14.5 percent in 2050, from 8.4 percent this year.

The Population Reference Bureau said that by 2050, Russia and Japan would be bumped from the 10 most populous countries by Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

I’m not ready, and neither are most other people, I’ll wager.  How about you?

More: 


Climate denialists on Texas weather 2011: Ain’t no heat wave, on average

August 8, 2011

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

In defense of his claim that Texas has not warmed over the last century (“Texas temperatures not rising; Wisconsin temperatures not rising”) and, therefore, Texas does not suffer from global warming, and therefore there is no global warming and no ill effects from warming, Steve Goddard posted this today:

Year-To-Date In Texas

Posted on August 7, 2011 by stevengoddard

Almost as warm as 1927, 1925 and 1953. Only a degree cooler than 1911.

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/cag3/tx.html

It’s heading for 105°, but since it was 15° one day in February, that averages to 60°, so Texas is okay, according to Goddard.  In their drive to fuzz up the facts and surround policy debates with snark, the denialists will deny anything, leave no weather record untwisted, and deny the sweat on the nose on their face.  According to Goddard, snow in the Great Basin means no drought in Las Vegas, as shown by there being no drought affecting Lake Powell.

Remember Straight Dope’s Cecil Adams’s old line?  “Fighting ignorance since 1973 (it’s taking longer than we thought.)”  Yeah, that applies to climate denialists in quantity.

Here’s what’s going on in Texas right now:

  •  Texas A&M says the drought of 2011 is the worst ever 1-year drought in Texas history; note how their press release describes the event, and the increasing heat:

    Preliminary reports from the National Climatic Data Center indicate that July 2011 was the warmest month ever recorded statewide for Texas, with data going back to 1895, [State Climatologist John] Nielsen-Gammon reports. The average temperature of 87.2 degrees broke the previous record of 86.5 degrees set in 1998. The June average temperature of 85.2 was a record for that month and now ranks fifth warmest overall.

    Rainfall totals were also unusually light across the state. The July monthly total of 0.72 inches ranks third driest, surpassed by the 0.69 inches recorded in both 1980 and 2000. This is the fifth consecutive month in which precipitation totals were among the 10 driest for that month, says the Texas A&M professor.

Drought and searing heat in Texas.  Caused by climate change?  That’s difficult to say, difficult to trace.  Made worse by climate change?  Most likely.

Dallas media track the consecutive days over 100° F.  It’s a form of misery index — people can recover from a day or two over the century mark.  But more than a couple of days and the heat begins to take a heavier toll on people, on plants and animals, on houses, on cars, on crops, on everything we do in Texas.  It’s difficult to make news make sense on weather stories.  Tracking the number of days over 100° gives a quick graphic for television news, and puts the story into the vein of a sports record story, a narrative people know.

Here’s how things stack up in Dallas, in terms of days over 100°:

Rank Year Consecutive 100° days
1 1980 42
2 2011 37 (and counting)
3 1998 29
4 1952 25
5 1999 24
6 1954 20
7 2006 19
8 2010 18
8 1978 18
10 1956 17

If one looks at the heat streaks, one cannot help but notice that all of the top ten streaks have come since 1952, and that three are in the last decade, five since 1998.  Brutal heat streaks appear to be coming more frequently, many close on the heels of previous heat streaks, and with greater severity.

That is what one would expect from global warming.

Moreover, the recent streaks show greater oscillations.  2011 also saw snow and freezing weather in Dallas, a rarity.  Greater oscillations in weather also would be expected from global warming.

Goddard offers a comparison of January to June temperatures — the coolest part of the calendar year, and leaving out most of the heat-streak days — and on that basis of a half-comparison, he suggests (doesn’t say — he doesn’t want to be caught lying outright) that there isn’t a warming problem in Dallas in 2011.

Heat stroke?  It’s a figment of your socialist imagination.  14 dead?  They probably were smokers.  Global warming?   Not if Steve Goddard can find a statistic somewhere that can be manipulated to appear to deny it.

What do his charts show for July and August of those years?

Finally, there is this:   Assume for a moment that there has been no significant warming in Texas as a complete landmass over the past 100 years:  Does that mean Texas is not battered by any warming that occurs elsewhere?

Of course not.  The current drought in Texas is thought to be triggered in no small part by the La Niña effect, a chilling of the surface of the Pacific in a broad band that stretches west of Peru for about 5,000 miles to the far South Pacific.  La Niña is a counterpart to El Niño, a warming of the same band of water that produces different, not-average weather effects.  The cycles are not well understood as to cause — there are good hypotheses being tested — but it has been observed that, especially in the latter part of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st, these cycles are speeding up.  The best, not-disproven hypothesis is that these cycles react and speed up due to global warming.

So, to the best of our hypothesizing today, the Texas drought is a function of global warming, in timing, frequency and severity.

This demonstrates the ultimate problem with using a local temperature readings to make authoritative statements about global warming, even averaged over about a hundred million acres like Texas:  Problems of global warming are not always simply problems of temperature, and non-local causes may cause local effects that will not show up in temperature, especially local effects in precipitation, in timing and amounts.

Botanists, foresters, range scientists and biogeographers noticed effects of warming 50 years ago, with the migration of species northward, and up mountainsides.  Wildlife managers noticed altered migrations of game birds and non-game birds about the same time, migration alterations that continue to today.  Plant zones used by farmers and gardeners demonstrate a good deal of change, generally favoring warming, over the past century.  Evidence for warming is quite solid without a single temperature reading.

A bastion of average temperature non-increases, if Texas is one, may still be hammered by warming and its effects in the Pacific, and especially in the Gulf of Mexico.  Is it fair to say the entire system shows no signs of warming?

So we should ask:  Are temperatures and precipitation averages, frequencies, timing and totals, about average for the last century or two?  Then  the case for global warming is a bit weaker.

Dallas will eclipse the previous record string of 100° F days in the next week.  All of Texas is in severe drought, and most of the state is in extreme drought.  Sounds as if there is something going on with the climate.

Last year the denialism sites lit up with a report that a fourth grade student in South Texas had a science project that disproved global warming, and which won an award from the National Science Foundation.  It was a sad hoax.  The speed with which these sites pounced on the report should have warned us that a school of thought devoid of practical results from the lab bench or observation in nature gets too desperate for results, and will cut corners to claim them.  Goddard’s reports repeat the bad methodology of that hoax.

Richard Feynman once wrote, wryly, “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”  Goddard and other denialists appear to read that wrongly, thinking that experts are not to be trusted, and that all experts are ignorant of all things, and therefore stupid.

Politics and especially the politics of science cry out for someone to read Feynman — actually read what he wrote.  Feynman said we should not assume all scientists are infallible.  He did not write that all scientists are fallible and wrong.


Plan to save the spotted owls

August 2, 2011

A lawyer complains in the Wall Street Journal that the plan from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) intended to help the endangered spotted owl should be dismissed because, well, the spotted owl is still endangered, and after all, didn’t the spotted owl personally shut down the entire lumber industry in the Northwest?

Well, no, the owl didn’t shut down the mills.

But before we discuss, can we at least read the shorthand version of what USFWS has to say?  Here’s the press release on the plan:

Plan Marks New Route for Recovering Northern Spotted Owl and Promoting Healthy Northwest Forests

Contact:
Janet Lebson
503-231-6179
janet_lebson@fws.gov


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today released a final revised recovery plan for the threatened northern spotted owl, stepping up actions that so far have helped stem but not reverse the old-growth forest raptor’s decline. The revised plan identifies three main priorities for achieving spotted owl recovery:  protecting the best of its remaining habitat, actively managing forests to improve forest health, and reducing competition from barred owls, a native of eastern North America that has progressively moved into the spotted owl’s range in Washington, Oregon, and northern California.

“For more than 20 years, northern spotted owl recovery has been a focal point of broader forest conservation efforts in the Pacific Northwest,” said Robyn Thorson, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific Northwest Regional Director. “This revised recovery plan is based on sound science and affirms that the best things we can do to help the spotted owl turn the corner are conserving its habitat, managing the barred owl, and restoring vitality to our forests.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will use the recovery plan to work with land managers in the Pacific Northwest such as the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, as well as other federal and non-federal landowners, to advise them on habitat management activities that can benefit the spotted owl and contribute to improved forest health.

Because about 20 million acres of U.S. Forest Service lands and about 2 million acres of Bureau of Land Management lands are potentially affected by recovery plan recommendations, the three agencies worked together on key recommendations related to forest management. Both agencies provided formal letters of support for the plan’s recovery goals.

“This recovery plan is a welcome update to the state of the science surrounding the northern spotted owl,” said Cal Joyner, Deputy Regional Forester for the Pacific Northwest Region of the U.S. Forest Service. “The plan will help us implement a mix of actively managing and protecting habitat to best contribute to conservation and recovery.”

“The recovery plan provides space to develop ecological forestry principles and to actively manage our public forests to achieve the twin goals of improving ecological conditions and supplying timber,” said Ed Shepard, Oregon/Washington State Director for the Bureau of Land Management. “We look forward to continuing our close cooperation with the Fish and Wildlife Service as we put the science from the recovery plan to work in our planning, in evaluating proposed timber projects, and in improving forest health.”

Overarching recommendations in the revised plan include:

  • Conservation of spotted owl sites and high-value spotted owl habitat across the landscape. This means the habitat protections provided under land use plans on federal land will continue to be a focus of recovery, but protection of other areas is likely needed to achieve full success (including some of the lands previously slated for potential timber harvest on federal lands, and possibly non-federal lands in certain parts of the owl’s range where federal lands are limited).
  • Active management of forests to make forest ecosystems healthier and more resilient to the effects of climate change and catastrophic wildfire, disease, and insect outbreaks. This involves an “ecological forestry” approach in certain areas that will restore ecosystem functioning and resiliency. This may include carefully applied prescriptions such as fuels treatment to reduce the threat of severe fires, thinning, and restoration to enhance habitat and return the natural dynamics of a healthy forest landscape. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends this approach in areas where it promotes ecosystem function and is in the best long-term interest of spotted owl recovery. The agency also strongly affirms adaptive management principles to continually evaluate and refine active forest management techniques.
  • Management of the encroaching barred owl to reduce harm to spotted owls. Most of the recovery actions the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has carried out since finalizing the spotted owl’s 2008 recovery plan deal with the barred owl threat. A major part of this is developing a proposal for experimental removal of barred owls in certain areas to see what effect that would have on spotted owls, and then to evaluate whether or not broad scale removal should be considered. This portion of the 2008 plan was not significantly revised.

“While the new recovery plan has been refined and improved from the 2008 version, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continues to implement the most important recommendations,” said Acting U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Rowan Gould. “We have begun to address the barred owl threat, improved survey protocols, and developed incentives for private landowners to voluntarily participate in recovery actions. We look forward to expanding conservation partnerships to contribute to the spotted owl’s recovery.”

Since the northern spotted owl was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) 21 years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and recovery partners are benefitting from far more information on what factors most affect its survival and productivity. This includes a broader body of scientific knowledge on the species itself and forest ecosystem dynamics — including variables such as climate change and the role of natural disturbances such as wildfire. Recovery partners also are taking advantage of new science and technology to develop more precise tools for analyzing how different strategies can contribute to recovery.

In addition, land managers have made significant strides in advancing active forest management techniques to promote the health and resilience of forest ecosystems. The recovery plan emphasizes the concept of adaptive management to apply new knowledge and science to those techniques on an ongoing basis. This is a more mainstream approach today than in 1994 when the Northwest Forest Plan was created to address the needs of several forest-dependent species, including the spotted owl, and the region’s timber industry.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed a final recovery plan specific to the spotted owl for the first time in 2008. As the agency and recovery partners moved forward in implementing many recommendations in the 2008 plan, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initiated a targeted scientific revision to some portions of that plan after facing legal challenges and critical reviews from leading scientific organizations in the conservation community.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tapped the knowledge and perspectives of public and private sector experts over the last two years in developing this revised plan, the draft of which was released in September 2010. The agency held more than 30 workshops and meetings with public and private partners throughout the spotted owl’s range to share information, evaluate options, and incorporate valuable input during the revised plan’s development. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service accepted public comments on the draft revised plan for a 90-day period and received more than 11,700 comments. In April 2011, the agency released an updated Appendix C, relating to a new habitat modeling tool, for an additional 30-day public comment period and received about 20 public comments.

The revised recovery plan does not include recommendations from the 2008 plan for a new habitat conservation network of “Managed Owl Conservation Areas.” Rather than creating a potentially confusing new land classification, the plan identifies the scientific rationale and parameters for habitat protection and will revise the spotted owl’s designated critical habitat to reflect the latest scientific information about areas essential for the owl’s recovery. Identifying this habitat through the critical habitat process — as the ESA intended — will be more efficient and provide land managers and the public with additional opportunities for review and comment.

For a recovery timeline, Frequently Asked Questions, related information, and the recovery plan itself, visit www.fws.gov/oregonfwo.

America’s fish, wildlife and plant resources belong to all of us, and ensuring the health of imperiled species is a shared responsibility. The Service is working to actively engage conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Service’s Endangered Species program, go to http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov. Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfws, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwshq, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq.

-FWS-

Stay tuned for the response, and my response to the response.

_____________

Oooooh, bonus!  Story in the Daily Astorian says saving the spotted owl habitat also ties up carbon, helping out with the fight against global warming.


Immigration policy in an era of globalization: U.S. needs more immigration, not less

June 11, 2011

Anathema to many partisans of the immigration debates:   What if we look at the real value of immigration?  The U.S. needs more to encourage immigration than to discourage it.  God, and devil, in the details.

From the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank:

In advance of an immigration policy conference, Dallas Fed Senior Economist Pia Orrenius discusses how immigration policy can help the U.S. economy and how the global competition for high-skilled immigrants is increasing. The Dallas Fed and the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University are co-sponsoring “Immigration Policy in an Era of Globalization” at the Dallas Fed on May 19-20, 2011.

This piece had only 329 views when I posted it.  Shouldn’t carefully studied views of immigration get more circulation on the inter’tubes?

Do you recall seeing any coverage of the May 19-20 conference  in your local news outlets, or anywhere else?  The conference included high-faluting experts who discussed immigration policies for the U.S., Canada, the EU, Europe, Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain and Germany.  One might think to find some value in the information there.

Can we get the immigration we need, legally?  Do present proposals in Congress offer to boost our economy, or hurt it?

More:


Canada? It’s in North America? What?

March 27, 2011

And in other news that didn’t make most U.S. local newspapers today, the government of Canada fell yesterday.

Canada government falls, Politically-Illustrated

"The Conservative government in Canada was toppled on Friday after a vote of no-confidence passed in the parliament by 156 to 145." Cartoon at Politically Illustrated by Cam Cardow

You know:  Canada.  That nation north of North Dakota, the one that keeps Alaska stuck to the North American Continent.  Remember?   It’s got about 20% of the world’s fresh water.  Those guys who helped us whip Hitler on D-Day.

Oh, c’mon.  Google the place, will you?  It’s the nation where, when you go there, ‘those bastards with the drug problem south of the border’ is the United States.

No, no, it’s probably not important.  We buy a lot of our oil from Canada.  Canada is our biggest trading partner.  They buy a lot of the goods that we still produce here.

And the conservative government there, under a parliamentary system that kids in the U.S. are never tested on in Texas, lost a vote of confidence Friday, in Ottawa.

Ottawa?  It’s the capital of Canada.  No, Montreal isn’t even the capital of Quebec.

Oh, come on! Quebec.  Quebec! It’s the province of Canada with all the French speakers. Yeah, Quebec City is the capital of Quebec.

Ottawa’s in Ontario.  No, Ottawa is the capital of the whole nation, Canada.  Ontario’s capital is Toronto.

Lone Ranger?  No, Toronto has nothing to do with the Lone Ranger.  It’s the biggest city in Canada.

Anyway, to get back to the topic, Canada’s government failed.  Conservatives lost a vote because of ethics issues.

Ethics issues, conservatives.  No news there.  No wonder it wasn’t covered better.

Elections in May. You’d know this, if you read the blogs of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

As if anyone cared.

Hey, get this:  Ontario alone has more than 250,000 lakes, natural lakes.  In a good, very wet year, Texas has two, maybe three natural lakes.

You could look it up.

No, NATO won’t intervene.  Canada is part of NATO.

More seriously:

Energy- and environment-interested people should take note. Canada is our largest source of imported oil at about 2 million barrels a day — more than Mexico and Saudi Arabia imports combined — and we share two ocean coasts with the nation.  See what Susan Casey-Lefkowitz said at her blog:

Hopefully, whoever takes over next in Canada will be a bigger proponent of clean energy and fighting climate change than the Harper government has been. The Harper government has been a vocal proponent of tar sands oil expansion – pushing this dirty fuel in the United States and in Europe. In fact, the Harper government has been instrumental in undermining clean energy efforts at home and abroad all to promote the tar sands oil industry. A fresh approach in Canada gives the country a chance to get back to its green roots and to listen to its provincial governments such as Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia who have been developing innovative ways to promote clean energy and fight climate change. A fresh approach also provides an opportunity to lessen Canada’s dependence on the oil and gas sector and its heavy control over the Canadian dollar leading many to fear “Dutch disease.”

Clean energy and fighting climate change are critical issues now and in the coming decades. Hopefully, Canada can step forward as a leader on both in the future.

We can overlook the abuse of the word “hopefully” to extract important information, I think.  Did your local paper cover this story today?

More, resources:

 

 


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