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.

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Missed National Trails Day, June 4? Catch up later, on the trail

June 6, 2011

This is a little embarrassing.

National Trails Day logo from the American Hiking Society

National Trails Day logo from the American Hiking Society; click to go to AHS site

I missed National Trails Day this year.

Heck, I’ve missed it every year since its inception in 1993.

As usual, I’ll have to hit the trails later in the summer — hello, Colorado Bend State Park.  You can make it up, too.  National Trails Day is a celebration that can be done any time you find to do it, really, any place you find to celebrate it.

So, hey, buddy:  Take a hike!

And have fun doing it.

Information and resources for National Trails Day:


Frazil ice in Yosemite National Park

February 1, 2011


As long as you’re in Nevada, see Fly Geyser

December 24, 2010

Way more than half the geysers in the world are in Yellowstone National Park.  There’s another big cluster in Iceland, and then a few in California.

But there are stragglers throughout the world, including this spectacular, nearly-man-made thing in Nevada:  Fly Geyser.

Nevada's Fly Geyser, Wikimedia image

Nevada's Fly Geyser, Wikimedia image, from Jeremy C. Munns; it's on private land, not open for tourists. Have you ever heard about it?

Lots of photos of the geyser at Kuriositas, where I learned of the thing.

It’s on private land, on Fly Ranch (from which the geyser and a nearby reservoir get their names), but visible from a public road.  You can find it about 20 miles north of Gerlach, on former State Route 34 (now County CR34) – in Washoe County in the northwest of the state.  From Interstate 80, one would need to drive west from Winnemucca on Nevada State Road 49(?), or north from Wadsworth on state highway 447, to Gerlach.

Locals drilled a well at the site in 1916.  For more than 40 years the well produced water with no problem.  But in 1960, the well blew out.  Hypothesis is that the well passed through heated rocks that contained water, and this heated, pressurized water blew out the well casing.  The geyser has been erupting since 1960, building the impressive mineral mountain seen in the photo.

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I get e-mail, from the President on the Gulf oil eruption

June 5, 2010

First time in years I’ve gotten solid information from a politician that didn’t come wrapped in a plea for money. I got a message from President Obama today (I’m sure a few million of his closest friends got the same one):

Ed –

Yesterday, I visited Caminada Bay in Grand Isle, Louisiana — one of the first places to feel the devastation wrought by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While I was here, at Camerdelle’s Live Bait shop, I met with a group of local residents and small business owners.

Folks like Floyd Lasseigne, a fourth-generation oyster fisherman. This is the time of year when he ordinarily earns a lot of his income. But his oyster bed has likely been destroyed by the spill.

Terry Vegas had a similar story. He quit the 8th grade to become a shrimper with his grandfather. Ever since, he’s earned his living during shrimping season — working long, grueling days so that he could earn enough money to support himself year-round. But today, the waters where he has worked are closed. And every day, as the spill worsens, he loses hope that he will be able to return to the life he built.

Here, this spill has not just damaged livelihoods. It has upended whole communities. And the fury people feel is not just about the money they have lost. It is about the wrenching recognition that this time their lives may never be the same.

These people work hard. They meet their responsibilities. But now because of a manmade catastrophe — one that is not their fault and beyond their control — their lives have been thrown into turmoil. It is brutally unfair. And what I told these men and women is that I will stand with the people of the Gulf Coast until they are again made whole.

That is why, from the beginning, we have worked to deploy every tool at our disposal to respond to this crisis. Today, there are more than 20,000 people working around the clock to contain and clean up this spill. I have authorized 17,500 National Guard troops to participate in the response. More than 1,900 vessels are aiding in the containment and cleanup effort. We have convened hundreds of top scientists and engineers from around the world. This is the largest response to an environmental disaster of this kind in the history of our country.

We have also ordered BP to pay economic injury claims, and this week, the federal government sent BP a preliminary bill for $69 million to pay back American taxpayers for some of the costs of the response so far. In addition, after an emergency safety review, we are putting in place aggressive new operating standards for offshore drilling. And I have appointed a bipartisan commission to look into the causes of this spill. If laws are inadequate, they will be changed. If oversight was lacking, it will be strengthened. And if laws were broken, those responsible will be brought to justice.

These are hard times in Louisiana and across the Gulf Coast, an area that has already seen more than its fair share of troubles. The people of this region have met this terrible catastrophe with seemingly boundless strength and character in defense of their way of life. What we owe them is a commitment by our nation to match the resilience they have shown. That is our mission. And it is one we will fulfill.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

Good news is that BP now reports some success in stopping the flow of oil.  Information flows increase, oil flows decrease — good trends.

Obama and Jindal, May 2, 2010 - Pete Souza, WH photo

Caption from the White House: President Barack Obama talks with U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen, who is serving as the National Incident Commander, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, aboard Marine One as they fly along the coastline from Venice to New Orleans, La., May 2, 2010. John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, is in the background. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza). (This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.)

More information:


Strange signs of wildlife

May 10, 2010

A good sign of wildlife recovery.  Photo by Amanda Holland, all rights reserved.

A good sign of wildlife recovery. Photo by Amanda Holland, all rights reserved.

A cousin-in-law spends a few months working on condor recovery in California.  We get photos from time to time.

This one isn’t particularly spectacular, but I love the irony, and the levels of meaning.


The Nature Conservancy: Rachel Carson

May 3, 2010

It’s way too short, but a great idea.

More:


Sage grouse non-listing: USDA offers $16 million to protect the birds

March 17, 2010

Remember the sage grouse? People groused because the U.S. Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service determined most populations of western sage grouse are threatened enough to earn listing as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act — but then refused to list the bird, because other plants and animals are even more threatened, and need attention sooner.  (I was one of those people complaining.)

It’s a new administration.  U.S. Department of Agriculture offered $16 million for projects to protect the bird’s habitat.  This ruling put increased pressure on state wildlife agencies, in an interesting if not unique twist of the issue of federalism, state vs. federal responsibility for wildlife and wild lands.  Wyoming wants $3 million right away, for projects mostly on private land.

In other words, the administration will sometimes find ways to do the right thing without doing the most difficult or controversial thing.  Ranchers and energy developers cheered by original decision are also happy about Ag’s proposed spending.  Environmentalists unhappy with the first ruling shouled be cheered by Ag’s action, too.  State agencies that worked hard to make the case for listing the bird may be cheered, also.

Sage grouse habitat threatened by deveolopment, in Nevada - Las Vega Sun graphic

Sage grouse habitat threatened by deveolopment, in Nevada - Las Vega Sun graphic

Readers of the Las Vegas Sun learned about the program last week – the Sun has covered the sage grouse as part of its coverage of alternative energy programs.  Much sage grouse habitat in Nevada overlaps wind energy and geothermal energy development zones.

Ranchers across the west are being offered millions of dollars in aid from the federal government to make their operations more environmentally sustainable and reduce their impact on the sage grouse the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today.

“USDA will take bold steps to ensure the enhancement and preservation of sage grouse habitat and the sustainability of working ranches and farms in the western United States,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “Our targeted approach will seek out projects that offer the highest potential for boosting sage-grouse populations and enhancing habitat quality.”

The Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will soon begin accepting applications for two federal programs aimed at reducing threats to the birds such as disease and invasive species and improving sage-grouse habitat. The agency will have up to $16 million at its disposal for the programs.

The Wilderness Habitat Incentive Program provides up to 75 percent cost-share assistance to create and improve fish and wildlife habitat on private and tribal land.

Sage grouse face a difficult future.  State wildlife management agencies face a tough future, too, in trying to save the birds.  The nation needs energy resources found, often, where the sage grouse need lands to meet, mate and raise their young.  It’s a difficult balancing act.

More information:


Festival of the Trees #43 features Dallas

January 11, 2010

Festival of the Trees #43 is up at Jason Hogle’s Xenogere.  It’s usually a great blog carnival — but I recommend this one also because Jason uses a walk through Dallas’s Celebration Tree Grove as the theme for the carnival.

Particularly apt in this International Year of Biodiversity, as Jason reminds us.

Engraving at Dallas's Celebration Tree Grove - photo by Jason Hogle, Xenogere

The Greeks got it right. Engraving at Dallas's Celebration Tree Grove - photo by Jason Hogle, Xenogere

Plant a seed:  Tell somebody else.

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The Curse of “Not Evil, Just Wrong” — still evil and wrong

December 10, 2009

At the first post on this material, the thread got a little long — not loading well in some browsers, I hear.

So the comments are closed there, and open here.

In fashion we wish were different but seems all too typical, so-called skeptics of global warming defend their position with invective and insult.  But they are vigorous about it.  What do you think?  What information can you contribute?

Here’s the post that set off the denialists, anti-science types and DDT sniffers, and a tiny few genuinely concerned but under-informed citizens:

I warned you about it earlier. Crank science sites across the internet feature news of another cheap hit on Rachel Carson and science in movie form.

“Not Evil, Just Wrong” is slated for release on October 18. This is the film that tried to intrude on the Rachel Carson film earlier this year, but managed to to get booked only at an elementary school in Seattle, Washington — Rachel Carson Elementary, a green school where the kids showed more sense than the film makers by voting to name the school after the famous scientist-author.

The film is both evil and wrong.

Errors just in the trailer:

  1. Claims that Al Gore said sea levels will rise catastrophically, “in the very near future.” Not in his movie, not in his writings or speeches. Not true. That’s a simple misstatement of what Gore said, and Gore had the science right.
  2. ” . . . [I]t wouldn’t be a bad thing for this Earth to warm up. In fact, ice is the enemy of life.” “Bad” in this case is a value judgment — global warming isn’t bad if you’re a weed, a zebra mussel, one of the malaria parasites, a pine bark beetle, any other tropical disease, or a sadist. But significant warming as climatologists, physicists and others project, would be disastrous to agriculture, major cities in many parts of the world, sea coasts, and most people who don’t live in the Taklamakan or Sahara, and much of the life in the ocean. Annual weather cycles within long-established ranges, is required for life much as we know it. “No ice” is also an enemy of life.
  3. “They want to raise our taxes.” No, that’s pure, uncomposted bovine excrement.
  4. “They want to close our factories.” That’s more effluent from the anus of male bovines.
  5. The trailer notes the usual claim made by Gore opponents that industry cannot exist if it is clean, that industry requires that we poison the planet. Were that true, we’d have a need to halt industry now, lest we become like the yeast in the beer vat, or the champagne bottle, manufacturing alcohol until the alcohol kills the yeast. Our experience with Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, the Clean Air Acts and the Clean Water Act is that cleaning the environment produces economic growth, not the other way around. A city choked in pollution dies. Los Angeles didn’t suffer when the air got cleaner. Pittsburgh’s clean air became a way to attract new industries to the city, before the steel industry there collapsed. Cleaning Lake Erie didn’t hurt industry. The claim made by the film is fatuous, alarmist, and morally corrupt.

    When the human health, human welfare, and environmental effects which could be expressed in dollar terms were added up for the entire 20-year period, the total benefits of Clean Air Act programs were estimated to range from about $6 trillion to about $50 trillion, with a mean estimate of about $22 trillion. These estimated benefits represent the estimated value Americans place on avoiding the dire air quality conditions and dramatic increases in illness and premature death which would have prevailed without the 1970 and 1977 Clean Air Act and its associated state and local programs. By comparison, the actual costs of achieving the pollution reductions observed over the 20 year period were $523 billion, a small fraction of the estimated monetary benefits.

  6. “Some of the environmental activists have not come to accept that the human is also part of the environment.” Fatuous claim. Environmentalists note that humans uniquely possess the ability to change climate on a global scale, intentionally, for the good or bad; environmentalists choose to advocate for actions that reduce diseases like malaria, cholera and asthma. We don’t have to sacrifice a million people a year to malaria, in order to be industrial and productive. We don’t have to kill 700,000 kids with malaria every year just to keep cars.
  7. “They want to go back to the Dark Ages and the Black Plague.” No, that would be the film makers. Environmentalists advocate reducing filth and ignorance both. Ignorance and lack of ability to read, coupled with religious fanaticism, caused the strife known as “the Dark Ages.” It’s not environmentalists who advocate an end to cheap public schools.
  8. The trailer shows a kid playing in the surf on a beach. Of course, without the Clean Water Act and other attempts to keep the oceans clean, such play would be impossible. That we can play again on American beaches is a tribute to the environmental movement, and reason enough to grant credence to claims of smart people like Al Gore and the scientists whose work he promotes.
  9. “I cannot believe that Al Gore has great regard for people, real people.” So, this is a film promoting the views of crabby, misanthropic anal orifices who don’t know Al Gore at all? Shame on them. And, why should anyone want to see such a film? If I want to see senseless acts of stupidity, I can rent a film by Quentin Tarantino and get some art with the stupidity. [Update, November 23, 2009: This may be one of the most egregiously false charges of the film. Gore, you recall, is the guy who put his political career and presidential ambitions on hold indefinitely when his son was seriously injured in an auto-pedestrian accident; Gore was willing to sacrifice all his political capital in order to get his son healed. My first dealings directly with Gore came on the Organ Transplant bill. Gore didn't need a transplant, didn't have need for one in his family, and had absolutely nothing to gain from advocacy for the life-saving procedure. It was opposed by the chairman of his committee, by a majority of members of his own party in both Houses of Congress, by many in the medical establishment, by many in the pharmaceutical industry, and by President Reagan, who didn't drop his threat to veto the bill until he signed it, as I recall. Gore is a man of deep, human-centered principles. Saying "I can't believe Al Gore has great regard for real people" only demonstrates the vast ignorance and perhaps crippling animus of the speaker.]

That’s a whopper about every 15 seconds in the trailer — the film itself may make heads spin if it comes close to that pace of error.

Where have we seen this before? Producers of the film claim as “contributors” some of the people they try to lampoon — people like Ed Begley, Jr., and NASA’s James E. Hansen, people who don’t agree in any way with the hysterical claims of the film, and people who, I wager, would be surprised to be listed as “contributors.”

It’s easy to suppose these producers used the same ambush-the-scientist technique used earlier by the producers of the anti-science, anti-Darwin film “Expelled!

Here, see the hysteria, error and alarmism for yourself:

Ann McElhinney is one of the film’s producers. Her past work includes other films against protecting environment and films for mining companies. She appears to be affiliated with junk science purveyors at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an astro-turf organization in Washington, D.C., for whom she flacked earlier this year (video from Desmogblog):

Remember, too, that this film is already known to have gross inaccuracies about Rachel Carson and DDT, stuff that high school kids could get right easily.

Anyone have details on McElhinney and her colleague, Phelim McAlee?

More:

Related posts, at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:

Please spread the word:

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Time to start making huge stone heads

November 29, 2009

Well, maybe not yet.

But consider Jared Diamond’s 1997 essay in Discover:

In just a few centuries, the people of Easter Island wiped out their forest, drove their plants and animals to extinction, and saw their complex society spiral into chaos and cannibalism. Are we about to follow their lead?

Among the most riveting mysteries of human history are those posed by vanished civilizations. Everyone who has seen the abandoned buildings of the Khmer, the Maya, or the Anasazi is immediately moved to ask the same question: Why did the societies that erected those structures disappear?

Diamond’s essay appears in different, and longer form (as I recall) as a chapter in his book Collapse.  That book is all about why civilizations collapse.

A lot of it boils down to wasting of resources.  Easter Island had not always been the grass-only rock with just a couple of thousand people clinging to a desperate existence, as Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen found it on Easter Sunday, 1722 (April 5).  When the ancestors of the tiny population found the island, it had forests, and probably animals, and rich enough resources to support a larger population.

Until they deforested it, hunted to near extinction every animal that couldn’t escape, and caused the collapse of their own civilization.

Is this an analogy for what humans are doing to the planet now with pollution, especially atmospheric-warming air pollution?

Diamond concluded his essay:

I suspect, though, that the disaster happened not with a bang but with a whimper. After all, there are those hundreds of abandoned statues to consider. The forest the islanders depended on for rollers and rope didn’t simply disappear one day-it vanished slowly, over decades. Perhaps war interrupted the moving teams; perhaps by the time the carvers had finished their work, the last rope snapped. In the meantime, any islander who tried to warn about the dangers of progressive deforestation would have been overridden by vested interests of carvers, bureaucrats, and chiefs, whose jobs depended on continued deforestation. Our Pacific Northwest loggers are only the latest in a long line of loggers to cry, “Jobs over trees!” The changes in forest cover from year to year would have been hard to detect: yes, this year we cleared those woods over there, but trees are starting to grow back again on this abandoned garden site here. Only older people, recollecting their childhoods decades earlier, could have recognized a difference. Their children could no more have comprehended their parents’ tales than my eight-year-old sons today can comprehend my wife’s and my tales of what Los Angeles was like 30 years ago.

Gradually trees became fewer, smaller, and less important. By the time the last fruit-bearing adult palm tree was cut, palms had long since ceased to be of economic significance. That left only smaller and smaller palm saplings to clear each year, along with other bushes and treelets. No one would have noticed the felling of the last small palm.

By now the meaning of Easter Island for us should be chillingly obvious. Easter Island is Earth writ small. Today, again, a rising population confronts shrinking resources. We too have no emigration valve, because all human societies are linked by international transport, and we can no more escape into space than the Easter Islanders could flee into the ocean. If we continue to follow our present course, we shall have exhausted the world’s major fisheries, tropical rain forests, fossil fuels, and much of our soil by the time my sons reach my current age.

Resources:

Jared Diamond in a 2003 appearance at TED:


Godwin’s Law overload: Warming denialist calls water conservation “Nazi”

June 30, 2009

You couldn’t sell a fictional story where people are this nutty.

Go see. The abominable Steve Milloy — a guy so wacky he cannot be parodied (take that, Poe!) – calls water conservation “Nazi.” He complains about a provision in the Waxman-Markey Clean Energy Act that encourages innovation in water conservation devices.

Milloy flouts Godwin’s Law right off the bat.  You can’t make this stuff up.

And — may God save us from these people — Milloy has followers.  Check out the graphic here, with Obama portrayed as a marching Brownshirt.  It’s almost too stupid to be racist, but it’s certainly incendiary.  He even admits he thinks saving water is a good idea, and he’d like to have one of the devices complained about. (This guy knows he’s in error — he censors posts that question any part of his rant.) See the ugly meme expand, here.

Girl Scout/EPA water conservation badge -EPA image

Girl Scout/EPA water conservation badge -EPA image

Water conservation equals flag-waving in America, and has done so for a at least a hundred years. Those of us who grew up in the Intermountain West may be a little more attuned to the drive — Hoover Dam, Glen Canyon Dam, Flaming Gorge Dam, the Central Arizona Project, the Central Utah Project, the Colorado River aqueduct that carries water to Los Angeles, it’s impossible to live in the West and not be conscious of water’s value, its precious qualities.

Today, the many benefits of controlling water in this way are evident in the extensive development that has taken place throughout the West over the past 100 years.  Huge cities have been created and millions of people live, work, and recreate in this desert region.  But, as the West continues to grow, we must face the problem of continually increasing demands on a finite supply of water.  This includes human population needs and the needs of the environment.

But one doesn’t need to be from the cold northern desert of southern Idaho to figure out that saving water is a good idea.

Most homeowners would like to save money.  Americans spend between $600 and $1600 for washing machines that cut water usage by up to 75% (we just replaced our two-decades-old Maytag with a water conserving front-loader).  Go to the appliance stores and listen to the conversations.  People who could better afford the $200 models discuss how they will cut costs elsewhere to get the water saving versions — because their water bills are so high.

Much of of the rest of America works to conserve water out of necessity. Texas cities have mandatory water conservation laws, like Temple, Richwood, Austin and Dallas.  Texas rural areas fight to save water, too.  California cities demonstrate that water conservation works, saving investments in ever-grander and more environmentally-damaging water importation schemes, and allowing for population growth where water shortages would otherwise prohibit new homes.  Water conservation is a big deal across the nation:  In Raleigh, North Carolina; in Seminole County, Florida;  in Nebraska; in the State of Maryland.  An April drive across Wisconsin a few years ago convinced me it is the most waterlogged state in the nation, Louisiana notwithstanding — but even in Wisconsin, wise people work to conserve water for agriculture, one of the state’s leading industries and employers.

What’s the next step up from Godwin’s Law?  These guys like Milloy and his camp followers can only get crazier, benignly, if they head to the meadow and graze with the cattle.  Crazier non-benignly?  Let’s not go there.

But let us address the odious comparison to Nazis directly.  In World War II, when freedom was on the line, there was a drive to conserve resources in America.  Americans grew their own vegetables in Victory Gardens.

Poster encouraging patriotic conservation, for the war effort in World War II

Poster encouraging patriotic conservation, for the war effort in World War II

Americans collected scrap metal, iron, copper and aluminum, to be made into war machines to save the world.  Americans conserved rubber and gasoline by restricting automobile use.  There was the famous poster, “When you ride alone, you ride with Hitler.”  Conservation was understood to be a patriotic response to the challenges the nation faced.

Bill Maher updated the poster with his 2005 book, When You Ride Alone You Ride With Bin Laden. Maher urged civic actions like those that helped the U.S. during World War II, including conservation of gasoline and other resources.   Maher understands that wise use of resources is something a people should strive for, especially when in competition with other nations, either in a hot war or in trade or influence.  Conservation remains a patriotic behavior, and opposing conservation remains a call to support the enemies of America, in war, in trade, in policies.

Update of the World War II poster, for our times.  Image from Barnes and Noble

Update of the World War II poster, for our times. Image from Barnes and Noble

It’s not just a coincidence that Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts (in conjunction with the U.S. EPA for the past several years) learn water conservation as integral parts of their programs, chartered by Congress, to promote civic leadership in America’s youth.  Those groups charged with teaching actual patriotism understand conservation to be a high duty, a high calling, something that all patriots do.

So, let’s face it.  If you crap on a 6-gallon flushing toilet, you crap with Bin Laden.  When you shower with a non-flow restricting shower head, you shower with Bin Laden.

Yes, it sounds creepy.  It is.

You hope Milloy and the other Neobrownshirts* have parents or other family to pull them back from the brink, but then you see Congress.

Yeah, the Nazis were the Brownshirts, in Germany.  In Italy the fascists wore black shirts.  Brown is generally the opposite of green, in political and business parlance — for example, development of a previously undeveloped piece of property is “greenfield development,” while redevelopment of a previously-developed parcel is “brownfield development.”  Since Milloy is opposed to anything “green,” I think it only fair that his shirt color match his politics.  It’s his choice, after all.

Well, what about you, Climate Change Skeptics?

"Well, what about you, Climate Change 'Skeptics?'"


Recycling = Patriotism

June 14, 2009

Once upon a time it was a patriotic action to recycle things.

Boy Scouts distributed posters urging recycling during World War II - National Scouting Museum via National Archives

Boy Scouts distributed posters urging recycling during World War II - National Scouting Museum via National Archives

Once upon a time the nation’s future hinged on the ability of Americans to conserve resources and energy sources, especially gasoline.  So Americans, from the president to the lowliest boy, united to urge Americans to recycle rubber, metal, rags and paper.  It was the patriotic thing to do.

Make it do or do without - poster encouraging recycling and conservation for World War II

Make it do or do without - poster encouraging recycling and conservation for World War II

Did the recycling make significant contributions to the resources necessary to win the war?  A few argue that the value of the campaigns was uniting people toward a common goal.  But there were some clear connections between recycling of some products and the resources delivered to soldiers at the front that aided their fighting.

In the Pacific, Japan cut off U.S. access to rubber in Indochina.  Rubber from South America and Africa could be intercepted in shipping by German u-boats.  Metal refining from ores required more energy than refining from scrap.  Although the U.S. entered the war as the world’s leading petroleum exporting nation, gasoline and Diesel fuel supplies were precious for airplanes, tanks and other machines directly supporting the troops.

Recycling was patriotic in every possible meaning of the word.

Is it really a news flash?  Recycling is still the patriotic thing to do.

Waster paper made the boxes in which blood plasma was shipped to battlefield hospitals and medics

Waster paper made the boxes in which blood plasma was shipped to battlefield hospitals and medics

So the anti-green drive against recycling, demonstrated by Green Hell, tells us that the campaign against environmental concern, against environmental protection, against Al Gore, and against Rachel Carson, is not in our national interest.

What the hell?  They’re pro-garbage? Who in the world pays for this campaign Milloy runs, Vladimir Putin?  Vlad the Impaler?

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Public Lands insanity

November 16, 2008

Remember when Strange Maps “discovered” that so much of the 13 western states is owned by the Federal Government?  On the one hand, it was nice to see people paying attention to public lands in the west.

Public lands.  Photo from the Montana Wildlife Federation

Public lands. Photo from the Montana Wildlife Federation

At the Bathtub, we remarked on the history of the issue with a map that showed where the publicly-owned lands really are (the Strange Maps version only showed a dot in the middle of each state proportionate to the federal land held in the state.)  On the other hand, it was an open invitation for know-nothings and know-littles to jump in with silly ideas.  Remarkably, the post remained free of such folderol — until just recently.

None of these sites gives any serious thought to the idea.  None provides a scintilla of an iota of analysis to indicate it would be a good idea.

As one of the the principal spokesmen for the Sagebrush Rebellion in the early days, I want it known that I’ve thought these issues through, and argued them through, and followed the documentation for 30 years (Holy frijole!  I’m old!).  Issues with public lands revolve around stewardship.  Bad stewardship is not improved by a change in ownership.  Ownership change has all too often only led to worse stewardship.  Selling off the public lands is a generally stupid idea.

Certain local circumstances change the nature of a tiny handful of such deals — but not often, not in many places, and not enough to make a significant contribution to retiring any debt the federal government owns.

On the other hand, incomes from these lands typically runs a few multiples of the costs of managing them.  The Reagan administration discovered the lands were a great source of money to offset losses in other places, and for that reason (I suspect) never really got on the Sagebrush Rebellion band wagon — or, maybe Reagan’s higher officials just didn’t get it.

It’s troubling that such a flurry of stupidity strikes now, during a transition of presidents. This is how stupid ideas get traction, like kudzu on a cotton farm, while no one is paying deep attention.  Let’s put this idea back into its coffin with a sagebrush stake in its heart.

Bottom line:  Keep public lands in federal trust.  The Sagebrush Rebellion is over.  The sagebrush won.

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Speaking of presidential transitions, who should be Secretary of Interior?  Stay tuned.


Atomic history, nuclear future

October 19, 2008

We’re going to see more nuclear power plants in the U.S., it’s a safe bet.  Both presidential candidates support developing alternatives to oil and coal.  Nuclear power is one of the alternatives.

John McCain kept repeating his comfort words, that ‘storage of wastes is not a problem.’ There is not a lot of evidence to support his claims.  With turmoil in financial markets, however, the nuclear power issue has gotten very little serious attention or scrutiny.  From the push to get compensation for radiation victims of atomic weapons and development in the U.S., I learned that the issue is not really whether wastes and other materials can be safely used and wastes stored. The issues are entirely issues of will.

Advantage to Obama, I think.  He’s not claiming that the storage problems are all solved.  A clear recognition of reality is good to have in a president.

Son Kenny sent a link to a history site, Damn Interesting, and it tells the story of the Techa River in the old Soviet Union — a place condemned for generations by the nuclear excesses of the past.

To make the story briefer, in their rush to produce nuclear weapons, the Soviets did nothing to protect Russia from radioactive waste products until it was much too late.  Efforts to reduce radioactive emissions, by storing them in huge underwater containers, resulted in massive explosions that released more radiation than Chernobyl (What?  You hadn’t heard of that, either?).

It’s a reminder that safety and security with peaceful uses of nuclear power depend on humans doing their part, and thinking through the problems before they arise.

Can we deal with radioactive wastes?  We probably have the technology.  Do we have the will? Ask yourself:  How many years has the U.S. studied Yuccan Mountain to make a case to convince Nevadans to handle the waste?  How many more decades will it take?

How is our history of dealing with nuclear contamination issues?  Not good.

Last spring SMU’s history department sponsored a colloquium on a power generation in the southwest, specifically with regard to coal and uranium mining on the Navajo Reservation.   We’ve been there before.

One of the photos used in one of the lectures, by Colleen O’Neill of Utah State, showed two Navajo miners outside a uranium mine during a previous uranium boom.  Neither one had a lick of protective equipment.  Underground uranium mining exposes miners to heave concentrations of radon gas, and if a miner is unprotected by breathing filters at least, there is a nearly 100% chance the miner will get fatal lung cancers.

Of the 150 Navajo uranium miners who worked at the uranium mine in Shiprock, New Mexico until 1970, 133 died of lung cancer or various forms of fibrosis by 1980 ([Ali, 2003] ).

Our Senate hearings on radiation compensation, in the 1970s, produced dozens of pages of testimony that Atomic Energy Commission officials understood the dangers, but did nothing to protect Navajo miners (or other miners, either).  It is unlikely that anyone depicted in those photos is alive today.

AP Photo  (borrowed from ehponline.org)

"Mine memory - Navajo miners work the Kerr-McGee uranium mine, 7 May 1953. Today, uranium from unremediated abandoned mines contaminates nearby water supplies. image: AP Photo" (borrowed from ehponline.org) This photo is very close to the one used by Prof. O'Neill. It may have been taken at nearly the same time. If you know of any survivors from this photo, please advise.

At a refining facility on the Navajo Reservation, highly radioactive wastewater was stored behind an inadequate earthen dam.  The dam broke, and the wastes flowed through a town and into local rivers.  Contamination was extensive.

Attempts to collect for the injuries to Navajo miners and their families were thrown out of court in 1980, on the grounds that the injuries were covered under workers compensation rules (where injury compensation was also denied, generally).

Navajos organized to protest the power plant. One wonders whether they can win it.

Sen. McCain seems cock sure that radioactive wastes won’t kill thousands of Americans in the future as they have in the past.  The uranium mining and uranium tailings issues occurred in Arizona, the state McCain represents.  Does he know?

We regard ourselves in the U.S. as generally morally superior to “those godless communists.”  Can we demonstrate moral superiority with regard to development of peacetime nuclear power, taking rational steps to protect citizens and others, and rationally, quickly and fairly compensating anyone who is injured?

That hasn’t happened yet.

When [uranium] mining [on the Navajo Reservation] ceased in the late 1970’s, mining companies walked away from the mines without sealing the tunnel openings, filling the gaping pits, sometimes hundreds of feet deep, or removing the piles of radioactive uranium ore and mine waste. Over 1,000 of these unsealed tunnels, unsealed pits and radioactive waste piles still remain on the Navajo reservation today, with Navajo families living within a hundred feet of the mine sites. The Navajo graze their livestock here, and have used radioactive mine tailings to build their homes. Navajo children play in the mines, and uranium mine tailings have turned up in school playgrounds (103rd Congress, 1994 ).

Think of the story of Techa River as a warning.

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