Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

220px-AlfedPalmersmokestacksWhile the United States continues to spend billions on foreign wars above the $4 trillion spent on Iraq and Afghanistan, we continue to receive new studies showing how the country is failing behind in education, science, and other programs needed for future growth. The latest is the study of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, which found that we have now dropped to 13th out of 16 major nations in energy efficiency — a key economic factor for future growth.

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Seal_of_Detroit,_Michigan_svg

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

I have been watching the water crisis in Detroit for some time now and I have been amazed that it is not a bigger story.  If you haven’t heard, the new city Administrator of the City of Detroit that was appointed by the Governor and his Water Department have been turning off the water of needy citizens in Detroit when their past due bills are as little as $150.00. In a city with over 20% unemployment and countless vacant buildings, it seems like Detroit is slowly being destroyed.  (more…)

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200px-Tony_Abbott_-_2010220px-AlfedPalmersmokestacksIn a major setback to effort to combat climate change, Australia’s Abbott government has secured a repeal of the carbon tax. It is the first major country to rollback on the basic environmental protection. Abbott’s government is suggesting that it will pay corporations not to pollute — a proposal that would cost a huge amount and environmentalists insist is unlikely to be successful.

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250px-Charaxes_brutus_natalensis220px-Apis_mellifera_TanzaniaThere is new research showing that neurotoxic pesticides are not just responsible for the catastrophic decline in the world’s bee collapse but are also devastating the world’s population of butterflies, worms, fish and birds. The four-year assessment was carried out by The Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, which advises the International Union for Conservation of Nature has found that neonics are “imperilling the pollinators, habitat engineers and natural pest controllers at the heart of a functioning ecosystem.” It is simply beyond belief that these pesticides have caused such worldwide damage but, due to the powerful pesticide and agribusiness lobby, there has been no serious regulation to curtail the use of these products.

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scalia220px-AlfedPalmersmokestacksAssociate Justice Antonin Scalia eked out a victory against the Environmental Protection Agency in a 5-4 opinion today limiting the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases. However, the decision however does not prevent the EPA from using other means to regulate the pollutants linked to global warming. Specifically the vote means that the Clean Air Act does not allow for the EPA require a point source to obtain a PSD or Title 5 permit. The vote was a straight ideological division with Justice Anthony Kennedy joining his conservative colleagues in the majority. The majority held that “A brief review of the relevant statutory provisions leaves no doubt that the PSD program and Title V are designed to apply to, and cannot rationally be extended beyond, a relative handful of large sources capable of shouldering heavy substantive and procedural burdens.” Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency is the lead case of six cases on the regulation of greenhouse gases.

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Kim_Jong-il_PortraitWe have all cursed the weather man on occasion but North Korean forecasters are facing a more tangible threat this week. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has turned his menacing eye on meteorologists and warned that there are “many incorrect forecasts.” Since reports state that Kim Jong Un had his wife’s former musical group executed, forecasters are understandably concerned that one unpredicted rain shower could bring lead showers. If Al Roker gets a call with a job offer from Pyongyang he might want to read the fine print.

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Dawn On Billy Goat Trail

IMG_0718I did my weekly dawn hike on Billy Goat trail this morning around 5:30 am and it was gorgeous with the sun coming up. Here are a few shots from my iPhone.

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sisteen chapel ceilingGallup has released a new poll that shows that Americans still reject the concept of evolution of humans in high numbers. Indeed, twice the number of Americans believe that humans were created by God in their current image than there are those who believe in natural evolution. Indeed, those 42 percent believe that man was created by God in the last 10,000 years. That is a considerable difference even if you focus only on anatomically modern humans which appeared in the Middle Paleolithic period about 200,000 years ago. For those who believe in the science behind evolution, the news is not all bad. Nineteen percent believe in evolution without divine involvement while another 31 percent believe that there was evolution from “less advanced forms of life” but that God directed that process. That is fifty percent. Of course, that does appear to leave eight percent that is still . . . well . . . evolving.

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250px-Cyclone_MonicamalefemaleDespite the carnage like by hurricanes like Katrina, many people still think feminine hurricanes blow like a girl. Researchers at the University of Illinois and Arizona State University have studied hurricanes over the last 60 years and have come to a surprising discovery: feminine named hurricanes are more dangerous because people do not consider them as dangerous and do not take the same precautions as masculine named hurricanes. As a result, they found that female-named hurricanes (like Monica shown left) produced almost double the number of fatalities. The simple difference between naming a hurricane Sam rather than Samantha could be measured in lives.

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Supreme Courtcarol-ann_bond-450x350The Supreme Court has issued its ruling in one of the cases that I have been following closely. The Court ruled unanimously in Bond v. United States that Bond had standing to challenge the statute carrying out the Chemical Weapons Convention as violating the inherent powers of in this instance intruded on areas of police power reserved to the states. While it is not the type of case that pulls media coverage, it is very important and clearly the right result. We debated Bond in our Supreme Court class and came to the same result. On the merits, nine of us voted to reverse the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and four voted to affirm the lower court. On the prediction of what the “other” court would do, eight of us predicted a reversal and five predicted an affirmance. It proved not to be a close question in rejecting the arguments of the Obama Administration seeking to bar citizens from being able to challenge such statutes. It is a victory for standing and more importantly for individual rights.

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IMG_0623One of the wonderful things about hiking Zion is to move between sharply different terrains from woods to more desert like conditions. In reviewing some of my iPhone pictures this morning, some of those desert shots stood out for their dry, stark beauty.

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Aidan’s Aviary

photoMy son Aidan found this nest outside our front door a week ago as sure proof that Spring will soon turn to summer. He took this picture before returning the nest.

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hW5GtucPerfect symbiosis and balance found in nature.

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UjEFYj1Someone posted this flower on Reddit from their garden. It is truly extraordinary.

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IMG_0680IMG_0683Every Sunday, I do a break of dawn hike somewhere around Washington. We have extraordinary trails in this area. One of my favorite is Billy Goat Trail. Here are a few pictures of the dawn on Billy Goat this morning at 6 am.

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