Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

220px-Minke_Whale_(NOAA)Icelandic news source IceNews reports that the governments of Japan and Iceland are negotiating a trade agreement that also would include exports to Japan of whaling products. The agreement will certainly attract much attention from the environmental groups, and NGOs world-wide.

Japan does however have both cultural and culinary appetites for whale meat and will go to lengths to obtain these products which are a valuable commodity in Japan. A new trade agreement with Iceland could provide a means for sources that would have otherwise become increasingly restricted by International actions

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Dawn on Billy Goat Trail

IMG_1719I did my dawn hike on the Billy Goat this morning but started out with wildlife coming to me. I try to quietly sneak out before 6 am in the morning, but Luna was barking like crazy. When I opened the front door, I found myself face to face with a large deer from the nearby forest. At 32 degrees, I was tempted to just take a picture and stay home. But I am glad I didn’t because it was an amazing morning on the trail.

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220px-CatfillerRadioactive SymbolThere are so many surprising aspects to this story including the two salient points that we use kitty litter in nuclear plants and using the wrong kitty litter can cost you half a billion dollars. However, a recent report states that the mismanagement of the kitty litter issue at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico by its private operator, Los Alamos National Security LLC, led not only damage, but the injury of at least 20 workers — and the creation of a type of kitty litter dirty bomb. The concerns of an Al Kitta threat however may be premature. It turns out that you can avoid the risk by selecting clay-based kitty litter over wheat-based kitty litter.

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398px-BarnettShaleDrilling-9323There is an interesting out of California where Citadel Exploration, an oil company, has sued the San Benito County for $1.2 billion for banning fracking and oil extraction on land within its jurisdiction. Citadel is arguing that the ban constitutes a regulatory taking and that it is entitled to the value lost, which it says amounts to 20-40 millions barrels of oil and a profit of $1.2 billion. It is a troubling case for environmentalists and land use advocates seeking to place limitations on certain industrial activities viewed as harmful.

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800px-Polar_Bear_-_AlaskaThe polar bear has become the symbol of the plight of animals in the face of global warming. A new report appears to reaffirm the plight of these incredible animals. A study in the Ecological Applications journal reports that the number of polar bears in eastern Alaska and western Canada has declined by 40%. Perhaps the most unnerving disclosure is that just two of 80 polar bear cubs that the international team tracked between 2003 and 2007 have survived.

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By Mike Appleton, Weekend Contributor

What you going to do when the rain comes?

Are you going to sail on the rising seas like Noah?

What you going to feed your little orphans

When there’s no more fish in the sea forever?”

-Brendan Perry, “The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” from Ark (Cooking Vinyl, 2010)

In April of this year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued the first part of its Fifth Assessment Report on climate change. Among its conclusions is that “atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years.” The report also states that it is “extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” In order to limit the increase in global temperature to two degrees Celsius, the panel estimates that it will be necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 to 70 percent below 2010 levels by 2050 and to virtually nothing by the end of the century.

The political response was predictable. The House Science, Space and Technology Committee held a short hearing, promptly declaring that the science is not “settled” and accused Democrats of “trying to scare America.” Republican reaction to this week’s announcement of a climate agreement with China was even harsher, with Sen. Mitch McConnell complaining that “these carbon emission regulations are creating havoc in my state and other states across the country.”

Although there are serious scientists who dispute the IPCC findings, the cumulative scientific evidence that anthropogenic activities significantly impact climate change is overwhelming.  So why are the IPCC’s findings so controversial? The answer is that the politics of climate science denial are largely shaped by two forces: the contrived skepticism of the energy industry and the religious skepticism of the evangelical right.

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Dawn On Billy Goat Trail

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I did my usual hike on Billy Goat Trail this morning at dawn and it was a beautiful crisp fall morning. While a bit chilly at 36 degrees, it was great for a vigorous hike. The leaves are down but the result is a quiet and stark forest with trees silhouetted on dark waters of the ponds and the Potomac.

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