Category: Environment

Joaquin Phoenix To Save Planet One Tuxedo At A Time

I usually do not comment on Hollywood stars and their disconnected reality. However, since I first thought this was a joke meant to amplify his brilliant performance in Joker, it appears that Joaquin Phoenix is serious in announcing that he will wear the same tuxedo in all of his award ceremonies this year to reduce waste. It seems a declaration that preceded the statement from the movie that “I used to think that my life was a tragedy, but now I realize, it’s a f**king comedy.” Nevertheless, the sacrifice was met by breathless support from British designer Stella McCartney, who declared that she was “proud to join forces” with the “Joker” star. 

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Study: Air Pollution Causes Loss In Bone Density

We often discuss how pollution is often discussed without addressing studies showing hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year due to its health impacts. One of my greatest disagreements with the Trump Administration is its staunchly anti-environmental policies and its opposition to climate change reforms. Indeed, additional rollbacks on environmental protections are being pushed forward by the Administration. The connection between air pollution and death rates for lung cancer, stroke, asthma and other ailments is well established. Now a new study has linked it to the loss of bone density and strength.

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New Zealand Horrified By Videos Of Beachgoers Kicking Shark To Death While Laughing and Taking Selfies

We have discussed disgraceful attacks or abuse of wild animals from birds to squirrels to tortoises to rabbits to sharks in the past but few reach the level of reported savagery as this week in New Zealand where a shark allegedly was pulled from the water and kicked to death on a beach. Most of us cannot imagine wanting to participate in such an attack on a wild creature. Indeed, many of us travel hundreds or thousands of miles just to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitats. Yet, there remain many people who get a sick joy in harming animals or watching such unspeakable scenes of cruelty. The most distressing element is to see children in some of these pictures. However, the one promising note is that there were people who sought to intervene to help the shark though they said that they roughly treated by the mob.

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A Few Pictures Of The Coast

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

In response to this week’s unnecessary contentions on a personal and national scale I thought I would offer to the reader a bit of a respite and distraction. Here follow a few pictures of a journey I made to the coast, featuring the woods, lighthouses and a sunset.

Feel free to click on each image for a larger version. Enjoy…

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Sweet to Bittersweet: Hiking Sagehen And Donner Summit Trails

Yesterday hiking in Nevada and California took me from the sweet to the bittersweet. The Sagehen trail can only be described as a “sweet” trail. Trails have personalities. Some played with you and make you earn the summit. Some are just sweetheart, girl-next-door trails. That is the Sagehen trail. A lovely 5 miles there-and-back to a lake with added side trails available. I then did the Donner Summit and Mount Judas trails. That one is not sweet but gorgeous. Think of Mary Ann and Ginger. It was a great combination on a spectacular day.

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From Atoms to Mothballs: Photos of an Abandoned Nuke Plant

I am become mothballed, the destroyer of fortunes

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

My wife and I went for a drive and happened along an abandoned nuclear power plant along the side of the road. As this was a bit out of the ordinary, I took a few pictures.

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The Beauty of Mount Rose

I am in California to speak among the judges and attorneys of the Eastern District in Lake Tahoe on Sunday. As many on this blog know, I am an avid hiker and often take the opportunity of these trips to explore the local trails and forests. Yesterday, I hiked the Tahoe Rim Trail and then the Mt. Rose Trail. These trails take you along the Nevada and California border. The latter is quite difficult as you work your way up the summit of the highest point in the area. At roughly 9000 feet, it is the highest peak of the greater Sierra Nevada range. It is a gorgeous though strenuous hike.

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Report: No Spinach On Mars

Good news for kids around the world! Researchers at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands have determined that it is possible to grow food on Mars except for spinach. Of course, Matt Damon was the first to demonstrate this finding. Unfortunately, the selection thus far is not what many of us would prefer: garden cress, rocket, tomato, radish, rye, quinoa, chives, peas and leek. Only spinach failed to grow.

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Sunday Hikes: From Billygoat to Scott’s Run

I started Sunday with a dawn hike at Billygoat trail. I then went on a hike with visiting family (and our dog Luna) to Scott’s Run. It was a gorgeous fall day with temperatures hovering in the 50s. Scott’s Run is shorter, but you can walk to the waterfall and then along the river. It tends to be quite busy, but it remains a favorite for dog owners.

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Hell’s Abyss: Five Adult Elephants Die In Effort To Save Calf

Elephants are remarkably intelligent and communal animals. They often exhibit the same attachments as humans to members of their herd. That attachment led to tragedy this week when most of a herd died in Thailand while trying to rescue a calf at a waterfall. This terrible loss should educate people about these animals and the savagery of hunting them. I have repeatedly denounced  killing giant elephants and other forms of trophy hunting. From the killing of Voortrekker (“Pioneer”) to countless other elephants, these magnificent animals are being killed for the vanity and thrill kill of wealthy hunters.

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Nature’s Reclamation Project: A Closed Campground With Fall Colors

A USFS sign reading CAMPGROUND CLOSED with arrow pointing toward entry

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

We as a rather insular species often forget that nature tends to get along well when left to its own devices, while a human construct such as bureaucracy tends to languish and fail when permitted equal liberty.  I found credible proofs to both when traveling on business recently–a former Forest Service campground, abandoned apparently due to red tape and yet showing quite clearly that nature still moves on.  And it does so vibrantly.

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English Hunters Post Pictures Celebrating Dead Trophy Zebras


As many of you know, I am no fan of such trophy hunts.  I often hike in remote spots to see bears and other animals in their natural habitat. We have previously followed the controversy over the shooting of “Cecil the Lion” by an American dentist Walter Palmer from Minnesota as well as  subsequent controversies of an Idaho hunter taunting animal advocates and killing giant elephants or giraffes  or famed wolves or mountain goats or  hundreds of hippos for trophies. We also discussed the shooting of an iconic elephant as well as  disgusting videotape has emerged of a trophy hunter shooting a sleeping lion. The latest outrage is over new pictures of English hunters posing with dead zebras. Shooting a zebra is about as challenging with a long-range rifle as shooting a neighborhood dog.

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