Earth Day at 50; Biden talks with Al Gore; Moore’s film flubs

 Earth Day at 50; Biden talks with Al Gore; Moore’s film flubs

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CRITTERS AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS

funningforrest writes—The Daily Bucket: Where Have All the Beavers Gone? A Local Puzzle: “In the fall of 2011 I was attending Feather River College here in my hometown of Quincy, CA.  One of my classes was Sierra Nevada Natural History, and one of our field trips was to nearby Spanish Creek for the purpose of surveying beaver activity on the creek.  In the recent years up to that time beavers had made a comeback on Spanish Creek.  For decades preceding that time the beaver had been effectively extirpated from the area.  Local cattle ranchers and some sports fisher-people did not like beavers at all; beavers’ natural work produced flooded grazing and hay pastures, blocked irrigation ditches, left trees across cattle and stream-side paths, spoiled favorite fishing holes and were considered a grievous nuisance pest, a rodent worse than rats.  Solution?  Get rid of ‘em.  And we nearly did.  But not entirely.”lyy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Gulf Coast Toad

lyleoross writes—The Daily Bucket: I Hope This is Okay Version: “It rained last night.  I’ve known for some time that when it rains here in Houston that the amphibians come out.  You can hear them. Oh yeah, the cryptic title, I don’t know who owns the Daily Bucket moniker and if I’ve stepped on toes or broken use rules, I apologize. Back on target, I’ve always wanted to go out looking at night and I finally did.  Ah, stay at home, it gives one so many opportunities to do new things. […] It took me less than five minutes to find the toad in the cover shot, even though an hour walk only yielded three toads, all appear to be Gulf Coast Toads.  But for my first attempt, I was pleased.  Notice the very wide color schemes on these three amphibians.  That made me want to think they were different species.  But their overall structure makes me think they are the same. My next goal, an endangered Houston Toad.  A beautiful amphibian.

Yellow-eyed junco
Yellow-eyed Junco

nookular writes—Dawn Chorus -Southeast Arizona- Birding in the Sky Islands- Part II: “In last week’s Dawn Chorus I chronicled my birding adventures in the Sierra Vista and Patagonia areas of southeastern Arizona.  The mountains, canyons, deserts  and grasslands in the southern part of the state provide the most exciting birding experience in the United States.  Today I‘m going to conclude with a look at the Santa Rita and Chiricahua Mountains and the areas from Nogales to Tubac.  As before, this is a combination of three trips, taken in February 2016, May 2917 and August 2019.  In May 2017 I signed up with Birding Festival group- Southwest Wings- to take an overnight trip to the Chiricahua Mountains and Portal. The Chiricahuas are about two hours drive to the east of Sierra Vista, so I wanted to spend at least two days just on this side trip. I wanted to be with an experienced local guide who knew exactly where to go and what to expect so I could get the most out of my short time and to learn the area. The Chirichuas are incredibly scenic. Every vista looks like something out of a 1950s western. And in fact, many TV shows and movies were filmed here with these mountains as a backdrop.  

Mullein...rabbit tobacco
Mullein (aka Rabbit Tobacco)

CaptBLI writes—The Daily Bucket – Leaves: “Mullein has been a plant used medicinally for thousands of years.  The most common use of the fresh leaves was as toilet paper, but also as a bandage for large wounds.  It is widely known as a remedy for respiratory ailments.  The treatment involved setting the dried plant on fire and inhaling the smoke.  This should not be confused with ‘rolling your own’ (though that did become a better delivery system).  A small fire was lit in a contained area, the leaves burned and the air would fill with smoke.  After inhaling the smoke, the ill person would usually hack and spit up all the bad contents in their lungs. ‘If it don’t kill you, it can cure you’.

CaptBLI writes—The Daily Bucket – Birding at “Better than Thou” Village: “The Meadowlark above was perched on a power line at the entrance of a ‘gated community.’ It was facing away from the upper middle-class homes and singing to the ‘beneath its station’ traffic. I believe it liked being recognized because it posed for several photographs. It could have been piping to the former property of John Grisham (the, lawyer turned author, John Grisham). Across the four lane highway lies that homestead. A fine song it sang whatever the reason. The drive followed a large drainage ditch into the subdivision. Barn Swallows darted, flitted and twisted joyfully along the banks, over the cars and dipped to follow the flowing stream into the broad lake the homes surround. Flaming orange breasts flashed during arching turns. Dark wings flapped quickly and then I saw that Purple Martins had joined in the aerial dance.” 

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket – reef sand (…still wishing…the Caribbee): “Still dreaming of where I’d be right now if the pandemic hadn’t locked down the world. So I’ll take you along for a stroll on the beach and a dive underwater on a coral reef in the Caribbean Sea for a little exploration of reef sand. Naturally occurring sand on tropical beaches has a backstory filled with life. Unlike the quartz mineral sand we are familiar with on the temperate shorelines of both East and West coasts, the beaches lining coral reefs are largely composed of particles derived from the corals themselves (a rock source is limestone, also biological in origin), along with the shells and carbonate remains of countless other marine creatures. If you look closely at beach sand you’ll see a variety of hues and shapes in the sediment particles.”

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket – flowers in the rain: “First good soaking for a month today in the PNW, and it was so very very welcome. Rained from overnight until about 6pm, at which time I went out for a walk in the lightening mizzle. It’s been unusually dry until now: no precipitation since the beginning of the month. This will help wildflowers, gardens and help fill catchment tanks. Many flowers are blooming now. On my walk around the neighborhood, in addition to Twinberry above, these shrubs were coming out.”

red elderberry
Red Elderberry

6412093 writes—Daily Bucket — Walkabout: “Please walk with me to inspect our outdoor plants, and maybe suss out where the juncoes are nesting.  We’ll meander about 50 feet, bearing south.” 

artichoke flower
Artichoke

CLIMATE CHAOS

Pakalolo writes—Humanity’s footprint on the earth has lightened, nature rebounds but also takes turn for the worse: “We are getting a pretty good look at what a rapid transition to green energy would look like if we ever act to slow down the looming apocalypse. Of course, we are in one now because of the trifecta of coronavirus, climate change, the sixth mass extinction, and predictions of both the flu and coronavirus erupting together in the Fall. Because the world is in lockdown, fossil fuel emissions are down and nature returns to urban areas across the earth. But when it comes to the civilization that humans have built and its interaction with nature, can a reduced carbon footprint allow our planet to heal? The fossil fuel industry will fight to their last breath to protect their profits. That is a fact. If tRump is defeated and actually leaves the white house willingly, perhaps we can create a sustainable future by acting on our enlightened understanding that all life is intertwined with every other living creature on earth, including contagions.” 

e2247 writes—Doomsday Clock still at 100 Seconds to Midnight – Will SARS-CoV-2 & Climate Chaos move it: “POTUS is instead using this pandemic to gut the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). He’s psychotically all-in during this time of Covid-19 severe economic disruption with record unemployment as his ideal opportunity for himself and some other politicos to try to do once-thought-impossible things—such as un-do what remains of most previous U.S. attempts to deal with climate change.  POTUS’ re-election run is abdicating the EPA mission to protect our well-being as Gina McCarthy, former EPA Director, said in her New York Times article, ‘EPA, Citing Coronavirus, Drastically Relaxes Rules for Polluters.

EARTH DAY 2020

Albanius writes—EARTH WEEK VIRTUAL ACTIVITIES ONLINE: A comprehensive list.

FoundingFatherDAR writes—New Day Cafe: Earth Day Golden Green Anniversary: “[Earth Day 1970 coordinator Denis Hayes this year before the stay in place orders discussing] The following morning, the wire services estimated total national participation at 20 million people. In November, we were able to capitalize on that strength by defeating several anti-environment villains in Congress in the first “Dirty Dozen” election. In December, when Congress passed the Clean Air Act with only one dissenting vote, I began to comprehend how deeply Earth Day had altered the political topography. Other immediate outcomes included the passage of the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, the establishment of the EPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the banning of DDT, the removal of lead from gasoline, and the passage of the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Together, they transformed modern America more fundamentally than any other governmental action, with the possible exception of the New Deal. Today, the need for a similar transformation is dire. The 50th anniversary of Earth Day—#EarthRise2020—will mobilize a grassroots movement against a threat to the planet as great as that posed by nuclear weapons at the peak of the arms race. Humans face many urgent issues today, but only the climate crisis poses an irreversible threat to the habitability of the planet.”

Denis Hayes speaking at Earth Day 1970
Denis Hayes, Earth Day 1970

Meteor Blades writes—Solar advocate and climate hawk Denis Hayes, coordinator of Earth Day 1970, talks about the future: “Fifty years ago, halfway through a 13-month prison sentence for refusing the draft, I missed the first Earth Day. But for most of the half century since then I’ve spent at least part of my time engaged in environmental advocacy, frequently working with or highlighting the work of people for whom environment means life. Four months ago I was trying to figure out what Earth Day events I could talk a friend into showing up for with me. I had, of course, no inkling that coronavirus protocols would be keeping me confined for today’s big Earth Day anniversary. Fortunately, there’s at least the digital version for which Albanius has put together a comprehensive list of events and activities. Online engagement for Earth Day 2020 has one definite benefit—the most modest carbon footprint of any past such annual events, including the first one. At that first Earth Day, the national coordinator was a 25-year-old guy named Denis Hayes. He would, during the Jimmy Carter administration, become the first head of the Solar Energy Research Institute and therefore my boss during the three years I worked at The Solar Law Reporter. A dozen years ago and again for Earth Day’s 45th anniversary, I interviewed Hayes with five questions. For this year’s 50th, Evelyn Nieves at Inside Climate News asked him questions of her own.”

e2247 writes—Happy Earth Day! Inspirations from @UNRefugeeAgency & from the World Economic Forum 😉: “Inspect this Innovative Repurposed-Plastic Shelter featured by USA for UNHCR an agency that provides critical support to  @refugees  – standing #WithRefugees to help save, protect and rebuild the lives of millions.

A Siegel writes—For Earth Day, Michael Moore releases fundamentally misleading film: “Like  Robert Bryce’s work (not that in anyway is Moore’s knowledge of energy issues as encyclopedic as libertarian, climate-dismissing Bryce’s), this film has the same fundamental flaws: • it is too error-filled for non-educated/knowledgeable people to watch due to misdirection & embedded deceit that might not be evident as the viewer has to be knowledgeable to see the truthiness and deceit. • For those already knowledgeable, the core thematics/points aren’t news and it just takes so much effort to wade through the falsehoods and truthiness for having thoughts/perspective that are already out there in discussion. Additionally, Moore’s truthiness and falsehood-filled product isn’t helpful because he created something that is being leveraged by climate deniers/delayers to attack (not complete, need to improve, are improving) solution paths. (For examples, see Emily Atkin’s thought-provoking The wheel of first-time climate dudes.)

A Siegel writes—Distributor pulls Michael Moore’s (@MMFlint’s) #PlanetOfTheHumans due to truthiness: “For the same reasons that Moore got lots of soft-peddled media attention for the release, his notoriety led knowledgeable reviewers to (regrettably) take the time to watch the film (such as here) and, well, the detailing of errors, falsehoods, truthiness piled up.  And, a letter from scientists made this clear. With the evidence in hand, [one of] the film’s distributor didn’t hesistate. […] At Films for Action, (the extremely good and worth reading) Skepticism Is Healthy, but Planet of the Humans Is Toxic – A Critical Review ends ‘A movie that purports to care about the environment and the future of humanity and yet seeks to undermine support for the very things we must do to save this planet, and ourselves, is worse than a disappointment. It’s reckless.’ UPDATE/NOTE: Note that Films for Action is not the full distributor but a sustainable film clearinghouse. Regrettably, the film is still up on Youtube and certainly will be moved around by climate science deniers and fossil fools around the world.”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Planet Of The Humans Is Moore Trouble Than It’s Worth: A Non-Review: “Last August, the AP published a story about the premiere of Michael Moore’s latest documentary at Michael Moore’s Traverse City film festival, which he tweeted out jokingly as his “August surprise.” Titled “Planet of the Humans,” it reportedly took a critical look at clean energy and the environmental movement, which is probably why Breitbart quickly posted the story. This was the first, of many, red flags indicating that this would ultimately be an unhelpful waste of time. […] With an Earth Day release, Moore was clever to capitalize on the hunger for contrarian takes, and sure enough, deniers ate it up. James Delingpole, king of racist, overtly sexist and just plain stupid or dishonest takes, declared Moore his ‘new hero,’ while his employer, white supremacy central Breitbart, lauded the movie. Steve Milloy took a break from attacking Greta and journalists and erasing indigenous identities to tweet his ‘fav clip of the movie, claiming itproves Milloy’s Law [that] Green = Fraud,’ and telling his followers to watch it ‘for a takedown of Gore’s profiteering from the climate scam.’ Climate Depot linked to multiple pieces in denier outlets. A veritable sea of red flags.

Egghead writes—Joe Biden on right now in virtual Town Hall on climate change with Al Gore on Facebook

Qasim Rashid writes—Today Marks 50 Years of Earth Day but We Can’t Celebrate: “Today marks Earth Day, 50 years of a global celebration focused on green and sustainable efforts to protect our planet. As we battle the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we can see clear similarities between the suffering caused by this crisis and the suffering that we will face as a population if we do not address the climate crisis.We need to listen to scientists and take proper action now before it is too late. Prevention will save lives and protect our economy from future collapses. Scientists estimate that if temperatures only rise to 2°C, global gross domestic product will fall 15%. If temperatures rose to 3°C, global GDP will fall 25%. And if we do nothing, temperatures will rise by 4°C by 2100 causing a global GDP decline by more than 30%, compared to 2010 levels. That’s worse than the Great Depression, where global trade fell 25%. The stark difference is that this economic crisis would be permanent.

PDXer writes—Donate face shields to tribal clinics for Earth Day: “We are donating Face Shields to tribal clinics in Oregon. For this Earth Day we recognize that the land we sit on (in Portland, Oregon) rests on traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin, Kalapuya, Molalla, and many other tribes who made their homes along the Columbia River creating communities and summer encampments to harvest and use the plentiful natural resources of the area. They were the original stewards of this beautiful land. Currently, tribal health clinics are struggling to cope with the coronavirus outbreaks on First Nation lands. They are in real need of PPE and funds. Join us in donating face shields to help protect workers at the health clinics.

demgoon writes—Pandemic is Climate Change: “I fully expected this election year to be full of repeated squawks and heated zeep-scolds about the imminent challenges we face to our wounded planet and the importance of planting trees and rejoining the Paris Agreement. Instead we get a *pandemic*? What fun is that? Bear with me here, but I believe that Covid-19 can be overlaid with Climate Change. More appropriately, the *Anthropocene,* defined as “the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.’ The Coronavirus isn’t exactly spoken in the same breath as nuclear waste or acid rain, but it should be and I’ll tell you why. Walk into one of those ‘wet markets’ and you’ll see results of an exploding human population bumping elbows and filling bellies with a corresponding animal population that’s running out of room to exist. Whether it’s a poorly regulated food supply in China, clearcutting land for beef in Brazil or sloppy drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, a common denominator for the Anthropocene is too many people living and working and exploiting nature in places where they’re not biologically meant to do so.

dana anderssen writes—Earth Day @ 50: “Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog  — “Brand’s intent with the catalog was to provide education and “access to tools” so a reader could ‘find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested.’ In the middle of its four-year, 1968-1972 run, the Whole Earth Catalog brought together the unifying revelatory concepts of Buckminster Fuller’s Spaceship Earth and Marshall McLuhan’s Global Village. Without it, Earth Day may not have come into being. […] As that first Earth Day 50 years ago opened the conversation for a better, cleaner planet, today’s pandemic reveals just how clean a carbon-free world can be. Oil is in free-fall. Good! If oil goes, so goes plastic. The Green New Deal, or something very close to it, may be our planet’s last hope.”

bjustinmiller writes—Earth Day 2020: An opportunity for again coming together to make a big difference: “As we recover from the pandemic and its after effects, we will have to move our country back onto a progressive social and environmental track by electing a congress and president who care more about society and the environment than they do about money. That will only happen through political change, and that means one vote and one election at a time. Between now and November 2020, we need to do whatever we can so that we will wake up the morning after Election Day and joyfully find that we finally have solidly progressive control of local, state, and national government. We can most effectively ensure this by devoting some of our time between now and November 3, 2020 to helping get out the vote, and especially the youth vote, for progressive candidates at the local and state level and a progressive congress and president in Washington.” 

Richard Fedder writes—In honor of Earth Day – DIVEST NOW: “Today the theme of the Earth Day movement is Divestment. I urge everyone to join in. This is the most powerful and practical thing we can do right now to slow the extractive nature of our economy. As I understand it, the divestment movement has two targets. One is to get public pension funds and various city and state funds to drop their oil and gas investments. Much of this money is invested in fracking, off-shore drilling, mountain top removal, tar sands, and pipelines to carry this stuff to market. All of these extreme extraction methods are costly (when compared to just sucking oil out of the ground as the Saudis do). So they are particularly amenable to divestment right now. But only if we put the pressure on. Because at the current price of oil those investments are worthless.  In other words, it is not only a moral imperative to divest, but it is also a good fiduciary practice.  You will find, for example, that many unions (who control pension funds) will understand this.  Especially Teacher’s unions (perhaps with a little prodding from their students). The second target is tougher.  We are trying to get Jamie Dimon and Chase Morgan Bank to stop giving loans to fossil fuel companies.”

ECO-ACTION & ECO JUSTICE

Alan Singer writes—Every Day is Earth Day – That’s Why I’m a Greta Groupie: Wednesday April 22, 2020 is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. It will be difficult to celebrate because of the Corona virus global lockdowns, but also because the climate catastrophe is getting closer. We all hope everything is back to normal soon, but as Greta Thunberg warns in her book No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference, things will never be quite back to normal. Greta warned in a January 2019 speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that “Our house is on fire.” A year later in January 2020, Zimbabwe in south central Africa faced famine because of water shortages. Ethiopia was struck with a locust plague facilitated by warming Indian Ocean temperatures. Insect infestations were invading new climate zones and destroying coffee plants in Central America. The cities of Sydney, Australia and Valparaiso, Chile, over seven thousand miles apart and separated by the Pacific Ocean, were surrounded by fires. Both cities are located near 30 degrees latitude in the Earth’s Southern hemisphere during their summer. The California and northern hemisphere summer burning season is only a few months away.” 

CANDIDATES, STATE AND DC ECO-RELATED POLITICS

silence writes—Biden is signaling a more aggressive climate policy: “Biden has long had one of the weaker climate plans of the Democratic candidates, and has done things like run from people asking him about climate, and even told people to ‘vote for the other guy.’ He’s now signalling that he will make a change.  Importantly, he’s signaling shorter-term goals than 2050: in response to a question from the host’s teenage daughter, who asked what Biden was doing to earn the youth vote. Biden spoke about: Needing action before 2035, not just by 2050. I don’t know if it’ll be enough for stabilizing temperatures at 2°C above what they were in the late-1800s, but I can dream.”

occupystephanie writes—Biden Earth Day podcast with endorser Governor Jay Inslee: “Here’s the Deal podcast in which Governor Inslee endorses Joe Biden for president. On this special Earth Day episode, Governor Jay Inslee joins former Vice President Joe Biden for a discussion on COVID-19, climate change, and why he’s endorsing Joe.”

Lefty Coaster writes—Ex-Inslee campaign staffers present updated climate proposal to Biden Campaign & the Congress: “Ex-campaign staffers for former presidential candidate Jay Inslee are reviving the Washington governor’s ambitious climate plan by pitching an updated proposal to congressional Democrats and the Biden campaign. The new plan is a condensed version of Inslee’s 200-page climate manifesto but contains many of the same objectives: transitioning to 100 percent clean electricity by 2035, slashing subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, creating a Climate Conservation Corps, and revitalizing the economy through investment in green technology and clean energy. The revised proposal has been sent to the Biden campaign, Democratic congressional leaders and the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis in both chambers, in hopes that some of the ideas might gain enough traction to garner stimulus funding or be implemented if Biden wins in November.” 

poopdogcomedy writes—NH-Gov: Sierra Club Endorses Andru Volinsky (D) For Governor: “Received this e-mail today from Executive Council Member Andru Volinsky’s (D. NH) gubernatorial campaign: Happy 50th Anniversary Earth Day. We’re so excited that the Sierra Club announced their endorsement of Andru for governor this morning, citing him as the clear best choice for moving New Hampshire forward towards a clean energy future. […] He’s put forward an aggressive agenda to fight climate change, including setting a goal of reaching a net carbon-neutral state for the electrical, transportation, and heating sector by 2030. Today, Andru signed the Green New Deal Pledge, promising to push for progressive climate policy and achieve the clean energy future we need right here in New Hampshire.”

poopdogcomedy writes—League Of Conservation Voters Go All In To Help Joe Biden Take Down The Climate Denier-In-Chief: “To put it simply, our families and our planet cannot survive another four years of Donald Trump. That’s why ahead of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, I’m proud to announce that the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund is endorsing Joe Biden to be the next President of the United States. The choice we make this November will define the world our children will inherit. The 2020 elections are our last, BEST chance to elect leaders at all levels of government who will advance racially just and equitable solutions to the climate crisis. Now more than ever, it’s critical that climate advocates across the nation join us and support Joe Biden for President and help him beat Donald Trump and save our planet.” 

CrazyCatLady42 writes—Happy Earth Day! Al Gore endorses Joe Biden: “The Los Angeles Times reports that Al Gore endorsed Joe Biden today, the 50th observance of Earth Day. Gore referred to Trump as the anti-climate president and went on to say: ‘If there is any person in America who cares about the climate crisis and has any doubt whatsoever about the importance of voting for Joe Biden this November, I want to emphasize to that person in as strong a way as I possibly can: This is not complicated,’ Gore said. ‘This is not rocket science. This is not a close call.’ Gore and Biden appeared together on a virtual event this afternoon. You can watch the archived livestream here. Jay Inslee also endorsed Biden today. As everyone knows his campaign focused on climate change. Monday the League of Conservation Voters gave Joe Biden the green thumbs up.” 

ENERGY

Galtisalie writes—“Energy independence” isn’t working out so well and was always a dangerous myth: “It was a quantified creeping saga these past months watching the oil industry in the US slowly go down. But it is important to note that it is a saga without a well-defined beginning. Simply put, with a globally traded commodity, the quest for ‘energy independence’ affects all US international relationships. Some might say that the saga began with the Hubei lockdowns on January 23. (en.m.wikipedia.org/…) Others might start it weeks before that when Trump tried to start a war with Iran. Economic skeptics among us saw an oil pricing dimension as critical to the president’s wag the dog action. (www.dailykos.com/…) But this too is missing the fact that energy independence is itself a grotesque fallacy. The US oil industry (www.reuters.com/…), like the Canadian tar sands oil industry for that matter, is propped up by maintaining a hostile relationship with Iran. ;Energy independence’ causes the US to look at many relationships through the prism of effect on its domestic oil industry.” 

Fossil Fuels & Emissions Controls

tjlord writes—History in the crude pits: May delivery crude futures at -35.11/Bbl, yes, they pay you to take crude: “The last trade I just saw for the May 2020 NYMEX WTI crude oil contract priced at NEGATIVE $35.11per Bbl. Just to let you know, the futures contract is for 1,000 Bbls. That means that you arre paying $35,110 per contract to SELL the contract even if you bought it at a value of $0.00. There will be a lot of broken firms on the street tomorrow — most in the hedge fund or energy company area. They will all be blaming COVID 19 and asking for money. Tell the Democractic Congress there should be NO MONEY to cover trading losses — not one penny. Because they will be crying about the need to preserve jobs.”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—EPA And Big Oil Methane Around With The Truth About Emissions: “We’ve previously pointed out the American Petroleum Institute’s misleading claims that the oil and gas industry has reduced methane emissions by 50% since 1990. What that figure conceals is that methane emissions have actually increased by 40% since 2006, which coincidentally happens to be around the time that fracking really took off. While the literature is still figuring out all the factors at play, we know that methane emissions are rising. What’s more, a recent study also found that fracking in North America is a key driver of that growth. While global methane emissions from the oil and gas industry are relatively steady, the rise in North American gas drilling (fracking in particular) is offsetting the decrease in Russian and African oil drilling emissions. Enter the EPA, which released its 2020 Greenhouse Gas Inventory last week. According to the oil industry’s Energy in Depth blog, the data shows that methane emissions “continue to decline” with a 25 percent reduction from previous years and a lower leakage rate. Wow, sounds like the industry is really cleaning up its act, so there’s no need to impose any regulations on methane! What a relief that the industry’s voluntary efforts are paying off!” 

DRo writes—Wow! Oil Plummets: Some tweets on the subject, including this one.

A Siegel writes—Oil prices plunge: US WTI lowest price since 1861 … “Under pressure from all directions (improving efficiency and alternatives (electrification); coronavirus economic collapse; and Saudi-Russian price war), the U.S. oil market collapsed (even further) today with WTI prices as low as $11.50 earlier this morning.  While there are reasons for the particular collapse (oil futures timing … the clock is ticking on May futures) and while the gap between WTI / Brent Crude is (in percentage terms) the highest it has ever been (as water-accessible crude has higher value in this environment than land-locked crude), this is a stunning data point in the massively changed (and changing) energy market space.”

Dan Bacher writes—As Oil Prices Plunge, Fracking and Oil Drilling Expands in California! The market collapse is the result of the COVID-19 pandemic reducing demand and oil producers scrambling for locations to store their excess crude. Ironically, the collapse takes place at time when California regulators under Gavin Newsom have continued to approve new permits for fracking and other oil and gas drilling. […] The oil price plunge highlights how absurd it is for Governor Gavin Newsom’s regulators to continue Governor Jerry Brown’s expansion of oil and gas drilling as they have since Newsom took office in January 2019. The State Department of Conservation on Friday, April 3 approved 24 new fracking permits in Kern County, the center of the oil industry in California, during the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic and after a nearly six-month moratorium on new fracking operations.”

Meteor Blades writes—Another study shows climate-warming methane leakage much higher than industry has claimed: “Yet another study has found methane emissions from oil and gas operations to be higher than previous tallies in the same region. Published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, the study of the fossil-fuel-rich Permian Basin of Texas concluded: Based on satellite measurements from May 2018 to March 2019, Permian methane emissions from oil and natural gas production [amount to] 3.7% of the gross gas extracted in the Permian, i.e., ~60% higher than the national average leakage rate. The high methane leakage rate is likely contributed by extensive venting and flaring, resulting from insufficient infrastructure to process and transport natural gas.’ That 3.7% of unburned methane emitted into our already overburdened atmosphere may not sound like much, but it’s a big deal. At Inside Climate News, Phil McKenna cites Daniel Jacob, a professor of atmospheric chemistry and environmental engineering at Harvard University and a co-author of the study, who said methane emissions in the Permian are ‘the largest source ever observed in an oil and gas field’.”

David B Goldstein writes—A Possible Solution to the “Problem” of Low Oil Prices: “Oil prices have been falling so far that they have gone below zero, and dragging the stock market down with them. In other words, your retirement savings are being devalued by the drop in oil prices, and jobs in oil production or the supply chain of oil are at risk. Investors are acting as if high oil prices are good for the economy. This argument makes no sense, but it has been driving market behavior since at least early 2016. Why does it not make sense? Because low oil prices mean that consumers have more money left, after paying for gasoline, to buy other things, things that we really want, like food, education, clothing, that generate more jobs and more local economic growth than oil. This is good for the economy—good both for workers and for investors. Nevertheless, lower oil prices—a result of reduced demand for flying and driving as a result of the response to COVID-19—still spark selloffs of stocks. This is a problem because a declining stock market exacerbates the economic challenge the whole world faces due to the virus. The out-of-control pandemic is not the only health and economic challenge the world faces. We also are looking at immense economic and environmental risks of out-of-control climate change.” 

bluewill writes—Interview with two leading energy experts on the collapse of the Oil/Natural Gas- Industry/price? 40-minute video. “Was the oil market manipulated to plunge below ZERO dollars! Yes. What will the effect this oil bust be on a PANDEMIC ravaged America? What happened with OPEC +? What needs to be done? These are some the great questions asked! A must-view interview! Enjoy.”

bluewill writes—Pandemic rocks Permian Basin as wells, rigs idled and workers laid off by Jens Gould: “The ax is falling throughout energy-rich southeastern New Mexico as crude prices have plummeted amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a swift and stunning reversal for an area of the state that until last month had been riding high on the greatest oil boom in its history. It wasn’t long ago that some of the largest oil companies in the world were flocking to Lea and Eddy counties to boost oil production, open regional offices and add high-paying jobs that attracted workers from across the country to cities like Carlsbad and Hobbs.” 

john conor ryan writes—What to do with oil companies? The price of oil has utterly collapsed. Oil and gas companies are, once more, in Washington begging for bailout funds. It’s easy to argue that the oil companies should be left to die. An alternative is this: now that they are revealed as weak, dependent on bailouts, now is precisely the time to convert them from opponents to allies. Perhaps Congress should approve significant funding for many of these firms – but only to use these funds to accelerate into the post-fossil fuel economy, and to start writing accounts that include external costs. Specifically, we recommend that • The government issue large, government-backed bonds for these firms • Use #1: build new non-fossil energy infrastructures. • Use #2: retire and replace fossil energy systems. • Require companies to start accounting all externals.”

Victor Menotti writes—Trump pays donors $10 billion to “leave oil in the ground? “A proposal by U.S. President Donald Trump’s Department of Energy (DoE) to ‘leave-oil-in-the-ground’ by buying 365 million barrels of crude before its ever extracted is a shameless attempt to bailout shale oil companies, averting bankruptcy for one of the biggest donor bases to his election campaign coffers. The idea may make into Congress’ next COVID-19 relief bill given that prices for U.S. crude oil went negative yesterday due to the coronavirus’ dramatic drop in oil demand, a global glut of oil due to Saudi-Russian oversupply, and scarce oil storage space soon hitting tank tops. Turning a concept by climate campaigners on its head (that is, to ‘keep oil in the ground’ forever in order to avoid further polluting our atmosphere), the possible $7 billion purchase (@ $20 per barrel) is instead intended to store oil underground temporarily only until it can be burned later.

Galtisalie writes—Gotta laugh? Of course he’s saber-rattling this morning with Iran because of oil: “Oil prices spiked Wednesday morning after President Trump threatened action against Iranian gunboats that have been harassing U.S. ships. […]

There once were crude oil prices plummeting,
Kept flowing and there’s no uncoupling;
We’ll find us some Persians,
With red state aversions,
And send our sick navy for pummeling.”  ” 

Guy Noir writes—Let’s promote this meme (oil companies paying to get rid of oil): “It’s pretty simple: there’s such an oil glut on that oil companies will pay others to take it off their hands. Fine. Let’s put it in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and charge the mofos for the privilege. They’ve been feeding from the federal trough for decades anyhow. Maybe we can use our economic crisis to remove subsidies that are no longer needed … after all, we have more oil than we need.” 

Renewables, Efficiency, Energy Storage & Conservation

Mokurai writes—Renewable Monday: Denmark is Soooooo Windy: “Wind power alone produced 42.7% of Denmark’s electricity production in 2014 and is expected to increase its production by nearly 80% in the years to 2024.” Coal will be phased out by 2030. They sold their last oil company. (Quotation from Wikipedia) Danes love renewables. […] Since [2017], the price of emitting CO2 [in the EU] has increased more than four times, from around 5 euro per ton CO2 to more than 20 euro per ton. An increasing group of countries, including Denmark, has agreed to phase out coal before 2030, which will provide further impetus for green electricity deployment.” What Is Your Opinion of Deployment of Green Electricity in Denmark? Positive—87%; Negative—2%; Neither—9%; Don’t Know—2%.

Mokurai writes—Renewable Tuesday: 2020 Heartland Denialist Climate Conference Postponed: “How about ‘Unclear on the concept, Cognitive Dissonance to the Max’? Grokking Republicans: Cognitive Dissonance. Yes, they have all of the symptoms, starting with the fever. The Heartland Institute, globally considered the leading [group]think tank promoting skepticism of the theory there is a human-caused climate crisis, is [not, as it turns out] hosting its 13th International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-13) on July 25, 2019, in Washington, DC. The one-day conference, held at the Trump International Hotel, will include three keynote sessions and four breakout panels. The conference will feature the courageous men and women who spoke the truth about climate change during the height of the global warming scare. Now, many of them are advising the new administration or joining it in senior positions. (Some of them are among the more than 200 speakers at Heartland’s previous 12 conferences.)”  

Mokurai writes—Renewable Wednesday: Virginia Clean Economy Act: “It’s Earth Day, and this year we can celebrate it, not just observe it. In March Virginia joined the growing list of countries, states, and cities setting dates and plans for 100% renewable energy, and more.Gov Northam signs clean energy bill in dramatic transition for Virginia amid dispute over customer costs — Utility Dive. […] April 13, 2020: Gov. Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act on Monday, setting a goal for 100% clean energy by 2045. It will happen long before then. What matters now is not the date proposed, but the removal of obstacles.” 

Mokurai writes—Renewable Thursday: Chile:Chile is still recovering from a disastrous political history, including the US-backed coup that ousted Salvador Allende and installed the murderous Augusto Pinochet. But now the US is supporting renewable energy in Chile. (Shh! Don’t let Trump know about it.)” 

Mokurai writes—Renewable Friday: Megadroughts, Megafloods, Megamelts: “Yes, it’s as bad as that sounds. Decades-long droughts, more and bigger floods wiping out crops, more and worse glacial melting. And for all of the governments and corporations aiming at 100% renewables, it will get much worse before it gets better, when we can finally go Carbon Negative. This is not off in the distance, someday. It is happening now. NASA: Megadrought Lasting Decades Is 99% Certain in American Southwest. A study released in Science Advances Wednesday finds strong evidence for severe, long-term droughts afflicting the American Southwest, driven by climate change. A megadrought lasting decades is 99 percent certain to hit the region this century, said scientists from Cornell University, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Climate-driven megadrought is emerging in western US, says study. Warming may be triggering era worse than any in recorded history.”

FORESTS, PARKS & PUBLIC LANDS

cultureanimal writes—On Earth Day, Let’s Commit to Saving the Trees that Save Us: “Research suggests that between 2003 and 2015, for every 10% of forest the Amazon lost, it gained 3% more malaria cases. And on top of making pandemics more likely, deforestation also contributes about 10% of emissions worldwide, making it a primary contributor to climate change. Rainforests, in particular, are huge carbon sinks, helping to slow climate change by removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in trees. Models typically predict this benefit will last decades more, but we’re quickly outpacing their intake. We must turn this around by 2030 or we may not recognize Earth by 2050! When we burn trees, all that carbon is released and heads back into the atmosphere, worsening air quality. Smoke from the clearing of forests for palm oil plantations in Indonesia, for example, began killing animals and humans in neighboring towns. Research strongly suggests that any amount of air pollution increases the likelihood of dying from COVID-19.” 

REGULATIONS & PROTECTION

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Legal Case Against Trump’s ReplACEment To Obama’s Clean Power Plan Unfolds:Though it wasn’t hard to see that the Trump administration’s justifications for replacing the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan with its own deadly ‘Affordable Clean Energy’ gift to the coal industry were faulty and deceptive way back in 2017, the actual wheels of the American legal system churn a bit more slowly. But now, InsideEPA and Politico’s MorningEnergy report that challengers to the rule have filed their objections, apparently totaling over 500 pages. Here’s a very abbreviated overview: The clean energy lobby and utilities point out the obvious: the best way to reduce emissions is to replace heavy polluters with cleaner options. This needs to be said because the Trump administration policy is for coal plants to just get a little tiny bit more efficient, instead of shutting down coal plants and replacing them with cleaner sources of energy. The brief from utilities describes the ACE law as “unlawful” and Trump’s EPA conclusions ‘erroneous’.

Alexanna Hengy for the Qasim Rashid Congress campaign writes—Trump’s EPA Decides Health Benefits Don’t Justify Regulating Mercury Pollution: “Last Week the Trump administration’s EPA created a new method of calculating the costs and benefits of regulating mercury pollution. This new method downplays the many health benefits of mercury regulations. Mercury exposure can negatively impact unborn infants’ brain development and nervous systems, harming cognitive thinking, memory, attention, language, fine motor skills, and visual spatial skills. In all people it can cause neurological damage and lead to memory loss, cognitive motor difficulties, insomnia, headaches, and tremors. It can also harm digestive and immune systems, lungs, and kidneys. The EPA said that these many health risks did not justify the economic costs of regulation, choosing to change the Obama era methods of cost benefit analysis to further emphasize the economic costs. Andrew Wheeler, former coal lobbyist and current head of the EPA, stated that the Obama era cost/benefit analysis was ‘dishonest’ in including the benefits of preventing 7,400 heart attacks, 130,00 asthma attacks, and 11,000 premature deaths each year in the analysis. Under this rule change those health benefits will no longer be factored into considerations on how to regulate mercury.” 

Michael Brune writes—We’ve Got Each Other’s Backs: “Trump’s EPA is using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to let polluters off the hook. So the Sierra Club is taking on a familiar role: watchdog. On March 26, former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler gave polluters a free pass to avoid environmental laws for an indefinite period of time. Coal plants, refineries, and other corporate polluters may no longer be held accountable for emitting dangerous amounts of toxic substances into our air and water, so long as they claim that they did so because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This giant loophole applies to emissions of lead, benzene, arsenic, ozone, particulate matter, and much more. These toxins are linked to a long list of health problems, from rare cancers to skin lesions to premature death. The EPA has one mission: ‘to protect human and environmental health.’ Instead, during a public health crisis, it’s giving polluters permission to make us even sicker. Harvard University researchers have found that exposure to air pollution makes people more likely to die from COVID-19. Yet Trump’s EPA is giving polluters a loophole that will make our air even more damaging to our lungs.” 

POPULATION, EXTINCTION, SUSTAINABILITY

xaxnar writes—Review: “Attainable Sustainable—the lost art of self-reliant living” A book for now: “Attainable Sustainable by Kris Bordessa via National Geographic is a sampler of ways to change to a simpler but richer lifestyle, one with fewer chemicals, less packaging, and less expense. It’s organized into six sections: Eat, Make, Clean, Grow, Farm, and Trek. They are grouped into two larger categories: Indoors and Outdoors. Bordessa provides an introduction to each of the six sections and a selection of things to explore in each of them. The practical purpose of this book is to provide entry points into each of the categories of activities so that readers can experiment with them and find which they want to pursue further. There’s a selection of easy projects and basic techniques in each. The biggest investment called for is time and some personal effort. The suggested ideas are at a basic level. Each of them could easily be expanded into books in their own right, so there’s plenty of potential for people who discover something they enjoy to go farther. (See below on internet resources from Bordessa.)”

TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE

Mokurai writes—EV Tuesday: 80% of Electric Cars are Leased: “Electric cars have a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCOE) than gas guzzlers. But so far, they have higher purchase prices. Leasing evens out the purchase price with lower maintenance and repair costs. There are also subscription deals for some electrics. Well-structured leases have other advantages. The least-expensive electric car to lease this month costs less per day than a fast-food burger. While new-vehicle leasing currently accounts for around 30 percent of all transactions, that rate is much higher among electric cars. According to published reports, close to 80 percent of all EVs are leased. In addition to the usual benefits of leasing, which include lower down payments and monthly outlays, leasing an electrified ride has additional advantages. For starters, driving an EV for a two- or three- year term helps ensure you’ll keep up with the latest technology, particularly with regard to battery range. 

OCEANS, WATER, DROUGHT

Dan Bacher writes—As Navajo COVID-19 Cases Intensify, Jason Momoa Joins Efforts to Address Water Crisis: “TÓ NANEESDIZÍ, DINÉTAH, (TUBA CITY, NAVAJO NATION) —  As COVID-19 cases on the Navajo Nation reach 1,042 with 41 deaths, the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund is building momentum to address a food and water crisis in the area with support from actor Jason Momoa, according to a press release from the Indigenous Environmental Network: A massive truck carrying 28 pallets with 1,540 cases of water was sent by Momoa to Tó naneesdizí (Tuba City) on Tuesday. A group of volunteers led by Lt. Robbin Preston, Tuba City Distribution Team Leader for the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Effort, unloaded the donation and prepared it for immediate distribution throughout the crisis-stricken area. ‘Water is life and shapes lives and the earth; it’s the power we draw life from,’ said Lt. Preston. Momoa, who is Native Hawaiian, heard about the Relief Fund through an article and offered a large donation of water through his company, Mananalu Pure Water, which is an effort to end single-use plastic drinking bottles and their devastating impacts on the environment. According to the company’s website Mananalu means “a powerful wave of the sacred spirit of life’.”

Dan Bacher writes—California files legal claims challenging Trump’s water plan: “In a move backed by fishing, environmental and tribal organizations, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the California Natural Resources Agency, and the California Environmental Protection Agency today filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s ‘unlawful expansion of federal water export operations in the Central Valley.’ The filing argues that the diversion of water in accordance with the Trump Administration’s revised biological opinions will cause ‘imminent and irreparable harm to species protected under the California Endangered Species Act and the federal Endangered Species Act,’ according to a statement from the Attorney General’s Office. ‘The Trump Administration is recklessly endangering California’s ecosystem and depleting irreplaceable natural resources,’ said Attorney General Becerra. ‘As we speak, some of California’s most endangered species are being pushed closer to extinction – and there is no way to turn back the clock once the damage is done. We are fighting to prevent the Trump Administration’s blatant disregard for science and the law before it permanently alters California’s environmental landscape’.” 

AIR POLLUTION

Dan Bacher writes—Cities with the worst air pollution in the nation: Los Angeles, Bakersfield and Fresno: “This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Clean Air Act, a landmark federal law responsible for dramatic improvements in air quality. Despite this, a new report from the American Lung Association reveals that nearly half of the nation’s population—150 million people—‘lived with and breathed polluted air, placing their health and lives at risk,’ according to the association. This report is particularly sobering as the coronavirus, a respiratory disease, rages across the country. Living and breathing polluted air only compounds the threat posed by COVID-19. California, while often touted by state and national politicians as the nation’s ‘green leader,’ topped the list the nation’s most polluted cities in three categories — ozone pollution, year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution.” 

AGRICULTURE​, FOOD & GARDENING

Missys Brother writes—Saturday Morning Garden Blog V.16.17: My Great Uncle Lee made sorghum syrup and a scholarship too: “Another flower gardener, Lee Hammer, who was foreman over the millwrights and welders in 1954 at Plant 3. Lee can show you more than 150 varieties of flowers in his gardens at 1224 E. 22nd Street where he keeps busy taking care of his greenhouse and three acres of ground. Lee was a 26-year man with the company. Lee Hammer was my great uncle, my paternal grandmother’s brother. You might know my grandmother as Mema as I have written about her many times in SMGB. They were part of nine siblings. This was made in 1917 in Kentucky as family and friends gathered the day their brother was leaving for World War 1. Uncle Lee is circled in the back row and Mema is on the right with a stylish bobby haircut. She is completely dressed in white and I like to think this was for the women’s suffrage movement. I enjoy the woman behind her who’s turned sideways and looking out into the unknown or maybe she is just showing her good side. The man on the right squatted down in the front holding a girl on his knee was also their brother. At one time he was the county sheriff and I have his comb box.”

MISCELLANY

Michael Brune writes—A Time for Solidarity: “This is a moment for our Sierra Club community to be in solidarity with movements working for economic, racial, and health justice. To defeat the powerful interests that seek to put profits before people, we need a truly big-tent movement. The only way to build a movement like that is by working with our partners, and that’s especially true at a time like this. We’ve collaborated with more than 1000 organizations to organize around a set of principles for a ‘People’s Bailout.’ Nearly 100 members of Congress have signed on to a letter that reflects these principles, which shows just how loudly our voices resonate in the halls of power when we speak as one. Every crisis is both a challenge and an opportunity. The decisions we make in the coming weeks as we respond to this one will shape our future for years to come. We don’t just want to restart the economy and return to a normal that wasn’t working for many people — including the low-wage gig workers now classified as essential, the families with no running water in their homes, and the undocumented immigrants whose situation was economically precarious even before the stimulus checks skipped them.”



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