After election, Republicans plan attack on EPA and climate scientists if they win the House

In the old Soviet Union, being a scientist was a dangerous thing unless discoveries upheld the Party’s ideology-

Doubt GOP will be put scientists in a gulag. They will just be investigated and badgered out of a job.

GOP plans attacks on the EPA and climate scientists. By Neela Banerjee. Los Angeles Times

Billionaire brothers are funding climate change skeptics and Tea Party

The very rich funding political causes is not new, but the billionaire Koch Brothers are finally getting much deserved publicity-

That money is the “mothers milk of politics” is well known, but the identify of the mothers often isn’t. In recent years the role of really rich people funding their causes has mushroomed.  Rightwingers will point to George Soros, for example.

David and Charles Koch, the billionaires who own privately-held Koch Industries are not well known, however. A recent piece on their lavish funding of Tea Party organizations and various climate change deniers was profiled in the New Yorker magazine. Now many other media are investigating.

The Brothers have given a million dollars to advance prop 23 in California that would repeal the state’s landmark climate change legislation. Others tied closed to traditional oil and gas such as Valero Energy and Tesoro Corp are propping up the effort to kill off progress.  Story: Koch Industries Donates $1 Million To Kill California Climate Law. By Brendan DeMelle. Huffington Post.

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Added. Article about Koch Industries.The company was started in 1927 by Fred Koch, a charter member of the John Birch Society, with an oil delivery business in Texas.”

More on the long reach of the Koch Brothers. Is Nova Catering to Its Anti-Science Sugar Daddy? 09/08/2010 by Jim Naureckas. FAIR. It’s about the program NOVA and David Koch.

Biomass Energy Juggernaut Threatens Human and Forest Health

George Wuerthner challenges biomass energy.

If biomass energy production were fully implemented, it would become the single largest human impact to land in the country, requiring the near full utilization of all the U.S. forests and much of its agricultural lands for fuel production, contributing to what one TNC scientist has termed “energy sprawl.”

Biomass Energy Juggernaut Threatens Human and Forest Health.
George Wuerthner – New West

Natural Gas May Be Worse for the Planet than Coal

If not worse then just as bad.

A lot of energy has been expended to try to make natural gas look “green”. In fact many “green” groups and others are touting it as the “bridge fuel to a 21st-century energy economy” and claim that it is “cleaner” than coal. Well, it turns out that it may not be so “green” after-all.

When you consider that natural gas is composed primarily of methane and that leaks are common it doesn’t look so good. Methane traps 21 times more heat in the atmosphere than CO2.  Is it worse than coal, maybe or maybe not, but it isn’t “green” and it is responsible for devastating much of southwest Wyoming and parts of Colorado.

Natural Gas May Be Worse for the Planet than Coal
A preliminary analysis suggests that natural gas could contribute far more to global warming than previously thought.
By Kevin Bullis

American Pika Are Thriving in the Sierra Nevada and Southwestern Great Basin

Questions remain unanswered

Pika © Ken Cole

With very few systematic surveys of pikas there is not much to compare the results of this most recent survey to.  The questions that still needs to be answered are what impact is climate change having on the survival of pikas in, especially, the isolated ranges of the pika’s range?  Are the pikas being squeezed out of lower elevation sites to cooler, higher elevation sites?

A trend cannot be determined from just one sample and this information should be considered a baseline.

In places where pikas are systematically surveyed they are disappearing like in the Bodie Hills of California.

American Pika Are Thriving in the Sierra Nevada and Southwestern Great Basin
ScienceDaily

Posted in Climate change, endangered species act. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on American Pika Are Thriving in the Sierra Nevada and Southwestern Great Basin

Pika decision could have far-reaching effects

Could be the first animal listed as threatened or endangered because of climate change

Pika © Ken Cole

Decision expected tomorrow.

Two previous stories on the pika listing process:

Formal Protection For Pika Due To Climate Change
May 7, 2009

U.S. agrees to consider protections for pikas
February 15, 2009

Pika decision could have far-reaching effects
By MIKE STARK – Associated Press Writer

Update 2/4/10: Federal agency denies protections for tiny pika

Pine-beetle epidemic changes debate over logging Montana’s forests

Will it increase support for salvage logging?

Of course it will!

Will it increase support for Tester’s Wilderness plus logging bill? Yes!

Will there actually be an increase in salvage logging? Hard to say.

Some points needs to be made. First, this beetle epidemic is not just a Montana thing. It extends from the Yukon nearly to Mexico among pine trees. Logging of green trees to get ahead of beetle infestation is hopeless. It hasn’t worked anywhere in Canada or the United States because this is an extraordinary event fueled by a series of warm winters.

Secondly you can offer the dead trees for sale, but the timber operator needs to make a profit.  They are presently trying to ramp up the salvage in Canada and the United States.  If demand for a product is stable, an increase in the supply drives down the price. The price offered for lumber or chips from dead pine is already low because of the depressed economy. A ramp up of logging will drive the price still lower.

These salvage sales might find no one who will log them. Fortunately, dead lodgepole pine, left standing, does not deteriorate nearly as fast as dead spruce or fir, so some of these might still be worthwhile 5 years from now.

Finally, these dead forests will not necessarily all burn. Dead pine burns like gasoline while it still wears its dead red needles, but after they drop, the fire danger goes down rapidly in many stands. However, when they topple over in the wind on top of each other, the fire danger goes up again.

Pine-beetle epidemic changes debate over logging Montana’s forests. By Jennifer McKee. Missoulian State Bureau

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Here is George Wuerthner’s interesting and detailed  essay, which I mentioned and others too in the comments.

It turns out that yesterday there was an essay in Writers on the Range about the big beetle kill in Colorado. Folks, including editorial writers, need to understand that this is not a Montana beetle kill or a Colorado beetle kill. It is a continental beetle kill.

Climate Change Bill: Disillusioned Environmentalists Turn on Obama as Compromiser

Is the bill, compromised as it is, better than nothing?

The Climate Bill has passed the House. It still must clear the Senate where the coal, gas and oil lobbyists hope to make still better for them. There are those who blame Obama for not spending more of his still considerable political capital on this. This permitted enough of the House Democrats to cave to the lobbyists to make the opening for the traditional polluters possible. As usual, the Republicans were with coal, oil, gas and nuclear from the start.

Getting the bill through the Senate is very tough because 60 votes are needed to beat the inevitable filibuster. The Democrats don’t really have 60 votes although they now have 60 seats. Due to illness, Democratic Senators Edward Kennedy and Robert Byrd are almost never there to vote.

One idea is that getting a bill on the books is a start. It can be strengthened later. Perhaps. This has happened with many other bills, but often as not Congress just moves on figuring they have dealt with that issue. There are so many more on their plate.

Story in the New York Times. Disillusioned Environmentalists Turn on Obama as Compromiser. By Leslie Kaufman.
Additional. Senate Democrats Begin Drawing Road Map to 60 Votes on Climate Bill. By Darren Samuelsohn of ClimateWire in the New York Times.

Formal Protection For Pika Due To Climate Change

Pikas are disappearing from the alpine areas of Great Basin and may be listed due to climate change.

Pika © Ken Cole

Pika © Ken Cole

People who frequent the alpine areas of Idaho may be familiar with these small relatives of rabbits. Pikas live in boulder fields where they harvest herbaceous plants and carry them into their dens. You can often hear them calling “eeeep” from these areas. They are very sensitive to high temperatures so, with global warming, their range is becoming more limited. The southern populations suffer from limited habitat which is shrinking due to warmer temperatures and there have been startling losses.

“An investigation in 2003 discovered that six of the 25 pika populations in the Great Basin had vanished, attributed to the effects of warming temperatures.”

Formal Protection For Pika Due To Climate Change
Red Orbit

Last Spring at Ivanpah…?

A huge solar power plant threatens rare plants and animals.

There has been much discussion about renewable energy sources and large wind and solar projects. The problems with many of these projects are manyfold. One, there will be no decommissioning of any coal fired or other polluting/greenhouse gas emitting power plants as mitigation. Two, the areas where many of these projects are planned are in very important habitats for rare plants and animals. Three, many of these plants are centralized for the profit of the few and vulnerable to any manner of attack as can be seen from last week’s post. Fourth, desert soils, which will be scraped of all life, are great carbon sinks and all of this carbon will be released to the atmosphere exacerbating the greenhouse effect.

The Ivanpah Solar Energy Project is planned for an area of southern California near Clark Mountain on the border of the Mojave National Preserve. 4,000 acres, nearly 6.5 square miles, will be scraped clean of all earth and solar panels will be constructed.

There are better ways and places to produce or save electricity but since many people view these lands as “wastelands” there is little concern from the public. De-centralized power, including community based systems, in areas that have already been developed such as rooftops and farm fields are better options. This type of development is more sustainable, loses less energy in transmission, and less vulnerable to attack.

Basin and Range Watch visited the site of the proposed facility and found a great diversity of life.

Even though the rains were not great this past winter, wildflowers were still common in the Mojave Desert. We walked across the old granitic fan sloping gradually off Clark Mountain, by creosote rings perhaps thousands of years old, by strange tree-like cholla cacti, to a small gray limestone hill. The entire area we traversed will be graded by machinery and stripped of all life if the planned Ivanpah Solar Energy Project is built. So we wanted to check out what will be lost.

The desert here was quite active, Black-throated sparrows singing from the tops of shrubs, Zebra-tailed lizards skittering across washes, and hordes of mammal tracks filling the sand: Kit foxes, kangaroo rats, pocket mice, jackrabbits, even a few wild burros. The place was waking up from cold winter rest, and a diversity of wildflowers showed themselves.

Last Spring at Ivanpah…?
Basin and Range Watch.

Another “Burrowing” Bush Loyalist

Kathie Olsen, a Bush climate change denier in the National Science Foundation “burrows” into a civil service position.

A Loyal Bushie Burrows Into Obama’s System
By Elana Schor
Talking Points Memo

Sarah Palin: Ice queen of the Arctic

A view of Palin’s views on the environment from a major U.K. newspaper.

Sarah Palin, the Republican party’s vice-president nominee, governs an oil-rich area that has seen some of the most dramatic effects of climate change. So what’s her record on environmental concerns?

By Britt Collins. The Guardian. Sarah Palin: Ice queen of the Arctic

GM Finally Admits SUVs Are a Dead-End

SUVs were the equivalent of the long, low, automobiles with tail fins and “port holes” in their sides of the 1960s — a waste of resources that, in the end, greatly damaged the American economy, the environment, and will hardly be missed.

GM Finally Admits SUVs Are a Dead-End. Wired.

Wyoming US Senator’s bill claims to target beetle kill in Wyoming; others say he is really interested in a public lands giveaway

Barrasso bill targets beetle kill. By Brodie Farquhar. Casper Star-Tribune correspondent.

Whatever his motives, logging has never stopped any of the current beetle kill which is taking place all over the Rocky Mountains. That’s because beetles are not the ultimate cause; it’s the warming climate. The winters are no longer cold enough to kill beetle infestations.

People don’t realize it, but most of the coninferous forests are going to die and then burn to be replaced by something else — what is not clear.