Spotlight on Green News & Views: Biden takes on climate crisis; Calif. drilling permits double

Spotlight on Green News & Views: Biden takes on climate crisis; Calif. drilling permits double

This is the 663rd edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue). Here is the Jan. 16 edition. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.


Mark Lippman writes—Ted Cruz tweets nonsense about the Paris Climate Agreement. Greta Thunberg replies with a clapback: “Ted Cruz knows his followers and he gives them what they like. No lie is too big or too stupid to tell. In fact, the bigger and the stupider it is, the more they like it. Yesterday, after President Biden signed an executive order to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, here’s what Cruz posted on his Senate webpage: ‘By signing this order, President Biden indicates that he’s more interested in the views of the citizens of Paris than in the jobs of the citizens of Pittsburgh.’ Yes, he’s worried about the citizens of Pittsburgh two weeks after he tried to disenfranchise 6.9 million voters in the state of Pennsylvania by throwing out their electoral votes. Cruz also knows that when he has something mind-numbingly stupid to say, it’s always best to put it in a tweet.”

gmoke writes—Jobs, Jobs, Jobs or How to Talk about Climate: “The Bureau of Labor Statistics says wind turbine service technician jobs should grow 61% over the next decade, the #1 fastest growing job for the next decade. Solar photovoltaic [PV] installer* is the third fastest growing job with a growth rate of 51%. Now imagine if we pursued a goal of 100% renewables by 2030.  Mark Z Jacobson and his team have provided one possible roadmap to do just that.  Even more jobs would be created if we got serious about energy efficiency and began to retrofit our existing buildings to net zero energy or near net zero energy standards, where a building provides all or most of the energy it needs on its own.  Such building energy standards are being gradually adopted in the EU and CA where all building, including renovations, will have to meet those standards by 2030.  In addition, there is at least one company, EnergieSprong, which is developing prefab, mass production methods to do such energy retrofits on existing buildings.”


But by November, the Falls sweep away anything weighing less than 500 lbs. Stray logs disappear. Rock Creek balloons from 10 feet wide and a foot deep, to 30 feet wide and 10 fast feet deep.

6412093 writes—The Daily Bucket–The Creek ain’t done Rising: “Bethany Lake in NW Oregon, just west of Portland, gathers storm waters from hundreds of acres of avoided wetlands. Effluent also drains from the thousands of manicured yards and miles of streets in the surrounding suburban areas. The Lake and its tributaries discharges to Rock Creek, which slithers down an urbanized, yet sinuous path to the Tualatin River, and beyond, to the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, and the Pacific Ocean. Rock Creek used to have Salmon and steelhead runs, but now has hatchery trout, and many warm water fish species.” 

funningforrest writes—The Daily Bucket. Solenopsis invicta; the Red Imported Fire Ant: “How and why it is we humans have come to form these close personal bonds with such diverse animals of wild and untamed, even dangerous, origins is a topic I leave to the experts.  It’s just strange to me, but I think it points out that Homo sapiens isn’t necessarily all that removed from the wild. Ants, too.  It’s really strange to think of keeping ants as “pets” but how many of you had an ant farm as a kid?  Or have one even now?  I didn’t have one as a kid but I did get one for my son when he was around ten years old.  An ant farm is a fascinating thing to watch in action. Solenopsis invicta, however, is most decidedly not family-friendly.  Wikipedia has a very lengthy entry on this nasty invasive species.”

Aashirs nani writes—Dawn Chorus: Editing for Dynamic Photos: “First I’m going to tell you a word that pro photographers, and serious amateurs, know: chimping. So you’ve just taken a picture and you look at the preview screen. (Who can resist, right?) That’s called chimping. Why? Maybe you didn’t get the shot you wanted. But just maybe it turns out that you got what you were after, or even something better. You get all excited and shout, ‘Oooh, oooh, oooh!’ You sound like a chimpanzee, and you’re chimping like a pro! You don’t need much help with the latter, but most often what you get is the former. If you use a point-and-shoot camera (P&S), or if you have a big black camera that is set on ‘green box,’ your camera is making adjustments for you, and it doesn’t always get it right. And if you shoot RAW (I always do), then the camera makes no adjustments because you intend to make those adjustments yourself, and the dim picture is a feature, not a bug. There are a couple more adjustments I can show you another time, and they might make your images pop even more. But today we’re just focusing on the dynamic range.” 

You are a better photographer than you think you are. This edit took less than two minutes, much less.

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket – open thread: sunrise + raptors: “January 19, 2021. Skagit County, PacificNorthwest. Yesterday we went off island early for a medical appointment that required leaving before daybreak. That’s the ferry run we call the redeye aka O:dark-thirty. One upside is seeing the sunrise, which I rarely do, not being a morning person. In this case the sunrise was still colorful when we docked so we went up to Cap Sante to get a good look. The peak colors had already faded but it was still beautiful. We still had several hours before the appointment, so we drove around the flats between Anacortes and Mount Vernon. There were a lot of raptors, flying and perched in trees. When birding on the flats usually most of the birds are where you can’t park, and it’s quiet where you can, so I don’t have many pictures. But I can report gazillions of Bald eagles. Winter is peak raptor season on the Samish River and Skagit River flats, and eagles are especially numerous as many migrate into western Washington from Canada for the winter. This is also the time eagle pairs are fixing up their nests. Many nests on the flats.” 

Dan Bacher writes—New Zealand Smelt Crisis Mirrors Collapse of California’s Delta Smelt: “A press release published by the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers on January 17 draws the parallel between the ‘drastic decline’ of the South Island Stokell’s smelt in the rivers of the Canterbury coastline with the collapse of California’s Delta smelt, using information from one of my articles about the zero smelt found in the CDFW’s 2020 Fall Midwater Trawl Survey throughout the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Here’s the press release: A drastic decline in an important native fish in New Zealand has been matched by a similar decline in a similar species in the USA. On the east coast of the South Island Stokell’s smelt is the species of the rivers of the Canterbury coastline, which until relatively recently, occurred in huge numbers from about Canterbury’s Waiau River south to North Otago’s Waitaki River. However, depletion of river flows due to irrigation in rivers such as the Rangitata, Ashburton, and Rakaia Rivers where the smelt was most abundant, has seen a drastic decline in numbers, says Dr Peter Trolove, president NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers.

Trap in place, waiting.

BrownsBay writes—The Daily Bucket: I Hate Meeces to Pieces: “This is a Bucket about mice, specifically about deer mice.  They are common around my place, on the edge of the 120-acre wood.  Deer mice, more often than not, find their way into our garage, but thankfully not into our living space.  I’ve read that deer mice seldom intrude into human occupied space.  Our living space is also a canine occupied space, which I suspect is a more effective deterrent.  In the garage, are strategically placed snap-traps along the walls where deer mice like to run.  Sadly, but not too sadly, they end up snapped in place and quite dead.  I’ve learned during my life that the creatures we loathe and fear become less so after we learn more about them and their lives.  This is so with spiders, snakes, and for me, big centipedes.  And so it is with mice.  But deer mice are too cute to loathe, if you must know.  I’m sure you’d agree.  Knowledge is power and settles our fears.”

Angmar writes—2020: Hottest year ever,Greenhouse gases cooling upper atmosphere,Some good news,(and more) “Carbon capture is vital to meeting climate goals, scientists tell green critics.  Engineers and geologists have strongly criticised green groups who last week claimed that carbon capture and storage schemes – for reducing fossil fuel emissions – are costly mistakes. The scientists insisted that such schemes are vital weapons in the battle against global heating and warn that failure to set up ways to trap carbon dioxide and store it underground would make it almost impossible to hold net emissions to below zero by 2050. ‘Carbon capture and storage is going to be the only effective way we have in the short term to prevent our steel industry, cement manufacture and many other processes from continuing to pour emissions into the atmosphere,’ said Professor Stuart Haszeldine, of Edinburgh University. ‘If we are to have any hope of keeping global temperature [increases] down below 2 degrees C then we desperately need to develop ways to capture and store carbon dioxide’. 


ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Deniers Donk Up The Details, But Hottest Year Denial Remains The Same: A 5 Year Pause: “If you’re relatively new to the climate scene, you may not remember a time five to 10 years ago, when deniers were very passionate about ‘the pause’ or ‘hiatus’ in warming, which was little more than a cherry-picked trend line starting at what was then the hottest year, 1998. It was so popular that it even ‘seeped’ into mainstream science, in part because so many people felt compelled to debunk it. Paradoxically, all the effort spent debunking it granted a greater degree of legitimacy than it ever deserved. Then 2015 shattered the hottest year record, and it was no longer such a convenient argument. Then 2016 shattered the hottest year record set in 2015, and all of a sudden 1998’s warmth didn’t seem so hot, and deniers more or less abandoned the talking point. Until now, unfortunately. Because they’re now dusting off the hiatus playbook, and suggesting that since 2020’s temperatures were basically tied with 2016, we might be looking at the start of a new 5 year pause. Not one but two denial blogs published this profoundly bad-faith, and just plain bad, argument last week.”     

Pakalolo writes—A new study finds that Earth’s temperature rise will reach the tipping point in one to three decades: “We were warned, now a new study has determined that the Earth’s plants’ ability to sequester carbon emissions through photosynthesis will be halved by the 2030s or 2040s from what it is today at ten percent. That kind of loss will turn the natural world into a heat and carbon source, bringing our bios-sphere to the brink of disaster. The research shows that terrestrial life—‘the activity of land plants and soil microbes—does much of Earth’s “breathing,” exchanging carbon dioxide and oxygen. Ecosystems across the globe pull in carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and release it back to the atmosphere via the respiration of microbes and plants.’  The biosphere, land, and oceans have done us a huge favor by absorbing our dangerous greenhouse emissions, which have kept us relatively cool by pulling CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it in the ground. The loss of this critical heating and CO2 sink mitigation will raise temperatures by releasing heat-trapping gases, something we do not ever want to face.”

gmoke writes—Climate Resources: “Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops — a series of short films on the climate feedback loops affecting forests, permafrost, the atmosphere, and the albedo. A Primer on Carbon Dioxide Removal [CDR] covering: CO2 mineralization; Ocean alkalinity enhancement: Soil carbon sequestration: Improved forest management, afforestation, and reforestation;
Coastal blue carbon; Biochar; Biomass energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS); Direct air capture (DAC); Geological sequestration.Climate 21 is an initiative by SAP to allow our customers to calculate, report, and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The climate 21 podcast is a weekly podcast that will showcase best practices and thought leadership by SAP, its customers, partners and competitors (if they’re game) in greenhouse gas emissions reductions’.”


Casey Horinek (via Neeta Lind) writes—Dear President Biden, An Indigenous Perspective on Your Inauguration: “Yes, we want you to ‘Build Back Better,’ starting in our communities. We’ve already been leading this environmental justice effort for free. Give us a real green economy. That would be a real start toward correcting 500 years of genocidal policies against the Indigenous people of this land. We are global leaders of green movements, including the Rights of Nature, which provides legal standing for ecosystems in court. My own tribe was the first in the U.S. to recognize that on tribal land, Nature—including people—has the legal right to exist and regenerate its vital cycles. After so many lies, broken treaties, cultural and historic erasure, we ask you now, ‘how do we believe in you?’ A good start would be acknowledging the real living history of this land and its First Peoples. We are still here. At your Inauguration you could have made a land acknowledgement. A simple statement that as you were sworn in at the Capitol, you stand on occupied land of the Piscataway and Pamunkey peoples. While that inaugural moment has passed, as you travel around what we call Turtle Island, you have many opportunities to acknowledge the people who have lived here for time immemorial.”


Meteor Blades writes—President Biden wastes no time starting repairs of some of Trump’s harm to environmental protections: “On his first day in office, President Joe Biden will sign a broad executive order mandating that the United States rejoin the Paris climate agreement and restore greenhouse gas limits that Donald Trump has weakened. Gina McCarthy, Biden’s national climate adviser, told reporters Tuesday, ‘We know rejoining [Paris] won’t be enough, but along with strong domestic action, which this executive order kicks off, it is going to be an important step for the United States to regain and strengthen its leadership opportunities.’ Formal rejoining will take 30 days, which starts with a letter today to the United Nations requesting that the U.S. be allowed to reenter the agreement that was designed to reduce emissions and the impacts of the global climate crisis. Biden will also launch a review of the Trump regime’s rollback of environmental protections. According to a description of the executive order provided by the Biden transition team to ClimateWire, the review will scrutinize ‘federal regulations and other executive actions taken during the last four years that were harmful to public health, damaging to the environment, unsupported by the best available science, or otherwise not in the national interest’.”

A Siegel writes—President Biden Acting on Climate: signing social cost of carbon executive order today: “Amid the momentous events of today, President Biden has plans to exhaust his hand signing executive orders (note: that is a broken link as the web site transferred to with President Biden’s swearing in but the actual BBB material doesn’t seem to have yet transferred over) to reverse some of Donald Trump’s worse excesses and to start the process of righting the ailing Ship of State.  Among these is an item that will likely get minimal press attention but which is a truly momentous item to set the Federal Government on the path for serious climate action. Re-establishing the Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) and directing the issuance of an interim social cost of GHG schedule to ensure that agencies account for the full costs of GHG emissions, including climate risk, environmental justice and intergenerational equity Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases (or, as more often called, a Social Cost of Carbon: SCC) has been described, in the past, “as the most important number you’ve never heard of“. The Interagency Working Group was established in the Obama-Biden Administration (in 2009) with a ‘commitment to ensure that the social cost of carbon estimates continue to reflect the best available science and methodologies’. “

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—World Getting Back To Normal, By Finding Unity In Dunking On Ted Cruz, Nature Is Healing: “With his carefully-laid plans dating back to his work for Big Tobacco in the ‘90s immediately dumped in a shredder by the Biden administration, Steve Milloy is now back to work, tweeting furiously, deliberately misunderstanding metaphors, and being totally not at all jealous of Amanda Gorman’s show-stealing inaugural poem. Marc Morano’s still retweeting basically everyone that engages with him on Twitter, including one with all the violent rightwing red flags: Punisher logo, ‘back the blue’ hashtag in the bio and cop-killing insurrectionist slogan ‘1776 Again’ in the header. And why wouldn’t Morano retweet an account like that? That’s his audience. Just like when he went on white nationalist pseudo-media website Breitbart to further spread COVID and climate denial. As for established denial institutions, The Wall Street Journal is straight back to form, complaining in their editorial on President Joseph Biden Jr.’s Inauguration that President Biden’s calls to unity will fall flat “if he insists that those who disagree on climate change are ‘deniers’ who care nothing for the planet” in case you thought conservatives would do any compromising with liberals for the sake of unity and, you know, the continued existence of human civilization. ” 


Fossil Fuels & Emissions Controls

Dan Bacher writes—Breaking: California Doubles New Oil And Gas Production Well Permits, Misses Drilling Setback Rule: “California oil regulators more than doubled the dispensing of permits in 2020 to drill new oil and gas production wells, issuing more than 1,700 in 2020, Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance reported in a press release today. ‘At the same time, the Newsom Administration failed to meet its own New Year’s Eve deadline for a draft rule designating the safe distance for drilling from a community, giving itself until Spring.  Public interest groups who have pushed for a 2,500-foot setback are troubled by the delay. States such as Colorado have instituted setbacks of 2,000 feet,’ the two groups stated. ‘Largely because of a moratorium on high pressure cyclic steaming—a dangerous technique burning carbon-emitting natural gas to make steam used to coax stubborn oil out of the ground– permits for all types of drilling dropped 14%.  Very few drilling permits were used to drill new wells—only 60 new wells were drilled in 2020,” the groups said. The two groups updated the permit numbers and locations on an interactive map at the website here.”

ericlewis0 writes—Biden Will Shut Down Keystone Pipeline on First Day in Office: “From CBC/Radio Canada: U.S. president-elect Joe Biden has indicated plans to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit via executive action on his first day in office, sources confirmed to CBC News on Sunday. The purported briefing note from the Biden transition team was widely circulated over the weekend after being shared by the incoming president’s team with U.S. stakeholders. The words “Rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit” appear on a list of executive actions supposedly scheduled for Day 1 of Biden’s presidency. This is wonderful news. Trump attempted, via executive order, to get the pipeline building going again, but faced lawsuits from various environmental and Native American groups. It’s only fitting that Biden shut this travesty down immediately. Elections have consequences.” 

Renewables, Efficiency, Energy Storage & Conservation

Egberto Willies writes—Jere Locke, Director of Texas Drought Project, contrasts the Green New Deal with Biden’s plan: “Environmentalist Jere Locke contrasts the Green New Deal with Biden’s environmental policy. Mitch throws Cruz, Trump under the bus & more.”

mettle fatigue writes—Can solar save Americans $473 billion, including in low-income and poor areas? “In a report released last month, energy systems researchers Chris Clack, Aditya Choukulkar, Brianna Coté, and Sarah A McKee, at Vibrant Clean Energy consulting, present a model calculating that …the cheapest way to reduce emissions actually involves building 247 gigawatts of rooftop and local solar power [and storage] (equal to about one-fifth of the country’s entire generating capacity today). In this scenario, consumers would save $473 billion [over the next 30 years], relative to what electricity would otherwise cost… This contrasts with paying $385 billion more for power across that time period, with traditional models favoring traditional grids fed by large solar and wind farms.”


DownHeah Mississippi writes—Saturday Morning Garden Blogging. Vol. 17.04: Let’s Start Anew: “My pepper grow list for 2021 is much like last year.  Notable changes include the addition of Ghost Pepper and the deletion of Hinkelhatz. […] I ended up with 63 pepper plants last year.  That number will be reduced by about a third in 2021.  My favorite hot sauces from last year were the Prairie Spice green sauce and the Fire-roasted Jalapeno sauce, so Hinkelhatz was taken off my list to make more room for those two varieties…  Ghost Pepper was added to this year’s list at the request of a couple of pepperhead “hot freaks”, who whined that the hot sauce they were gifted just wasn’t hot enough… ;/

Prairie Spice (info here)
Ghost Pepper
Rooster Spur
Numex Nematador
Ho Chi Minh (info here)

Bill’s Striped
Largo de Reus
Elephant Ear

nailkeg writes—Herbicide drift on my Garden: “A little over a year ago- Aug, 2019 -, I planted my fall garden.  I plant turnips and peas in mid August. My zone is around a 6 or 7 near KCMO.  Two weeks later, when checking on my crop, only 3 pea plants had sprouted near the far edge of my garden.  I still had tomatoes and green beans growing.  My first thought was that I should have watered or that maybe my seed was bad.  It would be spring of 2020 before I determined why my garden had not germinated. I plant my spring garden (peas and turnips) about the middle of March.  Even though I had acquired fresh seed, no turnips sprouted.  My peas grew with only a few gaps in a couple of rows.  I cannot say my peas meet my expectations, but they did produce a decent crop. I am still puzzled as to why I did not have a single turnip spout.”

gmoke writes—City Agriculture – January 20, 2021, the Happy Inauguration Day Issue: “A rooftop forest for Rotterdam
Inside Singapore’s huge bet on vertical farming by Megan Tatum (subscribers only)
Evanlee Organics”


Torilahure writes—Natural Resource Abusers Watch Out. Katie Porter Is Coming After You: “Committee assignments for various US House of Representatives are being publicized. […] Rep Katie Porter (CA-45) used to be on Oversight Committee as well as Financial Services Committee in the last congress. In this congress Porter decided to prioritize Oversight and Natural Resources as her preferred top two choices. The change in priority by Porter from Financial Services towards Natural Resources reflects a shift direction and attention. Given her stellar performance and dedicated followers it is safe to assume that the same kind of  base energizing, informative, attention-grabbing performance within Natural Resources committee. This will bring a further attention to an area in much need of some devotion from a messiah figure within a voluble flank of the Democratic Party, For details for the area that is covered under Natrural Resources committee jurisdiction see this.” 

Ojibwa writes—Public Lands: Shining Mountains (photo diary): “At one time Montana was called the Land of the Shining Mountains. Traveling west in the Great Plains, the glistening white peaks of the Rockies are visible for a hundred miles out. Here on the West side of the mountains, in the Flathead Valley (named for the Salish-speaking Flathead Indians) the mountains are often hidden in the winter overcast. Recently, however, the blue skies returned briefly and so we ventured out on a photo run.”

idlemoments writes—Fall Lake: Superior National Forest campground on the edge of Minnesota’s BWCA (Photo Diary): “For campers or day-trippers wanting to get a taste of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA), Fall Lake Campground in the Superior National Forrest offers easy access and all the comforts of a modern campground. This U.S. Forest Service campground sits on the edge of Fall Lake, which lies partially within the BWCA. A permit is required for overnight trips into the BWCA, but not for a day trip for campers or others using the campground’s canoe landing. You can bring your own canoe and kayak, or rent one at the launch; you can even keep it at your campsite as there are several that sit on the lake. Mile Island lies immediately north of the campground’s canoe launch and a circle trip around it and back makes for an enjoyable short or more meandering day trip into the BWCA. There are several campsites/landings on the island and the lake where you can stop for lunch, or camp overnight if you have a permit.”

View from a Fall Lake Campground campsite..

Username4242 writes—Yellowstone as most have never seen it before! Yellowstone National Park in the Winter (Video): “Two days of wandering the incredible Yellowstone National Park in the winter. :)” 


Crashing Vor writes—Hey, Mr. President, If You’re Not Busy…: “Yeah, I dig. Busy. Thirty executive orders/actions in 48 hours. Don’t cramp that signing hand, please. I’m not sure it will even take an executive order, maybe just a quick call four blocks up the Avenue to say, ‘Hey! Get the heck back to work!’ See, among the other heinous crap your predecessor did under the cover of ‘Covid response’  was to halt all enforcement of EPA regulations on polluting industries. Because what better time to allow companies to crank out the pollutants than in a global respiratory pandemic, am I right? I understand you’ve got a lot going on right now, but could you make that call up the street sometime? A lot of folks down in the River Parishes would appreciate that.”


Meteor Blades writes—Earth Matters: Solar for all; 2nd round of Biden climate orders coming; GOP bashes KXL rejection: “BIDEN TO ISSUE A SECOND ROUND OF CLIMATE-RELATED EXECUTIVE ORDERS NEXT WEEK. According to a memo viewed by Reuters, President Biden on Jan. 27 will issue more executive orders that will include an ‘omnibus’ climate change order launching a ‘series of regulatory actions to combat climate change domestically and elevate climate change as a national security priority.’ The others include a directive that all federal agencies must rely on science when drafting rules, reestablishment of the Presidential Council of Advisers on Science, and the announcement of a U.S.-hosted climate leaders’ summit on Earth Day, April 22.”

skralyx writes—We finally know why cats love catnip: it protected their ancestors in the wild: “If you have a cat — and I’m thinking at least, what, 2 or 3 Daily Kos users have cats, right? — you know what happens when they get a hold of a toy with catnip in it.  They don’t just act happy; they rub their faces on it, they grab it with their front paws and kick it with their hind legs, they lick it, they roll on it, and so forth. It seems strange that smelling this one particular plant should have such an effect on them.  Did they evolve this for some reason, or is it just an accident, a coincidence?  And if they did, how on Earth does it help them?  How does flopping around on your belly in the wild help you survive or procreate?  Now researchers in Japan and the UK, led by Masao Miyazaki, have explained what they believe to be the solution, in Science Advances on January 20.  Even your cat can be forgiven for missing this article, as there were a few other things going on that day. Most of us with cats don’t get to see them interact with whole catnip plants, but when they do, the response is very similar.  They like to rub their faces on it and chew on it…”

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