The Friends of California Libre...

30 April 2009

The Screed That Almost Wasn't

Greetings, friends,
The winter of 2008-2009 just evaporated from a blur into nothing, into that flash in the rear-view that you thought was a cop, but was just some eroded fragment of glass on the shoulder.  The last screed I spattered in your general direction was just after the Winter Solstice...and here we are, well after the Vernal Equinoxe and the first LA heatwave of the year.  Yikes.  I'd like to say I'd accomplished a lot, but unlike President Obama, I have very little to show for myself.  The jacaranda are in bloom, and May Day is here.  That's enough for me.

And I can only blame myself.  On Christmas Day I left for the Carolinas, an adventure into the history of my family that's been a long time in the planning, many years .  I have a mega-screed describing this hell-ride in the works, which will be posted eventually on the travel page of my website...and you will be the first to know.  Let's just say that I know the difference between North and South Carolina now, and I've finally heard the tremendous sound of the flintlock musket, the gun that freed us from the British.  It was a great moment for me.
 
In January I returned, but immediately was caught up in my new job as the serials/resources librarian for the City of Inglewood.  For once I have no complaints...the job is interesting, the staff is small but supportive, and the benefits, especially the vacation time (3 1/2 weeks to start!) are fab.  Especially during this economic disaster the greedheads and the rich bastards created to suck the rest of us down, I feel blessed by the Goddess for once.  Every day I enjoy the view of the Baldwin Hills, oil rigs and palm trees, swooping hawks and screechy seagulls, as the sun sets into the ocean, a ten-minute drive to the west.  It is a Californian's life.
 
In early February I felt a screed coming on, right after a severe bout of tequila drinking with the Levy sisters, deep, deep in the rural rocks of Malibu, west of the movie stars and east of the Ventura bikers.  But then I met a new virus, and came down with bronchitis.  I'm not going to bitch like some old fart, but this one was a doozy...I can't compare it to some cold, but only to breaking my leg in 2001, which disabled me for 2 1/2 months.  This was worse, because at least I could stagger drunk through Ireland and LA on crutches with a broken leg.  Bronchitis does not want you to go out.  I would suffer through work, come home and cough pathetically on the couch, unable to focus, for a few days so positively disgusting I had to keep a trash can as a spittoon.  Yeeecchhh...and without even the energy to turn on my computer, forget assembling my thoughts into a rant.
 
Finally after 6 weeks of that fun, I felt 90%, caught up on some of my e-mail, and got out of the house...back to the scene of the crime, the Levy sisters compound in Malibu, but no tequila this time.  Let me share something with you...and I wish you could be there, but companionship is not always a cure for loneliness.  There is quality over quantity, and Malibu is it.  Wherever the city has pushed me, a day in Malibu will cure.  Whenever I despair of having a phone call returned by you, I run to Malibu.  That Sunday started out dismal, cold and raining, but it was a quick little storm, in fast and out again, and by noon the winds were blowing hard, the sky a special sharp blue tinged by sand and dust.  The Levy sisters are way beyond the commute boundary, just off Decker Road near the Ventura County line, where there are still stars at night.  They live with trailers and cabins and horses on a dead-end gravel road, and below them a valley frames the empty ocean, not a house nor sailboat in sight.  The wind whipped the waves into whitecaps as far as you could see, and on a day like this the horizon is clearly defined; you can breath in and out and wait for a whale to breech.  It's like camping...food tastes better, kids laugh more, beer is sweet.  It really is good country living.  I forgot all about you, friends.  Sorry.
 
I drove back and stopped at the Spajic/Johann compound, at the inside end of Malibu, Topanga Canyon.  Even this close to Los Angeles, rural is the rule, tiny houses clinging to the steep rocky face of the mountains, the salt wind funnelled at speed into the San Fernando Valley.  Then I chose a sublime reentry...rather than suddenly plunge back into the rat maze on the Pacific Coast Highway, I took the long way home, up to the top of the ridge on Saddle Peak, then along it and down, through the still-unspoiled country between Malibu and Agoura.  There is nothing like this part of Malibu...the only roads I can compare it to are in the gorges above Malaga in Spain, or the Grande Corniche in France, which connects Nice to Monte Carlo on a similar ridge.  Saddle Peak is a great hidden treasure in Los Angeles.  It climbs over the top of the Santa Monica Mountains, so the entire city was laid out to the east, curving away along the Pacific, sparkling at twilight.  The sun went down and the mountains were solid black against the clear red sky.  They dropped steeply to the ocean below, empty of houses and burnt in the last two years of wildfires; it is not a friendly view.  Malibu can be intimidating, too, full of tilted rocks, hairpin turns and landslides; like the desert, it rewards but demands your full attention.
 
By the time I turned onto the 101 south, back into the city, a windstorm of garbage was blowing across the freeway, leaves and wrappers and any bit of paper smaller than a newspaper seemed to be floating, so thick in the Cahuenga Pass that cars were actually swerving in a blizzard of detritus.  Where all that crap ended up I really wonder.

Since then I've been writing and sleeping and working and hiking and having a life.  A lot of my energy for this blog, I must tell you, is now being expended over on Facebook, which is a better outlet for my spontaneity...I can broadcast there 24/7 and get some feedback for once.  Although not for everyone, this is a useful communication tool IF YOU CHECK IT DAILY.  Otherwise stuff piles up and it's just another technological irritant.  This is less true of MySpace, which I only check a few times a week (or if I'm looking for a gig.)  If you are social-network curious, I am happy to guide you here and here.

Not that I don't have things to share here at California Libre, like my sudden fascination with
http://hotchickswithdouchebags.com/
or my feelings about the inauguration of our first Gen X President, Barack Obama, which I wrote up for my friend Bill Howe at
http://postmoot.net/archives/category/correspondents/joel_rane

Please note that, like most blogs, the oldest posts are at the bottom.

I should also mention that one of my true mentors, the author J.G. Ballard, died last week.  Although what influenced me was his dark science fiction, like High-Rise and Concrete Island, he will probably be remembered for his memoir Empire of the Sun, about being interned by the Japanese in Shanghai as a boy.  The book was later made into a cockle-warmer by Steven Spielberg, but even in this package it is a true 20th Century childhood, one of the most compelling biographies I know of.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd2djpxTaiI

And before I continue, I have a message for my parents:
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Aspartame-Almost-Killed-Me-by-Cathy-Alexander-090329-33.html
OpEdNews » Aspartame Almost Killed Me!
http://www.opednews.com/articles/PILOT-ASPARTAME-ALERT-by-Dr-Russell-Blaylo-090409-609.html
OpEdNews » Neurosurgeon Alerts Pilots to Aspartame Danger

If that doesn't get you off Diet Pepsi, I don't know what will.

My my my.  Looking over my Facebook, I feel a SCREED coming on.  How in love you all were with Barack Obama just a few months ago, and now that he's "running things" (I'm thinking of "Miller's Crossing") he's the new demon.  Sorry, but I have to protest.  How quickly you forget the 8 year nightmare we just emerged from:
Transition or Coup D'Ãtat?
During the transition period there is a silent coup d'état occurring inside the federal government in the form of last-minute firings and dubious personnel placements. The easy response to this practice is: "That always happens during the transition period and it isn't even newsworthy.
Click here to read more on our site
Bush sneaks through host of laws to undermine Obama
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/14/george-bush-midnight-regulations
The lame-duck Republican team is rushing through radical measures, from coal waste dumping to power stations in national parks, that will take months to overturn, reports Paul Harris in New York
Paul Harris
The Observer
After spending eight years at the helm of one of the most ideologically driven administrations in American history, George W. Bush is ending his presidency in characteristically aggressive fashion, with a swath of controversial measures designed to reward supporters and enrage opponents.
"Conscience Rule" Creates Quandary for Hospitals
Bush is expected to sign a rule giving health care workers latitude to deny medications and procedures. Seen as a broadside on abortion it could also put hospitals at odds with state laws ensuring rape victims' access to emergency contraception.
Now that Sen. Barack Obama is president-elect, some pro-choice activists don't think it's so dire that President Bush is on the brink of signing a health-policy rule that could restrict access to contraception and abortion.
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Broader Medical Refusal Rule May Go Far Beyond Abortion
The Bush administration plans a new "right of conscience" rule that would allow more workers to refuse more procedures. Critics say it could apply to artificial insemination and birth control.
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Bushs Last-Minute Conscience Rules Cause Furor : NPR
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=98467651&ft=1&f=1001&sc=emaf
Coal Mining Debris Rule Is Approved
Washington - The White House on Tuesday approved a final rule that will make it easier for coal companies to dump rock and dirt from mountaintop mining operations into nearby streams and valleys.  The rule is one of the most contentious of all the regulations emerging from the White House in President Bush's last weeks in office.
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Bush Set to Relax Rules Protecting Species
Washington - Animals and plants in danger of becoming extinct could lose the protection of government experts who make sure that dams, highways and other projects don't pose a threat, under a regulation the Bush administration is set to put in place before President-elect Obama can reverse them.  The rules must be published Friday to take effect before Obama is sworn in Jan. 20. Otherwise, he can undo them with the stroke of a pen.
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Probe Finds Politics Drove Endangered Species Decisions
Washington - Politics corroded Bush administration decisions on protecting endangered species nationwide, federal investigators have concluded in a sweeping new report.  Former Interior Department official Julie MacDonald frequently bullied career scientists to reduce species protections, the Interior Department investigators found. Species from the California tiger salamander to plants and crustaceans found in vernal pools were rendered potentially more vulnerable as a result, environmentalists believe.
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Top Scientist Rails Against Hirings
Bush appointees land career jobs without technical backgrounds.
The president of the nation's largest general science organization yesterday sharply criticized recent cases of Bush administration political appointees gaining permanent federal jobs with responsibility for making or administering scientific policies, saying the result would be "to leave wreckage behind."
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Bush Allows Shale Drilling Over Protests
By Siobhan Hughes
http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/center/articles/2008/wall-street-journal-11-18-2008.htm
Energy dispute over Rockies riches
A trove of oil shale may be a boon. But the science to extract fuel is imperfect, and locals worry about their water supplies, which ultimately feed Southern California reservoirs.
By Julie Cart
Reporting from Salt Lake City -- A titanic battle between the West's two traditional power brokers -- Big Oil and Big Water -- has begun.
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-oil-shale28-2008dec28,0,4185226.story
President for 60 More Days, Bush Tearing Apart Protection for America's Wilderness
Oil shale mining in Rocky Mountains gets go-ahead. "Midnight regulations" to dismantle safeguards.
Washington - George Bush is working at a breakneck pace to dismantle at least 10 major environmental safeguards protecting America's wildlife, national parks and rivers before he leaves office in January.
Click here to read more on our site
Conservation Groups Challenge Bush Administration's Gutting of ESA
George W. Bush, the worst-ever president for fish and the environment in the nation's history, will leave office after eight years the same way he came in - with yet another attack on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and other environmental laws.  The lame-duck Bush administration finalized a rule change today that greatly weakens the ESA, the only law that stands between many imperiled fish, wildlife and plant populations and extinction.
Click here to read more on our site
EPA Moves to Ease Air Rules for Parks
Regional administrators decry decision.
The Environmental Protection Agency is finalizing new air-quality rules that would make it easier to build coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other major polluters near national parks and wilderness areas, even though half of the EPA's 10 regional administrators formally dissented from the decision and four others criticized the move in writing.
Click here to read more on our site

EPA Eases Emissions Regulations for New Power Plants

By David A. Fahrenthold and Steven Mufson
The Environmental Protection Agency ruled yesterday that new power plants are not required to install technology to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, rejecting an argument from environmental groups.
What Am I Bid for the American Wild?
Bryce National Park in Utah. (Photo: Ron Niebrugge)
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And then, before you realized the limits of one man's power to stop a sinking ship, you had hope:

Hope in the Mountains

By Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Can President Obama stop mountaintop removal coal mining?
Obama plans to enforce mining limits
By Andy Mead
The Obama administration is moving to tighten a coal-mining rule loosened by his predecessor, but it might not be enough to satisfy environmentalists.  Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Monday that the 11th-hour "stream buffer zone rule" issued by the Bush administration in December is defective. Salazar said he would ask a federal court in Washington to reinstitute a 1983 Reagan-era rule.  The 1983 rule prohibited dumping of fill from mountaintop removal mining within 100 feet of a stream. Environmentalists argue, however, that it was not properly enforced, allowing hundreds of miles of Appalachian streams to be buried or diverted.
Read More...

Controversy Over Yucca Mountain May Be Ending

By Steve Vogel
More than two decades after Yucca Mountain in Nevada was selected to be the national nuclear waste repository, the controversial proposal may finally be put to rest by the Obama administration.
US: Warming Gases Are Health Threat
Obama administration move is aimed at prodding lawmakers to regulate.
Washington - Having received White House backing, the Environmental Protection Agency declared Friday that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are a significant threat to human health and thus will be listed as pollutants under the Clean Air Act - a policy the Bush administration rejected.  "This finding confirms that greenhouse gas pollution is a serious problem now and for future generations,"
Click here to read more on our site

He even went out of his way to endorse one of my pet projects:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/09/04/16/A-Vision-for-High-Speed-Rail/

And just in the nick of time, because regardless of terrorism or flu or whatever you fear, the planet doesn't shrug us off with a bang; it cooks and starves us over a century:

Faster Climate Change Feared

By Juliet Eilperin
The United States faces the possibility of much more rapid climate change by the end of the century than previous studies have suggested, according to a new report led by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Scientists: Pace of Climate Change Exceeds Estimates

By Kari Lydersen
CHICAGO, Feb. 14 -- The pace of global warming is likely to be much faster than recent predictions, because industrial greenhouse gas emissions have increased more quickly than expected and higher temperatures are triggering self-reinforcing feedback mechanisms in global ecosystems, scientists say.
Global Warming Study: Nations Need to Cut Emissions by 70 Percent
The threat of global warming can be significantly lessened if...
Article taken from Environmental Leader - http://www.environmentalleader.com
http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/04/16/global-warming-study-nations-need-to-cut-emissions-by-70-percent/
Time to change 'climate change'
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/mar/12/climate-change-copenhagen-monbiot
What's clear from Copenhagen is that policymakers have fallen behind the scientists: global warming is already catastrophic
George Monbiot
guardian.co.uk
The more we know, the grimmer it gets.
Presentations by climate scientists at this week's conference in Copenhagen show that we might have underplayed the impacts of global warming in three important respects:  Partly because the estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) took no account of meltwater from Greenland's glaciers, the rise in sea levels this century could be twice or three times as great as it forecast, with grave implications for coastal cities, farmland and freshwater reserves.  Two degrees of warming in the Arctic (which is heating up much more quickly than the rest of the planet) could trigger a massive bacterial response in the soils there. As the permafrost melts, bacteria are able to start breaking down organic material that was previously locked up in ice, producing billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide and methane. This could catalyse one of the world's most powerful positive feedback loops: warming causing more warming.  Four degrees of warming could almost eliminate the Amazon rainforests, with appalling implications for biodiversity and regional weather patterns, and with the result that a massive new pulse of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. Trees are basically sticks of wet carbon. As they rot or burn, the carbon oxidises. This is another way in which climate feedbacks appear to have been underestimated in the last IPCC report.
Global Warming Is Irreversible, Study Says : NPR
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99888903&sc=emaf
Ice-free Arctic Ocean Possible In 30 Years, Not 90 As Previously Estimated
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090402143752.htm
Summers in the Arctic may be ice-free in as few as 30 years, not at the end of the century as previously expected. The updated forecast is the result of a new analysis of computer models coupled with the most recent summer ice measurements.
Many glaciers will disappear by middle of century and add to rising sea levels, expert warns
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jan/19/glacier-rising-sea-levels
Melt rates for 2007 fall but still third worst on record  
Threat to livelihoods of 2bn dependent on rivers
Juliette Jowit, environment editor
The Guardian
Most of the planet's glaciers are melting so fast that many will disappear by the middle of the century, a leading expert has warned. Figures from the World Glacier Monitoring Service show that although melt rates for 2007 fell substantially from record levels the previous year, the loss of ice was still the third worst on record.
Scientists to issue stark warning over dramatic new sea level figures
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/mar/08/climate-change-flooding
Rising sea levels pose a far bigger eco threat than previously thought. This week's climate change conference in Copenhagen will sound an alarm over new floodings - enough to swamp Bangladesh, Florida, the Norfolk Broads and the Thames estuary
Robin McKie, science editor
The Observer
Scientists will warn this week that rising sea levels, triggered by global warming, pose a far greater danger to the planet than previously estimated. There is now a major risk that many coastal areas around the world will be inundated by the end of the century because Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are melting faster than previously estimated.

Melting Arctic Prompts Calls for 'National Park' on Ice

http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/02/melting-arctic.html
Global warming increasing death rate of US trees, scientists warn
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jan/22/trees-death-global-warming
Studies find wide range of tree species are dying with serious long-term effects for biodiversity and carbon dioxide release
Alok Jha, green technology correspondent
guardian.co.uk
Trees in the western United States are dying twice as quickly as they did three decades ago and scientists think global warming is to blame.
The Dire Fate of Forests in a Warmer World
The tropics on fire: scientist's grim vision of global warming
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/feb/16/chris-field-wildfires-tropical-forests
Ian Sample, science correspondent
Monday February 16 2009
The Guardian
Tropical forests may dry out and become vulnerable to devastating wildfires as global warming accelerates over the coming decades, a senior scientist has warned.
Parched: Australia Faces Collapse as Climate Change Kicks In
Leaves are falling off trees in the height of summer, railway tracks are buckling, and people are retiring to their beds with deep-frozen hot-water bottles, as much of Australia swelters in its worst-ever heatwave.  On Friday, Melbourne thermometers topped 43C (109.4F) on a third successive day for the first time on record, while even normally mild Tasmania suffered its second-hottest day in a row, as temperatures reached 42.2C. Two days before, Adelaide hit a staggering 45.6C.
Click here to read more on our site
Reuters.com - Fires, floods pressure Australia govt on climate   http://www.reuters.com/article/email/idUSSP292660 
Billions face food shortages, study warns http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jan/09/food-climate-change
Climate change may ruin farming in tropics by 2100
Record temperatures to become normal in Europe
Ian Sample, science correspondent
The Guardian
Half of the world's population could face severe food shortages by the end of the century as rising temperatures take their toll on farmers' crops, scientists have warned.
Water scarcity 'now bigger threat than financial crisis'
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Humanity is facing "water bankruptcy" as a result of a crisis even greater than the financial meltdown now destabilising the global economy, two authoritative new reports show. They add that it is already beginning to take effect, and there will be no way of bailing the earth out of water...
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Even reading this screed may be bad for the future of the human race!
** Spam 'produces 17m tons of CO2' **
Spam wastes enough energy to power more than 2.4m homes every year, a study finds.
< http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/technology/8001749.stm >
Reuters.com - Studies find mercury in much U.S. corn syrup  http://uk.reuters.com/article/email/idUKTRE50Q5IA20090127  
It got personal:California farms, vineyards in peril from warming, U.S. energy secretary warns
'We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California,' Steven Chu says. He sees education as a means to combat threat.
By Jim Tankersley
Reporting from Washington - California's farms and vineyards could vanish by the end of the century, and its major cities could be in jeopardy, if Americans do not act to slow the advance of global warming, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said Tuesday.
http://www.latimes.com/news/science/environment/la-me-warming4-2009feb04,0,5245367.story
Drillers eye oil reserves off California coast
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2008/12/29/MN4G14QMVE.DTL
Jane Kay, Chronicle Environment Writer
The federal government is taking steps that may open California's fabled coast to oil drilling in as few as three years, an action that could place dozens of platforms off the Sonoma, Mendocino and
Humboldt coasts, and raises the specter of spills, air pollution and increased ship traffic into San Francisco Bay.  Millions of acres of oil deposits, mapped in the 1980s when then-Interior
Secretary James Watt and Energy Secretary Donald Hodel pushed for California exploration, lie a few miles from the forested North Coast and near the mouth of the Russian River, as well as off Malibu, Santa Monica and La Jolla in Southern California.  "These are the targets," said Richard Charter, a lobbyist for the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund who worked for three decades to win
congressional bans on offshore drilling. "You couldn't design a better formula to create adverse impacts on California's coastal-dependent economy."

And have you thanked our President for saving us from this oily fate?
Bush-era offshore drilling plan is set aside
The Obama administration on Tuesday overturned another Bush-era energy policy, setting aside a draft plan to re-open drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29119940/from/ET/


No joke; when it does spill, the effects can last for decades, as they have in Alaska:
Stick your damn hand in it
Article at http://www.opednews.com/articles/STICK-YOUR-DAMN-HAND-IN-IT-by-Greg-Palast-090323-231.html

I'm also glad to see that, since January, we haven't heard much about an ethanol solution to our problems:
Biofuels more harmful to humans than petrol and diesel, warn scientists
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/feb/02/biofuels-health
Corn-based bioethanol has higher burden on environment and human health, says US study
Alok Jha, green technology correspondent
Some biofuels cause more health problems than petrol and diesel, according to scientists who have calculated the health costs associated with different types of fuel.

Indeed, no matter how mixed his messages may be on other issues, you may agree that Barack Obama has finally lined up the Fed in a message that prevarication must stop, and the future of the Earth is on the line:
Obama cranks up the green revolution
Barack Obama yesterday promised to end George Bush's "twisting" of science to suit "politics or ideology" in an extraordinarily outspoken address to the nation, and announced that he was putting top climate scientists in key positions in his administration. The move, which signals perhaps his sharpest break with the outgoing...
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Stimulus Appears to Be Sparking Alt-Energy Revival
By Nathanial Gronewold
But clean-tech still must clear the hurdle of a frozen credit market
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=stimulus-alternative-energy-revival&SID=mail&sc=emailfriend
US Carbon Emissions Trading Core of Clean Energy Bill
Washington DC - Congressional Democrats today released clean energy legislation that establishes a market-based cap-and-trade program for reducing global warming pollution from electric utilities, oil companies, and factories that together are responsible for 85 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Click here to read more on our site
A Closer Look at Obama's Energy Plan
If President-elect Barack Obama enacts the energy plan he laid out during his campaign, American taxpayers will each get a $500 rebate check - funded by a windfall profits taxes on big oil companies.  But that's just for starters.
Click here to read more on our site
Boxer pushes clean energy bill as another kind of stimulus
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/260/story/61407.html

Winds of Change Evident in U.S. Environmental Policy

By Juliet Eilperin
Daniel Reifsnyder, a 25-year State Department veteran, knew even before President Obama was elected that U.S. environmental policy was going to change. So in early November, he called a couple of his Environmental Protection Agency counterparts about drafting documents to lay the groundwork
EPA, Interior Dept. Chiefs Will Be Busy Erasing Bush's Mark
Few federal agencies are expected to undergo as radical a transformation under President-elect Barack Obama as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department, which have been at the epicenter of many of the Bush administration's most intense scientific and environmental controversies.  The agencies have different mandates - the EPA holds sway over air and water pollution, while Interior administers the nation's vast federal land holdings as well as the Endangered Species Act - but both deal with some of the country's most pressing environmental concerns, such as climate change.
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EPA says global warming a public danger
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/03/23/epa-says-global-warming-public-danger/

Greening the Ghetto

Can a remedy serve for both global warming and poverty?

by Elizabeth Kolbert

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/01/12/090112fa_fact_kolbert

And his old lady:
First lady's organic garden concerns chemical firms
http://thehill.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=81478&Itemid=70

He's even reminded us of crises so far behind terror and the environment, we forgot they could destroy the world ten times over...a hundred times over:
No Nukes
Once a quixotic slogan, the idea of actually dismantling every nuclear weapon is attracting mainstream policy thinkers.
For many Americans, the idea of a world without nuclear weapons is a bit like the idea of a world without war or disease - it would be nice, but, contra John Lennon, it's hard to imagine.
Click here to read more on our site

Scientists are thrilled:
Environmental groups, scientists cheer Obama appointments
With a Nobel physicist and a former EPA chief on board, some expect Obama's White House to break from what they see as the Bush administration's record of overlooking science in favor of politics.
By Jim Tankersley and Tom Hamburger
Reporting from Washington - With the nomination of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu for Energy secretary, President-elect Barack Obama made sure no one missed the message in the resume.
http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-na-obama-green16-2008dec16,0,5833888.story
Scientists eager for stem cell policy change
http://thehill.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=78442&Itemid=70
Obama names Holdren, Lubchenco to science posts
http://www.distant-help.com/2008/12/25/obama-assembles-climate-dream-team/
Obama Promises Major Investment in Science
Washington - President Barack Obama on Monday promised a major investment in research and development for scientific innovation, saying the United States has fallen behind others.  "I believe it is not in our character, American character, to follow - but to lead. And it is time for us to lead once again. I am here today to set this goal: we will devote more than 3 percent of our GDP to research and development," Obama said in a speech at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences.
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Scientists Heartened at Prospect of End to Stem Cell Ban

http://www.usnews.com/articles/health/healthday/2009/02/09/scientists-heartened-at-prospect-of--end-to-stem.html
Scientists Celebrate Dawn of Barack Obama's Age of Reason
Opening on the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, the 175th conference of the world's largest science society was always likely to have a celebratory feel to it.  There was indeed a palpable buzz yesterday in the subterranean conference rooms of the two downtown Chicago hotels where the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is holding its annual meeting.
Click here to read more on our site

And our friends in Europe are emboldened by this new leadership:
EU calls for global carbon market
The European Commission wants to build a global carbon trading market as part of a plan to tackle climate change.
< http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/europe/7856013.stm >
EU parliament votes by sweeping majority to ban farm pesticides
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jan/13/eu-pesticides-carrots
British government strongly opposed to EU measures which, say critics, may put winter vegetables such as carrots at risk
Ian Traynor in Brussels
At Last, Accepting Some Clues From Across the Pond
We suddenly seem willing to consider sensible ideas that were always deemed unthinkable. Soon we may be mature enough to observe how other developed countries address problems that have baffled us for generations.
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20090225_pushed_to_the_margins_finally/

In California, we've known the problems for years and, at last, are free again to lead the world with solutions:
California Adopts Major Global Warming Plan
Backers predict energy savings, new jobs; critics worry about upfront cost.
Sacramento, California - California air regulators on Thursday approved a climate plan that would require the state's utilities, refineries and large factories to transform their operations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
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California Unveils Six-Step Strategy to Promote Green Chemistry
After 20 months of brainstorming, California officials unveil steps to promote use of safer, sustainable chemicals in the state's consumer products and industries.
California officials today unveiled a six-step strategy to promote use of safer, sustainable chemicals and wean the state's industries and consumers off toxic compounds.  Twenty months in the works, the recommendations from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's staff are a mix of regulatory and voluntary strategies.
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Emissions rule waiver expected this spring
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2009/01/27/MNLP15HBN8.DTL
Matthew Yi, Wyatt Buchanan, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau
California officials say they plan to enforce the state's regulation requiring the nation's most fuel-efficient vehicles as soon as the federal government grants the state a waiver from less-stringent national standards.  The move is expected this spring.  The regulation would have the single largest impact on the state's ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020 under the landmark legislation AB32.  Delayed by the Bush administration since 2005, the rule would require automakers to produce vehicles that cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30
percent by 2016, resulting in an average vehicle fuel-efficiency of 35.7 miles per gallon - far higher than the current federal standard of 27.5 mpg for cars and 22.3 mpg for SUVs and light trucks.

Californians Shape Up as Force on Environmental Policy

By Lyndsey Layton
California Democrats will assume pivotal roles in the new Congress and White House, giving the state an outsize i nfluence over federal policy and increasing the likelihood that its culture of activist regulation will be imported to Washington.
Deal Reached to Remove Klamath River Dams
The agreement to uproot four dams that have blocked the migration of salmon comes under attack from those who say it favors farmers over fish.
Reporting from Sacramento - The Bush administration today announced a nonbinding agreement to uproot four hydropower dams that have blocked the migration of imperiled salmon up the troubled Klamath River, a project that could amount to the biggest dam removal in history.
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California Board Revokes Auburn Dam's Water Rights
Anglers, conservationists, hikers and recreational boaters who enjoy the American River above and below Folsom Dam are celebrating a huge milestone in the decades-long battle to stop construction of Auburn Dam.  The California State Water Resources Control Board on December 2 voted unanimously, 5-0, to revoke the US Bureau of Reclamation's water rights to build the controversial dam on the American River 35 miles northeast of Sacramento.
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SFGate: Google shows alternative energy firms the way
To: "jr" <joel@joelrane.com>
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2009/04/02/MNH216R1OL.DTL
David R. Baker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Picking the right place for an immense solar power plant or wind farm is a tricky business, one that can turn natural allies into enemies.  An open stretch of desert might look empty to a renewable-power developer who wants to blanket a few hundred acres with solar panels or mirrors. To
environmentalists, the same spot could be vital habitat for an endangered lizard or bird - an ecosystem too delicate to touch.  Now, a collaboration between Google and two leading environmental groups intends to head off those fights.

California Solutions for Global Warming

Website from the supporters of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, "California's first-in-the-nation laws to stop global warming," and related legislation. Features background about a package of bills signed into law in September 2006 designed "to reduce CaliforniaÂ's emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollution," reports about global warming and clean energy solutions, links to news, and more. In English and Spanish. From Environmental Defense and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Obama to Let California Set Its Own Auto Emissions Standards
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=email_en&refer=home&sid=aboT_VyTmmd0

Fuels must clean up act - Sacramento News - Local and Breaking Sacramento News | Sacramento Bee
http://www.sacbee.com/topstories/story/1806115.html

Other states are right with us:
Hawaii Endorses Plan for Electric Cars
San Francisco - The State of Hawaii and the Hawaiian Electric Company on Tuesday endorsed an effort to build an alternative transportation system based on electric vehicles with swappable batteries and an "intelligent" battery recharging network.  The plan, the brainchild of the former Silicon Valley software executive Shai Agassi, is an effort to overcome the major hurdles to electric cars - slow battery recharging and limited availability.
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SFGate: All-electric cars about to be resurrected
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2009/04/27/MN0B174G40.DTL
Michael Taylor, Chronicle Staff Writer
The all-electric car, which had a brief heyday less than a decade ago and then went the way of the dodo, killed off by the car companies, is about to make a comeback.

Even the Chinese are finally on board:
A Car in Every Port
BYD Auto: China's first mass-produced hybrid car goes on sale.
Beijing - China's first mass-produced hybrid electric car hit the market on Monday, its manufacturer said, in a move aimed at driving the nation to the cutting edge of the world's green auto industry.  The car is made by BYD Auto, a Chinese company backed by American Warren Buffett, one of the world's most successful investors, who owns 9.9 percent of the firm.
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United on climate change: Obama's Chinese revolution
Barack Obama is to invite China to join the United States in an effort by the world's two biggest polluters to stop global warming running out of control. Hillary Clinton, his Secretary of State, is to raise the prospect of a "strong, constructive partnership" to combat climate change on a...
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WSJ.com - Scientists Link China's Dam to Earthquake, Renewing Debate* This article will be available to non-subscribers of the Online Journal for up to seven days after it is e-mailed.

There is no time to waste; the Permian Extinction, which I've screeded to you before, may have been triggered by a global warming event, and that extinction was far worse than the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs, killing some 85-90% of all life...
New Theory On Largest Known Mass Extinction In Earth's History
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090330102659.htm
The largest mass extinction in the history of the earth could have been triggered off by giant salt lakes, whose emissions of halogenated gases changed the atmospheric composition so dramatically that vegetation was irretrievably damaged. At the Permian/Triassic boundary, 250 million years ago, about 90 percent of the animal and plant species ashore became extinct. Previously it was thought that volcanic eruptions, the impacts of asteroids, or methane hydrate were instigating causes.

First animals disappear:
Moose are roaming right out of existence
In the Upper Midwest, the animals are dying off in startling numbers. Biologists blame global warming.
By Tim Jones
Reporting from Chicago - It wasn't long ago that thousands of moose roamed northwest Minnesota. But in two decades, the number of antlered, bony-kneed beasts from the North Woods has plummeted from 4,000 to fewer than a hundred.
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-minnesota-moose29-2008dec29,0,5745413.story
Minnesota's iconic moose are dying off
By Tim Jones, Tribune reporter
http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/center/articles/2008/chicago-tribune-12-27-2008.html
Environmental groups plan lawsuit over kangaroo rat habitat slashing
By Lauren McSherry
http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/center/articles/2008/san-bernardino-sun-11-14-2008.html

Then creatures in the oceans:
Unexpected rise in carbon-fueled ocean acidity threatens shellfish, say scientists
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/nov/25/water-ocean-acidity-shellfish
Ian Sample, science correspondent
The world's oceans are becoming acidic more quickly than climate change models predict, according to scientists who claim it will have a dramatic impact on marine ecosystems.
Navy Wins, Whales Lose US Supreme Court Sonar Case
Washington, DC - The US Supreme Court today lifted restrictions on the Navy's use of sonar off the coast of California, handing a defeat to environmentalists who say the limits are needed to protect whales and dolphins.  The court, in a 6-3 decision, ruled that a lower court judge had wrongly allowed the environmental impacts of the training exercises to trump US national security interests.  The determination that the public interest lies with the Navy "does not strike us as a close question," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.
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Justices Revoke Limits On Navy Use of Sonar
By Jerry Markon and Juliet Eilperin
http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/center/articles/2008/washington-post-11-13-2008.html
Alaska plans to sue over beluga whale protection
By Mary Pemberson, The Associated Press
http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/center/articles/2009/san-francisco-chronicle-01-14-2009.html
AP IMPACT: Tons of released drugs taint US water
By JEFF DONN, MARTHA MENDOZA and JUSTIN PRITCHARD
Associated Press Writers
U.S. manufacturers, including major drugmakers, have legally released at least 271 million pounds of pharmaceuticals into waterways that often provide drinking water contamination the fedeeral government has consistently overlooked, according to an Associated Press investigation. Hundreds of active pharmaceutical ingredients are used in a variety of manufacturing, including drugmaking:...
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Delta Pumping Behind Salmon and Killer Whale Declines
Increases in freshwater exports out of the California Delta, the operation of Shasta Dam and other inland habitat problems have not only led to the collapse of Central Valley salmon populations, but also threaten the southern resident killer whale population.  These were the conclusions of National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) scientists, disclosed during a frank discussion of the recently released rewritten draft biological opinion on impacts of the state and federal water projects during a meeting in Sacramento with representatives of fishing and environmental groups. The NMFS opinion currently concludes "jeopardy" for winter run chinook salmon, spring run chinook salmon, green sturgeon and the southern resident killer whale species.
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Pharmaceuticals found in fish across U.S.
Fish caught near wastewater treatment plants serving five major U.S. cities had residues of pharmaceuticals in them, including those for allergies, depression, researchers reported.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29877241/from/ET/


And even in the sky:
Global warming changing birds' habits
An Audubon Society study released Tuesday found that more than half of 305 birds species in North America are spending the winter about 35 miles farther north than they did 40 years ago.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29104238/from/ET/


For the time being, "activist" judges and our President are protecting our fellow Earthlings.
Judges Reject Alaska Offshore Drilling Plan
Court orders US to re-examine potential impacts on natives, wildlife.
Anchorage, Alaska - Federal regulators improperly granted Shell Oil permission for exploratory drilling in Alaska's Beaufort Sea, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.  The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Minerals Management Service to reconsider how exploratory drilling would affect wildlife and Inupiat Eskimo subsistence hunting and fishing.
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Obama Restoring Endangered Species Act Provision
By Juliet Eilperin
http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/center/articles/2009/washington-post-03-03-2009.html
Wilderness protection bill gets Congress' OK
The legislation gives maximum federal protection to more than 2 million acres in nine states, including more than 700,000 acres in California. Obama is expected to sign it into law this year.
By Richard Simon and Bettina Boxall
Reporting from Los Angeles and Washington Bettina Boxall -- Congress on Wednesday approved the largest expansion of the wilderness system in 15 years, bestowing the highest level of federal protection on 2 million acres in nine states and launching one of the most ambitious river restoration efforts in the West.
http://www.latimes.com/news/la-na-lands26-2009mar26,0,6795956.story
Obama Signs Wide-Ranging Conservation Law
Washington - President Barack Obama signed legislation on Monday expanding and protecting US public parks and wilderness areas from oil and gas development, billed as the largest US conservation measure in more than 15 years.  "This legislation guarantees that we will not take our forests, rivers, oceans, national parts, monuments, and wilderness areas for granted," Obama said while signing the Public Land Management Act.
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Obama Restoring Endangered Species Act Provision
In an address to the employees of the Department of Interior, President Barack Obama moved to restore the Endangered Species Act. (Photo: Getty Images)
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Even in Florida...yeah, FLORIDA!
Southwest Florida chosen for sawfish recovery
By Kevin Lollar
http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/center/articles/2008/fort-myers-news-press-11-24-2008.html

But there's always room for improvement:
Bigger trees helping fight against climate change
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/feb/19/forests-carbon-emissions
David Adam
The Guardian
Trees across the tropics are getting bigger and offering help in the fight against climate change, scientists have discovered.

Liberal Pranksters Hand Out Times Spoof

Article about how on November 12, 2008, "[i]n an elaborate hoax, pranksters distributed thousands of free copies of a spoof edition of The New York Times," in New York City and other U.S. cities. This document, dated July 4, 2009, "imagines a liberal utopia of national health care, a rebuilt economy, ... and other goals of progressive politics." Includes links to the hoax paper and to the accompanying website. From The New York Times.

Sweet victory over Republican scum, and vive le screed!

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