31 Dec 2009, 12:32pm
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Stone basins may be Miwok salt ‘factory’

by David Perlman, SF Chronicle, December 30, 2009 [here]

Somewhere in the Sierra Nevada, a granite terrace the size of a football field holds hundreds of mysterious stone basins representing what geologists believe is one of the earliest known “factories” created and used by ancient Miwok Indians to make tons of salt to trade with tribes up and down California.

James G. Moore, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, learned of the strangely pitted terrace from detailed maps made more than a century ago and hiked the region in May to study what he determined were clearly hand-hewn objects.

He examined 369 of the circular artifacts only a few yards from two streams of saltwater fed by a nearby spring and a lake that was equally salty. …

The basins average more than a yard in diameter and are more than 2 feet deep.

To create them, Moor and Diggles said, Miwok tribe members built fires on the granite surface that heated the stone until it fractured. They then crumbled and pounded the fractures with stone tools and removed the debris, inch by inch, until the basins were formed.

Salt springs are extremely rare in the Sierra Nevada, but Moore said the salt in the nearby streams probably comes from a layer of ancient marine sediment formed many millions of years ago when the area was covered by an ocean.

He said he believes the Miwok people carried water from the streams in watertight woven baskets, poured it into the basins and let it evaporate in the summer heat until the dry salt could be scooped out. The salt content of the water and the rate of water flow indicate that the two streams probably yielded about 3 tons of salt each year, Moore said.

The people of the area, he said, “had a large and valuable surplus to trade with other tribes - an early example of commerce by hunter-gatherer people.” … [more]

31 Dec 2009, 12:29pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Moose find a new home in Wallowa County

Wallowa County Chieftain, Dec 28, 2009 [here]

ENTERPRISE - Wildlife biologists collared four moose in the northern Blue Mountains of Wallowa County in January 2008, marking the first collaring of the animals in Oregon and an increased effort to trace moose activity in the state.

The radio and GPS collars will help biologists better understand seasonal movements, habitat use, and reproductive rates of the state’s small but growing moose population, which is conservatively estimated to number 35.

The four moose collared were cows; high winds prevented biologists from also collaring an adult male. The team will try again later in the winter, in time to track a bull’s movement during the September breeding season, when they tend to move great distances. …

While moose may have occurred in Oregon in the past, there are no references to them being found here in modern times. The moose established in northeastern Oregon today are naturally dispersing into the state from adjacent Washington and Idaho. In 1922, five moose were brought to western Oregon from Alaska. These animals were hand-raised and soon became a problem to towns and farms, so the transplant failed.

“The first sighting of a moose that we know about was in the 1960s along the Snake River,” noted Vic Coggins, ODFW district wildlife biologist. “Individual moose have been observed sporadically in northeastern Oregon over the past 40 years.”

As North America’s largest ungulates, the moose’s size and the male’s uniquely-shaped antlers give it much of its mystique. Moose prefer the habitat of burned and logged areas with an abundance of willow and other deciduous growth. Temperature is probably the limiting factor in their expansion. … [more]

Note: if temperature is the limiting factor, and we are experiencing global warming, then why are moose being found farther south????? Answer: armchair ecology has about as much validity as armchair climatology, i.e. zip.

28 Dec 2009, 5:29pm
Latest Climate News
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Glacier melt adds ancient edibles to marine buffet

By Susan Trulove, Virginia Tech News, December 23, 2009 [here]

BLACKSBURG, Va., — Glaciers along the Gulf of Alaska are enriching stream and near shore marine ecosystems from a surprising source – ancient carbon contained in glacial runoff, researchers from four universities and the U.S. Forest Service report in the Dec. 24, 2009, issue of the journal “Nature.”

In spring 2008, Eran Hood, associate professor of hydrology with the Environmental Science Program at the University of Alaska Southeast, set out to measure the nutrients that reach the gulf from five glaciated watersheds …

How can a glacier be a source of the organic carbon? His curiosity peeked, in spring 2009, Hood’s Ph.D. student, Jason Fellman, collected samples from 11 watersheds along the Gulf of Alaska from Juneau to the Kenai Peninsula. The samples were analyzed to determine the age, source, and biodegradability of organic matter derived from glacier inputs. …

Hood and Scott hypothesize that forests that lived along the Gulf of Alaska between 2,500 to 7,000 years ago were covered by glaciers, and this organic matter is now coming out. “The organic matter in heavily glaciated watersheds is labile, like sugar. Microorganisms appear to be metabolizing ancient carbon and as the microorganisms die and decompose, biodegradable dissolved organic carbon is being flushed out with the glacier melt,” said Scott. … [more]

Ed Note: Forests that lived along the Gulf of Alaska between 2,500 to 7,000 years ago were subsequently covered by glaciers. The crushed organic matter is being expelled by the glaciers there today.

Again, for emphasis: 2,500 to 7,000 years ago coastal Gulf of Alaska was warm enough to grow forests. That is not the case today, since those ancient forests were subsequently engulfed by the glaciers that exist there now.

Neoglaciation has been occurring for the last 6,000+ years, ever since temperatures started to decline from the Holocene Climatic Optimum, entirely consistent with the decline in solar insolation due to Milankovitch cycles, which peaked ~10,000 years ago.

The Earth has been cooling for 6,000+ years as we head toward another Ice Age, a pattern that has been repeated ~18 times over the last 1.8 million years.

Warmer Is Better. Fight the Ice.

28 Dec 2009, 3:55pm
Latest Climate News
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The New Climate Litigation

How about if we sue you for breathing?

Opinion, Wall Street Journal, Dec 28, 2009 [here]

Fresh from the fiasco in Copenhagen and with a failure in the U.S. Senate looming this coming year, the climate-change lobby is already shifting to Plan B, or is it already Plan D? Meet the carbon tort.

Across the country, trial lawyers and green pressure groups—if that’s not redundant—are teaming up to sue electric utilities for carbon emissions under “nuisance” laws.

A group of 12 Gulf Coast residents whose homes were damaged by Katrina are suing 33 energy companies for greenhouse gas emissions that allegedly contributed to the global warming that allegedly made the hurricane worse. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and seven state AG allies plus New York City are suing American Electric Power and other utilities for a host of supposed eco-maladies. A native village in Alaska is suing Exxon and 23 oil and energy companies for coastal erosion.

What unites these cases is the creativity of their legal chain of causation and their naked attempts at political intimidation. “My hope is that the court case will provide a powerful incentive for polluters to be reasonable and come to the table and seek affordable and reasonable reductions,” Mr. Blumenthal told the trade publication Carbon Control News. “We’re trying to compel measures that will stem global warming regardless of what happens in the legislature.”

Mull over that one for a moment. Mr. Blumenthal isn’t suing to right a wrong. He admits that he’s suing to coerce a change in policy no matter what the public’s elected representatives choose.

more »

26 Dec 2009, 12:57pm
Latest Fire News
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Environmental Groups Sue Over Prescribed Burns

By Ben Preston, Santa Barbara Independent, December 23, 2009 [here]

Los Padres National Forest Watch — an environmental watchdog group — in concert with the research-oriented California Chaparral Institute, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service last week. The groups claim there is a lack of opportunity for public input into the USFS’s decision making process for land-management policy. More specifically, they are focusing on the Tepusquet Fuels Treatment Project, a prescribed burn program the two groups maintain was approved without an environmental analysis or public hearings.

“Our number one concern is looking at the bigger picture and the long term consequences of what’s happening now,” said Richard Halsey, an ecologist from the Escondido-based Chaparral Institute. “In the end, the fuel treatment of this 18,000 acres is a political one. It’s not good land management based upon science, and that’s not good.”

However, some residents of Tepusquet Canyon, which runs from Foxen Cayon Road to Highway 166 in northern Santa Barbara County, disagreed with the allegation that the Forest Service doesn’t involve the public. “Do I like everything they do? No,” said Linda Tunnel. “But they do try their darndest to work with the homeowners who live over here. When we have concerns, they always listen to us and have been very open about that they can and can’t do.” Tunnel is among the approximately 160 families who live in Tepusquet Canyon. The La Brea Fire, which burned nearly 90,000 acres in August, came fairly close to her home. “I want to be prepared, and if the Forest Service can do it using winter [prescribed] burns and other ways that can protect us, I’m in favor of it,” she continued, adding that she hadn’t seen anyone from Los Padres National Forest Watch or the Chaparral Institute at any of the public meetings she attended. … [more]

21 Dec 2009, 4:34pm
Latest Climate News
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Cold snap wreaks havoc across Europe

BBC News, 21 Dec 2009 [here]

At least 29 people froze to death in Poland as temperatures fell far below freezing, while in southern Germany a figure of -33C (-27F) was recorded.

Moscow said it was deploying 9,000 snow ploughs to clear the city’s streets.

Flights have been cancelled and Eurostar passenger trains are still not running after electrical failures.

More than 55,000 travellers had journeys cancelled after six trains broke down, in what Eurostar said was unprecedented winter weather in France.

The company hopes to announce on Monday evening when services between England, France and Belgium would resume.

Second wave of snowstorms

In Poland, police appealed for people to help if they came across homeless or drunk people lying outside as temperatures dropped towards -20C in some areas. Most of those who froze to death over the weekend were homeless.

Meanwhile, one restaurant owner offered tens of thousands of homeless people a hot meal in Krakow’s main square. … [more]

21 Dec 2009, 4:33pm
Latest Climate News
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Questions over business deals of UN climate change guru Dr Rajendra Pachauri

By Christopher Booker and Richard North, UK Telegraph, Dec 20, 2009 [here]

No one in the world exercised more influence on the events leading up to the Copenhagen conference on global warming than Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and mastermind of its latest report in 2007.

Although Dr Pachauri is often presented as a scientist (he was even once described by the BBC as “the world’s top climate scientist”), as a former railway engineer with a PhD in economics he has no qualifications in climate science at all.

What has also almost entirely escaped attention, however, is how Dr Pachauri has established an astonishing worldwide portfolio of business interests with bodies which have been investing billions of dollars in organisations dependent on the IPCC’s policy recommendations.

These outfits include banks, oil and energy companies and investment funds heavily involved in ‘carbon trading’ and ‘sustainable technologies’, which together make up the fastest-growing commodity market in the world, estimated soon to be worth trillions of dollars a year.

Today, in addition to his role as chairman of the IPCC, Dr Pachauri occupies more than a score of such posts, acting as director or adviser to many of the bodies which play a leading role in what has become known as the international ‘climate industry’. It is remarkable how only very recently has the staggering scale of Dr Pachauri’s links to so many of these concerns come to light, inevitably raising questions as to how the world’s leading ‘climate official’ can also be personally involved in so many organisations which stand to benefit from the IPCC’s recommendations. … [more]

21 Dec 2009, 4:31pm
Latest Climate News
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Science ad rem, not politics ad hominem

From The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

SPPI Blog, Dec 20, 2009 [here]

Recently an enquirer wrote to a Doctor of Science who is a true-believer in the “global warming” theory, and drew his attention to some of my conclusions to the effect that the science is not as settled as we are being told. The Doctor replied with an ad-hominem attack on me, but also included some scientific argument. Here, I respond to that argument, giving an outline of the reasons why the official version of the science may be doubtful.

Dear enquirer, – A Doctor of Science has copied to me his email to you about climate change, in which he makes a number of ad-hominem points about me to which I propose not to respond. He also attaches a graph showing global temperature to have risen at a rate of 0.6 C/century since 1880, and an article drawing conclusions from a computer model and from a gravitational-anomaly satellite. To these I shall respond.

I have tried to keep abreast of – and remain skeptical of – scientific reports in the peer-reviewed literature on all sides of the climate argument. I neither believe nor disbelieve anything scientific unless it has been proven or disproven. The notion that an increase of 1 part in 2000 in the proportion of the atmosphere occupied by carbon dioxide will have a significant impact on the climate is coming close to being disproven.

We must first distinguish between causes and effects. Changes in global temperature, or in the ice-mass balance of Greenland, are effects. CO2, it is suggested, is a cause of those effects. And so, of course, it is: but, as best I can make it out, not a substantial cause. … [much more, good science review]

19 Dec 2009, 12:52pm
Latest Climate News
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Low targets, goals dropped: Copenhagen ends in failure

by John Vidal, Allegra Stratton and Suzanne Goldenberg, guardian.co.uk, 19 December 2009 [here]

The UN climate summit reached a weak outline of a global agreement in Copenhagen tonight, falling far short of what Britain and many poor countries were seeking and leaving months of tough negotiations to come.

After eight draft texts and all-day talks between 115 world leaders, it was left to Barack Obama and Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, to broker a political agreement. The so-called Copenhagen accord “recognises” the scientific case for keeping temperature rises to no more than 2C but does not contain commitments to emissions reductions to achieve that goal.

American officials spun the deal as a “meaningful agreement”, but even Obama said: “This progress is not enough.” …

Obama cast his trip as a sign of renewed US global leadership: “The time has come for us to get off the sidelines and shape the future that we seek; that is why I came to Copenhagen.”

But the US president also said he would not be staying for the final vote “because of weather constraints in Washington”. … [more]

17 Dec 2009, 7:14pm
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Should U.S. Commit $10B a Year for Climate Change?

FOXNews.com Poll, Dec 17, 2009 [here]

At the time of this posting:

Yes. The U.S. should be willing to work with other nations to help combat global warming. 2% (1,985 votes)

No. The country has too much to deal with before spending such an amount. 98% (102,767 votes)

Undecided. <1% (378 votes)

17 Dec 2009, 7:13pm
Latest Climate News
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Clinton Offers Surprise Deal at Climate Conference

by James Graff, World Editor, Sphere, Dec 17, 2009 [here]

With the clock winding down and the hosts of the Copenhagen climate conference reportedly abandoning hope of a deal, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced a possibly game-changing U.S. push to facilitate a $100 billion per year fund to help developing countries pay for measures to mitigate and adapt to global warning. Her remarks threw the spotlight on China and set exhausted negotiators back to work on salvaging a conference still teetering on the edge of failure. …

The proposal gave a fillip of hope to negotiators who have been unable to bridge yawning gaps between poor countries and the richest ones over how to pay the trillions of dollars in estimated costs to reach the conference’s stated goal of keeping average temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. The next 24 hours will reveal whether it is enough to reshuffle the cards and allow government leaders to sign a substantive agreement Friday.

Even if her conditions are fulfilled, Clinton remained intentionally vague on how much U.S. taxpayers would be contributing to any such fund. “We expect this funding will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance,” she said.

Nevertheless, the prospect of any U.S. public funds going into such a fund is sure to further stiffen the spines of Republicans in Congress who don’t even believe there’s any global warming to mitigate. Sen James Inhofe, R-Okla. — already in Copenhagen at the vanguard of what Fox News reports will be 40 members of Congress arriving today and Friday — poured cold water on any chance of an agreement. “Nothing binding will come out of here in my opinion, and if it does, it will be rejected by the American people,” he said.

In a bid to head off the first of those predictions, President Barack Obama will arrive in Copenhagen Friday morning for what he hopes will be a signing ceremony with about 110 other government leaders. … [more]

17 Dec 2009, 2:30pm
Latest Fire News
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Calif. Sheep Fire probably arson

UPI.com, Dec. 16, 2009 [here]

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 16 (UPI) — A wildfire that burned for seven days in Southern California in October was caused by human activity and was probably deliberately set, investigators say.

The Sheep Fire in the San Gabriel Mountains charred an 8-mile swath in San Bernardino National Forest and destroyed one home. John Miller, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman, said the fire began in a remote area hundreds of feet from the nearest roads, suggesting arson was more likely than an accident, The Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise reported Tuesday.

“When you look at where it started, you ask, what would start a fire here?” Miller said.

Investigators have ruled out lightning and power lines as possible causes.

The fire began Oct. 3, on a day when it was whipped up by Santa Ana winds. The Forest Service has appealed to anyone who saw suspicious activity in the area that day to come forward.

16 Dec 2009, 10:26pm
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A Warming Bias in the U.S. Temperature Record???

by CO2 Science, Dec 16, 2009 [here]

Reference: Balling Jr., R.C. and Idso, C.D. 2002. Analysis of adjustments to the United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) temperature database. Geophysical Research Letters 10.1029/2002GL014825.

What was done

The authors analyzed and compared the trends of six different temperature databases for the conterminous United States over the period 1979-2000. …

What was learned

In comparing the difference between the FILNET and RAW temperature trends, Balling and Idso found a nearly monotonic increase of over 0.05°C per decade, which they found to be highly significant at the 0.0001 level of confidence. In addition, they found that “the trends in the unadjusted temperature records [were] not different from the trends of the independent satellite-based lower-tropospheric temperature record or from the trend of the balloon-based near-surface measurements.”

What it means

In the words of the two Arizona State University Office of Climatology researchers, the adjustments that were being made to the raw USHCN temperature data were “producing a statistically significant, but spurious, warming trend” that “approximates the widely-publicized 0.50°C increase in global temperatures over the past century.” It would thus appear that in this particular case of “data-doctoring,” the cure was much worse than the disease. And it likely still is! In fact, it would appear that the cure may actually be the disease. …

Perhaps, therefore, it is not only the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia that needs to have the validity of its temperature adjustments audited. Some institutions in the United States may be deserving of such treatment as well. It may be a hard pill for some of them to swallow; but with so much riding on the outcome — and the health of the planet hanging in the balance — the treatment would surely be worth it. … [more]

16 Dec 2009, 10:18pm
Latest Climate News
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Climategate: Something’s Rotten in Denmark

Note: Below is the introduction and a link to an excellent essay by Joseph D’Aleo BS, MS (Meteorology, University of Wisconsin), Doctoral Studies (NYU), Executive Director - ICECAP [here] (International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project), Fellow of the AMS, College Professor Climatology/Meteorology, First Director of Meteorology The Weather Channel, Hudson, New Hampshire, U.S.A.

From Climate Science: Roger A. Pielke Sr. [here]

It [D'Aleo's essay] very effectively summarizes a number of major issues with the quality of the land portion of the long-term surface temperature trend record that was used in the 2007 IPCC report, and is being assumed as robust at the current Copenhagen meeting.

I recommend this article for anyone who wants to see how really bad this temperature data is with respect to its application to the quantitative assessment of long-term surface temperature trends.

Climategate: Something’s Rotten in Denmark

…and East Anglia, Asheville, and New York City (Pajamas Media Exclusive)

Posted By Joseph D’Aleo On December 15, 2009 [here]

The familiar phrase was spoken by Marcellus in Shakespeare’s Hamlet — first performed around 1600, at the start of the Little Ice Age. “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” is the exact quote. It recognizes that fish rots from the head down, and it means that all is not well at the top of the political hierarchy. Shakespeare proved to be Nostradamus. Four centuries later — at the start of what could be a new Little Ice Age — the rotting fish is Copenhagen.

The smell in the air may be from the leftover caviar at the banquet tables, or perhaps from the exhaust of 140 private jets and 1200 limousines commissioned by the attendees when they discovered there was to be no global warming evident in Copenhagen. (In fact, the cold will deepen and give way to snow before they leave, an extension of the Gore Effect.)

But the metaphorical stench comes from the well-financed bad science and bad policy, promulgated by the UN, and the complicity of the so-called world leaders, thinking of themselves as modern-day King Canutes (the Viking king of Denmark, England, and Norway — who ironically ruled during the Medieval Warm Period this very group has tried to deny). His flatterers thought his powers “so great, he could command the tides of the sea to go back.”

Unlike the warmists and the compliant media, Canute knew otherwise, and indeed the tide kept rising. Nature will do what nature always did — change.

It’s the data, stupid

If we torture the data long enough, it will confess. (Ronald Coase [1], Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences, 1991) … [more]

Group intends to sue after retardant kills fish

MercuryNews.com, 12/16/2009 [here]

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—An environmental group intends to sue federal, state and county agencies after fire retardant used on Santa Barbara wildfires killed some 50 protected steelhead trout this year.

The Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics filed a notice Wednesday that they intend to sue the U.S. Department of Commerce, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and Santa Barbara County Fire Department. A 60-day notice to sue is required by the Endangered Species Act.

According to the letter, the agencies violated the Endangered Species Act and should regulate the use of the toxic fire retardant within the steelhead’s protected habitat. The fish were killed during the Jesusita Fire in May.

Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. David Sadecki said the county’s helicopters drop only water and referred questions about retardant to the Forest Service. A spokesman for the agency could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Department of Commerce referred questions to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which had no comment.

There are now less than 500 adult steelhead where the fish once thrived in the Santa Ynez, Ventura and Santa Clara rivers and Malibu Creek.

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