22 Jul 2009, 5:14pm
Latest Fire News
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In wake of death Forest Service suspends rappelling statewide

By Dylan Darling, Redding Record Searchlight, July 22, 2009 [here]

WILLOW CREEK — The U.S. Forest Service has halted its training and use of rappelling from helicopters statewide in response to the death of a firefighter who fell from a helicopter Tuesday in the north state.

Thomas “T.J.” Marovich, Jr., 20, of Hayward, died Tuesday morning after falling about 200 feet during a routine rappelling exercise, said Robin Cole, spokeswoman for the Forest Service. Just after his death about 10:15 a.m., the Forest Service’s regional office suspended rappelling, or sliding down ropes, from helicopters.

Cole said she did not know how long the suspension will be in effect.

“They didn’t put a time on it,” she said.

Marovich, who worked for the Modoc National Forest, was among about 500 firefighters who’d been fighting the Backbone Fire near Willow Creek in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. Started by lightning in July 1, the fire has burned about 6,300 acres and was 85 percent contained this morning, Cole said. The fire is expected to be fully contained by Friday. … [more]

21 Jul 2009, 12:14am
Latest Forest News
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Tester Introduces New Montana Wilderness Bill

Clark Fork Chronicle, July 17 2009 [here]

Standing with loggers, outfitters, conservationists, hunters and fishermen who spent years working together on a plan for Montana’s forests, Senator Jon Tester today introduced his much-anticipated legislation to reform forest management to “make it work” for Montana.

“Our forests, and the communities and folks who rely on them, face a crisis right now,” Tester said today at a news conference at RY Timber in Townsend. “Our local sawmills are on the brink, families are out of work, while our forests turn red from an unprecedented outbreak of pine beetles, waiting for the next big wildfire. It’s a crisis that demands action now. This bill is a made-in-Montana solution that took years of working together and hearing input to create a common sense forest plan.”

He said his 80-page bill, formally called the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, will create jobs, protect clean water and keep Montana’s prized hunting and fishing habitat healthy for future generations. … [more]

Ed Note — Tester’s bill actually:

* Directs the U.S. Forest Service to selectively harvest at least 70,000 acres over ten years in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest if certain (unattainable) conditions are met.

* Directs the U.S. Forest Service to selectively harvest at least 30,000 acres over ten years in the Kootenai National Forest if certain (unattainable) conditions are met.

* Creates about 677,000 acres of new wilderness designation where timber harvesting and fire management will be banned.

Thus it will exacerbate the pine beetle and catastrophic megafire crisis. Tester’s bully PR release above is an exercise in political doubletalk. Enactment of Tester’s bill, God forbid, would be a disaster for Montana forests.

17 Jul 2009, 10:41pm
Latest Climate News
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NOAA’s and GISS’s Hot Streaks Continue — Despite Satellite Sensed Cooling

By Joseph D’Aleo CCM, AMS Fellow, ICECAP, July 15, 2009 [here]

NOAA has as expected announced that June 2009 for the globe was the second warmest June in 130 years, falling just short of 2005. NASA GISS which starts with NCDC GHCN and then adds their own special touches had this June the second warmest on record just behind 1998.

In sharp contrast, NASA UAH MSU satellite assessment had June virtually normal (+0.001C or 15th coldest in 31 years) and RSS (+0.075C or 14th coldest in 31 years). This is becoming a habit.

NOAA proclaimed May 2009 to be the 4th warmest for the globe in 130 years of record keeping. Meanwhile NASA UAH MSU satellite assessment showed it was the 15th coldest May in the 31 years of its record. This divergence is not new and has been growing. Just a year ago, NOAA proclaimed June 2008 to be the 8th warmest for the globe in 129 years of record keeping. Meanwhile NASA satellites showed it was the 9th coldest June in the 30 years of its record. … [more]

17 Jul 2009, 10:40pm
Latest Climate News
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Why Waxman-Markey Is Not A Climate Bill

by Chip Knappenberger, Master Resource, June 29, 2009 [here]

The current debate has proven one thing very clearly. The U.S. climate debate is not about saving the climate. It is about regulation for its own sake in the name of “saving the climate.” This fact should give pause to everyone who really cares about human welfare. Cap-and-trade is at odds with the economic wealth needed to adapt to a future that cannot be centrally planned by politicos.

Saturday’s New York Times headline (print edition) read: “House Backs Bill, 219-212, to Curb Global Warming.” But if the 219 House members who voted for the American Clean Energy and Security Act (HR 2454, aka the Waxman-Markey climate bill) thought they were casting a vote to “curb global warming,” they were sadly mistaken.

As I have shown, the climate impact of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions prescribed under Waxman-Markey is very small—best case it reduces projected global warming by less than one-tenth of a degree Fahrenheit by 2050 and only about one-third of a ºF by century’s end—a reduction that is scientifically meaningless. Many Representatives, in their pre-vote statements on the House floor, pointed this out, and perhaps many of the dissenting vote casters took this fact to heart.

However, while many of the opposition speakers mentioned the paucity of climate impacts from the emissions reduction measures, the great majority of the supporting speeches focused on energy security and domestic job creation (a contention vehemently challenged by the dissenters) and left the influence on the climate out of it! Undoubtedly, they knew full well that it would be inconsequential. … [more]

12 Jul 2009, 12:39am
Latest Wildlife News
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Ranchers, farmers fed up with mountain lion laws

By Kevin Howe, Monterey Peninsula Herald, 07/09/2009 [here]

HOLLISTER — A revolt is brewing on the rangelands of San Benito and Monterey counties over state game laws that protect mountain lions.
Hunters, ranchers and farmers appear to be fed up with what they see as depredations on deer and livestock by an out-of-control mountain lion population. They are resentful of regulations they say were imposed on them by big-city voters who never saw one of the big cats outside of a television program or a zoo, and distrustful of state Department of Fish and Game enforcement. And they seem to be waging their own guerrilla warfare against the specially protected predators in the Gabilan range.

Wednesday, the San Benito County Fish and Game Advisory Commission held a public forum in Hollister on mountain lions. Officials from neighboring counties, state legislators’ aides and mountain lion supporters attended to talk about the issue.

The state paid bounties for mountain lion kills from 1907 to 1963. The lions were classified as a game animal in 1969, and two sport seasons resulted in 118 mountain lion deaths.

The state Legislature imposed a moratorium on hunting the big cats in 1972, which was still in effect when Proposition 117, which prohibited lion hunting and declared them a specially protected species, was passed by voters in 1990.

Since then, the mountain lion population has grown and the deer population has declined, officials said. [more]

8 Jul 2009, 3:47pm
Latest Climate News
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Pickens calls off massive wind farm in Texas

By John Porretto, Ap Energy Writer, Yahoo News, July 7, 2009 [here]

HOUSTON – Plans for the world’s largest wind farm in the Texas Panhandle have been scrapped, energy baron T. Boone Pickens said Tuesday, and he’s looking for a home for 687 giant wind turbines.

Pickens has already ordered the turbines, which can stand 400 feet tall — taller than most 30-story buildings.

“When I start receiving those turbines, I’ve got to … like I said, my garage won’t hold them,” the legendary Texas oilman said. “They’ve got to go someplace.”

Pickens’ company Mesa Power ordered the turbines from General Electric Co. — a $2 billion investment — a little more than a year ago. Pickens said he has leases on about 200,000 acres in Texas that were planned for the project, and he might place some of the turbines there, but he’s also looking for smaller wind projects to participate in. He said he’s looking at potential sites in the Midwest and Canada.

In Texas, the problem lies in getting power from the proposed site in the Panhandle to a distribution system, Pickens said in an interview with The Associated Press in New York. He’d hoped to build his own transmission lines but he said there were technical problems.

Wind power is a big part of the “Pickens Plan,” which was announced a year ago Wednesday. Pickens has spent $60 million crisscrossing the country and buying advertising in an effort to reduce the nation’s reliance on foreign oil. …

Like most industries around the world, the recession has hurt wind turbine manufacturers and wind farm developers. Companies have shelved development plans and laid off workers. … [more]

7 Jul 2009, 12:18am
Latest Climate News
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U.S. Government Scientist’s Shock Admission: ‘Climate Model Software Doesn’t Meet the Best Standards Available’

Plus: Another Gov’t Scientist admits ‘chaotic component of climate system… is not predictable beyond two weeks, even theoretically’

By Marc Morano, Climate Depot, July 06, 2009 [here]

Two prominent U.S. Government scientists made two separate admissions questioning the reliability of climate models used to predict warming decades and hundreds of years into the future.

Gary Strand, a software engineer at the federally funded National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), admitted climate model software “doesn’t meet the best standards available” in a comment he posted on the website Climate Audit.

“As a software engineer, I know that climate model software doesn’t meet the best standards available. We’ve made quite a lot of progress, but we’ve still quite a ways to go,” Strand wrote on July 5, 2009, according to the website http://wattsupwiththat.com/.

Strand’s candid admission promoted Watts Up With That’s skeptical Meteorologist Anthony Watts to ask the following question:

Do we really want Congress to make trillion dollar tax decisions today based on ’software [that] doesn’t meet the best standards available?’”

Meteorologist Watts also critiqued the current climate models, noting, “NASA GISS model E written on some of the worst FORTRAN coding ever seen is a challenge to even get running. NASA GISTEMP is even worse. Yet our government has legislation under consideration significantly based on model output that Jim Hansen started. His 1988 speech to Congress was entirely based on model scenarios.

Another Government Scientist Admits Climate Model Shortcomings

Another government scientist — NASA climate modeler Gavin Schmidt — admitted last week that the “chaotic component of climate system…is not predictable beyond two weeks, even theoretically.”

Schmidt made his admission during a June 29, 2009 interview about the shortcomings of climate models. Schmidt noted that some climate models “suggest very strongly” that the American Southwest will dry in a warming world. But Schmidt also noted that “other models suggest the exact opposite.”

“With these two models, you have two estimates — one says it’s going to get wetter and one says it’s going to get drier. What do you do? Is there anything that you can say at all? That is a really difficult question,” Schmidt conceded.

“The problem with climate prediction and projections going out to 2030 and 2050 is that we don’t anticipate that they can be tested in the way you can test a weather forecast. It takes about 20 years to evaluate because there is so much unforced variability in the system which we can’t predict — the chaotic component of the climate system — which is not predictable beyond two weeks, even theoretically. That is something that we can’t really get a handle on,” Schmidt lamented. … [more]

6 Jul 2009, 5:28pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Wolves in Wyoming

Ranchers dealing with wolf attacks, sheep losses have skyrocketed this year

BY GRANT SMITH, Buffalo Bulletin, July 1, 2009 [here]

Pete Carricaburu feels victimized.

A life-long rancher, Carricaburu has brought his sheep to graze on the same privately owned land near Dull Knife Battlefield in Johnson County since 1988. He’s learned to deal with mountain lions, coyotes and the occasional black bear.

But last Saturday, a savage new element was added to his summer grazing operation when 10 of his sheep fell victim to wolf attacks within hours of being moved to the Big Horn Mountains.

“These are our babies and we take immaculate, good care of these sheep,” Carricaburu said. “Seeing them brutalized was just heartbreaking. We felt we were terrorized and we were. We found a couple of lambs trying to follow the herd with their guts hanging out. It was kind of like a drive-by-shooting.”

Carricaburu’s case isn’t an isolated incident.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department wolf program coordinator Mike Jimenez confirmed that four different ranchers have lost 52 sheep to wolves in Johnson County since May 4. That number has skyrocketed from the two confirmed wolf kills reported in all of 2008.

The area affected is southern Johnson County, in the mountains west of Kaycee. … [more]

6 Jul 2009, 5:19pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Anti-Wolf Meeting in Idaho Falls

By Danielle Grant, Local News 8, April 21, 2009 [here]

Passionate people share their growing concerns about the wolf population in Idaho.

“Two things are on our mind: the economy and how we’re going to stop this Canadian wolf disaster in our state,” said Ron Gillett [chairman of the Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition] …

“They ran them through 4 fences…took me three days to gather them up…fix the fences,” said Mike Webster, a local rancher and Governor Otter’s field representative.

Fish and game says more than 1,600 wolves live in the Northern Rocky Mountains in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

However Gillett isn’t buying into their numbers or that they can keep an eye on the population.

“This BS that the Fish and Game puts out that there are only 840 wolves in Idaho is a lie. You can not manage Canadian wolves in Idaho at any number because of the terrain and topography. It can not be done,” Gillett explained.

He claims there are at least 3,500 or more wolves roaming the Gem State and now the elk herds, he says, are living in death zones.

Gillett says so far they’ve lost 50,000 elk in the Northern Rockies to the wolves. … [more]

Climate change is shrinking sheep

By Victoria Gill, Science reporter, BBC News, 2 July 2009 [here]

Climate change is causing a breed of wild sheep in Scotland to shrink, according to research.

Scientists say milder winters help smaller sheep to survive, resulting in this “paradoxical decrease in size”.

Classic evolutionary theory would predict that wild sheep gradually get bigger, as the stronger, larger animals survive into adulthood and reproduce.

Reporting in Science journal, the team says this shows the “subtle interplay” between evolution and the environment.

Scientists first began studying Soay sheep, on the island of Hirta in the St Kilda archipelago, in 1985.

Since then, the sheep have decreased in size by 5% - their legs getting steadily shorter and their body weight decreasing.

This strange phenomenon was first reported in 2007, but the reason for it remained under debate. … [more]

Note: more comic relief. Sheep have evolved since 1985? Darwin’s pocket sheep? Due to “climate change”? Science Mag has descended into buffoonery.

29 Jun 2009, 9:11pm
Latest Climate News
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Sen. Inhofe Calls for Inquiry Into Suppressed Climate Change Report

Republicans are raising questions about why the EPA apparently dismissed an analyst’s report questioning the science behind global warming.

By Judson Berger, FOXNews.com, June 29, 2009 [here]

A top Republican senator has ordered an investigation into the Environmental Protection Agency’s alleged suppression of a report that questioned the science behind global warming.

The 98-page report, co-authored by EPA analyst Alan Carlin, pushed back on the prospect of regulating gases like carbon dioxide as a way to reduce global warming. Carlin’s report argued that the information the EPA was using was out of date, and that even as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have increased, global temperatures have declined.

“He came out with the truth. They don’t want the truth at the EPA,” Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla, a global warming skeptic, told FOX News, saying he’s ordered an investigation. “We’re going to expose it.”

The controversy comes after the House of Representatives passed a landmark bill to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, one that Inhofe said will be “dead on arrival” in the Senate despite President Obama’s energy adviser voicing confidence in the measure.

more »

Ecopocalypse causes giant fish ears

First Vulcans, then Obama, now les poissons

By Rik Myslewski, The Register UK, 26th June 2009 [here]

Under the sea, fish are growing abnormally large ear bones - and it’s all our fault.

According to a study published Friday in the prestigious journal Science, boffins at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at San Diego’s University of California have discovered that rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the world’s oceans are causing sea bass to grow oversized otoliths - that’s boffinspeak for ear bones.

And what causes rising carbon dioxide levels? You guessed it: we humans.

A Scripps statement blames “human activities, particularly fossil fuel burning” for causing “both increased ocean CO2 and ocean acidification.”

For the aforementioned bass, big ear bones may be no laughing matter. “Otoliths serve a vital function in fish,” says Scripps, “by helping them sense orientation and acceleration.”

David Checkley, a Scripps professor and lead author of the study, admits that “At this point one doesn’t know what the effects are in terms of anything damaging to the behavior or the survival of the fish with larger otoliths.” He adds, however, that “The assumption is that anything that departs significantly from normality is an abnormality and abnormalities at least have the potential for having deleterious effects.”

The seafaring researchers plan further studies to determine if the same deformities are occurring in fish other than the sea bass and whether being otolithically big-boned affects a fish’s survival and behavior.

“If fish can do just fine or better with larger otoliths then there’s no great concern,” says Checkley. “But fish have evolved to have their bodies the way they are. The assumption is that if you tweak them in a certain way it’s going to change the dynamics of how the otolith helps the fish stay upright, navigate and survive.”

We can only hope that the ocean’s finned folk never learn of our complicity in their predicament. The briny deep is already a dangerous enough place without it being stocked with billions of enraged - if clumsy - smelt, scrod, grunts, and grunions.

28 Jun 2009, 8:19pm
Latest Climate News
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Mystic Met Office predicts neighbourhood Thermageddon

Modelling ‘totally inadequate’ last year - why trust it now?

By Tony Newbery, The Register UK, 24th June 2009 [here]

On Thursday, the Met Office launched its new report on global warming: UK Climate Projections 2009, otherwise known as UKCP09. This is based on the output of Hadley Centre climate models that predict temperature increases of up to 6°C with wetter winters, dryer summers, more heatwaves, rising sea levels, more floods and all the other catastrophes that one would expect from similar exercises in alarmism.

What makes this report different from any of its predecessors is the resolution of the predictions that the Met Office is making. They are not just presenting a general impression of what might happen globally during this century, or even how climate change could affect the UK as a whole. They are claiming that they can predict what will happen in individual regions of the country - down to a 25km square. You can enter your postcode and find out how your street will be affected by global warming in 2040 or 2080.

All this is rather unexpected. In May last year, I posted here and here about a world summit of climate modellers that took place at Reading University. On the agenda was one very important problem for them; even the most powerful super-computers that have been developed so far are not capable of running the kind of high resolution models that they claim would allow them to reduce the degree of uncertainty in their predictions, and also make detailed regional predictions that policy makers would like to have so that they can build climate change into infrastructure planning. … [more]

23 Jun 2009, 11:49am
Latest Wildlife News
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Human-bear conflicts eased by wet weather in Sierra

Tahoe Daily Tribune, June 22, 2009 [here]

Wet weather in June has spurred a bumper crop of berries and other vegetation favored by bears, leading to a considerable decrease in human-bear conflicts in the Sierra, wildlife biologists said.

The recession also is playing a role in fewer bear encounters in the Lake Tahoe area, experts said, because fewer people staying at vacation rentals means less garbage to lure bruins to populated areas.

“The calls are down considerably,” said Carl Lackey, a biologist and bear expert with the Nevada Department of Wildlife. “Definitely, this wet spring is just awesome for bears as well as all the other wildlife out there.”

Jason Holley, a bear biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game, agreed.

“We had one of the wettest springs on record, really. It was pretty sensational,” he said.

Unusual conditions brought thunderstorms through most of the month, including eight straight days of rain May 30 through June 6. In Reno, it’s been one of the wettest Junes since records started back in 1870.

The moisture has nourished natural vegetation that bears depend upon — manzanita berries, chokeberries, wild roses, forbs and grasses, while boosting populations of the insects, squirrels and other critters bears like to snack upon, Lackey said.

Holley agreed that conditions should help avoid a major problem with human-bear conflicts.

“I don’t expect a lot of the true wildland bears to have to search so far for food,” Holley said. “The chances of them coming across people and our food is reduced.”

Similar wet weather in May 2008 helped keep last summer a mild one for bear problems in the Tahoe-Reno area. So far, Lackey said, he’s had to capture about six or seven problem bears, fewer than this time last year.

That wasn’t the case in 2007, when serious drought conditions caused a record problem with bears in Nevada, California and other Western states.

In the Reno-Tahoe area that year, wildlife and law enforcement officers responded to hundreds of calls, including potentially dangerous situations where bears broke into occupied homes in search of food. In Nevada alone, 157 bears were captured, some repeatedly. … [more]

18 Jun 2009, 6:14pm
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Coincidentally, I just did a partial count of world human population and came up with “2″

Razor wit from the estimable Tom Nelson, [here]

The Associated Press: Partial walrus estimate alarms conservation group [here]

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A partial federal assessment of Pacific walruses estimates their minimum population at just 15,164 but says the count likely missed a number of animals.

The estimate released Thursday only represents animals counted in about half of walrus habitats in the Bering and Chukchi seas and does not account for animals that were in water rather than on ice. …

Wildlife biologist Doug Burn said agency officials had hoped to have a firm walrus population count by now but experienced problems with the thermal imaging methodology.

A method that counts walruses using body heat was tested near St. Lawrence Island during a relatively warm winter but did not prove reliable during a colder winter in 2006, Burn said.

“We realized we were missing a lot of walrus groups,” he said. … [more]

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