10 Jan 2010, 12:18am
Forestry education
by admin

Blogs, Peers, and Watching the Paradigm Shift

Within hours after posting a blurb about a research paper on ancient Amazon earthworks [here], our vast network of science adepts sent in the paper itself.

Martti Parssinen, Denise Schaan, and Alceu Ranzi. 2009. Pre-Columbian geometric earthworks in the upper Pur’us: a complex society in western Amazonia. Antiquity 83 (2009): 1084–1095 is now posted in the W.I.S.E. Colloquium: History of Western Landscapes [here].

So you need not rely on the interpretation of journalists; you can read the paper and make your own interpretations.

That’s nothing new for W.I.S.E. Almost all the reference works in our Library [here] have been supplied by our readers. This blogistic endeavor is an exercise in participatory science. And that is true of many other blogs as well (climate science blogs are a good example).

Something wonderful is happening to science today. Thanks to the Internet, science has been freed from the shackles of the Ivory Tower. No longer is science an esoteric and exclusive practice — now we all get to participate. We are all peers now.

But what is even more rewarding is that the research papers and books suggested by our science-adept contributors are uniformly excellent and cutting edge in this respect: they are representative of a paradigm shift in ecology.

A paradigm shift is a change in the fundamental structure of a scientific field, from one way of thinking to another. In this case the shift is from old ecological ideas about natural development to new ones that include the recognition of human influences.

We have posted book reviews and whole research papers that present evidence of profound historical human impacts in Amazonia, the Pacific Northwest, California, the Mississippi Valley, Manhattan, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, British Columbia, Alberta, Australia, and many more locales and regions.

The implications are more than a refinement of history — they affect the way we understand ecological change and dynamics, and by extension, how we might practice sustainable stewardship today.

That is because ecology is at its heart an historical science. Ecology is the study of the interactions between organisms and their environment. Those interactions, and the dynamic changes in plant and animal populations, play out across time. Ecological processes can take hundreds of years and even longer to mature and cover broad geographic areas. Hence history is essential to ecology.

The new understanding, of human influences on ecological processes across time, is as significant a change in thinking as plate tectonics was for geology. Alfred Wegener first proposed the idea of continental drift in his 1915 book The Origin of Continents and Oceans, but it took almost 50 years before Wegener’s theory was generally accepted. Improved seafloor mapping in the 1950’s, including of rift zones and spreading plates whose movements were calibrated by the magnetic pole reversal signatures in rocks, provided overwhelming evidence, so that in the early 1960’s plate tectonics became the paradigm, supplanting the old theories that assumed the Earth’s geologic features were fixed in place.

Similarly, the new theories of ecological development, including recognition of historical human influences, are supplanting the old ones.

That shift in ecological thinking is happening today, and you have a ringside seat. We all do, thanks to the contributors to W.I.S.E., who are often the leading scientists themselves. We are witness to a major advancement in scientific understanding.

That’s pretty exciting — I think it is, anyway. And it is hugely gratifying to be a part of it, too, and to be a conduit to you, the scientific peers in our new age of digital communication.

It is easy to get caught up in the forest, fire, and wildlife policy issues of the moment, and it is also our duty, as we see it, to be involved in those issues. But the real joy for those of us most closely associated with W.I.S.E. is to witness and be a part of the new paradigm in ecology.

We don’t express our gratitude enough, so here’s a loud THANK YOU to the courageous researchers who brave uncharted waters, and who generously share with us the tales of their voyages of exploration.

8 Jan 2010, 4:14pm
Forestry education:
by admin
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Ancient Anthropogenic Fire in Harlem

Back before Harlem became a borough of New York City, indeed before NYC ever existed, Manhattan Island was home to the Lenni Lenape, or Delaware people. The Delaware, as did other Algonquins, burned their habitat annually to induce open fields (cultivation by fire). These they planted with corn, squash, beans, and other domestic crops.

Or so has been hypothesized. Two researchers from UC Berkeley, William T. Bean and Eric W. Sanderson, devised a unique method of testing that hypothesis through the use of modern fire behavior models. Their report on their findings, Using a spatially explicit ecological model to test scenarios of fire use by Native Americans: An example from the Harlem Plains, New York, NY, has been added to the W.I.S.E. Colloquium: Forest and Fire Sciences [here].

Their findings in a nutshell:

Our model results indicate that by controlling fire frequency in the pre-settlement Harlem Plains, the Lenape people could control the structure of the landscape. Van der Donck’s claim that they cleared the land every 20 years does not appear to be supported by our model results. For the land to be a “plain” or “grassland” the landscape would have had to been burned at least once every 10 years and, depending on initial condition, would have yielded a mosaic of vegetation types. Burning every year overwhelms succession through disturbance and keeps the landscape in a grassland steady state.

Our results suggest that the hardwood forests of the northeast required significant maintenance in order to keep them clear and open—escaped fires and lightning strikes would not suffice to maintain a savanna or grassland. We believe this adds to the consensus that, while individual historical accounts may be suspect, the evidence continues to suggest that Native Americans were using fire to control their landscape, not only in the western and plains states, but also in the northeast.

Bean’s and Sanderson’s research constitute a novel use of modern fire behavior models, to “predict” the past rather than the future. The potential application of this technique is far-reaching.

more »

8 Jan 2010, 1:42pm
Forestry education
by admin

Ancient Amazon Earthworks Seen by Satellite

Amazonia is not the “wilderness” many assume it to be. For thousands of years human beings have been residing in and cultivating (for agriculture) lowland and upland areas across the Amazon basin and beyond.

A recent article in National Geographic News provides a glimpse of earthworks built long before Columbus. Rediscoveries of the ancient croplands and city sites force us to re-evaluate notions of wilderness and to consider the long-standing, organized, cultural interactions and influences of humanity upon western landscapes.

The Nat Geo News article (below) cites Denise Schaan and William Woods, historical landscape geographers whose research we have posted (in small part) at the W.I.S.E. Colloquium: History of Western Landscapes. Among our Amazonia references are:

* William Woods et al. (including Dr. Schaan). 2009. Amazonian Dark Earths: Wim Sombroek’s Vision [here]

* Michael J. Heckenberger et al. 2007. The legacy of cultural landscapes in the Brazilian Amazon: implications for biodiversity [here]

* William M. Denevan. 2001. Cultivated Landscapes of Native Amazonia and the Andes [here]

* Charles C. Mann. 2008. Ancient Earthmovers Of the Amazon [here]

* William Denevan. 1992. The Pristine Myth: The Landscape of the Americas in 1492 [here]

* Charles C. Mann. 2005. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus [here]

Ancient Amazon earthworks seen by satellite

more »

4 Jan 2010, 8:43pm
by admin
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Short Break

We’ll be taking a short break to attend to some family matters. Back soon,


4 Jan 2010, 1:01pm
Private land policies
by admin
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Weyco Goes REIT

Presto! Weyerhaeuser’s a REIT

To remain a qualified REIT, however, the forest products company must take care to meet technical rules, especially related to its non-REIT assets.

by Robert Willens, CFO.com, January 4, 2010 [here]

It has finally happened. In December, Weyerhaeuser Company announced that its board of directors “determined that conversion to a real estate investment trust (REIT) would best support the company’s strategic direction.” The most likely date for conversion of the forest products and real estate development company, which owns extensive timberland, is the taxable year ending December 31, 2010.

From what we can gather, the conversion will not be accompanied by a spin-off of Weyerhaeuser’s non-qualifying assets. Instead, those non-REIT qualified assets will be lodged in one or more subsidiaries which will operate as “taxable REIT subsidiaries” (TRSs). That said, a later spin-off, along the lines employed by Potlatch Corporation in 2008, should not be ruled out.

Related Web Sites:

Section 301 of the Internal Revenue Code [here]
Section 305 of the Internal Revenue Code [here]
IRS Revenue Procedure 2009-15 [here]
U.S. Treasury Regulation Section 1.305-2(a) [here]
IRS Revenue Rule 2001-50 [here]

Once the conversion (to REIT status) becomes “old and cold”, we fully expect that the stock of the TRSs will be distributed to Weyerhaeuser’s shareholders. Such a distribution may be necessitated by the REIT qualification rules. Among other requirements, to remain a qualified REIT, not more than 25% of the value of the REIT’s total assets may be represented by securities of TRSs. Accordingly, if the securities of the TRSs appreciate too rapidly, Weyerhaeuser’s REIT status would be imperiled.

Indeed, to qualify as a REIT, the corporation must eliminate the “earnings and profits” it has accumulated in non-REIT years by the close of the first taxable year for which REIT status is desired. In Weyerhaeuser’s case, the amount to be excised is nearly $6 billion. Therefore, to eliminate this balance, Weyerhaeuser must undertake distributions of property “to which Section 301 [of the tax code] applies.”

As many companies have done before, Weyerhaeuser will satisfy this dividend payment obligation largely with its stock. Ordinarily, a distribution by a corporation of its stock is not a distribution of property to which Section 301 applies. However, such a distribution can easily be transformed into a qualifying distribution. To be sure, Section 305(b)(1) provides that a distribution by a corporation of its stock shall be treated as a distribution of property to which Sec. 301 applies if the distribution is, at the election of any of the shareholders, payable either in its stock or in property. …

A recognized built-in gain is, with certain exceptions, any gain recognized on the disposition of an asset during the recognition period. Fortunately, the Internal Revenue Service has ruled that where a REIT: (1) holds timber property on the date its election becomes effective; and (2) during the recognition period cuts the timber and sells the resulting wood products, the income on the sale is “normal operating business income in the nature of rent or royalties” which is not subject to Section 1374.3

As a result, as long as it does not undertake any “extraordinary” sales of assets (owned on the conversion date) during the recognition period, Weyerhaeuser will not be liable for the “BIG” tax. …

And this is after they received a $182 million tax break to NOT become a REIT [here].

See also [here, here, here, here].

Actually, all in all, this is great news. It is time to break up this monopoly, something many of us have been predicting would happen for years.

The next step is to stifle any more taxpayer bailouts and to ensure that the properties remain private and are NOT acquired by government. I predict that will be a difficult scam to repel — already the anti-private-property types are salivating like dogs at the backdoor of the butcher shop.

How Coordination Plans Work

And How They Can Help Protect Your Rights

Note: the following is a introduction to “coordination plans,” a tool that local governments can use to become meaningfully involved in federal land management.

Additional information on this topic is available from Standing Ground [here], a periodical published by American Stewards for Liberty (formerly Stewards of the Range, now allied with the American Land Foundation).

Federal law (specifically the Federal Land Policy Management Act, FLPMA) mandates federal agencies to coordinate actions with local governments. That process occurs if and only if local governments insist upon it. County Commissioners need not sit on the sidelines while federal agencies promulgate and implement plans to burn public forests, degrade watersheds, pollute air and water, and cripple local economies. The FLPMA can be invoked, forcing federal agencies to deal directly and substantively with local interests.

By Fred Kelly Grant, Stewards of the Range, American Land Foundation and Liberty Matters, February/March 2007 [here]

Local governments that have implemented “coordination” status with federal management agencies are successfully fighting erosion of private property rights in their communities. The “coordination” status is authorized by almost every federal statute relating to management of land, resources, and the environment. All the local government has to do is formally accept the congressional invitation to “coordinate,” and federal agencies have no choice but to agree.

What is this “coordination” factor, which elevates the involvement of local government in federal planning and management actions? The foundation for the concept is found in the Federal Land Policy Management Act, commonly known as FLPMA. Section 1712 of Title 43 of the United States Code requires that the Bureau of Land Management must coordinate its “land use inventory, planning, and management actions” with any local government which has engaged in land use planning for the federal lands managed by the federal agencies.

Congress did not leave the definition of the word “coordination” to chance, or to the whim of the federal management agencies. Congress defined the word by specifying the duties and responsibilities of the BLM regarding local plans. The statute REQUIRES the following:

1. BLM must keep apprised of local land use plans;

2. BLM must assure consideration is given to local plans when federal plans are being developed;

3. BLM must attempt to resolve inconsistencies between federal and state local plans;

4. BLM must provide “meaningful…involvement” of local government officials in the development and revision of plans, guidelines and regulations;

5. The Secretary must, finally, compare local and federal plans and make sure they are consistent “to the maximum extent…consistent with federal law.”

BLM regulations set forth a very clear process by which the local government, which has developed a plan is able to “coordinate” with the BLM, and this process includes an elevation of the participation level of the local government to a point of notice and “meaningful” participation above and ahead of “public participation.”

Note that the statute does not limit mandatory coordination to “counties,” but rather extends it to “local government.” That language includes any unit of local government, often identified as any separate tax-raising unit of government, i.e., school districts, road districts, fire districts, irrigation districts, and cities and towns.

So, in a county where county commissioners or supervisors refuse to develop a local plan for coordination status, any school board or other tax-raising unit of government can gain coordinate status for itself. The ideal goal for local government would be to develop a plan by which the county, towns within the county, school districts, irrigation districts, fire districts, could all participate in the same coordination activities.

Other federal land management agencies are also required to deal with local governments on a higher plane than they do with the general public. This applies to those which operate under and implement the National Forest Management Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the National Preservation Act, Soil Conservation district statutes, and the National Environmental Policy Act. … [more]

31 Dec 2009, 10:36pm
Climate and Weather
by admin

Record Cold Wave Predicted

A record cold wave is predicted for the next two weeks or more, across much of North America and Europe. The basis for that prediction is the periodic convergence of a pair of oceanic and atmospheric multi-year “oscillations”.

Major northern hemisphere cold snap coming

by Anthony Watts, Watts Up With That, Dec 30, 2009 [here]

Cold event setups in atmospheric circulation patterns are aligning. Two days ago I brought to your attention that there was a strong downspike in the Arctic Oscillation Index and that the North Atlantic Oscillation Index was also negative. See The Arctic Oscillation Index goes strongly negative [here].

Yesterday, Senior AccuWeather meteorologist Joe Bastardi let loose with this stunning prediction on the AccuWeather premium web site via Brett Anderson’s Global warming blog:

What is facing the major population centers of the northern hemisphere is unlike anything that we have seen since the global warming debate got to the absurd level it is now, which essentially has been there is no doubt about all this. For cold of a variety not seen in over 25 years in a large scale is about to engulf the major energy consuming areas of the northern Hemisphere. The first 15 days of the opening of the New Year will be the coldest, population weighted, north of 30 north world wide in over 25 years in my opinion.
… [more]

The Arctic Oscillation (AO) going negative means high pressure over the Arctic region and low pressure at midlatitudes (positive means low pressure over the Arctic, and high pressure at midlatitudes). The AO has gone strongly negative.

The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) is a long-duration (20 to 40 years) fluctuation in sea surface temperature of the North Atlantic Ocean, with cool and warm phases. This year the AMO shifted to to the cold phase after 15 years in the warm phase.

Put those two together and not only do you get AMOAO (my cat says that), but you get jet streams driven south by the polar high pressure, bearing cold air upon already cold air from a cold Atlantic.

Not to mention the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) which went negative two years ago (or so), bringing cold waters to the eastern Pacific (our West Coast).

The confluence of all these colder-than-average conditions is predicted to generate one or more Arcto-boreal Canadian cold fronts that will plunge down the Rockies to Florida, sweep up the East Coast, howl across the North Atlantic, picking up more cold Arctic air along the way, and plunge headlong into Europe.

Both Europe and North America experienced severe cold waves in December, but that was just a warm up (a chill down?) to the coming record freeze, if the predictions are correct.

Anthony Watts advises, “If you live in these areas: bundle up, stock up. Get ready.”

I pass the warning and the advice on to you. Be prepared, it’s going to get colder than [fill in the blank].

Global Warming Lawsuits Are a Cash Cow for Eco-Litigious Groups

In September we posted a “memo” [here] from Wyoming attorney Karen Budd-Falen which noted that $billions have been paid to eco-litigious groups for suing the federal government.

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed over red-tape procedures, and win, lose, or draw, the eco-suers have received windfall “fees” in outrageous amounts.

Nonprofit, tax exempt groups are making billions of dollars in funding; the majority of that funding is not going into programs to protect people, wildlife, plants, and animals, but to fund more law suits. Ranchers and other citizens are being forced to expend millions of their own money to intervene or participate in these lawsuits to protect their way of life when they have no chance of the same attorney fee recovery if they prevail. In fact, they are paying for both sides of the case–for their defense of their ranch and for the attorney fees for environmental groups receive to sue the federal government to get them off their land. There are also numerous cases where the federal government agrees to pay attorney fees, but the amount paid is hidden from public view.

In October Karen Budd-Falen followed up with another memo [here] detailing some of the more egregious fee claims requested by and paid to the eco-litigation industry and the gross, Wall Street-level compensations paid to the fatcat CEO’s of the “non-profit” eco-law firms.

Bleeding the taxpayers dry and monkey wrenching government agencies with frivolous lawsuits is a never-ending tale of horror. Karen Budd-Falen’s fifth installment is entitled “Attorney Fees Tax Dollars Have Already Decided U.S. Is Globally Warming” [here]. Some excerpts:

… the United States federal government has paid millions in tax dollars to environmental groups to litigate over global warming already. These cases are NOT about whether global warming is or is not a scientific fact, but over timelines and procedures which seem to be impossible for the federal agencies to comply with… and getting paid handsomely to do it. …

[For instance] In the California litigation regarding the Delta Smelt (the 6-inch minnow that has so adversely impacted California’s Central Valley farmers), the federal court rejected a biological opinion because it “failed to consider” climate change data. …

Once a species is listed under ESA, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups then use the National Environmental Policy Act (”NEPA”) process to further their view of global warming. …

Attorney fee awards to environmental groups to continue to sue the federal government is big business… [I]n only 18 of the 50 states, 13 environmental groups have amassed total attorney fees payments of 30 million dollars plus extracting another four million dollars from businesses, all based on payments from federal attorney fee-shifting statutes. The vast majority of these are ESA cases and there are more to come. Recently the Wild Earth Guardians filed a single petition to list 206 species under the ESA, and the CBD [Center for Biological Diversity] has filed a petition to list 225 more species. According to the CBD’s website, this is an exercise in “strategic creative litigation.” There is no way that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can make a “scientific” finding on all those 431 species within the 90 day time frame mandated by the ESA, making federal district court litigation (and the payment of attorney fees) inevitable and profitable.

All of Budd-Falen’s memos on EAJA abuse may be found at the Western Legacy Alliance website [here]. The links there are temporarily broken but should be fixed very soon.

28 Dec 2009, 5:02pm
by admin

Grandmother Adams’ Bushfire Story

Editor’s note: Roger Underwood is a renowned Australian forester with fifty years experience in bushfire management and bushfire science. He has worked as a firefighter, a district and regional manager, a research manager and senior government administrator. He is Chairman of The Bushfire Front, an independent professional group promoting best practice in bushfire management.

We have posted many essays by Mr. Underwood [here, here]. This one reveals a case of divine intervention, or a miracle, or something similar. You are cordially invited to append (as comments) your own tales of inexplicable salvation.

By Roger Underwood

Patsy Adam-Smith is one of my favourite Australian writers. She has a simple, clean style and she wrote about places and people that I love: the bush, the sea, timberworkers and railwaymen. I also like the way she wrote about her family with such pride and affection, and the stories of her grandmothers who were pioneer settlers in Victoria, one Granny Smith and the other Grandmother Adams.

Her relationship with Grandmother Adams was not a particularly happy one, although they had one thing in common. “We admired the pioneering spirit,” Adam-Smith writes in her first book (Hear the Train Blow, in which she records her childhood, growing up in a railway family during the 1930s). “She would tell me stories by the hour of the pioneering days, and I would listen for as long as she would talk. She and my Grandfather had pioneered the hills of Gippsland.”

They lived in a slab hut with an earth floor, her husband taking work where he could find it to buy their stock, and the mother and children milking the cows while he was away shearing, fencing or sleeper cutting. Adam-Smith goes on: “Grandmother Adams had been burnt out twice in the Gippsland hills. Once she narrowly escaped with her life. My grandfather was away.”

I sent your aunt Anastasia to neighbours to tell them we needed help; the fire was surrounding us [Grandmother Adams recalls]. Not long after she left the wind changed. I looked at the track she had taken and now flames criss-crossed it, and as I watched a blazing tree fell right across it. She was a wonderful horsewoman, you know, and I knew she would get to the neighbours, but I thought she would never get back. The bigger children helped me pull my sewing machine outside and I covered it with wet bags and I gathered up what we could carry. As we left the house I looked across to the only gap that was clear of flames and there was your aunt, sailing over a fallen log, her horse bringing her home at a gallop.

“How did you find that gap?” I asked her.

“I followed the two men,” she said.

“What men? There are no men here,”

“Oh yes, they jumped the log ahead of me. When the wind changed I didn’t know which way to go and these men rode out ahead and beckoned me to follow them.”

At this stage in her story, Adam-Smith writes, her grandmother always blessed herself, before going on…..

There had been no men. It was God Himself that led the girl home.

But men did come through the gap after her. Grandmother Adams and her children were rescued.

There are several things I like about this story, not the least being the importance placed on saving the sewing machine. This is a telling reminder of the importance of these machines (their first, and only ‘labour-saving device’) in the lives of many bush wives and mothers, and also of their value as a hard-won investment. My wife’s maternal grandmother (also a Granny Smith), a pioneer group settler in the karri country, acquired a ‘Singer’ sewing machine during the 1920s, and it was her pride and joy. The machine was inherited from her own Grandma Smith, and was by then already probably 30 years old. It was worked by a foot treadle, connected to the works by rubber driving bands. We have it today. We keep it clean and oiled, and it still works. Both my wife and her mother learned to sew on it.

I also like the spiritual side of the story, and I am happy to accept Grandmother Adams’ explanation of divine intervention. I can recall two mysterious experiences myself at bushfires many years ago, times when I was exhausted or under extreme stress. And I have heard stories from others about the apparent intervention of a mystical power that saved the day. My old forestry mate Brian Cowcher once told me how, when working in the jarrah forest one day, he had stepped off a large log and just before his foot touched the ground, he saw that he was about to land on a tiger snake, which had its head up and was looking at him. Brian said he never knew how it happened, but somehow he found himself again back on the log and standing upright, even though, he said, “he had passed 45 degrees” on the way down.

I have always liked the thought of God intervening to save Brian, who was a mentor, a good bloke, and to whose wonderful bush yarns I loved to listen, for as long as he would talk.

December 2009

The Principal Defects in Wyden’s Forest Bill

There are so many defects in Ron Wyden’s proposed “Oregon Eastside Forests Restoration, Old Growth Protection, and Jobs Act of 2009″ (OEFROGPJA) that it is difficult to know where to start this analysis.

We have pointed out a few of the problems in previous posts [here, here, here]. They include conflict with other laws, rules, regulations; imposition of prescriptive forestry limits handicapping good management, political chicanery, bait-and-switch, and furthering of mass forest destruction by catastrophic megafires.

As written, OEFROGPJA is a vehicle for environmental disaster, and economic disaster, too.

That realization is slowly sinking in. An interesting Guest Opinion was proffered in the Oregonian yesterday, written by none other than two of the Gang of Four who together with Clinton and Gore forced the colossal failure of the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) on western Oregon, Washington, and Northern California 15 years ago.

The NWFP has failed miserably in every one of it’s stated goals [here]. Misery is the right word - The NWFP has caused the demise of the spotted owl, the population of which has crashed 60 percent or more since imposition. The No Touch, Let It Burn, Watch It Rot provisions have led to catastrophic fires of historical proportions that have decimated old-growth. And the regional economy has also been decimated — Oregon has led the Nation in unemployment, business bankruptcy, home foreclosure, and hunger for 15 years, all thanks to the NWFP.

So it might be instructive to parse the pronouncements of the Gang O’ Two [here] to see what they really think about Wyden’s OEFROGPJA bill. Let us read between the lines of the Guest Opinion:

more »

Taxpayer Robbery Gate

by Paul Driessen [here], December 26, 2009 [here]

Aside from ideologues, hydrocarbon haters, Gaia worshipers, profiteers and power-grabbing politicians, most of the sentient world now realizes that the hysteria over global warming disasters is based on dubious to fraudulent temperature data, analyses, models, reports and peer reviews.

Climate Research Unit emails, HARRY_READ_ME.txt computer memos, and blatant tampering with Australian, Russian, UK and US temperature data make the scandal impossible to ignore or explain away. They certainly helped Copenhagen descend into an expensive, carbon-emitting gabfest, and cause China and India to reject any deal that would force them to curtail their energy generation, economic growth and poverty reduction programs.

Senator Barbara Boxer is an exception. Not only does she ignore the obvious. She is doing her best to divert attention from the scandal, circle the alarmist wagons, cover up the fraud, obstruct justice – and ram through yet another legislative power grab.

“This isn’t Climategate,” the California Democrat insists. “It’s email theft gate.” The problem isn’t the fraud; it’s that a hacker or whistleblower revealed the fraud.

Wrong, Senator. It’s not theft gate. It’s Taxpayer Robbery Gate.

We the People, our elected representatives and our climate realist scientists have a right to examine this supposed evidence of planetary disaster, to ensure that it’s driven by science, and not ideology. That it’s complete, accurate – and honest. That it backs up the alarmist scientists’ call for draconian, life-altering restrictions on energy use. That the CRU Cabal did not alter, lose, ignore, toss or destroy “inconvenient” data and evidence that might get in the way of their agendas and predetermined results.

Not only were we stonewalled for years, while these UK and US scientists refused to divulge their data, computer codes and methodologies. Not only did the scientists who wrote these emails and did this bogus research refuse to let taxpayers, other scientists and even members of Congress (and Parliament) see their raw data and analyses. Not only did they prevent debate and replace peer review with a perverted system that allowed only a small network of like-minded colleagues to examine – and applaud – their work. They also excluded, denounced and vilified anyone who asked hard questions or challenged their actions.

In short, we were robbed! They took our money, and defrauded us.

more »

24 Dec 2009, 3:18pm
by admin
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Cantique de Noël

O Holy Night (”Cantique de Noël”) — words by Placide Cappeau (1808-1877), music by Adolphe Charles Adam (1803–1856).

Adam wrote operas and ballets, and is probably best remembered for the ballet Giselle (1841). My personal favorite Christmas song, “O Holy Night”, is operatic to say the least. It requires a well-trained soprano to hit the G above high-C in the musical climax (oh night di-VINE). But I also like the pathos and beauty in the embedded transition to a minor key. “O Holy Night” weeps with hope and devotion. The finish shatters glass and your heart.

This rendition [here] by the Celtic Woman is particularly beautiful and moving.

The words (in English, one translation anyway):

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by the light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Merry Christmas!

Harris Sherman on Jon Tester’s Forest Bill

Thursday afternoon testimony was taken by the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests concerning S. 1470, the (Montana) Forest Jobs and Recreation Act of 2009, a bill proposed by Montana Democrat, Sen. Jon Tester. One of those testifying was Harris Sherman, Undersecretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment, Department of Agriculture.

There were others who testified, including Commissioner Mike McGinley representing the Beaverhead County Commissioners. His testimony [here] is excellent. Other testimonies are available at the Subcommittee website [here].

We have discussed Tester’s bait-and-switch wilderness bill previously [here, here, here]. In many respects it is similar to Ron Wyden’s bill for Eastern Oregon forests [here].

After the holidays we will examine both of these toxic-to-forests bills in greater detail. But for now we want to highlight certain arguments raised by Harris Sherman that apply to both. Mr. Sherman’s language of choice is Labyrinthine Bureaucratese, so we will translate the gist of what he said into plain English.

The first of Mr. Sherman’s complaints, and they are complaints despite his diplomacy toward the Senators, was:

While the Department supports the concepts of the legislation, we have concerns regarding components of Title I, including the highly prescriptive provisions related to the National Environmental Policy Act and the specificity regarding levels of treatment and outputs. The prescriptive language would limit the discretion of land management professionals to select landscape projects based on broader criteria, such as the condition of forest resources and community needs and capacity.

That means the projects specified in the bill will not pass muster with NEPA. Just because Congress orders a forest treatment in such-and-such a place at such-and-such a time, it doesn’t mean that NEPA is suspended. All federal projects that significantly impact the environment must undergo a NEPA process. That process must consider alternatives and choose the best one. If the outcome is foreordained, the NEPA process will be tainted. And therefore actionable under NEPA. And therefore the treatments will be enjoined by the courts and never happen, and the USFS cannot do anything about that.

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20 Dec 2009, 10:59am
Federal forest policy Useless and Stupid
by admin

Survey and Manage Is Back

In 1994 The Northwest Forest Plan set aside 85% of Northwest federal forests as off-limits to logging. On the remaining 15% of the land, logging could occur if and only if over 1,000 species were surveyed and evaluated on each timber sale.

In 2001, Douglas Timber Operators (DTO) and American Forest Resources Council (AFRC) filed suit, seeking to roll back the survey-and-manage rule. The USFS agreed in a 2002 settlement to eliminate the survey and manage program, which they did in a March, 2004 Record of Decision.

But now a federal judge has reinstated the survey-and-manage rule:

Judge upholds surveys for species before logging

By JEFF BARNARD, AP, December 19, 2009 [here]

GRANTS PASS (AP) — A federal judge has upheld a requirement that Northwest national forests look for hundreds of hard-to-find but ecologically important species like snails, mushrooms and mosses before cutting down big trees.

The ruling Thursday from U.S. District Court in Seattle effectively strikes down the last surviving piece of the Bush administration’s strategy to boost logging in spotted owl territory. Judge John C. Coughenour did not immediately reinstate the so-called survey and manage rule. He wants to hear more from the government and conservation groups before issuing an order.

But he said in his ruling that the U.S. Forest Service failed to show that the rule was doing anything but what it was intended to do — protect the small but essential pieces that make an ecosystem work.

“The standard protects only truly rare and uncommon species, which as the court notes, are the ‘little things that run the world,’” said Pete Frost, attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center, which brought the lawsuit on behalf of conservation groups*. “These species allow healthy forests to function, because they do things like conserve water, filter sediment and provide food.” …

*The litigious “conservation” groups: Conservation Northwest, Gifford Pinchot Task Force, Environmental Protection Information Center, Klamath Forest Alliance, Umpqua Watersheds Inc, Siskiyou Regional Education Project, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Oregon Wild, American Lands Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity and Northcoast Environmental Center

The Northwest Forest Plan has been a catastrophic failure. The NWFP had (has) four fundamental goals. It has failed spectacularly to meet any.

1. The NWFP has failed to protect northern spotted owls

By most estimations, the northern spotted owl population has fallen 40 to 60 percent since inception of the NWFP. Millions of acres of spotted owl habitat have been catastrophically incinerated.

2. The NWFP has failed to protect spotted owl habitat

Since inception, millions of acres of spotted owl habitat have been wiped off the face of the earth by holocaust, and replaced by tick brush.

3. The NWFP has failed to preserve habitat continuity throughout the range of the northern spotted owl

The dozens of huge and catastrophic forest fires have left giant gaps in the range. The Biscuit Burn alone is 50 miles long and 20 miles wide.

4. The NWFP has failed to protect the regional economy

Since inception of the NWFP, Oregon has experienced 15 long years of the worst economy in the U.S., with the highest rates of unemployment, bankruptcy, home foreclosure, and hunger of any state. These are not just statistics, but indicators of real human suffering. Over 40,000 workers lost their jobs, and the rural economy has been crippled ever since.

Now things will get worse as totally unworkable and impossible survey-and-manage constrictions will eliminate the trickle of wood products coming from 25 million acres of federal land.

Note to Tom Partin and John Shelk of AFRC — do you understand yet that you can make a deal with the Devil, but the Devil will roast you in hellfire in the end?

Inhofe in Copenhagen: “It Has Failed … It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again.”

From the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works website [here]

Copenhagen, Denmark — Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark this morning to “make certain the 191 countries attending COP-15 would not be deceived into thinking the US would pass cap-and-trade legislation.” In his remarks, Inhofe described the political and policy issues that must be addressed before the U.S. Senate would ratify a new climate change treaty. At this stage, as Sen. Inhofe noted, the prospect of achieving an overarching agreement-one that meets the conditions established in the Byrd-Hagel resolution-are bleak, mainly due to the intractable demands of China, India, and other developing nations. Those demands-more funds to deal with the impacts of climate change and the right to increase emissions, albeit at a slower rate of growth, among others-have repeatedly been raised by developing nations, but are simply too costly and unworkable for the United States to accept.

Remarks of Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member, Committee on Environment and Public Works

to the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark, December 17, 2009

Copenhagen attendees, I want to turn back the clock to December 2003, when the United Nations convened the “9th Conference of the Parties” in Milan, Italy, to discuss implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. At the time, I was leading the Senate delegation to Milan as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Fast forward to December 2009: the UN is holding its 15th global warming conference and the delegates are haggling over the same issues that were before them in 2003. I know this because I was there. Recently, with the Copenhagen talks underway, I reread the speech I delivered in Milan. I found that the issues at stake in 2003 are nearly the same as those in 2009. In short, nothing has changed and nothing has been done.

So let’s go back to 2003. In my speech, I told the conference that the Senate would not ratify Kyoto. Here’s what I said: “The Senate, by a vote of 95 to 0, approved the Byrd-Hagel resolution, which warned the President against signing a treaty that would either economically harm the United States or exempt developing countries from participating.” I went on to say this: “Both those conditions then, and still to this day, have not been satisfied. So, it’s worth noting that even if President Bush wanted to submit the treaty to the Senate, it couldn’t be ratified.” That was 2003.

Is that still true today? Of course it is. And yet here we go again: China, India, and other developing countries want nothing to do with absolute, binding emissions cuts. China and India have pledged to reduce the rate of growth, or intensity, of their emissions But that’s not acceptable to the US Senate. Moreover, China is opposed to a mandatory verification regime to prove it is actually honoring its commitments.

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