9 Jan 2009, 5:50pm
Saving Forests
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More destructive wildfires devastate our forests, climate

by Thomas Bonnicksen, Guest Comment, Capital Press, 1/8/2009 [here]

The impact of California’s wildfires on climate and forests is one of the most important issues of our time. This is a new era with a new federal administration, a new Congress, a new political and economic landscape and new opportunities.

The fact is that the wildfire crisis is becoming more serious each year.

Fires are getting bigger, more destructive and more expensive. In 2001, California wildfires burned half a million acres. Over 1 million acres burned in 2007 and again in 2008, the worst fire year in the state’s history. Next year could be even worse.

From 2001 to 2007, fires burned a total of more than 4 million acres and released an estimated 277 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from combustion and the post-fire decay of dead trees. That is an average of 68 tons per acre.

These wildfires kill wildlife, pollute the air and water, and the greenhouse gases they emit are wiping out much of what is being achieved to reduce emissions from fossil fuels to battle global warming.
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9 Jan 2009, 4:12pm
Saving Forests
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Eden and El Dorado

Fifteen years ago (my how time flies) Dr. Susanna B. Hecht, Ph.D. of UCLA delivered the Horace Marden Albright Lecture in Conservation at the UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources.

Her talk, Of Fates, Forests, and Futures: Myths, Epistemes, and Policy in Tropical Conservation, is now posted in the W.I.S.E. Colloquium: History of Western Landscapes [here].

The thesis of Hecht’s lecture is that landscapes, and in particular Amazonia, are often viewed through two (apparently) contradictory lenses. One view is that prior to European conquest western landscapes were edenic wildernesses, untouched and untrammeled by human hands.

Lost Eden traces its American origins to John Muir as well as the American Transcendentalist movements. But its roots are much deeper and easily trace back to the French descriptions of Brazil by de Lery in the 16th century, and to the widely known works of de La Condamine, Condorcet and Rousseau-to the enlightenment roots of European romanticism. In this view, nature is a wilderness, an object of religious or scientific contemplation, an area of spiritual renewal, a primal area, an Eden. Spared the noxious hand of modem man and the corrupt state, nature’s true glory, as well as man’s innate nobility, is revealed. …

The other view is that western landscapes are El Dorado’s, containing treasures of gold, oil, timber, and other commodities ripe for exploitation, for the good of the conquerors of course, and possibly the conquered too, according to compassionate liberals, but ripe nonetheless.

These two lenses are not necessarily diametrical opposites, but more importantly both deny the reality of human occupation by societies over thousands of years. The land is neither Eden nor El Dorado. It is and has long been home.

As he gazed upon the majesty of Yosemite, as an employee of the local logging company, Muir conceived of the mountain areas around him as an untrammeled wilderness. His lost Eden however beautiful and wild as he saw it, was a nature that in fact had been shaped and molded by human agency. He was contemplating the former territory of the Miwok Indians, whose population was the largest one north of the Aztec empire. The people who had fashioned this landscape had been devastated by the gold rush, been dispossessed by agricultural settlers and ravaged by disease. In their profound absence, he assumed that they had never been. What he took as a wilderness was to other eyes an agricultural landscape formed of trees and tubers which his own conception of agriculture, and his own conception of nature, could not comprehend. This area, so majestic in its beauty and its vegetation, had been both human artifact and habitat.

The latest findings by a raft of researchers explore the ancient human connections.

Historical botanical studies have also served to recast the debate. Denevan’s magisterial efforts on ridged field agriculture throughout Latin America provided the intellectual and philosophical guidance for deeply recasting the debates on population through the optic of production, and bringing into to resolute focus human impacts on tropical landscapes. These helped stimulate general analyses of regional vegetation patterns such as those of Balee, who deemed the region to be characterized by “cultural forests” and posits that roughly 12% of Amazonian forests are decidedly anthropogenic.

Thus large scale regional forest patterning reflects human intervention. Other studies have reviewed human impacts on succession in tropical zones, arguing that diversity patterns can in fact be enhanced by human modification. … Posey (1989, and others) have reported that the Kayapo regularly move plants from one watershed to another and plant along forest trails thus affecting the broader regional distribution of species and subspecies.

The rediscovery ancient human connections should color modern land use approaches, argues Hecht. Modern political ecology must take into account traditional human influences and learn from untold centuries of experience, not only regarding natural systems but with respect to and for socio-economic systems as well.

Human intervention has not always been “bad”, although modern interventions, such as massive deforestation and conversion to absentee-owned cattle ranches and/or set asides for dehumanized “wilderness” are not viable solution sets to either social or environmental problems.

Hecht offers few solutions. Her analysis is historically perceptive but not future advisory. She does wish for a political ecology that takes history into account. Beyond that the modern problems seem largely intractable. And indeed over the last fifteen years little of visionary consequence has occurred.

Her analysis is worthwhile nonetheless, and an enjoyable read if you like large vocabularies and even larger thinking. Susanna Hecht is one of our leading philosophers regarding land use and the human-nature connection. Her synthesis of anthropology, ecology, and social science is a model for cutting-edge approaches to contemporary environmental stewardship.

8 Jan 2009, 6:53pm
Saving Forests
by admin
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Anthropogenic Forests Are Forests, and Vice Versa

This remarkable article appeared in the University of Chicago Magazine last fall. We post it in its entirety because it is so excellent. Hope we don’t get sued. If we do, we’ll take it down. So you better hurry up and read it just in case.

Can’t See the Forest for the Trees

By Richard Mertens, Photography by Dan Dry, The University of Chicago Magazine, Sept-Oct 2008 [here]

Researchers argue that it’s time to see beyond the “myth of the pristine forest”—to gain a truer understanding of humankind’s interactions with the natural landscape.

Whoa! Controversy! Tempest in a teapot! Two kinds!

First, the University of Chicago has requested that I take down Merrtens’ article and substitute a teaser and a link. In a spirit of dis-acrimony, I have done so. But I must point out that the UofC is a giant institution with scads of money and we are a threadbare educational non-profit running on air. We are engaging in spreading education, much as UofC is, except we don’t have ads nor massive billion dollar endowments. Moreover, the UofC has posted Mertens’ piece in the public domain, across the ether, throughout cyberspace, which is much the same as nailing it to a telephone pole. But there you go…

We have, however, located original works by Drs. Susanna Hecht and Michael Heckenberger which ARE without a doubt in the public domain, and we will be posting those shortly, which is better anyway. Why rely on a journalist’s interpretation when we can read the direct word of these accomplished scientists?

Second, the very idea that human beings might have had profound influence on forests throughout history is controversial. Note the response comment (below) from an avowed “evangelical” atheist (someone who proselytizes atheism, and sees the world through the that gloss). The scientific facts are the facts, however, and anti-religious fervor has nothing to with the reality of history. But there you go again…

Global Warming Jackanapes

Hot off the wire: debunked and defrocked former Washington State Climatologist Philip Mote has been hired by Oregon Goober Ted Chokeandgagme to head a new political office of “climate change”. From the Capitol Press [here].

Climate expert hired for Oregon research institute

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) - Washington state climate scientist Philip Mote, who helped write major reports on global warming, will head an Oregon research institute focused on climate change.

Mote, Washington’s state climatologist, will lead the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute. The institute is at Oregon State University but is shared by the statewide university system.

Mote will be a professor in OSU’s College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences [COAS].

Mote has led research on climate changes in the Pacific Northwest and was a lead author of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which received a Nobel Prize.

The institute will support Oregon’s new Global Warming Commission, created by Gov. Ted Kulongoski.

The perceptive Rogue Pundit (the best eclectic blog in Oregon) reported this travesty [here]:

Scientific Integrity Not Required

January 06, 2009

Almost two years ago now, there was an embarrassing public battle at the University of Washington’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences over the snowpack reduction in the Northwest (previous blog here). Supposedly, the snowpack had been cut in half since 1950. However, a couple of professors got studying the data and found that was overstated. First, they noted that using 1950 as the baseline was cherry picking, because the previous decade had been unusually snowy. Going back to a more normal 1940, the reduction in snowpack today is 10-15 percent. And, there has been little change in the snowpack over the last 30 years.

That revision didn’t sit well with one of their compatriots-Philip Mote, whose career had been propelled in part by his claims of a dramatic decrease in the snowpack here in the Northwest. The Department chair had to mediate the squabble and do some damage control. He published a revised number regarding the snowpack reduction…30 percent since 1945. Yet Mote not only kept on citing a higher number, but tried to suppress the dissenting views of his colleagues-none of whom can be called skeptics of climate change. Yikes.

Guess where the discredited Philip Mote has gotten a new job?

Washington state climate scientist Philip Mote, who helped write major reports on global warming, will head an Oregon research institute focused on climate change. …

The institute will support Oregon’s new Global Warming Commission, created by Gov. Ted Kulongoski.

In Obama and Biden’s Plan for Science and Innovation, their lead bullet is:

Restoring integrity to U.S. science policy to ensure that decisions that can be informed by science are made on the basis of the strongest possible evidence.

OSU and the Governor obviously aren’t on board with that goal

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4 Jan 2009, 3:21pm
Saving Forests
by admin
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No, we don’t need more fires

Guest Viewpoint by Bob Zybach, Eugene Register Guard, Jan 4, 2009 [here]

I disagree with the majority of statements and conclusions made by George Wuerthner in his Dec. 26 guest viewpoint on the topic of wildfire ecology.

Wuerthner is a nature photographer, trail guide and science journalist whose opinions on federal resource management policies are widely disseminated through books, blogs, letters and articles. To my knowledge, he has received no advanced degrees in a scientific discipline, conducted no formal scientific research, or ever written a peer-reviewed journal article.

This is important, because Wuerthner presumes to lecture his readers on the intricacies of ecological science, and to present his personal opinions as if they were generally accepted facts. For example, after noting a commonly known phenomenon (“remember, the sun does appear to go around the Earth”), he states: “Contrary to common opinion, large blazes are not driven primarily by fuels, but by climatic conditions.” These statements are not analogous. One is a fact, the other an opinion.

Contrary to Wuerthner’s assertions, my own research — and the research of hundreds of other scientists — demonstrates that wildfires are not a direct function of climate at all (think of a hot, arid desert, for example), but rather are functions of fuel, topography and seasonal weather (not climate!) conditions. Fire, first and foremost, needs fuel.

That’s a fact, not an opinion.

Wuerthner attempts to discredit an earlier Register-Guard guest viewpoint by Kathy Lynn of the University of Oregon, which reasonably called for fuel management actions to reduce the frequency and severity of wildfire. Wuerthner claimed Lynn’s statements were “full of flawed assumptions and consequently flawed solutions.”

Wuerthner presents no data to support his contentions. More telling are the personal values mixed in with his “science.” Even if wildfires were just as common in the past as today, does that mean they are good today? Malaria and cholera used to be more common in the past. Should their occurrence be returned to previous levels? And why is “increased biodiversity” implied to be such a good thing, and what does it have to do with wildfire? Think of the massive increase in “biodiversity” in Eugene during the past 150 years, for example, with the introduction of thousands of new species of weeds, domestic plants and animals — and all without wildfire! Is that somehow good for the environment?

Additional thoughts from Wuerthner: “If anything, we probably need more wildfire, not less. With global warming we will probably get it, as vegetative communities adapt to new climatic realities,” and: “Another surprising finding is that mechanical fuels treatment, commonly known as logging and thinning, typically has little effect on the spread of wildfires.”

If you believe Wuerthner’s claim that wildfires are “driven primarily by climatic conditions,” and if you accept global warming as a fact and believe such changes will be conducive to more wildfires, and if you think that plants live in “communities,” then perhaps he has a valid point. But suppose all this conjecture turns out to be true: So what? More wildfires? Didn’t he also say “we probably need more” (for whatever reason) anyway? Wuerthner’s arguments, much like his analogy of the sun, appear to go around in circles, with no real logic to them.

Oregonians old enough to remember the “six-year jinx” of Tillamook fires (1933-51), or who have closely observed the burning patterns of the 2003 B&B Complex, understand the fallacy of his statements. We do not “probably need more wildfire” (for lots of good reasons) — and logging and thinning, not “surprisingly,” often do have an observable and beneficial effect on the severity and spread of wildfires.

Our nation’s heritage forests are going up in predictable and preventable flames, creating an ugly, dangerous environment full of dead plants and animals, and contributing to air pollution, stream sedimentation, and ruined rural economies.

Something needs to be done to correct these problems. Kathy Lynn offers helpful suggestions based in science; George Wuerthner offers personal opinions.

Bob Zybach is a forest scientist with a doctorate from Oregon State University. Zybach has been program manager for the Oregon Websites and Watersheds Project (www .ORWW.org) since 1996.

4 Jan 2009, 11:22am
Climate and Weather
by admin
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Brass Monkey Wedder

by bear bait or someone like him

Not wedder to somting, bot wedder like in snow and cold. So the forecast high for Fairbanks today is -28F, and the low -40F…

Nobody goes out in weather below -20. Trappers go to bed and try to keep a fire going in very small spaces, and watch their breath make icicles on the ceiling.

The brass monkey never sees that kind of cold. The brass monkey was the casting on a man o’ war that was the base for piled cannon balls at the gun port. When it got really, really cold at sea, and sea water from rough seas ran over the piled cannon balls, it would form ice on the brass casting and in time displaced the cannon balls, allowing them to roll about on the gun deck doing damage. So when it was cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey, it was frozen salt water and loose cannon balls on the gun deck. Cold, hard work, that cannon ball recovery on the gun deck of a man o’ war in the 18th and 19th centuries…

But never as cold as it is in Fairbanks or the Arctic interior today. The frozen sea is no place for a ship of war, or any ship for that matter. You can get mighty hungry on an icebound boat. Bad for crew morale. Captains tended to avoid that kind of thing, and sailed south when the sea ice started to form. So it was much warmer, actually, than Fairbanks today when the brass monkey made ice and forced the balls onto the rolling deck in a big sea.

Ol’ algore is going to have to explain this weather anomaly that we have this year. Record snow fall in December, not only for Portland but for North Dakota, too. Ayup. Most total snow in NoDak in recorded history. Frozen buffalo weather. Huddle up and hope weather. Appreciation for a chubby wife weather. Appreciation for a chubby husband weather. Probably a baby boom in September. Brrrrrrrr.

One of the things I have seen is that alder stands took a big hit in many areas. The young and old alder stands all look like a giant mower went through and lowered their total tree heights. The 20- to 40-year-old doug fir and hemlock stands are missing tops on many trees, too. It is snow break weather we’re having. That rotten spot inside the soft wood logs indicated by the jog in the tree, where it looks like someone offset the top 30 feet from the bottom 70 feet. Snow break. Take two feet above it and 4 feet below it when cruising. It will be rotten and cull.

I have been looking at our local 5 day deal, and it could get dicey again. I expect more of this kind of weather. It’s a pattern that’s set in, not a once-in-a-lifetime thing. The Pacific Ocean has cooled way down off the coast here. Not moderating the cold like it use to. Loverly…

There’s plenty of sea ice on the continental shelf… where the white bears live. That is an indication that things are well and normal in the Arctic. It might shut up the doomsayers for a while. Maybe. In the jargon of the late Emily Littella of Saturday Night Live fame so long ago, “If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.”

I am just glad we had some cooler weather to slow the melt and lessen flooding. That was the weather miracle so far this year, and well appreciated by me. The Corps are letting water out of the Willamette Project dams as fast as they can, and the Willamette is still right at flood stage. It will be up all winter at this rate. Before flood control dams, the rivers would go over the banks for a couple of days and then go way down. The force of the flood would spread water far and wide, but it was only an inconvenience for a while. Only in town, where developers are allowed to build in flood plains, is there ever a problem. On the farms the houses are built above the highest ever recorded flood stage, and the people sat in their houses-become-islands and watched the lake form for a couple of days, and then went about their business when the waters quickly receded. Today the river rarely gets that high, but due to dam releases it takes weeks to recede. If at all. High water at almost a flood all winter.

Ayup. The big chill is back. You kiddies haven’t experienced it but we old timers remember. Gather ’round while I tell you sprouts about the Freeze of ‘79, when you could drive a Chevy across the Columbia. We had an eclipse that winter, a total eclipse of the sun, and I was there on the Path of Totality. It was 10 below on Macintosh Hill when the Sun disappeared behind the Moon… — bear bait

AGW Alarmist Wacko Reveals Marxist Agenda

James Hansen of NASA took time out from his busy schedule of shouting, “The seas are going to boil! The seas are going to boil!” [here] to write a letter to incoming dimbulb B. Obama. The substance of the chief wacko’s missive: hammer the US with carbon taxes as a “wealth redistribution” scheme.

NASA’s Hansen to Obama: Use Global Warming to Redistribute Wealth

By Noel Sheppard, NewsBusters, January 1, 2009 [here]

Climate realists around the world have contended for years that the real goal of alarmists such as Nobel Laureate Al Gore and his followers is to use the fear of man-made global warming to redistribute wealth.

On Monday, one of Gore’s leading scientific resources, Goddard Institute for Space Studies chief James Hansen, sent a letter to Barack and Michelle Obama specifically urging the president-elect to enact a tax on carbon emissions that would take money from higher-income Americans and distribute the proceeds to the less fortunate.

Dear Michelle and Barack,

…A rising carbon price is essential to “decarbonize” the economy, i.e., to move the nation toward the era beyond fossil fuels. The most effective way to achieve this is a carbon tax (on oil, gas, and coal) at the well-head or port of entry. The tax will then appropriately affect all products and activities that use fossil fuels. The public’s near-term, mid-term, and long-term lifestyle choices will be affected by knowledge that the carbon tax rate will be rising.

The public will support the tax if it is returned to them, equal shares on a per capita basis (half shares for children up to a maximum of two child-shares per family), deposited monthly in bank accounts. No large bureaucracy is needed. A person reducing his carbon footprint more than average makes money. A person with large cars and a big house will pay a tax much higher than the dividend. Not one cent goes to Washington. No lobbyists will be supported. Unlike cap-and-trade, no millionaires would be made at the expense of the public. …

James and Anniek Hansen
Pennsylvania
United States of America

Let’s all drink Hansen’s Kool Aid! Tax the bejeebers out of carbon and divvy the proceeds equally (half shares to the kiddies). No bureaucracy needed!

Or else the seas will boil!!!!!

We don’t know what Jimmy has been smoking but he ought to share it with the hippies.

One saving grace in this letter: Hansen was careful to inform B.O. that Pennsylvania is in the USA. That saved B.O. the embarrassment of admitting ignorance on the subject. Yep, B.O., PA is one of our 57 states. You might want to bone up on this stuff, seeing as you are going to be POTUS and all that.

Some other choice quotes from Hansen’s letter:

[W]e must reduce greenhouse gases below present amounts to preserve nature and humanity

Coal plants are factories of death.

Burning all the fossil fuels will destroy the planet we know, Creation

Barack’s leadership is essential to explain to the world what is needed.

The End Is Near. The seas are going to boil! James Hansen’s solution: tax to the max and then hand out the money in shares to everybody, not just to Wall Street sharks and corporate bigwigs. Then we can all burn the cash to keep warm, since the power will be shut off.

Meanwhile, in other news, record winter cold seizes the Northern Hemisphere…

By the way, if a colder climate is so desirable, why do all those tens of millions of people choose to live in California and Florida while Alaska is mostly open space? Could it be that most folks secretly (and not so secretly) think that Warmer Is Better?!?!

1 Jan 2009, 10:07am
Uncategorized
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Signing off 2008; Welcoming 2009

A poem from Julie:

Signing off 2008; Welcoming 2009

It’s time to put it to bed, lay it to rest.

Another year we have spent doing our best.

Countless hours we have logged, far from the woods,

That foresters might better harvest the goods.

Seeds we have planted, so knowledge might sprout,

With no farm ground or livestock or tractors about.

Let’s put 2008 to bed and lay it to rest

We’ve a new year in which to give our best!

2009 dawns; we stand at the ready,

Still on a course that’s sure and steady.

History won’t likely record our names

But it’s never been about glory or fame.

Our mark will be left on the trail of time

Etched like a beacon: Clear, sharp and fine,

Like the founding fathers, viewed only from ahead

Others will step up one day to stand in our stead

So, let’s put 2008 to bed; let’s lay it to rest

We’ve a whole new year — Let’s give it our best!

Property rights researcher Julie Kay Smithson hopes that each of you will accord 2008 the memories earned and lessons learned, but focus now on what lies ahead and continuing to learn how to protect, defend and enhance your property rights! Please visit http://www.propertyrightsresearch.org

29 Dec 2008, 10:54am
Saving Forests
by admin
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Floods Follow Fires

Catastrophic forest fires impact more than the vegetation. Fires destroy habitat, pollute streams, foul the air, and inflict public health and safety problems. Sometimes, as was the case in the Biscuit Fire (2002), forest fires burn so intensely that the soil is stripped away [here].

After intense fires the soils, baked and/or blown away, cannot absorb water as they did previously. Rain does does not infiltrate the damaged soils due to collapse of soil structure, increased bulk density, removal of organic matter, reduction in soil porosity, clogged soil pores, and increased reaction to rainfall droplet kinetics. Soils can become “waterproof” through decreased soil wettability (hydrophobia), concretion, and increased water repellence. That can lead to increases in surface flow, increased soil particle transport, rilling, gullying, and increased erosion.

And floods. Fire-damaged soils across a watershed can cause increases in discharge rates, seasonal streamflows, and especially peak flows, including flash flooding.

Before the fire the soil acts like a giant sponge; after the fire the soil becomes water repellent. As a result, floods happen more frequently.

Take the case of the Chetco River. It drains 271 square miles, much of which was intensely burned in the Biscuit Fire. Six years later the Chetco River is still prone to flash flooding.

Today (right now) the Chetco River is surging, with a discharge rate of 48,400 cubic feet per second (data from the USGS National Water Information System: Real-Time Data for Oregon Streamflow [here]). That discharge amounts to an acre-foot per second and is more than ten times the median flow.

The little Chetco is running more than the Willamette River at Albany. The Chetco flow is roughly half that of the Columbia River at the Dalles Dam.

The North Umpqua River below the spillway at Slide Creek Dam near Toketee Falls is running at 2,210 cubic feet per second. The North Umpqua below Boulder Creek (incinerated in the Rattle Fire last summer) is running at 4,600 cfs. Boulder Creek alone is outputting 1,640 cfs.

Massive winter runoff also means that minimum summer flows will be truly minimal. There is little deep percolation of precipitation into aquifers and so little water storage. Next August the springs will dry up. The floods and the subsequent diminished flows wreak havoc on aquatic habitat, aquatic biota, spawning gravels, and fish populations.

Thus the ecological effects of intense fires linger for decades.

The Salmon River watershed in central Idaho was subjected to an 800,000 acre burn in 2007. Mudslides tore out roads and filled streams the following winter. This winter more of the same is expected.

Flash floods followed the Zaca Fire (2007), which burned 240,000 acres over a two month period, cost more than $120 million in direct fire suppression expenses, and was the most expensive fire in California history.

That is, until one year later when the Indians/Basin Complex Fires burned 244,000 acres and cost $124 million.

Flash floods are expected and may have occurred in the last few weeks (we haven’t heard — no flood info has been posted on the Los Padres NF site). The trail system has been largely destroyed and the flash floods will finish that job.

Chances are the Los Padres NF will not be forthcoming with that information, either. They are the worst managed, most destruction-prone national forest in the System, and that’s a dubious honor given the horrific management of so many other national forests.

Forest fires are treated by the Media as a one-time, short-term events. When the firefighters leave, so do the reporters. Out of sight, out of mind is the rule. The attention span of the Media is tragically abbreviated. They cannot remember what happened an hour ago, let alone a month or a year ago.

But watersheds have long-term memories. Soil is not repaired over night; it takes decades and sometimes even centuries. Until the water absorption capacity of watersheds is restored, repetitious floods continue.

25 Dec 2008, 9:36pm
Uncategorized
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On the Same Wavelength

by bear bait

So I have a kid who, with his wife, has lavished gifts on their two kids at Christmas for their entire lives. It is just who they are and what they do. He is a rigging slinger and now chaser, and maybe unemployed for a while, and she is an Indian casino in-house banker. Runs the cages. Just blue collar and not making big money. But you would never know it with the kids at Christmas. They go all out and whole hog. It sort of puts me off, but…

Several years ago I bought a new-in-the-box-unopened vintage Daisy Red Ryder 200 shot saddle carbine BB gun. The holy grail of the Christmas Story movie. That movie is a family favorite of the men folk: me, my son, and grandson. Just the perfect movie. A classic.

I finally decided that since he is now 11 and BB gun time is fast getting behind us, that it was time, no matter what, for him to get it. It worried me though, that the grandkids had been so piled with Christmas presents that he might not appreciate it.

At any rate, I dug the BB gun out from behind some furniture in the garage, dusted it off, and Deb wrapped it. On the way into their house last night, I slipped it behind the writing desk in the entry way, and we went about our Christmas ever deal.

We all got our presents and began to open them. The movie Christmas Story was on the big screen. My present from my grandson was a tin with Christmas Story painted on it and inside a DVD of the movie, an apron, a cookbook, a recipe book, cookie cutters shaped like the pink bunny suit, and the leg lamp.

And just about when the kid in the movie gets his present from his dad, I started making signs to my son when the kids were not looking. I was trying to get him to go down the hall, find the present behind the writing desk, and give it to his kid. But if it ain’t a whistle, he doesn’t understand, I guess.

His wife, however, was not born yesterday. She hopped up, and down the hall she went. As the movie kid was unwrapping his present, so was my grandson. They both got their BB guns at the same time. The Perfect Storm timing. And was my grandkid excited!!!

He DID appreciate the moment. He said it was so special on so many levels. Gave me a kiss. We high fived. Bumped butts. His Red Ryder Daisy 200 shot lever action repeater saddle carbine now hangs on his wall.

Fun with a grandkid. He is a joy, and last night proved it. We were both on the same wavelength. Odd as that might be.

Merry Christmas — bear bait

23 Dec 2008, 4:51pm
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O Holy Night

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!

23 Dec 2008, 12:57pm
Climate and Weather
by admin
3 comments

Contrary To Popular Belief, There Is Hope

Chief Global Warming Alarmist, adviser to Al Gore, and NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen made a presentation to the American Geophysical Union last week. Hansen gave the honorary annual Bjerknes Lecture (pronunciation rather amusing). His slide presentation is [here] (warning, it is 2.5 MB) courtesy the estimable Anthony Watts of Watts Up With That [here].

The gist of Dr. Hansen’s talk is that Doomsday is upon us due to global warming. It is too late, runaway warming is happening, and the end result is that the oceans are going to boil away into outer space and all life will be extinguished on Planet Earth.

No kidding. This guy is a “scientist,” a highly paid one, and an employee and important adviser to our Government. And he is as nutty as a fruitcake.

Hansen said,

the danger that we face is the Venus syndrome. There is no escape from the Venus Syndrome. Venus will never have oceans again.

That is,

If the planet gets too warm, the water vapor feedback can cause a runaway greenhouse effect. The ocean boils into the atmosphere and life is extinguished.

Now, that’s a fairly alarmist statement. In fact, that’s the MOST alarmist statement I have ever heard. It’s pretty far out there. That’s not exactly what the IPCC says. They aren’t quite over the edge into complete hysteria, yet. But Hansen has plenty of fawning admirers, aka irrational paranoids having a mass panic attack.

Hansen cribs a little. He says,

Our model blows up before the oceans boil, but it suggests that perhaps runaway conditions could occur with added forcing as small as 10-20 W/m2.

Exploding models do not give confidence in either the models or their output. Should we rely on exploding models? Why does Hansen? When I was just a boy (this is a confession I hope my mother doesn’t read), we would put firecrackers in plastic models (that we built from kits with model glue) and blow them up. Is that the kind of exploding models Hansen refers to?

Hansen also cribs,

There may have been times in the Earth’s history when CO2 was as high as 4000 ppm without causing a runaway greenhouse effect. But the solar irradiance was less at that time.

What? Is 4,000 ppm a realistic prediction? Currently CO2 concentration is ~380 ppm. It has allegedly risen 100 ppm over the last 100 years. To get to 4,000 ppm at the current rate would take another 3,620 years. Besides, there is evidence that paleo-atmosphere CO2 concentrations hundreds of millions of years ago could have been as much as 7,000 ppm. And it is abundantly clear that the oceans didn’t boil away and Life was not extinguished. If it had been, you wouldn’t be here, nor would I, nor would Hansen.

And how does he “know” that solar irradiance was less? That’s a fairly speculative statement that requires some evidential support. Which is entirely lacking. The Sun is a pretty steady energy source. There are minor fluctuations, such as the current sunspot minimum, but the energy output varies by only a fraction of a percentage point. In fact, many scientists are quite curious as to how a sunspot minimum can effect climate (the Little Ice Age occurred during a sunspot hiatus known as the Maunder Minimum) since the decline in solar output is so minuscule as to hardly be detectable by modern instruments.

Further, Hansen says that “to preserve creation” CO2 must be reduced or constrained to less than 350 ppm.

Again, that’s a fairly hyperbolic assertion, and in strong contrast to his prior statements as well as reality. First, if, as Hansen claimed, CO2 levels actually were once 4000 ppm, it is quite evident that “creation” was not lost. Creation still exists. Indeed, if current CO2 levels are 380 ppm, and the oceans have not boiled nor has creation been eliminated, one wonders whether Hansen has lost his mind.

But lo! the oceans won’t boil for a few years yet. The lag time is not specified, but one assumes it will be something less than 100 years, right James? If we remain at 380 ppm for another century or so, poof, there go the oceans and creation along with them.

This is science? The best available science? This is the consensus?

The fellow is mad.

I had to laugh at his examples of global warming. He shows a dry pier many yards from the water on Lake Mead! It’s a reservoir! The water level on Lake Mead is controlled at the dam! By humans, not climate!

He cites US wildfire acreage since 1960, another phenomenon controlled by humans! This may shock you, but people have a great deal to do with how big fires get and how many acres they consume. It is NOT a climate controlled phenomenon, any more than Lake Mead water levels.

Hansen’s presentation is hysterical, in all the meanings of that word. The oceans are not going to boil away. Trust me.

Other Alarmists claim that “rapid” climate change is catastrophic. For instance, when the Wisconsin Glaciation ended, the massive continental ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere melted. Sea levels rose 100 meters over a 7,000 year period.

But in fact that was not a catastrophe. It was a enormous boon and blessing. As Martha Stewart says, “It was a Very Good Thing.” Before the Big Melt life was cold, brutish, and short. Afterwards civilization rose and flourished. Chances are we wouldn’t be here today if not for the Big Melt.

Note that the sea level rise of 100 meters in 7,000 years was about a half inch per year. Oooh, wicked! Why, you’d have to be Carl Lewis to outrun that! Plus the ice sheets are melted. They are kaput. The only significant ice sheets left are on Greenland and Antarctica, and they aren’t melting; they are growing.

Try not to freak out about the climate. The seas are NOT going to boil. Hansen is wrong about that, as wrong as wrong could be. Quell your panic attack. Irrational paranoia doesn’t suit you.

Alarmists also claim that rainforests are being mowed down in an orgy of deforestation, and that the End of the World is Nigh because of that.

This is going to blow your mind, so hang on to your chair, but people have been living in rainforests for thousands of years, and burning them, and deforesting them, and farming them. Humanity has had a huge impact on the Amazon and and all the other rainforests on Earth for millennia, and yet the rainforests are still here and the oceans have not boiled away! Imagine that! Creation still exists!!!

The galloping Doomsday paranoia expressed by the Chicken Little cacklers is NOT supported by science, not by good science anyway. The End is Not Near. We do not need to huddle in the cold and dark for fear the seas will boil and all life will be extinguished. That’s nutty nutbar talk.

Alarmists, this is Houston calling. Please take some valium. Have a timeout. Seek professional help for your problem, which is psychological on your end, and not real in the sense of actual reality.

There is hope for the world after all. As a matter of fact, we are doing quite nicely, all things considered. The current (as of today) arctic blast is unpleasant but tolerable. It would be nicer if it were warmer, because warmer is better, but we will survive. The world economy has been buggered up by Wall Street sharks and their suckfish corrupt toadies in the Government, but we will survive that, too.

Hope springs eternal. That’s the Message of the Season. Look on the bright side.

“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”

Junk Science, GW Alarmist Hoaxers Take Over White House

The propaganda spin-meisters are out in full force as the next President has selected the worst crop of junk science, global warming hoaxers imaginable.

There is no global warming. The globe has been cooling for the last ten years. Greenhouse gas theories have been proved wrong by the empirical evidence. The climate models are not “skillful” in that their predictions have been falsified by reality. We are facing continued cooling for at least the next thirty years due to solar quiescence and oceanic oscillations [here].

Despite overwhelming evidence against global warming, the incoming administration plans to cripple our (already reeling) economy with cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, and skyrocketing energy costs. Nothing that they intend to do will affect global climates one iota, but the crushing economic depression will harm billions of people.

Moreover, warmer is better. Warmer means longer growing seasons, more rain, shorter winters, increased biological productivity, and expanding biological diversity. Equatorial regions are the most productive and diverse; polar regions the least. The planet has almost always been warmer than today, going back the hundreds of millions of years since life first appeared on dry land. We are current in a neo-glaciation phase, and the future holds another Ice Age with continental ice sheets two miles thick. Ice Age glaciations have occurred with clock-like regularity for 2 million years and all evidence suggests another looms.

But it is politically incorrect to say so. The best science has been hammered down by PC junk science for reasons of political authoritarianism. Real science has always been stifled by tyranny and thought control, and tragically the incoming administration embodies that fact.

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18 Dec 2008, 9:48pm
The 2008 Fire Season
by admin
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Rattle Fire Photos

The Rattle Fire in the Boulder Creek Wilderness was less than 1,000 acres and under control at the end of August this summer. Then the fire management team was ordered off because they had done too good a job of suppression. The Rattle Fire was Let Burn and eventually charred more than 20,000 acres. Most of the 19,100-acre BC Wilderness was roasted, and the fire spread out of the designated wilderness area to the west, south, and east. Much of the 16,500-acre 1996 Spring Burn was reburned.

A priceless, heritage, Oregon old-growth forest has thus been destroyed by repeated fires. There was no attempt to rehabilitate the Spring Burn, there will be no attempt to rehabilitate the Rattle Burn, and it is reasonable to expect that another fire will re-devastate the area in another 12 years.

We tracked the Rattle Fire at W.I.S.E. Fire Tracking [here]. We commented on this tragedy [here, here, here, here, here, here, and here]. Now we sadly present some photographs of the destruction.

The following photos and captions are courtesy consulting forester Javier Goirigolzarri of Resource Management Services LLC, Roseburg, OR. JG was among those who lobbied hard for rehabilitation of the Spring Burn, to no avail. So-called “environmentalists” fought successfully to let the Spring Burn rot in place, thus ensuring that the Rattle Fire would burn with ferocious intensity.

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17 Dec 2008, 9:01pm
Climate and Weather
by admin
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No Big Change In CO2 Levels

Has modern, Industrial Man pumped the atmosphere full of CO2 like never before? Evidently not. As documented in a fascinating report by Dr. Tim Ball [here], it appears that CO2 levels in the Industrial Age are not much different than those of pre-industrial eras.

Could it be that Pre-Industrial Man burned just as much fuel has his modern counterpart? Or that Pre-Columbian Man fired so much of the non-European landscape so frequently that CO2 was just as prevalent in the atmosphere throughout the Holocene as it is today? Could it even be that long before any Man walked the planet, natural CO2 concentrations were many times what we experience currently?

Short answer: you betcha. CO2 is not particularly thick today. In fact, most plants are CO2-deficient because they evolved when there was much more of the Basic Nutrient of Life floating around in the air.

Are we being seriously conned by the likes of Al Gore, B.H. Obama, and the rest of the cap-and-trade-away-the-economy, global warming hysterical alarmist crowd? Short answer: well duh! What did you think? Did you just fall off the turnip truck?

Please read and enjoy Pre-industrial CO2 levels were about the same as today — How and why we are told otherwise [here] by Dr. Tim Ball, PhD climatologist, borrowed from the Canada Free Press, December 10, 2008. An excerpt:

How many failed predictions, discredited assumptions and evidence of incorrect data are required before an idea loses credibility? CO2 is not causing warming or climate change. It is not a toxic substance or a pollutant. Despite this President Elect Obama met with Al Gore on December 9 no doubt to plan a climate change strategy based on these problems. They make any plan to reduce CO2 completely unnecessary.

Proponents of human induced warming and climate change told us that an increase in CO2 precedes and causes temperature increases. They were wrong. They told us the late 20th century was the warmest on record. They were wrong. They told us, using the infamous “hockey stick” graph, the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) did not exist. They were wrong. They told us global temperatures would increase through 2008 as CO2 increased. They were wrong. They told us Arctic ice would continue to decrease in area through 2008. They were wrong. They told us October 2008 was the second warmest on record. They were wrong. They told us 1998 was the warmest year on record in the US. They were wrong it was 1934. They told us current atmospheric levels of CO2 are the highest on record. They are wrong. They told us pre-industrial atmospheric levels of CO2 were approximately 100 parts per million (ppm) lower than the present 385 ppm. They are wrong. This last is critical because the claim is basic to the argument that humans are causing warming and climate change by increasing the levels of atmospheric CO2 and have throughout the Industrial era. In fact, pre-industrial CO2 levels were about the same as today…

 
  
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