Archive for the ‘Environmental Protection’ Category

Trisha and I went on a Jeep ride today with Chris (of Piper and Heath) and Roy (a wildlife photographer) in the backcountry of San Diego County. We went out in two Jeeps (for redundancy) and spent the day cruising places otherwise completely inaccessible.

Here is Chris driving down a steep section of rocky trail while Roy spots him. Trisha is the passenger.

Later in the day, Chris, the wilderness guide per excellence, served up a perfect picnic complete with wine and gourmet salads:

If you are ever looking to travel to Africa with expert guides, call Piper and Heath, and I promise, they will take care of you with first class service.

Thanks to Chris and Roy for great outdoors adventure today.

Read Full Post »

Other Minds – The Octopus, the Sea,

and the Deep Origins of Consciousness

When we think of intelligent animals, we think of whales, specifically dolphins, apes, elephants, dogs, crows and parrots. I have written much about this subject, and you can find the posts by selecting Animal Intelligence from the categories dropdown on the right.

We generally do not think of octopuses as intelligent. However, octopuses, as well at cuttlefish and squid, commonly classified as cephalopods, are highly intelligent animals.

Peter Godfrey-Smith, the author of Other Minds, is a distinguished philosopher of science and a skilled scuba diver, who started studying octopuses in the process of thinking about consciousness in humans and in animals.

Other Minds tells the story of how animal life first started on earth, and how the invertebrates started splitting off from the vertebrates some 500 to 600 million years ago. As it turns out, cephalopods are invertebrates, and all other intelligent animals are vertebrates, including humans. The common ancestor of both humans and octopuses are small flat wormlike creatures that lived over 500 million years ago. As a result, an octopus is about as different from a human as you can get, and still have two eyes – and a mind.

Godfrey-Smith illustrates many astonishing examples of octopus intelligence and it becomes quite clear that, yes, they are really bright, and yes, they are very alien, very different from us. He says that the closest we are likely ever to come to meeting an alien intelligent being is going to the aquarium and watching an octopus.

I searched and found a few astonishing videos. The first one is of an octopus escaping from a ship’s deck. Since an octopus has no hard parts, no bones, no shells, he can squeeze himself through a hole as small as his eyeball, his hardest part. The video below demonstrates that.

Octopuses can also learn to use tools and solve complex problems. Here is an example of an octopus opening a jar into which it has been placed.

There are other examples that show how an octopus can open a jar from the outside to get to the prey locked inside.

I am highly interested in animal intelligence and alien intelligence, so this book turned out to be a treasure trove of information and great anecdotes and stories. I learned much about the evolution of life on earth, and the development of intelligence and consciousness. If you have similar interests, this is a book you must read.

The author is trying to be factual, and the book is therefore more of a text book than an entertainment book, which makes it somewhat challenging to read.

But I enjoyed it thoroughly, and I am sure I’ll refer to it in the future.

Read Full Post »

[click for credit: John Hartzell, Middle Age Riot]

So true, so true. Except for the child labor, perhaps!

What are these people we put into power thinking? What on earth is good about this?

Now, if it were actually TRUE that a million jobs would open up due to this loosening of regulation, I could even understand it. But there won’t be new jobs. There is no new demand for coal in this country. Demand for coal has steadily declined in the last 10 years, and will continue to do so.

So all this does is open the gates for the polluters. And there lies the rub:

That’s why this is being done: Coal guys have been hurting, and now they can relax and squeeze the last 10 years worth of pennies out of their dying industries.

Trump is actually using our emotions about coal miners to get what he wants for Big Coal. The coal miners that stood behind him when he signed the executive order were pawns. He does not give a shit about them or their lives. They’ll never set foot in his golden tower. He is using them. He is using us. He is using his voters.

And we’re making America dirty again?

Be careful what you vote for!

Read Full Post »

We now have put Scott Pruitt, who has made a career of suing the EPA as Oklahoma’s attorney general, who is a climate change denier – contrary to his own recent statements – in charge of the EPA.

We recently saw an executive order to allow dumping of coal mining waste into streams, reversing an Obama order to the contrary. Supporters argue that this is not a new order, but simply a return to standards that were in place since 1983.

Ok, so we’re rolling that clock back to 1983, and we’re not so bad, because Reagan allowed it too?

This is all done for a few thousand coal mining jobs in the United States.

Great. We’re bringing jobs in coal mining and fracking back to the United States. China, Europe and even India are rapidly implementing renewable energy technologies. For instance, in Holland, all trains now run on wind energy. China just canceled 103 coal plants. China leads the world in implementation of solar energy.

Chinese children go to school 260 days a year. Americans 180. American children will be able to learn more about Noah’s ark when Betsy DeVos gets to implement her pet projects and bring “God to our schools.”

America puts its people to work in coal mines. China trains its people in renewable energies, software engineering, and manufacturing engineering.

That’s how we’re making America great again, folks.

Believe me.

Read Full Post »


A note left on a car in North Carolina:

Can’t wait until your ‘marriage’ is overturned by a real president.

Gay families = burn in hell!

#Trump2016 #Repent #GodBless

Read Full Post »

In the Vice Presidential debate, Mike Pence mentioned “the war on coal” several times. I had not heard that term before. All I knew was that coal was a major polluting agent and we were doing well by steering our economy away from it. Yes, coal workers would be suffering, just like tobacco workers suffered before them, and blacksmiths when horses were phased out of city traffic. The time of coal is over. Now all we have to do it convince China to do the same.

According to this article by the Associated Press:

PENCE: The economy has stagnated under President Barack Obama, with the Democrat waging a “war on coal.”

THE FACTS: The coal industry is struggling, but the Indiana governor incorrectly blamed its woes solely on new federal regulations, omitting the effects of steep competition from cheap natural gas.


Read Full Post »

Here is a picture of smog in the U.S.

Smog in the US

[click to enlarge; picture credit: NASA]

The red areas are smog in 2005 and 2011.

It shows nitrogen dioxide, which we produce in gasoline engines in cars and trucks, and by burning coal in power plants. Due to work by the EPA, which first started curbing nitrogen dioxide in 1971, its concentrations have been falling over time.

Power plants have installed scrubbers to remove pollutants from their smokestacks, and car manufacturers have adopted catalytic converters. Since 2005, electric utilities have reduced burning of coal and gone to the cleaner natural gas. Our air is much better today than it was 10 years ago, and much better than 30 years ago.

Do we really believe this would have happened without the EPA?

Yet, there is Ted Cruz who yells he wants to abolish the EPA because it is a “job killer.”

One must wonder about the sanity of these people. During the Obama years, we have added over 14 million jobs in an unprecedented job growth period of 70 uninterrupted months. We have created way more jobs than were destroyed during the Bush years, particularly toward the end, when the economy crashed.

Yet, somehow, the EPA is killing jobs.

Do we really want to remove the EPA, start burning coal again, subsidize petroleum companies, and turn the yellow and blue areas read again on the map above?

Because that’s exactly what would happen.

I vote that we keep the EPA. It’s doing a remarkable job in our country, and with the “job killing” that’s going on (adding 14 million in 70 months) I am fine with it continuing to “kill jobs” at that rate.

Read Full Post »

Every year when we get a delivery of telephone books I get angry, since I pick them up at the door and toss them straight into the recycle bin. What a colossal waste! They are printed and then distributed by hand to households. How expensive that must be. But nobody seems to use them anymore. It’s been at least 20 years that I actually opened up a telephone book. But I get them every year.

This year was even worse. The book must have been delivered at our gate on Saturday afternoon. Then it rained overnight. Today, I picked up a soggy phone book and before I tossed it into the recycle bin which is a few feet from our gate, I decided to take a picture:

Telephone Book

I got frustrated about this and checked online. Most of the links are about “recycling” phone books. What the heck? Why recycle. Why not just print stop printing them, and producing them on demand when somebody actually asks for one? Who is paying for this? I am sure we consumers are, somehow.

Here is a site with Opt-Out information. I am registering myself right now.

Read Full Post »

Whenever the Republican candidates trumpet on stage that the EPA is the first agency they want to abolish, it has the most adverse effect on me.

Just watch what happened in Flint, Michigan. The city decided to save money and use water from the Flint river, rather than Lake Huron, for the city’s water source about two years ago. The Flint river is so corrosive that it rusted and corroded the lead pipes that distribute the water. With the corrosion, lead levels 20 times the safe amount were in the city water. Eventually, a local pediatrician figured it out. Then came the cover-up by the city, before that finally crumbled, and now the news comes out.

But back to the EPA. We have the EPA to hold people and businesses accountable. Without the EPA, factories would be free to dump poison into the rivers and into the air. Without the EPA, industry would be free to rape the land and its people. And don’t tell me that industry would volunteer to “be good.”

Just read up and see what kinds of pollution we had before the EPA (before 1970). The country was polluted. But then again, just go to Mexico, or India, or Brazil, or China – to see real pollution. Then come back and tell me you want to abolish the EPA.

It’s strange how the same people that keep harping about the legacy we leave for our children are also those that wouldn’t mind pumping more CO2 into the air, allow pollution into the rivers, and open up national parks for logging and mining.

I honestly cannot understand that thinking.

Read Full Post »

I lifted the section below from a Facebook feed by Schwarzenegger. I didn’t want to just share the feed. There were too many idiotic comments by brilliant and successful experts on energy below the feed – I could not stand it. So here it is, sanitized and quarantined, for your reading:



I don’t give a **** if we agree about climate change.


 Arnold Schwarzenegger· Monday, December 7, 2015

I see your questions.

Each and every time I post on my Facebook page or tweet about my crusade for a clean energy future, I see them.

There are always a few of you, asking why we should care about the temperature rising, or questioning the science of climate change.

I want you to know that I hear you. Even those of you who say renewable energy is a conspiracy. Even those who say climate change is a hoax. Even those of you who use four letter words.

I’ve heard all of your questions, and now I have three questions for you.

Let’s put climate change aside for a minute. In fact, let’s assume you’re right.

First – do you believe it is acceptable that 7 million people die every year from pollution? That’s more than murders, suicides, and car accidents – combined.

Every day, 19,000 people die from pollution from fossil fuels. Do you accept those deaths? Do you accept that children all over the world have to grow up breathing with inhalers?

Now, my second question: do you believe coal and oil will be the fuels of the future?

Besides the fact that fossil fuels destroy our lungs, everyone agrees that eventually they will run out. What’s your plan then?

I, personally, want a plan. I don’t want to be like the last horse and buggy salesman who was holding out as cars took over the roads. I don’t want to be the last investor in Blockbuster as Netflix emerged. That’s exactly what is going to happen to fossil fuels.

A clean energy future is a wise investment, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either wrong, or lying. Either way, I wouldn’t take their investment advice.

Renewable energy is great for the economy, and you don’t have to take my word for it. California has some of the most revolutionary environmental laws in the United States, we get 40% of our power from renewables, and we are 40% more energy efficient than the rest of the country. We were an early-adopter of a clean energy future.

Our economy has not suffered. In fact, our economy in California is growing faster than the U.S. economy. We lead the nation in manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, entertainment, high tech, biotech, and, of course, green tech.

I have a final question, and it will take some imagination.

There are two doors. Behind Door Number One is a completely sealed room, with a regular, gasoline-fueled car. Behind Door Number Two is an identical, completely sealed room, with an electric car. Both engines are running full blast.

I want you to pick a door to open, and enter the room and shut the door behind you. You have to stay in the room you choose for one hour. You cannot turn off the engine. You do not get a gas mask.

I’m guessing you chose the Door Number Two, with the electric car, right? Door number one is a fatal choice – who would ever want to breathe those fumes?

This is the choice the world is making right now.

To use one of the four-letter words all of you commenters love, I don’t give a damn if you believe in climate change. I couldn’t care less if you’re concerned about temperatures rising or melting glaciers. It doesn’t matter to me which of us is right about the science.

I just hope that you’ll join me in opening Door Number Two, to a smarter, cleaner, healthier, more profitable energy future.

Read Full Post »

Here is a study by the International Monetary Fund analyzing how large global energy subsidies are. This includes coal, oil and gas. The number is staggering: $5.3 trillion in 2015. That amounts to about 6.5% of the global GDP. About half of that is in emerging Asia, which includes China, and is boosted by the heavy use of coal in that part of the world. In the United States alone, the amount estimated for 2015 is $700 billion.

Subsidies are money that our governments take away from citizens in form of taxes and give to private and nationalized large corporations to do with as they please. Those corporations exist to make money by selling their products. They don’t exist to worry about what air our children breathe in 20 years and our grandchildren in 50. They don’t exist to worry about Pacific islands sinking under the sea. They don’t exist to worry about Miami, New York, and Tokyo being under water by 2100. There is no incentive for them to keep the environment clean, the rivers pristine, and wildlife alive. By definition, corporate organizations exist to make money and worry about nothing else. Yet, we give them the people’s money, every day.

How much is $5.3 trillion?

Oil Subsidies Worldwide

You can read the chart, but the bottom line is the most staggering one: The world’s taxpayers spend $168,000 a second, every second, day and night, year after year, to prop up oil companies. Yes, that’s Shell, Exxon, BP and many others. These are the same companies that make unbelievable profits. Shell’s profit alone in 2012 was $26.8 billion.

We are being brainwashed every day by our very own media and politicians to hate the word “redistribution” since it connotes socialism. The entire food stamps budget in the U.S. for 2015 is $84 billion, and it was cut significantly. Everyone seems to hate food stamps, even though is is an impactful and effective program, and has a surprisingly low fraud rate with more than 99% of benefits going to eligible households. In 2013 alone, it lifted nearly 5 million people above the poverty line, including about 2.1 million children.

We don’t like redistribution of tax dollars of $84 billion to the poor and their children. Yet, we seem to have no problem handing $700 billion to the oil companies in the U.S. alone. That’s almost 10 times as much as the entire food stamp program.

Giving tax money to corporations, any corporations, is wrong. Giving it to oil companies is immoral.

Why don’t we just stop this nonsense? Bernie Sanders has proposed an End Polluter Welfare Act, which he says would cut $135 billion of U.S. subsidies for fossil fuel companies over the next decade. It doesn’t seem like a big enough cut to me, but it’s a start.

I think I’ll donate another $35 to Bernie Sanders right now.




Read Full Post »

Kansas Banner

I found it funny that the website banner of the Kansas Department for Children and Families shows a family on a green field with a – WINDMILL.

Kansas is the state where Sam Brownback is the governor. Kansas is the home state of Koch Industries, one of the largest private companies in the United States and heavily invested in fossil fuel endeavors, including gas, pipelines, oil and coal.

Yet, there is a windmill on the website. Who’d have guessed it?

Read Full Post »

According to the World Wildlife Foundation, in 2014 the total population of African elephants was estimated to be around 700,000, and the Asian elephant population was estimated to be around 32,000. The population of African elephants in Southern Africa is large and expanding, with more than 300,000 within the region; Botswana has 200,000 and Zimbabwe 80,000. Large populations of elephants are confined to well-protected areas. However, conservative estimates were that 23,000 African elephants were killed by poachers in 2013 and less than 20% of the African elephant range was under formal protection.

— Wikipedia

In 2013 alone, over 1,000 park rangers were killed while attempting to defend African elephants from poachers. The elephant is a terribly endangered animal and it may only be a few more decades before there are no more wild elephants left.

Imagine my surprise when I found this advertisement in the October 2015 Robb Report Collection edition:


RobbReport1This is  a magazine for the very rich. It is full of articles and advertisements for super cars, private jets, 3rd homes in remote islands, art and culture, and – apparently – big game hunting.

It is beyond my comprehension how BigGame.org can position itself as a conservation and education organization, when it’s really just a club for big game hunters – the Dallas Safari Club.

It makes it sound like killing elephants is a noble and worthy endeavor.

Tell me what you will, we can educate and observe completely without shooting a single elephant for sport. Making it sound like hunters are the good guys in this terribly destructive game is simply irresponsible.

Hunting big game for sport is as outdated as slavery. What exactly are “hunters’ rights” that need to be protected? Sounds kind of like protecting the rights of slave owners to me.

Elephants, along with whales and apes, are the most intelligent creatures on this planet, and we’re wiping them out – for sport (in the case of big game hunting) and the relentless greed for ivory in mostly Asian markets.

We humans have a responsibility to protect our fellow intelligences.

Read Full Post »


I just found out through this article that mammoth tusks are being dug out of the thawing permafrost in the arctic by the thousands. They are sold to the ivory carving industry in China at $1,900 per kilogram. The growing Chinese middle class has a voracious appetite for ivory jewelry. Paleontologists are suggesting that this perfectly legal practice should become illegal to protect the not yet extinct elephant.

There are several statements of fact in this article that I found alarming:

  1. I didn’t know there was such a thing as an “ivory carving industry.” Of course, now that I think about it, it makes sense, but it had never crossed my mind before.
  2. The elephant is doomed. The Chinese are just starting to get wealthy, and there are many of them. The ivory carving industry isn’t going to back off as long as a single tusk remains. The country where reportedly 4,000 people die every day because of air pollution isn’t going to care about regulating its consumption of a commodity that is harvested in another continent on the other side of the globe. As long as there are Chinese with money, elephants will be hunted – more than ever, as they become more rare and therefore more expensive.
  3. Global warming is thawing the permafrost. A few decades ago it was difficult to find any mammoths. Now, it seems, you can go out there with a shovel and dig for tusks and sell them for a fortune. There is a significant movement still in the United States and the rest of the world that is “denying” global warming. They say that just because glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates, and permafrost is melting in the arctic, it does not mean that the warming is man-made. It’s just a natural occurrence, like it has happened many times in history. The fact that it’s been 800,000 years since we had 400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere, as we do now, is not enough evidence. Since it’s not man-made, why worry about it. Keep burning that oil!

I am at a loss for suggestions on how to save the elephant, other than save some DNA so we can clone them later, along with the mammoth.

Read Full Post »

Drought Grass in Southern California

This shows our grass and banana trees on the right as of this morning. This spring, we put on new grass seed, fertilized with Miracle Grow, and did hand spot watering on the brown spots. The thunderstorms we had in the last few weeks helped too. Even though our water consumption is the lowest ever, due to severe restrictions because of the terrible drought in California, the lawn has never looked this good before.

We don’t show this off, and fortunately, our little front yard is walled off from the street. But we enjoy the green. Pssst, don’t tell anyone!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: