About Exposing the Big Game

Jim Robertson

How does the 1977 climate event and related California drought of that period compare to the “Blob” event from 2013?

Alaska “Blob” Tracker

I asked Nate Mantua of NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center to comment on the 1977 California Drought event in relation to the more recent “Blob” event of 2013.

“The 1977 drought is very well known in the Pacific climate research community, and in the water resources world in CA-OR-WA because it was so extreme.

Like our recent west coast drought, the proximate cause was a remarkably persistent ridge of high pressure off the West Coast and it did cause warm [sea surface temperatures] SST anomalies [differences from the long-term mean]  in parts of the NE Pacific, but the SST and SLP anomalies weren’t nearly as extreme as those observed in 2013/14 and the patterns were much different than what happened in 2013/14 (and 2012/13 and 2014/15).”

To revisit the 1977 story, check out this short video and learn how a similar “blob” event in 1977 (though not named that) was related to a…

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Conservation Can Be Enhanced By Human Study of Animal Cognition

Understanding similarities in the cognitive and moral capacities of humans with animals can make humans better conservationists, speakers told journalists at an event organized by AAAS’ program of Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion.

Irene Pepperberg, a Harvard University research associate and lecturer, reviewed her work with African grey parrots at the annual meeting of the Religion News Association in Silver Spring, Maryland, on 23 September, highlighting similarities between children and birds in tests of self-control.  The meeting drew nearly 100 journalists.

“We tend to conserve what’s like us,” said Pepperberg. “The more I can show people that these birds are like us, the more I hope they will be conserved.”

In early October, the triennial meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), the world’s largest wildlife trade conference, granted the African grey parrot the highest level of international protection, including the prohibition of international commercial trade of the animal.

Pepperberg has studied the grey parrot for three decades. She is recognized for research on a parrot named Alex who learned the names of about 100 different objects, seven colors, five shapes, and quantities up to and including the number eight. Her studies showed how the parrot was able to understand the concept of categories and the meaning of “same” and “different.”

“You could take an object out of your pocket and ask what’s the  ‘same’ or ‘different’ and he would say ‘color,’  ‘shape,’ ‘matter,’ or ‘none’ if nothing were the same or different,” said Pepperberg.

Alex made up words like “banery,” a combination of banana and cherry that he used to identify an apple and “banacker,” a combination of banana and cracker that he used to communicate his dislike for dried bananas.

Pepperberg focused her research on how the avian brain works: “How are resources allocated within the avian brain — a brain that is physically smaller and somewhat differently organized from, but that is still evolutionarily similar to, that of primates?”

Since 2007, after Alex’s death, Pepperberg has continued studying other African grey parrots, including their perception and cognition – optical illusions, delayed gratification, liquid conservation, and probabilistic reasoning.

Her work on delayed gratification is based on the “marshmallow test” designed in 1960s by Stanford psychologist Walter Mischel that offered 4-year-old children two marshmallows instead of one if they could wait to eat the first. The 30 percent of the preschoolers who succeeded at waiting 15 minutes found ways to distract themselves by looking away from the marshmallow, closing their eyes, among other strategies. Years later, Mischel surveyed the same group and found that the children who had exhibited self-control experienced more success as adults.

Variations of the test have been done with non-human animals. Researchers, for example, tried this type of test with African grey parrots for ‘more’ and failed. But Pepperberg’s bird Griffin understood the English word “wait” and did not require the kind of pre-training that hindered others, she said. He was accustomed to waiting for food, but she wanted to determine if he could choose to delay gratification to get something better.

Wait times were randomized and a variety of treats were used so that Griffin was not being trained to wait. He succeeded on almost all of the trials. “He got better at figuring out ways of delaying himself,” Pepperberg said.

In a side-by-side video of Griffin and the children, similarities between the human and non-human participants are obvious. Both birds and young children took a variety of approaches to resisting temptation through distraction, including pushing treats away and closing their eyes.

“Knowing the intelligence of these birds, maybe we will use this knowledge to improve the care of companion animals, use these birds as models for how to teach children with disabilities, and improve our efforts at conserving them in the wild,” she said.

Kelsey Dallas, a Deseret News national reporter, urged journalists to consider how Pepperberg’s research, and studies like it, enhance understanding of the capacities of animals. “I want to encourage you to dive into this intersection of religion and science,” Dallas added. “You can share surprise, joy, and interest with other people.”

A video aired at the meeting also examined traits humans and animals share. Called “To Be Human,” the video was produced for AAAS’ Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) project known as Science for Seminaries.

“Human morality is not something we developed from scratch,” said Emory University primatologist Frans de Waal, noting in the video that building blocks of morality like empathy and reciprocity are found in other species. Chimpanzees, for example, comfort each other after a fight. “Whether other species have the whole thing that we call human morality, that’s a different issue,” he said.

Leading Animal Rights Group Attacks Trump’s “Inhumanity” In Clinton Endorsement


Trump represents the greatest threat ever to federal policy-making and implementation of animal protection laws, and a threat to animals everywhere.

*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*

It is probably the case that there are few Americans that actually hate animals, and if there are very many at all, they are certainly outnumbered by the uncivilized Americans that actually hate other Americans. Of course at this particular juncture in time there is plenty of evidence that the Americans exuding hatred for American people who aren’t white, aren’t evangelical fundamentalists, aren’t wealthy, and aren’t male all support Donald Trump. What is fairly certain is that even the barbaric savages that support Trump likely support efforts to protect animals from people with a predilection to abuse and slaughter innocent animals, and it is also fairly certain they are unaware that animal rights groups have endorsed Hillary Clinton for president and slammed Donald Trump as “a threat to animals everywhere.”

The national animal rights and protection group, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, announced that it was taking the “unusual step” of wading into the presidential race to endorse Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. The reason the animal rights group gave was because they believe “Trump represents the greatest threat ever to federal policy-making and implementation of animal protection laws, and we are taking the unusual step of wading actively into a presidential campaign.” The group made it very clear that it “evaluate[d] candidates based on a single, non-partisan criterion—their support for animal protection—and did not default to one party or the other.

The HSLF is a lobbying affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States that also said that Ms. Clinton’s Republican opponent was “a threat to animals everywhere.”

On the exact same day the HSLF announced their endorsement of Hillary Clinton, they launched a vicious anti-Trump ad campaign (video here) that cited his past record on animal protection; a record that should sicken any animal lover, even Trump supporters. The group also explained that its biggest concern was that a Trump administration would be stocked with anti-animal rights barbarians.

The HSLF said that based on potential policy decisions under the aegis of the U.S. Department of Fish and Game, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Institutes of Health, and various other executive level agencies, the stakes are just too high to allow a Trump presidency. The HSLF also noted that “there could not be a greater contrast among the White House hopefuls” that guarantees either the “potential for advancing animal welfare reforms at the federal level, or rolling back the recent gains and rule-making actions” that will have devastatingly adverse effects on animals. They also, rightly noted, that where Hillary Clinton has a clear, compelling record of support for animal protection,  the opposition has already assembled a team of advisors and financial supporters “intricately tied to trophy hunting, puppy mills, factory farming, horse slaughter, and other abusive industries.”

The names that Trump’s campaign has floated to run the Interior and Agriculture Department issues are a veritable “who’s who” of vicious anti-animal welfare activists. One of those names,according to Politico, is an oil magnate considered to be the front-runner for Trump’s Secretary of the Interior as well as currently serving on Trump’s agriculture advisory committee. The man, Forrest Lucas is the funding machine providing money for the front group, Protect the Harvest, behind every attack on every organization in the nation involved with protecting animals and defending wildlife.

As HSLF noted, “Lucas has never met a case of animal exploitation he wouldn’t defend,” and he is a fierce advocate “for trophy hunting, puppy mills, and big agribusiness.”  Lucas also personally provided the funding for attacks on a Missouri ballot measure (Prop. B) because its purpose is insuring there are “humane breeding standards for dogs” and regulations on horrendously inhumane puppy mills; something Lucas will not allow even though it has no impact on his oil business. Lucas opposes humane treatment of animals so ardently that he personally financed the attack on Missouri’s Prop. B  because it is one of the animal welfare movement’s most important ballot measures designed to enact humane breeding standards for dogs and crack down on puppy mills.

more: http://www.politicususa.com/2016/10/24/leading-animal-rights-group-attacks-trumps-inhumanity-clinton-endorsement.html

Leading Animal Rights Group Attacks Trump’s “Inhumanity” In Clinton Endorsement

Subsurface Conditions

Alaska “Blob” Tracker

Those who follow North Pacific temperature patterns closely are well aware that the past summer brought a dramatic expansion of above-normal temperatures at the ocean surface across the northern North Pacific Ocean, reversing the cold anomalies that developed last winter during the strong El Niño episode. The two maps below illustrate the change, based on OIv2 SST data. The late winter pattern was very characteristic of the positive PDO phase, but by late summer the PDO index dropped to near-neutral and the pattern more closely resembled the positive NPM (North Pacific Mode) phase, i.e. “the blob” pattern.


Here’s a chart showing the monthly NPM index since 2010, based on ERSSTv4 data. Remarkably, the negative NPM episode of late winter, related to El Niño, proved to be very short-lived, and the index is already back up to the strongly positive territory of 2013-2015.


The map below shows the average sea-level pressure…

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“We Have Nowhere to Go” — Sea Level Rise is Devouring the Coast of West Africa


“I am very afraid for the future of this place. Sooner or later we will have to leave, but we have nowhere to go.” — Buabasah a resident of Fuvemeh, a West African town being swallowed by the sea.


The coastal zone of West Africa stretches for 4,000 miles from Mauritania to the Congo. It includes highly populated regions surrounding low elevation cities and towns in such African nations as Gabon, Nigeria, Senegal, Guinea, The Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Liberia, and Ghana. Most industrial activity and food-growing is located near the coast of these nations — accounting for 56 percent of GDP for the region according to the World Bank. And coastal population concentrations in regions vulnerable to sea level rise are very high. In all about 31 percent of the 245 million people dwelling in West Africa live in this fragile land.


(Due to global…

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copyrighted wolf in water

Oct 24, 2016 12:45 PM MDTUpdated: Oct 24, 2016 12:49 PM MDT

GREAT FALLS –A wolf shot in September while killing sheep near Judith Gap in central Montana spent the previous three months traveling about 700 miles, starting in western Washington, according to a press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

When federal Wildlife Services killed the 2-year-old male on September 29, it was wearing a collar that had been affixed in February by Washington Fish and Wildlife biologists north of Spokane.

The wolf left its pack in June, turning east into Idaho, then north in Canada. It re-entered the United States on July 4 near Eureka, Montana, heading southeast.

“By late July, it was on the Rocky Mountain Front and Washington Fish and Wildlife called to let me know,” said Ty Smucker said, a wolf specialist with MT FWP.

Smucker was notified of the animal’s location about once a week.

“The wolf came out on the Rocky Mountain Front just east of Bean Lake on July 22,” Smucker said. “Then it spent over a month and a half moving around the lower Dearborn River Country, before heading toward Square Butte west of Great Falls on September 13.”

From Square Butte, the wolf turned east, keeping to the north side of the Little Belt Mountains, emerging on the foothills of the Little Belt Mountains west of Judith Gap on September 22, Smucker said.

Responding to a report of a wolf killing sheep, federal Wildlife Services killed the collared wolf on September 29 as it was leaving a band of sheep that it had been chasing and feeding on.

“It had to travel at least 700 miles total,” Smucker said.

The young wolf was probably looking for a mate, he added.

“Wolf packs consist of breeding pairs that generally produce 4-6 pups each spring,” he said. “As young wolves mature they typically disperse from their natal pack in search of potential mates and vacant territories in which to start their own packs.”

Sometimes that search can take the animal on a long journey. In 2015, a wolf left its pack’s territory west of Missoula and ended up 600 miles north in British Columbia.

While FWP occasionally receives reports of wolves in the Little Belt Mountains of central Montana, there are currently no known packs of wolves maintaining territories or producing pups in the area.

In addition, FWP does not capture and relocate problem wolves.

Montana’s wolf population has stabilized for the past eight years at a minimum of more than 500.

“Public hunting and trapping of wolves helps manage wolf numbers in Montana,” Smucker said. “Overall, Montana’s wolf population appears to be doing quite well.”

How Goliath Might Fall — Fossil Fuel Industry to Experience Market Crashes Over Next 10 Years


There’s a very real David vs Goliath conflict now underway in the global energy markets. On one side is a loose coalition made up of renewable energy producers and advocates, individuals who are increasingly concerned about global warming, environmentalists, technophiles, people promoting a democratization of the energy markets, and energy efficiency advocates. On the other side is a vast and powerful global fossil fuel industry backed by wealthy billionaires like the Koch Brothers and various national and nationally supported corporations around the world.

Up to 3.4 Trillion Dollars in Bad Fossil Fuel Investments

By the end of the next 1-3 decades, one set of these two forces will have won out — which will, in turn, decide whether the world continues along the path of climate devastation that is business as usual fossil fuel burning, or sees a rapid reduction in burning-related emissions to near zero which will help to…

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State Stops Wolf Kill For Now as Grazing Season Ends


Thursday, October 20, 2016 9:53 am

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has stopped its hunt for the Profanity Peak wolf pack now that the grazing season on public lands in the Colville National Forest is over for the year.

Agency Director Jim Unsworth lifted his previous order to kill off the pack Wednesday. The department, though, will continue to monitor the four remaining wolves in the pack, an adult female and three young, and target them again if they harm livestock this year.

The pack once numbered 12 wolves. Since Aug. 5, state wildlife staff members have shot and killed seven members of the pack. Another wolf, a pup, is presumed to have died of natural causes.

In all, the department documented 15 dead or injured cows. Of those, 10 were confirmed to have been preyed upon by wolves. The other five probably were, according to the department.

The pack is one of 19 documented in the state so far. Most are in the eastern third of the state, where they are not protected by the federal Endangered Species Act.

Under state policy, the department can take lethal action against wolves if its field staff confirm four or more attacks on livestock in a calendar year, or six or more in two consecutive calendar years.

According to the department, ranchers in the area used by the Profanity Peak pack moved cattle onto public lands for grazing in early June. The wildlife department captured two adult members of the pack and fitted them with GPS radio collars, allowing the department to monitor the pack’s movements. By July 8, the department confirmed the first calf kill.

It was no surprise to some: Ranchers and local officials in Ferry County predicted problems with the pack, and in 2014 called for the pack’s elimination, according to the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association.

The state is targeting the pack at public expense — as yet uncounted — to protect cattle grazing by ranchers on public lands and has raised a storm of controversy in Washington and beyond that has yet to subside.

The department promises a final report on its actions with regard to the pack next month.

Meanwhile, wolf recovery is expected to build in Washington.

Wolves were trapped, poisoned and hunted out of existence in Washington in the early 1900s, in part by ranchers to keep them away from sheep and cattle. Wolves began recolonizing the state in 2008, when the first packs were confirmed in Washington, from populations in Idaho and British Columbia.

There were about 90 wolves in the state as of early 2016, most of them documented in packs in Northeastern Washington.


For once the NRB listened to the citizens. There is a first time for everything.

Ballot Initiative I-177 is a sensible measure to protect people, pets and wildlife from trapping on Montana’s wild public lands. Please vote yes on Nov. 8.

While trapping will still be allowed on private lands throughout the state, I-177 would ensure that Montana’s national forests, state parks and other public lands are kept free of cruel, archaic traps that injure and kill many animals by accident every year.

This measure would not limit hunting on public lands, contrary to the claims of its detractors. 

Your yes vote will help save thousands of animals annually from these brutal traps. Let the world know that Montana cares about its wildlife by voting yes on I-177. Visit www.yeson177.org for more information.

Donate now to support the Center’s work.

Global Warming is Winning the Battle Against Arctic Sea Ice — Extent Drops to New Record Lows


Ever since human-forced climate change started to kick off dramatically worsening polar warming events in the 2000s, the Arctic has struggled to cool down to normal temperatures during fall and winter. However, for 2016, this failure of Arctic cooling appears to have grown even more pronounced.

Over the past few weeks, temperature anomalies for the entire region north of the 66th parallel have ranged between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius above average. These are very extreme departures — ones we typically have only seen during winter when the poleward heat energy transfer effects of human-caused climate change are at their strongest. But this fall, a north-bound flood of warmth has turned the Arctic into a glaring global hot spot — featuring the highest above normal temperature readings for any region of the Earth.

New Record Daily Lows for Arctic Sea Ice

So much added heat has had a marked effect…

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