Yellowstone…., (before Trump)

Stephen Capra

There is a place where wolves and bears spend time together. It is a land that still holds in its heart wildness. It is a large protected landscape, where rivers flow strong and thermal features boil and bubble to the surface and geysers send their scalding fury skyward. This is a land of grizzlies, wolves, bighorn sheep and bison. It is a place overrun by tourism in the heat of summer and a vast wilderness surveyed in the stark cold of a December morning. It is managed by humans and its history, not surprisingly, is pockmarked by some very serious collective failings.

But in these days before we begin the Trump Administration, it is perhaps important to remember what good people, with character and foresight can give to a nation, to the world. Yellowstone was and remains that vision, that gift; and if you have ever had the privilege to spend a cold winter day in the heart of the Lamar Valley watching wolves race across the open landscape or skiing through the heart of the geyser basin, then you understand the majesty, the guttural joy that land, wildlife and wilderness can bring to the soul.

Yellowstone this time of year is marked by short days and often bitter cold nights. Snow can be deep in places, windswept in others. The heat of the geysers and thermal features creates an open air sauna for wildlife, and keeps the ice at bay along portions of rivers, streams and lakes. Bison sway their heads back and forth in the deep snow, digging down like a steam shovel to find precious grasses for survival. Trumpeter swans lend their grace to the silent lands of winter and radiate the beauty that is all things wild.

The New Year will bring a new President, one that has never tasted wildness. Likely never hiked or camped or skied in this place called Yellowstone. His ideas, his morals do not seem to seek out good or shared inheritance, rather they are pulled like gravity towards self-fulfillment, delusion and enrichment. He has none of the strength or confidence of the wolf, none of the wisdom of the bear. He has not learned the patience or mutual enrichment of the White bark or Lodge pole pines. He could never understand the courage of the men who decided that this land was not designed for profit, but rather preserved for the wealth its wildness would give to generations to come.

National Parks remain for many our greatest idea. They were created in an era when wealth meant privilege and a park like Yellowstone, while still very hard to access, was open to any and all. Like Yosemite, which was created a few years earlier, they indeed did all come. Men and woman, young and old, fewer of color, but they did come and today are coming in record numbers.

Today with this President and this congress, ideas like our National Parks are viewed with disdain; somehow to many of these men and sadly woman, the power and money of big oil, Koch Brothers, and pipeline kings are transforming our landscapes, our air and waters. The sanctity of our National Parks are being eroded as never before by the very greed, that the men who sat by a campfire more than 146 years ago tossed aside, because they knew it was wrong. They saw in America, a chance to get it right and break free from the very European model that so many had fled. Because of such moral bearings, we now have parks from coast to coast that are shared by all Americans and the peoples of the world.

Yet in the incoming Administration, such moral bearings appear lost with each new cabinet choice, by the fractured nature of our country and bombastic social and contrived media that bears no semblance to truth. Our National Parks in such a battlefield have no medics and we, citizens of America, are the only foot soldiers.

They will come for oil or gold or water. They will look to shoot our bears or desecrate the parks’ borders with mines, gun ranges, or refineries. These concepts are designed not just to break up the land, but more importantly- Our spirit.

In the raw morning that is winter in Yellowstone, we are witness to the magic that is our National Parks, to their strength for our nation and the wisdom they impart to those who care to listen. If you ask me we could double or triple the size of Yellowstone, that much more to share with future generations. That much more safe room for grizzlies, wolves and swans to live and thrive, that much more for people to learn and explore and share with animals that leave in us simply wonder.

But first we must confront the disease, the blight on the horizon. To do this, we must channel the energy that comes from the heart of 2.2 million acres of rare, protected lands, where the bones of bison mix with fiery waters and the primordial muds that define beauty and spirit in perfect balance. That energy source is the fuel for our souls in these times of uncertainty and danger for our lands and wildlife.

It can and will make us warriors!

When they come, for they will come for our lands, we will be ready to fight. In their retreat we will understand the power of land, of animals and wildness to prevail over of the iniquity of greed and the barren promise of money.

But it will take courage, the courage taught by time spent in the heart of wild nature and the spirit of those who came before us, who made sure these lands were to be protected for all generations, not to be exploited by one.

Some Good News and Some Victories for Animals in 2016
An Animal Rights Article from

December 2016

THANK YOU for every single thing you did to make a difference for animals in 2016!

This list is about the animals and to honor animal rights activism. Congratulate yourself for your contribution and get inspired to do even MORE for animals in 2017. Please SHARE this link!

We know there are many more victories and many more good news items for animals in 2016 and we know there are LOTS of opinions of what “victory” or “good news” mean. This is a listing of what was posted as good news/victories on our 2016 weekly eNewsletters. Please subscribe here.

Image above to celebrate Ringling Bros. LAST Elephant Show, May 2016!


This is What The Resistance Looks Like — Cities, States and Nations Run on 100 Percent Renewable Power


The sparks of resistance to a harmful domination of energy supplies by the fossil fuel industry are out there. They are the lights of clean power generation blooming like stars across a world blackened by smokestack emissions and imperiled by climate change.


In the U.S., backward-looking republicans like Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, James Inhofe and Mitch McConnell appear to be gearing up to fight against both a necessary and helpful science that provides us with a life-saving awareness of the threats posed by human caused climate change and a highly beneficial renewable energy renaissance that has now gone global. Trump’s presidential cabinet is filled to the brim with climate change deniers and fossil fuel pushers. Pledges to de-fund climate science, implied threats to fire employees at the Department of Energy who worked on climate and renewable energy related issues, and belligerent boasting about dismantling much-needed policies like the…

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A Flood of Warm Water the Size of 30 Amazon Rivers is Melting One of East Antarctica’s Largest Glaciers


If we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that few of Antarctica’s submerged coastal glaciers are safe from the warming ocean. Places that we once thought wouldn’t be vulnerable to melt for decades or centuries are now starting to feel the heat of rising water temperatures.

The heat comes in the form of great floods of warmer than normal waters running beneath the ocean surface and then eating away at the undersides of ice shelves and sea fronting glaciers. These floods are provided by the warmth forced into the world ocean by rising global greenhouse gas concentrations. And such invasions are happening around Antarctica’s perimeter with increasing frequency. But perhaps the most disturbing such event now ongoing is the present warm water flood running in from the Southern Ocean toward East Antarctica’s Totten Glacier.


(The melting edge of the Totten Glacier. Image source:

Totten is a…

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Join the Resistance to Trump’s Attack on Our Environment and Civil Rights
The Earth2Trump Roadshow is coming to a town near you in January.

The roadshow is rallying and empowering defenders of civil rights and the environment to resist Trump’s dangerous agenda. Stopping in 16 cities on its way to Washington, D.C., it will bring thousands of people to protest at the presidential inauguration.

Click on the map below to RSVP for an event near you. Invite your friends, family and activist networks. Forward this webpage widely on Facebook, Twitter and email.

Beginning in Oakland and Seattle on Jan. 2, the Earth2Trump Roadshow will tour the country bringing speakers, musicians, outrage, fun and hope to 16 cities as it progresses toward the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20.

The shows will feature national and local speakers, great musicians, and an opportunity to join a growing movement of resistance to all forms of oppression and all attacks on our environment. We must stand and oppose every Trump policy that hurts wildlife; poisons our air and water; destroys our climate; promotes racism, misogyny or homophobia; and marginalizes entire segments of our society.

At each show, you can:

  • Sign the national Pledge of Resistance to Trump’s dangerous agenda.
  • Write a personalized #Earth2Trump message that will be carried to D.C. inside a massive three-dimensional globe and delivered to Trump.
  • Create a huge, viral social media #Earth2Trump messaging campaign.
  • Connect with people in your community resisting oppression and find out how to join the million people who will protest in Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day.

Join us in your community to send a powerful, unwavering #Earth2Trump message that oppression and environmental destruction must not be tolerated.

Click on locations in the map below to RSVP so we know you’re coming and then share this page with your family, friends and social networks.

Keep Grizzlies Protected: A New Film About Why Grizzlies Still Need Federal Protectio

December 19, 2016

|Louisa Willcox

Today marks the release of a film entitled Keep Grizzlies Protected ( by noted filmmakers Anthony Birkholz and Marni Walsh. The film features leading scientists who speak out about threats to the future of the grizzly bear, and raise concerns about the federal government’s stated intention to strip federal protections from grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem early next year.


Delisting would expose the threatened population to trophy hunting. World-renowned scientists, as well as leading scientific societies, have expressed deep concern about the risk that state-sponsored sport hunting and other harmful policies will pose to grizzly bears. The grizzly bear is especially vulnerable because of its low reproductive rates, and much-diminished numbers since European settlers arrived.  Even with federal protections, grizzly bears still number just 3% of what they once were in the lower 48 states. An unprecedented number of citizens share these concerns about the future of the grizzly in and around the Nation’s first park.


The film features a cast of the “who’s who” of experts on large carnivores, endangered species and climate change. Scientists include Dr. Jane Goodall, Dr. David Mattson, Dr. Rob Wielgus, Dr. Jesse Logan, Dr. Diana Six, Dr. Brad Bergstrom and Dr. Jeremy Bruskotter.  Yvon Chouinard, world-famous climber, founder of Patagonia, and conservationist, also spoke in an interview about one of his passions: climate change.


I felt compelled to take on producing this film after reading the inspired comments of these and other experts submitted last spring to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in response to a draft delisting proposal. I have read countless comment letters to the government in my 30 plus years as a conservationist in the Northern Rockies. But in its most recent delisting plan, the FWS so overstepped the bounds of commonsense and scientific integrity as to unleash a stunning backlash by experts. Rarely have I seen such a sweeping condemnation by independent scientists of a government grizzly bear management proposal.


What the Experts Say About Delisting and Trophy Hunting

In its draft delisting proposal, some of the FWS’s claims were “ludicrous”, according to retired Forest Service ecologist Dr. Jesse Logan. Logan was referring here to FWS’ bald-faced assertion that climate change has not had and would never have adverse impacts on grizzlies. In fact, “climate change is affecting everything that the grizzlies use for food and habitat,” said Dr. Diana Six, Forest Pathologist at the University of Montana.


Dr. Jane Goodall, primatologist and ethologist, observed: “Two of the bear’s major foods have been all but wiped out due to climate change, disease, and invasive species.”


In the interviews, a number of the scientists focused on the threat of renewing trophy hunting after 40 years of federal endangered species protections. Dr. Rob Wielgus, Director of Washington State University’s Large Carnivore Lab said: “The largest obstacles for recovery of the Yellowstone and Grand Teton bears is human-caused mortality and the greatest potential future obstacle is even greater human-caused mortality as per the proposed hunting seasons in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.”


Dr. Jane Goodall offered: “I was really shocked to hear about this. Actually, I found it hard to believe, because they face so many threats to their survival. If the grizzlies are delisted, and states open a hunting season, I think many hearts would break. I know mine would.”


Many scientists cited the problem of the grizzly bear’s long isolation from other populations. “Grizzly bear recovery really comes down to whether we can connect the Yellowstone population with populations of grizzly bears elsewhere,” said Dr. David Mattson, retired biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “If we can’t, the ecosystem continues to unravel, densities continue to decline, they’re going to be that much more vulnerable potentially to extirpation.”


Experts challenged the recovery targets as being too low to ensure the long-term health of the population. Dr. Jesse Logan noted that: “Fish and Wildlife contends that we have a viable population with 700 bears. Analysis by the American Society of Mammalogists says no, the effective breeding population is going to require over twice that many bears, so we have to allow enough habitat for bears to expand into –– and it exists here, it’s just that they’re not allowed to do it.”


Dr. Brad Bergstrom, Conservation Biologist and Professor at Valdosta State University, put the grizzly delisting decision in the context of a deeper problem inherent in FWS’ approach to endangered species recovery: “The whole idea of recovery planning and recovery goals, they (FWS) seem to be stuck in this outmoded philosophy of picking a magic number. We’re going to set a target and 20 or 30 years later we’re going to come back to that target that we set… and we’re going to just be faithful to that target number… without regarding any of the scientific advances made within those last 20 to 30 years. Now that, to me, does not honor the letter of the Endangered Species Act, which says that their decision should be based on the best currently available science. The science changes. But their quotas, their goals, their magic numbers, they don’t change.”


Unprecedented Public Outcry Over Delisting, Sport Hunting

The film comes at a time when people across the country have expressed unprecedented and passionate opposition to the proposed removal of Endangered Species Act protections, along with clear support for vigorous recovery measures. Over 800,000 people recently signed petitions to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of the Interior, asking for continued protection of Yellowstone grizzlies, rather than devolution of management to the states of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, which are notoriously hostile to carnivores (link).


Dr. Jeremy Bruskotter, a social scientist with The Ohio State University said: “We have really good public data that suggests that while people are generally supportive of hunting, they are not supportive of trophy hunting. I don’t want to say no one, but let’s just say very few people are going out to hunt grizzly bears that are going to hunt them for food. Right? They’re hunting them for the purpose of trophy for self-gratification, and that from a public standpoint is very, very controversial. It’s something that the data show that clearly the public just does not support.”


Over 50 Indian Tribes have also formally opposed sport hunting the Great Bear, an animal they have long viewed as sacred (


The Solution: Connect Populations, Improve Coexistence Practices, Keep Grizzlies Protected

In the film, scientists’ offer simple and clear recommendations: keep bears protected, redouble recovery efforts to connect the long-isolated Yellowstone grizzlies to neighboring sub-populations, allow bears to expand into suitable habitat, and improve practices that allow humans to coexist with bears. These measures will also improve the ability of bears to adapt to a changing climate.


Such steps are also consistent with widely shared public attitudes. Dr. Jeremy Bruskotter noted that: “Public opinion polling suggests that people generally want bears to be listed. They want to see further recovery efforts. We can glean some information from the public comments that were filed on behalf or in response to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services proposal to delist bears that suggest that people would like to see more grizzly bears in more places, and would like to see those populations protected.”


The Endangered Species Act matters for another important reason. According to Dr. David Mattson, “the ESA is one of the few laws that unambiguously gives all the American public a voice in management of wildlife. Otherwise, management of virtually all wildlife is in the hands of state wildlife management agencies, which is a problem. The American public should have a voice under other circumstances than just jeopardy. For example, with Yellowstone’s grizzly bears, regardless of whether you think they are endangered or not, here we have a population of a species that is of national interest. And the national public deserves a voice in their management, not only now but in perpetuity.”


The film concludes by asking viewers to request that President Obama respond to public opinion and withdraw the proposed rule to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s grizzly bears, and employ the best available science to promote the long overdue recovery of this iconic species.

Solar Now Produces a Better Energy Return on Investment Than Oil


The future is not good for oil, no matter which way you look at it. — Motherboard


Solar — it’s not just a clean power source producing zero emissions and almost no local water impact, it’s also now one of the best choices on the basis of how much energy you get back for your investment. And with climate change impacts rising, solar’s further potential to take some of the edge off the harm that’s coming down the pipe makes speeding its adoption a clear no-brainer.

In 2016, according a trends analysis based on this report by the Royal Society of London, the energy return on energy investment (EROEI) for oil appears to have fallen below a ratio of 15 to 1 globally. In places like the United States, where extraction efforts increasingly rely on unconventional techniques like fracking, that EROEI has fallen to 10 or 11…

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Regions Near North Pole to Hit Above Freezing Three Days Before Christmas


In our cultural mythology we consider the North Pole to be this permanently frozen wonderland. And, during the 20th Century, the depiction was mostly true. Explorers venturing into the Arctic at that time found towering floes of ice — often measuring 15 to 20 feet high. And, up until the mid 2000s, the Arctic Ocean was permanently frozen from Continent to Pole even during summer. So that adventurous skiers could strike out from northern Siberian, and treck to the pole over ice in months like June and July. Now such expeditions require the use of a kayak — if they occur at all.


(A warm storm over Svalbard joins with a chain of systems running from the North Atlantic to the Pole to drive gale force winds and above freezing temperatures into the Arctic in this December 22nd GFS model prediction. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

Back then, the polar…

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‘That’s karma’: Infamous lion hunter’s death celebrated online

© Max Rossi
Controversial Italian hunter Luciano Ponzetto has died after falling 30 meters (100ft) down a ravine. His death occurred while he was hunting, prompting many to describe it as “karma”.

Ponzetto, who became a figure of controversy after posting images of his trophy kills online, slipped on ice and fell down a ravine according to Corriere Della Sera. The 55 year old had been hunting birds in Colle delle Oche near Turin in Italy when the accident happened.

It seems the photos Ponzetto posted previously hadn’t left a good impression, with social media users rejoicing in Ponzetto’s death, or “divine intervention,” as it was described by some.


Trump is a threat to the Paris agreement. Can states like California defend it?

Mayors could override Trump on the Paris climate accord — here’s how (Business Insider)

American Mayors Pledge Climate Leadership In Response To United States Presidential Election (C40 Cities)…

Trump is a threat to the Paris agreement. Can states like California defend it? (The Guardian)

Google says it will hit 100% renewable energy by 2017 (TechCrunch)

India’s silence on Trump noted at Marrakech climate talks (Climate Change News)

Trump, Putin, and ExxonMobil team up to destroy the planet (Think Progress)