Woman spends night chained to Shell ship

By Associated Press Published: May 23, 2015

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) – The Coast Guard says it has no plans to remove a woman who has chained herself to the Arctic Challenger, a support ship for Royal Dutch Shell’s exploratory oil drilling plans.

The activist attached herself to the ship anchored in Bellingham Bay, north of Seattle, on Friday evening.

The Coast Guard cutter Osprey spent the night monitoring the protester but took no action, Petty Officer 3rd Class Katelyn Shearer said Saturday morning. “We’re really most concerned for her safety and the safety of everyone involved,” Shearer said.

Authorities spoke with the woman and asked her to remove herself. “There’s no plans right now to do anything further,” Shearer said.

The ship isn’t scheduled to leave the port for several days.

Rob Lewis, a spokesman for the Bellingham activists, identified the woman who has suspended herself in a climbing harness from the anchor chain of the Arctic Challenger as Chiara Rose.

Lewis said she is protesting Shell’s plan for arctic drilling. He described the Arctic Challenger as a savior vessel that is used in the case of an oil leak, but said activists doubt its effectiveness at preventing environmental disasters like the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

He confirmed that the Coast Guard was not interfering with Rose, but they had impounded … More:

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Woman-chains-herself-to-Shell-ship-in-Bellingham-Bay-overnight-304814081.html

From Bad to More Bad

Demonstrators depart after morning protesting Shell oil rig

And, more bad:
Climate change meets population shift: More people will be hotterworld-population-through-history-to-2025
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The combination of global warming and shifting population means that by mid-century, there will be a huge increase in the number of Americans sweating through days that are extremely hot, a new study says.

More:

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/science/future-for-warming-us-not-just-the-heat-but-the-humanity/

Nature Climate Change: http://www.nature.com/nclimate

Save the Wild Chukchi Sea—Not Just for You and Not for Me

What a strange time we live in. While Earth’s ecosystems are collapsing, both on land and throughout the sea, the same human greed that’s killing the planet is being planned for the future—as if we’re all that matters.

But as the pack ice melts earlier each year, the thing almost no one mentions is that the portion of the Arctic Ocean known as the Chukchi Sea has been claimed for centuries as strategic and crucial summer feeding grounds for grey whales. These ocean giants only want the amphipods and other benthic crustaceans they can find burrowed in the sand below the cold waters in a region nobody else wanted until now.

If things go as some people plan, Shell and others will soon follow the whales’ ancient migration route north with their oil drilling rigs and deafening seismic cannons for some human business as usual, without stopping to think about the one spill that could send the place to hell. Amphipods cannot live in oil-soaked sand, and whales cannot live without them.

After surviving the barbaric, rapacious whaling era, how sad for the grey whales to simply starve to death as a result of human actions that so many knew should never happen.

Unless the general consensus is that the planet’s going to die anyway (thanks to the likes of them) so why stop now, what are these greedy little monsters thinking? Anything?

I don’t know if there are enough folks who care about others besides themselves or their species to prevent the status quo from destroying the sea, the land, and the atmosphere we all live in, but a lot of lives depend on it.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2015 All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2015 All Rights Reserved

Hundreds march on Port of Seattle to protest Arctic oil drilling

Hundreds march on Port of Seattle to protest Arctic oil drilling

Seattle police accompany hundreds of protesters as they march on the Port of Seattle on Monday.

SEATTLE – Hundreds of protesters marched Monday on the Port of Seattle, where a massive floating Arctic oil drilling rig is parked on the waterfront.

Organizers say their goal is to block the gates to Terminal 5 and engage in civil disobedience to stop any work on the rig.

The Polar Pioneer, which Shell hopes to use to drill off Alaska’s northwest coast this summer, arrived in Seattle on Thursday. Hundreds of protesters in kayaks and other vessels turned out on Saturday for a protest dubbed the “Paddle in Seattle.”

They plan to continue their protest on land Monday.

The protesters say they’re concerned about the risk of oil spill in the Arctic and the effects of burning fossil fuels on climate change.

Officials in Alaska have touted the money the drilling could bring the state, as well as economic benefits to the Pacific Northwest, which uses much of Alaska’s oil.

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Renewed-Arctic-oil-drilling-protests-planned-in-Seattle-304112881.html

Also see: http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Anti-Arctic-drilling-kayaktivists-hold-Shell-No-protest-303995901.html

And:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/30780-paddle-up-resistance-to-shell-s-arctic-drilling-grows-on-land-and-sea

 

Another Sign of Climate Change: Warm weather causes partial collapse at Big Four Ice Caves

Big Four Ice Caves
http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Warm-weather-causing-danger-at-Big-Four-Ice-Caves-303681501.html
By KOMO Staff Published: May 13, 2015 
GRANITE FALLS, Wash. — The Big Four Ice Caves are in their “most dangerous state” due to unseasonably warm weather, U.S. Forest Service officials say.

Parts of the cave have collapsed and the Forest Service says people should stay on the trail and not go into the caves. The Big Four Ice Caves are a popular hiking destination in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

“The cave is in a condition that we would normally not see until at least September,” said Matthew Riggen, lead field ranger with the Forest Service.

Even during seasons with normal temperatures, the caves are prone to falling rocks and ice.

In 2010, 11-year-old Grace Tam was killed at the caves by falling ice.

Tam was standing on an ice field with her family when the accident happened.

Tam’s family has worked with the Forest Service to install a memorial near the caves.

[I used to hike in and around the Big Four Ice Caves. Soon they’ll have to erect a memorial for the ice caves themselves.]

Travel Scene: Global warming opens Northwest Passage to pleasure cruises

Mon Oct 6, 2014.

Global warming and the resultant melting of parts of the Arctic icecap have opened a new world of travel — a 900-mile, 32-day luxury cruise with fares starting at $20,000.

Crystal Cruises, one of the world’s top-rated cruise lines, has announced that one of its ships, the Crystal Serenety, will traverse the fabled Northwest Passage on this Pacific-to-Atlantic voyage, beginning from Seward, Alaska, through the north part of mainland Canada and the Arctic Ocean to New York City.

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Crystal says it will be the first luxury cruise ship to make this voyage, following the route that Norwegian explorer Roald Amundson discovered some 100 years ago.

Crystal, in press releases, says the journey, in August 2016 will be on “a mystical Pacific-Atlantic sea route far beyond the Arctic Circle that for centuries captured the imagination of kings, explorers and adventurers.”

Part of the reason that the Northwest Passage captured so many imaginations for many centuries, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, was that it was choked with ice and impossible to navigate. But climate change has set off a scramble to control the now-accessible shipping routes and mineral rights.

The Crystal Serenity, Bloomberg says, is simply following the wake of the freighters that are already plying the Arctic.

Climate-change tourism will offer something greatly different than a usual journey. The cruise, notes Bloomberg, will offer passengers kayaking and tundra treks, up-close sightings of polar bears, narwhals, musk oxen and caribou.

“These are encounters,” notes the newsletter, with the inhabitants and distinctive elements of the world that climate change —- the same thing that’s allowing the cruise to take place — is threatening.

Crystal bills the trip as a “once-in-a-lifetime expeditionary voyage that marries extreme wilderness adventure with unsurpassed luxury voyage.” It adds that cruisers “will bear witness to breathtaking landscapes that few have ever seen, from spectacular glaciers to towering fjords and experience nature that is truly wild.”

The cruise line says that two years of extensive planning has gone into the itinerary, balancing days at sea with scheduled ports of call. Designed to be flexible, the cruise will incorporate unplanned “expedition days,” when favorable weather conditions allow. These treks will be led by veteran explorers.

All told, a team of 14 experts, including scientists and an Arctic guide, will be aboard. Ports of call include remote areas of the Canadian Arctic such as Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories and Cambridge Bay in Nunavut.

The cruise sails from Aug. 16 to Sept. 17, 2016. Prices start at $19,975 double occupancy and cabins are on sale.

Crystal’s web site, at crystalcruises.com/NWP-FAQs, offers more information.

Plans set for new Mexico City airport

If you’ve flown into Mexico City’s airport — and we have — you will know that a new airport is needed, and one apparently is on the way.

A new $9.2 billion facility is planned that will quadruple the capacity of the current Benito Juarez Airport. The nation’s president, Enrique Pena Nieto has described the project as Mexico’s largest infrastructure addition in recent years and called it “Mexico’s gateway to the world.”

Travel Weekly reports that the airport will be built on 11,400 acres of federally owned land adjacent to the existing airport and the plan is to handle up to 120 million passengers a year — four times the capacity of the existing facility.

The design of the structure will be unique: The soaring vaulted terminal and lightweight glass and steel structure will be designed in the form of a giant X. No date has been set for the start of the project.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 10:  Actor Leonardo DiCaprio attends the 86th Academy Awards nominee luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 10, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

One of the actors in “Titanic”

Greenhouse Gas Benchmark of 400 pps Reached

co2_trend_gl

http://research.noaa.gov/News/NewsArchive/LatestNews/TabId/684/ArtMID/1768/ArticleID/11153/Greenhouse-gas-benchmark-reached-.aspx

Greenhouse gas benchmark reached

Global carbon dioxide concentrations surpass 400 parts per

million for the first month since measurements began

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

For the first time since we began tracking carbon dioxide in the global atmosphere, the monthly global average concentration of this greenhouse gas surpassed 400 parts per million in March 2015,  according to NOAA’s latest results.

“It was only a matter of time that we would average 400 parts per million globally,” said Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network. “We first reported 400 ppm when all of our Arctic sites reached that value in the spring of 2012. In 2013 the record at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory first crossed the 400 ppm threshold. Reaching 400 parts per million as a global average is a significant milestone.

Measuring greenhouse gases

Measuring greenhouse gases (NOAA)

“This marks the fact that humans burning fossil fuels have caused global carbon dioxide concentrations to rise more than 120 parts per million since pre-industrial times,” added Tans. “Half of that rise has occurred since 1980.”

The International Energy Agency reported on March 13 that the growth of global emissions from fossil fuel burning stalled in 2014, remaining at the same levels as 2013. Stabilizing the rate of emissions is not enough to avert climate change, however. NOAA data show that the average growth rate of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere from 2012 to 2014 was 2.25 ppm per year, the highest ever recorded over three consecutive years.

NOAA works with partners around the world to make sustained measurements of atmospheric gases.These data are used in analyses that aid our understanding of climate change and provide information to help decision-makers address the challenges facing our planet.

NOAA bases the global carbon dioxide concentration on air samples taken from 40 global sites. NOAA and partner scientists collect air samples in flasks while standing on cargo ship decks, on the shores of remote islands and at other locations around the world. It takes some time after each month’s end to compute this global average because samples are shipped from locations for analysis at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado.

“We choose to sample at these sites because the atmosphere itself serves to average out gas concentrations that are being affected by human and natural forces. At these remote sites we get a better global average,” said Ed Dlugokencky, the NOAA scientist who manages the global network.

Dlugokencky said he expects the global average will remain above 400 ppm through May, the time of year when global carbon dioxide concentrations peak due to natural cycles on top of the persistent rising greenhouse gases. Decaying plant matter and soil organisms give off carbon dioxide gas all year long, but the dormant period in plant growth allows the respiration of carbon dioxide to dominate during those months. Carbon dioxide levels drop back down as plants begin to bloom, using carbon dioxide for photosynthesis in late spring and summer.

James Butler, director of NOAA’s Global Monitoring Division, added that it would be difficult to reverse the increases of greenhouse gases which are driving increased atmospheric temperatures. “Elimination of about 80 percent of fossil fuel emissions would essentially stop the rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but concentrations of carbon dioxide would not start decreasing until even further reductions are made and then it would only do so slowly.”

More on carbon dioxide concentrations can be found online.

Ntl. Geo. Pictures: Billions of Blue Jellyfish Wash Up on American Beaches

Billions of “By the Wind Sailors” (Velella Velella) or a giant colony (depending on how you look at it) are washed up on Washington’s Long Beach peninsula. It’s at least 5 times as many as anyone has ever seen there at one time. Although no one in the media is yet attributing this to climate change, Velella thrive in warm water and the U.S. West coast has been plagued by a blob of warm water that is effecting everything from sea life to weather patterns. This 1,000 mile wide X 100s of feet deep”blob” and recent ocean acidification are undeniably part of global warming.

Now, the shorebirds seem to be having a hard time finding their food with so many of these jellyfish at the tide line.

We’ve all heard that Florida has an unwritten law forbidding government “scientists” and the media from mentioning climate change/global warming–the same must be true on the West coast. After an extensive search, I finally found someone who dared to risk uttering the words “climate change” in association with these jellyfish.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egEy4fSfkIo

It would not surprise me to learn that climate change-related Velella Velella blooms are responsible for the collapse of entire marine food chains. Sardines (which young California sea lions depend on) have nearly disappeared. Sardines likely depend on the plankton the jellyfish are eating.

Oceans filled with nothing but jellyfish is a depressing vision of the future as anthropogenic climate change and mass extinction scenarios play themselves out…

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Wild animals dying for a drink in drought-stricken West

By Darryl Fears
The Washington Post | Posted: Thursday, May 7, 2015 7:00 pm

For the giant kangaroo rat, death by nature is normally swift and dramatic: a hopeless dash for safety followed by a blood-curdling squeak as their bellies are torn open by eagles, foxes, bobcats and owls.

They’re not supposed to die the way they are today — emaciated and starved, their once abundant population dwindling to near nothing on California’s sprawling Carrizo Plain about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles, where the drought is turning hundreds of thousands of acres of grassland into desert.

Without grass, long-legged kangaroo rats can’t eat. And as they go, so go a variety of threatened animals that depend on the keystone species to live. “That whole ecosystem changes without the giant kangaroo rat,” said Justin Brasheres, an associate professor of wildlife ecology and conservation at the University of California at Berkeley.

Endangered kangaroo rats are just one falling tile in the drought’s domino effect on wildlife in the lower Western states. Large fish kills are happening in several states as waters heated by higher temperatures drain and lose oxygen. In Northern California, salmon eggs have virtually disappeared as water levels fall. Thousands of migrating birds are crowding into wetland shrunk by drought, risking the spread of disease that can cause massive die-offs.

As the baking Western landscape becomes hotter and drier, land animals are being forced to seek water and food far outside their normal range. Herbivores such as deer and rabbits searching for a meal in urban gardens in Reno are sometimes pursued by hawks, bobcats and mountain lions. In Arizona, rattlesnakes have come to Flagstaff, joining bears and other animals in search of food that no longer exists in their habitat.

“You think about it. In our urban environments we have artificial water. We’re not relying on creeks,” said David Catalano, a supervisory biologist for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. “We have sprinkling systems. We water bushes with fruit and water gardens. That’s just a magnet for everything.

“We’ve seen an increase in coyote calls, bear calls, mountain lion calls — all the way to mice and deer,” Catalano said of residents placing distress calls to his department. “At your house everything is green and growing and flowering and they’re being drawn to it.”

The state wildlife agency said it’s preparing for a deluge of calls reporting bear sightings from Lake Tahoe this summer when berries and other foods they eat disappear for lack of rain.

About 4,000 mule deer have disappeared from a mountain range near Reno between late last year and now, likely because of drought. “Our level of concern is very high,” Catalano said. Nevada has placed low fiberglass pools called guzzlers that hold up to 3,600 gallons of water at more than a thousand wilderness areas across the state to provide water for wildlife.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department sent a message for a second year to residents in Flagstaff near Grand Canyon National Park: “Don’t be surprised if you see more wild animals around town in the next few months. Drought conditions may cause creatures like elk, deer, bobcats, foxes, coyotes and even bears to wander further into town than normal, as they seek sources of food and water.”

Don’t feed them, the department warned. Remove pet food, water bowls, garbage and other items that attract wild animals. It does more harm than good.

In California, where mandatory water restrictions were passed by the state water board on Tuesday, humans are already coming into contact with desperate wildlife from the 250,000-acre Carrizo Plain National Monument in California’s Central Valley, near Bakersfield.

“Just today, 20 minutes ago, four coyote cubs arrived” from the Bakersfield’s outskirts, said Don Richardson, curator of animals for the California Living Museum, which has an animal shelter in the city.

“We actually get everything from reptiles to mammals,” Richardson said. “We have 13 San Joaquin kit fox, an endangered species. They were abandoned, orphaned. The kit foxes health was impacted by the struggle to make it with reduced resources. Then of course we see a lot of birds of prey — owls and golden eagles.”

The animals are already suffering from the fragmentation of their habitat because of ranching and urban development. “It’s looking to be a very, very difficult year for wildlife,” Richardson said.

Endangered San Joaquin kit fox, coyotes and birds in the wildlands outside Bakersfield all rely on the giant kangaroo rat to survive. But those rodents are struggling themselves.

“We fear that a semi-arid grassland is becoming a desert,” said Brasheres. “The giant kangaroo rat can’t survive in desert.”

A study by the university recorded a 95 percent population loss since 2010.

Before the drought, 60 percent of their habitat was covered in grasses they eat and seeds they store for hard times in a network of underground burrows, Brasheres said. Four years of little rain has reduced the cover to 18 percent.

“They simply lack food so they starve,” Brasheres said. As the state wildfire season approaches, the remaining grasses could be wiped out.

For a study, biologist caught a few kangaroo rats this year to probe their condition. “They were skinny,” Brasheres said. “We looked at females to see whether they had young, whether they were lactating.” They weren’t.

In this reality where food is scarce and births are few, kangaroo rats are still a top prey item, further shrinking their numbers.

The demise of this species would be unthinkable, Brasheres said. There’s no overstating how important the rodent is in the ecosystem. Few others are around to feed snakes, badgers weasels and animals already mentioned. Even the soil kangaroo rats dig for burrows creates moist habitat for insects.

A worse situation is hard to imagine, said Stafford Lehr, chief of fisheries for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. But there is one.

Chinook salmon are in great danger, he said. For two years, only 5 percent of their eggs have survived winter and spring migrations because the cold water their eggs need to survive drains from rivers and reservoirs.

“If you draw down a reservoir, cold water at the bottom drains first,” Lehr said.

To save them, wildlife officials tried to replenish cold water that drained from Shasta Lake north of Sacramento last year. “It didn’t work,” Lehr said.

“Ninety-five percent of eggs and juvenile brood in 2014 were killed,” Lehr said. “Those would be expected to return three years later. We also had heavy mortality in 2013, expected back in 2016. The 2015 fish are spawning right now. We’re trying everything in our power to have enough cold water in Shasta so we don’t have what we had last year.”

Salmon are only part of the problem. Smelt are at the lowest number ever recorded in the state. They are a major forage fish, feeding other fish and birds in the marine ecosystem.

“It’s part of the heritage resource in the state of California. It’s our responsibility to ensure they are protected,” Lehr said. “Every time you lose something it puts pressure on the environment.

“You lose it, and something else will replace it but it will be lost. They’re part of the ecosystem. Millions of dollars have been invested in their survival.”

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Blissful, Willful Ignorance

Ignorant people are lucky. It must be nice to skate through life choosing to be clueless of the unfairness and injustice going on around you; that you are a part of; that you’re causing; that you benefit from. But then again, you’d have to go through your life harboring a lot of hatred for the messenger; for the competition; for the things you can’t control, no matter how hard you try.

No, maybe willful ignorance wouldn’t be so blissful after all. How can a person be ready when the shit inevitably comes down, or make peace with their part in it? Are they going to stand around scratching their heads, asking themselves, “Wha’ happened?” Or, “Where did all this human evil come from?”

The world may seem like a relatively nice, peaceful place right now, but that’s only because non-human nature has been taking the brunt of human avarice.  While some of us carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, most people just float through life. And though there’s no doubt about their willful ignorance, the blissful part may be getting ever more elusive.

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