Archive for Environment

Free Us From the Prius

You might as well drive around with a bumper sticker that says “My Other Car’s a Blast Furnace”:

“It’s kind of hard to beat gasoline” for public and environmental health, said study co-author Julian Marshall, an engineering professor at the University of Minnesota. “A lot of the technologies that we think of as being clean … are not better than gasoline.”

The key is where the source of the electricity all-electric cars. If it comes from coal, the electric cars produce 3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than gas, because of the pollution made in generating the electricity, according to the study that is published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They also are significantly worse at heat-trapping carbon dioxide that worsens global warming, it found.

So pretty, yet so deadly

The study finds all-electric vehicles cause 86 percent more deaths from air pollution than do cars powered by regular gasoline. Coal produces 39 percent of the country’s electricity, according to the Department of Energy.

But if the power supply comes from natural gas, the all-electric car produces half as many air pollution health problems as gas-powered cars do. And if the power comes from wind, water or wave energy, it produces about one-quarter of the air pollution deaths.

Simple. Just call up your power company and order some wave energy. Or go to the ocean yourself and fill a bucket with it.

Hybrids and diesel engines are cleaner than gas, causing fewer air pollution deaths and spewing less heat-trapping gas.

But ethanol isn’t, with 80 percent more air pollution mortality, according to the study.

“If we’re using ethanol for environmental benefits, for air quality and climate change, we’re going down the wrong path,” Hill said.

We’re using ethanol to win the Iowa caucuses. And drive up the price of corn for starving people around the world.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go burn some of that $2.83 gas in my tank so I can fill up on that $2.71 while it lasts.


EXTRA! New Obama Corruption Scandal! EXTRA!

To Fast & Furious, Benghazi, IRS, fundraising irregularities, press intimidation, the VA disgrace, the ObamaCare disaster, Solyndra and other “green” initiatives, dropping the open-and-shut voter intimidation case against the New Black Panthers—just to name a few—add another one:

EXCLUSIVE: Eight Environmental Protection Agency employees who racked up a total of more than ten years’ worth of paid “administrative leave” between 2011 and 2014 — valued at more than $1,096,000 — apparently did so because they were involved in “cases of alleged serious misconduct,” Fox News has learned.

All of the eight “were or are subject to a disciplinary process,” an EPA official told Fox News, adding that, “we cannot comment on the circumstances of their departure from the agency for those who are no longer employed by EPA.”

The exact nature of the alleged wrongdoings has not been revealed, nor the specific times when they took place. But the lengthy absences — up to three years in one case — seem to indicate that the alleged misconduct actions, whether linked or separate, cover a substantial period of time, even after their discovery.

Almost exactly a year ago, a top EPA official named John Beale was sentenced to 32 months in prison for getting $800,000 worth of paid time off while falsely claiming that he was an active CIA agent, a whopper that apparently went unchecked for years.

In the intervening months, OIG has charged that various EPA officials have stonewalled its efforts to investigate the Beale scandal, and that a separate EPA branch for homeland security has illegally prevented OIG interviews of employees and kept other evidence out of the watchdogs’ hands.

The stonewalling also has been mentioned in a special letter signed by 47 of the administration’s 73 inspectors general, spread across a spectrum of government agencies, and complaining about “serious limitations on access to records” that were creating “potentially serious challenges” to “our ability to conduct our work thoroughly, independently and in a timely manner.

The EPA is too big for its britches, running amok in the government. It should never have been promoted to cabinet level in the first place. Along with Energy, Education, and Transportation, it should be folded into the Interior Department. And throw HUD in there too. I’m not even all that keen on Agriculture and Commerce either.


Voluminous Bituminous

Al Gore and the Global Warm-mongers said if we kept on burning coal many would die—and they were right!

A coal mine shaft collapsed in northwestern China, killing 16 miners, an official said Saturday, highlighting the persistence of safety problems in the industry despite a leveling off of demand.

Another 11 miners were injured in the disaster, which struck just before midnight Friday in Tiechanggou township outside the Xinjiang regional capital of Urumqi.

China’s mines are among the most dangerous in the world, although improved safety measures have vastly lowered the number of fatalities in mine accidents in recent years.

The government’s China National Coal Administration reported 1,067 deaths in 604 coal mining accidents in 2013, down 23 percent from the year before. That’s down from more than 6,000 a decade ago, largely due to increased inspections and the closure of small and unregulated mines.

Long-time readers will remember those heady days when we covered these collapses, explosions, floodings, asphyxiations regularly. In fact, this morning has a throw-back feel to it: Obama’s corruption, anti-semitism, China’s indifference to human life and the environment.

“Boy, the way Glen Miller played,
Songs that made the Hit Parade…
Those were the days!”

While China still produces and consumes almost as much coal as the rest of the world combined, the amount it burned in the first three quarters of 2014 was off by about 2 percent from the same period last year, according to Greenpeace energy analysts in China.

Don’t worry. What China cuts, India more than makes up for:

Decades of strip mining have left this town in the heart of India’s coal fields a fiery moonscape, with mountains of black slag, sulfurous air and sickened residents.

But rather than reclaim these hills or rethink their exploitation, the government is digging deeper in a coal rush that could push the world into irreversible climate change and make India’s cities, already among the world’s most polluted, even more unlivable, scientists say.

“If India goes deeper and deeper into coal, we’re all doomed,” said Veerabhadran Ramanathan, director of the Center for Atmospheric Sciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and one of the world’s top climate scientists.

But what about all the mercury-laced CFL lightbulbs I put in? Surely, that’ll make a difference.

Just because we’re all doomed doesn’t mean we have to frown all day.


Now Dems Want To Vote On Keystone XL

Mary Landrieu fights to save her seat.

It seems the voters have already done themselves some good.

For the first time in the six-year fight over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, both houses of Congress will hold a vote on the proposed project, giving each side in a Louisiana Senate election a chance to boost its candidate.

But not so fast:

A large showing of Democratic support for the pipeline could complicate the administration’s decision-making process, given the party’s dismal showing at the polls last week. Environmentalist allies of the president are solidly against the project and have been doggedly lobbying the administration against approving it.

But Republicans successfully used the president’s environmental and climate agenda as key lines of attack against Democrats in several contested midterm races. Those results strengthen the arguments of those who believe that it would be a political mistake for the administration to deny permits for the unbuilt sections of the pipeline, and congressional approval of the project could put the administration on the defensive if it were inclined to halt the project.

You know what I love most about this? It again highlights Obama’s idiocy. Love it.

Acknowledging the importance of energy to Louisiana’s economy, Landrieu and Cassidy have championed completion of the pipeline, which would transport oil from the tar sands of Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. The GOP-controlled House voted several times in recent years to support the pipeline, while the Senate, in deference to the administration’s review, has resisted holding a vote on the matter despite strong objections from several moderate Democratic senators from rural or energy-rich states.

You have to ask: At this point, what difference does it make? (Don’t you just love that question?)

For six years, the pipeline has been under review by the State Department, which has jurisdiction because the project crosses international borders. Democrats such as Landrieu from energy-producing states have joined Republicans in calling for its approval.

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) voiced strong support for the plan on Wednesday, saying that “it would be a tremendous windfall for all of us. It’s something we can count on. And I can’t for the life of me understand why we haven’t to date been able to move this piece of legislation forward.”

Joe, let me help you out here. You haven’t been able to move this piece of legislation forward because your Senate leader, Harry Reid, refused to permit a vote. Does that ring a bell, Joe?

Meanwhile, Landrieu is tense:

Party leaders agreed suggesting that it [the pipeline] could be voted on next year in the new Congress.

Landrieu had other ideas.

“I don’t think we necessarily need to wait until January,” she said Wednesday in a floor speech that lasted almost three hours. Landrieu made no attempt to hide her motive. “I’m going to do everything in my power here and at home on the campaign trail, where I’m still in a runoff, as you know, to get this project moving forward,” she said.

She blathered on for three hours!!! She must really want to keep her job.

This exchange between Chuck Schumer and Landrieu is priceless:

Before her remarks, Landrieu was spotted riding the escalator alone up from the Senate trains that carry lawmakers between their offices and the Capitol, toward a row of elevators. She was stone-faced and declined to answer questions from reporters. Once she reached the top level and stepped off, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), one of his party’s top campaign strategists, walked over.

Smiling, he asked Landrieu to step aside for a private conversation. She shook her head and moved briskly toward the elevator. As she did, she pointed to her phone, saying she had a call. Schumer paused for a moment as she moved away. His smile dropped, and he turned to follow her. “Mary, Mary,” he said, a few steps behind, asking her to speak with him. When she kept moving and ducked into an elevator, he hustled and jumped in to join her as the doors closed.

You know, I’ll just bet she’s furious with the elitist, coastal Left wing of her party. But… she voted with them time after time. I hope that the voters in Louisiana think long and hard before returning her to Washington.

– Aggie


Choking Dog

What we consider an insult to athletes who fail at decisive moments…

China considers a delicacy:

Last one is a rotten egg! Or is that just the air?

The 34th Beijing International Marathon has gone ahead despite concerns about bad air quality.

Many of the 25,000 runners wore face masks or used sponges to battle the smog. One resident in the city told the BBC that the air smelt like burnt coal.

The organisers warned runners to expect slight or moderate smog, but the US embassy said the air was so bad, it represented a hazard.

On a positive note:

Beijing resident Neil Holt told the BBC that although the air quality was better than last year, “it was still very polluted”.

Anyway, if you think the marathons are bad, you should see the triathlons!

China, get your s**t together.


When the Banana Gets Soft, the Tough Get Going

Some look at the impending banana extinction and shrug:

The fruit is under assault again from a disease that threatens the popular variety that Americans slice into their cereal or slather with chocolate and whipped cream in their banana splits. But aside from its culinary delight, the banana is the eighth most important food crop in the world, and the fourth most important one for developing nations, where millions of people rely on the $8.9 billion industry for their livelihood.

“It’s a very serious situation,” said Randy Ploetz, a professor of plant pathology at the University of Florida. In 1989 Ploetz discovered a strain of Panama disease, called TR4, that may be growing into a serious threat to U.S. supplies of the fruit and Latin American producers.

“There’s nothing at this point that really keeps the fungus from spreading,” he said in an interview with CNBC.

Oh really?

A super-enriched banana genetically engineered to improve the lives of millions of people in Africa will soon have its first human trial, which will test its effect on vitamin A levels, Australian researchers said Monday.

The project plans to have the special banana varieties — enriched with alpha and beta carotene which the body converts to vitamin A — growing in Uganda by 2020. …

“Good science can make a massive difference here by enriching staple crops such as Ugandan bananas with pro-vitamin A and providing poor and subsistence-farming populations with nutritionally rewarding food,” said project leader Professor James Dale. …

“The consequences of vitamin A deficiency are dire with 650,000-700,000 children world-wide dying … each year and at least another 300,000 going blind,” he said.

The GMO bananas have been around for about 12 years, but the eco-activists wouldn’t let them go to market. What if one of those dead or blind children ate one? Thank goodness we saved twelve million children (about a million a year) from such a fate.


Sealed With a Kiss

Waste not, want not!

Blogger Susan Crockford reports on Polar Bear Science that she received an email on May 22 from Dag Vongraven, chairman of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group [PBSG], that an upcoming report on worldwide polar bear population would contain a footnote that some polar bear populations are simply best-guess estimates.

“As part of past status reports, the PBSG has traditionally estimated a range for the total number of polar bears in the circumpolar Arctic. Since 2005, this range has been 20-25,000,” the footnote reads.

“It is important to realize that this range never has been an estimate of total abundance in a scientific sense, but simply a qualified guess given to satisfy public demand. It is also important to note that even though we have scientifically valid estimates for a majority of the subpopulations, some are dated.”

The note goes on to say here are no “abundance estimates” for bears in the Arctic Basin, East Greenland, and Russia.

Which is about the size of Rhode Island, right?

“Consequently, there is either no, or only rudimentary, knowledge to support guesses about the possible abundance of polar bears in approximately half the areas they occupy. Thus, the range given for total global population should be viewed with great caution as it cannot be used to assess population trend over the long term.”

Why should that stop anyone? Don’t you know how science works?

“Daniel B. Botkin, a world-renowned ecologist, is Professor (Emeritus), Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, UC Santa Barbara, and President of The Center for The Study of The Environment, which provides independent, science-based analyses of complex environmental issues. The New York Times said his book, *Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the 21st Century* is considered by many ecologists to be the classic text of the [environmental] movement.” His Environmental Science, now in its Sixth Edition, was named 2004?s best textbook by the Textbook and Academic Authors Association.”

I have always attempted to maintain an objective, intellectually honest, scientific approach in the best tradition of scientific endeavor. I have, accordingly, been dismayed and disappointed in recent years that this subject has been converted into a political and ideological debate. I have colleagues on both sides of the debate and believe we should work together as scientists instead of arguing divisively about preconceived, emotionally based “positions.” I hope my testifying here will help lead to a calmer, more rational approach to dealing with not only climate change but also other major environmental problems. The IPCC 2014 report does not have this kind of rational discussion we should be having. I would like to tell you why.

To characterize where we are with this report and this issue, I would like to quote James R. Schlesinger, the first U.S. Energy Secretary, who said: “We have only two modes — complacency and panic.”—commenting on the country’s approach to energy (1977)

1. I want to state up front that we have been living through a warming trend driven by a variety of influences. However, it is my view that this is not unusual, and contrary to the characterizations by the IPCC and the National Climate Assessment, these environmental changes are not apocalyptic nor irreversible.

2. My biggest concern is that both the reports present a number of speculative, and sometimes incomplete, conclusions embedded in language that gives them more scientific heft than they deserve. The reports are “scientific-sounding” rather than based on clearly settled facts or admitting their lack.

3. HAS IT BEEN WARMING? Yes, we have been living through a warming trend, no doubt about that. The rate of change we are experiencing is also not unprecedented, and the “mystery” of the warming “plateau” simply indicates the inherent complexity of our global biosphere. Change is normal, life on Earth is inherently risky; it always has been. The two reports, however, makes it seem that environmental change is apocalyptic and irreversible. It is not.

4. IS CLIMATE CHANGE VERY UNUSUAL? No, it has always undergone changes.

9. What I sought to learn was the overall take-away that the reports leave with a reader. I regret to say that I was left with the impression that the reports overestimate the danger from human-induced climate change and do not contribute to our ability to solve major environmental problems. I am afraid that an “agenda” permeates the reports, an implication that humans and our activity are necessarily bad and ought to be curtailed.

10. ARE THERE MAJOR PROBLEMS WITH THE REPORTS? Yes, in assumptions, use of data, and conclusions.

11. My biggest concern about the reports is that they present a number of speculative, and sometimes incomplete, conclusions embedded in language that gives them more scientific heft than they deserve. The reports, in other words, are “scientific- sounding,” rather than clearly settled and based on indisputable facts.

In the parts I omitted, he says there is good science in the report. This is not among that good science:

Why measure the temperature? Why count the polar bears? We have models that do that!

Oops, wrong kind of model—but do you think she’d do any worse?

[T]he IPCC 2014 Terrestrial Ecosystem Report states that “there is medium confidence that rapid change in the Arctic is affecting its animals. For example, seven of 19 subpopulations of the polar bear are declining in number” citing in support of this an article by Vongraven and Richardson, 2011. That report states the contrary, that the “‘decline’ is an illusion.

In addition, I have sought the available counts of the 19 subpopulations. Of these, only three have been counted twice; the rest have been counted once. Thus no rate of changes in the populations can be determined.

The U. S. Marine Mammal Commission, charged with the conservation of this species, acknowledges “Accurate estimates of the current and historic sizes of polar bear stocks are difficult to obtain for several reasons–the species‘ inaccessible habitat, the movement of bears across international boundaries, and the costs of conducting surveys.”

No [bleep]! Who wants to traipse around the North Pole counting polar bears? (Count the number of legs and divide by four.) I’d rather roll on a polar bear rug with my climate model above.

Traitor Obama (if we are to believe half the Bergdahl story) is running hell for leather into the Global Warming fracas. May he wind up looking like the carcass in the picture, top (politically speaking, of course).


How Many Nuclear Power Plants Does it Take to Illuminate a Light Bulb?

Trick question: they’ve outlawed light bulbs!

And nuclear power plants.

But if you want to make a global warm-monger pant in anticipation (not that you would), show him this graph:

A life-cycle footprint measures the negative impact of human activities on the environment. It’s the amount of green house gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide, or CO2.

Better than solar (which fries birds that fly through its concentrated beams), better than wind (which minces birds and bats), better even than burning biomass (like aborted fetuses)—better than all of them is good old clean nuclear power.

As the issue of global warming continues to capture the focus of America and the world, it is vitally important to look at the role nuclear can play in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that continue to pollute the air and damage our ecosystem.

Nuclear energy is the most “eco-efficient” of all energy sources because it produces the most electricity in relation to its minimal environmental impact. There are no significant adverse effects to water, land, habitat, species and air resources.

Nuclear power plants produce no gases such as nitrogen oxide or sulfur dioxide that could threaten our atmosphere by causing ground-level ozone formation, smog, and acid rain. Nor does nuclear energy produce carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases suspected to cause global warming.

Electricity generated by nuclear avoids almost 700 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year in the U.S. The 2,100 tons of nitrous oxide (N2O) avoided by Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is the amount of N2O, released in a year by 110,000 passenger cars.

Me, I don’t give a crap about so-called global so-called warming. It’s junk science, peddled by junkie scientists (addicted to government graft). But there are plenty of people out there who do, or claim to. Why do I have to praise the benefits of nuclear power? Where’s Bill McKibben on the issue? Why isn’t Al Gore screaming about it?

The boy can scream when he wants to!

Has anyone seen Memphis? He looks like he ate it.


Wanted: Dead

We’ve written plenty about the mayhem, murder, and peril birds suffer from wind turbines. It’s like Hitchcock in reverse: these slicers and dicers are merciless on our feathered friends, including and especially our national symbol, the bald eagle.

But it’s more than just birds:

DISEASE and heedless management of wind turbines are killing North America’s bats, with potentially devastating consequences for agriculture and human health.

Wind turbines nationwide are estimated to kill between 600,000 and 900,000 bats a year, according to a recent study in the journal BioScience. About half of those lost to turbines are hoary bats, which migrate long distances seasonally throughout North America. Eastern red and silver-haired bats, commonly seen in Central Park in New York City hunting insects at night, are also being killed by turbines by the tens of thousands.

We can’t afford to lose these creatures. In the Northeast, all of our native bat species eat insects. One little brown bat can eat 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour, reducing the potential for mosquito-borne diseases. A colony of 150 big brown bats can protect crops from up to 33 million rootworms over a growing season. The Mexican free-tailed bats of Bracken Cave in south-central Texas consume about 250 tons of insects every summer night. The natural pest control provided by that species across eight Texas counties has been valued at nearly $750,000 as it protects the $6 million summer cotton crop. Nationwide, the value of bats as pest controllers is estimated to be at least $3.7 billion and possibly much more.

So, you’re okay with chopping bats and eagles into mincemeat, just to “save” the climate?

You are so stupid:

Edward B. of Vancouver, Wash., writes:

Do wind farms affect weather, at least ­locally?

Marilyn responds:

Yes, and the more widespread they become, the more these changes will go beyond the immediate area. Some effects, such as ground warming and drying for miles around, are already known, but cumulative ­effects on the weather—especially if wind farming grows signifi­cantly—are unpredictable.

One point to note is that while wind farms are a source of renewable energy, this doesn’t mean they—and other forms of renewable energy, for that matter—don’t cause change. Even ­improved engineering of the turbines (to reduce turbulence, etc.) cannot eliminate the fact that the machines remove energy from the wind, and this will have an impact on the weather and ultimately the climate.

That’s Marilyn vos Savant, the “smartest” person in the world (as measured by IQ) in Parade Magazine. Why it never occurred to us that the law of conservation of energy applies to wind farms shocks me. She’s absolutely right: has anyone done even a preliminary study on the effect of turbines sucking wind energy our of the atmosphere? Think of wind currents as waterways. If you keep draining off more and more of the current to turn more and more turbines, eventually the wind runs “dry”. Good news for the birds and bats of the world, but not so hot (rather, too hot) for the farmers.

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Keeping Africa Africa

I acknowledge that many issues are complicated. I may have a point of view, but can see the points of those who disagree.

That’s part of what makes me a conservative; when I was among liberals, we didn’t have that knack:

I oppose my allies’ well-meaning campaign for “climate justice.” More than 230 organizations, including Africa Action and Oxfam, want industrialized countries to pay “reparations” to African governments for droughts, rising sea levels and other alleged results of what Ugandan strongman Yoweri Museveni calls “climate aggression.” And I oppose the campaign even more for trying to deny to Africans the reliable electricity—and thus the economic development and extended years of life—that fossil fuels can bring.

The left wants to stop industrialization—even if the hypothesis of catastrophic, man-made global warming is false. John Feffer, my colleague at the Institute for Policy Studies, wrote in the Dec. 8, 2009, Huffington Post that “even if the mercury weren’t rising” we should bring “the developing world into the postindustrial age in a sustainable manner.” He sees the “climate crisis [as] precisely the giant lever with which we can, following Archimedes, move the world in a greener, more equitable direction.”

This is a companion piece to the rather dull post I wrote yesterday on conservation land. The Left has blinders on. Their tunnel vision on environmental issues (most especially the thoroughly discredited theory of global warming) betrays not a zealous devotion to Gaia—but to power. The purported warming is irrelevant to the true goal of the “equitable”. The financial ruin of small towns burdened by untaxable land is not a bug but a feature of a “postindustrial age”—really, just a return to the preindustrial age. The Left waxes nostalgic for the days of sepsis and TB. It may be hard to get that genie back in the bottle, but if they can stop up the African jinn, they will have accomplished something.

Something of which to be proud is open to question:

Where is the justice for Africans when universities divest from energy companies and thus weaken their ability to explore for resources in Africa? Where is the justice when the U.S. discourages World Bank funding for electricity-generation projects in Africa that involve fossil fuels, and when the European Union places a “global warming” tax on cargo flights importing perishable African goods?

The average in Africa is 59 years—in America it’s 79. Increased access to electricity was crucial in China’s growth, which raised life expectancy to 75 today from 59 in 1968.

According to the World Bank, 24% of Africans have access to electricity and the typical business loses power for 56 days each year. Faced with unreliable power, businesses turn to diesel generators, which are three times as expensive as the electricity grid. Diesel also produces black soot, a respiratory health hazard. By comparison, bringing more-reliable electricity to more Africans would power the cleaning of water in villages, where much of the population still lives, and replace wood and dung fires as the source of heat and lighting in shacks and huts, removing major sources of disease and death.

We in the West like Africa being Africa. We don’t want it developed. We like it as cultural zoo, where we can watch educational programs about rhinos, lions, hyenas, and Zulus. If they stopped burning dung and started burning coal or natural gas, we’d have to switch stations.


When Environmentalists Defend

Who can be against conservation land? It’s naytcha, don’t you know.

Turns out, there can be too much of a good thing:

Efforts to conserve Massachusetts’ forests are paying off. Today, 60 percent of the state is covered with forests. That’s more than any time in the last 200 years.

But there’s a price to pay for protecting our woodlands. And the question is: Who pays?

Large conservation organizations argue that the forests they own and maintain should be tax exempt. But small towns that are heavily forested say they need the revenue.

Now the state Supreme Judicial Court is wrestling with the thorny issue.

Heavily Forested Hawley

In the northwest corner of the state, 110 miles from Boston, is the town of Hawley. Its population: 337.

Henry Eggert, of Hawley’s Board of Assessors, wants the New England Forestry Foundation to pay more for its land. (Bruce Gellerman/WBUR)
Henry Eggert is the head of Hawley’s Board of Assessors. His office — in fact, the town’s entire government — is located in what had been a one-room schoolhouse. In its pre-Colonial heyday, Hawley was bigger than the city of Springfield. But its fortunes diminished as its population declined.

“There is no commerce here,” Eggert said of Hawley. “We don’t even have a post office.”

But Hawley does have a lot of trees. Most of the town — 30 square miles — is covered with trees.

If all the land were privately owned, it would generate hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in property tax revenue. But half the land is state forest, and Massachusetts pays Hawley just $35,000 a year for it.

Which means the town, with its million-dollar-a-year budget, needs to make every other acre of taxable land count.

Theere’s the layout. Conservationists have succeeded in saving the forests. And just as successfully bankrupted small towns:

“So for this 120 acres of woodland,” he said on a tour, “the nonprofit pays just $173 a year.”

Eggert says he’s looked for evidence the nonprofit deserves the tax cut. He doesn’t see it.

“They’re not saying on that sign that they’re educational programs, just opportunities,” he said. “They have not provided educational programs up here.”

And without those programs, Eggert says, NEFF — nonprofit or not — needs to pay its share of property taxes.

But Bob Perschel, NEFF’s executive director, sees the forest and the trees a lot differently.

“We want to ensure that that piece of property stays forest forever,” he said.

Perschel’s organization manages more than 1 million acres of forest in the region, most of it in Maine. And besides the small parcel in Hawley, the group has forests in more than 50 Massachusetts towns.

“We love this region,” Perschel said. “We want to make sure it continues to be and look like it did when we were children and when our parents were children, and that won’t happen because we’ve got population growing and a lot of development, unless we protect land.”

He acknowledges a growing population and development, yet wants to take more and more land back to pre-industrial days?

Even $173 a year in Hawley property taxes is too much.

“Every dollar that has to go into paying taxes on the lands that we own is a dollar less we have to buy the special property in your town that could be developed and people would like us to protect it, but we can only do as many of those as we have the funding to do,” he said.

Heck, I like nature. And I’ve donated money to organizations similar to NEFF, the New England Forestry Foundation. But this is backroads robbery. I’m sympathetic to the cause, yet put off by the sanctimony that accompanies it. To be so dismissive of the legitimate concerns of the town is typical of liberal superiority. They know better, compromise or settling are a waste of time and money.

Bill McKibben came to fame with The End of Nature, a book that claimed Nature no longer stood apart from man, but was smeared with his fingerprints even at great remove. No remote wilderness area stood apart from the effects of man: Nature had passed. His argument resonated with some, to a small extent even with me, but ultimately I dismissed it. I’ve been in some pretty remote wilderness. While I acknowledge the influence of humankind could be detected (with the right instruments), so what? In the silence and stillness of Rocky Mountain National Park, is anything really spoiled? The elk and the marmots don’t seem to care that there’s more CO2 than their grand elk and great uncle marmots enjoyed. It may not be Nature, but nature ain’t half bad.

The uncompromising nature of naturalists is disturbing by itself. Why be antagonists of small towns instead of partners? As the story above said, New England hasn’t been this forested in centuries. (Never mind what “the land looked like when our parents were children”; it looks like when Paul Revere was a child.) Do you have to be such a d*ck about it? In fact, I’d go so far as to say we need to think about opening up wilderness areas to limited plundering. The arithmetic of population growth and less usable land doesn’t add up. This even goes for the BLM against Cliven Bundy, no matter his backward views on race.

“We want to ensure that that piece of property stays forest forever.” Forever’s a very long time, buddy. Don’t be so sure of yourself.


Save the Polar Bear!

They said if we did nothing about global warming the cute little monsters would be in trouble—and they were right!

Five meters of ice– about 16 feet thick – is threatening the survival of polar bears in the Southern Beaufort Sea region along Alaska’s Arctic coast, according to Dr. Susan J. Crockford, an evolutionary biologist in British Columbia who has studied polar bears for most of her 35-year career.

That’s because the thick ice ridges could prevent ringed seals, the bears’ major prey, from creating breathing holes they need to survive in the frigid waters, Crockford told

“Prompted by reports of the heaviest sea ice conditions on the East Coast ‘in decades’ and news that ice on the Great Lakes is, for mid-April, the worst it’s been since records began, I took a close look at the ice thickness charts for the Arctic,” Crockford noted in her Polar Bear Science blog on April 18th.

“Spring and early summer are really a critical time for polar bears. That’s when they need to eat as many seals as they can because that’s when they put on fat for the rest of the year. If they have trouble doing that in the spring, they’re in big trouble.”

Oh no!

But I have a solution:

As we approach the southwestern shores of Spitsbergen, I survey the spectacular rugged mountains covered in snow and the glaciers reaching all the way to the contrasting dark ocean. Although I have enjoyed this view for the last 10 days, the scenery still takes my breath away.

However, our team found far fewer females with cubs than expected, along with several adult bears whose bodies were in poor condition. The researchers also found a dramatic lack of sea ice.

Bears need to be close to sea ice when they emerge from dens so that they can hunt ringed seals found at the ice. During the last few years on southern islands, however, mothers and cubs emerged from the den in spring and found a totally open sea. The ice was already gone, and with it, most ringed seals, leaving the bears with a tough start to their new lives.

Too much ice in the Alaskan arctic, yet not enough ice in the Norwegian arctic? Move the bears! Or the seals—or the ice! I don’t care. Just get it done.

Honestly, this world can’t make up its mind.

PS: And the ice isn’t threatening just bears. Whales are exploding—literally!

The residents of a town on Canada’s Newfoundland island fear a blue whale carcass that washed up on its boardwalk last week could explode at any time.

The 25m (81ft) whale on Trout River’s rocky beach is one of several believed to have died in heavy ice weeks ago.

Town Clerk Emily Butler says the body is bloated with methane gas caused by decomposition and will soon reek, regardless of whether it explodes.

As Mr. Incredible complained, why can’t the world stay saved?

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