This is the 661st edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue). Here is the Dec. 19th edition. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.
OUTSTANDING GREEN STORIES
paradox writes—Looking Forward to Real Government Action on the Climate Crisis: “I tell myself that surely we can get out of this, President Biden will never just blithely ignore California, nor will he tolerate a botched vaccine rollout. Another big beam of Biden administration hope is his total commitment for real empirical action for our climate crisis, finally executive bureaucratic orders from the President will get a real start on obliterating American carbon emissions. We could have done so much more this year in Congress if the Republicans weren’t such lying goons totally in the fossil fuel industry pocket, I know. But President Biden issuing orders that every federal installation have solar panels and nothing but hybrid vehicles will do a lot of good. It’s basically ignored by the mainstream press but millions of our people have a daily depression routine knowing we’re doing nothing about the climate crisis except saying it’s worse every year. Our young people have particularly had it with all the stupid exasperating excuses, it’s a serious thing to dim the hopes of our young people.”
Note: Because of a smaller number of recent green posts because of you-know-what, the categories that usually divide up stories have been removed for this week’s collection. They will return in the next edition.
OceanDiver writes—BackyardBirdRace/Daily Bucket combo: 2021 begins! “The new and revised version of the Backyard BirdRace is a way to focus attention on birds we see around our neighborhood. […] There are no “rules” for the BirdRace beyond what you set for yourself. Some ideas for information that you might share here as part of the conversation, any combination of:
a total list of birds you’ve seen
new birds you’ve seen, since the last tally
interesting behavior you’ve seen
any patterns or changes in patterns
general location in the country
type of habitat
If you move during the year, it would be very interesting to compare the backyard birds you see in the different settings!”
BrownsBay writes—The Daily Bucket: Willamette Valley Nature Walk: “
The north-flowing Willamette River and its tributaries form the Willamette Valley as we know it today in the northwestern quarter of Oregon. During its geologic history, the Willamette Valley has seen both fire and water. First fire, with lava flowing into the valley from erupting fissures in eastern Washington around 16.7 to 15.6 millions years ago (Ma). Successive lava flows covered a vast area of around 80,000 square miles that included much of the Willamette Valley. Second, and much later came multiple catastrophic Missoula (or Bretz) floods around 15,000 to13,000 years ago (ka). This Bucket focuses on a very small area of 250 acres at the north end of the valley — the Graham Oaks Nature Park. I came across this park while on a quick work project in the Portland area. Graham Oaks was near where I was working and staying for a night. I planned on spending a little time there in the morning before driving home to Seattle. I spent all of one and one half hours walking the park trails. How much can we see in that short timeframe?”
Ojibwa writes—Glacier Park: Lake McDonald, December 2020 (photo diary): “When we left home, we had blue sky and sunshine, but less than an hour later we found the McDonald Valley socked in with low clouds. The magnificent mountains that characterize Glacier National Park were hidden from view. The Park, however, is always beautiful. According to the National Park Service: Lake McDonald Valley is the hub of activity on the west side of Glacier National Park. Once occupied by massive glaciers that carved this area thousands of years ago, the valley is now filled with spectacular sights, hiking trails, diverse species of plants and animals, historic chalets, and the grand Lake McDonald Lodge. Ten miles long and nearly 500 feet deep (152.4 m), Lake McDonald, the largest lake in the park, is a direct result of glacial carving. High peaks surrounding the lake all show evidence of the power of glaciers to carve even the hardest of rock. The powerful glaciers that carved the broad “u-shaped” valley that Lake McDonald sits in also carved smaller hanging valleys with wonderful waterfalls that are accessible by numerous hiking trails.”
lineatus writes—Dawn Chorus: Whatta year! Whatta feature! “That was… a year. But one recipe helped me through it: Just Add Water. With the exception of a few weeks in November when it looked like things were getting a little better (before they weren’t) I’ve been working from home since the first day of San Francisco’s shutdown in March. We’ve lived in this home for 17+ years, but this is the most time I’ve ever spent here — and far and away, the most daylight hours. Turns out, birds like the place. Our yard had been rather neglected the last few years since I was rarely home by day. This year I’ve methodically cleared the overgrown grasses, knocked back invasives and planted more natives. It’s possible that the birds were always there and I just couldn’t see them in all the tall stuff, but I think they welcomed the slightly more open landscape and the variety of natural foods — both plants and insects. But above all, they came for the water.”
A female Varied Thrush makes cotoneaster berries disappear like magic.
WordsandBirds writes—The Daily Bucket: A Small World, Closely Observed, Reveals Riches That Satisfy: “Birding at home has felt safer and more comfortable than dodging crowds at parks, so since mid-March I’ve been happily exploring a smaller, saner world — our suburban garden in the Seattle area. Winter is darker and quieter than other seasons, but a small space offers much to observe if one is patient and persistent. I was going to be home anyway, so, after several years off, I resumed counting for Project Feeder Watch. Its two-day count period inspires longer and more intense viewing, with big payoffs. In previous winters I’d seen only two Varied Thrushes, but in mid-December, I saw six, a record for our garden. Three males and three females worked within 15 feet of each other. Two kicked up fallen leaves, foraging for insects under the shelter of rhododendrons. Another two had a drink and a splash in the bird bath. One foraged in the salvia garden among seed heads. Number 6, a female, perched on a cotoneaster branch, snapping up one, two or even three berries at a time. It was a kick to watch those vivid red balls travel from the tip of her bill to her crop in a blink. Since then I’ve seen or heard at least one Varied Thrush each day. A Hermit Thrush shows up most days as well, also prowling for berries and insects. Being a hermit, it’s nearly always alone.”
This is how Green-winged teal find their food.
Jeff Graham writes—The Daily Bucket – Getting to know the Green-winged teal: “The Green-winged teal is a winter bird in the Seattle area from September to early May. It is a dabbler and gets its food by tipping upside down and eating a broad diet including the seeds of sedges, grasses and aquatic vegetation, aquatic insects and larvae, mollusks and crustaceans. Typically they feed in shallow water, near shorelines and on mudflats (information from eBird). This will be more of a photo Bucket without much science. I love the photography of birding more than the writing. My idea is to give you a flavor of one of the birds I love watching in the Seattle area, especially for those that don’t see this specific duck in their part of the world.”
appy writes—The Daily Bucket in Flyover Country: “If you are flying over Kansas, especially at high altitude, you might be bored enough to make that nap tempting. But beneath you in the Flint Hills region the terrain is anything but flat, as any little hike would prove. I like to refer to it as a country of breaks, as in timbered draws, washes, river and stream drainages, interspersed with expansive natural grass pasture, rocky ridges, and hilltops. […] I had been trying to capture a decent image of this Harrier (there seems to be a pair) for a few weeks, but they have been skittish and elusive. As I walked out the door to ‘do an errand’ my wife asked “why are you taking your camera”? This day was different. I saw 23 hawks during my 8 mile drive and when I arrived at my target area I parked and hiked a short distance, found an inviting spot with some cover, and began the wait. I didn’t have to wait long before the Harrier came along, as though taking inventory of his area.”
funningforrest writes—The Daily Bucket. Some favorites from the past year: Photo Diary.
The Nosey Tree
ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Deniers Expect “Turkey Shoot” In Biden Admin, Yet They’re Gearing Up For Wild Goose Chases: “Despite reactionary fascists’ delusional tantrums, denying Trump’s electoral loss with the same empty ferocity as they have similar losses since 1865, the year 2021 will bring a new administration. All the wailing and gnashing of teeth aside, upon their swearing-in, President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris will bring sweeping changes to a Trumpified federal government. We can expect them to turn the clock back on the last-minute rule changes the Trump administration is hoping to slide through here at the end, like the tobacco-industry-inspired secret science/transparency rule that they’ve finally finalized. Thanks to the hundreds of thousands of public comments opposing the calculated move to censor epidemiological science that proves soot poses a health threat under the guise of scientific transparency, the Biden administration will have no problem justifying discarding it. We can’t be lulled into a false sense of security by the Biden win.”
ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Steve Milloy and Chris Horner Leading Deniers On Pointless Pursuit of Paris Agreement: “Chris Horner has spent the years since his days as a tobacco lawyer doing other shady stuff for the fossil fuel industry, and is now working on the last-minute, Hail Mary, get Trump to submit the Paris agreement to the Senate as though it were a treaty, even though it’s explicitly not a treaty campaign. The gist of this effort is that if Trump were to submit the Paris climate agreement (and Iran nuclear deal, while he’s at it) to the Senate for confirmation, as though they were treaties, the GOP-held body would reject them. Then, the thinking goes, the incoming Biden administration wouldn’t be able to easily re-sign those treaties, because the Senate rejected them. But they aren’t treaties, in no small part likely because when they were designed, Republicans controlled the Senate, so there’s nothing to formally submit. The Paris Agreement, for example, is actually already part of a congressionally-approved treaty, the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. So sending it to be ratified now would be missing the deadline for opposition by nearly 30 years.”
Dan Bacher writes—Coalition: CA Governor’s 2021 Budget Doesn’t Address Fossil-Fueled Public Health and Climate Crises: “At the end of a tumultuous week dominated by the Trump-instigated attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom today submitted his 2021-22 State Budget proposal to the State Legislature. The $227.2 billion fiscal blueprint offers funding for immediate COVID-19 response and relief efforts while “making investments for an equitable, inclusive and broad-based economic recovery,” according to the Governor’s Office. The response to the budget by environmental, climate and environmental justice groups was mixed. The Sierra Club praised the funding of incentives to replace fossil fuel vehicles with electric vehicles, while the Last Chance Coalition, a coalition of more than 750 public health, environmental justice, climate, and labor organizations, said the budget fails to directly address the extraction and production of fossil fuels in California after a year during which the state’s oil and gas regulators approved thousands of drilling permits.”
ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Fossil Fuels Buying Police, Criminalizing Protests, Exploiting White Supremacy: “Last week, the National Park Police had to release footage of a park ranger tazing Darrell House, a Navajo/Oneida man who, walking through Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico after praying on his holy lands, briefly stepped off the path to observe social distancing. A week later, Jake Angeli, a right-wing conspiracy theorist from Arizona who goes by the name Q Shaman because of the horned headdress and facepaint he wears to get attention (sometimes at climate rallies), was among the many fascists who carried out Trump’s plan to storm the Capitol with the intention of using terrorism to overthrow the election and force Congress to declare Trump the winner. After being allowed by police to take pictures on the Senate dais and run roughshod through those supposedly hallowed halls, eventually he and others were gingerly escorted out. Law enforcement’s drastically disparate responses to people of color peacefully existing and violent fascists erecting nooses, carrying confederate flags and wearing Holocaust merch or cosplaying as a ‘shaman’ to spread white supremacy is as enraging as it is unsurprising.”
Dan Bacher writes—Ecosystem Disaster: Zero Delta Smelt Found in Fall Midwater Trawl Survey for the Third Year in Row! “For the third year in a row, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife found zero Delta Smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus), once the most abundant fish species in the estuary, in its 2020 Fall Midwater Trawl Survey throughout the Delta. Not only did the survey catch zero Delta Smelt , but it also found zero Sacramento Splittail, a native minnow that was removed from the Endangered Species list by the Bush administration. The zero Delta Smelt and Sacramento Splittail found in the survey reflect an ongoing collapse of pelagic (open water) fish species in the Delta that also includes Longfin Smelt, Striped Bass, Threadfin shad and American Shad. The fish are surveyed every year with trawl gear in an an array of locations in the Delta. The survey uses an ‘index,’ a relative measure of abundance, to assess the populations.”
Mount Sopris as pictured from Carbondale, Colorado.
Merry Light writes—Saturday Morning Garden Blogging Vol. 17.02- Little Rocks, Big Rocks! “My sunroom caught my attention the first time I ever saw it. The previous owners had filled three panels in between the windows with all kinds of small rock specimens. You could tell they took some with them, so I filled in the gaps with my own collection of small stones. The cover photo is a Desert Rose, which is fairly common at mineral shows and rock shops. I have been going to mineral and gem shows for many years and have amassed quite a collection so I was happy to put them to good use. I was sad that Covid kept me away from the fall shows last year. This year for sure. My family has always been interested in so many things, as most gardeners I know are. We used to rockhound all around Colorado and find out the geology of the different states we traveled through. Colorado is actually one of the most geologically diverse states in the Union. The biggest rock in our valley is Mount Sopris, which really does tower over everything. People pay premium prices for real estate with a view of this mountain. Personally I like Chair Mountain on McClure Pass past Redstone and Marble for a really pretty mountain, but I’ve seen a lot of mountains! Mt. Sopris certainly is majestic, no doubt.”
Username4242 writes—The end of this journey (with many more to come) Wandering Colorado and Wyoming in WONDER (Video): “Had such an incredible time on this month of vagabonding, and look forward to sharing many more journeys with you all in the future.”
Angmar writes—“Danger: Wood burners triple harmful indoor air pollution, study finds”: “Wood burners triple the level of harmful pollution particles inside homes and should be sold with a health warning, says scientists, who also advise that they should not be used around elderly people or children. The tiny particles flood into the room when the burner doors are opened for refuelling, a study found. Furthermore, people who load in wood twice or more in an evening are exposed to pollution spikes two to four times higher than those who refuel once or not at all.”
Meteor Blades writes—Earth Matters: Study—2-degree temp rise baked into climate change; 3,700-mile bike trail planned: “BIDEN CLIMATE TEAM SAYS TRUMP DID MORE DAMAGE THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT: Biden transition officials say their agency review teams have found the budget cuts were deeper, the staff losses wider, and the systematic elimination of climate programs and research worse than they had realized. ‘There is hard work ahead to rebuild agencies and our capacities from the ground up,’ Gina McCarthy, the incoming White House national climate adviser, said in a statement. “While implementing [Biden’s climate] plan will not happen overnight the Biden Administration will work tirelessly by marshaling every part of our government, working directly with communities, and harnessing the forces of science—and the values of environmental justice—to build a better future.”
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