The Wildfires in California

 

There are still arguments whether or not global warming has contributed to the onslaught of wildfires in California that certainly appear to be getting worse. As a matter of fact, I read an article that suggested it is because of invading populations of people moving into fire prone areas, and/or forest management practices instead. But a scientific paper published a year ago stated that the changing climate was a greater influence on wildfire activity and intensity than forest management.” http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/Global-Warming-California-Wildfire-47102305.

   

As for people moving into fire prone areas, sure there would be more likelihood of fires, and more property damage, but Mother Nature is seriously contributing to the wildfire fiasco with a record drought, temperatures in the 80’s-90’s instead of the 70’s for this time of year, and winds that are clocking at 60 and 70 mph, with gusts up to 85! Besides authorities declared that the wildfires in California this past July set a record. There were over 1781 fires burning at once, but luckily most were in sparsely populated areas. So much for the “people-cause-the-fires” theory. http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/15/california-wildfires-set-a-record/.

 

What I find odd is that the same people that deny the fire activity in California is due in part to global warming but instead caused by people, simultaneously deny that people cause global warming. Is this not selective reasoning? Certainly the smoke from these fires contributes heavily to air pollution.

 

Even an article in Business Week suggested that if we don’t do something soon about global warming the costs of the bad weather produced by it could be devastating for California. It stated that there could be “as much as $3.9 billion in annual damages caused by wildfires, rising sea levels and extreme weather events.” I say ditto for many other parts of the country. http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D94EAOUO1.htm.

 

California isn’t the only area of concern. Hurricane ravaged Galveston, Texas did not get enough press during the presidential campaign. There are still what can be termed “Katrina victims.” I’ve noticed a pronounced change in path and verocity of tropical storms up the east coast of America. We do not want to see anything that resembles a hurricane hit NYC. This past spring our midwest was hit with horrible floods. Tornadoes in the South in November are becoming common. And let’s get real here. Five states in the SW have experienced huge growth, even though 4 of those states collectively rely on one and the same Colorado River for all of their water needs. Add the mentality that wants to maintain a steady growth in population in America, and we have to ask, “Just where is everyone supposed to live that won’t pose some sort of weather and/or uninhabitable terrain problem in the U.S.?” Can’t run, can hide from Mother Nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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National Geographic’s Planet Earth

If you ever had any questions about a anything relating to earth and its functions, how it all happened, how our climate is changing and why, how we know this stuff, and many other things, watch National Geographic’s presentation “Planet Earth.” This is family stuff, enlightening, interesting, and a little bit scary.

Some of the presentations are explosive. It’s a little mind boggling how they are able to present prehistoric earth with video footage of events and places from the present. I watched the one about ice mass, and last night was about earthquakes, ending with volcanic eruptions. There is as much action as the latest Rambo movie. My husband was perturbed we changed channels from the movie “Mash,” but said it was really a great presentation and he wants to see more of it now. You’ll find yourself saying “Wow”  and “I didn’t know that!” more than once.

I know some people don’t get the National Geographic Channel, but the DVD set of “Planet Earth” is available. It’s better than any encyclopedia books I was brought up with. Maybe if they had this type of learning tool back then more of us would have went into science.

“Planet Earth” is on every night this week, beginning at 9:00 pm on the National Geographic Channel. Tune in.

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Cash Corn Crops Go the Way of Floods in the Midwest

 

 

For those of us in Michigan or anywhere else that think global warming or any of the climate events happening elsewhere won’t/don’t affect us guess again. Just like yesterday’s blog about Dead Zones that affects our penchant for shrimp, crab, and select fish like grouper, the California fires are in wine country.  So that perfect glass of wine to accompany that already vulnerable seafood dinner may not materialize at all.

 

Floods in the Midwest have caused a huge loss in corn crops also. So much for ethanol as an alternative. The loss of corn is going to cause an even greater problem with food shortages worldwide, which really can’t take another hit. As a result we’ll soon see food prices climb even higher here.

 

It simply amazes me that we’re experiencing such drastic degrees of bad weather at the same time. Look at the flood risk this year: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/oh/hic/nho/. Hundreds of people have lost homes and irreplaceable keepsakes due to flood damage.

 

Does anyone remember some of the prophecies about the future from the likes of  Nostradamus, Cayce, and Dixon? One of the prophecies was that the  U.S. would be divided by water eventually. The water rose through the middle of the country separating the east from the west. This doesn’t bode well considering the middle of our country is flooding.

 

As for fires, it looks like a fifth of California is burning: http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/sto/cafw/. Eighty homes and other structures have been destroyed by fires, while more homes are still threatened. If fires sweep through wine country there will be zilch for the year 2008.

 

And for those of us that have always grown things we know weather problems affect our little gardens, fruit trees, and whatever we grow just like the big guys.  The wind that ripped the shingles off my house on Monday would have caused a big loss in my vegetable garden had it been later in the season when the plants were bigger. I’m saying this because I see many more gardens planted this year than ever before, and I just wonder if the novices realize that the survival technique of growing our own food can backfire on us easily if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. The idea of living like our forefathers or Grizzly Adams if we have to won’t cut it without the support of a decent environment, so relying on ourselves for survival may not be viable if the weather continues to be extreme.  Like the old commercial for butter used to say: “It’s not nice [or wise] to fool with Mother Nature.”

 

 

 

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Climate Change Affecting U.S. Terrain

 

I ran across an interesting article on Environmental News Service about our changing forests and desert areas. One of my first blogs was about the influx of people to the Southwest where four states depend entirely on the Colorado River, which is supplied with water in the summer months from glacier melt. But the glaciers are slowly disappearing.

 

The article says that the changes will continue. In that case there will be a big exodus from those states in the future back to places like Michigan. We must keep our Great Lakes clean. Some day those lakes may mean survival for many.

 

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/may2008/2008-05-28-091.asp

 

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Humans have been affecting the earth’s atmosphere for at least 2,000 years.

 

I was looking over Science Daily’s website and found so many articles about man’s involvement with global warming. It seems humans have affected the environment for thousands of years. The Little Ice Age and Medieval Warming period all the nay sayers like to brandish as proof that global warming happened before and is a natural occurrence just ain’t so.

 

Man has been affecting the environment for thousands of years. The sad thing is this article is almost 3 years old. Have these findings been censored from the general public because I’ve been arguing with people who have brought up the ice ages and warming periods of the past, while the whole time science has had proof that: “Humans have been tinkering with greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere for at least 2,000 years and probably longer, according to a surprising new study of methane trapped in Antarctic ice cores conducted by an international research team.”

 

Read more about it and browse around because there is a plethora of articles and findings that substantiate we are indeed causing what we call global warming.

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050909075709.htm

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/10/981002082033.htm

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2007/0902-our_changing_climate.htm

 

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NASA Channel/Website Uncovers the Geek in Me

I just came to the realization this morning that I’m a geek. I doubt anyone but those extremely close to me would ever consider me a geek, because I didn’t. But I’m writing a fiction book that deals with space and as part of the research; I clicked on the NASA channel this morning. Oh, I’ve visited this channel before but it never occurred to me how long I linger there. I actually sit mesmerized by this world of space, science, and math that face it; most of our population knows absolutely nothing about and could care less.

My interest in the NASA channel isn’t the only thing however that qualifies me as a geek. Lately, I’ve become more and more interested in alternative sources of energy, particularly the many experiments with hydrogen. And I actually liked advanced math in college. Huge algebra problems were like puzzles to be worked, and I fanatically worked them. I even took an electricity class at Community College for the fun of it. Now something is clearly wrong here when only five people signed up for the class and after the instructor outlined what everyone would be doing, including algebra, the final class tally turned out to be me and another guy who had to take it. I’m a geek aren’t I?

That’s probably why I was anxious to read the pdf files of the latest findings that were reported from NASA today via telecon by a panel of experts ranging from terrestrial ecology to atmospheric and oceanic sciences relative to:

Changes to Earth’s ecosystems [that] are evident in recent research that employs NASA remote-sensing data. Panelists [discussed] several topics, including the impact of shrinking Arctic sea ice on marine ecosystems, how invasive species alter the biochemistry of local ecosystems, the role of climate change on the length of growing seasons and ecosystems, and seasonal changes in phytoplankton and the consequences on marine ecosystems.

It’s amazing what is seen from satellite devices, and how these global views allow scientists to analyze a situation. As these views are recorded over time changes become evident. Linking all the info from different components of the global warming equation like Arctic ice melt, rainforest changes, results of deforestation and fires, and marine biology is what has been necessary since the whole global warming theory began. Gathering data like that from all types of sources, and then combining it in a productive way to see how one system affects another over the globe is a daunting task, but satellite technology looks to tackle all of that in the future.

Check out the sight and the pdf files of different topics discussed.

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/ecosystem_research_briefs.html.

Click on News and Features on that page also to get the latest from NASA about polar bears and loss of habitat:

http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/polar_bears.html

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Watch “Six Degrees” on the National Geographic Channel, Sunday, February 10th at 8 et/9 pt.

Continue reading

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Big Industry is Driving Environmentalism

 

It’s really funny to me that scientists from around the world declared global warming to be real and that we are the cause of a lot of it, and people–senators, judges in England, all types, argued and some are still arguing the point, but once again capitalism and the old pocketbook is the catalyst for change in America.

 

Rising oil prices have industry scrambling to invest in energy saving technology. Wind is taking off so fast, GE, one of the biggest producers of wind turbines, are strapped to keep up with demands. Four billion gallons of ethanol were produced last year. We have 100 ethanol plants already, although I don’t like this trend. Wind good, corn NOT.

 

The MSNBC article I read stated that it’s no wonder. Industry consumes 1/3 of all energy. Without cutbacks, their profits get squeezed. Since there are some government incentives to invest in alternative energy sources, high oil prices are just the catalyst needed to drive industry into conservation ur umm going green, never mind that without massive change we suffer bad, bad consequences. Fires, floods, tornadoes, no matter, the real motive is profit.

 

I say, whatever works! I’ve read other articles that predicted the retail and industrial market is what will drive environmentalism forward. Those articles speculated that governmental policy in this administration would not likely be the catalyst, duh. The article also said what I blogged about before, there is more and more capital available for going green.

 

It’s a very encouraging article about how companies are cutting costs, making changes that are driving the market forward. This is good folks. The more interested industry is, the better the innovation gets, and the lower the cost to us.

 

Read: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12040418/.

  

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Ethanol Plant Opens in Adrian Today

A brand new ethanol plant opened today in Adrian that will produce 100 million gallons annually. Sounds good, right? Not really. Although ethanol may be a quick fix for a percentage of our oil use, it is a program that falls pitifully short and is even dangerous. Think about this. Right now we only produce ethanol equal to 3.5 percent of what we consume in gasoline. This little bit of ethanol production is using up 20 percent of our entire corn crop in the states already. We will never be able to produce enough ethanol! The price of corn has already doubled. On top of that Third World countries are going to face starvation for sure if corn becomes our new oil. If we proceed with this massive corn production, where is the land needed for other crops? We’ve had massive fires across 11 states, devastating more than just forested areas. Our urban sprawl went unchecked for almost a decade. Now we have thousands of homes across the country in those newly sprouted subdivisions standing empty in foreclosure. Many of those subdivisions were once farmland.   And now no one wants to eat Chinese imported food and are paying attention to what they eat and where it comes from. I see a big mess over our food in the near future. I’m already buying new canning utensils and our garden will probably get bigger next year. It may get down to feed yourself if you want safe food, because the U.S. simply does not have the landmass to produce food staples and all this bio-fuel. Even if we could produce our own food, if the heat waves continue to get worse, our fields will simply fry. Then what?  Who is in charge of this fiasco? Congress, specifically the Senate, who just recently mandated we produce 36 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022. This is frightening. Someone do the math. This does not solve the energy crisis by any means. The government is paying out $51 billion in subsidies for corn, which amounts to $1.38 per gallon, almost half of ethanol’s wholesale market price. This is very bad business sense. Ethanol is nothing but 180 proof pure grain alcohol that is denatured so we can’t get drunk on it. Other things than corn, like sugar cane and switch grass, can make pure grain alcohol also. Cars can’t run on the stuff in its pure form so what we get at the pumps is E85, 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. An article in Rolling Stone further said that the density of ethanol is 1/3 less than gasoline, so there is less bang for a tank full of ethanol. Cars will certainly burn more ethanol than gas to go as fast. We will never be able to produce enough ethanol. The article went on to say that ethanol is not all equal. Brazil is already ahead of the U.S. on ethanol production because they use sugar cane which puts out higher energy levels than the amount of fossil fuel used to grow, irrigate, fertilize, transport and refine it. Brazil’s sugar cane ethanol is 8 to 1, energy output versus energy used. It is better than gasoline at 5 to 1. Know what corn’s output to input is–1.3 to 1 or even 1 to 1. that renders it useless because we are using as much energy or fossil fuels (gas, oil, coal) to produce the stuff! So we have ethanol barons rising out of a foreign country to outperform us as the rich Arabs do with their oil. We’re not winning this race for ethanol already. There is a major company, every bit as greedy as big oil, pushing this stupid, stupid, costly move—Archer Daniels Midland, the agribusiness giant. Read more about this misleading mess at: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/15635751/ethanol_scam_ethanol_hurts_the_environment_and_is_one_of_americas_biggest_political_boondoggles. It seems every time we turn around, there is a huge conglomerate pushing their weight around to the demise of the middle class citizens of the U.S. Lately we’ve been duped about the food we eat, and the goods we buy. It doesn’t seem that anyone is really looking out for us anymore.  And no one seems to be looking out for the number one thing we need first and foremost, our environment, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. Without any of those things, the economy is of no consequence. We’ll be busy scrounging for food and water instead of a job.

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U.P Fire Heads for Tahquamenon Falls Area

The fire in our Upper Peninsula jumped fire lines and may end up burning 14,000 acres. It was caused by a lightening strike in too dry conditions. We’ve read about all the fires on west side of the country, but about the same time as New Jersey’s state park sprouted a fire, part of our UP went up also. This is close to home especially the more I read about it.

A little over 5600 acres burned in the last big fire up there in 1999. This is much worse. It is heading for buildings and people are being evacuated. WZZM13 news stated the fire was about six miles north of Newberry in Luce County, and about 10 miles from Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Now here is the part that hit home with me.
 
Anyone else ever been to Tahquamenon Falls? I have never forgot the experience. I was about 10 years old and we stayed in a cabin, no inside toilet, in the woods right off of White Fish Bay. Tahquamenon Falls Park is absolutely beautiful. There are nature trails all the way through there. You can walk across stones at the base of the falls. The closest town is Paradise, Michigan, with the most scrumptious PASTIES I’ve ever eaten. I’ve made them from scratch, but they still didn’t taste like that. I believe we got them at the local bakery. The whole area is a woodland dream.
 
The biggest attraction besides the Falls was the local dump where the bears come out at night and people park their cars in a circle to watch. As a kid, it reminded me of going to the drive in, until of course a bear’s big mug looked at me through the car window. There is always someone who pays no attention to the “Don’t Feed the Bears Sign,” and particularly the warnings not to get out of the car. The guy next to us through out a candy bar so of course the bear’s mug was looking for more through my window. At ten, I was enchanted by the experience, but that worked against me when I had to go to the outhouse at night. Of course my dad said everything would be all right. Maybe, but those trashcan noises in the middle of the night near the entrance were not all right.
 
Morning was a little better. I made sure that my dad, (now I know if a bear attacked, his presence wouldn’t have made that much difference), was not more than two feet away. He said the bears were probably more afraid of us they we were of them. Even at ten, I doubted that. But we made the ¼ mile trek to White Fish Bay and Lighthouse Point. My dad told me we were to the farthest point north in Michigan. OK, but let’s go swimming. He said it was going to be awfully cold, but like a great dad he would go in too if I insisted. I was ten. I insisted. We made it out as far as my waist. I never saw water that clear, down to my toes. It was a quick walk out of course. Anymore than 2 minutes and my feet would have turned blue. How many parents would do that? Homer Simpson wouldn’t that’s for sure. He would send the kids out and watch. I still believe my dad kept a little bit of kid in him his whole life.
 
By time we got back to the cabin, we were unthawed and I didn’t bug him about swimming again. It was a great experience as a kid, although I don’t think my older teenage sister was too thrilled with an outhouse, a cabin, and not many boys. She did like the pasties though and who wouldn’t be enthralled with the bears? I am saddened to know the place where the fire is headed. It’s no longer news that’s far away, or unfamiliar territory. Tahquamenon Falls is part of my childhood memories.  I hope rain washes the fire out before it reaches that beautiful area. The wildlife will perish, Paradise will have to rebuild. The awful predictions of heat waves, in some very odd places are happening. I just didn’t think it would be in Michigan this soon, too close for comfort.

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