I’m going to remind you today of some events that happened 4 years ago with the BP Oil Gusher and show you that bad things are still going on in the Gulf.The leftover issues from abandoned oil rigs are bigger than Louisiana.Please consider this an open thread while I let you know how I feel.
If corporations are people, then BP and others in the extraction business are serial killers. All over our country and throughout our history, extraction companies have killed their employees, the people that live around their businesses, and the wildlife and the environment and water systems that sustain the life of our country. Look at that map. Those are active and orphaned/abandoned oil wells/pipelines that are disintegrating, leaking, and killing someone.
“I started noticing, towards the end of 2010, other leaks that were unrelated to the BP disaster,” Henderson says. “I would find wellheads that were leaking or platforms that were leaking. Just in the last year, I have filed 50 reports for different leaks and spills unrelated to the BP disaster.”
Under the Clean Water Act, when a company spills any amount of oil in the water, it must file a report with the National Response Center run by the Coast Guard. But when Henderson checked, he found many of those smaller spills were not making that list.
So environmental groups formed the Gulf Monitoring Consortium to get a better count on spills. The partnership is a blend groups of complementary skills.
Gulf Restoration Network, for example, has personnel who can spot spills from the air and file complete reports.
SouthWings, a group of volunteer pilots, helps get those spotters aloft.Louisiana relies largely on the oil industry to self-report leaks and spills. The Gulf Monitoring Consortium was formed to improve that effort and said it often finds smaller leaks like this one, near Golden Meadow, that go unreported by the companies.
A third member, the West Virginia-based tech group SkyTruth, finds the spills on satellite photographs, then applies a formula used by spill experts to translate the size of the oil sheen into gallons of oil in the water.
SkyTruth spokesman David Manthos says its estimates typically are much higher than what’s been reported.
“We found that the spill was usually 10 times larger than had been reported, and that was averaged out across a lot,” he says. “In some, the mismatch was much larger than that.”
The sheer size of the industry here means there’s seldom a quiet day for the consortium. In an average year, the NRC receives 10,000 reports of spills in the Gulf.
It’s a number that surprised even SouthWings Gulf Program Director Meredith Dowling, a veteran of monitoring efforts.
“I can’t think of a single instance where our volunteers have flown offshore and not found spills,” Dowling says. “This was something that was really amazing to me when I first moved here … that is was a continuous, absolute failure of business-as-usual practices.”
There are many active spills around here. Many come from orphaned and abandoned wells. Many come from active wells. They are all spewing toxicwaste and it’s not just in Louisiana. Here is a program in Pennsylvania dedicated to plugging orphaned and abandoned wells. There are similar issues in Texas, New York State, and just nearly anywhere there’s been activity. Louisiana alone has about 6000. You can see that they are nearly everywhere if you look at the map at the top of the post. Many of these wells were first put into play in the 1850s and were just left where they were. They are rotting, they are decaying, and they are leaking. They are also dangerous.
Methane is an odorless, colorless gas that exists naturally below the surface. It isn’t poisonous, but it’s dangerous. When enough methane gathers in an enclosed space — a basement or a water well, for instance — it can trigger an explosion.
The gas didn’t come from the Butters well, nor did it originate from the Marcellus Shale formation that a nearby Shell well had recently tapped into. What most likely happened to cause the geyser in June, Shell and state regulators say, was something of a chain reaction. As Shell was drilling and then hydraulically fracturing its nearby well, the activity displaced shallow pockets of natural gas — possibly some of the same pockets the Morris Run Coal company ran into in 1932. The gas disturbed by Shell’s drilling moved underground until it found its way to the Butters well, and then shot up to the surface.
Areas impacted by oil spills are never the same. The BP Oil Gusher has introduced issues into the ecosystem that have left endangered species teetering further towards extinction. In the case of Louisiana, it’s even the state bird.
On a bright spring morning, P.J. Hahn is walking through a graveyard in the middle of Barataria Bay.
It’s a 30-yard patch of mud and sand bristling with bare, dead mangrove brush surrounded by miles of open water. Each mangrove is a tombstone marking the death of a nesting site used for decades by brown pelicans and roseate spoonbills on what was once the string of wetland pearls that made up the Cat Islands chain.
But in 2010 the oil spewing from BP’s Deepwater Horizon would send them all to an early grave.
“Four years ago we had more than five acres of habitat and there were tens of thousands of birds nesting on these islands,” said Hahn, director of coastal zone management for Plaquemines Parish. “Then the oil came in and coated the mangrove roots, and two years later the islands started going.
“I don’t know where those birds are nesting now – but they can’t do it here any more.”
The post-BP story of the brown pelican, Louisiana’s official bird, is the perfect metaphor for the crisis confronting the state’s coast.
Before the Deepwater Horizon blew out on April 20, 2010, brown pelicans were living the good life in southeast Louisiana as one of the great wildlife comeback stories. In 1963 not a single brown pelican could be found in the state due to impacts from the insectiside DDT. The comeback started in 1968 when the state began transplanting birds from Florida, and populations began to soar after DDT was banned in 1972. Thanks to the abundant food in one of the world’s most productive fisheries, by 2010 their numbers were thought to be near historic levels, as high of 85,000.*
Four years later, the sea floor closest to the spill and even the shores in the Gulf of Mexico are comparable to an Arizona Desert. It is barren, bleak and dead. There was life there. Now, there is the look of a forest fire without the resultant new growth. Nothing will grow back amid the poison of Corexit and Oil.
When a crew of journalists and environmental groups studying the effects of the BP Deepwater Macondo oil spill disembarked on Cat Island in Baratria Bay last week, there was a collective gasp.
“It looks like there was a fire here,” said Doug Meffert, vice president of the National Audubon Society and president of the Louisiana chapter, “but there wasn’t a fire.”
The bones of black mangrove stumps are all that remain of what was a thriving bird rookery here in Plaquemines Parish Four years ago, footage of oiled brown pelicans and the thousands of shorebirds nesting here went around the world in the aftermath of the 200 million gallons of thick crude that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.
Today the only green thing on the beach is a glass bottle. There are no pelicans, no mangroves, and worse, much of Cat Island itself is washing away. It and most of the barrier islands and marsh in Barataria Bay are steadily degrading, losing their battles with coastal erosion and subsidence faster than ever.
Areas around Barataria Bay and Grand Isle, La. were particularly hard hit, but they weren’t the only affected areas. Moreover, thousands of birds, other wildlife and marine life including dolphins perished, were oiled, sickened and overall left in distress. The effects on the area resonate now, which is only a shock to those either unfamiliar with garish oil spills or unwilling to accept the truth.
In the days following the “spill”, BP, apparently colluding with the US Government, doused a horrific amount of a deadly dispersant in the affected areas. Called “Corexit”, the cutesy name belies the sickening effects it brings to all it touches. On background, an environmentalist working in the area explained to me last year that they were, essentially, damned if they did, and damned if they didn’t, but chose the lesser of two ills.
That remains to be seen as the National Institutes of Health continues its 10-year “GuLF” study of BP spill health effects, from those most affected out on the Vessels of Opportunity boat that included BP-hired personnel trying to contain the spill, to residents in the line of fire, such as around Barataria Bay.
There is a way of life dying along the southern parts of the Gulf Coast in Louisana. The coastline disappears daily, the salt water intrudes in to the fresh water marshes, and the land doesn’t sustain the people or the animals like it once did. There is not better place to study the impacts of the extraction business and human addiction to fossil fuels than many parts of Cajun Louisiana.
Sea level rise is like an ultra-slow-motion hurricane for low-lying areas, but unlike a hurricane, it can be forecast decades in advance. Projections that some town or road will be underwater in 100 years can—and must—be mitigated against today.
Osborn characterizes the choice as “being proactive rather than reactive. Once you get into situations like Louisiana facing some very serious challenges in a very near time frame, all of a sudden you’re in a reactive posture.” Louisiana is a harbinger of things to come for New York, Miami, and other major coastal cities that would do well to look 20 to 75 years ahead and budget accordingly. Local, state, and federal governments will have to make critical decisions about infrastructure, water and sediment diversion, and wetlands restoration in the next 10 to 15 years, he says, and while NOAA scientists can contribute data, they can’t green-light projects or secure funding.
Osborn makes a technical distinction: “Right now it’s what’s called frequently flooded. And the risk is it will be routinely flooded.” Routine flooding will start to happen as early as 10 years from now, he says. They can call it whatever they want, but Gill says soon LA 1 will be “flooded every day during high tide.”
NOAA scientists predict that eventually all the marsh that surrounds LA 1 and Port Fourchon will disappear, connecting two major bodies of water that now are distinct: Barataria Bay and Terrebonne Bay. The only thing out in the water at all, by 2100, may be a raised road and Port Fourchon. “I can imagine Port Fourchon being like the Florida Keys,” says Chiasson, “being on its own, in the middle of open water, maybe a little marsh around it, but nothing between here and there.”
The fact that the entire extraction business is so fraught with so many bad things is why the men that run it must find politicians to protect them from lawsuits and regulations. Making these guys pay for what they’ve done would undoubtedly run their companies deeply into the red. Donation whores like Republican Governor Bobby Jindal will do anything to protect the benefactors that he hopes will fund him to the White House. There is nothing about Louisiana that this man is interested in except as a step on the rung of his personal ascent.
The state Senate targeted the flood protection authorities around New Orleans and the lawsuit one of the levee boards filed against the oil and gas industry for damages to the state’s wetlands.
In one bill, advanced by a Senate panel Wednesday morning, Gov. Bobby Jindal would get sweeping power to remove members of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authorities. Opponents said the move, which would allow a governor to remove authority members under certain conditions, reintroduces politics into the levee boards, which is precisely what revamp after the 2005 hurricanes was designed to prevent.
Another measure, which was passed by the full Senate late Tuesday night, would derail a lawsuit filed last year by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority — East against 97 oil and gas companies. The levee board sought damages for contributing to coastal erosion and led to higher than anticipated storm surges.
Jindal opposes the lawsuit and has called it a windfall for lawyers, who would be paid with a portion of any winnings rather than a flat fee. Critics say the legislation would keep the oil and gas industry from taking responsibility for damage caused by drilling and productions activities over the years.
SB553 is aimed at a lawsuit filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. It would not impact similar suits filed by Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes. But other measures currently being considered might.
The legislation passed Tuesday night, Senate Bill 553, would apply to retroactively. That measure was sent Wednesday morning to the Louisiana House.
Even kindergartners know they should clean up their messes. That is ones that aren’t sociopaths.
But, wherever there has been the extraction business, there are the sociopaths. We have the hundred year anniversary of just such an example.
Linda Linville climbed down the steep stone steps into the dugout on the southern Colorado prairie Sunday where one branch of her family was wiped out in one day 100 years ago.
Her great aunt, her unborn baby and two children died in a fire that broke out during a battle between coal miners striking against John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and the Colorado National Guard in what became known as the Ludlow Massacre. Twenty-seven-year-old Cedilena Costa, 4-year-old Lucy and 6-year-old Onofrio suffocated from the smoke as they hid below ground to escape the battle. Linville said Cedilena’s husband, Charlie Costa, was captured and shot in the head that day and never knew his family’s fate.
“Anyone who says they died in vain is wrong,” said Linville, a retired history teacher from Corona, Calif., referring to the fact that the miners eventually ended up going back to work without winning any of their demands.
The massacre and battle left 21 people dead, including the Greek-American union leader Louis Tikas, and set off 10 days of civil war in which the miners killed 30 mine guards, supervisors and strikebreakers. They surrendered only after President Woodrow Wilson sent federal troops to the state.
The deaths drew national attention to the long running strike and forced Rockefeller to take a public role in Colorado Fuel & Iron. He instituted a company union and grievance system, which the miners later rejected when the won a right to unionize on their own during the New Deal. The massacre and the deadly Triangle Shirtwaist fire in 1911 are credited with the helping win the eventual passage of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act.
Linville and over 100 others — including members of the United Mine Workers of America wearing the red bandanas the strikers wore — gathered at the site of the former Ludlow tent colony to mark the massacre’s 100th anniversary with a Greek Orthodox Easter service. It was very similar to the one the miners, who came from a variety of countries, shared in 100 years ago with the Greek strikers the day before the massacre. In a coincidental reminder of Ludlow’s international community, the Easter service will include the traditional reading of the Gospel story in many languages to symbolize the universality of its message.
It is easy to look back at the years of coal and oil and see that not much has really changed in terms of the business. The only thing that’s changing is that people, nature, and animals don’t have a chance at all and the deathtoll and damage are obvious if you actually get to see it. I have a small car. I really don’t drive much at all. I think in a busy week I may put on 15 miles. I have a bike and nearly everything I need is about a mile away. I suppose, for me, that it’s nothing to say that I really don’t benefit from any of this. I’d frankly rather pay for every single person to have some form of solar or wind generator in their home than the tax breaks we give to the oil industry. I think it would save every one in the country a lot less grief in the short and long run. But then, I could care less how much money the likes of the Koch Brothers earn. I’d frankly rather be dancing on their graves.
I just wanted to add that I found some of these wonderful skull art prints from this site.
I know it doesn’t look like it, but this is an open thread.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Is it too late to notice that our consumerist society is a lot like a swarm of parasitic insects clinging to the belly of a rapidly dying host? What are we to do when so many wealthy individuals prey on the superstitions and ignorance and greed of our fellow citizens to ensure their wealth grows while our planet dies? They convince us we need more than we do, underpay us, entice us with loans and plastic, then ship themselves off to pristine virgin island bank havens while we are surrounded by the chemicals, the death, and disasters that hyper-consumerism has wrought.
How can you possibly deny what we are doing to our home? Here are the top five items from a ‘terrifying” report presented over the weekend..
The impacts of climate change are likely to be “severe, pervasive, and irreversible,” the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said Sunday night in Yokohama, Japan, as the world’s leading climate experts released a new survey of how our planet is likely to change in the near future, and what we can do about it.
Here’s what you need to know:
We’re already feeling the impacts of climate change. Glaciers are already shrinking, changing the courses of rivers and altering water supplies downstream. Species from grizzly bears to flowers have shifted their ranges and behavior. Wheat and maize yields may have dropped. But as climate impacts become more common and tangible, they’re being matched by an increasing global effort to learn how to live with them: The number of scientific studies on climate change impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation more than doubled between 2005, before the previous IPCC report, and 2010. Scientists and policymakers are “learning through doing, and evaluating what you’ve done,” said report contributor Kirstin Dow, a climate policy researcher at the University of South Carolina. “That’s one of the most important lessons to come out of here.”
Heat waves and wildfires are major threats in North America. Europe faces freshwater shortages, and Asia can expect more severe flooding from extreme storms. In North America, major threats include heat waves and wildfires, which can cause death and damage to ecosystems and property. The report names athletes and outdoor workers as particularly at risk from heat-related illnesses. As the graphic below shows, coastal flooding is also a key concern.
Globally, food sources will become unpredictable, even as population booms.Especially in poor countries, diminished crop production will likely lead to increased malnutrition, which already affects nearly 900 million people worldwide. Some of the world’s most important staples—maize, wheat, and rice—are at risk. The ocean will also be a less reliable source of food, with important fish resources in the tropics either moving north or going extinct, while ocean acidification eats away at shelled critters (like oysters) and coral. Shrinking supplies and rising prices will cause food insecurity, which canexacerbate preexisting social tensions and lead to conflict.
Coastal communities will increasingly get hammered by flooding and erosion. Tides are already rising in the US and around the world. As polar ice continues to melt and warm water expands, sea level rise will expose major metropolitan areas, military installations, farming regions, small island nations, and other ocean-side places to increased damage from hurricanes and other extreme storms. Sea level rise brings with it risks of “death, injury, ill-health, or disrupted livelihoods,” the report says.
We’ll see an increase in climate refugees and, possibly, climate-related violence.The report warns that both extreme weather events and longer-term changes in climate can lead to the displacement of vulnerable populations, especially in developing parts of the world. Climate change might also “indirectly increase” the risks of civil wars and international conflicts by exacerbating poverty and competition for resources.
There have been so many disasters just recently that it’s hard to keep track. You can see our handprints on many of them. Has the policy of clear cutting timber created situations like the Washington State mudslide? Many scientists and environmentalists say yes.
As rescue workers, specially trained dogs, and heavy equipment move carefully through the area, longstanding questions are being raised about logging there and how it might have contributed to the slide.
The hillside in and around the slide area, which slopes steeply down toward the river, has seen much clear-cut logging over the years. Much of the forest there is second- and third-growth timber, replanted or regenerating naturally after earlier cuts.
Concern over logging’s impact has involved environmentalists and native American tribes. Large, old-growth trees take up more water than younger stands, which can take decades to mature and may be cut down before they reach full maturity. The demand for lumber, plywood, paper, and other wood products is part of an industry that once dominated Washington State and Oregon.
The Tulalip Tribes were so concerned with landslides hitting the Stillaguamish River and its prime salmon habitat that they blocked a proposed timber sale above an earlier slide in 1988.
“There were some very large clear-cuts planned for that area, which made us very concerned,” Kurt Nelson, a hydrologist with the tribes, told KUOW, the NPR affiliate at the University of Washington in Seattle.
“That reach of the North Fork has multiple, ancient, deep-seated landslides,” Mr. Nelson said. “There’s a lot of unstable terrain in that area.”
Landslides have followed logging in that area at least four times, KUOW reported.
“There was cutting in the 1940s; it failed in the ’50s. There was cutting in 1960, then it failed in the mid-’60s. There was cutting in ’88; it failed in ’91. There was cutting in 2005, and it failed in 2006 and in 2014,” said geomorphologist Paul Kennard, who worked for the Tulalip Tribes in the 1980s and now works for the National Park Service at Mt. Rainier.
“This had been known at least since the ’50s as one of the more problematic areas on the Stillaguamish for perennial landsliding,” Mr. Kennard said.
Although state logging regulations have been tightened in recent years, The Seattle Times reports that a clear-cut nine years ago “appears to have strayed into a restricted area that could feed groundwater into the landslide zone that collapsed Saturday.”
An analysis of government geographical data and maps suggests that a logging company “cut as much as 350 feet past a state boundary that was created because of landslide risks,” the newspaper reported.
This is an area above the most recent slide. Scientists and officials are investigating whether that clear-cut could have contributed to the current disaster.
Scientists tell us that mudslides are inevitable when you treat these mountains as we do and we fail to recognize that some places just aren’t meant for human habitation. However, tell that to the developers.
Almost 25 years ago, I went into one of the headwater streams of the Stillaguamish with Pat Stevenson, a biologist with the American Indian tribe that bears the same name as the river and claims an ancient link to that land. The rain was Noah-level that day — just as it’s been for most of this March.
We drove upriver, winding along the drainage of Deer Creek, one of the main tributaries of the Stillaguamish. We couldn’t see Whitehorse Mountain, the dreamy peak that towers over the valley, that day. We could barely see beyond our windshield wipers. At last, we arrived at an open wound near road’s end. I’d never witnessed anything like it: an active slide, sloughing mud and clay down into the formerly pristine creek. We watched huge sections of land peel and puddle — an ugly and terrifying new landscape under creation before our eyes.
Stevenson pointed uphill, to bare, saturated earth that was melting, like candle wax, into the main mudslide. Not long ago, this had been a thick forest of old growth timber. But after it was excessively logged, every standing tree removed, there was nothing to hold the land in place during heavy rains. A federal survey determined that nearly 50 percent of the entire basin above Deer Creek had been logged over a 30-year period. It didn’t take a degree in forestry to see how one event led to the other.
The Stilly, as locals call the river, is well known to those who chase fish with a fly rod, and to native people who have been living off its bounty for centuries. Zane Grey, the Western novelist, called it the finest fishing river in the world for steelhead, the big seagoing trout that can grow to 40 pounds. What Stevenson showed me that day in a November storm was how one human activity, logging, was destroying the source of joy and sustenance for others. When the crack and groan of an entire hillside in collapse happened a week ago Saturday, I thought instantly of Stevenson and that gloomy day at Deer Creek.
And, sure enough, logging above the area of the current landslide appears to have gone beyond the legal limits, into the area that slid, according to a report in The Seattle Times.
Meanwhile, the latest oil spill disasters take their toll in both the North and South of this Country. There are still long lasting effects in Alaska and in the Gulf of those giant oil spoils. But, even Galveston Bay shows sign of permanent damage from its latest brush with deadly oil that’s no where near the size of those other two. It’s getting to be that no one’s back yard is safe.
Authorities in charge of the cleanup from last week’s Houston Ship Channel oil spill say they’re responding to reports of oil near North Padre Island and Mustang Island, some 200 miles southwest of the original accident.
The command center for the cleanup reports Sunday that oil sightings were made earlier in the day by crews aboard flights being conducted by the Texas General Land Office and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Some tar balls — from dime-size to about 6 inches — have been spotted in seaweed patches along Mustang Island’s J.P. Luby Beach but it’s not certain if they are related to the spill a week ago between Galveston and Texas City.
The spill endangers wildlife nearby. There is a bird refuge that is in a particularly precarious location. That was also the clean side of the Gulf where you could still trust the fish and the seafood.
The spill, which dumped what one Texas official referred to as “sticky, gooey, thick, tarry” oil that doesn’t evaporate quickly into Galveston Bay, occurred about eight miles from the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary, which attracts 50,000 to 70,000 shorebirds each year. March is right around spring migration for many species of birds, and other birds are still wintering at Bolivar Flats, so tens of thousands of birds are living at the sanctuary, which is designated a Globally Significant Important Bird Area. Cleanup crews are using cannon booms to try to deter birds away from oiled beaches, and so far, oil hasn’t washed up on Bolivar Flats, but birds that have come in contact with oil in the water or on other beaches have been landing there.
Houston Audubon Society volunteers have been tracking the oiled birds they see at Bolivar, and Jessica Jubin, development director at the Houston Audubon Society, told ThinkProgress that the group was “definitely seeing more” oiled birds now than when they first started the day after the spill. She said on Monday, volunteers cataloged 40 to 50 oiled birds at one spot at Bolivar Flats, and on Tuesday, they counted about 100 at the same site. On Wednesday, she said, the number increased to about 140, with most birds ranging from just a few spots of oil on them to half covered in oil.
It’s the shorebirds and seabirds that are most at risk of becoming oiled from the spill, Jubin said.
“Like pelicans, for example — I don’t know if you’ve ever watched them fish, but they will soar in the sky and then spot something down below and then dart right into the water, and that’s how they get so much oil on them,” she said. “They can’t distinguish whether or not the oil is there, and they don’t know how to react to it.”
Mike Cox, spokesperson at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, told ThinkProgress the agency has so far collected 45 oiled birds in the Galveston area, with 19 birds in rehabilitation and 26 that were found dead. Jubin said Audubon was reporting birds they saw to Texas Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but she worries about the movement of the oil. If it drifts too far south or west, it could end up in important habitat for endangered whooping cranes. Already, the oil has reached the ecologically-sensitive Matagorda Island, soiling at least 12 miles of the barrier island’s pristine beaches. So far, however, the Parks and Wildlife Department hasn’t received reports of oiled wildlife from Matagorda Island, Cox said, and crews were working to put up booms to keep the oil from getting into Matagorda Bay.
But birds aren’t the only wildlife at risk from the oil spill. As the Texas Tribune reports, marine scientists are worried that the spill could result in long-term health effects on Texas marine life. The thick fuel oil that spilled Saturday is persistent, so marine species could be even more at risk from oil-related defects like irregular heart rhythm and cardiac arrest than they were from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Shrimp are a major part of the Galveston Bay fishing industry, and they’re also among the species most vulnerable to the oil spill — if their marshy homes are polluted with oil, they may not survive.
That, of course, doesn’t include the danger to the people and the clean up workers.
In 1790, a freed slave named Jim Moss found a place to settle down on a bend in the Houston River in the bayous of southwest Louisiana. Although never formally incorporated, the village of Mossville became one of the first settlements of free blacks in the South, predating the formal establishment of Calcasieu Parish by 50 years. But over the last half century, Mossville was surrounded. More than a dozen industrial plants now encircle the community of 500 residents, making it quite possibly the most polluted corner of the most polluted region in one of the most polluted states in the country. Now, a proposal to build the largest chemical plant of its kind in the Western Hemisphere would all but wipe Mossville off the map.
The project, spearheaded by the South African chemical giant SASOL, will cost as much as $21 billion, but stands to benefit from more than $2 billion in incentives (including $115 million in direct funding) from the cash-strapped state budget. It has the backing of Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, considered a likely 2016 presidential candidate, who traveled to the outskirts of Lake Charles for the official announcement of the plan in 2012. The state thinks it’s an economic slam dunk. One study from Louisiana State University projected that it would have a total economic impact of $46.2 billion. It is the largest industrial project in the history of Louisiana. And after a community meeting on Tuesday, it’s one step closer to realization.
But that massive plant will come with a steep environmental price. It will produce more greenhouse gases than any other facility in the state. And the project will almost certainly spell the end for the 224-year-old settlement of Mossville, a poor enclave that has been forced to play host to industrial facilities no one else wanted in their backyard.
An analysis conducted by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in February determined that the new project “will result in significant net emissions increases” of greenhouse gases, promethium, sulfur oxide, nitric oxide, and carbon monoxide. By its calculations, the plant will spew out more than 10 million cubic tons of greenhouse gases per year. (By contrast, the Exxon-Mobil refinery outside Baton Rouge, a sprawling complex that’s250 times the size of the New Orleans Superdome, emits 6.6 million tons.)
It’s beginning to feel a lot like we’re trapped between a future envisioned in the “Blade Runner” and that envisioned in Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”. Either way, the outcome will be sponsored by the likes of the Koch brothers and we will soon discover the fresh hells they’ve created for us. The dominionists and the capitalists join together to force their earth and its people into submission.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Saturday Reads: Obama Talks to Rouhani, Pakistan and Kenyan Disasters, Republican Terrorism, and MorePosted: September 28, 2013
It’s a beautiful Fall day in New England, the Red Sox have taken the American League East with the best record in baseball after winning 97 games with one game left to play. On top of that, the Yankees are pitiful. The playoffs start next Friday. It just doesn’t get better than this.
There is quite a bit of news for a Saturday. First up, President Obama spoke on the telephone to Iranian President President Hassan Rouhani yesterday–the first time leaders of the U.S. and Iran have spoken directly since 1979. The AP reports:
The United States and Iran took a historic step toward ending more than three decades of estrangement on Friday when President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke by phone and agreed to work on resolving global suspicions that Tehran is trying to build a nuclear weapon.
The 15-minute call capped a week of seismic shifts in the relationship that revolved around Rouhani’s participation in the annual U.N. meeting of world leaders. The night before the two leaders spoke, U.S. and European diplomats hailed a “very significant shift” in Iran’s attitude and tone in the first talks on the nuclear standoff since April.
The diplomatic warming began shortly after Rouhani’s election in June. But it is rooted in both presidents’ stated campaign desires — Obama in 2008 and Rouhani this year — to break through 34-year-old barriers and move toward diplomacy.
Iran is also seeking quick relief from blistering economic sanctions that the U.S. and its Western allies have imposed on Tehran to punish it for refusing to scale back its nuclear activities. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, but years of stonewalling inspections and secrecy about its activities have fueled fears it is seeking to build warheads.
Rouhani and Obama spoke while the Iranian president was in his car and headed to the airport to fly back to Tehran, with Obama at his desk in the Oval Office. Rouhani’s aides initially reached out to arrange the conversation, and the White House placed the call.
I’m not sure what it means to “work on resolving global suspicions that Tehran is trying to build a nuclear weapon,”–do they want to calm suspicions or tamp down the nuclear efforts? But at least it’s a step in the right direction. The New York Times has more:
“Resolving this issue, obviously, could also serve as a major step forward in a new relationship between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect,” Mr. Obama, referring to Tehran’s nuclear program, told reporters at the White House after the 15-minute phone call. “It would also help facilitate a better relationship between Iran and the international community, as well as others in the region.”
A Twitter account in Mr. Rouhani’s name later stated, “In regards to nuclear issue, with political will, there is a way to rapidly solve the matter.” The account added that Mr. Rouhani had told Mr. Obama, “We’re hopeful about what we will see from” the United States and other major powers “in coming weeks and months.”
More detail about the call itself:
Mr. Obama placed the call from the Oval Office around 2:30 p.m., joined by aides and a translator.
He opened by congratulating Mr. Rouhani on his election in June and noted the history of mistrust between the two nations, but also what he called the constructive statements Mr. Rouhani had made during his stay in New York, according to the official. The bulk of the call focused on the nuclear dispute, and Mr. Obama repeated that he respected Iran’s right to develop civilian nuclear energy, but insisted on concessions to prevent development of weapons.
Mr. Obama also raised the cases of three Americans in Iran, one missing and two others detained. In a lighter moment, he apologized for New York traffic.
The call ended on a polite note, according to the official and Mr. Rouhani’s Twitter account.
“Have a nice day,” Mr. Rouhani said in English.
“Thank you,” Mr. Obama replied, and then tried a Persian farewell. “Khodahafez.”
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that: U.S. Says Iran Hacked Navy Computers.
U.S. officials said Iran hacked unclassified Navy computers in recent weeks in an escalation of Iranian cyberintrusions targeting the U.S. military.
The allegations, coming as the Obama administration ramps up talks with Iran over its nuclear program, show the depth and complexity of long-standing tensions between Washington and Tehran.
The U.S. officials said the attacks were carried out by hackers working for Iran’s government or by a group acting with the approval of Iranian leaders.
The most recent incident came in the week starting Sept. 15, before a security upgrade, the officials said. Iranian officials didn’t respond to requests to comment.
The allegations would mark one of the most serious infiltrations of U.S. government computer systems by Iran. Previously, Iranian-backed infiltration and surveillance efforts have targeted U.S. banks and computer networks running energy companies, current and former U.S. officials have said.
I’m sure Glenn Greenwald will have a highly disapproving story about this in the Guardian today. Oh wait, he’s probably more outraged that the NSA was able to discover the Iranian spying . . . Never mind.
When Rouhani got home, he was “met by hardline protesters chanting ‘Death to America,’” according to BBC News.
Hundreds of people gathered at Tehran airport, with supporters hailing the trip and opponents throwing shoes.
An Agence France-Presse journalist said some 200-300 supporters gathered outside the airport to thank Mr Rouhani for his efforts.
But opposite them were about 60 people shouting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.
Mr Rouhani raised his hand to the crowds as he was driven off.
A New York Times reporter described the scene as chaotic, with dozens of hardliners hurling eggs and shoes at the president’s convoy.
There was another powerful earthquake today in Pakistan, according to CNN.
The 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck in Balochistan province Saturday about 96 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Awaran, the United States Geological Survey said.
Rasheed Baloch, the Deputy Commissioner Awaran told CNN seven people died when a house collapsed in Mashkay Tehsil as result of new earthquake on Saturday.
Just Tuesday, a 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck the same area of Pakistan. The death toll in that quake has risen to 366 people and another 765 are injured….
Baloch said a rescue operation was under way in Awaran district to retrieve the dead bodies and shift the injured to hospitals.
The remoteness of the affected area and damaged communications networks are hindering the rescue operation, officials said.
The Atlantic has a good article following up on “Tragic and Heroic Stories from Survivors of the Kenyan Mall Attack.”
Witness accounts and survivor stories from the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi continue to emerge, telling a freighting [sic] story of violence and terror. Yet, as the investigation continues, there are still some disturbing questions about the attack that have yet to be fully explained.
Now that more access has been granted to the ruined mall, images confirm that three floors of the building collapsed, presumably because of a large explosion. The Associated Press reported today that the collapse was actually caused by the Kenyan military, supporting a claim made by the terrorists themselves. It’s still not clear how or why they managed to set off the explosion, but it may have killed some (perhaps most?) of the hostages still inside the building.
The official death toll is still listed at 67, but it’s likely that unrecovered bodies will be found in the rubble. As many as 60 people are still missing.
CNN is also reporting today that the terrorists did not just plant weapons inside the mall in the days before the attack, as had been previously reported, but that members of al-Shabab had rented out a storeand were actually running it as functional business for nearly a year.
While investigators, including the FBI, continue their work, we’re learning more about what happened inside the mall during the attack, and what those who lived through it endured.
Check out some of the survivor stories at The Atlantic link.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a shocking report yesterday, according to BBC News. IPCC climate report: humans ‘dominant cause’ of warming.
A landmark report says scientists are 95% certain that humans are the “dominant cause” of global warming since the 1950s.
The report by the UN’s climate panel details the physical evidence behind climate change.
On the ground, in the air, in the oceans, global warming is “unequivocal”, it explained.
It adds that a pause in warming over the past 15 years is too short to reflect long-term trends.
The panel warns that continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all aspects of the climate system.
To contain these changes will require “substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions”.
Too bad no humans in powerful positions are likely to do anything about it.
Back in the USA . . .
Congress is still battling over whether or not to crash the global economy because Republicans don’t want ordinary Americans to have health care, Ted Cruz is still getting headlines for making an ass of himself, and the media is still trying to blame Democrats and Republicans equally for the mess we’re in.
From the Washington Post: Obama chides Republicans as shutdown looms.
With Washington barreling toward a government shutdown, a deadlocked Congress entered the final weekend of the fiscal year with no clear ideas of how to avoid furloughs for more than 800,000 federal workers. Millions more could be left without paychecks.
The Senate on Friday approved a stopgap government funding bill and promptly departed, leaving all of the pressure to find a solution on House Republican leaders.
President Obama weighed in, sternly lecturing GOP leaders that the easiest path forward would be to approve the Senate’s bill, which includes money for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the president’s prized legislation achievement, which he signed into law in 2010. But a far-right bloc of House and Senate Republicans banded together to leave House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) virtually powerless to act.
“My message to Congress is this: Do not shut down the government. Do not shut down the economy. Pass a budget on time,” Obama said in the White House press briefing room.
Boehner’s leadership team offered no public comment and remained out of sight most of Friday, hunkering down for another weekend on the brink. For Boehner, this is the latest in a series of unstable moments that have become the hallmark of his three-year run as speaker.
Al Gore uncharacteristically joined the fray, according to The Hill. Gore to GOP: ‘How dare you?’
Former Vice President Al Gore accused Republicans Friday of engaging in “political terrorism” by using a government shutdown as leverage to defund ObamaCare.
“The only phrase that describes it is political terrorism,” Gore said at the Brookings Institution, according to ABC News. “Why does partisanship have anything to do with such a despicable and dishonorable threat to the integrity of the United States of America?”
The former vice president also criticized Republicans for threats to link defunding ObamaCare to the debt ceiling, which is set to expire Oct. 17.
“Now you want to threaten to not only shut down our government but to blow up the world economy unless we go back and undo what we did according to the processes of this democracy?” Gore said. “How dare you?”
But the media is still pushing their “both sides do it” narrative. At The Atlantic, James Fallows offers Your False-Equivalence Guide to the Days Ahead. Here’s just a taste:
As a matter of journalism, any story that presents the disagreements as a “standoff,” a “showdown,” a “failure of leadership,” a sign of “partisan gridlock,” or any of the other usual terms for political disagreement,represents a failure of journalism*** and an inability to see or describe what is going on. For instance: the “dig in their heels” headline you see below, which is from a proprietary newsletter I read this morning, and about which I am leaving off the identifying details.
This isn’t “gridlock.” It is a ferocious struggle within one party, between its traditionalists and its radical factions, with results that unfortunately can harm all the rest of us — and, should there be a debt default, could harm the rest of the world too.
Now please click the link and go over to The Atlantic–it’s a must read.
I’m running out of space, so I’ll go with a link dump on Ted Cruz–if you have the stomach for the details you can go to the sources.
John Dickerson at Slate: Why Senate Republicans Hate Ted Cruz
Jonathan Chait: Ted Cruz Now Ruining John Boehner’s Life, Too
Those are my recommendations for today. What are you reading and blogging about? See you in the comment thread!
Two more days until my daughter goes under the knife for the first time in her life and she is a nervous wreck. (Me too.) She has never even had stitches, so this little trip to the hospital on Tuesday will be one hell of an emotional ride for her. And to top it all off, her 15th birthday is on Wednesday…hopefully she will be in too heavy a drug induced haze to feel the pain. So please, all you Sky Dancers will send positive thoughts her way, she needs it!
Since there is so much going on right now, I will give you this mornings links in quick fashion and if any are repeats…oops! (Just have been so busy since we found out about her surgery, don’t know what has been said or linked on the blog.) ;)
I had no idea that John Kerry met with, Henry Kissinger. Geez…it is hard for me to even type the man’s name without thinking of his deep, deep voice and that accent, or as Betsy and Arlene called him in the 1999 movie Dick…”That German guy.” Here is what Amy Goodman had to say about it: John Kerry meets coup plotter Henry Kissinger on the 40th anniversary of Chile’s Sept. 11
While this was going on, Congress is still making with the War on Science continues: plan to create science laureate falters in Congress. They can’t even agree on naming a person as an honorary non-paid US Science Laureate, which is a position kind of like the US Poet Laureate…only this person will be involved in sciences. Of course this means “science” as only the way Gawwwd intended.
The Senate version of the bill was sponsored by Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), and by Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) in the House. It had been sailing through Congress with bipartisan support. Wired Magazine speculated about potential nominees in the vein of Richard Feynman or Carl Sagan, such as Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Brian Greene, Jill Tarter, Mike Brown, or Sylvia Earle.
And then, the American Conservative Union discovered the plan when it hit the schedule for a floor vote, the magazine Science reported Thursday.
After Larry Hart, Director of the ACU, sent a letter to Congress saying in part that the president would be able to appoint scientists “who will share his view that science should serve political ends, on such issues as climate change and regulation of greenhouse gases,” House leadership pulled the bill from the schedule, returning it to Committee on Science, Space, and Technology where it will likely be killed in the Republican-controlled House.
You know…Mountain Dew is the best soda ever made.
Ah…rednecks. Speaking of which, this next article is pretty interesting: Ironically-Named City of Sistersville Still Bans Women from Voting
West Virginia (unfairly most of the time) seems to be the go-to backwoods state in America. Incest, murderous hillbillies, haunted coal-mining towns straddling the cave mouth to Hell, illiteracy, and prescription drug abuse are often mentioned in connection with West Virginia, as if the Appalachian squiggle-blob state (seriously, it’s like the cartographer coughed while drawing the borders) functioned as a repository for all of America’s nastiest secrets. You want to make a movie about a crew of British spelunkers who find themselves deep underground at the mercy of highly-evolved, carnivorous bat-people? Set it in West Virginia! You’re lost and hoping to stop at a gas station to ask for directions? Don’t stop in West Virginia! Every state has its stretches of desolate terror highway, so where does West Virginia’s bad rep come from?
It might have something to do with outdated town charters like the one belonging to a tiny city on the banks of the Ohio River called Sistersville, a place that sounds unfairly creepy, as if the twins from The Shining stood sentry-like next to the sign at the city limits, beckoning for creeped-out motorists to play with them. In fact, Sistersville, with a population just shy of 1,500, has a more unfortunate problem than ghosts wandering the city limits — its charter still bars women from voting. Yup, the ironic twist in Sistersville is that, according to the town charter, only the dudes can vote.
I know, right? WTF. The town could change the charter, allowing women the right to vote, but this cost money….Money the town just does not have.
The Nineteenth Amendment ensures that women can freely vote in Sistersville. In a way, ignoring the outdated charter — which must have all kinds of other anachronistic nonsense about not leaving your gaslamp on when the Wendigo comes around, or making sure to chase away French fur trappers if they wander too close to your property line — is itself a sign of progress; it’s so thoroughly taken for granted that women can vote that Sistersville charter issue has been reduced to a cost/benefits issue. Besides, according to Schleier, West Virginia is full of outdated town charters, like the charter in nearby Paden City that requires men have to do manual labor for the city two days out of every year for the discount rate of $1.05. Why focus on one outdated town charter, misogynistic as it may be, when there are plenty riddled with long-ignored pen strokes from a long time ago?
Then again, not changing the charter to show that women can vote would leave Sistersville’s female population particularly susceptible to the whims of a post-apocalyptic town despot who takes over when the United States federal government falls into ruin (one must always plan ahead). Plus, it must really suck to live, work, and pay property taxes in a city that doesn’t officially consider you a full-fledged citizen.
Honestly, I don’t think it will take an apocalyptic event for some dickhead to take over the city where women work, live and pay property taxes in and then declare its women are not full-fledged citizens. Fairfax, Virginia comes to mind…Remember this asshole and the mess regarding the abortion clinics facilities within the city limits? Virginia City Attempts to ‘Ordinance’ Out Safe Abortion
The Fairfax, Virginia, city council voted 4-2 Tuesday night to change the city zoning code in such a way that “medical care clinics” will be considered separate from doctors’ and dentists’ offices, a move that abortion rights advocates are concerned could make it more difficult for the city’s only abortion clinic to operate.
Under the new zoning rules, medical care clinics will require additional, expensive permits as well as approval from the zoning board to operate. The changes could make it much more difficult for Nova Women’s Healthcare in Fairfax to relocate, after the clinic’s previous landlord ended its lease early because of complaints that included the clinic “attract[ing] numerous protesters … whose presence and actions constitute an unreasonable annoyance.”
During Tuesday’s city council meeting, Fairfax Mayor Scott Silverthorne accused “outside groups” of trying to create a controversy over the zoning change. “I don’t appreciate some of the outside groups here tonight, such as NARAL [National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League of Virginia], parachuting into my community and spreading misinformation,” he said, according to Fairfax Patch. “This vote is not about abortion.”
Oh…Bullshit! (I think that is the same remark I made when I first wrote about the dickhead Silverthorne.)
What to read more ridiculous crap from the right? Scott Lemieux over at LG&M has this post up and you must check out the links he is writing about…Innovations In Rape Apologia
Date rape is an apparently common campus crime that usually involves two drunk young people, one of whom has an erect penis, and the other of whom is unable to avert what the erect penis typically does.
Whether you’re trying to blame the rape victim or apologize for the rapist, positing a dick with a mind of its own is a useful device.
Here are the links:
Whiskey Fire: Strictly Comedy, Writes in regard to the R. Stacy McCain quote up top:
To the morally and intellectually sane, if a woman is “unable to avert an erect penis,” in plain English, she is being raped. That is rape. It is as blunt a definition of rape as one could imagine. Unwanted genital penetration occuring without consent? Rape!
The twerp downstairs solemnly informs us that R. Stacy McRape in this quote is a “MAN… SPEAKING HYPOTHETICALLY OR WITH A CERTAIN LEVEL OF IRONY.”
Which is crap.
And, Eschaton: Eschaton, Fair and Balanced, it is a long, long post so go read it in full, but here are a few bits:
There is some controversy about this case, however. Not everyone agrees with the standard view of this murder case. Here at Eschaton we always strive to present both sides of an issue. So, after visiting Talk Left to read about it, you can read the alternative interpretation by Moonie Times reporter/Assistant National Editor Robert Stacy McCain as posted to the Free Republic under his pseudonym BurkeCalhounDabney…
Was Till’s killing racially motivated? Certainly, at least in part — just as Till’s initial action toward Carolyn Bryant was racially motivated. Till thought he could impress his relatives and friends by defying the customs of rural Mississippi. He succeeded too well. Roy Bryant returned home to find that Till’s insulting behavior toward his wife was the talk of the community. Not merely was this a challenge to Bryant’s personal honor, but to the peculiar community standards of that place and time. Roy Bryant either had to do something about Till, or become a pariah and/or a laughingstock in his community.
Now, it is likely that no would wish to return to the community standards and customs that apertained in rural Mississippi in 1955, when the Bryant brothers could kill Emmett Till and be judged not guilty by a jury of their peers. But Emmett Till’s insult to Carolyn Bryant was a personal wrong, and the murder of Emmett Till was a very personal murder. He was not a martyr for “civil rights,” unless you consider it a civil right to insult women.
If you’re bored you can write Andrew Sullivan and noted civil rights expert Jonah Goldberg and ask them what they think of their co-worker.
UPDATE: Just wanted to add that all of Mr. McCain’s posts on the Free Republic were pulled hours after Mike Signorile’s article was published. So, you’ll have to take my word for it.
You go and read the full post.
Hey, check this out too: Medical Examiner In Martin Case Says It Was Lost Deliberately By Prosecution (VIDEO) -
The Martin prosecution was an example of what my lawyer friend calls “a piss-poor job” of presenting evidence to convict. It bothered him and the idea was floated that maybe the case was being thrown, lost on purpose.
Now it looks as though that may have been what happened. The Volusia County medical examiner on the case, Dr. Shiping Bao, is now saying that the prosecutors did lose the case on purpose. Bao claims that the prosecution team, the Sanford police and his superior at the medical examiner’s office were all biased against Trayvon Martin, with the general attitude that “he deserved it.”
Dr. Bao is the M.E. who, as assistant coroner of Volusia County, handled the teen’s body on the night he was shot. According to him, there was no way that Martin could have been on top of Zimmerman when the gun was fired. His autopsy report details why this scenario was impossible. When he was on the witness stand, during the trial on July 5, he testified that Martin took up to 10 minutes to die from exsanguination – he bled to death – and that the boy was in pain and suffering the entire time. He was prepared that day, as a witness for the prosecution, to prove that Martin could not have been the aggressor in the incident. He was ready to present scientific evidence of why this was so. But the prosecutor never asked and Dr. Bao was not able to give his evidence. His testimony could have decisively put the case away for the state.
Dr. Bao was, soon after the case ended, fired from the medical examiner’s office. He felt that he was terminated wrongfully because he knew the truth of the matter: that the prosecution intentionally lost the case. He has now filed a $100 million lawsuit against the state of Florida for wrongful termination. His attorney, Willie Gary, told reporters:
“He was in essence told to zip his lips. ‘Shut up. Don’t say those things.’ “
Of course, it is possible that Dr. Bao is lying. But that seems like a stupid thing to do if he is suing the state. With the recent revelations concerning Zimmerman’s attorneys not being paid and Zimmerman apparently unable to stop himself from falling back on his
substitute penisgun when he’s feeling petulant, these allegations raise serious questions. Was a murderer intentionally set free to kill again? The Chief of Police in the town where Zimmerman currently dwells seems to think so. If this is true and Zimmerman does murder again, the state of Florida is in deep doo-doo, along with the county, police and attorney general’s office. If this is true – if the prosecution in the Martin case purposely lost the case – it opens up the possibility that this is not the first time. All other cases tried by the current attorney general of Florida and her team would be called into question. And the state could be held liable. All because a group of racist officials decided that a 17-year-old kid deserved to die. It’s mind-boggling.
Watch the video of the local Orlando news report at the link.
Update on the Vanderbilt football player accused of rape: Vanderbilt Player Involved in Rape Cover-Up Pleads Guilty to Misdemeanor
They are calling the flood in Colorado, a 1000 Year Flood, take a look at some pictures and video here: Photos and videos from dramatic flash floods in Colorado | Grist
At least four deaths have been blamed on the flooding, and a fifth person is presumed dead. More than 500 were “unaccounted for,” although authorities cautioned that designation included people who simply have not yet contacted concerned relatives elsewhere.
About 350 people are unaccounted for in Larimer County, according to the county’s sheriff’s office. In adjacent Boulder County, more than 170 people were unaccounted for but were not considered missing yet, though they had not contacted family members.
Areas from Denver to the Wyoming border remained under the threat of additional rain Sunday, with flash flood watches and warnings posted. Airlifts were set to continue with helicopter crews expanding their searches east to include Longmont, Fort Collins and Weld County.
I hope that anyone with family in the area of these floods has heard from their relatives…let us know that everyone is safe and sound.
I am going to switch gears now…how about a few book and movie links and reviews?
Review: Prepared to flee Cuba ‘Una Noche’ – latimes.com: Movie review: Twins, a sexy bad boy and a planned escape from Cuba. A feature debut captures the country in almost-documentary detail, but the plot thins.
MovieMorlocks.com – The unexpected comedy stylings of Alfred Hitchcock Oh, btw…This month is Alfred Hitchcock month…every Sunday TCM is showing Hitchcock films.
And for the last story today, it is official…Voyager 1 is out of the solar system!
Scientists have been debating for more than a year whether NASA’s 36-year-old Voyager 1 spacecraft has left the solar system and become the first human-made object to reach interstellar space.
By a fluke measurement, they now know definitively it has.
“We made it,” lead Voyager scientist Edward Stone, from the California Institute of Technology, told reporters on Thursday.
The key piece of evidence came by chance when a pair of solar flares blasted charged particles in Voyager’s direction in 2011 and 2012. It took a year for the particles to reach the spacecraft, providing information that could be used to determine how dense the plasma was in Voyager’s location.
Plasma consists of charged particles and is more prevalent in the extreme cold of interstellar space than in the hot bubble of solar wind that permeates the solar system.
Voyager 1, now 13 billion miles (21 billion km) from Earth, could not make the measurement directly because its plasma detector stopped working more than 30 years ago.
“This was basically a lucky gift from the sun,” Stone said.
Read the technical stuff on how they measured up the miles at the link above.
No, we’re never going to stop talking about this. It’s the coolest thing ever.
Back when Voyager I was first launched into space, a committee lead by Carl Sagan put together a series of messages for any intelligent life outside our solar system who might come across the ship. Etched on gold-colored copper plates, this series of images and audio greetings is meant to reflect the whole of humanity — and now it’s totally in interstellar space.
There are a lot of ways you can listen to the music that’s contained within the golden discs. First, there’s a simple archive of .wav and .mp3 files on the NASA Voyager archive page. You can stream from there, or you can even download the files and take them around with you on your MP3 player and constantly pretend you’re an alien trying to navigate our way of life. We imagine that would make getting stuck on public transportation so much more fascinating.
If you’ve got a pretty decent internet connection and you also want to stream the record in the coolest way possible, there’s this interactive Golden Record website. While there’s no instructions (the aliens don’t get any, either), you can figure out your way around by clicking on the different parts of the flash menu. If you can’t, here’s a quick tip: top left is the music; top right is the images that were also included; bottom right is the space map that shows Earth’s location in the galaxy.
Want to know more about what is on the Golden Record, click the Geekosystem link and find out.
Hey, look at that? I started out with something connected to Carl Sagan, and I finished up with something different, but still referencing Carl Sagan.
Let’s end with one last picture: How our galaxy might look from outside | Today’s Image | EarthSky
This artist’s impression shows how the Milky Way galaxy might look seen from the outside, from an almost edge-on perspective.
Credit: ESO/NASA/JPL-Caltech/M. Kornmesser/R. Hurt
New research suggests that, as seen from the outside, the central bulge of our Milky Way galaxy shows up as a peanut-shaped glowing ball of stars, while the spiral arms and their associated dust clouds form a narrow band.
One of the most important and massive parts of the galaxy is the galactic bulge. This huge central cloud of about 10,000 million stars spans thousands of light-years, but its structure and origin are not well understood. Why not, when it’s our home galaxy? Because, from our vantage point from within the galactic disk, our view of this central region — at about 27,000 light-years’ distance — is heavily obscured by dense clouds of gas and dust.
There is a link to a 3D version of what our galaxy may look like, just go to the EarthSky link from the image up top to find it.
Well, this should keep you busy for a while. I will be
very damn busy myself this week, so if I’m AWOL y’all know why…its because I am taking care of “the Girl,” my little munchkin…
Have a great day and enjoy your third Sunday in September.
Hey there, how’s everyone doing today? Tonight two stories brought to you by global warming and humans hunting animals to extinction.
very damn interesting article and interactive map that Juan Cole wrote about on his blog: Bye, Bye Florida: Scientists find the last time it was this hot, Seas rose 65 feet | Informed Comment
A study published in Nature Geoscience by researchers, from Imperial College London and their academic partners shows that 5-3 million years ago in the Pliocene, the last time it was as hot as it is going to be in this century, antarctic ice shelf melting caused a sea level rise of as much as 20 meters (65 feet).
At 65 feet sea level rise, we basically lose Louisiana and most of Florida, according to this useful intractive map:
Yup, most of Florida is in the drink, and Dak…New Orleans is gone too.
Here are the original links to the articles Cole links to…Ancient ice melt unearthed in Antarctic mud
Global warming five million years ago may have caused parts of Antarctica’s large ice sheets to melt and sea levels to rise by approximately 20 metres, scientists report today in the journal Nature Geoscience.
The researchers, from Imperial College London, and their academic partners studied mud samples to learn about ancient melting of the East Antarctic ice sheet. They discovered that melting took place repeatedly between five and three million years ago, during a geological period called Pliocene Epoch, which may have caused sea levels to rise approximately ten metres.
Scientists have previously known that the ice sheets of West Antarctica and Greenland partially melted around the same time. The team say that this may have caused sea levels to rise by a total of 20 metres.
Dr Tina Van De Flierdt, co-author from the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London, says: “The Pliocene Epoch had temperatures that were two or three degrees higher than today and similar atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to today. Our study underlines that these conditions have led to a large loss of ice and significant rises in global sea level in the past. Scientists predict that global temperatures of a similar level may be reached by the end of this century, so it is very important for us to understand what the possible consequences might be.”
Analysing the mud revealed a chemical fingerprint that enabled the team to trace where it came from on the continent. They discovered that the mud originated from rocks that are currently hidden under the ice sheet. The only way that significant amounts of this mud could have been deposited as sediment in the sea would be if the ice sheet had retreated inland and eroded these rocks, say the team.
The academics suggest that the melting of the ice sheet may have been caused in part by the fact that some of it rests in basins below sea level. This puts the ice in direct contact with seawater and when the ocean warms, as it did during the Pliocene, the ice sheet becomes vulnerable to melting.
Carys Cook, co-author and research postgraduate from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial, adds: “Scientists previously considered the East Antarctic ice sheet to be more stable than the much smaller ice sheets in West Antarctica and Greenland, even though very few studies of East Antarctic ice sheet have been carried out. Our work now shows that the East Antarctic ice sheet has been much more sensitive to climate change in the past than previously realised. This finding is important for our understanding of what may happen to the Earth if we do not tackle the effects of climate change.”
The next step will see the team analysing sediment samples to determine how quickly the East Antarctic ice sheet melted during the Pliocene. This information could be useful in the future for predicting how quickly the ice sheet could melt as a result of global warming.
And the interactive map, I have gone and saved a screen shot of the Northeastern US and California Coast: Global Sea Level Rise Map – Global Warming & Climate Change Impact
The map below can be used to show which areas would be under water if sea level rises a specific amount. You can select a value of sea level rise using the drop down box in the upper left corner of the map. Although this map is not a carefully surveyed and extremely accurate presentation, it does provide a visually striking view of what geographic areas might be flooded if global climate change continues unabated.
Note: Some inland depressions, such as the Caspian Sea, show inundation on the map but would not be flooded. This is because the mapping algorithm is based upon elevation and can not distinguish areas that are separated from the oceans by a ridge or other high area. Be sure that you trace a connection with the ocean before assuming the area would be flooded.
As you can see…San Francisco Bay engulfs Sacramento…the state of Delaware is no longer above water and the major cities in the Northeast are shit out of luck too.
But…these cities are not the only things heading for extinction…Bad News: CNN Host Reports Humans Have ‘Hunted The Dildo Into Extinction’ | Mediaite
CNN International host Jonathan Mann undermined the point he was trying to make about climate change a bit when he offered up this particular example of previous “man-made extinctions”: “We hunted the dildo into extinction.”
Speaking to a guest about a study that says many animal species won’t have time to adapt to a rapidly warming planet, Mann said, “Now extinctions, I don’t have to tell you, have been a part of the history of the world for millennia. And man-made extinctions have even happened before.”
“I guess we hunted the dildo into extinction,” he let slip, before slowly realizing his mistake. “Um, but, the Dodo, rather, forgive me, I’m having trouble with my words today.”
The Dodo bird species is believed to have perished for good sometime in the 17th century, but, for now at least, the dildo is alive and well.
Go to the link up top so you can see the video clip of the dildo slip, which David Letterman used in his show last night, “CNN…most trusted name in news” indeed.
This is an open thread.