Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

All the News Fit to Share: News of the Green UPDATED W/More Green News


While St. Patrick’s Day is not usually celebrated at my ELCA-Lutheran Church – this morning:  we found we raised more money for our solar panels than originally planned.  It’s a good day to be green!  We will have 10% more solar panels!  #yay

PS: Seven continents tonight!  


Rocky Barker: When it comes to land management, is ‘multiple use’ relevant?

Idaho Statesman; Rocky Barker

The passage of the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960 was designed to give each of these uses equality, since some in Congress worried then that logging was becoming the dominant use of national forests.

In practice, the act did not really hinder timber production or logging. Instead the term changed to reflect the majority support for productive use of federal lands and maximizing a sustainable yield of timber.

Four years later, when Congress passed the Wilderness Act of 1964, opponents labeled wilderness as a single, dominant use that went against the spirit if not the meaning of multiple-use management.

Hiking is not a multiple use.  Nor camping.  

Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife about wrong kind of bucks

Salt Lake Tribune; Tom Wharton

When Don Peay founded Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife in 1993, few could have dreamed that it would blossom into a powerful multi-million operation with a presence in seven western states and in national politics.

The group formed as Utah mule deer populations were crashing. Peay, an avid hunter, decided to do something about it.

There is little doubt that Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife has done much good. It has spent money to purchase or improve wildlife habitat and raised $7.2 million for conservation over the past 10 years. It recently wrote a check for more than $1 million to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Such expenditures bring the organization sway with state wildlife managers. Some think the relationship might be too cozy. Money and political clout often give the impression that SFW and not the DWR is in charge of wildlife in Utah.

Afghanistan’s Forests A Casualty Of Timber Smuggling

NPR; Sean Carberry and Sultan Faizy

The United Nations Environmental Program estimates that over the past three decades, Afghanistan’s forest cover has decreased by about 50 percent.

Wali Modaqiq, deputy director of Afghanistan’s environmental protection agency, says that today forests cover only about 2 percent of Afghanistan. He says years of war and drought have felled more trees than wood stoves, which generally burn scrap wood. The big killer of trees, though, is economics.

“There is a huge demand for Afghan timber in the international market,” Modaqiq says.

Commercial timber harvesting is illegal in Afghanistan – which leaves a massive smuggling industry to satisfy international demand. The remaining forest is in places like Kunar province bordering Pakistan, which is the main outlet for Afghan timber now.

Remember Haiti.  Remember Haiti compared to the Dominican Republic.  Thank you to JanF for sharing this story in the comments.  


Antarctica’s warming temperatures make plane landings impossible

New Zealand Herald; Issac Davidson

New Zealand officials have warned that access to Antarctica is becoming more precarious as warming temperatures damaged the ice runways, making it impossible to land New Zealand Air Force planes.

Mr Sanson said that while the West Antarctic was rapidly warming, the East Antarctic was cooling. Ross Island, where Scott Base and the US’ McMurdo Base were situated, was halfway in between the two ice sheets and was warming gradually.

Institute chair Rob Fenwick said that while the warming on the surface of the ice was well-understood, the effect of warm ocean currents under the sea ice was not as well known.

Investigating this phenomenon was crucial to understanding the impact of a warming world, and sea level rise, on New Zealand.

Fly-in fly-out workers spread benefits of boom

The Australian; Paige Taylor

THE extraordinary reach of Australia’s resource sector has been revealed in the first study of the nation’s long-distance commuter workforce, which finds the benefits of the boom are being shared with every state and territory.

The study finds about 100,000 workers fly and drive long distances to jobs in the resource and resource-allied sectors, out of a total of 213,773 Australians who commuted more than 100km to work at the time of the 2011 census.

This is behind a paywall, I am including the blurb to highlight the seeming insanity of using time and fossil fuel to reach jobs to extract energy and minerals.  

Bihar govt set to resist national water policy

Ashok Mishra, Hindustan Times

Bihar government has decided to oppose the National Water Policy, 2012, as it believes the proposed move was tantamount to infringement of state’s rights on its water resources.

Water resources minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary on Friday said the central regulation and control of water

resources was ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘detrimental’ to Bihar’s growth.


“It is a flagrant violation of the federal structure, as water comes under the state list of subjects,” Choudhary said while replying to a debate on the budgetary demands of the department in the state assembly.

He said the state government has already raised objection to water being termed a national resource at the national water resource council meet held late last year. 

Abu Dhabi seeks 10-fold increase in solar energy

Bloomberg via The Age

Abu Dhabi, the largest sheikhdom in the United Arab Emirates, is making a 10-fold boost in its capacity to generate electricity from the sun by starting the Shams 1 solar plant with partners Total SA and Abengoa SA.

Masdar, the state-owned renewable energy company, will supply 100 megawatts of electricity from the Middle East’s largest facility using concentrated solar technology, Chief Executive Officer Sultan al Jaber said today at the plant’s inauguration in the inland desert west of the U.A.E.’s capital, also called Abu Dhabi.

Countries in the Middle East and North Africa are developing sources of renewable energy to help satisfy the needs of growing populations and economies. Many of these states export oil and natural gas and are trying to cut their own demand for those fuels, which they use to produce power that governments generally sell at subsidized prices.

The conquest of nature and what we lost

Asia Times; Lewis H Lapham

How the Animal World lost its license to teach

Not much if the brutes are nowhere to be found. Over the course of the last two centuries, animals have become all but invisible in the American scheme of things, drummed out of the society of their myth-making companions, gone from the rural as well as the urban landscape. John James Audubon in 1813 on the shore of the Ohio River marveled at the slaughter of many thousands of wild pigeons by men amassed in the hundreds, armed with guns, torches, and iron poles. In 1880, on a Sioux reservation in the Dakota Territory, Luther Standing Bear could not eat of “the vile-smelling cattle” substituted for “our own wild buffalo” that the white people had been killing “as fast as possible”.

And as observers, they were not alone. Many others have noted the departure of animals from our human world and culture. Between 150,000 and 200,000 horses could, for example, be found in the streets of New York City in 1900, requiring the daily collection of five million pounds (2.3 million kilograms) of manure. By 1912, their function as a means of transport had been outsourced to the automobile.

As with the carriage and dray horses, so also with the majority of mankind’s farmyard associates and nonhuman acquaintances. Out of sight and out of mind, the chicken, the pig, and the cow lost their licenses to teach. The modern industrial society emerging into the twentieth century transformed them into products and commodities, swept up in the tide of economic and scientific progress otherwise known as the conquest of nature.

Wind-powered water holes for Gir lions

Himanshu Kaushik, TNN

Not just humans, even animals prefer flowing water. The drought-like situation in the Gir area has shown that water holes filled by wind or solar powered pumps attract more animals than those artificially filled by tankers.

Officials said stagnant water is less preferred. At a watering spot with flowing water, not just Asiatic lions, even chital, sambar and other wild animals are seen more frequently.

Officials said running water is cleaner and doesn’t have dried leaves and other contaminants. It was also noticed that cemented ponds are less preferred. Places where water overflowing from such ponds accumulated nearby also proved better sites.

World’s largest telescope at a cost of a billion Euros will be built in Chilean Andes


The giant eye on the sky with its 39 metres diameter main mirror made of 798 segments will gather light from distant stars and galaxies: 15 times more than the largest telescopes today.

“Every area of astronomy, from planets around other stars to the first galaxies in the universe, will be revolutionised by this telescope,” said Professor Simon Morris of Durham University.

The giant observatory will become part of an array of telescopes built by the European Southern Observatory organisation in Chile. Built high in the Andes, these instruments avoid much of the atmospheric turbulence that affects observatories at lower altitudes.

Living Lab: Urban Planning Goes Digital in Spanish ‘Smart City’

Der Spiegel; Marco Evers

Cities all around the world have set the same goal for themselves. Amsterdam, Barcelona, Birmingham, Dubai, Helsinki, San Diego, Stockholm, Nanjing, Vienna, Yokohama — they all share an aspiration to become “smart cities.”

That sounds like an appealing aim, yet when urban planners try to explain more precisely how they plan to lead their cities into the digital future, their answers are less convincing, with each proposing a different plan. Despite the many symposiums that have been held on this subject, there is no consensus on how to pursue this ambition.

Essentially the only thing all parties can agree on is that “smart” cities will employ sensors, computers and smartphones, and they will implement new forms of city government, making administrative processes more transparent than ever before. The idea is that digital technology will help make urban living cleaner, more sustainable and more pleasant. And, of course, it should increase prosperity as well.

Amid this uncertainty, an old port city on Spain’s Atlantic coast has surged to the forefront of those aspiring to be smart cities. Despite its cash-strapped finances, the city of Santander, birthplace of the major bank of the same name, is already quite smart.

China Environment Ministry Not Breathing Easy

Wall Street Journal hosting AP by Brian Spegele

Among the challenges the environmental ministry faces is a brewing battle with a Beijing lawyer over soil pollution data that the ministry has labeled a “state secret.” The controversy has spurred widespread criticism of environmental protection officials online and even in some state-backed media, though somewhat oddly only one Chinese journalist attempted to ask about it on Friday.

The intrepid journalist, from a Shenzhen television station, posed the soil-pollution question as part of a two-part inquiry, first asking about environmental progress in Shenzhen, then asking about concerns over contaminated food as a result of soil pollution.

Mr. Wu answered the first question, praising Shenzhen for progress he said it had made in the pollution fight. He didn’t answer the second question, which was also omitted from the official transcript of the news conference posted on the ministry’s website.

Aegean lake Bafa faces ecological catastrophe due to industrial waste

Hurriyet;Doğan News Agency

A large number of plants, birds and other species are at severe risk amid continuing pollution problems that are seriously affecting southwestern Turkey’s Bafa Lake, which is not far from the Aegean resort town of Didim.

“First the water turned green, and now snow-like foam has formed on it, meaning that it is getting dirtier each day,” Ecosystem Protection and Nature-Lovers Association (EKODOSD) member Professor Erol Kesici recently said.

Untreated wastewater from factories in Muğla’s Bafa town is draining into the lake, EKODOSD said, adding that in addition to the pollution coming from factories to the east, a fish farm on the lake’s western shore was also directly releasing waste into the body of water.

Shell cashes in on apartheid-era land law

Mail & Guardian; Andisiwe Makinana

Shell is paying rent of R48 a year for each of the two properties it uses for two service stations in the province.

A parliamentary committee now wants Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini or President Jacob Zuma to intervene. During a meeting of the parliamentary oversight committee on rural development and land reform this week, committee chairperson Stone Sizani spoke of the “trauma” of hearing that the service stations along the N2 highway in Umgababa, south of Amanzimtoti, were operating on traditional land and paying only R48 a year.

The service stations are beneficiaries of the Bantu Administration Act, which granted the owners permission to occupy certificates [PTOs] but barred black South Africans from having title deeds to the land.


Most popular human cell in science gets sequenced

Nature; Ewen Calloway

The research world’s most famous human cell has had its genome decoded, and it’s a mess. German researchers this week report the genome sequence of the HeLa cell line, which originates from a deadly cervical tumour taken from a patient named Henrietta Lacks.

Established after Lacks died in 1951, HeLa cells were the first human cells to grow well in the laboratory. The cells have contributed to more than 60,000 research papers, the development of a polio vaccine in the 1950s and, most recently, an international effort to characterize the genome, known as ENCODE.

Days of mischief against democracy over, hopes Raja: PPP-led coalition makes history

The term of the government was linked to the expiry of the five-year term of the 342-seat National Assembly at midnight, though the prime minister might hang on for about a week until a caretaker successor takes over to oversee the next national elections within two months.

In a late-night televised farewell address, the prime minister said that in a meeting with him earlier in the day, the chief ministers of all the four provinces had “agreed in principle” with his suggestion to hold elections to the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies on the same day, which, under the constitution, must come about within 60 days of their dissolution.

And he said he would pursue his already-begun efforts to create a consensus on the formation of caretaker administrations at the centre and the provinces, as the issue seemed bogged down mainly at the centre and in Punjab because of sharp disagreements over the nominees between the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N).

As much as I highlight Pakistan’s instability, I wanted to point out this fine achievement.


It’s Time to Rethink America’s Corn System

Scientific American; Jonathan Foley

The American corn system is inefficient at feeding people. Most people would agree that the primary goal of agriculture should be feeding people. While other goals-especially producing income, creating jobs and fostering rural development-are critically important too, the ultimate success of any agricultural system should be measured in part by how well it delivers food to a growing population. After all, feeding people is why agriculture exists in the first place.

Although U.S. corn is a highly productive crop, with typical yields between 140 and 160 bushels per acre, the resulting delivery of food by the corn system is far lower. Today’s corn crop is mainly used for biofuels (roughly 40 percent of U.S. corn is used for ethanol) and as animal feed (roughly 36 percent of U.S. corn, plus distillers grains left over from ethanol production, is fed to cattle, pigs and chickens). Much of the rest is exported.  Only a tiny fraction of the national corn crop is directly used for food for Americans, much of that for high-fructose corn syrup.

Yes, the corn fed to animals does produce valuable food to people, mainly in the form of dairy and meat products, but only after suffering major losses of calories and protein along the way. For corn-fed animals, the efficiency of converting grain to meat and dairy calories ranges from roughly 3 percent to 40 percent, depending on the animal production system in question. What this all means is that little of the corn crop actually ends up feeding American people. It’s just math. The average Iowa cornfield has the potential to deliver more than 15 million calories per acre each year (enough to sustain 14 people per acre, with a 3,000 calorie-per-day diet, if we ate all of the corn ourselves), but with the current allocation of corn to ethanol and animal production, we end up with an estimated 3 million calories of food per acre per year, mainly as dairy and meat products, enough to sustain only three people per acre. That is lower than the average delivery of food calories from farms in Bangladesh, Egypt and Vietnam.

crossposted in orange.



  1. Afghanistan’s Forests A Casualty Of Timber Smuggling

    “Three, four decades ago, 50 percent of the total land was covered by forest,” says Wali Modaqiq, deputy director of Afghanistan’s environmental protection agency.

    He says that today forests cover only about 2 percent of Afghanistan. He says years of war and drought have felled more trees than wood stoves, which generally burn scrap wood. The big killer of trees, though, is economics.

    “There is a huge demand for Afghan timber in the international market,” Modaqiq says.

    The article talks about the illegal sale of timber but the loss of their forests is going to be a serious issue for an already chaotic country. Afghans rely almost entirely on wood burning stoves for heat in the winter.

  2. Karl Rove Swipes Sarah Palin For Leaving Office Mid-Term

    On “Fox News Sunday,” Karl Rove responded to Sarah Palin’s declaration at CPAC that Republican consultants who “keep losing elections” need to either “buck up” and run for office or “stay in the truck.”

    Rove said that as a “balding white guy” he wouldn’t be a particularly good candidate for office. But “if I did run for office and win, I’d serve out my term,” he said. “I wouldn’t leave office mid-term.”

  3. Colorado Sheriffs Threaten Not To Enforce Their Own State’s Gun Laws

    several Colorado county sheriffs are threatening not to enforce their own state’s measures to expand criminal background checks and limit ammunition magazines if they are signed into law. The Greeley Tribune reports:


    Weld County Sheriff John Cooke said he won’t enforce either gun-control measure waiting to be signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper, saying the laws are “unenforceable” and would “give a false sense of security.”

    El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa also said Thursday that several of the laws are unenforceable and that he would willfully ignore the high-capacity magazine limit.

    “Too hard to enforce”? Oh, I see. Since you can’t stop every single crime, let’s not try to stop any of them. Excellent approach by law enforcment. But the excuse that it “gives a false sense of security” takes that cake. The law is not about making people “feel” safe … it is about keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of people who should not have them, thereby making them actually safer.

  4. Can States Go Beyond Federal Law On Voter Registration?

    The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on Monday in a case that could upend the federal effort to spur and streamline voter registration.

    At issue is an Arizona law that requires prospective voters to provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote. A federal appeals court ruled last year that the state law must fall because it conflicts with federal law.

    The Arizona law conflicts with the voter registration card that the federal government provides that simply requires people to check a box indicating they are a citizen and tells them the penalties for lying. That is not good enough for Arizona whose Attorney General hates that it relies on the “honor system”.

    The plaintiff in the case is Jesus Gonzalez:

    His application was twice rejected by state officials. The first time because, following instructions on the state form, he supplied his naturalization number, but as it turned out, there was no way for the state to verify that number with the Department of Homeland Security. On his second try, Gonzalez entered his driver’s license number, but, as it turned out, because he had obtained his license when he was a legal resident but prior to becoming a citizen, unbeknownst to him, he was flagged in the state’s files as a “foreigner.”

    The appeals court rejected the state’s arguments by a 9 to 2 ruling. However, the fact that the Supreme Court took the appeal even with that overwhelming consensus against the law suggests that the right-wing Roberts Court may be looking for more ways to undermine voters rights.

    The right-wing’s attacks on our most important right, the right to vote, is dastardly.  

  5. princesspat

    UW professor fights poverty one land plot at a time

    For decades, Roy Prosterman has pushed to change land-ownership laws and practices in an effort to lift some of the world’s poorest people out of poverty. Through Landesa, the Seattle organization he founded, he has helped millions of people across the globe gain rights to their own land.

    His work is very inspiring….the link in the article to part one of the series is interesting as well.

    Climate change a top concern for Gov. Inslee

    Washington governor’s focus on the issue goes beyond ordinary politics. He says finding solutions is both a moral obligation and an economic opportunity


    Unfortunately the turncoat “Dems” who put the Senate under R’s control will hamper his ability to accomplish what he would like to do. For example the light weight Senator from Whatcom County has this to say….

    “Whenever you speak in absolutes about the science being concluded, history is replete with people being proven wrong,” said Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, chairman of the Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee.

    The Senate last week did pass Inslee’s climate-change bill, but Ericksen’s committee removed language talking about problems associated with global warming.

  6. princesspat

    Coal Wars: Export backers push jobs, try to limit environmental review

    Peabody Coal calls it a “life cycle” analysis and SSA Marine says it’s a “lifespan” review, but by any name or description it’s what most concerns the big companies pushing coal-export terminals in Washington.

    That’s clear in voluminous official comments from Peabody, SSA and the BNSF Railway made at the close of public scoping testimony in January. Those comments are now in the cross-hairs of three public agencies charged with determining what must be studied in a complex environmental review of  the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Whatcom County and State Department of Ecology are collaborating as the lead agencies on the review.

    There are wide-ranging implications in a so-called “life cycle” or “lifespan” environmental review. It would go beyond the usual examinations of the immediate environmental effects of a project in its own area to look potentially at regional and even national and international effects.

    This is the first of a three part analysis. Floyd McKay is both a neighbor and an excellent reporter. Full coverage of this important issue is on Crosscuts Coal Port site.  

  7. The RNC’s Tom Perez Problem

    [Tom] Perez is a Hispanic leader and as head of DOJ’s civil rights division one of the Obama administration’s most progressive officials. But in recent years he’s also been the target of racialized attacks by familiar characters in the conservative media.

    For both of those reasons, he’s the sort of nominee Republicans can’t help but filibuster.

    Thus, on the day of its unveiling, the Growth And Opportunity Project faces a major challenge to its own raison d’être. The report notes, “If we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans, we have to engage them and show our sincerity.”

    That’s hard enough to do when the party’s simultaneously filibustering a qualified candidate to be the only Latino in Obama’s second-term cabinet. But it’ll be even harder if the conservative media lapses into another Sotomayor-like spectacle of racial panic and drags elected officials with them.

    For a glimpse into that conservative media’s reaction, look no further than Rush Limbaugh:

    Rush Limbaugh said Perez “may as well be Hugo Chavez,” then compared him to a liberal equivalent of a Klansman for not prosecuting the New Black Panthers.

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