Saturday, February 23, 2013

Smallest Planet. Fracking. KXL Pipeline. National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska. Iwo Jima.


For “Summary Saturday”, News, Some New, Some Old:

Smallest Planet Ever Found Outside Solar System Observed By NASA's Kepler Space Telescope

imagesCAJ3YGDE “Astronomers searching for planets outside our solar system have discovered the tiniest one yet – one that's about the size of our moon.

But hunters for life in the universe will need to poke elsewhere. The new world orbits too close to its sun-like star and is too sizzling to support life. Its surface temperature is an estimated 700 degrees Fahrenheit. It also lacks an atmosphere and water on its rocky surface.

University of California, Berkeley astronomer Geoff Marcy, one of the founding fathers of the planet-hunting field, called the latest find "absolutely mind-boggling."  "This new discovery raises the specter that the universe is jampacked, like jelly beans in a jar, with planets even smaller than Earth," said Marcy, who had no role in the new research.”  More at: Click here: Smallest Planet Ever Found Outside Solar System Observed By NASA's Kepler Space Telescope


Fracking: An Urgent Conversation

“We are in the middle of a controversy, and it's about something we cannot afford to ignore -- our water supply. And what's happening to it could be deadly.  It's called fracking.

imagesCAV5C850 To be honest, I didn't know what fracking was until recently, and I'm guessing many of you didn't either. That's because fracking (short for "hydraulic fracturing, or the process by which natural gas is extracted from shale rock deep within the earth) is a complicated, hot-button issue that involves commerce and the environment. And whenever that happens (can you say "global warming?"), the facts are often drowned out by heated arguments and disinformation.

One of the most powerful things I've read about fracking was reported by the Associated Press just last month: that a man from Weatherford, TX, a husband and father of three whose community was affected by fracking, told the Environmental Protection Agency that his family's drinking water had begun "bubbling like champagne" and that his well contained "so much methane [gas] that the water pouring out of a garden hose could be ignited."

Then I read a quote by Robert Redford -- whose creds as an environmentalist are right up there with his film career -- who said, "Fracking for gas threatens drinking water supplies, contaminates the air and contributes to climate change. To make matters worse, the gas industry plans to ship much of our shale gas overseas, as we shoulder all the environmental and public health risk."  More at:



Fracking's Dirty Air Secret

Denver smog. Brought to you in part by fracking.

“Drilling near Denver is adding to the area's worsening smog problem.  In Nov, supporters of the controversial drilling practice know as fracking held a rally in Denver. According to media reports, one booster drew laughs from the crowd when he said that fracking’s economic benefits would eventually "trickle down to attorneys [and] doctors."  Colorado doctors are probably already seeing increased business because of fracking, but not in a humorous way.

Oil and gas drilling is a contributor to ozone—better known as smog—on Colorado’s Front Range.  Smog is a health problem. As the American Lung Association explains, ozone is "the most widespread pollutant in the U.S" and "is also one of the most dangerous." Smog causes shortness of breath; chest pain when inhaling; wheezing and coughing; asthma attacks; and increased need for people with lung diseases to go to the hospital to get treatment.

And let's not forget death. Thousands of premature deaths occur every year due to ozone levels above the current health standard set by the EPA.  Thanks in part to the fracking drilling boom, smog has gotten worse in Colorado over the past couple of years.

How bad?  Last summer was the worst Front Range smog year since 2006 with a month of unhealthy air days. State data for 2012 also show air in Greeley and Fort Collins north of Denver—near the heart of the fracking boom—exceeding health standards and getting worse.

imagesCA969AU1And if that’s not enough, Rocky Mountain National Park was crowned the smoggiest national park outside of California this year. For the first time in the decade or so that the Park Service has records online. Can’t imagine that’s good for the tourism business, let alone the trees, wildlife and visitors.

It’s true that many industrial activities—and drivers—add to smog. Weather patterns, including the sunny days of summer, can create conditions that cause ozone levels to spike. Protecting public health by reducing smog may take significant commitments and actions across a range of activities.

But greed shouldn’t blind one to reality. With the fracking boom, scores of diesel-spewing drill rigs and fossil-fuel compressor stations are worsening the Front Range’s already unhealthy air.  So yes, fracking boosters, you’re probably already helping keep doctors busy. That’s not something to laugh about.”  From:


President Obama Lighting Fuse to Tar Sands 'Carbon Bomb' in Texas and Oklahoma Right Now

“In last week's State of the Union address, President Obama had strong words for Congress about the need to address the climate crisis:

images[3] He then proceeded to undercut his own climate message by failing to denounce TransCanada's lethal Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and by calling for the development of even more fossil fuels as part of his "all-of-the-above" energy policy: "That's why my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits."

imagesCAAXYSGZ Ending TransCanada's assault on Texas and Oklahoma is the first and easiest thing the president can do to show America he is serious about addressing a climate crisis spiraling out of control on his watch. It is time for Barack Obama to back up his words with action by taking the "executive actions" he mentioned last Tuesday night to halt construction of the southern (Oklahoma to Texas) leg of Keystone XL.

imagesCAX0XKB8To date, most of the Keystone XL conversation has focused on the need for Obama to deny TransCanada's permit to build the northern leg of the pipeline. While this step is absolutely essential, there has been surprisingly little talk about the need to stop the actual construction of Keystone XL already underway in Texas and Oklahoma.”   More at:



 Climate Choice,  say "no" to the KXL pipeline

images[3] “I thought about the KXL pipeline and what it represents at this moment in American/Canadian history.  I thought about all of the concerns over the pipeline on both sides. I thought about solutions to climate disruption -- solutions that won't slow our economy or stop commerce, green energy solutions like the advanced carbon-neutral biofuels that should be fueling my jet travel. I thought about how many people are crying out that we need the tar sands pipeline right now for economic stimulation and for job creation. I thought about the hard working citizens who feed their children through oil related jobs. And... I couldn't help but wonder....

If oil workers could choose, would they choose to work in toxic environments with damaging chemicals, or would they choose to work surrounded by clean air?

If Americans could choose, would they choose to work on the infrastructure for cancer-causing oil power or would they choose to work on the infrastructure for health reviving wind power?
If Canadians could choose, would they choose to dig up their forests, leaving behind barren and filthy wastelands, or would they choose to harvest the sun's rays and leave behind a legacy for their children?

If people had a choice, what would that choice be?”

More at: Click here: Evangeline Lilly: Climate Choice



Yesterday, the government listened!

A herd of caribou stampedes across the Western Arctic. (Florian Schulz /

“Every year, the 300,000-strong Western Arctic Caribou Herd surges over the hills of the Western Arctic to traditional calving grounds. I’ve been fortunate enough to watch this epic migration take place, and to see the wolves and grizzly bears that follow these herds.

And, with the latest news out of D.C., we’ve taken a major step towards ensuring that this spectacular and ancient annual journey can continue for years to come.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar this week formally adopted the first comprehensive plan for the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska, the largest single unit of public land in the U.S., located on Alaska’s North Slope and almost 22 million acres in size.

The final plan adds protection for five unique Special Areas including Teshekpuk Lake, Utukok Uplands, Kasegaluk Lagoon, Peard Bay, and the Colville River, which are critical to fish, wildlife, recreation and Alaska Native subsistence. The announcement of the final Integrated Activity Plan wraps up a multiyear planning process, and takes a major step toward conservation of the Western Arctic.

The places with new protections have long been the focus of conservation advocacy and some, like the Teshekpuk Lake area, so critical for the nation’s migratory birds, have been protected from drilling up until now by our litigation efforts. There’s more to do, but this week’s decision is a major milestone. Yesterday, the government listened.”


On This Day:

U.S. flag raised on Iwo Jima, Feb 23, 1945:

“During the bloody Battle for Iwo Jima, U.S. Marines from the 3rd Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Regiment of the 5th Division take the crest of Mount Suribachi, the island's highest peak and most strategic position, and raise the U.S. flag. Marine photographer Louis Lowery was with them and recorded the event. American soldiers fighting for control of Suribachi's slopes cheered the raising of the flag, and several hours later more Marines headed up to the crest with a larger flag. Joe Rosenthal, a photographer with the Associated Press, met them along the way and recorded the raising of the second flag along with a Marine still photographer and a motion-picture cameraman.

Rosenthal took three photographs atop Suribachi. The first, which showed five Marines and one Navy corpsman struggling to hoist the heavy flag pole, became the most reproduced photograph in history and won him a Pulitzer Prize. The accompanying motion-picture footage attests to the fact that the picture was not posed. Of the other two photos, the second was similar to the first but less affecting, and the third was a group picture of 18 soldiers smiling and waving for the camera. Many of these men, including three of the six soldiers seen raising the flag in the famous Rosenthal photo, were killed before the conclusion of the Battle for Iwo Jima in late March.

Although the famous photograph has long led people to believe that the flag-raising was a turning point in the fight for Iwo Jima, vicious fighting to control the island actually continued for 31 more days.


By March 3, U.S. forces controlled all three airfields on the island, and on March 26 the last Japanese defenders on Iwo Jima were wiped out. Only 200 of the original 22,000 Japanese defenders were captured alive. More than 6,000 Americans died taking Iwo Jima, and some 17,000 were wounded.”



Miss Priss was out on the screen porch for the first time since her surgery.

I didn’t do anything noteworthy, I was just busy all day.

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