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Picture Lake and Mt. Shucksan in Washington
Picture Lake with Mt. Shucksan in Washington.
Many environmentally related posts appearing at Daily Kos each week don't attract the attention they deserve. To help get more eyeballs, Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The most recent Saturday Spotlight can be seen here. So far, more than 19,180 environmentally oriented diaries have been rescued for inclusion in this weekly collection since 2006. Inclusion of a diary in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.
Bárðarbunga: New Eruption in Holuhraun, w/60m Lava Fountains (x5)—by Rei: "That tricksy volcanic system - waiting for us to fall asleep before giving us a new, bigger eruption! For last night light once again appeared on the webcams pointing at Holuhraun, where the large magma dike has been fracturing the surface as a side effect of its swelling with magma. And this time, it's an order of magnitude larger. Around 5 AM local time a second surface lava eruption commenced on Holuhraun. The new eruption is positioned to the north of the previous one and is larger. Its length is estimated at 1 to 1.5 kilometers long versus 600-1000 meters for the previous eruption. The southern end is about the same distance from the glacier, while the northern end stretches further north. The lava fountains are estimated at 60 meters high and most importantly the lava flow is estimated to be 50 times that of the previous eruption."
Icelandic eruption
green dots
Labor Day News Dump: FERC Hands Enbridge Permit for Tar Sands by Rail Facility—by Steve Horn: "On the Friday before Labor Day — in the form of an age-old “Friday News Dump“ — the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) handed a permit to Enbridge, the tar sands-carrying corporate pipeline giant, to open a tar sands-by-rail facility in Flanagan, Ill. by early-2016. With the capacity to accept 140,000 barrels of tar sands product per day, the company's rail facility serves as another step in the direction towards Enbridge's quiet creation of a “Keystone XL Clone.” That is, like TransCanada's Keystone Pipeline System sets out to do, sending Alberta's tar sands all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico's refinery row — and perhaps to the global export market. Flanagan sits as the starting point of Enbridge's Flanagan South pipeline, which will take tar sands diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) from Flanagan to Cushing, Okla. beginning in October, according to a recent company earnings call. From there, Enbridge's Seaway Twin pipeline will bring dilbit to Port Arthur, Texas near the Gulf."
green dots
Bill To Ban Oil Drilling In Marine Protected Area Fails!—by Dan Bacher: "Only in a Big Oil state like California would a Legislator have to author a bill to ban offshore oil drilling in a "marine protected area." And only in a Big Oil state like California would the Legislature vote against a bill to stop oil drilling in a 'marine protected area.' That's right—State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s bill to ban offshore oil drilling from an area of state waters in the Santa Barbara Channel known as Tranquillon Ridge stalled on the Assembly Floor on the evening of August 26, effectively killing the bill for the year, due to massive opposition by the oil industry. The bill would have protected the Vandenburg State Marine Reserve, created under the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, and the rest of the Tranquillon Ridge from offshore oil drilling plans. The vote was 29-36, according to Senator Jackson’s office."
green dots
The Daily Bucket - Alpine Flora Around Mt. Baker National Forest -II—by RonK: "I took a late August trip to the Mt. Baker National Forest that features both Mt. Baker and Mt. Shucksan to see the sights with grandkids again. Accompanying me were cousins, Ryan (13) and Ava (7). As before, we stopped at Picture Lake for some shots of Mt. Shucksan. Last year it was too misty to see much of the mountain but the misty lake was cool. We got the both the lake and the mountain this time. [...] I am drawn to Lower Curtis Glacier as it was one of my first encounters on Shucksan when I came to this areas in 1970. Taking the lake Ann trail led to a view directly across from the giant and we could watch and hear it calf. Thirty years later, I went back and it was clearly receding. Now, another 14 years later, although not from Lake Ann I could see its recession to but a shadow of what it once was. It is sad. I have been stunned by photos and timelapse videos of glaciers in recession around the world. But the personal observation of a recession of this magnitude in my meager 44 years hiking these mountains is poignant. To me it is the equivalent of the South Pacific islanders watching the sea rise to take over their island homes."

You can find more rescued green diaries below the sustainable squiggle.

Climate Chaos

"Urgency of climate change" to debut as legal tactic in defense of climate activists—by VL Baker: "John Upton at Climate Central writes about Ken Ward and Jay O'Hara, two Climate Activists who staged a coal delivery blockade in the spring of 2013. Their protests resulted in criminal charges of disturbing the peace, conspiracy, and boating offenses, which could result in hundreds of dollars in fines and up to five years in prison. In defense, their attorneys are preparing a novel and potentially paradigm changing strategy. For the first time ever they will use as defense the 'urgency of climate change'. The trial’s outcome could have far-reaching implications, with fossil fuel blockades growing in popularity around the world as a form of climate-related protest. And the trial could grab national headlines. Former NASA climate scientist Jim Hansen and prolific climate writer Bill McKibben told Climate Central that they plan to testify in Ward’s and O’Hara’s defense."

Sierra Club: Tell world leaders that it's time to get off the fence and into the climate fight!—by boatsie: "With just 22 days before the Ban Ki-moon UN Climate Summit (Twitter @BKM_summit),  The Sierra Club today released the following Petition to engage citizens in the campaign to urge world leaders show up in New York for the September 23rd summit. As one of the major organizers of The People's Climate March and events up to and beyond the Summit, The Sierra Club has pledged to deliver the signatures to all world leaders who have not committed to attend. [...] Currently, according to the most recent shared Google document, leaders from 205 nations have received invitations. Of these, 26 have accepted, with several nations sending representatives and not their nation's leader."

Awakening the Climate Dragon—by GoldenDragon: ""The climate dragon is being poked, and eventually the dragon becomes pissed off enough to trash the place...  If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere, we're fucked." says Jason Box, arctic researcher. Long theorized as a climate-feedback mechanism, Arctic carbon has now been observed bubbling up to reach the surface as methane gas.  Releasing methane (CH4) accelerates global warming 34 times faster than releasing CO2. As the Arctic continues to warm, methane is released faster, creating a feedback loop that makes the Arctic warm faster and faster, leading to unstoppable, catastrophic warming for all of us. But it doesn't have to end like that."

DeSmog UK bursts GWPF bubble—by ClimateDenierRoundup: "Two climate group spin-offs recently formed in the UK. One is the campaigning arm of Lord Lawson's Global Warming Policy Foundation, the UK's premier climate denial lobbying group. Having received complaints about its status as an educational charity, the GWPF created its new campaigning arm so as not to be bound by the limits of accuracy or its educational mandate when conducting political lobbying. In a well-timed counter-launch, DeSmogUK made its debut with quite a splash by revealing some of the (until now) secret money behind GWPF. In a piece on its new blog, as well as in coverage at the Guardian, DeSmogUK uncovers two of GWPF's main donors. It turns out the two people who have given substantial sums to GWPF are from (brace yourself) the fossil-fuel funded, free-market 'Institute for Economic Affairs.'"

Extreme Weather & Natural Phenomena

Bárðarbunga: A Brief Update (updated x2 - scientists evacuating)—by Rei: "I planned to do a nice detailed report on a lot of fronts but other issues were unfortunately calling my attention this evening;  I couldn't manage to get through my source materials, and now I'm dead tired. So this entry will be just a quick update instead. The quick summary on the eruption and all of its connected components? Nothing is better, things are possibly worse, and more experts now agree on one thing: in all likelihood, this thing is just going to keep on pouring out. Time for an Eldfjallavakt."

Barðarbunga - And So Begins The Gas—by Rei: "In Icelandic volcanoes deep in the highlands, lava is rarely a major threat. The serious threats we face from volcanoes in the currently active system, as mentioned previously, are: 1) Jökulhlaup—catastrophic glacial outburst floods which can reach biblical proportions. This is a local catastrophe. 2) Pumice / ash falls—some of the volcanoes in the current system have had tremendous explosive eruptions of a scale that caused widespread abandonment of farms and towns over a hundred miles away. This is a local catastrophe. 3) Ash clouds—eruptions from this system before airplanes were invented have caused orders of magnitude worse ash problems than Eyjafjallajökull. This is both a local and international disaster. 4) Gas emissions—eruptions from the broader system have at times released enough climate-altering, poisonous gases to kill millions of people worldwide. Those who remember my first article in this series will recall the consequences of the last time, a couple hundred years ago, that #4 led to a catastrophe. Well, finally we have meters on site measuring sulfur dioxide emissions from the first sizeable eruption of the current event. And the results are not good."

Trash, Pollution & Hazardous Waste

EPA Bust of WV Natural Gas Extraction Company with $3 Million Civil Penalty—by LakeSuperior: "Just a quick note to again point out that what you see in Gasland and hear from Josh Fox about the oil and gas industry and hydraulic fracturing being exempt from the Clean Water Act is hogwash.......which is again illustrated by today's news release from U.S. EPA [below]. While uncontaminated stormwater discharges from oil/gas extraction sites & from site construction are unpermitted under the Act, all other discharges and activities affecting surface water quality are covered by the Clean Water Act, including surface water discharge of produced water, hydrocarbon liquids, hydraulic fracturing fluid constituents and placement of fill into streams and wetlands."

Energy & Conservation

Renewables

This is the Future, Dammit, Where Are My Infinite Batteries?—by angryea: "Okay, so this is both interesting and disturbing: Germany, which has come to rely heavily on wind and solar power in recent years, is launching more than 20 demonstration projects that involve storing energy by splitting water into hydrogen gas and oxygen. The projects could help establish whether electrolysis, as the technology is known, could address one of the biggest looming challenges for renewable energy—its intermittency. Interesting because of the obvious technological innovation, but depressing because of the implications for energy storage and dealing with global climate change. Building and operating these kinds of facilities are, obviously, much more complicated than hooking these systems up to batteries and using batteries to store the energy. Obviously, though, battery technology is not at a place where we can use it for mass energy storage. Lead batteries lose energy too rapidly and lithium-ion batteries are expensive and don't have the energy density we would want. There has been some progress, obviously, but nowhere near as much as need. This article claims that cheap car batteries are right around the corner, but it relies almost entirely on comments made by the companies whose continued funding depends upon the existence of said inexpensive car batteries. The veracity of those statements, of course, are subject to debate."

Birds die ...—by A Siegel: "Birds die ... naturally and due to human causes. To provide some context— • 5 billion birds dies in the United States each year. • America's cats kill between 1.4 to 3.4 billion (yes, 1,700,000,000 to 3,400,000,000) birds per year (along with somewhere between 6.9 to 20.7 billion small mammals (chipmunks along with mice ...)) • U.S. windows kill nearly 1 billion (988 million or 988,000,000) birds per year. • Tar Sands production could kill 166 million birds. • Cars kill some 60 million birds per year. • The mining and burning of coal kills nearly 8 million  birds per year. • Wind turbines kill 100,000s and solar power kills 10,000s of birds per year. Perhaps it is a bit of 'man bites dog' or the efforts of anti-clean energy interest groups or ..., but buzzing around the world is news that the (relatively) new Ivanpah concentrating solar power (CSP) electricity generation plant is killing birds.  While Brightsource's 300,000 mirrors might be killing up to 28,000 birds per year, this extrapolation is based on a number of uncertain assumptions. In any event, as per the above, time to put things in context."

The convergence of solar PV, storage batteries, and electric vehicles to revolutionize industries—by HoundDog: "Peter Diamandis of Forbes calls up his friends Ray Kurzweil and Elon Musk to bring us some astonishing visions of the future of the solar photovoltaic, solar storage, and electric vehicle industries and how they are converging, which he reports in Solar Energy Revolution: A Massive Opportunity. Their view and the remarkable background data he presents overshadow his "Six D's" analysis which seems somewhat trite compared to his blockbuster opening paragraphs.  Here are the best parts. My friend Ray Kurzweil projects the U.S. will meet 100 percent of its electrical energy needs from solar in 20 years. Elon Musk is a bit more conservative, pegging it at 50 percent in that timeframe. While the growth of solar may seem slow to some, it’s fair to say it’s in the midst of its “deceptive phase,” on the road to disruption. For example, a 30 percent increase in solar energy production per year, means 1 percent today grows to 1.3 percent in 3 years. It also means that in 20 years (7 doublings), we’ll see a 128-fold increase. Either way, if Ray and Elon are even close, there is a trillion dollars up for grabs (as well as the future of our planet), and the future is bright."

Wind energy could need 2.6 million skilled technicians by 2030 to reach goal of 30% adoption—by HoundDog: "In this article in Wind Power Monthly, the magazine interviews Andy Holt, general manager of wind services at US turbine manufacterer GE Renewable Energy, and corporate recruitment consultants Alan and Yorke, and Earthstream. The article reports what they see as the "biggest challenges in recruitment facing the wind industries. Eddie Halkett, group business development director at EarthStream, sees the biggest challenge to be maintaining a steady pipeline of incoming talent while attracting and training 2.6 million skilled technicians into the industry by 2030 in an industry that has been highly unstable to to inconsistent government support and facing strong steady competition from the oil industry for workers with similar skills."

Agriculture, Food & Gardening

The Food Babe, high fructose corn syrup, and your beer—by SkepticalRaptor: "The arrogantly named food blogger, Food Babe (real name–Vani Hari), who passes along anecdotes like they were real data, and who invents pseudoscience faster than a homeopath, has recently been on a warpath about beer ingredients. She's gone after the breweries for adding GMO grains (who cares, they are safe), coloring, and that evil chemical, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). She never quite explains what she has against HFCS, but based on her amateurish and unscientific review of food ingredients, it's obvious that she thinks that HFCS is an 'evil chemical' and must not be consumed. If someone named it 'extra sweet corn syrup,' it's quite possible she would have ignored it. Give anything a chemical name, and panic ensues. MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is nothing more than the precipitated salt of a simple amino acid, glutamic acid, which is one of the basic building blocks of every single protein in the body. Being sensitive or allergic to MSG is so ridiculous–you'd be allergic or sensitive to every single protein in your body then. It's one of the dumbest food fads on the planet, and there are plenty from which to choose!"

gold finch
The Late Summer Garden (photo heavy)—by CONEFLOWER42: "There was all kinds of musical chirping going on and flashes of bright yellow; lots of flitting and hopping around on my coneflower (Echinacea) deadheads.  I suddenly realized that my flower garden was just as beautiful and interesting now as it has been all spring and summer... perhaps more so.  I may be crazy but I really love it this way. Let me say, here, that it has been a very unusual summer... quite cool, only one or two days reached 90 degrees, mostly highs in the seventies; cool nights, plenty of rain. Absolutely perfect to my way of thinking.  As a result the garden is staying a lot greener than usual and is passing into the late summer stage quite gracefully, but definitely passing. First I will show you what brought on 'Holey Moley' and my run for the camera. Just beyond the stone railing of my brick house were several (4) goldfinches, 3 boys and one girl, devouring the seed from the coneflower seed heads."

Transportation & Infrastructure

Tesla quietly building another charging network—by VL Baker: "How fast can Tesla meet demand for affordable, convenient alternative to traditional gas guzzlers? We'll soon find out. Tesla is rapidly ramping up its production with financial wizards abuzz with the analysis that we are on the verge of an electric battery breakthrough; a breakthrough that would make electric vehicles cost competitive and affordable. [...] investment pundits think that Tesla Motors is on the verge of achieving something big: A battery cheap enough to make electric vehicles cost-competitive with conventional cars. Daniel Sparks at Motley Fool is reporting that the company is on the right track towards developing a battery that costs only $100 per kilowatt-hour—a cost widely believed to be the threshold where electric vehicles can finally be cost-competitive. There are a few reasons for this, Sparks writes. The central one is that the company plans to build something called the 'Gigafactory,' a giant $5 billion battery manufacturing plant with 6,500 workers. The second is CEO Elon Musk’s own admission that he would be 'disappointed' if it took his company 10 years to make a $100 per kilowatt battery pack, and suggested it might happen before 2020. In conjunction with its manufacturing explosion, Tesla has been building the 'gas stations' of tomorrow; supercharging electrical stations, with no charge for use, all over Europe and the US."

Sunday Train: NEC High Speed Rail for Under $20b (from 15Jul2012)—by BruceMcF: "One of the transit bloggers that I enjoy reading is Alon Levy who blogs his observations on a variety of transit topics at Pedestrian Observations. Following the important California HSR funding vote in the California State Senate and the excitement leading up to it, I thought I'd like to take a look at the proposed Express HSR system for the states of the Northeast Corridor. Of the $53b cost of the proposed San Francisco to Los Angeles Express HSR corridor seems hefty ~ and it seems even heftier when it shows the Year of Expenditure headline value of $68b ~ then the proposed Northeast Corridor states Express HSR will seem massive. However, Alon claims: Northeast Corridor HSR, 90% Cheaper ... In contrast with this extravaganza, it is possible to achieve comparable travel times for about one tenth the cost. The important thing is to build the projects with the most benefit measured in travel time reduced or reliability gained per unit of cost, and also share tracks heavily with commuter rail, using timed overtakes to reduce the required amount of multi-tracking. This sounds like an intriguing possibility ... but is it realistic? Or is it wishful thinking?"

Sustainability & Extinction

Smart! Very Smart. One First Nations Vision for the Future—by Gwennedd : "On the south west tip of Vancouver Island, lies the land owned by the T'Sou-ke First Nations, who are doing some remarkable things. They're growing wasabi. And that's not all they're doing, thanks to some very smart business decisions made by the band and their leader, Chief Gordon Planes. [...] While other First Nations in Canada, and BC in particular, wrestle with whether or not to deal with fossil fuel companies and pipelines, the T'Sou-ke have decided to become  one of the frontrunners in setting standards in sustainability, independence and alternative energy. So far, this plan has set in motion solar power, electric vehicles and sustainable food. And Gordon Planes is loving it. In addition to community gardens are greenhouses filled with wasabi plants, gently misted from above with water, nutrients and fertilizers."

Eco-Related Candidacies, DC & State Politics

Susan Collins: the 7th worst Democrat in the House—by RLMiller: "Susan Collins is generally considered to be a moderate Republican, especially on environmental issues. But just how good is she? If she were a Democrat in the House, she'd be the seventh worst Democrat on climate - better than Nick Rahall and a few members of the CoalBlue caucus. Climate Hawks Vote has crunched the numbers, and Collins' leadership score on climate is -13 on a scale of +100 to -100. Yep, minus 13 is what passes for Republican leadership on climate. Briefly, the Climate Hawks Vote scorecard seeks to measure leadership—not just votes—on climate. We look at six factors - public engagement , bills authored, bills cosponsored, press releases, caucuses, and website - to gauge who's leading on climate and who's not. The scorecard covers all House Democrats so far, and it's toughthe average score is +23. While working on one for Senate Democrats, we've decided to include a handful of Senate Republicans who might be considered moderate on climate, including Susan Collins. And her score is shockingly low."

The GOP: Stealth Eco-Warriors—by thefarleftside:

Legal Case: White House Argues Against Considering Climate Change on Energy Projects—by Steve Horn: "Just over a month before the United Nations convenes on September 23 in New York City to discuss climate change and activists gather for a week of action, the Obama White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) argued it does not have to offer guidance to federal agencies it coordinates with to consider climate change impacts for energy decisions. It came just a few weeks before a leaked draft copy of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest assessment said climate disruption could cause 'severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.' Initially filed as a February 2008 petition to CEQ by the International Center for Technology Assessment, the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) when George W. Bush still served as President, it had been stalled for years. Six and a half years later and another term into the Obama Administration, however, things have finally moved forward. Or backwards, depending on who you ask."

Eco-Justice & Eco-Activism

Why I march: selfishness—by MizC: "I've been an environmentalist since before I ever heard of the word. When I was about nine years old, I read about dinosaurs and their extinction and immediately thought that if extinction could happen to the dinosaurs, it could happen to humans (to me!). It became clear to me very early that all elements of the environment are interconnected and that perturbations in one area of the ecosystem could have dire implications for other areas of the ecosystem. We don't know where the tipping point is regarding loss of species, loss of habitat, etc., so to preserve ourselves, our best bet is to preserve all species, something we haven't been doing very well. [...] I expect to see climate refugees from within this country (think about the effects of drought in California and much of the West and rising ocean levels in Florida and other places) and skyrocketing food prices as what is now fertile cropland becomes barren wasteland. Yes. I expect to see these things, within my lifetime.  So that is where the selfishness comes in. I see suffering ahead for me and those I love, not to mention their descendants. I march in the hope that our collective action will spur the powers that be to take action to limit the effects of global warming. I realize that it is too late to prevent a lot of these effects, but I believe we should do all we can to prevent those we can."

Oceans, Water & Drought

Inspector General Finds EPA & States Not Getting Gulf Dead Zone Nutrient Pollution Controlled by LakeSuperior: "EPA's Inspector General has issued a report indicating that EPA's Office of Water & state water pollution control agencies don't have in place sufficient measures to assure that states address and control nutrient pollution from reactive nitrogen and phosphorus that gets into surface waters from agriculture, municipalities and some industry across the Mississippi-Missouri River watershed system. This is an issue with the problem of the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxic Zone off of the coast of Louisiana and portions of Texas as a result of the flow of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers into the Gulf. In the Gulf Dead Zone, dissolved oxygen in a substantial portion of the the water column is near zero because of the presence of dying masses of algae and phytoplankton nourished by excessive nutrients in the water column, especially from reactive forms of phosphorus and nitrogen. In hypoxic zones desirable fisheries don't exist because of the lack of, or reduced concentration of, dissolved oxygen in the water column."

Water Warriors Rally At Trinity River Fish Hatchery—by Dan Bacher: "On a very hot day, August 27, over 200 Tribal Members and Leaders, river advocates and politicians attended a day of celebration on the Trinity River. It was a day that the Bureau of Reclamation designated as a 'Multicultural Day,' so the Hoopa Valley Tribe organized an event to demonstrate the impacts of water diversion on their culture and the river communities. It was also a day for giving thanks and celebrating culture and tradition. Tribal Officials talked of a sense of relief for having water flowing in decent amounts down the Trinity River, providing cooler water for spawning salmon to make their epic journeys back to the places of their birth. The celebration took place next to the fish hatchery where Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead are spawned and reared by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Not lost on those present was the significance of that choice: a fish hatchery, a place of birth and release, something the Tribes have been doing for centuries."

Critters & The Great Outdoors

Little Blue Heron
Dawn Chorus: An Unusual Visitor—by Kestrel: "Back in June I shared a Dawn Chorus diary about an egret rookery that was getting a lot of attention in Sacramento for two reasons. One, it was smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood, not the most likely place to find a boatload of egrets and herons. And two, there was one unusual visitor to this Northern California rookery that many of us had never seen before: a Little Blue Heron. If you're a resident of the southeastern seaboard along the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico, the Little Blue Heron may be an ordinary bird for you. But for those of us in the rest of the country, it's an unusual sight. I'm a native Californian and have lived here all my life, and while I've traveled the U.S. pretty extensively, this was my first Little Blue Heron."

Daily Bucket: A Walk Along the Beach—by Lenny Flank: "A Great Blue Heron who found himself some shade while the humans were swimming--and decided to check their stuff for anything interesting."

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron on Indian Rocks Beach in the Gulf of Mexico.
Daily Bucket: Generations—by Lenny Flank: "Three generations of Moorhen in one place."
The Daily Bucket: A Tale of Two Insects—by matching mole: "I've been working on insect IDs off and on for the last week.  Still more to go.  I thought I would present a preview of two species I found last weekend coming to my light that are interesting for very different reasons. The first insect is this male field cricket (family Gryllidae, subfamily Gryllinae).  It is a member of the genus Gryllus but distinguishing species is very difficult.  Field crickets are very well studied insects.  This photo illustrates two reasons of interest.  This cricket is calling (as the sound was low my guess is that the cricket was confused by the light and giving a courtship call). Hopefully you can see that the forewings have a sculptured appearance. This sculpturing indicates a male because it is the apparatus for generating and amplifying the sound.  The forewings are also slightly blurred because they are raised about the back of the insect and are vibrating against one another. The song produced by crickets has been a source of fascination for biologists (including the husband of kossack, TexMex) for many decades. Males produces calls that attract females, they also produce aggressive calls when encountering other males, and softer calls when females are in close proximity. Studies of neurobiology, sexual selection, and many other fields have been made using crickets as model organisms. The other thing to note is that the hindwings of this cricket are very long (the wings are membranous and extend out from under the forewings). This is a long-winged morph individual of this species. It is capable of flight."

Martha: The Last Passenger Pigeon—by Lenny Flank: "In the times before the Europeans reached North America, the entire eastern half of what is now the United States was covered with unbroken forest. It was said that a squirrel could run from Maine to Texas without ever touching the ground. And one of the myriad of species that lived in this forest was the Passenger Pigeon. Exactly one hundred years ago today, the last Passenger Pigeon died in a cage. In 1491, the Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius), may have been the most abundant bird species on Earth. Living in flocks that contained as many as two billion individual birds, it has been estimated that this single species made up some 40% of all the birds in North America. Flocks of Passenger Pigeons could stretch literally from horizon to horizon; some flocks were over 100 miles long. There are contemporary reports of flocks shading out the sun for hours as they flew overhead in an unending stream (leading to the bird's name, from the French passager—'to pass by'). And yet, 100 years ago this very day, on September 1, 1914, the very last existing Passenger Pigeon, a 29-year resident at the Cincinnati Zoo named "Martha", died in her cage, marking the extinction of one of the most abundant animals on Earth."

Forests, Wilderness & Public Lands

Wilderness Act at 50---Much Remains Unprotected—by willyr: "Today is the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, passed to protect public land from development, among other reasons. The Act initially protected 9 million acres, but since then Congress has increased the total to over 100 million. Impressive, but far short of protecting many hundreds of millions of additional acres of wilderness that is threatened. What is wilderness? Why does it need to be protected? The Wilderness Act gives us a definition, and Wallace Stegner gave us his reason in his Wilderness Letter, written as the drive to protect our environment was picking up steam. The Wilderness Act says: 'A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) has at least five thousand acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value.'"

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