Friday, February 24, 2017

UW-M expert & others tracked spring climate change for decade

A day before Wisconsin officials cancelled a world-class cross-country skiing festival because of snow-free warm temperatures, and just weeks after other Wisconsin officials had scrubbed climate change materials from state websites because they claimed the reality of climate change was still being debated, the US Geological Service, (USGS), with the assistance of a UW-Milwaukee expert, had coincidentally noted on Thursday an early spring in many states was further evidence of a decade's worth of changed climate reality:
On Thursday, the USGS shared a new analysis just released by the USA-National Phenology Network, which the agency helps to fund, showing that an early spring has already swept through the Southeast and is continuing to work its way across the country. As the agency points out, the new analysis reaffirms a fact scientists have known for at least a decade now — that “climate change is variably advancing the onset of spring across the United States.”
The analysis relies on a special “spring index,” which defines the start of spring as the point when temperatures allow for certain early-season events in plants, such as the emergence of leaves and blooms.  
The index was created using data that has been collected for a citizen science project over the past few decades...Since the 1950s, volunteers have been collecting information about the leafing and blooming of certain plants, such as lilacs and honeysuckle, Weltzin said. 
More recently, climatologist Mark Schwartz of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee used this information to develop an algorithm that can be used with national temperature data to determine where and when “spring” has arrived across the country.  
For the record, experts have been sounding the alarm about climate change and a warming climate since at least 1988:
Exactly 20 years ago, on June 23, 1988, James Hansen of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies testified before a Senate committee that he could state with "99 percent confidence" that a recent, persistent rise in global temperature was occurring, and had long been expected. That landmark statement, and the dawn of the global warming discussion, was covered by Andy Revkin, then a DISCOVER senior editor and now an environmental reporter for The New York Times.
The award-winning Revkin now writes for Pro Publica.

How long we will hear from the USGS on climate change is what's debatable.

The USGS is a science arm of the US Department of Interior. Climate change denier Donald Trump has nominated a Montana congressman and climate change waffler to serve as Interior Department Secretary. His confirmation vote is pending.




WI GOP hypocrites finally endorse a local control issue

Right-wing WI GOP power misers Gov. Scott Walker and sidekick AG Brad Schimel
BradSchimel2015.png
have been using their authoritarian, one-party rule to wipe local communities' priorities and procedures - - 'local controls,' if you will - -  off the books wherever they can.

This power grab includes ending long-standing contracting with unions and public employees, slashing wage rates on construction projects, enacting restrictive limits on early voting hours, easing environmental oversight of polluters, rolling back mining rules and protections - - all disregarding local citizen and governments' decision-making.


But, hey look: Brad Schimel spotted an opportunity to look the local control hero by supporting local school boards in setting transgender bathroom policy - - because its a way to cozy up to GOP 'strongman' Donald Trump, and even better, to take another kick at LGBTQ rights, a powerless constituency - - already stressed transgender kids - - and Schimel's frequent target, Barack Obama.


Hence this spectacularly and hypocritically inconsistent mouthful:

[Schimel] believes the issue is best handled locally where voters have "the most direct impact" on policies.
As noted above, a politicized, principle-free one-off. Schimel and Walker are statist power accumulators, with no true regard for local controls.

Wisconsin Congressman grovels before Trump

Talk about a Profile in Cowardice, as Wisconsin Congressman and former fiscal conservative Paul Ryan - - 
A portrait shot of Paul Ryan, looking straight ahead. He has short brown hair, and is wearing a dark navy blazer with a red and blue striped tie over a light blue collared shirt. In the background is the American flag.
- - rewards Trump at the site of his $20 billion southern border wall political boondoggle with a 100% craven photo op/political downpayment on future Trump sharpie signatures on Ryan's must-have tax breaks for the rich funded with cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security which save everyday Americans' lives.

Media must fight Trump 1st Amendment stomp

Media should boycott Donald Trump

events and ignore his tweets while focusing on why Trump is censoring them: 

The Russian hack, Trump's tax returns, Priebus' interference with the FBI, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt's collusion with oil and gas interests, Education Secretary Devos' conflicts with private schools, Trump's illegal DC hotel lease, his unconstitutional, just-announced, 10-year exclusive China marketing deal, his sons' taxpayer-paid business travel expenses, and the Bannon Danger. 

Team Trump has to be shown that the the White House press room belongs to the people, and the First Amendment belongs to the media who practice it and the public it protects, and not to Presidents-cum-dictators and their unprincipled, sycophantic foot soldiers.

It's not supposed to be warm in the Feb. Arctic

Hat tip, Andy Revkin and @ClimateCentral:


Surreal Arctic weirdness continues: via

Abnormally warm air is expected to reach the North Pole by Thursday.
Credit: Climate Reanalyzer

Ski event nixed in too-warm, climate change denying WI

Right-wing GOP Gov. and climate-change denying Scott Walker sees annual, world-class cross-country skiing event canceled for lack of snow
Days of unseasonably warm temperatures and rain forced the cancellation of the American Birkebeiner, the world's largest cross-country ski race, officials announced Friday.
It's an annual, multi-race, $20 million boon to the local economy, with 11,000 skiers and 40,000 spectators.

Let's see if Walker's science scrubbing PR types or local GOP US Rep. and fossil fuel-friend/clean air enemy Sean Duffy can spin it as a welcome early beach day.
 

Will WI DNR also kill its magazine online archive?

Scott Walker is waging war on clean and water in Wisconsin. 

And it's directed by his anti-science, anti-public information "chamber of commerce mentality" DNR managers who have pursued an ideological pattern of climate science web page deletion and scrubbing.

So should Walker's currently-proposed budget successfully kill the DNR's 100% subscriber-supported magazine in 2018 - - its 100th year of publication - 
Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine
- it would only be 'logical" for these ideologues to also delete the magazine's online archive and content search site on the agency's website to keep the forbidden public information away from inquiring minds.

So make use of it now, here.


And definitely go here:


Subscribe to Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Thursday, February 23, 2017

WI DNR climate change censors continue deleting

Along with the agency's Great Lakes climate science web page and earlier global warning material scrubbing, Scott Walker's anti-science Department of Natural Resources "chamber of commerce mentality" top management - -  
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR
- - has also deleted several climate change and science web pages from the children's education resource program known as EEK!, including a teachers' activity guide and K-12 information, here.

Those links bring up the dreaded "Page Not Found - - the Web page that you are looking for is no longer on the server. Please check the page location. If you had this page bookmarked, please remove the bookmark from your browser."

Some of this may have been reported earlier, but I had not focused on it, so want to catch up now.

Still on the DNR website, however - - so you might want to save this post and all the useful links - - is this information-rich page about tree planting as a climate change antidote - - full text below.

Most of the links are external to the DNR, but information distribution about climate change can still be performed unwittingly by this agency - - like this Canadian educational program about climate change for children - - even as it scrubs pages and will lose its popular magazine provided for 99 years and enjoyed now by tens of thousands of satisfied customers if Scott Walker gets his way.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Youth and school planting projects


Example of free seedlings available from the state nursery; 3-year old white spruce
Take action! Motivate kids to plant trees as a classroom or community project.

Climate change lesson plans

Motivate students! Bring climate change concepts and activities into your classroom.

Climate change activities

Reduce your carbon footprint!

Climate change information

Be informed! Learn what’s happening with climate change.
Youngsters help plant street trees in Sparta.
Youngsters help plant street trees in Sparta.

Carbon calculators

Calculate your impact! Carbon sequestration is the process by which atmospheric carbon dioxide is absorbed by trees through photosynthesis and stored as carbon in biomass (branches, foliage, roots) and soils.

The Trump-Devos war on already-stressed children

Cue the bullying, as transgender kids are now at the mercy of states-rightists, and the equally cowardly Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy Devos. 
The Trump administration on Wednesday rolled back protections for transgender students instituted by the Obama administration that allowed children to use school bathrooms and other facilities that correspond to their gender identities.
Devos - - 
Betsy DeVos.jpg
- - had a chance to make a real stand for children and parents and their civil and human rights, but after some initial objections threw in with Sessions after a meeting with Trump to keep her job. 
...she sided with the administration's position, arguing that the issue of transgender students and restrooms is “best solved at the state and local level.”
Excellent discussion, here
...the government has sent a deeply disturbing message to transgender students that they are less than other students and unworthy of protection.
That would be a damaging thing for the Department of Education to do to anyone. But it is especially troubling here, given that transgender students already are subject to more violence and harassment — both by other children and by adults — than their peers. 
These obstacles help explain why many transgender students drop out of school, why nearly half of transgender children have considered suicide and why at least a quarter of them have attempted it. What’s more, discrimination in schools has far-reaching and lifelong consequences for transgender people — psychologically and financially.

Walker ignores State gov't, geography, hydrology, physics, etc.

Right-wing GOP Gov. and frequent flyer Scott Walker flew off to a big conservative convention in DC today and in his boiler-plate endorsement of states rights displayed a surprising ignorance of what amounts to routine high school science as well as some very recent Wisconsin state government history.
...Walker called for giving more power to the states, saying the federal government should not be responsible for anything beyond the military, Medicare and Social Security. 
“I think just about everything else is done better by the states,” he said. 
For example, environmental regulations should be handled by states, not the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Walker said. That was an idea Walker first floated in 2015 during his short-lived bid for the presidency.
Set aside for a moment the Civil War, Federal currency, federal highway dollars Walker desperately needs to fix his over-spent road 'budget,' the US Postal Service, the instantaneous, electronic movement of capital,  etc. and just focus on his belief that environmental regulations should be handled by the state.

*  Walker has so deeply cut staff and mission at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources that the agency doesn't even follow its own pollution enforcement rules.

Wisconsin’s water quality regulators failed to follow their own policies on enforcement against polluters more than 94 percent of the time over the last decade, the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau said in a report released Friday...
In pointing out that the DNR didn’t follow its own enforcement policies, the audit appears to contradict previous DNR statements defending dwindling enforcement action in recent years by saying the agency was working hard to obtain voluntary compliance from polluters through informal negotiations.
*  Walker also might want to review other basic rules of physics and hydrology, because one state's rivers or air pollution can seep or fall into another state.  Did Walker forget this incident at one of Wisconsin's very passively-'regulated' frac sand mines a few years ago?
A spill at a sand mining facility in Wisconsin has dumped an unknown amount of sand and other sediment into the St. Croix River and wetlands near the Minnesota border, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources confirmed Thursday. 
*  And it's been known for years that wind carries air pollution across borders, which is why we have national standards now under assault by Donald Trump, Walker and others obeisant to the fossil fuel industry designed to minimize air pollution effects like these
white paper in advance of [a 2017] study said ozone concentrations in the United States are highest along coastlines. For Lake Michigan, scientists noted research dating to 1976 shows cooler lake air keeps urban emissions close to the shoreline and can be pushed north from other states by prevailing warm winds in summer. 
In Sheboygan, the modeling by the consortium suggests that less than 10% of ozone comes from Wisconsin sources, while Illinois and Indiana and commercial shipping contribute two to three times the amount of pollutants that form ozone in Sheboygan.
These patterns were noted as far back as 1995, as the Racine Journal Times reported at the time: 
This summer saw mostly winds blowing to the northeast, and communities along Michigan's western shoreline saw higher peak ozone averages. Pollution from the Chicago and Milwaukee areas also contributed to Michigan's higher ozone levels, [officials] said.
How would having 50 sets of clean air and water rules and procedures in 50 states deal with these realities? Quick answer: there would be a crazy-quilt of intentional inconsistency, chaos, compliance costs - - and more pollution.

All of which is fine with the Walkers and Trumps and their mutual friend, the oil-and-gas captive Scott Pruitt who is now 'running 'the US EPA:
Wisconsin’s water quality regulators failed to follow their own policies on enforcement against polluters more than 94 percent of the time over the last decade, the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau said in a report released Friday.
The Walker administration is spelling out its case against a federal proposal to cut air pollution from coal-burning power plants, and reduce the impact of climate change. The incoming chairwoman of the Public Service Commission took the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plan to task at a forum in Milwaukee. 
And in 2014:
Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that would give wastewater plants, paper mills and food processors up to 20 years to comply with the state’s phosphorus limits.
Walker doesn't know or care that the air and the water is all connected - - which is why rain washes manure into residential wells, or why Green Bay fed by polluted rivers and streams has a large dead zone - - or that dirty air moves back and forth across the Great Lakes, and a successful national attack on acid rain moving West to east is just one of many examples of progress he'd just as soon give back.

 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

WI must have surplus State Patrol officers

If 17 of them can volunteer for DAPL duty.

I was out in the Zoo Interchange morass in both directions mid-to-late afternoon today, and didn't see a trooper or any speed enforcement in traffic which moved way too fast through the construction zones. Very aggressive driving, passing on the right, even in narrowed lanes, and so on. Just saying...


Slowed down to take a signage file photo...
Realized someone missed the signage






Wind energy attractive; MG&E adds more

Despite the many obstacles thrown up by right-wing GOP Gov. and fossil-fuel servant Scott Walker, consumer preference and economics - - here's one big picture view - - continue to make renewable energy attractive:
Madison Gas & Electric plans to build a wind farm in northeast Iowa that could generate up to 66 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 47,000 homes.
From the car, I-80, Iowa, not long ago:

Water is life, but not to WI GOP leaders

There was news this morning that some pipeline protesters in North Dakota, facing an expulsion deadline laid down by the now-Donald Trump-directed US Army Corps of Engineers, were abandoning their shelters near the Missouri River.

These indomitable protectors of land and heritage put "water is life" into the national vocabulary, as well as an awareness that there is no end to the big businesses and compliant politicians who constantly threaten the water that sustains everyone and everything - - whether it's the aged, at-risk Enbridge oil line that runs under the Great Lakes Straits of Mackinaw, or the ruinous iron mine that Scott Walker and friends would have carved out of the blown-up hills and wetlands in the Bad River watershed, or the 26,000-hog farm and manure spreading operation they want to bring from Iowa within smelling distance of Lake Superior and the pristine Chequamegon Bay.


"Water is life" is about as basic as it gets. 


School children are taught that their bodies are mostly water, as is the planet. It's why just about everyone flinches when they see someone throw a beer can into a lake. It's why the Milwaukee Riverkeeper always has an overflow of volunteers to clear plastic bags and tires and rusted appliances during its annual spring river clean-up, even if the weather is nasty.


And "water is life" has been in literature for a long time.


You might be familiar with Frank Waters, the aptly-named chronicler of life in the US Southwest. I first read his best-known novel, "The Man Who Killed The Deer," almost 50 years ago, and I have been plowing my way through his extensive catalog ever since.  


Not long ago, I picked up for $5 in a used book store one of his shorter books, "People of The Valley," a rich little story published in 1941 about the uproar in a fictional New Mexico village after some rich outsiders in cahoots with the government decide to build a dam and change all the traditional ways of distributing water.


 "Water is life," Waters wrote more than three quarters of a century ago. "It permeates everything. The hand of God drops it at birth. It trickles down the snowy peaks, the little streaks feed rito and acequia, the great rivers rise down to the sea...what is life without water?" 


But as noted above, there are greedy corporations and their self-interested, thoughtless politicians who carry their water and team up to disregard the "water is life" truth - - corporations and their servants eager to grab more than their fair share of a finite supply of water and even pollute what they don't withdraw or leave behind if they rig the system in their favor.

Nitrate in water widespread, current rules no match for it
Enter Wisconsin GOP State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

Right on schedule, Fitzgerald took the marching orders he and other legislators got in a brazen, hand-delivered letter from the state's big dairy operators, corporate farms and other big water users not long ago and turned it into the latest.effort to make it easier for the biggest users of water to hold on to their high-volume well permits with the least public oversight and without regard to the impact their withdrawals could have on nearby streams, lakes, rivers and residential water systems and wells.

The Little Plover River can run dry when Big Ag's big pumps are running.
The special interests running Wisconsin right now have their ducks in a row.

*  Walker continues to weaken what's left of the traditional public-interest mission of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources now openly remade into what he promised that his agency Secretary would run with "a chamber of commerce mentality."


So headlines like this do not surprise:

Audit: DNR doesn't follow own policy on enforcement
*  Fellow corporate captive Wisconsin GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel gave legislators the opinion they sought to help make Fitzgerald's predictable bill fly, as I wrote last May:
[Updated from 1:44 p.m. Tuesday, 5/10] Now look for blatantly pro-corporate legislation to land on the desk of our pro-corporate Governor to implement a pro-corporate opinion from Wisconsin's pro-corporate Attorney General that will eventually be affirmed by our pro-corporate State Supreme Court that says our pro-corporate Department of Natural Resources legally cannot regulate water withdrawals and the downstream and neighboring quality in the public interest - - as the State Constitution has long mandated.
An action coordinated by the corporate interests running the State Capitol these days and predicted on this blog last week.
And predicted, for years, as this 2013 post indicates:
Ultimate GOP Environmental Target In Wisconsin Is The Public Trust Doctrine
To these people, water is profit and power, not life, despite all the evidence right in front of them. 

And here's thing: they want more.


And just might get it this time.







Monday, February 20, 2017

Gauntlet thrown; will US accept dirty air and water?

Trump is ordering major rollbacks to clean water and air protections:
One executive order — which the Trump administration will couch as reducing U.S. dependence on other countries for energy — will instruct the Environmental Protection Agency to begin rewriting the 2015 regulation that limits greenhouse-gas emissions from existing electric utilities. It also instructs the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to lift a moratorium on federal coal leasing.
A second order will instruct the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to revamp a 2015 rule, known as the Waters of the United States rule, that applies to 60 percent of the water bodies in the country. That regulation was issued under the 1972 Clean Water Act, which gives the federal government authority over not only major water bodies but also the wetlands, rivers and streams that feed into them. It affects development as well as some farming operations on the grounds that these activities could pollute the smaller or intermittent bodies of water that flow into major ones.
We'll see if that's what people thought they were voting for - - more smog in their kids lungs and manure in the drinking water.
.
The fight is on.

Walker would destroy WI Parole Commission

Right-wing Wisconsin Gov. who-has-never-visited-a-prison-as-Governor/granted-a-single-pardon-Scott Walker plans to virtually wipe out the Wisconsin Parole Commission through his election-year 2017-'19 budget by reducing it to a single employee with a salary the Corrections department would have to cobble together internally.

That way, as high-profile Wisconsin defense lawyer Lester Pines points out, parole will be hard to find.


So, Catch 22, thousands of Wisconsin inmates: Feel free to apply for parole. The parole commission Director will 'consider' your application, if the Director got paid that month and there was an intern around to open the mail and put your parole application paperwork on the bottom of the pile.


And not to make light of this new Walker move on people he disregards, and on the state government he is hell-bent on demolishing, but it's not surprising that Walker would throw a monkey wrench into the "parole" system - - a French term incorporating promised commitments of trust and honor required of parolees prior to their release.


But here's my question. 


Don't expectations of trust and honor flow both ways? 

Don't inmates, potential parolees, families and friends correctly assume that there is trust and honor on the government side?

That government maintains a system with basic procedures in place based on the government funding and financing a parole process beyond a single place-holding Director so that there might be justice at the end?


Walker has a history of coordinating Executive power with his one-party allies in the Legislature and the State Supreme Court to ignore and overturn the status quo - - collective bargaining, local controls, environmental protections, unfettered voting, women's health financing, etc.


Instead there has been a continuing lack of honor and trust in this administration from the beginning, enabling the intentional exercise of power over people who have far less.


Wisconsin, under Walker, is a state growing long without parole, now about to have even less, come what may in the state's prisons.

The big picture - - no parole, non rein. Nada.





Echos of Nixonian double-speak in Flynn's firing

Want some historical context for Donald Trump's defense of the fired National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn: 
Mike Flynn is a fine person, and I asked for his resignation. He respectfully gave it. He is a man who there was a certain amount of information given to Vice President Pence...I was not happy with the way that information was given. He didn’t have to do that, because what he did wasn’t wrong... 
So, it certainly would have been OK with me if he did it. I would have directed him to do it if I thought he wasn’t doing it.
Here's a reminder of the way former President Richard Nixon framed the departures of chief aides H. R. Haldeman and John Erlichmann
Richard M. Nixon, ca. 1935 - 1982 - NARA - 530679.jpg
for their role in the Watergate scandal which eventually cost Nixon his Presidency:
Today, in one of the most difficult decisions of my Presidency, I accepted the resignations of two of my closest associates in the White House—Bob Haldeman, John Ehrlichman—two of the finest public servants it has been my privilege to know.
I want to stress that in accepting these resignations, I mean to leave no implication whatever of personal wrongdoing on their part, and I leave no implication tonight of implication on the part of others who have been charged in this matter. 

CT's Dave Zweifel wants the DNR's magazine saved

Dave Zweifel, lifelong journalist and editor emeritus of the Madison Capital Times, urges his "Plain Talk" column readers to subscribe to the Department of Natural Resources' popular magazine 
Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine cover photo
which the Walker administration wants to wipe out - - like it did with climate change information scrubbed from agency web pages - - even though the magazine is completely supported by its 88,000 subscribers.

The column headline nails it:

Send a message to Scott Walker by subscribing to threatened DNR magazine
I wrote about the threat to the people's 99-year-old magazine last week on my blog and signed up for a three-year subscription for only $21.97. 

One or two year subs are only slightly more per year; all are less than $9 annually.


Here is a link to an online subscription form. 


Walker's goal is completely ideological, regardless of whatever story line the administration puts out about bureaucracy and efficiency.


The magazine had reported, sometimes unsuccessfully, on the impact of climate change on Wisconsin's environment, and that eyes-wide-open approach to public information probably put it in Walker's budgetary cross hairs.

After Walker took office in 2011, his appointees and other top managers at the DNR insisted on seeing every article before publication, said Natasha Kassulke, who left the DNR last summer after 15 years, including five editing the magazine.
The scrutiny grew tighter after the magazine carried a special section on climate change produced by the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, Kassulke said.
DNR managers spiked an article on how climate change affects Wisconsin mammals, as well as a piece on an endangered species whose primary habitat was around the proposed site for a controversial iron mine that was being promoted by Walker and GOP lawmakers, [the former editor] Kassulka said.
Remember the administration's ham-handed, failed schemes to get the public mission role of the UW system deleted from the Wisconsin Idea?

Remember its slippery plan to make the Open Records law essentially useless?


Government by deletion is anti-democratic and only serves special interests.


Thanks to the Cap Times for Zweifel's public service column.