Monday, March 30, 2015

LA Asks Inhofe for Emergency Snowball Shipment

As DC asks if global warming is happening because it snowed last winter, Los Angeles just doubled the old record for 90 degree days in March.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Rarely-Seen Neighborhood Coyotes Say Hello

Coyotes are common but rarely seen in Massachusetts, preferring to avoid any contact with people. In my neighborhood of Sconticut Neck in Fairhaven, coyotes made news a few years ago when a series of cats went missing, but I'd only spotted one briefly dashing through the snow during a storm.

Then last night just after sunset, some nearby coyotes decided to yip & howl it up:

A video posted by Miles Grant (@thegreenmilesgrant) on

Impossible to say exactly how close they were as howls can be clearly heard over a surprising distance, up to a few miles. As intimidating as coyote sounds can be, their message could've been as simple as, "We're claiming this spot to build our den & have our pups in a few weeks."

How many were there? Adirondack Almanack says it could be fewer than you'd think:
When people hear coyote howls, they often mistakenly assume that they’re hearing a large pack of animals, all raising their voices at once. But this is an auditory illusion called the “beau geste” effect. Because of the variety of sounds produced by each coyote, and the way sound is distorted as it passes through the environment, two of these tricksters can sound like seven or eight animals.
Coyotes thrive in suburban and even urban areas, just as their prey do. Rodents, rabbits, deer, frogs, fish, insects - if it moves, they'll probably eat it. When I worked odd hours in Arlington, VA, I'd very rarely spot one among the high-rise apartment buildings just across the Potomac from DC. You'd never know they were there unless you had your headlights on at the right time in the early morning hours (and cars are coyotes' main enemy). By the time most people start waking up, coyotes are back in their wooded homes.

By far the number one conflict between coyotes and people is over pets. Cats and dogs should never be left outside alone, especially at night. Coyotes almost always steer well clear of humans, but a small dog let out alone before bedtime can be easy pickings for a hungry coyote.

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife has more tips for living with coyotes.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I Can't Imagine Why California's Down To One Year of Water Left

Parched earthUnder California's new "restrictions," everyone can still have giant lawns, golf courses, etc., and they can still give them unlimited water, but they can only do it about every other day. And there's little or no punishment for breaking the rules. Golly, I can't imagine why they're down to one year of water left.

Meanwhile, the corporate farms that use most of the state's water remain completely unregulated as they race to steal the last drops from California's underground aquifers, which would take decades to refill even if everyone stopped siphoning them tomorrow. Wildlife that don't have water pumped to their doorstep are dropping like flies. And climate change is making the problem worse, faster.

Gizmodo's Alissa Walker lists some water restrictions with teeth that would help make sure California is still inhabitable in 2017. But until California politicians are willing to force its farms to sip instead of gulp, the state will continue down the road to disaster.

60 Minutes took a look at California's looming water crisis late last year. It's a good story with one big short coming - it never mentions climate change.

Monday, March 16, 2015

This Week in Heat Records Not Being Tied to Climate Change

2015 LA Marathon-137
The 2015 Los Angeles Marathon was run in record
heat, sending 30 runners to hospital
Winter warmth records fell across the West, but reporters didn't connect the dots to climate change. So how are we doing in March?

Heat records have fallen in the last week (or are forecast to be shattered today) from San Francisco to south Florida:
And how many of those articles mention global warming? Not one.

Look, I don't expect every local forecast to launch into an in-depth scientific explanation of the greenhouse effect. But at the end of a long piece on a heat wave, couldn't you drop in, "Scientists say these trends are exactly what we can expect more of in a warming world"?

UPDATE 3/17: Josephine Marcotty of Minneapolis Star Tribune gets it right. “There is a lot of scientific evidence saying that climate change is causing more extremes,” says William Glesener of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Friday, March 13, 2015

Won't Someone Think of the Drunk Assholes

Some San Diego Chargers fans are threatening to cancel their season tickets if the city builds a downtown, transit-friendly stadium because the lack of a large surface parking lot would mean they can't tailgate before the game.

As a huge football fan who rarely goes to games due to both the trouble of parking and huge numbers of shitfaced assholes (also, the expensive tickets), I wonder if the Chargers would be gaining a lot more fans than they lose. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Your Top Network Climate Expert: Rosie Perez

The good folks over at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting invited me to reseach how much the television networks are referencing climate change in coverage of the Northeast's unprecedented winter storms and the West's record-shattering winter warmth.

The results: Networks hardly ever mention the heat out West, rarely cover climate change, and the only one who seems to take the climate crisis seriously is The View's Rosie Perez.

Friday, March 6, 2015

I Question the Effectiveness of This Crosswalk

My town of Fairhaven, MA makes little effort to clear sidewalks and crosswalks and this winter's historic snowfall has made things even more dangerous than usual.

"Large stretches of sidewalks disappear entirely on Main and Union streets in Fairhaven," reports Auditi Guha of the Standard-Times. “There’s an ordinance in town that’s, quite honestly, not enforced much,” said Vincent Furtado, Board of Public Works superintendent.

What baffles me is how towns are so interested in looking safe for people on foot, while being totally disinterested in the actual safety of pedestrians. Why spend money on crosswalks and signals if you're going to leave them buried under 8 feet of snow? Why have ordinances if you don't want to enforce them?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Warmest Winter Records Shattered in West, But Reporters Won't Say Climate Change

Unseasonably Warm
Winter was great for biking in Salt Lake City
Watching network television news, you'd think the entire Earth had entered an Ice Age just because it's been cold in Manhattan. While February was unusually cold in the Northeast and Midwest, what's not being mentioned on TV is that records have been falling on the high end of the temperature scale for the entire winter across a broad swath of the West and Pacific Northwest:
  • reports that more than 20 cities out west, including San Francisco, Sacramento and Las Vegas had their warmest winters on record, adding, "In case you're wondering, few if any cities in the East will have their coldest winters on record despite a series of high-profile blizzards and record cold waves – mainly because December was relatively mild."
  • reports Seattle had its warmest winter on record, "obliterating" the old record by 1.4 degrees. In neighboring Oregon, Portland broke its winter warmth record and Salem topped 50 degrees every day in February, the first time that's ever happened.
  • And The Salt Lake Tribune reports Salt Lake City had both its warmest and least snowy winter on record, the latter being the bigger concern as the West heads towards fire season. "Things are much more dry and, frankly, more ready to burn … than in [recent] memory," Jason Curry, spokesman for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, told the Tribune.
What do all of these articles have in common? Not one mentions climate change. It's just the latest example of media deliberately not connecting obvious climate dots for their audience.

Sometimes you have to wonder: If our media were actively trying to stifle public knowledge of climate change impacts and suppress support for climate action, how would that be different from what we have now?