Bless Their Hearts


I just love those guys at REAL CLIMATE. They keep me informed and keep me thinking. Now they have produced a primer for the conscientious folks of this world that want to:

“. . . get up to speed on the issue of climate change . . .”

They promise to: “. . . amend this as we discover or are pointed to new resources. Different people have different needs and so we will group resources according to the level people start at.” And, they’ve added a major heading at the top of their page entitled “START HERE” for the ongoing updates. Bless their hearts!

I’ve book-marked the page and plan to visit frequently. If you find yourself in a battle of wits with the 1/2 armed, this page will provide you with sources of insight and information. This is very similar to, and includes a reference to, the compilation by Coby Beck in the Grist Series How To Talk To A Climate Skeptic.”

I’m very thankful for people like these that do such hard and detailed work. Bless their hearts!! Keep both of these pages handy and you won’t be unarmed or uninformed.


Also from Real Climate comes news about the G8 climate declaration.

They say that: “As usual we refrain from a political analysis, but as scientists we note that it is rewarding to see that the results of climate science are fully acknowledged by the heads of state.”

As an inveterate whiner I say check out the cartoon below.

Talk About Stupid


why-laugh.jpgI wonder how many people are going to get sucked into the pie-in-the-sky promises that are being spewed by Secretary Kempthorne and Director Bomar. You can read about the great things promised at National Parks Traveler (Here and Here and Here.) The rhetoric is splendid.

If there is anything that is apparent from the great and glorious promises being made, it is that these guys know nothing about that which they are talking. If they believe that the parks are going to be known as “America’s best classrooms” then they better start concentrating on the ecology and not the critters. Fat Chance Sister.

If they intend to restore native habitats they are going to have to remove all the fish above Firehole Falls and all but the grayling above Gibbon Falls, FATTER CHANCE! You can bet that their rhetoric is as hollow as the interior of a balloon. Neither Corporate America, nor the American Public, nor the NPS want to restore native habitats. What they all want is a picture postcard to retreat into: SCIENCE BE DAMNED!

I’ll bet a nickel that they will never address the problems caused by introduced trout in the Firehole River, the Gibbon River, and Slough Creek; including the destruction of native fauna that these fish cause. I’ll bet another nickel that they will find a project funded by “sportsmen & other interested parties” to enhance the fishing for introduced fish in many National Parks – especially Yellowstone. I’ll bet a third nickel that Dirk Kempthorne and Mary Bomar will avoid any effort to follow scientific inquiry. I’ll even bet a fourth nickel that a pile of supposedly concerned individuals and organizations will be seduced by the money. While I’m at it, I’ll make it an even quarter that there is no money or project that deals with global warming and the inevitable changes in the next century – ‘Centennial Initiative’ – BAH HUMBUG!

Go ahead Ms. Bomar, count the birds and thermophiles. Go ahead and remove the boardwalks that inhibit thermal feature discharge. Go ahead and follow science that says that the Firehole River would be better off without the introduced and invasive trout that sustain the multi million dollar tourist fishing industry. Go ahead and cull the bison herd to save the range. Go ahead and remove the dam that is preventing the calcification of Suzanne’s house. Go Ahead and re-align the road [again] so that the discharge from Beryl Spring is natural. Go ahead and restrict the geyser gazers from tromping around in restricted thermal areas. Go ahead and follow science to the detriment of visitation and tourist dollars – I dare you!

worse-than-snowmobile.jpgGo ahead and talk about snowmobiles and ignore the enormous and gaseous clouds of summertime diesel tour buses. Go ahead and ignore pollution in favor of winter whiners and increased visitation. Go ahead and celebrate the birthday of the NPS, maybe another 100 years and you’ll get it right.

Girlfriend, I promise that we are about to see the dashing of principles against the overwhelming flood of private money.

At least one thing is true: private money will line up to get a piece of this pie. Well, another thing is also true, park administrations across the land will eagerly line up, flat hat in hand, to get the money to increase visitation – no matter what they have to do. And, it’ll be worse by far than turning the parks over to DISNEY.

A Few Quick Takes


dry-fly.jpgAs an anxiety killer, dry fly fishing ranks near the top. It’s fishing that requires Zen-like concentration tightly focussed upon threading a nearly invisible pin hole atop a hook deftly dressed as a fly, with a nearly transparent line and tying a minute but secure knot in it. The other portion of your time is spent a) getting into your ridiculous-looking gear b) casting as far and gently as possible to land your lure gently upon the water and then c) watching the river for an encouraging ripple signifying the presence of trout that are within your view but seemingly always out of reach.MAMACITA

polar.jpg‘I don’t want to live in permafrost no more.’Gristmill

Changes to agricultural practice and forestry management could cut greenhouse gas emissions, buying time to develop alternative technologies.Scientific American

Eye candy that’s melting fast.Gristmill

grizzly-muddler.jpg— There are a number of ungulate hairs suited to spun and clipped patterns but the best spinning hairs are coarse, spongy and soft. – Philip Rowley

Non-indigenous fish, introduced in the 18th century are taking over South African rivers and streams.Get Outdoors

palomarknot.gifThe Palomar Knot is a general-purpose fishing knot . . .Women Fishing

— By the End of the Century Half of All Species Will Be Gone. Who Will Survive? – RedOrbit

But a good barbera is the epitome of an elemental, honest red wine. It offers you fruit — lots of spicy cherry and raspberry flavors — and it doesn’t hurl w-vs-beer.jpgthem at you in some formless mass. Barbera is shaped by a bracing acidity. It’s got a bite, a burr, that makes the fruit incisive and refreshing.Eric Asimov / New York Times

. . . a Gallup poll revealed that, for the first time ever, Americans preferred wine to beer. This was an astonishing development, akin to Americans jilting baseball for bocce.Slate


The Brucellocis/Bison/Cattle Industry/Yellowstone/Montana PROBLEM continues to make news on many fronts, (go to Yellowstone Newspaper for the stories – both the lewd and the lucid.) One element that has not been addressed is the fact that as the planet warms and Yellowstone becomes a bit more bison-friendly environment; the population of these habituated beasties will grow to the point of destruction. whine.gifIf all the bison that have been killed in the last five years had been allowed to mature and reproduce there would be no grass left in the park.

The whiners have tamed Yellowstone and provided us with wolves that peer into car windows, bears that approach humans, coyotes that beg for food, and bison that proliferate without predation. The bison situation is far larger that the slaughter of a few poor babies. It is the problem of a sentiment gone rampant. Don’t dare ask the cheerleaders what would happen to the park if bison were left to their own protected devices.

Where are the whiners at Wind Cave National Park? Did you know that bison management has worked there and that roundups and culling continue? Did you know that there are some sane managers in the NPS?


“The park holds a roundup annually to monitor the health of the herd and to manage herd size for available forage,” said Superintendent Linda L. Stoll.

The wolves have done wonders with some of the elk herd – where’s the “TRADITIONAL” bison predators? Where is the sane management? Ahhh, I get it: publicity, not a care for the park.


Climate Change & Skeptics


hot-world.jpgI’m often asked “How do you know that . . . { pick one: . . . there is climate change, it’s bad, it is real, it’s not a hoax, computer models work, it’s not the volcanoes, etc., etc., etc.”}

I used to take a lot of time with the questions and even thought that I might have had some influence on the thought processes of the questioners. Now I just provide a short & simple answer, avoid arguments, and refer the questioner to the series by Cory Beck in Grist. Somehow it seems to have more credibility than do I.

I’ve grown to rely on this series, not so much because of it’s authority, but because it’s so perfectly suited to dealing with all levels of skepticism – from the stupid to the sublime and from the stubborn to the spurious.

No, it’s not perfect, (nor am I,) but damn, girlfriend, it’s a brilliant piece of hard work. There are a pair of companion pieces by Michael Le Page that need to be mentioned also:


There are many web sources that serve to illustrate the situation. One that is current and fairly straightforward is the Global Warming Blog.

I’ve copied the references to Cory Beck’s series on my DISTRACTIONS page under the title Talking To Skeptics, it’s also available in the sidebar. This is just in case Grist goes out of business.

. . . Or, Forever Hold Your Peace!


Well, it’s come down to this: the fools are still arguing argue-with-jackass.jpgabout snowmobiles while the winter is getting shorter and the snow is getting thinner.

On Thursday, May 17, 2007 a great hoard of cheerleaders, advocates, special interests, and “parkies” of all stripes will gather in beautiful West Yellowstone to share misconceptions about a winter use plan that is obsolete before it’s implemented. Such is the state of the NPS.

I’ll wager that no serious time will be given to the concept that the snow on the roads is getting thinner by the year. Certainly the NPS will not acknowledge that global warming is affecting Yellowstone in the winter time. I wonder how much time will be spent discussing the vast clouds of diesel smoke polluting the winter air from the Best Available Technology buses?

Do you suppose that the gathered assemblage will address the rising costs of the mandatory tours that are going to escalate with rising gasoline prices? Do you think that they are going to explain why the NPS is wedded to maintaining and constantly upgrading an obsolete fleet of single-purpose Bombardier Snow Buses? Maybe they will talk about the skiers that traipse across the bacterial mats at Lone Star Geyser. Maybe they will show skiers prodding bison with ski poles at 40 below. Perhaps they will discuss snowshoeing off trail in the geyser basins – NOT.

This is not a winter use plan at all. This is just one more charade in the ongoing immorality play to scream about snowmobiles and ignore public access to Yellowstone – – unless, of course, you are rich enough to afford $100/day plus entrance fees.

I’ll be there, if they don’t see me coming. I’ll give you a full report. But I promise you that no minds will be changed, (even mine.) I promise you that “Sanctimonious Sacklin” will avoid all the issues and mumble in ‘parkspeak’ about ‘accommodation.’ I promise that the audience will be sitting together in ‘camps.’ And, I promise you that everybody will come away more convinced that they are “RIGHT” than they were when they went in, (even me.)

As a matter of fact, you probably don’t need to attend. Nothing new will be revealed. The teams have been chosen and the cheerleaders are getting a bit long in the tooth. For the data you can just go to the NPS Site, (no, ladies, not the Yellowstone site,) but the NPS site about Yellowstone Winter vehicles.

If you bother to check the data you will mobileski.jpgnote that newer: YES NEWER!, vehicles have higher NOx emissions/mile than the older versions. This is the NPS conception of progress. Well, we already knew that.

It’s not about winter use. It’s not about global warming affecting access. It’s not about honesty. It’s certainly not about exhaust & pollution.

It is about differing perceptions of Yellowstone, and it is certainly about skiers vs. sledders, and the sanctimonious cheerleaders on all sides ignoring reality and the future of Yellowstone. Scream on.

wet-sled.jpgNot too far into the current proposed “winter use plan” it will be possible water-skip snowmobiles along the roads in Yellowstone – no matter how many there are. Can you imagine how this will affect a 3-ton snow bus?

For the NPS view of the supposed “winter use plan” visit New Long-term Winter Use Plan, (How long of a term?)

For the Yellowstone view visit Winter Use Planning in Yellowstone. No ladies, they are not the same. For the open comment documents go to Documents Open For Comment. For additional parkspeak go to Links.

Want to learn more about remote sensing of exhaust plumes and emissions for winter vehicles in Yellowstone? Click HERE & HERE.

I promise that the video of this meeting will be hilarious. And I promise that if you don’t speak up now, then you should forever hold your peace.


By the Bye ——>> Happy “Air Quality Awareness Week.”

Yellowstone’s Planning Failure(s)


The abject failure of planning in Yellowstone National Park can be traced to a single, simple flaw: ‘complacency.’

The planners and administrators of the park are just going through the motions. They are comfortable with their personal and institutional situations, and they don’t want to rock the boat. snowtel-tower-nps.jpgThey certainly don’t want to break with tradition and anticipate future conditions. They are happy to glide along without breaking any new ground or taking a stand for what is right. They are pleased to react to litigation rather than embark on anticipatory planning.

A pertinent and present example is the pending winter use plan. The planners have not addressed the changing landscape of winter in Yellowstone. They have failed to acknowledge global warming. They have failed to address changing technologies. They have failed to address demographic changes in the population. They have ignored their own studies and made decisions based on the path of least resistance.

This is inexcusable and unforgivable. This is also safe because they are never held to account. There is no oversight, there is no outside peer review. There is, however, public comment, but it’s neither binding, nor taken seriously.

The planners and administrators of Yellowstone National Park are going to cost the American taxpayer many millions of dollars over the next 30 – 40 years because of their complacency. They will have to face lawsuits and continuing revisions of plans because they have avoided anticipating the future. They do just enough to get by. How sad.

One glaring error in winter use planning has been the poor definition of Best Available Technology (BAT.) BAT is based on conceptions of winter visitation that are 30 years old. BAT is a static standard that assumes a status quo for vehicles and over-the-snow travel. BAT does not acknowledge that humans are problem solving creatures. BAT is based on the easy way to mollify pet concessionaires and not what is best for the visitor – or the park. Of course, there is no room to change BAT – that would mean considered thought and anticipation.

Alright now, everybody that is a rational and concerned person raise your hand. Thank you. Now then: what is your objection to a snowmobile in Yellowstone that is quieter than all current winter transportation? What is your objection to a snowmobile that is both quieter and cleaner than all current modes of winter transportation?

What? You say it can’t be done. It can. It has. It is. The University of Idaho has built a snowmobile that:

“. . . weighed in at 570 lbs, the lightest idaho-green-sled.jpgcombustion engine powered snowmobile in the competition; passed the National Park Service (NPS) Noise Emission standard; passed the cold start on the first pull; was second in acceleration (0.2 seconds behind a competing sled that did not pass NPS noise standards); and earned bonus kudos for no maintenance during the week of competition.” [citation]

Raise your hands if you believe that only 4-stroke engines in snowmobiles are BAT. Well, you too are complacent. The University of Idaho sled is a two stroke!!!

“The University of Idaho team also hopes to earn a first-ever National Park Certification for a two-stroke engine, a certification based on standards higher than those set by the Environmental Protection Agency. idaho-green-team.jpgThe vehicle has met all the requirements but one. “We are very very close,” said Johnson. “Hydrocarbon emissions have to be less than 15 grams per kilowatt hour. Right now we are at 17.9 grams per kilowatt hour. With some engine hardware changes, calibration changes and catalyst development, that number will improve. This year’s results show that two-stroke engines are a clean and quiet solution for consumers that still expect performance from their recreational products, and will make the recreational industry, consumers and land managers take a second look at how they view the future of the two-stroke engine.” [citation.]

bombardier-air-quality-test.jpgThe current University of Idaho prototype snowmobile is cleaner than 90% of the obsolete Bombardier fleet, and way cleaner than the diesel buses that are BAT. Where is the thinking planner? Can the world really change?

<<- Can this rattling, stinking, unsafe, obsolete vehicle really be good for Yellowstone?

There are many other examples that could be used. Why is the administration of Yellowstone National Park allowing the erection of buildings that they have no means to fund? Why is there no winter use plan for “low snow years?” Why is there no plan to encourage back country use and appreciation? Why is there no bicycle lane incorporated into the current, (and anticipated,) roads? Why can’t ‘back country rangers’ give adequate directions to “Fairyland?” Why is there only ‘first class’ accommodations in park facilities? Why does the National Park Service encourage and foster monopolistic domination of facilities? There are more!

Where is the plan for continued fuel efficient vehicle purchase? Why is there a plan to build an exorbitant west entrance station? Why don’t the planners look at partnerships in sewage disposal with gateway communities, (look at Yosemite,)?


Here’s some interesting reading if you raised your hand.

Home page 2007 Clean Snowmobile Challenge. Results page 2007 Clean Snowmobile Challenge. AutoblogGreen snowmobile news release. University of Idaho Press Release. Michigan Tech Archives and News Releases. Lansing State Journal Story.

Earth Day – 2007


you-are-here.jpgIn 1970 the culmination of an eight year political effort to put conservation on the public agenda came to pass – Earth Day.

From a simple concept to help a president, to the grassroots explosion that took over, this was an idea whose time had come – may it return with vigor in the very near future.

Yellowstone National Park will be ‘officially’ open to the public on Friday, and I’m going get in my civilian car and go for a ride. I will spew some pollutants along the way, and then I’ll stop at the pull-out in National Park Meadows. I’ll get out of the old ‘suuby’ and walk over to one of the little trees and hug it. It won’t do a thing to save the planet – but it’ll make me feel good.

tree-hug-temagami.jpgIf you’d like to do something similar visit the Nature Conservancy web site and find a preserve near you. Or go to the EnviroLink page and search the 2007 Earth Day Activities page, there’s a bunch of them.

I’ve decided to celebrate on Monday with a bit of Bison stew. The staff is invading my humble abode for one final look at the report, then most will scatter to other projects. We have a small follow-up project for the summer, but it’s not going to be nearly as significant as the winter’s work.

I’ll be away from the computer – by design – until next Monday or Tuesday, and I’ll bring back a report on the local Earth Day activities and how the stew turned out.

It’s cold and rainy outside. The 300 or so bison that the DOL hazed into the park are back on the road north of town. The usual gathering of local residents, protesters, law enforcement, and gawkers are jamming the road with themselves and their egos.

A perfect morning to stretch my legs and get in some tennie-time.

Natural Agents Of Change


The very act of living, requires life to alter it’s environment. From the byproducts of eating and breathing to the castles we live in; all require and produce change in the environment. This is the natural order of life on the planet earth. Birds do it, bees do it, trees do it, beavers do it, we do it. It’s natural.

dam-on-thorofare-creek-nps.jpgThere is nothing ‘destructive’ about our changing food into poo. There is nothing ‘destructive’ about our changing O to CO or CO2 during breathing. This is ‘natural.’ There is nothing ‘destructive’ about a beaver building a dam across Thorofare Creek in Yellowstone.

The byproducts of the dam built by beaver-trees.jpgthe beaver include dead grass, dead trees, eroded trails & runs, trapped fish, eroded stream banks, siltation of the pond, etc. This is natural and it’s what beavers do. In fact, whatever a beaver does – and whatever alteration of the environment results – is natural.

oshaughnessy-dam-hetch-hetchy.jpgThe only difference between beaver dams and human dams is one of scale. Oh, and somewhere along the way a value judgment is made. Not the value judgment of “good vs. bad,” but the value judgment about “natural vs. unnatural.” Somewhere the perception develops that some natural behaviors are “bad” and others are “good.” And, in the case of humans “Natural” vs. “Unnatural.”

The National Park Service at one time believed that wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, and other predators were bad. These “bad” elements of the ‘natural environment’ were eliminated so that the “good” elements of the ‘natural environment’ could proliferate. The consequences of this action are with us today and we deplore the “unnatural” “imbalance” that the removal of predators left behind.

world-match.jpgSomehow, removal of predators (coyotes & muggers,) from Central Park, in New York City is viewed as good and natural. These kinds of value judgments creep into our vocabulary and cloud our thinking.

From Julian Steward to Noam Chomsky there has been a thread of thought that points out how the universe is shaped by our language and it’s depictions of the “natural world.”

Depending on your theology you believe that humans are “natural” or “unnatural.” And that theology structures your vocabulary, and that vocabulary is laden with value judgments about the alterations to the environment that humans make – from breathing to dam building to global warming.

There is no behavior or byproduct that can be attributed to humans that is not found in some other living organism. There is of course the attribute of scale, and the supposed attribute of “reason & intelligence.”

In a very real sense the current state of the world is 100% natural. The anthropogenic component of global warming is as natural as the rhythmic swing of temperature & weather has been in the past.

holy-cow.jpgHumans, (of course depending on your theology,) are just a recent development in the long history of environment-altering organisms.

Humans, (depending on your theology,) are just another part of the complex equation that determines the current and future state of this little rock. And humans, (depending on your theology,) will be long gone by the time this little rock becomes part of the sun. It’s just natural, (depending on your theology.)

It’s time to deal with the semantic component of our values. Are protected wolves “natural?” Are protected grizzly bears natural? Are we going to make anything “more natural” by delisting either? Of course not. We are natural and our actions are natural and the byproducts of our actions are natural. The question is — is it good?

Because, my theology demands that I make decisions based on a value structure that sees us all as natural: and all of our actions are natural as well. We can, however, change those actions in light of our definition of good or bad. Good for what? Bad for what? If it’s good for the earth, should we eliminate humans? If it’s good for humans does that mean we have to change the earth?

What’s good for Yellowstone? What’s good for visitors? Now there’s an interesting question framed over 90 years ago with the establishment of the National Park Service. And it’s a question of values not “natural vs. unnatural.” Or, is it?

The service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations hereinafter specified by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purposes of the said parks, monuments, and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

interiorbuilding.jpgThe arguments about what is, or is not, “natural” are spurious. It’s all natural – and in a most troubling sense it’s both good and bad. That’s just the way human constructs are. Just like the roads that “impair” the “natural” scenery so that we can enjoy the “natural” scenery.

We and our roads and our dams and our CO2 are natural. We should decide what to do to make them “good.” If we can.

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