Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Forget the Selfish Selfies, the real Poppy Apocalypse is underground

This post isn't exactly about the selfie obsessed or where to go to view the best hottest 2019 SoCal wildflower superbloom. The Media and almost every cheezy social media site on the net has put a glaring spotlight on this subject already. But unfortunately I have to use the selfie superbloom fiasco as a lead in or this post may not get noticed at all. This post is about something I noticed in photographs some other folks have posted about the superbloom which has inadvertantly exposed some common poor land management practices prevalent today and how all types of plant ecosystems have suffered which has resulted in a change of the underground soil microbiota from a mycorrhizal one to a predominantly bacterial one. The problem being that it's the bacterial one which favours the ruderal non-native type of weeds. The result has been major declines in the more desired native plant community. Okay, let's deal with the selfie obsessed and get it all out of the way. 

(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Image - Steven Kostoff
Inapropriate behaviour of the shameful selfie obsessed has shown up all over social media venues like Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, GooglePlus, Tumblr, etc. In our modern social media times it's common to see these sick scenarios where people photo themselves in selfies at funerals, car crashes or worse. Even the supposedly responsible professional people of our society like police officers, firemen, etc have gotten in on the act and been busted by other people with their own selfie cameras while they engaged in inappropriate behaviour. And true enough, nature has taken a very hard hit from these selfish selfies. Perhaps you may remember over the recent past where people obsessed with selfies even killed poor harmless animals like that baby dolphin down in Argentina which was killed after being mobbed by tourists looking for that perfect selfie. Modern human society as a culture has really gone downhill.

Walker Canyon, Lake Elsinore
Remember all those selfish selfies back in the wildflower superboom of 2017 ??? I even saw many non-profit environmental group leaders even leading the way in posting a plethora of photographs in hopes of conning their followers into believing how resilient Nature was after that 4+ years of mega-drought in California. Sure, in the past we could say nature has been resilient. Unfortunately, scientific advancement has reverse engineered so many of the major components which allowed this resilience restoration mechanism to move forward, that it's doubtful just how much if any of it is still really intact. In some areas the Earth is at the point of no return. Think I'm kidding ??? Look all around you at how many people there are out there practically celebrating the six extinction. Now here we are with the Spring of 2019 in Southern California and the superbloom has hit again with the conventionl news media and social media exploiting it for all it's click-bait ratings worth. Unfortunately the Media's extra attention has made things worse for many of the well known wildflower viewing areas where people flat out refuse to obey rules and physical barriers. This is all too common in today's enlightened progressive society, where the average person resents being told what they can and cannot do.

But I did read however about one responsible photographer,  Stephen Kim, who visited the Lake Elsinore site (Walker Canyon) early on a Sunday morning, where he said he saw “so much garbage”, it made him disgusted and he made a personal effort to pick up water bottles on his walk. The garbage was not surprising since others photos out on the net exposed several entrepreneurial food wagons taking advantage of the circus atmosphere to sell their junk food wares. Mr Kim said:
“You see this beautiful pristine photo of nature but then you look to the left and there’s plastic Starbucks cups and water bottles on the trail and selfie sticks and people having road rage because some people were walking slower.”

Okay now, let's leave all that nonsense news behind, because there were other people (photographers) out there who had taken photos and had written posts in their blogs about their visits to lesser known areas away from general public view. Like this location in the same Estelle Mountain Preserve region, but higher up & south of Lake Matthews in the Gavilan Hills area. This one blogger I stumbled upon is a CSU Fullerton Communications student named Daniel Coats who took some beautiful photographs in an isolated area. Now aside from all those pretty wildflowers, I saw some other interesting things in his photos which fortunately highlighted & documented something profound from an ecological point of view. This region he photographed in is within the Lake Matthews Estelle Mountain Reserve and the popular Walker Canyon area which is also part of that preserved area. The photos below were taken south of Lake Matthews Drive
How Bulldozers and general raw land stripping by land owners of native vegetation destroys the underground mycorrhizal fungal internet network or grid & facilitates invasive weeds
Photo by Daniel Coats

This area in the photos above and below are south of the Cajalco Expressway Road (further east turns into Ramona Expressway) and just off Lake Mathews Drive. Note the bulldozed brush piles lined up in neat rows ? Much of this is not only interior sagescrub, but also the rare native California Juniper for which many small woodland pockets or groves are now under threat of disappearance because of land development boom since the 1980s in western Riverside County. I say rare because such presence of very large specimens of California Juniper are disappearing in western Riverside County, though they are numerous elsewhere. What should catch everyone's eye is the abrupt change in vegetation type at the edge of this land clearance area from the native sagescrub with abundant wildflowers to the non-native invasive weeds like the Black Mustard, Wild Mediterranean Oats, Wild Radish, Cheatgrass, Yellow Star Thistle, etc. Underground, both types thrive on two totally different microbiological ecosystem communities. The native sagescrub (California Buckwheat, California Sagebrush, Brittlebrush, wildflowers, etc) require mycorrhizal fungi, while the invasive non-native weeds are non-mycorrhizal and thrive in a bacterial soil profile. The weeds (especially the black mustard, wild radish, tumbleweeds, etc) also send out alleopathic chemical signatures through their root exudates into the soil which hinders mycorrhizal symbiosis associations with native plants allowing themselves full reign dominion over the area. 

Google Earth
You can see a real difference from a much closer photograph here below of poppies and sagescrub in contrast to the land area purposely cleared of all native flora. Once the native plants, which are the living host to the mycorrhizal fungi are removed, the fungi will die out. They need these hosts to continue on living. Any beneficial mycorrhizal spores in the soil will stay dormant and may eventually may lose their viability to germinate even if a host becomes present again. At that point the non-native invasives become the dominant species of plants. In fact where mycorrhizal fungi are present with large healthy populations in the soil, any non-native invasive weed has a tough time thriving because the mycorrhizal presence will out-compete the weeds for precious phosporus along with other nutrients and water. At best if they do geminate, they will be incredibly stunted in their growth. Take a close look next time you're out on a hike. Also take closer note of this contrast below.

Photo by Daniel Coats

In the close up photo above, take note of the striking contrast of the perfect border of native vegetation at the bulldozer line above and the non-native weedy scenario below the same line. But, have you also noticed how the massive presence of weedy invasives below have been unable to make any inroads or encroachment into the natural healthy native plant ecosystem above. Why is that ???Because the underground abundant healthy mycorrhizal grid network won't allow any germinated weed seed to thrive and it simply whithers. But there is even more here. Now take note of the poppy encroachment below this same line into the weedy invasive held territory. This is because mycorrhizal fungi can move underground into new areas slowly but surely. Take a close look below at how this is beautifully illustrated in the mycorrhizal corn experiment.

Image - University of Florida

David Read/University of Sheffield
The photograph above is a drought experiment on Corn down in Florida in sandy soil which is water stressed under a controlled environment condition replicating industrial Ag conventional farm practices on the right in contrast with Corn inoculated with Mycorrhizal Fungi on the left which is not water stressed. Why ? Because mycorrhizal fungi increases water and nutrient uptake by mimicking an incredibly extensive root system as seen in the photo of pine seedling on the right. The fungi presence allows an increase of water and nutrient uptake by anywhere from 200% to 800% depending on soil conditions. But there is something else and it relates to the poppy encroachment below the bulldozed line in the previous photograph. Note here also in the corn photo, that the controlled corn plot has healthiest plants near the edge closest to the mycorrhizal plot. This is because the endo-mycorrhizal fungi has moved underground and come into contact with host plants not infected with any fungi. Same thing is illustrated with these two pine seedlings. The pine seedling on the left has it's roots infected with the mycorrhizal fungi which is noticeable moving to the right to colonize pine roots of the seedling without fungi. I'm using the pine example which is colonized by ecto-mycorrhizal fungi, because it is more easily seen to the naked eye and because it forms truffles or mushrooms familiar to most folks. It's easier to illustrate because shrubs & wildflowers are colonized by endo-mycorrhizal fungi which requires magnification to be seen. But the principle and behaviour of movement underground are identical. Here is another poor land management example below in Santee California.

Image by Lynda Marrokal

Western Santee, California, area known as Dove Hill

Notice the same land disruption in this Santee photo above ? Santee has been expanding since the 1950s baby boom era. In the beginning of it's agricultural history prior to baby boom development of bedroom districts, this land was overgrazed and later plowed by farmers and later bulldozed by land developers whose actions destroyed what network grid may have still existed. Suddenly the soil scenario was ripe for non-mycorrhizal invasive ruderal weeds like Black Mustard to move in. But again, notice the contrast and the fact that the mass of invasives do not easily cross the line upslope into Dove Hill. The Black Mustard is only held in check because of the healthy though isolated mycorrhizal grid on that hill. That's not to say the tiny wind blown mustard seeds haven't made contact onto the land above, but it's just that they haven't been successful in germination and establishment. And another example below in Santee is at Sky Ranch Development on Rattlesnake Mountain.

Photo is mine from 2011

Prior to the Sky Ranch housing development, this area in the photo above was not encroached upon by Black Mustard, Yellow Star Thistle or African Fountain Grass like it clearly is now. Now it's everywhere. One of the conditions of development was the creation of a conservation area to protect one of the last beautiful examples of Coastal Sage Scrub habitats complete with endangered species like California Gnatcatcher. Hence the threatening signage against trespass into the land surrounding the Sky Ranch Housing Tract. Funny, the signage didn't deter the residents in that photo above from taking a chainsaw to the group of several 35+ year old Torrey Pine Trees which were up there like the one in the photo above. No matter, what's done in ignorance is done. Take a look below at some research links which explain how the Black Mustard (& other Mustards) effect soil conditioning and inhibit mycorrhizal colonization with host plants. 
Some interesting facts you may never have known about Wild Mustard 😲
Photo by Tom Moyer

Remember all those stories blaming the evil Spanish Explorers bringing Mustards seeds over in pottery shards and oxen cart wheels etc to North America ??? Forget it! While it could be possible, it really exploded in the early 1900s, when farmers used to plant Mustard in orchards, vineyards, etc because most Brassica species release chemical compounds that may be toxic to soil borne pathogens and pests, such as nematodes, fungi and some weeds. This practice is still used in most California Vineyards today for the same reasons like the photo above of a vineyard in Sonoma County. Seriously, Google the images yourself. The concept of pursuing a biological control approach was/is a noble one, but it's had horrible side effects. This is what happens when no one takes a holistic view which only means looking at the bigger picture down the road. Down in SoCal it was planted in orange groves for the same reasons. Here is a blog article asking the question and explaining the why Mustard plants were used. Some seed companies for agriculture still sell great quantities of seed for this same method organic method today, although they recommend farmers mow Mustard plants at the flower stage before seed sets and till mowed plants under the soil.
Naomis Organic Garden: "Why do wine makers plant mustard seeds in young vineyards?"
Here are some other good links on the effects of Mustard in soil conditioning and mycorrhizal signaling disruption. Scroll down to two important subheadings: "Evidence for Allelopathic Effects From Soil Conditioning and Field Studies" and "Allelochemical Effects of Alliaria on Mycorrhizal Fungi"

BioOne Complete: "A review of garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata, Brassicaceae) as an allelopathic plant"
The invasive plant Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) inhibits ectomycorrhizal fungi in its introduced range
ScienceMag (May 10 2019) A specialized metabolic network selectively modulates Arabidopsis root microbiota 
Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve
Image - Dan Potter

Okay, here's another example up in Antelope Valley California where the well known poppy preserve had yet another widlflower explosion this year (2019) too. With all the lucrative Grants and other government money giveaways out there, unscrupulous solar farm speculators land grab at accelerated rates. Of course they choose land deemed worthless for anything else. But that's clearly not the case. The establishment of a massive solar farm will eventually change the underground soil biota which will eventually crowd out native plants and offer a welcome mat for weeds.

Image - Johnathan Huddleston - (NorthStar Solar)

This photograph below shows how massive Solar farms have crept right up to the border edges of the California Poppy Preserve. I've tried to look up and research it, but it may be too early and eventually too late, but Solar Farms generate regional heat islands. This means these black panels absorb and generate more heat into the surrounding area than existed in an area previously. So I've been curious as to what effect higher temperatures might have on surrounding wild native vegetation. These alternative energy schemes and technologies are creating what they were supposedly  designed to eliminate, Global Warming. Same with Wind Farms.

image from
That other negative that comes with installation of  the Industrial Solar Farms ->>>>>> TUMBLEWEEDS
Photo from WWS - Wind & Solar Maintenance

The images above and here on the right are of maintenance crews from the Wind & Solar maintence company WorldWideSolar (WWS). Tumble weeds are a bane on the landscape for a number of negative reasons. Most importantly wildfire hazard. Hence they require removal or the solar farm is at risk. But the whole reason these often exist at solar farms is because of human land mismanagement in the first place which disrupted the mycorrhizal soil biota to construct the solar farm. Antelope Valley has a huge problem with tumbleweeds because of numerous abandoned farmlands which were allowed to go fallow and the Tumbleweeds took advantage. The introduction of solar farms has exacerbated the problem. Indeed, bad agricultural practices, railroads, highway construction & maintenance and massive development in general have all help spread this aggressive invader. But interestingly, according to a 1991 Scientific American article ("Tumbleweeds") by a researcher named James Young, he stated that without human ignorance with their land management intervention the tumbleweed would probably have remained an innocuous plant. Actually this is true of most hated weeds like the Black Mustard and believe it or not, for the very same underground changes in soil microbiology caused by human ignorance of proper land management, even when developing the land for seemingly positive purposes. 

Researcher David A. Bainbridge of the Soil Ecology and Restoration Group Biology Department SDSU, wrote about the tumbleweed problem occuring in the Antelope Valley, the reasons for it's spread and potential for eliminating it. Here's just one small quote which gets to the heart of the matter. But read it's entirety.
"It's non-mycorrhizal and in fact attempted mycorrhizal infection proved pathogenic rather than symbiotic (Allen and Allen 1988; Allen et al. 1989). This explains why sites that are only slightly disturbed will often fight off the infection of tumbleweed within a few years as soil health recovers. Like many other weeds, it will disappear if it is left alone and the land is not overgrazed, tilled, or degraded."
California Exotic Pest Plant Control: "The Tumbleweed Centennial in the Antelope Valley, California"
The Very Thing That Could Eliminate Weeds is the Very Thing That Was Missing to Begin With ->>> Arbuscular mycorrhizal Fungi

Simply weeding is not enough when it comes to native plant restoratin, you have to replace the host plants for which mycorrhizal fungi will thrive. Certainly inoculating the soil is important, but you need the right kind of fungal species and from a reputable company. Hence I've always gone with Mycorrhizal Applications Inc  from Grant Pass Oregon. There is a plethora of companies out there farmimg Biostimulants, beware. Not all are desirable inoculums. Do your homework first.
Biostimulants & Fertilizers are not Magic Dust
University of British Columbia: Do additives help the soil?
Conclusions on when you Photograph Nature
Photograph mine from 2014 near Julian California

Mine also from 2014
Back to photography. I photograph things most others overlook when I'm out in the bush. For example what the heck is that up above ??? 😕 Oh yeah, I brushed the soil and plant dander away and lo & behold it's an ecto-mycorrhizal truffle. I also take photos of root systems from washouts in the bank of a wash which has been cut away by a flashflood exposing extensive rootsystems of several meters deep of native chaparral shrubs. I like nature networks, hence the name Earth's Internet. But I also noticed the same clues when viewing other folks photos. I did it with several photographers who took pics of Torrey Pines State Reserve between La Jolla & Del Mar near San Diego California. Once iconic photo locations are now gone because of environmental degradation. I wrote about that here with this post Major decline in Torrey Pines & SoCal Forests in general

It's ironic that the Park's website and brochures still will not update their photos reflect todays reality. So tourists hopefully will still flock to the park in hopes of experiencing the nature as they viewed it in those photos which drew them there in the first place. Same with those wildflower photos taken by others. There is a plethora of things to learn if you are able to immediately decern and recognize what you're looking at. You know, the same way people will look at things like clouds and see some abstract image that reminds them of something. Except my viewing of the photo images is not about the abstract, it's about reality 😉
"When I would recreate myself, I seek the darkest wood, the thickest and most interminable, and to the citizen, most dismal swamp… The wildwood covers the virgin mould, and the same soil is good for men and for trees." 
And finally in the interests of encouraging responsible photography. There are commercials and there is this commercial

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

USDA Policy: Life begins in the Embryo!

Someone on Facebook reposted a link from the religious cult website, "IFL Science", which strangely enough for once published an interesting subject for a site otherwise known mainly for it's obsession with unrealistic PopSci fantasties. It was a video from 2012 showing where ink had been injected into a chicken egg embryo which allowed the viewer to see the heart cells beating. Here it is below.

The video above recalled back to my mind a controversial event which took place back in 2008 about grocery store chicken package from Tyson Foods being labeled antibiotic free, which in truth was a misleading false advertisement. It was all a marketing scheme by Tyson Foods to capture consumer market share from the organic movement who were spooked by chemicals and drugs being infused into their foods. In a nutshell, Tyson Foods was injecting science-based antibiotic vacs into chicken egg embryos and later claiming their chicken was antibiotic free because they never fed or inoculated antibiotics in chickens raised at their industrial farms. The USDA disagreed and filed a lawsuit against Tyson (Tyson also counter-sued) to stop using the misleading label. Tyson's argument was that the drugs were injected long before the chickens were alive. In otherwords, in Tyson's science-based worldview the chickens were not alive while in the egg and didn't come to life until the day they hatched. Joel Salatin explains the controvery plain and simple in the video below at one of his farm tour events.

Worldview Conundrums for Both Sides
Image - Mike Byrne
So how did Joel Salatin put it ??? "Wow, that does make interesting conundrums does'nt it ?" Except this conundrum hits both ways. Of course the obvious meaning is the controversial subject of abortion being alluded to. One side believing an embryo is nothing more than unviable tissue mass and the other side claiming it's life, even labeling themselves 'Pro-Life.' I don't mind the term pro-life, but the person using the term would have to be consistent in their view of life. For example, many who claim abortion kills life (I agree), sometimes view abortion as okay if the pregnancy is the result of rape. But this just begs the question, 'Is a baby conceive as a result of rape not also a human life ? Then there's the other issue where almost all folks claiming to be pro-life are also pro-military & diehard God&Country supporters. Hence when that baby is born it's also expected to support both God & Country and hence go to war when the country demands, possibly killing like minded people of the same religious worldview. This requires going out and killing another life or themselves being killed in a risky occupation. How is that a pro-life stance ??? See the other side of the conundrum ??? Then there is the conundrum of the secular worldview side of things who generally are of the organic, eco-green & environmentalist worldview who will fight tooth and nail to save any animal, bird, insect, fish or plant, even at the embryo stage, but ultimately could careless about human life, especially humans not of their ideological mindset. Many of them often celebrate this coming mythical futuristic 6th extinction event, insisting that human beings (themselves being exempt) should go extinct for the sake of the planet. Nothing makes sense anymore in our modern world. There's a biblical text of Isaiah 5:20 which has been fulfilled in our society many times over against both sides:
"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who present darkness as light and light as darkness, who make bitterness sweet and sweetness bitter."
Image - Sergey Yechikov (Shutterstock)
Okay so back to the bogus Tyson Chicken spin on life doesn't exist until you breathe. Frankly under the present newer abortion controversy arguing for live birth abortion, which degrades life further, it does create more sensationalism for the ideologues of both sides who live for combat debate. But it doesn't take a self promoting credentialed genius to see that Tyson's claim that the chicken isn't alive while still in the egg doesn't hold water, not only in view of the egg video of heart beat, but also what many scientists themselves have truthfully stated about when life begins. Here are some links:
Princeton University: Life Begins at Fertilization
The bottomline here is Tyson Foods, the world's largest meat processor and the second largest chicken producer in the United States, was forced to admit that they injected their crowed factory farmed chickens with antibiotics before they hatched, but then later went ahead and labeled them as raised without antibiotics anyway arguing that the chickens were not alive until after they hatched. In response, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) told Tyson to stop using the antibiotic-free label. The company since then has sued the USDA over what they believe is their right to keep using it. In one of the above linked articles from, Edward Bell, a neonatologist at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, admitted that the problem on life before birth is this, “It depends on how you define it.” One developmental biologist, Scott Gilbert, said this: “Philosophers and theologians have argued for centuries about when personhood begins. But scientists know when it begins. It begins at fertilization.” Gilbert also concluded this: “The science has very little to do with the answer. Every iteration and advance in the lab make the question even more the purview of philosophers and theologians. And lawyers.” That's right, science and scientists are not needed in order to confirm what common sense clearly tells the rest of us. Life starts in the embryo.

Image - Food Business News
Why do Tyson & other Factory Farm Owners even use Antibiotics and other Science-based Chemicals in the first place ???
Image by Andrew Fox

Perhaps as a human being, you can understand how if you were forced to live under conditions where you ate, slept and were confined in an enclosed cramped space with your own feces and urine spread around, in time you too would become deathly ill. How logical would it be to take multiple drugs to counter the diseased conditions without any attempt to change your filthy disgusting living surroundings ??? Yet this is what all factory farms do every single day and many scientists insist that this farm business model practice is perfectly safe and science-based. Don't believe me, well look at and read the link below.
A scientist claims caged hens live better than free-range birds. Has common sense flown the coop?
Well, fast forward now to 2017 and Tyson hasn't given up on their much coveted "All Natural" organic labels. 
Image -
Finally, this Youtube video below while humorous, is also sadly realistic & true in highlighting how this world's ongoing deceptive business model keeps on marketing and scheming just to sell junk products to an otherwise gullible public who generally refuses to do their own due diligence homework. Something to consider the next time you go shopping at your flavourite grocery store. Seriously!!! 😳

Okay, Just One More Funny Video 😆
All-Natural, Non-GMO, 100% Gluten-Free Internet Video! 
Further Reading References if Seriously Interested 😒

Reuters: "Tyson sues USDA over antibiotic-free labeling"
Poultry World: "Antibiotic-free labelling - Tyson sues USDA"
Tree Hugger: "Tyson Injects Unborn Chickens with Antibiotics, Sues USDA to Keep Antibiotic-Free Label"
Mercola: "You Need to Know This If You Eat Tyson Chicken"
Tyson's Labeling Explanation Scheme Chicken Facts: A Quick Reference to the Packaging Puzzle
Further Reading about Factory Farms

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Land Area Requirements: Conventional vs Alternative Energy Schemes

Image  -  Armando Sanchez, Environmental Health & Safety Field Representative

I was curious about this question of how much land area would be required from a real world infrastructure standpoint across the globe to make alternative energy schemes a success in replacing mankind's present needs for energy through the traditional conventional way of generating electricity. It became more important to me after I saw this piece of the pie graphic above which shows the alternatives (wind & solar) account for only 0.7% of the planet's energy needs. I found this image from a Linkedin page of Armando Sanchez, Environmental Health & Safety Field Representative at City of Toronto, Canada. This has been updated from previous estimates like the graphics from below in 2014 where alternative (wind & solar) electricity generation accounted for on 0.3% of the world's needs.

Image - Key Renewable Trends IEA 2016

Keep in mind, the pie slice fraction here in the illustration is strictly, when referring to renewables or alternative energy, listing only wind and solar. This does not include hydroelectric or biofuels. But so often when dealing with percentage calculations when attempting to promote alternative energy solutions, these will also be included and in so doing the stats become misleading. The hydoelectic and biomass burning have already been around for decades, they are not new, nor are they necessarily ecofriendly. Biofuels do pollute and hydroelectric dams block rivers and migration routes of fish and drown valuable forests. That's not exactly eco-green friendly according to the new rules. Still, the solar and wind people will always try and sneak them in their to give the appearance of a bigger pie slice. But getting past that for the moment, my problem is more about the land acreage area requirements needed for the wind and solar farm infrastructure to actually work. Are they really all that productive and efficient for the land area needed ??? Is such a massive land acquisition really all that eco-friendly to wildlife and plant ecosystems ??? Take a look below at what is presently required.

Image - Google
Google - Subject Sunroof
"The Google logo is spelled out in heliostats (mirrors that track the sun and reflect the sunlight onto a central receiving point) during a tour of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert near the California-Nevada border February 13, 2014. The project, a partnership of NRG, BrightSource, Google and Bechtel, is the world's largest solar thermal facility and uses 347,000 sun-facing mirrors to produce 392 Megawatts of electricity, enough energy to power more than 140,000 homes."
Image -
Apple spends $850million to build giant solar farm that will power its new HQ producing enough energy for 60,000 homes
"Apple will spend nearly $850million on a solar energy project that will generate enough power for the computer giant's new corporate headquarters, retail stores and other operations in California." 
"The tech company will be the biggest single consumer of energy from the new solar facility, which is being constructed on 2,900 acres in rural Monterey County, south of the San Francisco Bay Area where Apple is headquartered."
Image Credit: SolarReserve
Solar Reserve: Sandstone Solar Energy Project - Nevada

So multi-billion dollar net-worth companies like the high-techies Google and Apple invest billions of dollars into these two very specific alternative energy schemes, Solar and Wind Turbines. Good important tax write offs for huge profit generating companies and even better with the added benefits of any government subsidy programs and/or land grants. Thus far this appears to be the only way profit is ever assured. Still I'm amazed at the shear volume of raw land needed for these vast infrastructures to operate and where the actual return on investment is so incredibly low. Matt Ridley who is a British journalist and businessman wrote about this low energy output which he states is actually 0%:
"…world energy demand has been growing at about 2 per cent a year for nearly 40 years. If wind turbines were to supply all of that growth but no more, how many wind turbines would need to be built each year? The answer is nearly 350,000, since a two-megawatt turbine can produce about 0.005 terawatt-hours per annum. So we’d have to build 350,000 wind turbines every year just to keep up with the growth in electricity demand each year."

My issue is not only about the 1000s of more wind turbines needed, but also the massive land area required for them to actually function properly with enough space in between one another to negate any propeller wake or turbulence effecting neighbouring wind turbines. That eventually comes to 1000s of square miles more needed across the globe to meet all energy to be delivered as promised. If the present system and way of doing business this way continues, what will our planet eventually look like ??? I never hear any alternative energy promoter advocates ever state any of these concerns and many of them are the very eco-activists who are up in arms of positive change for the future. We also never hear response from them when it's revealed that both Solar & Wind Turbines actually increase air temperatures on and within the vicinity of their business addresses. So far we get only Crickets

Image by David Gardner

Image - Google
Solar of course is my other issue. While people insist it should be put on existing human infrastructure like houses, commercial buildings, parking garages, irrigation canals, etc (& I agree), it's still not enough to fly off the drawing boards and meet the real world's energy needs. Plus, most of these Solar Farms are extremely land requirement intensive. Often wildlands are aquired or farmland taken out of production. And we have the same low energy output not only because they do not perform as advertised, but also the fact that they require these billion$ in subsidies and grants if any company involved is to see any profit and even that is no guarantee against bankruptcy. How many more square miles of acreage are needed across the globe to meet real world demand (present & future) ??? No one knows, but like wind turbines the solar farms barely scratches the surface. What would our planet physically have to look like in order to get even remotely close to taking over from oil, coal and gas industries ??? Interestingly it takes petroleum to manufacture all these wind turbines and solar panels. It takes large amounts of oil to run giant land wrecking and destroying mining operations for rare earth elements which these things require. Then there are the many components of wind turbines which cannot be manufactured within the environmentally conscious countries like the USA or E.U. Why ??? Because of strict clean air, water and land laws, regulations and requirements. So as an example wind turbines which need special magnets required to generate electricity require a special dirty method of manufacture to make them cheap. Once made they can they be shipped to their destinations to be installed.
Science and Public Policy: "In China, The True Cost of Britain's Clean, Green Wind Power Experiment: Pollution on a Disastrous Scale
Land Acreage Requirements for Conventional Energy Generation
Image - Sherco Plant - Excel Energy

Image - Wallpaper
I'm by no means a proponent for or against any type of power source. But there are certain logical variables to be considered when justifying one form over another. For the conventional electicity generating plants, their land requirements are rather  small by comparision to wind or solar land requirements. Yet their electrical generation output far excels over that of both solar and wind combined on less land area. What all rational thinking people with common sense should ask themselves is, how many hectares of land on planet earth are needed to be wallpapered and carpeted with Solar Farms and pockmarked like a giant pincushion with behemoth Wind Turbines over how many square miles of earth in order to replace all those demonized evil dirty (coal, gas, oil, biofueled, nuclear, etc) conventional power industries ??? So far I've never found or been provided a satisfying answer to this question when I've asked for it. I can only surmise from my own observation over the past couple of decades when I go back and visit Southern California where I am from that it must require 50 times the amount of industrial blight on the once former wild landscape that I experience when I travel across the backcountry. Given the mess we have now and at almost nothing as far as putting any major dent into that illustrative pie at the top of this post, we are headed towards a future planet Earth looking like some alien robot world from some SciFi episode of Star Trek. Seriously, how ecological is that ? How much wildlife (animals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, all plant ecosystems, etc) have to be sacrificed so that some disconnected from reality secular worldview becomes their approved vision of the way things should be ? Do people really want to live in SciFi World ? Here's an interesting piece on land area requirements from 2015, but I'm sure it needs updating.
EnergyCollective Group: "How Much Land Does Solar, Wind and Nuclear Energy Require?"
This article came out on December 24th 2018 in the Tribune News from northestern Arizona. It's a great piece about the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Station west of the town of Buckeye Arizona and it's historical success story.
Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station Arizona
Image Courtesy of Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station
"As the largest nuclear generating plant in the United States, powering an estimated four million homes and businesses in the states of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, and being the only nuclear plant in the world that was not built near a large body of water, Palo Verde is on the cutting edge of the new world of nuclear technology."
The Tribune: "Arizona’s nuclear plant is on the cutting edge of clean energy"
Again, comparing land area required, which business model is more eco-friendly ? Yes in the past, there were issues with safety regarding early Nuclear plants and Hollywood as usual took up activist roles in demonizing the technology through a series of exaggerated disaster films like "China Syndrome." But technology has advanced and vastly improved. Whole Navy ships run decades without refueling. But again, the land area for Palo Verde is miniscule compared to the wholesale destruction of wildlands required for Solar & Wind farms. Plus the output return as you can see from the article is also superior by far. Here's another article from High Country Journal back in July 2018. After extolling Palo Verde's great clean success, it explain how a political stunt by the Solar & Wind proponents want to expand wind and solar and force Arizona to pass a measure which would constitutionally require Arizona utilities to use 50 percent renewable resources by 2030 and the plant authorities are worried the measure would force Palo Verde to close in six years.
"West of Phoenix, Arizona, where cooling towers billow steam into the air, the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station churns out more carbon-free energy than any other power producer in the country. But, in the light of a controversial ballot measure meant to steer Arizona towards renewable energy, Palo Verde’s fate has been caught in the crossfire of a battle between state utilities and environmentalists."
High Country News: "Arizona’s nuclear power caught in crossfire"
Unbelievable, you just have to shake your head. Human run government and leadership continues to make no sense. How many millions of acres of raw beautiful wild Arizona will further be required to shut down Palo Verde ? Again I ask, how much more land destruction is required for renewables ? Take a closer look at this video below made back in 2015 of the construction of the massive industrial Topaz Solar Farm on the Carrisa Plains in Central California which is just north of the famed Carrizo Plains National Monument to the south. Again, compare the shear volume required and the less than advertised return on investment which is dependent on government subsidies.

Environmentalists and eco-activists everywhere are fond of demonizing every type of irresponsible behaviour when it comes to deforestation, strip mining, oil drilling, etc, etc, etc, but almost none will ever consider the industrial ruin their own blind faith eco-solutions will have regarding alternative energy's negative side effects to our Earth with regards to environmental ruin. They even draw up clever memes about a ruined Earth caused by human activities and force feed them virally around social media sites to get their message shoved 24/7 in people's faces. Not one of them will ever consider the alternative energy side effects and when the question is brought up you are treated like some kind of sinner to the modern enlightened new age secular religion. See folks, there's nothing new here.
Sadly, these ecosolutions the so-called climate experts have pushed and shoved in the public's face are also junking up our planet. In reality these are not eco-solutions and not what the public agreed to. Yes, the old technology has it's clear and obvious flaws, but so far the alternatives are hardly a recipe for the restoration of our Earth into a paradisaic planet. Nobody would ever say anything if massive solar & wind farms were able to put out the same amount of power output within the same land area requirement as your average conventional electrical generating power plant (oil, gas, coal, nuclear, etc). Again, I'm not necessarily for these, but they also have advantages which the alternative do not. While there is the obvious potential for environmental harm, the alternatives also harm in ways the conventional do not. But then there is the extreme weather factor. How well will wind and solar hold up to natural disasters ? Well, we have Puerto Rico & Hurricane Maria to provide an answer to that question.

Our Planet's Landscape is becoming a Dystopian SciFi World 😱
Image - Interiors Journal
Many within the major environmentalist leadership movement are fond of parroting this intellectual faith-based belief that we are headed towards the sixth extinction. It's a scaremongering tactic in the hopes of coercing a majority of mankind to put their full trust in their misguided worldview. Yes, clearly things are going wrong on the planet and you don't need credentialed experts with alphabet soup initials behind their names to tell you so. Common sense and a keen eye for change alone should be enough to tell most people something is definitely going wrong out in Nature. But the solution for fixing things are not going to be the result of finding more advanced technological materialist innovations. Human behaviour needs changing for the better. As you watch the Media's daily news reports, how likely is change for the better going to haappen ? The present course this planet is headed on is not one requiring more scientific enlightenment which is the very thing that has gotten us all here in the first place. Scientific dogma of how badly designed, flawed and imperfect Nature is, has given us the pseudo-scientific solution known as the Green Revolution which really wasn't. Conventional energy generation alone has NOT caused climate change. The ongoing continued misuse and abuse of science by flawed human beings will only lead us into a SciFi original version of a Soylent Green apocalypse scenario with the failed alternative energy infrastructure lying in ruins as a testament to mankind's intellectual arrogance. More than anything, people just need to use common sense and it's free.
Image - Soylent Green Apocalypse

"I well know, O Jehovah, that man’s way does not belong to him. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step." Jeremiah 10:23
Boy isn't that becoming more and more the truth ? 😕

Saturday, December 15, 2018

California's glorious Spring wildflower displays are almost gone

Well, not quite. 😒 But clearly a radical change is needed or the entire planet's various ecosystems fail for good. Oh no, this is not another one of those mythical 6th Extinction acknowledgement posts so often celebrated by many of today's environmental organizations being pushed for ideological & political fund raising reasons. I'm not going to display a lot of pretty photographs or try to convince about you how resilient Nature is and despite the megadrought setback, Nature will bounce back if we all fight for it. This is just our world's today reality as we now locally experience it where ever any of us live. The setting in both photos below is the western part of Riverside County in California on the Cahuilla Indian Reservation.

Photograph by Jay Beiler

The first photo above was taken by Jay Beiler. I'm not sure of the date, but it's reminiscent of the expansive wildflower displays which were common for me when I first moved there in 1981. Interestingly between the dates of 1978 to 1983, Southern California had experienced one of it's longests and wettest El Niño weather events, in fact for many of us it was the first time we had heard of that term. But that El Niño event followed a milder drought period back in the 1970s and provided the energy for an explosion of wildflower growth. The early 1980s was a magical sort of time for nature lovers armed with cameras. All maner of native wildflowers like the iconic state flower California poppies, owl's clover, lupines, tidy tips, gold fields, etc. Everywhere you went out on a drive was every bit as breath taking as the scene above. Other areas like Aguanga, Sage, Hemet Valley, Winchester and further on down south to Warner Springs in San Diego county all reflected this same magnificent brilliance on a massive scale. But then of course things weren't as extensively developed in those days. Sadly that's all gone now. Take a close look at the radical contrast below. How quickly the local peoples forget.

Image from Cahuilla Creek Motorcross

Image from Google Earth
Fast forwarding to the present and this region has a whole new different look. And amazingly, this all takes place on the large Cahuilla Indian Reservation. This isn't about picking on Native Americans and their wish to prosper economically. I mean I get that. But aren't these the very people the environmentalists have told us are by their very nature are one with the land and whose example we need to follow ? Funny, I remember back in the 1970s & 80s how much of a target the Native Americans were by most all Environmental organizations with Greenpeace taking the lead. Not only were they targeted because some Tribal groups encouraged less than safe businesses with risky & dangerous polluting types of industries onto their reservations because there were less regulations, rules, and red tape, but also because some tribes had traditions of hunting Whales, Seals, Salmon fishing right privileges at sensitive locations, etc. Actually Greenpeace still has a beef with many tribes for whale hunting and they've recently engaged in a vicious threatening pursuit against one young Native American teenager in Alaska over a whale hunting affair just last year. Still it is interesting that such a business as a motorcross track would be allowed to be placed in one of the most beautiful spots on the whole reservation known for it's spectacular native wildflower displays which has now disappeared forever. Of course it's their land and they can do with it as they wish. Still, it's puzzling. This Google Earth image at upper right, can be clicked on to provide a bigger picture of the exact location and the extensiveness of the destruction and damage of the former wild meadow. I guess it's also the general shock for me every time I visit Anza Valley seeing ALL of the negative changes which have taken place everywhere, including my own former acreage on Table Mountain which has been stripped of most of it's native chaparral vegetation and turned into an industrial Marijuana Farm complete with massive industrial greenhouse infrastructure by some Asian business interests. Unfortunately for me I'm cursed with the memory of what my place once was. 😞
But there's something more Serious here than large corporate targets with deep pockets 😲
Image from a Temecula Real Estate Co.

This picture above could be any property for sale up in the Anza & Aguanga area. It is representative of your average land speculator, developer or average weekend ranchette property owner who purchases land and eventually strips it of all chaparral vegetation. The only exception would be if the shrub were a Manzanita or beautiful scrub oak. People make biased judgements about what plants to remove by mere outward appearances much like they do with each other. But why strip the land down to bare soil ??? In almost all cases invasive non-native weeds will move in and take it's place, especially land in the deep soils of the Valley floor. Now take a look at Anza from this Google Earth from a Satellite point of view.

Image - Google Earth

Image - Salton City (eyetwist)
Many of the more well known Environmental organizations are fond of targeting large corporate business entities because of their ability to cause wholesale damage on a grand scale within any environment, not to mention the other important fact that they also have deeper pockets to satisfy "sue & settle" strategies. But there are also the individual small land owners who often go unnoticed on the eco-activist radar, yet collectively these small land owners can ruin much larger regions of land far more than any single corporate giant. It was one of my pet peeves when I lived in Anza for almost 20+ years. People buy raw land and the first thing they do is hire the local Joe Sixpack and his mighty tractor to strip their property bare of most all of it's chaparral vegetation. I've often wondered why ? If that was their original goal, why not purchase raw dirt (literally) cheap land in somewhere like Salton City for pennies on the dollar which is already devoid of plant life ? But this degradation goes completely unnoticed and is absolutely never discussed by the eco-activists. Click on the google earth image above for a larger view and see how much land has been stripped of vegetation so far at this point. Don't pay so much attention to those larger tracts of farmland being cultivated, they've been there for ages. Focus on all the smaller 2, 5, 10 to 20 acres parcels together collectively.

Image Anza Electric Coop

Image - Calflora
Now this photograph above I found on the website or Facebook page of the Anza Electric Cooperative. The photographer's location is taken from the top of Hill Street up at the foot of Thomas Mountain north of Mitchell Rd. The valley below way in the distance is actually an ancient lake bed close to the Terwilliger area on the Cahuilla Indian Reservation, but it could be more accurately be described as a giant vernal pool in wetter years. When the Spanish Expedition of Juan Bautista de Anza came through here in 1775 along with Frair Pedro Font, they named this ancient lake, "Laguna de Principe" and paid special attention in their writings about all the spectacular wildflower displays seen for miles in every direction you looked. Check out a 2013 post I wrote on Anza's accurate account of his Spanish Expedition through Anza. They really were in awe of this area's raw untouched unspoiled beauty and they also described the even larger more vast the wildflower displays of Hemet Valley a week later after arriving from the mouth of Bautista Canyon. The photo below here is the area of west Hemet near the Auto Mall along Hwy 74, from Hemet the elevation only drops one inch all the way to Winchester. So quite often massive shallow vernal pool lakes use to form every Spring and that is prime habitat conditions for Goldfields. While a single Goldfield flower is pretty, the tiny flowers are barely noticiable on their own, but in company with millions of their friends, they create a spectacular golden display so bright, they are often too tough to observe without squinting or wearing sunglasses in the powerful sunlight. Hence the plural name Goldfields. Sadly, most of those former prime flat habitat areas which historically have had the best vernal pool habitats in Southern California are also prime flatland for commercial land development.

photo - Richard Cummins

This is probably the last brilliant photograph of the Goldfields to be display in western Hemet Valley that people will ever see. Those expansive vernal pool fields are now weed infested with cheatgrass, foxtails, mustard, etc. Also while visiting there I noticed recent housing tract encroachment and major commercial development everywhere in west Hemet and further south of this location. Add to all of this the extreme drought pattern which has become the new abnormal in SoCal and the newer improved flood control infrastructure the authorities have installed to quickly expedite rainwater out of Hemet Valley on it's way west to Canyon Lake and no more mass vernal pools will appear ever again which Goldfields in this area thrived best in after they dry up.

Satellite Image W. Hemet - Google Earth

This google earth picture above provides the exact location of where those large masses of Goldfields you see above at the foot of the Saddlback hills in the background. But like I stated previously, that brilliant blindingly beautiful Spring wildflower display of Goldfields will no longer appear here ever again. The field now is just too weed infested and another unfortunate change will be the rerouting of water runoff through newer flood control infrastructure which will now limit the vernal pool formation.

Hwy 74 Roadside View - Google Earth

Note there are some patchy remnants of Goldfields here, but they are overwhelmed by the invasive weeds brought in as a result of increased human activity. The Hill on the left is the one seen in the beautiful photo above. Take note of the housing encroachment.

Image - EPA

View is looking west from the Hemet Automall
The Vernal Pools of South and Western Hemet (Anza Expedition extra)
The San Jacinto River Valley that Juan Bautista de Anza saw
The other big problem ??? 😕 People are just simply loving Nature to Death 😔
Image - Billy Savanh / Flickr
The original photo at the top of this post was not a well known protected preserve or tourist area for viewing wildflowers. It was a dot on the Cahuilla Reservation map. But other not so well know location are getting publicity exposure through social media now days. The Vance Creek Bridge in Washington in the photo on the right is a favorite with celebrity Instagrammers. This too was once an off the beaten path location which is no longer well hidden. Such secret hidden areas do however run the risk of ruin because of modern technology. Why do I say that ? Well here's one example, read this article: INSTAGRAM IS LOVING NATURE TO DEATH. As the article put it plainly,
"Lesser-known lookouts are suffering under the weight of sudden online fame. Five years ago, Horseshoe Bend saw only a thousand visitors in a year. But this year, over 4,000 people a day have come to see the bend, take selfies at the rim, and dangle their feet over the exposed edge. Social media gets blamed for everything — but this time, it really is Instagram’s fault."
You should know that the region of Horseshoe Bend referenced is on the Colorado River and is also right next to the Bears Ears National Monument, a place which almost no one outside of the area really knew about prior to the original debate publicity in 2016. Now almost everyone knows about it and the increased traffic jams are living proof more and more are finding out about it. With industrial recreational corporate giants like Patagonia, Black Diamond and North Face on the prowl nothing is sacred or secret anymore. Their goal is not so much about preserve as it is to promote. Seriously folks, the business schemes of all industrial recreational giants are growing. Add a greenwash label to your industrial receational business model and you're declared righteous by environmental groups because you're not like those conventional dirty oil, gas and mining companies. Eco-Tourism is now being hailed as a planet's saviour. But interestingly, these dirty industries have no interest in Bears Ears National Monument. But industrial recreation also ruins the landscape. If you think this will never happen to California's designated wildflower Preserve areas, think again.

Photo - Andrew Cullen
Spring 2017: "Southern California 'Super bloom' wildflower trail closed indefinitely after photo-seeking visitors trample flowers"
In the Spring of 2017 thousands of people descended on Southern California's wildflower fields (most of these were the protected preserves), where the disastrous environmental impact was evident as large swaths of wildflowers were flattened by selfie-seekers, instagram celebrity wannabes who blazed new trails through the wildflowers on a daily basis. Why would nature lovers do such a thing ??? For one they've been encouraged by leaders/owners of environmental non-profit organizations who post pretty little photos on their Facebook & other social media accounts and reassuring their followers that all was well with Nature because it's still resilient even after five years of devastating megadrought in California. Another factor is that the majority of viewers also want instant Facebook, Instagram, Google Plus or Twitter fame. And finding that one perfect shot may require lots of trampling. But hit that perfect shot and post it on your social media site profile and you're an instant viral photo celebrity. Take note of the damage that  results when over aggressive nature enthusiasts go overboard in the pursuit of that viral photo which will provide them with social media celebrity fame in this very well done illustrative video.

When it comes to onlooker reactions to spectacular videos or photos, a good example comes from an earlier video of a Firenado  filmed this past July 2018 on Youtube taken in Blythe California and there's one comment under the Youtube video by an anonymous user which illustrates perfectly what motivates so many to pursue the same goal:
"This..... is.... AWESOME!  C'mon, when does one capture such quality images like this... once in a lifetime. Simply wow."
But What About Those Protected Wildflower Preserves ? Aren't They Safe havens too ? 😳
Image from Mike Rich

Lately the Eco-Activism groups have been up in arms and on the warpath again. Their collective voices are outraged once more. Why ? The mission this time is to stop those evil Oil Companies from drilling for gas and oil on the Carrizo Plains. Others are up in arms over keeping the Tejon Ranch from building a housing tract complex known as the Centennial Development. Of course the area is a well known wildflower viewing region with the most famous spot known as the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve State Natural Reserve. Tejon Ranch is just west of this California wildflower reserve by about 15 miles or so. But is the threat to such protected areas really coming from conventional development schemes ? Both regions (Carrizo & Antelope) are heavily invested (or infested) with massive alternative energy schemes known as Solar Farms. These often are given a free pass. But there is also another even more sutle danger and you can see it here in the socks and hiking boots of the Nature lover above right who may come visit. Cheatgrass stickers and seeds of other invasives annual non-native plant species are an even bigger threat as you can see from the very top photo above where cheatgrass encroachment is flowing into wildflower habitat like an overwhelming montrous unstoppable Tsunami wave.

But the wild beauty that brought so many here to these wildflower locations in the first place will soon be gone. Social media certainly gets blamed for many things these days, but this time, it really is their fault for encouraging this kind of stardom behaviour. Even if the natural attractions aren’t suffering from social media crowds, they still have to keep a lookout for the infamous social media Graffiti Artists, offroader stunts, etc. But rather than continue on with my rant about this anymore, I'll admit that I'm not really trying to discourage anyone from enjoying the outdoors. But here's a good piece written about what Jackson Hole Wyoming is trying to do to encourage responsible behaviour in the wildlands.

Image & Article by Larissa Faw, November 19th 2018

"Wyoming's Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board (JHTTB) is launching what it calls a first-of-its-kind campaign to educate people about how social media, specifically Instagram, is causing travelers to unintentionally abuse precious natural areas in pursuit of the perfect image. 
The Tag Responsibly message, developed with Colle McVoy, provides Instagram users about to geotag Jackson Hole’s pristine natural amenities with the alternative, generic location tag: "Tag Responsibly, Keep Jackson Hole Wild."
You can read the rest of the article in Media Post:
"Jackson Hole Seeks To 'Tag' Social Media Travelers"

Other similar Articles with the same Wildflower viewing Theme
Country Living: "The Tragic Way Social Media Could Be Killing Wildflowers"
Selfie stampede - Destroying California's super bloom for the Likes