Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Montana Governor allows bison to roam outside Yellowstone National Park

BILLINGS, Mont. — "Wild bison will be allowed to migrate out of Yellowstone National Park and stay in parts of Montana year-round under a Tuesday move by Gov. Steve Bullock that breaks a longstanding impasse in a wildlife conflict that’s dragged on for decades."
Photo courtesy Neal Herbert, National Park Service

Bison in Yellowstone's Lamar Valley

Interesting headline, but as usual not without controversy. Ranchers of course will use the same excuse over and over such as grazing competition, but also that all important, "Bison are disease carriers"
"The move has been eagerly sought by wildlife advocates — and steadfastly opposed by livestock interests. Ranchers around Yellowstone are wary of a disease carried by many bison and the increased competition the animals pose for limited grazing space." 
"Yellowstone has one of the largest wild bison herds remaining in the world. Since the 1980s, more than 6,300 have been slaughtered and almost 1,900 killed by hunters, largely in response to fears over the spread of the disease brucellosis."
"Roughly half of the park’s bison test positive for exposure to the disease, which can cause pregnant animals to abort their young. No bison-to-cattle transmissions of brucellosis have been documented and most infections of cattle over the past decade have been traced to diseased elk. Yet it remains a major concern for ranchers who can find their operations stigmatized after an outbreak."

The irony here is that it was originally the cattle brought in by white Europeans which infected Bison or the Buffalo at Yellowstone which seem to have an immunity to the Brucellosis disease. Of course 100+ years later no one remembers that nor wishes to. Some of the more interesting facts are that it has been tested under controlled lab conditions that Bison might possibly infect cattle, but never documented in the wild. Most likely possibility of infection they say as wild herds of Elk. This just continues to set up an on going never ending controversy of Ranchers versus Bison-Huggers forever.

Cartoon illustrator David Parkins

Interesting References on the disease and the Cattle versus Bison controversy
Buffalo Field Campaign: Brucellosis in Wild Bison Fact Sheet
USDA: Brucellosis and Yellowstone Bison
CDC: Transmission of Brucellosis from Elk to Cattle and Bison, Greater Yellowstone Area, USA, (2000-2012)
PBS: The Buffalo War: The Disease

Monday, December 21, 2015

Climate Change & Industrial Agriculture's "Get-Out-of-Jail-Free" card

Why shouldn't Industrial Agriculture to get policed as much as Oil & Gas ???

illustration: Mercury News

photo credit: Critical Information Collective

Military Police protecting Soy field being sprayed
 with Pesticide
Well the heavily advertised Climate Change talks in Paris have come and gone. All is well if you are to believe the News Reports by this world's media. But some of the poorer developing nations like India believed they have had to compromise way too much while industrial developed nations not enough. Well, that's probably true, you know how it is. But there were some commercial enterprises which more than likely get a free pass from change and in fact they will probably be getting the global police protection. From history, we now know that it is common for giant big business interests to fudge and fuzzy the truth to where things are no longer black or white. Muddling and making murky the waters of truth have been done before by the giant Tobacco Industry when it came to hiding the what they knew of the strong link between cancer and smoking cigarettes. Lately we are hearing about the State of New York now investigating ExxonMobil for allegedly misleading the public about climate change. But we all understand that this is how our world works and has always worked throughout history. So it should be no surprise that the industrial biotech agricultural industry and the entire synthetic fertilizer industrial corporations have undercounted and misrepresented America’s agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It's not a secret they often engaged in political backroom deal making and their influence over legal decisions as is evidenced where the USDA and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have agreed on the silly statement that agriculture contributed only about 10 percent of U.S. GHG emissions in 2013, when in fact it was far more than 25 percent. All of this manipulation took place back in May of this year well ahead of the Climate Pact meeting in Paris. Take a look at the chart USDA provided on their website as proof of Agriculture being innocent of any earth damaging accountability with the link to their website below it.

USDA: "Agriculture accounts for 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions"

This distortion of the reality on the ground is ludicrous as it doesn't even attempt to factor in many other variables linked to Industrial Agriculture. Another website, Grain.Org, was more realistic and honest in it's assessment of the massive scale damage caused by the practice of industrial agriculture. In fact they broke up that reality into several identifiable segments with easy to understand explanations of just what Industrial Ag really does contribute.

Yup, sure enough, industrial agriculture and it's successful expansion actually requires the destruction of massive amounts natural ecosystem lands all over the globe, not just the poster child  rainforest regions. As per their estimation, this is anywhere from 15% to 18% causing further global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This makes sense since destruction of whole plant mechanisms are the very biological machinery which deal with regulating the CO2s along with soil disturbance which also frees up and releases huge amounts of Carbon to create more of that carbon dioxide.

So these emissions produced by actual farming are somewhere between 11 and 15% of all global emissions. What often goes deliberately unsaid, however, is that most of these emissions are generated by industrial farming practices that rely on chemical (nitrogen) fertilizers, heavy machinery run on petroleum, and highly concentrated industrial livestock operations that pump out methane by means of animal waste produced at your massive scale feedlots. You know, prior to the introduction of the 1950s Green Revolution where both Axis and Allied bomb and other munitions manufacturing by the major Agro-Chemical companies, Nature's soils were generally nitrogen poor and yet Nature flourished for 10s of 1000s of years. Why ??? How ??? Soils loaded with massive amounts of healthy microbiological components allowed soils to efficiently percolate water, but also breathe. Our Earth's atmosphere is loaded with tonnes and tonnes of nitrogen and nitrogen fixing organisms have always provided plants with just the right amounts they have always needed. Life on Earth was actually extremely successful and efficient long before these companies claimed to come along to the rescue. So the chemical emissions damage is really twofold here.  First, nitrogen is infused into the soils at a huge rate and the reasons are that the industrial scheme requires a numbers game to be played. Root systems today are mostly non-mycorrhizal which means root absorption is extremely limited compared to what nature once accomplished without the aid of intellectual human beings. So at best if Farmers are lucky, perhaps 20% gets absorbed into the plant's limited root system, while 80% of the synthetic junk the Chem-Folks have artificially produced, packaged, labeled and sold to farmers at a hefty profit end up either leaching into the groundwater which leads to streams, lakes, rivers & oceans creating further eutrophication and emissions by micro-organisms breaking the water pollution down which releases more methane released directly as GHG into the atmosphere.  Second, the actual manufacturing process of Nitrogen fertilizer itself is a high energy-intensive 
(Haber-Bosch) process and requires massive amounts of energy for it's manufacture. Again, yet another component not factored in. What is worse, earlier this year I posted a link from the United Nations which revealed how the uses of these fertilizers, "Fertilizer Use to Surpass 200 Million Tonnes in 2018"(Source)

Transportation (should also include the massive amounts of energy consumed by Tractors, Sprayers, Combines, etc) Packaging and general transportation through trucking is another obvious factor not reflected in the USDA-FDA 10% whitewash. 

This is another given. Agricultural Waste into landfills and animal waste from industrial animal farms is yet another factor. Methane emissions are far worse than the justification argument they often use of the Earth at one time having millions upon millions of wild herbivore animals roaming the plains and savannas. The diet was the exact opposite of what confined livestock are force fed today. The higher carbohydrate content of rich diet of grain feed is far worse from a methane emissions standpoint than grazers and browsers of times past out in the wild. 
Latest News & Historical perspectives on on Industrial Agriculture and Earth's Ecology
Patrick Pleul/dpa via AP/File

The sun rises during light morning mist at lake H
 See in Alt Zeschdorf, eastern Germany, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015.
First, this bit of News from The Christian Science Monitor on how Lakes are heating up faster than oceans and the reasons behind it. After reviewing all the well known sources of increased carbon dioxide like automobiles etc, it finally sums things up with industrial agriculture's contribution to climate change. Makes one realize why so many GMO Proponents are so adamantly against Climate Change which they insist is a hoax. Don't believe me ? Follow some of the writings and speeches given by some of their staunchest proponents who are funded by the biotech & agro-chemical industries like Henry I Miller and Patrick Moore who claim to use Science to disprove climate change is happening.
"It suggested updating electricity efficiency standards, providing incentives for clean energy use, increasing fuel efficiency standards for cars, addressing methane from livestock, and improving soil management to reduce emissions from agriculture." 
"For example, nitrous oxide emissions, primarily from the breakdown of nitrogen fertilizers, make up 64 percent of agricultural emissions. Methane is the next largest source at 34 percent. US Environmental Protection Agency programs that reduce methane from livestock and the use of nitrogen fertilizers decrease emissions as well as improving drinking water, lakes, and wetlands, according to the UCS."
(Image Wiki Commons)
"When did human domination of the planet start? A new study in the journal Nature reports a dramatic shift in one of the rules of nature about 6,000 years ago—connected to growing human populations and the rise of farming. UVM’s Nick Gotelli used his world-leading expertise on ecological statistics to find the pattern."
 This next bit of scientific News published in Nature from the University of Vermont is in many ways both interesting in the sense that it clearly demonstrates the historical pattern of human ignorance from the very beginning when they self determined just how they would proceed in their original version of land management through farming to the present and also curious in that the prevailing Scientific Orthodoxy which presently rules Scientific thought with an iron fist (reminiscent of the Dark Age past) would even allow such a finding to be published. Here's a hint "6000 years" when farming first began & humans spread across the globe ???
“When early humans started farming and became dominant in the terrestrial landscape, we see this dramatic restructuring of plant and animal communities,” said University of Vermont biologist Nicholas Gotelli, an expert on statistics and the senior author on the new study.  
In the hunt for the beginning of the much-debated “Anthropocene” — a supposed new geologic era defined by human influence of the planet — the new research suggests a need to look back farther in time than the arrival of human-caused climate change, atomic weapons, urbanization or the industrial revolution.   
“This tells us that humans have been having a massive effect on the environment for a very long time,” said S. Kathleen Lyons, a paleobiologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History who led the new research.
What the Historical Chart from Nature really means
Interestingly the online journal Nature which published the research also provided a chart to try and illustrate the data they used in the timeline. Still, it's quite a mystery how they concluded such a lengthy period of time had such an even plateau of plant and animal ecosystems lived in relatively peaceful harmony for 300 million years prior to human land management, but then again modern Science loves high impressive numbers. In fact the reality is they demand it. Still, whatever amount of time one wishes to believe or promote, the point being is that the natural world functioned as smoothly as a well oiled machine for perhaps 10s of  1000s of countless millenniums prior to the appearance of humans practicing agriculture which would have required stripping land barren for farming and making gradual expansion of these practices as population increased and/or if the land became unproductive over a long period of time before technological advancement accelerated the ecological decline from the industrial revolution right down to our present time. 

Weighted Loses curve with shaded 95% confidence intervals illustrates reduction in the proportion of aggregated species pairs in the Holocene (log scale). Dotted vertical line at 5,998 years delineates the linear model breakpoint in the trend. I'm not sure how they actually get to the 5,998 years, but that must be why the average 6000 years is used for the benefit of the readers.
For modern communities of plants and animals, recent studies show that segregated species pairs are more common than aggregated ones. But when the team investigated the composition of ancient communities using data from fossils, they were surprised to find the opposite pattern: from 307 million years ago to about 6,000 years ago, there was a higher frequency of aggregated species pairs. Then, from 6,000 years ago to the present, the pattern shifted to a predominance of segregated species pairs. An ancient rule had changed.
The bottom line here is that irrespective of what your ideologue flavourite worldview take is on all of this, humans have been disruptive with irresponsible land management practices from the beginning of Agriculture, which apparently from this scientific research was about 6000 years ago. This in turn has had an effect on weather creating and climate monitoring mechanisms found within the natural world. Healthy old growth plant community ecosystems of all variety found across the global are major drivers in creating weather and in moderating climate. Dismantling of these forests and other plant community systems has caused major breakdown of these mechanisms from the beginning to the point of industrial revolution with celebrated technological advancements have only accelerated these degrading processes. The saving grace in the 1000s of years previous was the fact that the massive amounts of synthetic inputs didn't exist and human population was minimal and restricted by limited ability to produce food on a grand scale. But boy how the Haber-Bosch Nitrogen process served as the so-called "detonator of the population explosion", enabling the global population to increase from 1.6 billion in 1900 to today's 7 billion+. Now we're hearing more and more calls for Eugenics programs to be brought back into play. Here is the concluding three paragraphs from the research news from the University of Vermont's website on effects on the climate:
Climate considerations
"And this change in an ancient natural pattern may have implications for modern conservation. “Isolating species has consequences — it can catalyze evolutionary change over hundreds of thousands to millions of years,” Behrensmeyer said, “but it also makes species more vulnerable to extinction.”   
“We humans have influenced the landscape, but perhaps for a lot longer than we had previously recognized,” says Gotelli, a professor in UVM’s biology department. “When we look at landscapes and say, ‘this is pristine or unaltered,’ that's not necessarily true. We may have changed the rules over a much larger scale than we appreciate.”   
"Modern human-driven forces, like climate change and pollution, are “orders of magnitude more destructive than what early humans were doing,” Lyons said, but even at the dawn of human civilizations, people were certainly having major — and unprecedented — ecological impacts, she said. “If we are thinking about how we’re going to restore ecosystems, or how they're going to respond to climate change,” UVM’s Gotelli said, “we need to understand how they were organized before humans ever came on the scene.”
(Source - University of Vermont)
(Source - Nature)
In Summary
There is no question or argument against the fact that Industrial Agriculture has accelerated the Earth's general decline in the climate department, but the cowardly manipulation of data to suggest they should be given a free pass from changing their business model the way other industries will be forced to do only illustrates how much political power and influence they have over the very people supposedly in charge of their various country's welfare of it's citizens. While the article mentioned the industrial revolution as the change, real change especially accelerated from World War I (1914) to the present. This is the same year that Austrian Forester and self-taught Physicist Viktor Schauberger (1885 - 1958) stated the Earth's environment started it's downward trend from the start of World War I to the present. He certainly was in a position to observe first hand. The debates on this research will no doubt provide some interesting entertainment between both the religious and secular ideologues, neither of which appear to have a handle on truth. Get your popcorn and sodas handy folks, it'll be entertaining if not time wasting. But it would be fun to compare what the Genesis account actually said on the subject and compare it to this research. Let's look anyway.
Genesis 3:17-19 & 4:2
" . . . cursed is the ground on your account. In pain you will eat its produce all the days of your life. And thorns and thistles it will grow for you, and you must eat the vegetation of the field. In the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Well, first it states that human beings started off as an agrarian society which apparently starts off in a pursuit of self-determination of ignorance with regards to responsible land management practices whose farming methods actually would result in a plague of "thorns and thistles" (otherwise known as weeds - especially ruderals) which cover the land as a result of such ignorance. Even offers a bit of scientific reality check when it states emphatically that humans came from dirt and return back to dirt when they die. Hmmm, that's odd, isn't that scientific ???
" . . . And Abel came to be a herder of sheep, but Cain became a cultivator of the ground."
Okay, more references to animal and plant agriculture as the preferred choices for making a living. Bottom line here is that both religious and secular peoples have deliberately ignored proper custodianship of the Earth for several thousands of years and look where we are now ? Nobody today has the higher upper ground on this. In the beginning of agriculture the ignorant land management  wasn't so noticeable as any negative effects would have always been local and regional, not effecting whole continents and the entire globe as experience it now. We have several major historical references to great Empires which came and went where they misused and abused the land by stripping it of it's forests and other  plant communities which eventually created drought and helped bring a decline to those empires. Romans deforesting North Africa and other parts of their empire, the Nazca, Aztecs, Anasazi, Easter Island inhabitants and the list goes on. Their misfortune was generally local or regional and didn't necessarily effect other regions of the globe, but that is not the way it is today. Industrial Agriculture is now obsessed with growing bigger, even by mergers with one another. There is no doubt they are having an accelerating effect in our environment's decline despite all the denials and political favour asking behind closed doors. This climate pact from Paris won't mean anything as long as the same games and players are involved. The Industrial Forestry business model is not far behind. Plantations loaded with 10s of 1000s of GMO Trees are not a viable replacement for healthy biodiverse old growth forests. Ponder all this the next time your hackles are raised because you hear or read where someone criticizes your favoured biotechnology which hides behind a cloak of Scientific Orthodoxy like some Druid Priesthood.

More Breaking News - University of Vermont & Gund Institute for Ecological Economics 
"Wild Bee Decline Threatens U.S. Crop Production"
Dec 21, 2015 - from Gund Institute for Ecological Economics 
Incredible map showing most of the counties within the United States in which Wild Bee populations are most at risk of extinction. These counties are also heavily committed to Industrial Agriculture for their economies.

 (PNAS doi:10.1073.pnas.1517685113)

"A new UVM study of wild bees identifies 139 counties in key agricultural regions of California, the Pacific Northwest, the upper Midwest and Great Plains, west Texas and the southern Mississippi River valley that face a worrisome mismatch between falling wild bee supply and rising crop pollination demand."

Now take a close look at a contrasting map they provided in the research revealing where the Wild Bee populations are doing best

(PNAS doi:10.1073.pnas.1517685113)

"The first national study to map US wild bees suggests they're disappearing in many of the country's most important farmlands. Relatively low abundances are shown here in yellow; higher abundances in blue."

See also the article from the online journal ArsTechnica which deals with the subject on the role of synthetic fertilizers from agricultural fields release of  Ammonia into the Earth's atmosphere:
New global data suggests air pollution kills 10 million people per year 
 "What exactly is it about growing plants that causes pollution? Agricultural pollution is often attributed to the release of ammonia from fertilizers and domesticated animals. Ammonia released into the atmosphere can undergo several chemical reactions that affect air quality."
Hyperion, a 700-800 year old coast redwood found in Northern California, is the tallest known tree in the world. At 115.61 m (379.3 ft), Hyperion dwarfs both Big Ben and the Statue of Liberty. Discovered on August 25, 2006 by naturalists Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor

I'm certain both business models (Industrial Forestry & Industrial Agriculture) will provide a token legacy of what old growth Forest life on Earth once was. So I guess all is not lost if zoos and museums are all you care about. Still one wonders why the average person believes this world's leadership will ever correct anything. 

Photograph: Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace

A Lone Brazilian Nut tree stands in an industrial Soybean field