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 ?
UPDATE: February 27, 2019
Why Renewables Can’t Save the Planet

Image - Michael Shellenberger - Time Magazine
Massive Industrial Renewables belong in cities for no other reasons than to save on building more massive industrial electrical transmission infrastructure and also such technologies are also demanded are by those who live there. Places like San Francico, Santa Barbara, Malibu, Santa Cruz, La Jolla, Del Mar, San Diego, Los Angeles, etc, etc, etc.

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

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Yosemite Valley, Land Management with Fire for no other reason than because Indians did it

Really ??? So then, what's wrong with Yosemite's trees ??? 😧
Image - R.A. Scott Photograpgy

Someone asked the photographer R.A. Scott how he took this photograph. He said he used a Nikon D810 With A Sigma 24-105 lens, standing at Tunnel View with a tripod. He further said:
"It's not how you take a picture, it's what you see that guides you to the perfect spot and view to take. If, like me, you are out in nature to have fun, then it is just a plus to get a great picture. When I go to Yosemite I'm like a kid in a candy store. I just want more beautiful scenes to take and to stand in the quiet and enjoy each moment to the fullest. I walk/hike through the valley to find new spots. I take the trail less traveled (Well all trails in Yosemite are well traveled). I stand at Tunnel View with many photographers that are all trying to take great pictures. Sometimes I just get lucky. Life should be lived to the fullest and now that I'm retired, I'm able to have a little fun."
Image - CalFire
And I totally agree, it's really a beautiful photograph with all those amazing colours, textures and patterns. But this is Yosemite. Did you also notice some of the reason for the pretty splashes of rust colours in the photograph were because of the dead trees ? Yup, sure enough Yosemite has lots of dead trees, much like I showed you in previous postings about Yosemite's dead trees a couple months back. Funny, much like the numerous dead trees at Torrey Pines State Reserve, most all of the official promotional websites with regards Yosemite and other National Parks also will not publish any of these devastatingly negative photos. What you will see are earlier photos of healthy trees from the usual iconic vistas and picturesque viewpoints. It's not good public relations to publish and point out the negative truth of what's been happening recently to all these once beautiful areas right now. The conventional Media will of course publish them with sensational articles of doom, but then the media generally enjoys gravitating towards the negative and tragic angles of any subject matter. So we have a sugar-coating public relations strategy to provide the public the illusion that all is well in all the National Parks, Preseves, Forests, etc. Unless the public actually comes and physically visits, then they find out first hand all is not well. See the references below at the bottom of this post with regards articles.
Nighttime view of  Yosemite Valley's tunnel view
Image - Patrick Coyne

Another interesting and beautiful nighttime photograph of the Yosemite valley above shows car lights traveling through the main road, but still you can see all is not well with the forest's ecology even at night. Look at all those dead trees. Interestingly where this photo has been shared and discussed on social media sites, almost no one ever mentions this. I pointed this out previously when I wrote about a before and after photo of the old Milwaukee Road railway right-of-way through Pipestone Pass, Montana. Nobody noticed any of the dead trees which stood out like a sore thumb. Most people either miss this when reposting any photo or deliberately ignore it as an inconvenient truth of the area's declining health. An interesting article was posted in the Facebook group, Era of Megafires, which showed a historical photo view of the Yosemite Valley and the present day view.
The Era of the Megafires is because we won't let it burn or so the so-called experts insist
Historical Images - New York Times
To Help Prevent the Next Big Wildfire, Let the Forest Burn
Well, fire worship is back in vogue again when it comes to these expert's #1 promoted dogma regarding land management. Above the article in the New York Times offered two photos of Yosemite Valley, one which is supposedly from 1899 and the other 2011. The 1899 photo revealed far less vegetation in existence, while the one on the right from 2011 shows far more denser vegetation mainly in the form of trees. I wish the 2011 photo had been taken at the exact location and angle as the 1899 photo. If you look at it from another perspective, you find that there is still a large meadow which from the angle they provided in the 2011 photo, looks to have almost disappeared. Biggest difference of course there still are more trees. Take a look at one paragraph from that New York Times article:
"Before the 1800s, most forests in California burned every five to 25 years from wildfires caused by lightning or Native American burning practices, said Scott Stephens, a fire ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley."
Seriously ??? Every five to 25 year fire interval is natural ??? And the reason they justify this is because Native Americans did it. A while back I read about the history of the native people who inhabited the Yosemite Valley. And yes it was a sad story how they were removed. The Ahwahnechee or Awahnichi (″Yosemite Valley People″) are a Miwok people who traditionally lived in the Yosemite Valley, which they called Ahwahne. The account about their history also referenced how they kept the valley cleared the valley's vegetation by regular burning and I don't doubt that, but should we consider that as something "natural" as many environmentalists dogmatically advocate ? The problem I have with terms like 'natural' or 'pristine' being used in descriptions of various ecosystems is that these words/terms sort of places the Native Americans in a sub-human category as if they were some sort of Pre-European animal which were an intregral part of all ecosystem maintenance. Some Fire ecologists like Richard Minnich of UC Riverside say the necessary interval between wildfires within a plant environment should be 30-50 years, others like Richard Halsey of the Chaparral Institute have said it's more like 70-130 years interval between fire disturbance followed by rest and recovery. Trust me there is no real united consensus among any of them. How often do you hear or read about biologists bickering amongst themselves in attempts to out do another opponent's so-called expertise in the public eye ? Chad Hanson of the John Muir Project claims intervals of 300-400 years. Frankly I like the longer version. There is no doubt that fire by lightning has always been a natural occurence, but most of that would have occurred during a couple of months during the summer monsoon season if at all. Most all knowledge we have about what science believes is natural is limited to 19th & 20th century photographs and some writings. Beyond that we get speculations, assumptions and storytelling narratives based on the biased beliefs of those doing the telling. 

Illustration - Mike Danton/Alamy
In past historical times, perhaps several centuries, creatures like the giant Ground Sloths or even Mastodons (which were browsers as opposed to grazers) once kept forest floor understories clean and neat. Prevent shrubs from taking over or tree seedlings and saplings from creating dense carpets of water and nutrient competitors. And if fire did occur by chance, such activity was mild as compared to present day wildfire catastrophes. But even before Sloths, other creatures would have occupied much of the same habitat in forest ecosystems providing much of the same services that sloths did for trees and that modern Giraffes do for tall trees in Africa today.

Illustration - vignette-wikia
Nothronychus was the only therizinosaur that lived in North America, it lived in the Mid Cretaceous. (The name Therizinosaur is derived from the Greek word therízein, meaning 'to reap' or 'to cut off', and saûros meaning 'lizard'. The animal was also described as slow or sluggish. Like it's relative, Therizinosaurus, the Nothronychus had big claws and a kind-of long neck. It was 4.5-6 metres long and 3-3.6 metres tall. It may have weighed 1.5 tonnes. It's diet was trees in the canopy area. This dinosaur's name means "Slothful claw" it was named by james I. Kirkland and Doglas G. Wolfe in 2001 because there was something unusual in that it was a theropod but it's diet was plants. Nothronychus was a strange dino with a 4 inch(10 cm) finger claws similar to those of sloths. This dinosaur walked on two legs. It had long arms, a long neck, a small head, a toothless beak, leaf-shaped cheek teeth, and a short tail. This would have been perfect for stripping off lower limbs of young trees prevent a scenario of fire ladder fuels. Don't get me wrong when it comes to fire, yes it can be a good tool. However when it comes to ecosystem management, it's a last resort or the last tool on the list. Unfortunately in every single discussion on this subject, "Burn Baby Burn" wins out every time. People have been so religious indoctrinated into this "Plant evolved with fire" or "Fire is the grand creator" nonsense, that they are totally incapable of rationally viewing the way nature truthfully maintains itself. The large animals (megafauna) are the single biggest missing component. Not only do we now live in times of massively increased fire disaster, but the experts (Fire Ecologists) say we need more. It should also be noted that research published back in August 2018, revealed that so-called low-severity wildfires and prescribed burns do in fact harm the organic biological make up of the soil. FACT: other tools have far more importance than Fire.
So What Can We Do Exactly ??? Study & Use Biomimicry 
Image - Chris Schnepf/University of Idaho Extension

Image - Cornell University
Ideally it would behoove forest managers to replicate how the natural world really maintained itself historically in past centuries ago within vegetative ecosystems prior to human disruption. Environmental organizations are adamantly opposed to humans having any connection to maintaining ecosystems, especially forests. In their twisted worldview, fire is the grand creator and nature will take care of itself. Unfortunately nature isn't exactly intact and you can blame the abuse and misuse of science, something they practically worship as infallible. However, more and more studies from several universities are finding the contrary to be true when it comes to management. For example, forest ecosystems can benefit from the introduction of animals into the tree understories if properly managed in a hands on directed manner. The reason nature cannot be counted on to take care of itself any longer is because humans (especially from the historic past) have decimated the large populations and in some cases caused numerous large grazing & browsing animals (slow moving vegetarian megafauna) to go extinct. That's a fact and consequently an inconvenient truth to those who wish to promote indigenous peoples as all knowing when it comes to conservation. But it's even worse than that. Researchers have now discovered than in many cases, biodiversity is not so much the problem, but rather Bio-Abundance is. The numbers of most all living creatures are way down, from insects, to amphibians, birds, etc. Why ??? Because humans have relied too heavily on Science as the saviour of everything by "bending nature to our will," as CRISPR gene-editor inventor, Jennifer Doudna, has proclaimed when interviewed. Nature should have aways been worked with as opposed to being fought against. The Cornell University has some researchers who now agree. The concern in the past has been whether livestock would cause trampling damage, but this can be solved using salt licks and fencing and by hands on herding. The idea here is not leaving the domestic animals to their own, but actually living with and managing them. Landowners with young conifers should keep cattle out for the first five years. But once the trees are shoulder height to a steer, it’s not really much of an issue.
Success Stories Where Biomimicry Has Worked 
Image from Jim Priest 2013

The photo above could well illustrate how Yosemite Valley could and should have been maintained all these past decades without the prevailing secular dogma in demonization of forest thinning and cattle grazing as the natural world's enemy. This photograph was taken by ranch foreman Jim Priest of the RV Ranch Company which is west of Helena, Montana. This fence line separates National Forest lands and RV Ranch Property. According to Jim Priest's own words, the land on the right has been selectively logged for over 100 years. This means there were zero clearcut strategies used in their management, something the environmentalists abhor. But it has also been hands on intensively grazed and managed, which means cattle were not left to their own device, but rather they were hands on managed and moved regularly. You should also note the land on the left hand side of the fence line. This is National Forest land and has taken a mandated hands off approach in letting nature take care of itself. Unfortunately Nature is no longer a well oiled complete biological machine it once was for countless millennia. Numerous parts and components are missing. It doesn't take a man of credentialed genius to understand which side is healthier. In fact all it takes is common sense. Sadly, human governments, academic institutions, and environmental organizations tend to blunder along blindly, failing to adapt to the changing new challenges in the ecological circumstances until they plunge themselves and nature further into catastrophe or their own management practices become outdated. Still with the success stories coming to the surface more and more from private land owners who responsibly know what they are doing, one wonders if government protected and eco-activist run National Parks and their mandated (don't touch - hands off - let it burn) approach to Wilderness areas aren't missing out on something positive and wonderful. Using domestic animals with a hands on well managed approach could be an answer if those with a vested political interest against such practices would just stay out of the way. Clearly there is a way to both save and make money all at the same time here. What would Yosemite look like today with such a management approach ? There's clearly a need for change.
Some important ranching and forest maintenance references
Workshop to help forest owners with livestock grazing
Cornell Cooperative Extension educators suggest grazing cows, sheep, ducks in forests
Read the References on stories about what's happening not only with Yosemite Valley, but also the whole of  California 😔
Image from Fresno Bee
Whats Up With Yosemite's Trees ???
 What about all those Industrial Corporate Outdoor Recreational Companies, can they help rescue Nature ? 😟

Well, don't count on it. Like other big global business interests, they will lobby and donate to the right political & environmental non-profit entities to influence things like designating newer National Parks, Preserves, etc where under the guise of saving nature and species biodiversity, they have development plans of their own regarding opportunities to cash in on the concessions and other outdoors equipment business model schemes. The reality with them is it's not so much as preserving as it is in promoting. Remember all those Chevron "Do people really care?" commercials from the 70s & 80s ? Somehow the conventional corporate entities like oil or mining companies are labeled evil and greedy, but not so the eco-activist approved outdoorsey corporations (Patagonia, North Face, Black Diamond, etc). Most of today's outdoor corporations that sell themselves as pro-environmental have cleverly sugar-coated their business model as something they're really not. It will still always be about the MONIE$ with nature being the crutch to lean on and in the end nature & people will still get the shaft. 😕
Important note on Yosemite & potential for wildfires. Interesting read about an instagrammer looking for fame by lighting fires within Yosemite for social media fame:
KCET: Epic, Yet Illegal: Famous Yosemite Instagrammer Pleads Guilty in Federal Court