Ruth Hopkins Sums Up.

Putting Oil CEO Kelcy Warren on a Parks & Wildlife Board is ludicrous. Its like giving Darth Vader a spot on the Jedi Council.”

Yep. Who better to be a steward of wild spaces? Think Progress has the full story.

Climate Change, Now A Witch Hunt!

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has come to Exxon’s defense — again. AP Photo/Eric Gay, File.

Climate change, why it’s a witch hunt, it is, for real and true! What this is actually about is protecting Exxon, with republicans going full court testerical over the issue, claiming the usual excuse, freeze peach.

Citing Exxon Mobil’s right to “free speech,” 11 state attorneys general — all Republicans — filed in court this week to stop an investigation into the oil and gas giant’s decades-long history of climate denial.

The attorneys general — from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin — filed a brief to support Exxon’s request to stop the so-called “Exxon Knew” investigation, arguing that there is a “public policy debate” over climate change and that the investigation is an “unconstitutional abuse” of power.

“The Constitution was written to protect citizens from government witch-hunts such as this one, where officials use their authority and the threat of criminal prosecution to try and suppress speech on a viewpoint they disagree with,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement.

This isn’t the first time Texas has intervened in the investigation on behalf of the state’s largest company. Paxton and his counterpart from Arkansas filed on behalf of Exxon in May of last year when it challenged a Virgin Islands subpoena. Paxton has said the investigations are “ridiculous.”

Think Progress has the full story.

Also see:

The Earth just passed another carbon threshold.

Climate change will fuel terrorism, report warns.

Dow Chemical gave $1 million to Trump’s inauguration, now wants pesticide risk study buried.

Apocalyptic Vision: The Cultured He-Man and Survival Bros.

Valentino says he lives for months at a time in the woods. But he also likes art galleries and classical music. (Joe Riedl).

The doomsday prepper business is booming in Oregon, as well as other places. Willamette Week has a look at some of the apocalyptic entrepreneurs, from Valentino to a professional cuddler Survival Bro, to wealthy conservatives getting even wealthier in the apocalypse business. There’s a great deal of unintentional hilarity in the article, as well as the blatant fearmongering of the wealthier side of this business, so I recommend reading the whole thing.

…This is, after all, his business. For $190, he will take you up on the mountain for an “immersive, advanced survival training” course. His target market: “preppers”—a term commonly used to describe people obsessed with surviving cataclysmic societal collapse.

It’s a booming market.

“This is in vogue,” Valentino says.

[…]

Schlepping his packs on a plastic sled, Valentino leads a photographer and me over the snowy trail away from the parking lot at Barlow Pass Sno Park.

Partway up the trail, he remembers: “Oh! Safety.” He proceeds to explain all that could go wrong.

Mount Hood could explode. There could be an earthquake—he felt several tremors last year. Cougars could pounce from trees and eat our kidneys. We could disappear in a snow-covered pit. We could be impaled by a tree. Assuming good cellular service, help is two hours away.

Later, he remembers another thing. “I forgot,” he says. “Today there is avalanche warning.”

[…]

In the event of a catastrophe, Valentino says, Mount Hood will be no refuge. He expects it will be overrun with poorly trained, overconfident, trigger-happy preppers—more dangerous than in the city, where at least one could still find food and shelter.

“Let’s talk about shit hit the fan,” Valentino says. “People will not survive in the woods. They can’t. Something will happen. The cold will take them down. Or their own brain will take them down. And what if people have children?”

When the big shocks come, you won’t catch this mountain man running for the hills. Instead, he says, he’ll be in the city, helping others.

[…]

From a home base in Clatsop County, Ore., Cameron McKirdy runs a YouTube channel and website, survivalbros.com.

The site bills itself as “more than an emergency preparedness blog”: It’s also a “strong community” and an “alternative news” source (think conspiracy king Alex Jones). With his infotainment brand, McKirdy markets himself to millennials as a high-protein, fluoride-free guide to scraping by in the dystopian chaos.

[…]

McKirdy, 33, grew up in Seaside and attended the University of Oregon. He started taking survivalism seriously after a 2011 tsunami warning.

Like many people his age, he’s juggling multiple gigs. He was an announcer at mixed martial arts fights, but now he’s an on-call professional cuddler with Portland business Cuddle Up to Me, offering platonic embraces for $1 a minute.

McKirdy also works retail at a nutrition store, which confers a discount on the protein powders that compose much of his diet. Sometimes he wins cash prizes in eating competitions, and he makes about $100 a month from ads on his Survival Bros YouTube channel, which has roughly 6,000 subscribers.

[…]

Since McKirdy’s method amounts to small-time grifting, I ask what the difference is between being a Survival Bro and a hobo. “I prioritize self-care and hygiene,” he replies.

[…]

From their $844,000 home in Portland’s West Hills, David and Beth Pruett travel the country selling homemade first-aid kits and teaching informal classes about emergency medicine.

Since living through the San Francisco earthquake in 1989, the Pruetts have stockpiled supplies, made checklists and practiced for the next disaster. David is a U.S. Navy veteran and an emergency medicine doctor at Oregon Health & Science University.

In 2011, David designed a compact, individual first-aid kit, the iFak, which is short for “individual first-aid kit” and stocked with medicines, bandages, implements and adhesives. Soon the couple turned their hobby into a preparedness business and blog, amp-3.net, which Beth runs from home, selling iFaks, radio gear, books like The Survival Nurse and Modern Weapons Caching, and some self-produced instructional DVDs. In 2015, Beth says, Amp-3 topped $140,000 in sales.

They get a lot of online sales, but it’s more effective to go where the customers are: prepper conventions.

The full story is here.

National Parks: WPA to 2050.

What America’s National Parks will look like by 2050 if we fail to act against climate change.

Hannah Rothstein has taken some of the iconic WPA (Works Progress Administration) National Parks Posters, from 1938 to 1941, and updated them to 2050 and a catastrophic future if we do not act on climate change. It’s a striking and effective way to get the message across, because the art and legacy of these posters is so well known, and they are beloved by many people. The WPA posters were a message and invitation to weary, beaten down people dealing with the Depression, that there were wonders, come and see! They were a promise of hope, of a better future. Now we have too many people who are actively denying climate change, or apathetic about it, little realizing that yes, it will most certainly impact them, and not in a good way. These re-worked posters are as brilliant as the originals, reminding people that if we choose to not act, we are inviting the harbingers of doom. These are a call to action, and I hope they start popping up all over the place.

You can see all of the posters, and purchase an original or fine art print here.

Via Raw Story.

Dakota Access Allowed to Keep Risks Secret.

© Marty Two Bulls.

It’s not enough that the pipeline went through, and once again, drinking water is threatened (which is fine, of course, because Indians), but ETP can now keep risk information to themselves. Just keeps getting worse. And to those people who think they are helping through vandalism? You aren’t, so fucking stop it.

Despite concerns that the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline could threaten the primary source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux, a federal judge ruled that the pipeline’s developer can keep some information about spill risks secret from the public.

The ruling — which would permit Energy Transfer Partners, the developer of the pipeline, to keep information about spill risks at certain points along the pipeline shielded from the public — comes after unknown protesters used a torch to burn holes in empty above-ground segments of the pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes had argued that information about spill risks could potentially strengthen their case for more environmental review of the project.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg rejected that argument, saying that shielding the information from public view would prevent vandalism of the pipeline.

“The asserted interest in limiting intentionally inflicted harm outweighs the tribes’ generalized interests in public disclosure and scrutiny,” Boasberg said in his ruling.

[…]

Pipeline spills in North Dakota are not uncommon — according to analysis from the Center for Biological Diversity, North Dakota has averaged four pipeline spills a year since 1996, costing more than $40 million in property damage.

Under the Trump administration’s proposed budget, the Environmental Protection Agency would face sharp cuts in its enforcement programs, limiting its ability to enforce and penalize companies that violate environmental laws. When pipeline operators, for instance, violate laws like the Clean Water Act by spilling pollutants into waterways, the EPA is normally the agency that imposes fines on those operators. Last week, for instance, the EPA and the Department of Justice issued a fine against a pipeline operator in Ohio that violated the Clean Water Act by discharging approximately 1,950 barrels of gasoline from a pipeline into nearby waterways.

Think Progress has the full story.

The Edinburgh Remakery.

Here’s a grand undertaking, and one desperately needed all over the place. We have become so accustomed to living in a consumer driven throwaway manner, and even when people want to be thrifty, or would prefer to fix something, there’s often no option to do so.

The Edinburgh Remakery is a social enterprise that teaches repair. The shop sells refurbished computers and furniture, and hosts workshops where people can come along and learn how to repair their own things. There’s a big vision behind it: “we want to generate a repair revolution. This means changing the way people use and dispose of resources, encouraging manufacturers to build things to last and to be fixable, and making sure the facilities are in place to allow people to repair and reuse.”

Films for Action has the full story.

“ I feel it’s important to have hydrocarbons equally represented.”

CREDIT: Independence Institute.

I, uh, uh, oh gods, there’s so much wrong here, that it … oh, wrong, wrong, wrong. Along with the wrong, the co-opting of phrases expressing specific concepts has been turned into a rotten, fermenting word salad crawling with maggots. I, oh. I sincerely hope that no artists participate in this travesty.

One thing Earth Day celebrations have been lacking is a recognition of fossil fuels — at least according to the Independence Institute, a self-described “action tank” based in Colorado that receives funding from a litany of prominent conservative dark money groups.

“Enviros celebrate by planting trees but they never celebrate the trucks that deliver the trees, or the gas that powers that truck, or the plastic handles of the shovels they use,” an email from the organization reads. “Shouldn’t Mother Earth be thanked for making Earth Day events possible?”

Budding artists are encouraged to send their original works in by April 21 with the main requirement that it “should showcase the awesomeness of fossil fuels.”

I can’t even. Just can’t. Think Progress has a full breakdown on the monies backing this monstrous reality denial.

Amy Cooke, executive vice president and director of the Energy Policy Center at the Independence Institute, has been critical of Colorado’s renewable energy standard, arguing that clean energy sources should be expanded to include clean coal, natural gas, hydroelectric power, and nuclear. Late last year, Cooke was named to the Trump administration’s EPA “landing team,” and wrote of her excitement for the future of the EPA under Trump and Administrator Scott Pruitt (both have been clear about their intent to cripple the agency, slashing its budget and immediately gutting policies to fight climate change).

Cooke told ThinkProgress that the organization’s fossil fuels art contest is rooted in inclusivity. “Fossil fuels seem to get left out of the Earth Day celebration,” she said via email. “As an energy feminist — pro-choice in energy sources — I feel it’s important to have hydrocarbons equally represented.”

Fossil fuels get left out of Earth Day celebrations because they have a lot to do with destroying the earth, habitats, species, poisoning water and so forth, you godsawful excuse for a person. “Energy feminist.” “Pro-choice in energy sources.” Okay, I have to get past my overwhelming desire to smack her.

In regard to Independence Institute’s donors — and their history of working against climate action — Cooke avoided specifics. “In general, people and organizations support us because of the work we do including being energy agnostic,” she said. “We encourage innovation instead of over regulation. It’s actually kind of liberating because we aren’t boxed in by an either-or cynical choice paradigm.”

“Energy agnostic”. Uh huh. Oh you’re boxed in, alright – all you want is destruction. Jesus Fuck.

Full story at Think Progress.

Sunday Facepalm: The Problem with Syrian Kids.

When I posted about the illegal strike on Syria, I made a strong point about the Tiny Tyrant’s hypocrisy in claiming to care about Syrian children. He did not, and does not care about those children in the least. While campaigning, he compared Syrian people to venomous snakes, and Syrian people are high on his ban list. Nikki Haley has now come out and stated the real problem with those “beautiful babies” who happen to by Syrian – they come with parents. Oh my!

Following President Donald Trump’s military attack on Syria for the use of chemical weapons, CNN host Jake Tapper asked Haley why the administration was opposed to taking in refugees when “beautiful babies” were being “slaughtered.”

“Why not allow Syrian refugees who are children and maybe their mothers to come in after they’ve been vetted,” Tapper wondered.

Haley argued that President Trump “very much believes in the responsibility of keeping Americans safe.”

[…]

Tapper pressed: “But certainly you don’t think Syrian children pose a risk to the American people.”

“Well, Syrian children have to come with Syrian adults,” Haley replied. “And you don’t know, it’s hard to know based on the vetting process. And that’s unfortunate that we can’t find that out.”

[…]

“At the end of the day we need to remember that Syrians don’t want to live somewhere else. They want to be home. They want to be with their family. They want to be with their loved ones. And that’s the focus of why the airstrike happened this week.”

Right. An airstrike which did not do one fucking thing, outside of being a cynical ploy to shore up abysmal ratings, the only thing the Tiny Tyrant cares about. He certainly does not care about anyone’s children, outside of his own. I do imagine most people would prefer to stay in the land of their birth, however, war and climate change are making that impossible for way too many people. Since Little Donnie doesn’t want to actually help any of those brown babies with adults attached, perhaps he could go big picture, and focus on making a difference regarding climate. Oh, wait. Yes, he’s already done that one, hasn’t he? Rolled us right back by about 45, 50 years, hellbent on accelerating the nauseous mess uStates is about to become. Got it.

Via Raw Story.

Cool Stuff Friday.

spirited

Spirited Away. Chihiro eats an onigiri.

If you’ve never been to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, out in the Western suburbs of Tokyo, now would be a good time to plan your trip. The museum is planning an upcoming, year-long special exhibition that will focus on the many food-related scenes from all of Studio Ghibli films.

Meals and food play an incredibly important role in almost every Studio Ghibli film. In Laputa, Pazu splits his egg on bread in half and shares it with Sheeta. By doing so, the two become closer. In Spirited Away, Chihiro eats an onigiri and gains the courage to face her uphill struggle. In Howl’s Moving Castle, the characters become like family when they surround a dinner table over a meal of eggs and bacon.

Taberu wo kaku (which roughly translates to Drawing Eating) begins May 27, 2017 and will be on view through May 2018 so you’ll have plenty of time to see it. The exhibition will be largely separated into 2 sections – one on eating and one on cooking – and will detail the many ways Studio Ghibli animators brought their foods to life.

Via Spoon & Tamago.

Designer Mark Noad.

Designer Mark Noad.

The triggering of Article 50 last week means that Brexit is a certainty – and that the UK will need a new passport. Luckily last week also saw the judging for our unofficial Brexit passport design competition… here is a look at the nine proposals shortlisted by our judges.

We received over 200 entries from 34 different countries. The youngest entrant was 12 years old and the oldest was 83. Most submissions were from architects and designers but there were also entries from non-designers, students, retired people and unemployed people. Below are the nine designs that most impressed our judges ahead of the announcement of the winner on 11 April: [Click on over to see all the finalists, or watch the video below.]

Images are by Achilleas Souras and Alessandro Paderni.

Images are by Achilleas Souras and Alessandro Paderni.

Images are by Achilleas Souras and Alessandro Paderni.

Images are by Achilleas Souras and Alessandro Paderni.

Artist Achilleas Souras used hundreds of discarded life jackets to assemble an igloo for Moroso’s SOS Save Our Souls installation at Milan design week.

The 16-year-old, who has already shown a similar igloo at the Maritime Museum of Barcelona, used jackets collected from the shores of Lesbos – the Greek island that has become a regular landing place for refugees entering Europe.

While his first igloo used 52 jackets, his SOS Save Our Souls structure is made from 1,000 abandoned garments. Souras cut and folded the jackets to resemble blocks of ice before assembling them together.

The resulting waterproof structure is intended as both a shelter and a welcome point for arriving migrants.

“The refugee crisis was simply a set of numbers on the news,” said the artist, who was born in London and now resides in Barcelona.

“But when I picked a jacket up, it stopped being just material. When you hold the jacket in your hand and you smell the sea, you look at things through a different prism and you realise that every jacket represents a human life.”

“The refugees, the homeless, and the less privileged cannot be ‘out of sight, out of mind’ anymore,” added Souras, who hopes his igloos could eventually be used in rescue operations.

“These are global issues that affect us all, and we must try to solve them for everyone’s sake.”

You can see much more here.

The National Park Stunt.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, right, holds up a check during the daily briefing with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, left, and Harpers Ferry National Historic Park Superintendent Tyrone Brandyburg. CREDIT: AP Photo/Susan Walsh.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, right, holds up a check during the daily briefing with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, left, and Harpers Ferry National Historic Park Superintendent Tyrone Brandyburg. CREDIT: AP Photo/Susan Walsh.

First, another photo distraction. Look at Zinke eyeballing that check – he looks like he’s about to lunge, grab it and run. The National Park stunt, it’s bullshit, so don’t swallow it. The Tiny Tyrant needed a distraction from the set of Damocle’s Swords hanging over his head, so this little stunt was staged. And it is quite little – $78,333 to the National Park Service. Given that his ideal budget strips the NPS, among many others, this is an empty gesture, and worse. Neither Trump nor Zinke give one tiny squirtle of a shit for land. They are both in favour of more pipelines, poisoned water, coal mining, strip mining, fracking, drilling for oil in protected reserves, and wholesale pollution. This tiny little check of a photo op is toxic bullshit of the highest order. While the Tiny Tyrant could not possibly care less about caring for our planet, there is one thing he sorta kinda cares about, battlefields. Yep. So incredibly important to maintain historic battlefields! What’s more important than the reminders of bloody slaughters?

…And as far as his donation, it falls well short of the cuts Trump himself would impose on the National Park Service’s supervising agency, the Interior Department.

Trump’s budget calls for a punishing 12 percent cut to the department, which manages the United States’ public lands. It would eliminate some of the department’s programs altogether, including the $13.2 million National Wildlife Refuge Fund and the $20 million funding for the nation’s 49 National Heritage Areas. It would also decrease funding for land acquisition — such as land that would be added to the nation’s national parks, and then stewarded by the NPS — by $120 million.

Zinke, in his remarks thanking the president, said he would put the money towards the department’s $229 million shortfall in maintenance of the United States’ historic battlefields. According to Spicer, Trump chose to give the money to the NPS himself, specifically because he was interested in restoring the battlegrounds.

“It’s a decision he made. Counsel presented him with several options. He believed… some great work is being done there, especially work being done to restore our great battlegrounds,” Spicer said.

Right. Fuck you, Trump. Think Progress has the full story.

Killing Ourselves Harshly.

(Brian Gratwicke, Fickr).

(Brian Gratwicke, Fickr).

That is a Striped Blenny, a popular aquarium fish. Also known as a Fang Blenny. There are a number of different types, and they have exploded into a different kind of popularity, outside of aquarist circles. Blennies defend themselves with a venomous bite. The venom doesn’t kill, but it does get the potential predator woozed out on opiones, so the Blenny can make a quick get away. The venom has intrigued medical researchers, particularly those who want to come up with a painkiller which actually works, and doesn’t have such heavy addiction potential. Sounds good so far, right? There’s something of a problem though – the natural home of Blennies is The Great Barrier Reef, which is dying an all too rapid death from bleaching. This is a reminder of just how little we actually know of our planet, or of all the potential benefits to ourselves are out there, right now, but we’re very busy killing off so many different types of habitats, we are killing ourselves.

So the fang blenny’s potential isn’t just blue-sky thinking; there’s a very real and somewhat straight path for studying this opioid to make it useable as a pharmaceutical.

The number one hurdle is the health of the Great Barrier Reef, where these fish live. There’s an immense amount of unknown diversity in ecosystems around the world disappearing at unprecedented rates due to climate change, and the GBR is fragile among these. Current policies of both the Australian and American governments don’t bode well for slowing climate change and preserving nature to its full potential to help us.

Here’s the key thing: a better opioid is worth tens of billions of dollars. The best source of inspiration for new pharmaceuticals is nature, and that’s what we are destroying for a few million or even hundred million in the short term.

The reality is that the economic argument for conservation vastly outweighs the economic argument for destruction.The fang benny populations are declining as the reef gets bleached and destroyed, and with it goes millions of years of perfecting potentially life-savings drugs for our use.

Full story here.

Also see: Putin thinks Russia will benefit from climate change and communities will ‘adjust’.