Saturday, June 14, 2014

Chile Scraps Huge Patagonia Dam Project

Chile Scraps Huge Patagonia Dam Project After Years of Controversy

By Brian Clark Howard

Chile's government canceled a controversial plan for five dams on two of Patagonia's wildest rivers Tuesday, after an eight-year battle between environmentalists and developers.

Chile's Committee of Ministers overturned the environmental permits for the HidroAysén project, which would have put dams on the Baker and Pascua Rivers, flooding 5,900 hectares of land in order to generate hydroelectric power.

The committee had previously approved the permits in 2011, but has faced strong public opposition to the plan inside Chile and from the international environmental community. (See related blog post: "A Battle Over the Quest to Tap Patagonia's Rivers for Energy.")

"Patagonia's rugged and varied wilderness is truly an environmental treasure," Amanda Maxwell, Latin America project director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.

"These giant dams would have put at risk the wilderness, traditional culture, and local tourism economy of this remarkable region."

Patricio Rodrigo, executive secretary of the Patagonia Defense Council, a coalition of nearly 70 Chilean and international organizations, said in a statement: "The government's definitive rejection of the HidroAysén project is not only the greatest triumph of the environmental movement in Chile, but marks a turning point, where an empowered public demands to be heard and to participate in the decisions that affect their environment and lives."


Incredible news and a great victory for the environment and Chile. The region of Patagonia is one of the most beautiful on Earth. Though some will argue that hydroelectric dams are renewable energy that is actually not the case.

Ten Things You Should Know About Dams

It is so gratifying to see people coming together for a good cause and actually winning. That seems to be a rarity these days.

The proliferation of mega-dams has been a blight on agriculture, culture and the rivers themselves. Construction companies in collusion with governments reap the rewards while the poor also suffer loss of homeland, farmland and are many times not the recipients of the energy being generated as it is outsourced to richer communities. There are other ways to generate renewable energy for a country the size of Chile that do not require destroying its beauty. Sources mentioned in the article are all viable however, reading that Chile may now seek to import natural gas is not a good thing. Why stand up so firmly to stop this dam and then revert to importing an energy source that also pollutes water and destroys land as well as contributing to climate change? I truly hope the government reconsiders this option and sticks to truly renewable sources, particularly as we see Patagonian glaciers receding rapidly. Also, be vigilant. The powerful interests do not give up easily.

This is just one glacier. The report linked above sites 90% have retreated rapidly between 2000-2011.

Also to end, this is not only about climate change and searching for a source to satisfy our lust for energy for ourselves. This is about a spiritual connection to the Earth that transcends the petty squabbles of humans. We must learn to never lose that connection we have to Earth. If we do videos like this will no longer be possible and we will have lost the greatest gift we have ever known.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Deadly Starfish Disease Explodes On Oregon Coast/With Addition

Northern rainbow star afflicted with sea star wasting disease. This species had virtually disappeared from central California kelp forests as of February 2014. Photo: Steve Lonhart / NOAA MBNMS

Deadly starfish disease explodes on Oregon coast



A mysterious disease that causes sea stars to disintegrate is exploding on the Oregon Coast.

Oregon State University marine ecologist Kristen Milligan said Wednesday that Oregon was largely spared last year as the disease known as sea star wasting syndrome spread in California, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska.

But monitoring of tide pools along much of the coast shows the number of sea stars affected has jumped from just 1 percent in April to as high as 50 percent. The greatest concentration is at Fogarty Creek north of Depoe Bay. One was found as far north as Seaside.

"This is an unprecedented event," Bruce Menge, a professor of marine biology at OSU, said in a statement. "It's very serious. Some of the sea stars most heavily affected are keystone predators that influence the whole diversity of life in the intertidal zone."

End of excerpt.

Also see:

Sanctuaries Without Stars

By Liz Liang

If you've ever been diving, kayaking or exploring tide pools along the U.S. West Coast, you've probably seen colorful sea stars clinging to the sides of rocks and pilings. That sight has become less and less common in national marine sanctuaries along the Pacific Coast in recent months, as a mysterious illness has laid waste to entire populations of sea stars from Mexico to Alaska.

Beginning as early as June 2013, sea stars along the entire Pacific coast began dying from what has become known as “sea star wasting syndrome,” or “S3.” The ailment, which affects over a dozen species of sea stars in a variety of ocean landscapes, is a gruesome way to go. Symptoms include a deflated appearance, white lesions and twisted arms, followed by softening tissue, loss of arms, and death. The disease progresses rapidly, often killing its victims within a matter of days.

Dr. Steve Lonhart, senior scientist for the Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network (SIMoN) at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, said he had seen something similar happen to sea stars in Southern California in the early ’90s, but nothing on this scale.

“I was surprised to see not only how many individual sea stars were dying, but also how many different species,” Lonhart said. “Later, when I learned the entire western U.S. was actually affected — that was very shocking.”

End of excerpt


In reading about this tragedy I was struck by the amount of such "mysterious" events happening to marine life and humans simultaneously. I recently reported on the spike in birth defects in three counties in Washington State with which health officials are also "baffled" as to the cause. However, there are also die off events beyond the natural also occurring on the East Coast. A large die off recently occurred in Belmar, NJ as well as here and here. The cause is being attributed to "possible" oxygen depletion. It is normal to have die offs in nature due to oxygen depletion and other causes. However, again, the frequency and severity of these events are increasing and to me it is simply disingenuous to state that we do not know at all what could be the cause or enabler of these events.

Matter of fact, the intensity of these events has been increasing over the last three plus years worldwide as we see ocean temperatures rising due to climate destruction (with reports that mercury emissions climb with Arctic sea ice loss, nitrogen fertilizer/pesticide use/oil pollution increasing which also includes the BP ecocide that dumped 1.8 MILLION gallons of toxic Corexit into the Gulf which had access to the Current loop, transgenic contamination from GM crops, Fukushima and also methane emissions increasing from fracking. This link (which is a listing of events just from the month of May which I'm posting here for informational purposes only) recounts events just from the past month this year. I find it mindboggling that scientists and others are so "baffled" as to why our oceans are dying! Is it really that hard to connect the dots or is there more to this?

This also isn't only happening to marine life. Bees, frogs, monarch butterflies, moose and other species all decreasing rapidly in numbers. There may well be natural causes to this but at this time there is no doubt to me that human induced amplifiers including anthropogenic climate change have pushed our entire earth processes to the breaking point. We are killing the very life support systems we and other species cannot live without. We are killing our water and in turn it is now going up the food chain. Do we truly think we are exempt from its effects?

I can't wrap my head around the absolute apathy to the suffering of other species by so many. To even watch this disease wasting away a starfish to the point it is suffering so much it rips itself apart to just end it...What will our response be when it reaches us? Yesterday was World Oceans Day. I think every day should be World Oceans Day, Earth Day, Environment Day and an all around Give A Damn Day. We are failing our own species by failing all others.

Also see:

Ocean Acidity Is Dissolving Shells Of Tiny Snails Off U.S. West Coast

The Oceans Warmed Up Sharply in 2013

TEPCO Withheld Fukushima Radioactive Water Measurements For 6 Months

The Ocean Is Broken

Arctic Ocean Leaking Methane At Alarming Rate

Thousands Of Starfish Melting On the Ocean Floor Off Pacific West Coast

Oceans In Critical State From Cumulative Impacts


Methane Cycle In Atmosphere

I also think it is necessary to add this link. We really do not know for certain how these current abrupt climate shifts are affecting other cycles in our atmosphere. Reading about the methane cycle in our atmosphere it makes me wonder if due to changes in the hydrologic cycle brought on by climate destruction if other cycles such as the methane cycle are also being detrimentally affected thus amplifying these events. If you read the link above you will see that methane oxidizes first to formaldehyde, then carbon monoxide and finally carbon dioxide. An overabundance of methane in our atmosphere affected by a changing hydrologic cycle and an exponential increase in CO2 with time lag effects does what exactly? Formaldehyde then oxidizes in our atmosphere through dissolution in rainwater. However, we are seeing in many places radical changes in the hydrologic cycle due to AGW and less rainfall in certain parts of the world while others are receiving more rain. How this imbalance then affects the dissolution of formaldehyde in our atmosphere and where it ultimately falls may be an indicator.

As I have posted here several times previously, methane emissions in the Arctic have also been off the charts with it escaping though cracks in the melting ice and permafrost. This combined with expanded use of fracking and releases of methane from thousands of oil wells under our oceans that are affected by under sea quakes, cracked casings, etc. can all be culminating into one perfect storm. We are continually releasing chemicals, pollutants, etc. into our atmosphere and our waterways without any regard for the biocumulative effects of these compounds down the line. We are I do believe now seeing those effects and we need to start understanding that our footprint upon this earth has gone beyond what can be sustainably managed. The question is, is it beyond the time when understanding will save us?

Also see:

Abandoned Oil Wells Spouting Significant Levels of Methane, Study Finds

Another World Water Day Gone

We see another World Water Day pass us by. The theme, Water For All, signifies that though some progress has been made we are woefully behin...