Saturday, September 22, 2007

Everything Changes



Blue whales keep showing up dead off the California coast. A dead blue whale was found floating off of Santa Barbara yesterday. This brings the count to three dead blue whales that have been found in the past two weeks. The usual body count is one dead blue whale found per year. It's a murder mystery out of Raymond Chandler.
A blue whale that washed ashore in Ventura County last week and one found dead in Long Beach Harbor two weeks ago both are believed to have been hit by ships, but it isn't known if the whales were slowed or disoriented by illness.

"If they're all being hit by ships, you have to wonder whether they're compromised in the first place," said Mate, director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University. Scientists want to know whether domoic acid played a part. The highly toxic substance, created by bacteria found in algae blooms, can virtually paralyze marine mammals and has killed dolphins and sea lions in the channel.
LA Times.

The algae blooms that produce the debilitating domoic acid are likely to have been expanded due to human behavior. Specifically, sewage release into the ocean increases the amounts of nutrients available for the algae to feed on; climate change may also help increase the algae blooms. Some believe that the whale deaths may be related to suspected changes in the whales' migratory patterns, which in turn have been affected by climate change. There is also the possibility that the dead whales' sonar abilities were damaged by massive underwater military sonar discharges utilized by the U.S. Navy. A Naval base in San Diego uses the damaging sonar blasts, right into the blue whale's migratory path.

Here's hoping that time travel thing of getting to warp 10 by boomeranging around the sun actually works.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Gifts from the Sky



Still waiting for the rain we were promised. Although, reports say there's a chance of thunderstorms tomorrow. That's exciting. In Peru, they're worried about heavier weather
Townsfolk in this desolate, high-plains hamlet not far from Lake Tititaca and the Bolivian border received the shock of their lives -- a meteorite that struck nearby with a thunderous bang just before noon Saturday, leaving a deep crater, an acrid smell and terrified villagers and livestock. . . .

"Even before it fell, there was a strong sound, like an airplane," said Marina Llanqui Mamani, 53. "And when it hit, it felt like an earthquake. Everyone was terrified. Even my animals were running all around in fear. Then there was a loud noise and a lot of smoke."

The pungent odor, experts say, could have been caused when the crashing object fused with such elements as sulfur in the soil.
LA Times.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

L.A. Needs a Time Out

The L.A. Daily News reports on Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine's impertinent question: should L.A. continue to madly develop if there's not enough water to flow into all those new development double-showers, jacuzzis, and lap pools?

What are those big gray puffy things in the sky?

The weather weirdness continues here in Southern California. It's September, and we're about to get our first winter storm, which is either wildly late or wildly early, depending on how you look at it:
A storm moving toward the Southland from British Columbia is bringing unseasonably cold temperatures, snow at high elevations and the first rain in Los Angeles in about 150 days.

Meteorologists say it is the Southland's first winter storm, arriving months ahead of schedule and sending temperatures eight to 15 degrees below normal. . . .

The last measurable rain was April 22, Lindaman said.
LA Times (emphasis added). Either way, this is very exciting. I have the windows open and I can feel the storm coming: the air is cooler, the trees are swaying in a steady breeze that seems to be building, the clouds are gathering, and, for the first time in a very long time, I can't see the sun.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Less Oil is More (Expensive)


oil rigs in Los Angeles in 1896

The price of crude oil is up 33% from a year ago. This is bad news for L.A. drivers. But the Fed cut the interest rate. Which is maybe good news for L.A. homeowners and buyers. But the cut in the interest rate also helps drive up the price of oil. Which is probably bad news for L.A. drivers. Etc.

Perhaps a recession would be a good thing for the U.S. (and for L.A.)?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Guns or Butter: Gas or Twinkies


photo courtesy of chanchow

Drought and bad weather across the globe in combination with the ethanol wave are driving the cost of wheat to historic highs. I saw a strange billboard today driving home from the West Side: it showed a field of grass or some other type of plants, with a blue sky above. The only words on the sign were in green, centered in the blue sky, and read "gas station". Turning agriculture into fuel is not going to be without its serious costs. Eventually we will all, even here in L.A., have to drive less. Or maybe eat less.

Update: The NY Times basically says the same thing.