Wednesday, January 16, 2008

George Bush vs. Marine Mammals

image by Alessio Marrucci; GNU FDL

Earlier this month, a district judge ruled that the Navy had to stop using powerful sonar in training missions in Southern California waters unless the Navy used the sonar more than 12 miles off the coast and adopted other measures to lessen the effect on whales and dolphins. The powerful sonar blasts used by the Navy were deafening whales and dolphins, resulting in the animals losing the ability to navigate, ending up beached, and death:
In her rulings, [Judge] Cooper has said she tried to balance national security needs with environmental protections -- specifically those to prevent unnecessary harm to whales and dolphins from mid-frequency active sonar. That's the type the Navy uses to detect quiet diesel-electric submarines.

She has cited scientific studies linking U.S. and NATO warships' use of sonar to the deaths and injuries of beaked whales and other marine mammals. She also has reiterated the Navy's own predictions that the upcoming exercises off Southern California "will cause widespread harm to nearly 30 species of marine mammals."

In response to the Judge's ruling, President Bush decided to step in and offer some kind of "waiver" to the Navy; it's unclear whether he has any grounds to do this.

Meanwhile, some of you may wonder what it is that these sonar blasts into the oceans are for; they're to help protect us from quiet diesel-electric submarines off our shores sent there by all those countries that want to attack us and start a war with the United States.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Pulling Back

Image: Hannes Grobe 21:51, 12 August 2006 (UTC), Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany - Creative Commons License

A large construction project in the high desert outside L.A. is put on hold because builders cannot guarantee that there will be enough water for the development. This feels like the beginnings of a settling in of the realization that Greater Los Angeles cannot simply continue to ooze endlessly into the desert. With the drought on the Colorado River, in the snow packs of the Sierras, and the Delta Smelt ruling, Southern California will be forcing more of these hard choices in the future.

Meanwhile, in Antarctica, a new study finds that the western Antarctic ice sheet is melting at a rapidly accelerating rate:
[T]he new study is the first to show that this loss is accelerating, at least in western Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula, the researchers say.

"In all the ice sheet models we have at present for Antarctica, things happen very slowly," Bamber said.

"[But] we're seeing things happen rather quickly."

They found that for Antarctica overall, ice loss increased about 75 percent over the ten-year period, from 112 gigatons of ice per year in 1996 to 196 gigatons of ice per year in 2006.
Too little water, too much water.