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Things To Worry About:
Earth's Biosphere

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Natural Farming Dept.

Pipelines & Fracking Dept.

Mountaintop Removal Mining

Water Dept.

news items

"To paraphrase the Christian Bible (Matthew 16): For what is a man profited if he shall make beaucoup bucks
while transforming the planet into a cesspool."  — G.E. Nordell

Union of Concerned Scientists re global warming
American Forests [est. 1875]
       Save The Redwoods League [est. 1918]       
SafeClimate        Grist: A Beacon In The Smog weblog [est. 1999]
Eco Timber flooring [est. 1992]
       Lester Brown's Earth Policy Institute [est. 2001] based in Washington, DC

Center for EcoLiteracy [est.1995]        Plant a tree!        Earthweek: A Diary of The Planet - ecological news site [est. 1988]

envirofinder search engine
U.S. Forest Circus {satirical website}
Clean Beaches Council [est. 1998]
Basel Action Network - against 'Toxic Trade'
W.W.F. Intl. Conference on Climate Change [Nov-Dec 2005] in Montreal, PQ Canada
'The Bush Record on the Environment' at N.R.D.C.
"An Evangelical Declaration On The Care of Creation"
EarthJustice: Because the earth needs a good lawyer [est. 1971]
The Grantham Prize: Honoring Exceptional Environmental Journalism
EarthShare, based in Bethesda, MD
Center for Biological Diversity [est. 1989] is based in Tucson, Arizona
Blacksmith Institute anti-pollution solutions [est. 1999] based in New York City
African American Environmentalist Association [est. 1985] of Washington, DC
Environmental Defense Fund [est. 1967] based in New York City & Washington, DC
State of California Climate Change Portal
Sierra Club - Rio Grande Chapter [] based in Santa Fe, New Mexico
CELDF: Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund [est. 1995] based in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania

Environment News Service [est. 1990]

Action Network Environmental Defense

League of Conservation Voters [est. 1969] headquartered in Washington, DC

Climate Central [est. 2008] website

The U.S. Census Bureau no longer provides a real-time population clock (2010).
display of today's U.S. population estimate
display of today's world population estimate

Selected Books on the Subject of the Earth's Biosphere

Selected Movies on the Subject of the Earth's Biosphere

WMail Essay #28 [October 2002] "Waste Not, Want Not"
WMail Essay #60 [June 2006] "Climate & Politics"
WMail Essay #66 [December 2006] "Cooling The Planet"
Working Minds Essay #104 [May 2013] "No Water For You"

fresh local produce
Natural Farming Dept.
“Food is an important part of a balanced diet.” ~~ Fran Lebowitz

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds [est. 1998] in Mansfield, Missouri
Seeds of Change [est. 1989] 100% certified organic seeds, based in Southern California
BLACK STAR: very negative business reputation - delays, excuses, dead plants, nasty customer service workers  Farmer Seed & Nursery {div of Plantron, Inc.} in Minnesota :: negative business reputation
Organic Farming Works website [est. 2008] based in Minnesota
Organic Farming Works - Resources Page
NEON: The Northeast Organic Network [est. 2001] based at Cornell University
Center for Rural Affairs [est. 1973] based in Lyons, Nebraska
F.F.A.: Future Farmers of America [est. 1928] based in Indianapolis, Indiana
F.F.A. New Century Farmer Conference [July 2013] in Des Moines, Iowa
Intermountain Farmers Assn. [est. 1923] owns 24 stores in Utah, CO, NV, Idaho & NM
New Mexico Organic Farming Conference [Feb 2014 = #?] in Albuquerque, NM
Bee Culture: The Magazine of American Beekeeping [est. 1873]
National Honey Board [est. 2008] based in Firestone, Colorado

Richard 'Bug Man' Fagerlund of Veguita, New Mexico
'Ask The Bugman' websiteBugman's Bug Club [new 2013]Richard Fagerlund Page at Amazon

Mohamed Hijri "A simple solution to the coming phosphorus crisis" March 2012 TED Talk [in French w/English subtitles; 13:41]

American Tractors & Farm Equipment Page
at Spirit of America Bookstore

Working Minds website's Movies About Farming & Food Safety Dept.

Working Minds / Books on the Subject / Farming & Food Safety Dept.


Penton Media, Inc. [est. 1892] publishes a multitude of trade magazines, including these five (which are geared toward real farmers only).
Western Farm Press {AZ, CA}   •    Southwest Farm Press {KS, NM, OK, TX}   •    Delta Farm Press {AR, LA, MS, MO}
Southeast Farm Press {AL to WV}   •    Western Farmer-Stockman {CO, ID, MT, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY}

National Farmers Magazine [est. 1877] of the National Farmers Organization, based in Ames, Iowa
National Farmers

print is available with membership, digital issues available online

publisher N.F.O. website
N.F.O. entry at Wikipedia

1944 cover of combined Farm Journal Magazine and Farmer's Wife magazine
Farm Journal
Magazine [est. 1877]

subscribe at Amazon
12 issues/year for $26.95

magazine website

Organic Farming Magazine [] subscription
Organic Farming

subscribe at Amazon
3 issues/year for $45.72

U.K. magazine website

Modern Farmer Magazine [est. 2013] subscription
Modern Farmer

international farming news

subscribe at Amazon
4 issues/year for $29.97

Modern Farmer Media website

Successful Farming Magazine [] subscription
Successful Farming

subscribe directly
13 issues/year for $15.95

magazine website

Farm and Ranch Living Magazine
Farm & Ranch Living
Magazine [est. 1978]

subscribe at Amazon
7 issues/year for $17.98

magazine website


Genetically-Modified Organisms {G.M.O. food products} are the opposite of natural farming practices
The The Monsanto Company [est. 1901] is the biggest purveyor of GMO foods and other G.M.O. products, so Monsanto is the focus of the anti-G.M.O. movement.
The first requirement is for American food packaging to display G.M.O. ingredients, followed by federal laws to regulate testing and environmental protection.

BLACK STAR: supposedly formed as a rebuttal to the documentary film "Food, Inc." backers include cattlemen, pork farmers, corn growers, Dupont, and Monsanto  'Food Dialogues' propaganda campaign of U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance [est. 2011] {partly funded by Monsanto}

March Against Monsanto [planned for May 2014] in over 400 cities in over 50 countries


logo for the National Farmers Union [est. 1902] - 'United To Grow Family Agriculture'
National Farmers Union [est. 1902] based in Washington, DC
official websiteWikipedia

Oregon Farmers Union [est. 1906]
Utah Farmers Union [] based in Lehi, Utah

Kansas Farmers Union [] branch of the National Farmers Union [est. 1902]            Nebraska Farmers Union [] branch of the National Farmers Union [est. 1902]            American Farmers & Ranchers Insurance of Oklahoma [est. 1906] branch of the National Farmers Union [est. 1902]            South Dakota Farmers Union [est. 1914] branch of the National Farmers Union [est. 1902]            Texas Farmers Union [est. 1914] branch  of the National Farmers Union [est. 1902]

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union serving New Mexico & Colorado & Wyoming [est. 1907] branch of the National Farmers Union [est. 1902]            Montana Farmers Union [est. 1916]  branch of the National Farmers Union [est. 1902]            North Dakota Farmers Union [est. 1927] branch of the National Farmers  Union [est. 1902]


American Farm Bureau Federation [est. 1919] based in Washington, DC
official websiteWikipedia
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation [] based in Pocatello, Idaho
Kansas Farm Bureau Federation [est. 1919] based in Manhattan, Kansas
North Dakota Farm Bureau [est. 1941] based in Fargo, North Dakota
Oregon Farm Bureau [est. 1919] based in Salem, Oregon
South Dakota Farm Bureau Federation [est. 1917] based in Huron, South Dakots
Texas Farm Bureau Federation [est. 1933] based in Waco, Texas
Utah Farm Bureau Federation [est. 1916] based in Sandy, Utah
Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation [est. 1920] based in Laramie, Wyoming

Oil Pipelines & Hydraulic Fracturing Dept.

Tar Sands Action group merged in January 2012 with worldwide 350.org

Sierra Club Canada's Tar Sands Dept.


Bold Nebraska [est. 2010] is a coalition of citizens and landowners and native tribes working to stop the Keystone XL pipeline
official websiteentry at Wikipedia • director Jane Kleeb • 'Stand with' Randy Thompson

the Working Minds / Worry About / Hydraulic Fracturing Page was begun in Spring 2014

'Nothing Can Go Wrong' Dept.

blogpost "Constant Toxic Spills in Alberta, Canada" (Nov 2014) at Dateline Chamesa weblog

July 2011 Yellowstone River oilspill aerial view - Exxon fined $1.6 million           July 2011 Yellowstone River oilspill - Exxon engineer inspecting oil residue at Laurel, Montana
Exxon was fined $1.6 million for the July 2011 oil spill near Laurel, Montana.

December 2012 aerial view of the gasline explosion across Highway 77 in Sissonville, West Virginia
December 2012 natural gas pipeline explosion across Highway 77 in Sissonville, West Virginia
amateur footage of 12 December 2012 [9:48] on YouTube

January 2015 Bridger Pipeline 50,000-gallon oil spill - screenshot from C.N.N. News            January 2015 Bridger Pipeline 50,000-gallon oil spill - aerial view
The 50,000-gallon Bridger Pipeline oil spill in January 2015 messed up the Yellowstone River enough that the oil people
had to truck potable water into Glendive, Montana for the residents.
click for very large view of aerial photo at right
spilled oil shows in the low hills at top left; oil worker trucks show at top right and at center bottom; dark area of river is spilled oil.

cleanup crew at the January 2015 fracking brine spill of 70,000 barrels (3 million gallons) into Blacktail Creek in North Dakota
click for very large view of ND photo - note fracking tower and church
January 2015 news photo of crews digging up land at the saltwater spill site at Blacktail Creek outside Williston, N.D. A state health official called the 70,000 barrel (3 million gallon) brine spill the state's largest since the current oil boom began in 2006. The new spill is almost three times larger than one that fouled a portion of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in July 2014; another million-gallon saltwater spill occurred in 2006 near Alexander, ND and is still being cleaned up nearly a decade later.

January 2015 gasline explosion in Brooke County, West Virginia - seen from evacuated farm next door           January 2015 gasline explosion in Brooke County, West Virginia - seen from afar (showing magnitude)
January 2015 news photos of a gasline explosion in the Archer Hill Road area of Brooke County, West Virginia. The fire began on the morning of 26 January; by next day, three valves had been turned off, but firefighters were standing by until the fire burned itself out. The pipeline is owned and operated by Enterprise Products Partners, LP of Houston, Texas whose website provides no information on the situation (five days later).

Keystone XL Down the Line in Kindle format from TED Books  "Keystone XL: Down The Line" for Kindle [2013] by Steven Mufson (energy reporter for the Washington Post), Photographs by Michael Williamson (also of the Washington Post)
Kindle Edition from TED Books [#34 3/2013] for $1.99
Over 160 pages with maps and photographs of the entire route from Alberta to Texas


logo/poster for 'Keystone PipeLies Exposed' short film  "Keystone PipeLies Exposed" [indep Feb 2014]
"You can make a real difference in the debate over the Keystone XL pipeline, right now. You can help crush the KXL PipeLIES and stop the KXL pipeline." Exec produced by Lisa Graves (Center for Media and Democracy [est. 1993]); produced, written & directed by Dave Saldana; featured experts and activists include: Kate Colarulli (SierraClub), Eleanor Fairchild, Daryl Hannah, Mara Verhayden Hilliard (Partnership for Civil Justice Fund), Elgie Holstein (Environmental Defense Fund), Hilton KelleyJane Kleeb (Bold Nebraska), Bill McKibben (350.org), Mike Papantonio (Ring of Fire), Tom Shepherd (Southeast Environmental Task Force), Tiernan Sittenfield (League of Conservation Voters), Tyson Slocum (Public Citizen), Lorne Stockman (Oil Change Intl.), Anthony Swift (Natural Resources Defense Council), and Kevin Zeese (ItsOurEconomy.org)
DVD/Blu-ray not yet available • not listed at IMDb • official movie site
watch entire film [23:07] online at Vimeo\

Mountaintop Removal Mining Dept.
U.S. Dept. of The Interior / Office of Surface Mining Reclamation & Enforcement
Sierra Club 'Dirty Coal' pages
West Virginia Highlands Conservancy [est. 1967]
Natural Resources Defense Council [est. 1970] Mountaintop Removal Mining Dept.
Appalachian Mountain Advocates [est. 2002] based in Lewisburg, WV
Coal River Mountain Watch [est. 2002] based in Naoma, WV
'i Love Mountains' coalition website [est. 2006] based in Boone, NC
Alliance for Appalachia [est. 2008]
Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards [est. 2009] based in Big Stone Gap, Virginia

Water Dept.
nifty tools to measure garden hose output
Freeflo: A Global Water Network [est. 2008]
Waterwise home & office water distillation systems
Affordable Water Co. [est. 1956] in Dayton, Ohio
Water Quality Assn. based in Illinois
Oceana Foundation: Protecting The World's Oceans [est. 2001]
Save Our Groundwater [est. 2001] based in New Hampshire
Sweetwater Alliance [est. 2002] based in Duluth, Minnesota
Amigos Bravos - Friends of the Wild Rivers - Because Water Matters [est. 1988] based in Taos, NM

Clean Water Network [est. 1992] is based in Washington, DC
Florida Clean Water Network [est. 1994] in Navarre, Florida

Selected Books on The Water Crisis

suggested by a young 4-H member  filtered water bottles info at The Water Page U.K. website

Brita Bottle Water Filtration System  Brita™ Bottle Water Filtration System
single 24-ounce bottle with filter (blue or violet) for $8.50
twin-pack 24-ounce bottles (two color choices) for $14.99
3-pack 20-ounce bottles & 6 filters (2 blue, 1 green) for $22.42
two replacement filters for $6.88
Rubbermaid Filtration Personal Water Bottles  Rubbermaid™ Filtration Personal Water Bottle
single 20-ounce bottle with filter (black, green or purple) for $9.99
single 20-ounce bottle with filter (blue) for $9.99
two replacement filters for $9.99
Bobble Bottles Reusable Water Bottle  Bobble Bottles™ Reusable Water Bottle
single 18.5-ounce bottle with filter (six color choices) for $9.47 to $14.90
replacement filter (10 color choices) for $6.53 to $11.84

       "We are the only species able to change the natural world, so we must be stewards of the world."
       — primatologist Jane Goodall

       "If you've seen one redwood tree, you've seen them all."
       — Ronald Reagan [1911-2004]

       "Treat the earth kindly, my friends, and it will give you comfort, security, and all [that] a man may need. If you plant a flake of gold in the earth, will anything come of it? But plant a seed and it will repay you many times over."
       — Louis L'Amour [in "The Comstock"]

       "Science has proven the existence of global warming. So our position is like the moment in the old tales when you smell the dragon. The only question is which way to run – run or die!
       "Mankind must reverse global warming or die."
       — G.E. Nordell

Bloomberg News
Saturday 7 March 2015
by Thomas Black, Lynn Doan & Devin Banerjee

Derailed B.N.S.F. Train Still Burning as Second Crash Catches Fire
        A Canadian National Railway Co. train carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire in northern Ontario, while a BNSF Railway Co. train carrying Bakken oil for Mercuria Energy Group Ltd. continued to burn in rural Illinois two days after it jumped the tracks.
        Canadian National said on its website that the train derailed around 2:46 a.m. Saturday near Gogama, about 373 miles (600 kilometers) north of Toronto, with no injuries reported. Meanwhile, five of the BNSF train’s 105 cars remained on fire after Thursday’s derailment.

AP photo of the fiery March 2015 B.N.S.F. train derailment near Galena, Illinois

        Several accidents, fires and explosions related to Bakken oil carried in rail cars over the past two years have spurred calls for tougher regulations. North Dakota required all operators to condition the crude to a lower vapor pressure beginning in April. A fiery oil-by-rail crash in Quebec killed 47 people in 2013, and last month a CSX Corp. train carrying Bakken crude derailed, sending up a fireball in West Virginia.

        Saturday’s accident marks the second derailment of a Canadian National oil train in the area in three weeks. A train with 100 cars, all carrying crude from the oil-producing region of Alberta to eastern Canada, derailed Feb. 14 about 30 miles north of Gogama. Twenty-nine cars were involved and seven caught fire, a spokesman said at the time.
        “An initial pool fire occurred that we believe impacted five rail cars and that fire continues to burn,” BNSF, a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said Friday in a statement about the Illinois crash. “Local, state and BNSF Railway emergency personnel are on the scene working to contain the incident.”

Philadelphia Refinery
        Twenty-one of the train’s 105 cars, which include two sand cars as buffers, jumped the tracks Thursday afternoon near Galena, Illinois, about 160 miles west of Chicago. The U.S. Department of Transportation said 14 cars were in a pileup and half of those were punctured. Emergency responders evacuated a 1-mile radius, which contained six homes. No injuries have been reported.
        Mercuria, a Cyprus-based commodity trader, owns the crude and was working with the railway to investigate the accident, Matt J. Lauer, a Mercuria spokesman, said by telephone from Geneva. The oil was loaded at Bakken Oil Express LLC’s terminal in Eland, North Dakota, Joe Shotwell, operations director at the complex, said by phone on Friday.
        Mercuria was shipping the oil to Philadelphia Energy Solutions LLC’s refinery in Philadelphia, a person familiar with the situation said, while asking not to be identified because the information isn’t public. The company will work to fulfill the plant’s order with alternative supplies, the person said.

Keystone Proposal
        Philadelphia Energy Solutions spokeswoman Cherice Corley didn’t immediately respond to telephone and e-mailed requests for comment left after business hours. The company is a joint venture of Carlyle Group LP and Sunoco Inc., which was acquired by Energy Transfer Partners LP in October 2012.
        Crude trains, which travel through crowded communities such as Chicago suburbs and New York state neighborhoods, have increased 40-fold since 2009 to 493,000 last year. Much of the crude originates in the Bakken because of insufficient pipelines to move the oil to refineries on the coasts.
        Canadian oil will continue to be shipped by rail cars if pipelines, such as the Keystone XL line, aren’t built, the Canadian government has said. Some U.S. Republicans have cited the recent fiery derailments as an argument in favor of approving the divisive $8 billion Keystone proposal. The U.S. Senate on Wednesday failed to override President Barack Obama’s veto of a bill forcing approval of the U.S.-Canada oil link, a setback for Republicans who’ve made building it a legislative priority.

Safer Cars
        The BNSF tank cars involved in Thursday’s incident were the CPC-1232 model, the railroad said in an e-mail. The industry began making the CPC-1232 tank car at the end of 2011 to increase safety over more numerous, so-called legacy cars.
        The Transportation Department is set to issue new regulations for a safer tank car and modifications that will be required for legacy cars. The current cars may be on the tracks for years because of the time it takes to upgrade or replace them. The department also is considering an electronic braking system that would stop each car separately and help keep them from piling up. Railroads oppose the new braking system because of the cost.

The Washington Post
Tuesday 17 February 2015
by reporter Joby Warrick

Trains are carrying – and spilling – a record amount of oil
       When 14 tanker cars derailed and exploded Monday near tiny Mount Carbon, West Virginia, neighbors likened the fireball to a scene from the apocalypse. It was "like something Biblical, or wrath-of-God type stuff", one resident said.
       In fact, the oil spill and fire on the banks of the Kanawha River was the latest occurrence of a type of accident that U.S. officials say is becoming distressingly common. Federal agencies are documenting a dramatic rise in the number of rail mishaps involving oil tankers in the last three years, as North American producers scramble to find ways to transport surging oil output to markets.
       The fiery explosion of oil-laden C.S.X. tanker cars along a snowy stretch of south-central West Virginia came just two days after a similar incident in eastern Ontario, and follows a year that shattered all previous records for rail accidents involving shipments of petroleum products.
       More than 141 'unintentional releases' were reported from railroad tankers in 2014, an all-time high and a nearly six-fold increase over the average of 25 spills per year during the period from 1975 to 2012, according to records of the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The year 2013 had fewer accidents but a much larger volume of spilled crude: 1.4 million gallons, an amount that exceeded the total for all spills since record-keeping began in 1975.
       The increase adds yet another dimension to the controversy over the construction of oil pipelines such as the Keystone XL. Oil industry advocates contend that pipelines are safer than rail for moving flammable petroleum, while opponents say pipelines tend to experience much larger spills. The latest spill also highlights well-documented shortcomings in the local preparedness for accidents involving hazardous rail cargo, safety experts say.
       "Back-to-back fiery derailments involving crude oil trains should be an unmistakable wake-up call to our political leaders", said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, an Arizona-based environmental group.
       The toll from the latest disaster is far from clear. West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency in two West Virginia counties as firefighters and hazmat crews worked for a second day to control the fire and contain an oil spill that contaminated a small creek and threatened to spread to the Kanawha River, a source of drinking water for cities and towns downstream. Nearly 2,500 people were evacuated when portions of the 109-car train derailed and then caught fire in a rural area southeast of Charleston.
       Only one injury was reported, but a nearby house was destroyed as one tanker after another exploded, creating columns of smoke and flame that could be seen for miles. A C.S.X. spokesman had no immediate explanation for the accident but confirmed that leaking oil had already reached one of the Kanawha [River]’s tributaries.
       "Fires around some of the cars will be allowed to burn out," the company said in a statement.
       Transportation experts have long complained about inadequate oversight and gaps in local preparedness for such accidents. Earlier this month, the Obama administration began a review of proposed new rules for oil-hauling trains, including provisions that would mandate updated tanker designs for freight trains hauling flammable cargo. But on Tuesday, C.S.X. officials disclosed that the tankers that caught fire in West Virginia bore the latest design features, raising doubts over whether the new rules would have helped.
       Part of the problem, energy experts say, is that transportation has not yet caught up with the sheer volume of oil being pumped by U.S. and Canadian companies in the past three years. In 2012, trains carried 40 times more oil than they did in 2008, and the volume doubled again in the following year, to about 400,000 tanker-car loads, according to figures posted by the Association of American Railroads. In production areas where pipelines are unavailable or at capacity, rail has become the transit choice by default, Charles Esser, an analyst with the International Energy Association, wrote in a recent blog.
       "North American rail shipments of oil are by no means unprecedented, but until the recent surge in production, they were largely limited to stopgap, temporary use, with pipeline construction favored," Esser wrote. While overall only about 10 percent of U.S. crude moves by tanker car, nearly 70 percent of the production from North Dakota’s surging Bakken fields reaches refineries by rail, he said.
       "Not surprisingly, accidents have increased, as well," Esser said. The petroleum that spilled in West Virginia on Monday originated in North Dakota and was headed for an oil terminal in Yorktown, Virginia.
       As accidents mount, so do chances for major disasters that could pollute communities and the environment, Matteson said. She cited the July 2013 derailment in Quebec that killed 47 people and forced the evacuation of 2,000 people.
       "People’s lives are at stake, clean drinking water is at stake, and the well-being of towns and wildlife along thousands of miles of rail line are directly in harm’s way of this unchecked, reckless increase in oil transport by rail," she said.

burning railroad oil tank cars at Lynchburg, Virginia 30 April 2014 (note man on roof, lower left)        burning railroad oil tank cars leaking into a stream that feeds the Kanawha River in West Virginia 17 February 2015

Associated Press / Tuesday 24 February 2015 / Ansted, WV
by reporter John Raby

Man runs from home as train derails nearby, engulfs property
       [FOLLOWUP}: Morris Bounds Sr. said he still requires treatments to help with his breathing and can taste something funny inside his mouth. Investigators have not determined what caused the crash. The train was carrying 3 million gallons of North Dakota crude. Oil leaked into a Kanawha River tributary, forcing nearby water treatment plants to temporarily shut down. The fire took four days to burn out and work continues to remove the overturned tanks.

full text of story

Largest Landslide in North America History
       On 10 April 2013, a gigantic landslide occured at Kennecott Utah Copper's Bingham Canyon Mine, about 18 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah. Operator Rio Tinto had been monitoring recent tremors, and no employees were present during the event in which 65-70 million tons of dirt and rock slid down the east face of the 3,900 feet- (1,200 meters-) deep open pit mine. A second and much smaller slide took place on 11 September 2013; 100 workers cleaning up the original slide were evacuated when monitors detected movement; operation of the mine was halted overnight only.
       The mine has been owned by Rio Tinto of Australia since 1989; recent annual extraction yields have been 300,000 tons of copper, 13.7 tons of gold, 137 tons of silver, and 10,000 tons of molybdenum.

official websiteWikipedia

aerial photograph of the April 2013 landslide at Kennecott Utah Copper's open pit mine at Bingham Canyon, SW of Salt Lake City

Scientific American Magazine
September 2005

       "The economic status quo cannot be maintained long into the future. If radical changes are not made, we face loss of well-being and possible ecological catastrophe."
Los Angeles Times
Monday 8 November 2004
Main News Section / Nation / In Brief [page A-8]

Nearly Half of European Bird Species at Risk
       [from L.A. Times staff reports]

       More than 40% of bird species in Europe face an uncertain future and some may disappear soon because of intensive agriculture and climate change, a British conservation group said.
       Many species, including the house sparrow, have been declining alarmingly, BirdLife International said. The group identified 226 species, or 43% of all European bird types, as threatened.
       "Birds are excellent environmental indicators, and the continued decline of many species sends a clear signal about the . . . poor state of our environment," said Clairie Papazoglou, a BirdLife official.

Los Angeles Times
Thursday 4 November 2004
Main News Section / The World [page A-5]

Antarctic Food Chain in Peril, Study Finds
       by Usha Lee McFarling [L.A. Times Staff Writer]

Krill have declined by 80% since 1976, researchers say. The tiny crustaceans are vital for whales and other sea life.

       Krill – the heart of the rich Antarctic food chain that nourishes whales, seals and penguins – have declined by more than 80% in the last 25 years in key ocean regions, according to a new study that links the loss to warming temperatures.
        The new research, published in today's issue of the journal Nature, is the first comprehensive attempt to estimate numbers of the small, shrimp-like creatures that once were so abundant that their swarms colored vast patches of the southern oceans blood red.
        Now, krill have largely been replaced by salp, clear, gelatinous invertebrates that provide so little nutrition to predators that they are considered ecological dead-ends, said Angus Atkinson, a marine biologist with the British Antarctic Survey who led the study.
        Such a steep decline in krill could decimate the region's abundant wildlife, ecologists said.

{ article truncated }
Los Angeles Times
Saturday 23 October 2004
Main News Section / Science / In Brief [page A-29]

Significant Declines Seen in Bird Populations
       Almost 30% of bird populations in North America are facing a significant decline, the National Audubon Society said in its first "The State of the Birds" report Tuesday.
       Most dire was the finding that 70% of the species in grasslands – such as the Eastern meadowlark, bobolink, short-eared owl, and greater prairie chicken – were doing poorly. For those in shrub lands – including the Northern bobwhite, painted bunting, and Florida scrub jay – 30% of species were not doing well.

Los Angeles Times
Thursday 21 October 2004
Main News Section / Nation / In Brief [page A-18]

125 Scientists Oppose Bush's Forests Plan
       Washington, DC: More than 125 scientists, including chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall and biologist Edward O. Wilson, have signed a letter opposing the Bush administration's plan to reverse a Clinton-era ban on road building and logging in 58 million acres of remote national forests.
       And in a separate letter, more than 110 economists, including Nobel laureate Kenneth Arrow, also opposed the plan, which would require governors to petition the federal govern- ment to block road building in about a third of national forests where it is now prohibited.

Los Angeles Times
Saturday 7 August 2004
Main News Section / Science / In Brief [page A-20]

Gulf 'Dead Zone' Grows to 5,800 Square Miles
       [from L.A. Times staff & wire reports]

       A huge "dead zone" of water so devoid of oxygen that sea life cannot live in it has spread across 5,800 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico this summer in what has become an annual occurrence caused by pollution.
       The extensive area of uninhabitable water may be contributing indirectly to an unusual spate of shark bites along the Texas coast, experts said. The dead zone extends from the mouth of the Mississippi River in southeastern Louisiana 250 miles west to near the Texas border and has been closer to shore than usual because of winds and currents.

Los Angeles Times
Friday 18 June 2004
Main News Section / Nation [page A-23]

Western Drought Could Be the Worst in 500 Years, U.S. Says
       from Associated Press

       LAS VEGAS, NV: The drought gripping the West could be the biggest in 500 years, with effects in the Colorado River basin considerably worse than during the Dust Bowl years, scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey said on Thursday.
       "That we can now say with confidence," said Robert Webb, lead author of the new fact sheet. "Now I'm completely convinced."
       The Colorado River has been in a drought for 10 years, reducing an important source of water for millions of people across the West, including Southern California.
       Environmental groups said the report reinforces the need to figure out a better way to manage the Colorado River before reservoirs run dry.
       "The water managers, they just continue to pray for rain," said Owen Lammers, director of Living Rivers and Colorado Riverkeeper. "They just say, well, we hope that things change and we see rain."
       The report said the drought had produced the lowest flow in the Colorado River on record, with an adjusted annual average flow of only 5.4 million acre-feet at Lees Ferry, Ariz., from 2001 through 2003. By comparison, during the Dust Bowl years between 1930 and 1937, the annual flow averaged about 10.2 million acre-feet, the report said. (An acre-foot is 325,821 gallons, enough to supply two families for a year.)
       Scientists use tree-ring reconstructions of Colorado River flows to estimate what conditions were like before record-keeping began in 1895. Using that method, the lowest five-year average of water flow was 8.84 million acre-feet from 1590 to 1594.
       "These comparisons suggest that the current drought may be comparable to or more severe than the largest-known drought in 500 years," the report said.
       The report said the river had its highest flow of the 20th century from 1905 to 1922, the years used to estimate how much water Western states would receive under the Colorado River Compact.
       That 1922 compact should now be reconsidered because of the uncertain water flow, said Steve Smith, a regional director for the Wilderness Society.
       The report did not surprise water managers.
       Adan Ortega, spokesman for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, said the district had been increasing water storage, buying water from farmers and investing in alternatives to the Colorado River.
       "The big lesson is communities cannot afford to put all their eggs in the proverbial basket. You need … a diverse portfolio of resources," Ortega said.
       Herb Guenther, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, said the agency continued to plan for a lingering drought.

Los Angeles Times
Saturday 28 February 2004
Main News Section / Science File / In Brief [page A-12]

Amazon Fires Changing Continent's Climate
       [from L.A. Times staff & wire reports]

       Smoke from burning forests in the Amazon is affecting the climate across South America – drying up rain and making the storms that do develop much more violent, scientists reported Thursday.
       Smoke, partly from agricultural and deforestation fires, rises to the clouds, delaying the release of rain and allowing clouds to grow taller than they otherwise would, the researchers said.
       Higher clouds produce violent thunderstorms, and while less rain falls to the ground, it often comes in the form of hail and rainstorms instead of more nourishing, gentle rains, the international team reported in the journal Science.

Los Angeles Times
Sunday 18 January 2004
Main News Section / Nation [page A-18]

Damage in Appalachia Trickles From Top
       by Elizabeth Shogren, L.A. Times Staff Writer

Resident's argue in court that leveling peaks for mining is destructive, as the Bush administration revises the law in favor of the coal industry.

       WASHINGTON, DC: A few years ago, the residents of Appalachia's hollows started fighting in court to rein in the practice of mountaintop mining, which they argued was ravaging the region's forests, streams and wildlife, and leveling its rugged mountain peaks.
       They say it has been an exercise in frustration – and one in which an administration friendly to mining interests has changed the rules along the way.
       In one case, residents argued that the mining companies were violating the Clean Water Act by dumping the "overburden" – leftover rock and soil – into streams. Then, in 2002, the Bush administration rewrote a Clean Water Act regulation so that it explicitly allowed the companies' practice.
       In another case, pending in state court, West Virginians argued that the companies had violated the Surface Mining Act, which banned mining within 100 feet of a stream. This month, the administration proposed to "clarify" that rule to make it legal for companies to mine along streams, and to heap leftover rock and soil into them, as long as they dumped the smallest amount possible.
       "We find legitimate ways to fight this destructive type of mining, we present our case to the courts, and in the meantime the Bush administration goes behind our backs and changes these laws," said Judy Bonds, an organizer for Coal River [Mountain] Watch, an environmental group in Whiteville, W.Va. "It shows contempt for the people who live in these communities and don't want their lives destroyed by the coal industry."
       In search of Appalachia's cleaner-burning coal, companies use massive machines to shear off tops of mountains, extract the coal, and pile leftover rock and soil in valleys. After two decades, more than 700 miles of streams have been buried, according to a recent federal study. Bald, flat plateaus remain where steep, tree-covered peaks once covered much of Appalachia.

West Virginia mountaintop strip mining site December 1999       West Virginia mountaintop strip mining site May 2002

       Administration officials support mountaintop removal mining as an important source of coal to fire power plants in the region.
       "Our responsibility under the law is to strike the proper balance between the production of coal that is essential to the nation's economic and social well-being and protection of the environment," said Jeffrey Jarrett, director of the Interior Department's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.
       He and other administration officials stress that the recent regulatory changes merely allow the continuation of a well-established technique. "It is not backsliding from 20 years of practice," Jarrett said.
       The Clean Water Act and the Surface Mining Act were not intended to prohibit mountaintop mining, even if some judges have ruled differently, he said.
       Furthermore, the administration's new regulations and proposals require that the industry make new efforts to minimize the destruction caused by the technique to limit the damage to wildlife, water quality and the safety of residents.
       "Any major commercial or economic activity - whether building a highway or a port or extracting important natural resources - is going to have an environmental impact," said James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "The reason we have environmental laws is to do the best to understand the impacts and mitigate the effects even as we enjoy the quality-of-life benefits that come from those various activities."
       However, residents and environmentalists accuse the administration of purposely manipulating laws to ensure that mountaintop mining continues.
       "We have found two ways that mountaintop removal mining is an illegal practice and instead of owning up to it and figuring out what to do, they have changed the law," said Joe Lovett, the West Virginia lawyer who has argued most of the cases on the issue.
       In the case of the Clean Water Act rule, U.S. District Judge Charles H. Haden was on the verge of ruling when the administration changed the rule in 2002. Haden found the new regulation illegal, only to be reversed by an appeals court a year ago.
       In the case concerning mining within 100 feet of a stream, the plaintiffs again prevailed in district court, but lost when the appeals court found that the case should have been tried in state court.
       Lovett already had been trying to move the case to state court. But now Lovett, who heads the nonprofit Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment, wonders whether it is worth his time, because the administration's new policy could undermine his case.
       The West Virginians whom Lovett represents are too angry to quit.
       "God compels me to keep fighting," Bonds said. "When these mountains go, our culture, our heritage and our identity are gone. This is a spiritual issue as well as an environmental issue."
       More lawsuits will be coming soon, they say, the first of which will charge violations of the Endangered Species Act. The group also is appealing permits for two new mines, including one that would tear off the top of a mountain above an elementary school.
       And activists such as Freda Williams hound state regulators and the coal companies about the mudslides that have inundated their communities.
       "It's the only avenue that citizens have to try to make their water and community safer from these coal companies," Williams said.
       As part of a settlement in a case filed by residents of Appalachia, the administration spent $5 million studying mountaintop mining and released a draft environmental impact statement in May. The document chronicled heavy environmental costs but proposed only one solution: to better coordinate the permitting process for mountaintop mining.
       "Faster permitting for those damaging processes is a slap in the face to those who have suffered greatly," said Carol Warren, a policy specialist for the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, which has spent millions of dollars helping residents whose homes have been damaged by floods that were made worse by mountaintop mining.
       Last month, Bush administration quietly proposed two more regulatory changes that would benefit the coal mining industry and could throw obstacles in the way of groups trying to use the legal system to stifle mountaintop mining.
       One change would define ownership more narrowly, which environmentalists said could make it easier for operators of derelict mines to create shell companies to open new mines. The other would give the federal government the option of allowing states whose regulations fell short of federal standards to retain authority over mining operations.
       "The Bush administration is on a tear to destroy our region," Lovett said. "There is nothing the coal industry can't get from the Bush administration."

Los Angeles Times
Saturday 27 December 2003
Main News Section / Science File / In Brief [page A-16]

NASA Blames Diesel Soot in Global Warming
       [from L.A. Times staff & wire reports]

       NASA scientists say soot, mostly from diesel engines, is causing as much as a quarter of all measured global warming by reducing the ability of snow and ice to reflect sunlight.
       Their findings on how soot affects reflective ability, known as albedo, raise new questions about human-caused climate change from the Arctic to the Alps.
       "Soot is a more all-around 'bad actor' than has been appreciated," they wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
       In particular, they found soot is twice as potent as carbon dioxide in changing global surface air temperatures in the Arctic and the Northern Hemisphere.

Los Angeles Times
Saturday 20 December 2003
Main News Section / Science / In Brief [page A-31]

Warming Is Seen in Oceans' Saltiness
       [from L.A. Times staff & wire reports]

       Tropical ocean waters have become dramatically saltier over the last 40 years, while oceans closer to Earth's poles have become fresher, scientists reported in the current issue of Nature. Earth's warming surface may be intensifying evaporation over oceans in the low latitudes — raising salinity concentrations there — and transporting more fresh-water vapor via the atmosphere toward Earth's poles, they said.
       This suggests that recent climate changes may be altering the fundamental planetary system that regulates evaporation and precipitation and cycles fresh water around the globe. The scientists estimated net evaporation rates over the tropical Atlantic have increased by 5% to 10% in the last 40 years.

Los Angeles Times
Friday 29 August 2003
Main News Section / In Brief [page A-4]

Hippo Population Is Down 95%, WWF Says
       The hippopotamus population in eastern Congo, once the world's largest, has been devastated by civil war and poaching, the [World Wildlife Fund] said. A survey in Virunga National Park shows that only 1,300 hippos remain, compared with 29,000 less than 30 years ago, the WWF said.
       Susan Lieberman, director of WWF International's species program, said armed factions killed the animals for their meat and teeth, which are used in the ivory trade. She said the group feared the trend could lead to extinction.

Los Angeles Times
Saturday 23 August 2003
Main News Section / Science File / In Brief [page A-14]

Dead Plankton Could Harm Other Marine Life
       [from L.A. Times staff & wire reports]

       Masses of plankton, dying as global warming heats the waters off the Seychelles, are threatening marine life in the Indian Ocean tourist haven, a government official said. The decaying plankton depletes the oxygen in sea water and suffocates other marine life.
       The resulting sludge also turns the Seychelles' turquoise waters green as algae feast on the plankton. Some fish and sea cucumbers are likely to be among the first casualties, officials said, adding that residents have already reported seeing dead fish.

Los Angeles Times
Saturday 19 July 2003
Main Section / Science [page A-17]

Caribbean Reef Coral Dying, Study Reports
       [from L.A. Times staff & wire reports]

       Coral reefs across the Caribbean have suffered an 80% decline in the amount covered by live coral during the last three decades, a far more devastating loss than scientists had expected, according to a study in Friday's issue of Science. The team of researchers gathered information from 65 previous studies of 263 sites and analyzed it to construct a regional picture.
       They discovered a sharp drop in the coral almost everywhere in the Caribbean, from Florida to South America. Coral covered about 50% of the average reef in the early 1970s but only 10% now. The researchers attributed the problem to pollution and over-fishing, among other problems.

Los Angeles Times
Monday 1 July 2002
California Section / Op-Ed Page [page B-11]

Marine Life Withers Under A Wave of Human-Caused Diseases
       by Osha Gray Davidson
  author of "Fire in the Turtle House" (see below)

       It is hardly news that the oceans are in trouble. After all, it's been more than three decades since the late Jacques-Yves Cousteau first introduced millions of television viewers to the glories of the undersea world and to the havoc that humans had already begun wreaking on marine life.
       But even the old Frenchman-of-the-sea himself would be shocked by the conditions we've created in the oceans today, especially in coastal waters, the shores and bays where most people come to know and enjoy the sea. These waters are sick and growing sicker by the day. In recent years, a startling number of marine epidemics has been burning through populations of sea creatures to the point that extinction threatens some species.
       Some of these plagues are old and well-known, reawakened with unexpected virulence. Others are caused by pathogens new to science. After years of speculation, two recent studies go much further than ever in implicating humans in this "marine metademic." A study published recently in the journal Science suggests that ocean waters heated by global warming are allowing bacteria, fungi and viruses to reproduce faster and range farther, unchecked by the older, cooler cycles of climate. Global warming plays an important role, but it alone doesn't fully explain the devastating marine outbreaks. For years humans have also been flooding coastal waters with nutrients. Agricultural runoff from fields and giant feedlots flows into rivers and eventually finds its way to the sea, providing a veritable smorgasbord for disease-causing organisms.
       This overabundance of nutrients – and the introduction of human sewage in some places – plays a critical role in the marine metademic. Take the case of elkhorn coral. This magnificent branching coral was once the most abundant reef-building species in the Caribbean. Now it is virtually wiped out.
       The result is an ecological catastrophe: a shift from spectacularly biodiverse coral reefs, sometimes called the "rain forests of the sea," to algae-covered rubble. The puzzle of this massive die-off was partly solved when a team of scientists announced recently that it had isolated the agent responsible for one of the diseases: the bacterium Serratia marcescens. The name may be unfamiliar, yet it is not an exotic deep-sea pathogen but one commonly found in human feces and sewage.
       The list of human insults to the ocean goes beyond global warming and introduction of nutrients. We overfish nearly everywhere, eliminating herbivorous fish that once kept harmful algae in check. We drain wetlands and dredge channels and harbors, turning clear, sandy-bottom areas into muck-covered wastelands, a perfect medium for microbes. We're turning our coast into a giant petri dish, a pathogen-friendly environment in which microbes flourish at the expense of sea life.
       It is possible to return our coastal waters to health, but it will require action on a number of fronts. We must fight global warming by implementing the Kyoto Protocol and by stopping the absurd dithering over whether the problem even exists, as the Bush administration continues to do. We must include agricultural runoff under the Clean Water Act; increase the number of marine protected sanctuaries where aquatic life can regroup from human assaults; and fully fund the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
       A century before Cousteau opened our eyes to the wondrous world beneath the waves and the destruction we're causing there, the father of modern pathology, Rudolph Virchow, wrote that "epidemics are like signposts from which the statesman of stature can read that a disturbance has occurred in the development of his nation that not even careless politics can overlook."
       It is past time to heed the many watery signposts alerting us that all is not well in the nation of the sea.

"Fire In The Turtle House: The Green Sea Turtle
& The Fate of The Ocean" [2001] by Osha Gray Davidson

Public Affairs pb [8/2003] for $10.50
Public Affairs 9½x6½ hardcover [10/2001] for $18.20

Los Angeles Times
Wednesday 24 April 2002
Main News Section [page A-29]

Colorado Calls Drought Emergency as Wildfires Multiply Rapidly
       [from Associated Press]

       Denver, Colorado: Gov. Bill Owens on Tuesday asked the federal government to declare a drought emergency in Colorado, saying some areas are facing the driest conditions in a century.
       He also released $450,000 in emergency funds to place 80 firefighters on duty six weeks early and keep three tanker planes and 25 prisoners who are trained to fight wildfires on standby.
       "This is a statewide emergency that requires a statewide response," Owens said. There have been 283 fires that have charred 7,600 acres in a wildfire season that began two months early this year. In 2000, the worst fire season in 50 years, there were 54 fires that burned 2,700 acres this early in the season.
       Since October, precipitation has been below normal across much of the West except for northern California and the Pacific Northwest.
       Last month, Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman designated Montana a drought disaster area, giving farmers eight months to apply for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency.
       Arizona Gov. Jane Dee Hull has asked the government for drought relief assistance.

Los Angeles Times
Monday 11 February 2002
Main News Section / Science [page A-12]
  (2 articles)

Warming May Doom Olympic Peninsula
       [from L.A. Times staff and wire reports]

       The Olympic Peninsula's rain forest is probably doomed by global warming, says a new report from the World Wildlife Fund and the University of Toronto. As the Earth warms, ecosystems will migrate north, scientists say. If plants and animals can't adapt to new conditions – which could include higher temperatures and less water, for example – or migrate fast enough to keep up with their accustomed climate, they will die out.
       But the Olympic Peninsula's rain forest has nowhere to migrate to. The peninsula is likely to undergo a drastic change, the report said, although scientists say it's difficult to determine how quickly that change will occur.

Pacific Circulation Link to El Nino Suggested
       [from Times staff & wire reports]

       The wind-driven circulation of Pacific Ocean waters has slowed since the 1970s, resulting in less upwelling of cool water near the equator and perhaps in an increase in El Nino events, according to scientists at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle. They reported in the Feb. 7 issue of Nature that the volume of water transported from the subtropics to the area near the equator declined 25% from the '70s to the '90s.

Los Angeles Times
Wednesday 9 May 2001
Main News Section [page A-15]

Huge Bulge in Earth's Crust Found
       [from Associated Press]

       Portland, Oregon: A significant bulge in the Earth's crust has developed over the last four years near volcanoes in central Oregon, but it's not clear whether that presages a volcanic eruption, geologists said Tuesday.
       The bulge – 9 to 12 miles across and about 4 inches high – was detected by satellite radar, said Willie Scott, a scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey's volcano lab in Vancouver, Wash.
       "Because it's a volcanic area and there's been a long history of volcanic activity in that part of the Cascades, it's possible it might be magma, or molten rock, moving deep underground," Scott said.
       The bulge is near the Three Sisters, three volcanoes at the center of the Cascade Range in Oregon.
       The last major eruption in the Pacific Northwest occurred in May 1980, when Mt. St. Helens blew off about 1,300 feet of its top.
       The uplift is too broad and low to be noticed from the ground.
       Scientists have looked across the West for signs of bulges, but this is the first prominent change on record using this technique.
       "But there's nothing right now that makes us think there's an imminent danger" of an eruption, Scott said.
       The Cascades, which run from California into British Columbia, have several volcanic peaks.

Los Angeles Times
Friday 16 February 2001
Main News Section / Column One [page A-1]

A Disturbing Whale Watch in Northwest [abridged]
       by Marla Cone, L.A. Times Staff Writer

Washington-area orcas, riddled with toxic PCBs
may be headed for the endangered-species list.

       The concentrations of industrial chemicals in orcas, or killer whales, off [the coast of] Washington State and Vancouver Island are the highest found in any living mammal, according to marine scientists. The poisons, subtle but insidious, have built up in their bodies to dangerously high levels.
       Stars of Hollywood films and marine amusement parks, these black-and-white creatures are icons of the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. On a typical summer day, hundreds of tourists and boaters set sail in hopes of spotting them.
       Lately, though, there have been more whale-watching vessels than whales plying the picturesque waters between Seattle and Victoria.
       The region's famed orca pods are shrinking. Government officials now say there is a strong chance that these descendants of Shamu, revered in native mythology as supernatural in their survival skills, could be named an endangered species.
       he region's killer whales have been dying at a higher rate in the last five years, most disappearing without a trace. Nearly half of their calves die within months of their births.
       Scientists wonder if the industrial poisons accumulating in their bodies are beginning to take a toll on [the orcas's] survival, impairing their ability to fight disease and to reproduce successfully.
       Or perhaps the Pacific Northwest's whales, surrounded by nature lovers in yachts, kayaks and motorboats, are falling victim to the stresses of their own popularity. The decline in salmon – a diet staple for many orca pods – also may be harming them. Most likely, scientists say, the orcas are being harmed by a combination of the urban threats they face.

*         *         *         *
       Worldwide, the ocean floor has become the final resting point for PCBs – long-lasting chemicals that were widely used as electrical transformer oils and hydraulic fluids until banned in the United States in 1977. PCBs enter the food web from the bottom up, accumulating in the fatty tissues of animals. Animals low on the food chain may accumulate small amounts. As predators consume those animals, they end up with much higher concentrations in their tissues.
*         *         *         *
       For each level up the food web, the concentration of pollutants in animals' tissues can rise tenfold, even twentyfold.
       A herring may carry only 1 part per million of PCBs, but the seals that eat that herring may contain 20 ppm and transient killer whales that eat those seals have levels as high as 250 ppm. Fish-eating resident killer whales also are highly contaminated because salmon are high on the food web.
*         *         *         *
       Individually, the orcas off Washington and Vancouver Island seem robust and healthy.
       But experts have noticed some disturbing trends.
       The death rate has climbed in the last five years among the heavily studied three resident pods that frequent the San Juan Islands. The population peaked at 99 animals in 1995, but now 84 are left – a 15% decline in five years, according to the Center for Whale Research on San Juan Island.
*         *         *         *
       Whale populations also may not have fully recovered from the effects of marine parks and aquariums, which removed 48 of the region's young animals in the 1960s and '70s, leaving a 15-year gap in calving.
       Based on the recent population trends, U.S. environmental groups will soon petition the National Marine Fisheries Service to declare the resident whales endangered.
Los Angeles Times
Tuesday 16 January 2001
Metro Section

Oak Tree Fungus Found in Plants
       by Bettina Boxall, L.A. Times Staff Writer

Experts say the disease could spread further from infected rhododendron nursery stock. Oregon imposes a quarantine but California does not.

       A fungus that is killing oaks along parts of the California coastal region has been found in a common garden plant, further complicating efforts to contain the mysterious affliction and track its origins.
       U.C. scientists announced last week that the organism responsible for "sudden oak death" had been detected in commercial rhododendron stock grown near some Santa Cruz County oaks dying of the disease.
       The discovery establishes "another potential way the pathogen can get out of the area of infestation," said UC Davis plant pathologist Dave Rizzo, one of the lead researchers on the fungus. "The big concern is that someone will transport a sick rhododendron to a place where there are susceptible oak species."
       The new development comes shortly after Oregon officials slapped a quarantine on nursery stock and wood products from the infected species.
       The state is the first to take such action. Neither California nor federal officials have adopted regulations to stop the spread of sudden oak death, which has attacked tens of thousands of tanoaks, black oaks and coastal live oaks in six California counties.
       Dan Hilburn of the Oregon Department of Agriculture said his agency imposed the quarantine because black oaks and tanoaks are found in his state and because the vulnerability of other oak species remains unknown.
       "We're protecting the rest of the oaks until it's proven they're not susceptible," he said, adding that the Oregon restrictions would probably have little economic impact.
       California officials say they don't know enough about the fungus, a member of the genus Phytophthora, to adopt a quarantine.
       "We're looking to get better information. We don't feel the threat is that imminent," said Bill Callison, assistant director for plant health and pest prevention services in the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
       The U.S. Forest Service asked the federal government last year to impose a quarantine on the interstate transport of affected products. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has drafted a quarantine proposal, but it is unclear when – or if – the regulations will be adopted.
       Scientists concede that there are many unknowns concerning sudden oak death, which first appeared in California about five years ago in tanoaks. But they say it could take years to resolve them all.
       "If we wait until we have every single answer, it may be too late to stop it moving to other places," Rizzo said.
       He and others also say they need far more funding to ascertain exactly how the fungus is spread and what plants are susceptible to it.
       "The critical needs are the research needs," said Susan Frankel, a U.S. Forest Service plant pathologist and chairwoman of a multi-agency task force on the disease.
       There are several legislative proposals to appropriate millions of dollars to fight sudden oak death in California, but so far only about $200,000 in federal and state money has been spent on the effort.
       The fungus, a relative of the organism that wiped out Ireland's potatoes in the 1800s, has been confirmed in six counties from Big Sur to Sonoma County.
       It was thought to be confined to the three oak species, but last summer scientists realized the fungus was identical to one found in some European rhododendrons in 1993. Then, last week, it was confirmed in the Santa Cruz nursery stock.
       So far it has not been detected in European oaks.
       The fact that the disease has only been found near the coast in California suggests there may be limitations on its range, but researchers note that the moist, wet conditions favored by the disease exist in plenty of other places.
       Oregon's emergency quarantine, imposed for three months, can be extended. The regulations say that nursery stock, firewood and wood products from affected species grown in the infested region can only be imported if they have been treated to kill the fungus.
       Hilburn said his agency was particularly worried that infected firewood might be brought across the border in the winter season.
       Given the uncertainties about how sudden oak death is transmitted, Frankel went so far as to suggest that the public simply not buy oak firewood.
       Plant pathologists believe the fungus can move from one tree to another via rain splashes, but Rizzo said they are not sure whether it survives on firewood or in soil moved by humans or animals.
       They do not know whether it traveled from Europe to California
or whether the fungus reached both places from somewhere else. Nor do they know whether it spreads from rhododendrons to oaks or vice versa.
       Dave Moeller, agriculture commissioner for Santa Cruz County, said he conferred with state officials last week and was told there are too many questions about the disease's transmission to take any action restricting movement of the rhododendron nursery stock.
       "We're not going to take action until we have a sound biological basis," Moeller said.

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