Obama Opens Up the Atlantic Coast to Drilling

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 6.59.31 AM

I read most of the comments to this article. Comments closed at #146, what was the NYTimes afraid of? Every comment I read and/or skimmed was against this proposal. This is very unlike comments to The NYTimes with its wide range of readers.

Just as the glow from the protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was burning, this plan arrives on the scene. (I find it strange to call this area a Wildlife Refuge when hunting has been going on for centuries.) But all those years of hunting did not harm the flora and fauna of the Refuge in the way that fossil fuel extraction would have done.

Now the plan that the President first introduced a week before the BP death gusher in 2010 is being resurrected to appease the Republicans & Democrats in Southern states.

Obama’s Plan: Allow Drilling in Atlantic, but Limit It in Arctic

Environmentalists said opening the Atlantic waters would put the coasts of Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia at risk for an environmental disaster like the BP spill that struck the Gulf Coast in 2010, when millions of barrels of oil washed ashore after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig. Advocacy groups in those states said that the drilling could harm tourism, fishing and other coastal industries that are already major drivers of the Southeastern economy.

But lawmakers from both parties in those coastal states have pushed for years to open their waters for drilling. The Interior Department estimates there are 3.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil on the Atlantic’s outer continental shelf and 31.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Is BC using clean energy for dirty energy production?

The question comes up after the Canadian Government approved the building of Site C dam in the beautiful Peace River valley. This same government is known for muzzling scientists and stripping federal environmental protections that were built up over the last 20 years. It has streamlined and cut the funding for environmental reviews and cut the agencies and departments that are allowed to work on these reviews from 40 to 3. So this government’s claims that the dam passed an environmental review (with 77 conditions) does not pacify the environmentalists who oppose this dam.

Most of the province of British Columbia’s power is from hydroelectric dams and recently from a great number of new biomass plants. At the same time the BC government has been promoting the building of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) plants in order to export fracked gas to Asia and these plants will need power. Analysts believe that the power from the Site C dam is destined for the LNG plants.

B.C. approves $8.8-billion Site C hydroelectric dam

But the government will delay the project until next summer and has adjusted the price to be $900-million higher than what BC Hydro had proposed. The project faces a series of lawsuits, and on Tuesday, environmentalists, First Nations and the NDP renewed their opposition to the dam.
With 1,100 megawatts of capacity, the Site C dam would provide enough energy to power the equivalent of about 450,000 homes a year. But it will flood 55 square kilometres of river valley and will have negative impacts on wildlife and First Nations’ communities
Roland Willson, chief of the West Moberly First Nations, said he was “highly disappointed” by the government’s decision to advance with Site C. Flooding linked to the project would affect fishing, hunting, trapping and sacred native sites that are thousands of years old.


Since the Province of British Columbia is a net exporter of electricity. The power gained by this project will be in excess of the demand within the province.

Is B.C.’s Site C dam a gateway to dirty energy?

Energy lawyer Warren Brazier: “If all the LNG plants are built, they’re going to need the equivalent of 50 per cent of the existing power in B.C.”

According to a report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions arising from natural gas production in B.C. by 2020 — much of it exported and burned in Asia — could range from 167 to 305 million tonnes per year.

If this is the case, it would mean the B.C. government is choosing to use our clean power to drive dirtier energy production.


Site C dam: How we got here and what you need to know

Opposition to Site C

B.C. Hydro forecasts it will need additional sources of electricity by 2028. It purposely calls the dam, the “Site C Clean Energy Project” claiming it will produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions for the amount of energy supplied than any other source except nuclear power.

The dam reservoir would require the flooding of approximately 5,500 hectares of land and more than 83 kilometres of river valley along the Peace River and its tributaries.

This would include over 3,000 hectares of wildlife habitats, heritage sites, and Class 1 and Class 2 agricultural land.

Members of the Treaty 8 First Nations boycotted the official announcement ceremony at the Bennett Dam in April 2010 and have launched a lawsuit opposed the dam. The First Nations say the destruction of the valley and the obliteration of a number of sacred sites would have a devastating impact.

Local farmers are also opposed to the loss of land for agriculture and environmentalists opposed the loss of wildlife habitat.

From the comments to the above article

BC Hydro says the dam will provide approximately 900 megawatts of power, generating about 4,600 gigawatt hours of electricity each year — enough electricity to power more than 400,000 homes.

Ah, there it is; the reference to powering homes (400,000, no less). In reality, the 900 mw of power will have the capacity to power one LNG plant.

Flooding agricultural land to sell fossil fuel to China, the world’s biggest polluter. Does that sound like a good business for the government of BC to invest in?

Apparently in BC, the wind does not blow, the tides do not run and geothermal energy is not evident. These alternatives, of course, can’t be used because nobody here seems to know what to do with them. But in other parts of the world… we just look stupid.

I would like to balance this story with reasons why we absolutely need this power and that need is more important than the ecosystem and the people of the Peace River Valley. The BC government tells us it will generate cheap clean power for 100 years but analysts say it’s not for us, it’s for export. The need is not there.

BC Hydro claims it will power 400,000 homes and they don’t mention that the power is destined for LNG plants. Part of BC’s power is going to the Alberta tar sands right now and we do not know how much because BC Hydro claims it is a proprietary secret.

How long can we keep destroying farmland in favour of industry? Most of BC’s food is imported from drought-stricken California.

The Federal government claims the environmental review was “rigorous.” The environmentalists and the First Nations say “see you in court.”


First Nation chief says Site C approval a ‘spit in the face’
“We’re not going to be walking happily down the trail of consultation with proponents now,” Mr. Willson said. “We’re going to be reviewing all the LNG, all the pipelines, all the forestry, everything that’s going on and pushing back as much as we can. We are going to cause as much problems as we can on this.”

The West Moberly First Nation is also going to court to stop Site C.

“We’ve launched judicial reviews in both the federal Supreme Court and the provincial court. We are looking to challenge any permits coming forward on this,” Mr. Willson said.

The lower photograph shows a part of the area that will be flooded by the Site C Dam.

UPDATE: December 24, 2014.
How the founder of clothier Patagonia became an opponent of dams

Mr. Chouinard questions B.C. Hydro’s case for flooding 55 square kilometres, much of it farmland and traditional First Nations territory. “It really is a fallacy that hydro is clean power,” he argues. “It’s like ‘clean’ coal. There’s no such thing. I mean, with wind turbines and solar, it’s pretty crazy to destroy an entire river, destroy an entire valley, destroy some of the best agricultural land in Canada.”

Stephen Shore, American Photographer

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 12.31.15 PM

Born in New York City in 1947, Stephen Shore was developing family negatives and printing them with a darkroom kit given to him by his uncle, when he was 6 years old. A few years later he received his first 35mm camera. At 11, he was given a copy of “Walker Evans’ American Photographs. At 15, Edward Steichen purchased 3 of his photographs for the Museum of Modern Art. From 1965-67 he hung around Andy Warhol’s Factory with Andy as his unofficial teacher. At the age of 24 he had his first major exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the 2nd living photographer to have that honour. In 1972 He begins to show his work at LIGHT gallery in New York City.

His most renown works are American Surfaces and
Uncommon Places.
This is a map showing his stops for the photography of “Uncommon Places” between 1969 – 1979.
Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 10.43.12 PM

These road trips taken in his twenties developed Shore’s signature style photographing the banal as it is (he never cropped) but made beautiful with the creative use of colour. He has an extreme sensitivity to place, where the photographer is at a given moment. His work has been called Autobiography of Seeing because he was revealing himself in what he was discovering. For the project “American Surfaces” he travelled in the passenger seat with a friend at the wheel. His gear consisted of 35mm colour film and a Rollei 35.

In 1982, he wrote, “Until I was twenty-three, I lived mostly in a few square miles in Manhattan. In 1972, I set out with a friend for Amarillo, Texas. I didn’t drive, so my first view of America was framed by the passenger’s window. It was a shock.” Later that year, Shore set out again across America, this time alone, with an insatiable desire to capture and communicate precisely what he had seen within the frame of that window.

The results of that road trip were hundreds of rolls of film that were developed by Kodak into small prints that Shore pasted to three walls of LIGHTS gallery. It was entitled “American Surfaces”. The exhibit was panned.

But from that experience Shore refined his methods and realized he needed a larger format camera, first a 4″x 5″ then an 8″ x 10″ view camera, to express what he wanted. This kind of cumbersome gear changed the way he took pictures. He went from an impulsive casual method to a well-thought out plan taking about 20 minutes. But he realized that the time spent setting up paid off because in that click of the shutter the camera captured an intensely detailed and saturated image. The human eye cannot take in all those details at that speed. The images of Uncommon Places reveal the American landscape and what the consumer culture had done to it.

The 1982 book of the Uncommon Places was well received and set precedence by bringing large format images from the documentary and commercial tradition into photography as art. The book of 40 images is still revered but there is so much more to Stephen Shore. Thirty years later 2012, the book Uncommon Places: The Complete Works added one hundred more photographs from the project. A video of the pages of the book can be found here. An interview of Shore on the launch of this book can be found here.

AS: Is the photograph of Bozeman—the last photograph in the new edition of Uncommon Places—your street, where you moved to, and where you ended this series for good?

SS: No. But, this is the town I ended in. I was fascinated by a couple of things about the landscape. One: I simply loved being out in the land. That’s reasonable. But then I thought, “Well, I grew up in New York, and I’m supposed to be a sophisticated artist, and we’re not supposed to be just doing natural landscape.” So I thought, “Why not? What’s this prohibition against the natural landscape?” Especially when I found myself attracted to it. And, after two years there, then I felt that I began to see things in the land, where I actually had perceptions about the land. So that it wouldn’t just be, “Isn’t this pretty.” And so then I started this process of dealing with landscape, which is also very tricky in color. Because it’s hard to do a landscape in color without it looking like a calendar picture. It’d be much easier to photograph in black and white, in a way. So, that’s one thing I started to work on, that continued to hold my attention throughout most of the ‘80s. But, in the process of doing this, I found that a lot of the things I used to think about—let’s say the formal things I used to think about—I just stopped thinking about. And, that it all began to just come naturally. Like I would know where to stand. All the things I was thinking about—do I want to have this diagonal come exactly into the corner, or just be a tiny bit above the corner; do I want to have this car just jut in from the side of the frame. And all these things I used to think about and play with, I found I just stopped thinking about. And I just, kind of, knew where to stand. And, as I said, it took me a while to accept that, in fact, there was this new phase. And, it was confusing.

From a 2007 New York Times review by Michael Kimmelman of the show Biographical Landscapes digitally reprinted photographs.:

He was in his mid-20’s already a star […] then he started hanging out in Andy Warhol’s Factory, where he lighted for the Velvet Underground and absorbed Warhol’s general deadpan aesthetic, with its embrace of serialism and its fixation on banal, everyday things.

His more recent work is Israel/West Bank, 2010 which contains haunting photographs, large scale with infinite details.
Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 11.21.37 PM

Gerry Badger describes Stephen Shore as the “Quiet” photographer.

what do I mean? it’s a difficult notion to define with any exactitude, partly a question of style, more a question of voice. Shore’s voice is not of the hectoring kind, his whole artistic persona from first to last is modest, self-effacing. He photographs modest landscapes with no quirky tricks of technique or vision, and (perhaps crucially) he presents the work in a modest way. His classic style can be characterized as a non-style (though it is relatively easy to copy), but it is not style alone which makes him a “quiet” photographer. The quiet photographer interferes as little as possible with his subject.

Mr. Shore was not interested in cultural criticism, his gaze was objective and his interest was in discovery. He shows us what most people overlook as it is and without his commentary. He is very interested in the special quality of light and the mystery of place.

From an 2010 interview:
When you see your prints, does it change how you look at everyday things later in the day or week or month?

Absolutely. […]
Seeing this way is the result of the repeated process of seeing the world, taking a picture, and seeing the result, and doing this over and over again in different situations. This is where the experience you relate comes in. I feel lucky that I learned this at a time when there was only one 8″x10″ colour negative film and one paper to print it on Digital capture doesn’t provide the necessary limitation and makes learning to se this way more difficult.

Are you doing any digital capture?

I’m using digital more and more. I recently got a Nikon D3x. After using a 8″x10″ for almost 30 years, I find I think in 8″x10″ terms. I take only one picture of a subject, even with a digital camera, unless I’m photographing something that is in motion or changing. Still, looking through the viewfinder is not the same as looking through an 8″x10″ ground glass and working on a tripod. But I’m getting better at it, andmuchof my new digital work seems as focused as my view-camera work. Also I get to have the pleasure of making many more images in a day.

Stephen Shore’s camera from approximately 1960 – 1979

Large Format 8x10 view camera

Large Format 8×10 view camera

His digital camera

Nikon D3X Digital SLR

Nikon D3X Digital SLR

What is Mr. Shore doing now? Besides teaching at Bard, he gives many interviews and has his work shown internationally. Here is a Virtual Tour of his exhibition at FUNDACIÓM MAPFRE in Madrid, September 19 to November 24, 2014.

“Consume, Screw, Kill”

This article stunned me from the title to the ending. I read it over and then highlighted the most startling lines. I posted it on Daily Kos and got a moderate reaction. Perhaps people just cannot take the possibility that we are on track to extinction and who could blame them?
The origins of today’s mass extinction
That’s us in the title of Daniel Smith’s essay in Harper’s on the book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert.

Kolbert begins coyly, with a kind of a fairy tale. “Maybe two hundred thousand years ago,” a new species emerges on Earth. Compared with other species around at the time—mammoths, mastodons, armadillos the size of Smart cars, […]—the members of this new species aren’t very fast or very strong. But they’re shrewd, or reckless, or oth. “None of the usual constraints of habitat or geography seem to check them,: she writes. They start out in a small section of eastern African. There’s water there, and plenty to eat. But are they satisfied?

China’s last wild IndoChinese tiger shot, killed and eaten, 2009.

From the book:

They [the new species] cross rivers, plateaus, mountain ranges. In coastal regions, they gather shellfish; farther inland, they hunt mammals. Everywhere they settle, they adapt and innovate. On reaching Europe, they encounter creatures very much lie themselves, but stockier and probably brawnier, who have been living on the continent far longer. They interbreed with these creature and then, by one means or another, kill them off.

From Daniel Smith:

And there you have it, on page two: consume, screw, kill. The Homo sapiens way. […]humans have blanketed the globe; slaughtered and/or eaten all the flashy megafauna; humped their numbers into the billions; chopped down the forests; spread disease; discovered coal and oil; and caused global warming.

What follows , often in great detail are the grisly specifics.

We see the headlines everyday now, blue whales beaching themselves on Canada’s east coast, frogs and other amphibians disappearing, bat caves filled with bat corpses, 100 Sumatran rhinos (living fossils) left, Monarch butterflies in danger of disappearing… And in each case, human behaviour has something to do with it.

What’s so different and alarming about the Sixth Extinction is the rate of change. Whereas other extinctions took place over hundreds or thousands of years, we are seeing great change in a matter of decades.

The oceans are a third more acidic than they were in 1800; by the end of this century they will likely be 150 percent more acidic than they were at the start of the Industrial Revolution.

The extinction symbol with a circle representing the earth and the two triangles an hourglass is beginning to appear at rallies, in fields, as graffiti or tattoos. The twitter feed is not so much a call to action as a cri de coeur.

Daniel Smith thinks that we should recognize what we have done “and to feel, if not remorse, then at least a sense of sadness about the carnage at his feet.”

Elizabeth Kolbert Discusses New Book, ‘The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History’
Q: Your book has a scary theme. What frightens you most about the issue?

A: I think what is most scary, as a parent of other human beings, is what will happen from the societal disruption that could potentially result from ecological disruption and climate change. But on a ‘future of the world’ kind of level, what I found most sobering and frightening is what is happening to the oceans. I think ocean acidification is a kind of under-appreciated problem. And we seem to be changing ocean chemistry very dramatically and very quickly.

How will climate change affect your internet connection, as high winds topple wifi towers and floods disturb underground cables. Climate change will not discriminate it will be net neutral.

Harper’s Magazine

From the May 2014 issue
Consume, Screw, Kill
By Daniel Smith

Discussed in this essay:

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert. Henry Holt. 352 pages. $28.

Calgary, Alberta: 2013 Flood

“To have these very large flood events … the stars have to line up,” says Uldis Silins, a hydrologist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

As of 6:40 a.m.Friday, a storm system bringing rain to southern Alberta was trapped there by the Rocky Mountains, easterly winds and a high pressure system hanging over the northern part of the province. (Environment Canada)
On June 20, Calgary experienced record one-day rainfall with 45 millimetres coming down. The previous record was 35.1 millimetres, set in 1964.

Calgary, Alberta, 1885, HBC Trading Post

Calgary, Alberta, 1885, HBC Trading Post

Calgary is a city with a population of 1,120,200 in 2012. It is situated in the Bow River Basin in Alberta, Canada. Two major rivers run through the city or the city was built on the flood plains of two major rivers, the Bow and the Elbow, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The source of the Bow river is the Bow Glacier in the Rocky Mountains.

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 11.30.56 AM

Downtown Calgary Flooded

Downtown Calgary Flooded, June 2013

Rainfall – Precipitation Map of Alberta

Major rivers in the Bow River Basin flow from the Rocky Mountains east towards Hudson’s Bay.

We see samples of this all over the blogs.

Article in Harper’s on the bad English of the Punditry. By turning every statement into an argument “one might argue” the writer or speaker tries to take a shortcut to objectivity. It’s like the passive voice never stating what the person talking or writing actually thinks or believes. [my words: And oh yes, it means there must be balance. Example: gun control? must be balanced by inviting the lobby of the gun industry to the table. Torture must be balanced by the needs of national security. Every issue is not an argument.]

I plead guilty to using a lot of baseball metaphors, otherwise I wouldn’t even get to first base with my writing or ever hit it out of the park. oops!

Most hated metaphors: “rope a dope” “set down a marker” “throw red meat” “leverage off” “double down” and clichés like “optics” and “eviscerate.” Eviscerate as in bayonet training, as in settling a quarrel with disembowelment. Thomas Frank says “This lingo is the jittery patter of a would-be democratic aristocracy, utterly incapable of introspection and yet better than the rest of us in every way.”

Birds (a)