“Bee”hemoth Wallace Lives


In January 2019 natural history photographer Clay Bolt captured images of Wallace’s Giant Bee. Considered one of the 25 “most wanted lost” species by Global Wildlife Conservation’s Search for Lost Species initiative, Wallace’s Giant Bee hadn’t been seen in 38 years. Thirty eight years is a long time to miss Wallace’s 6 cm wingspan, science considered the species extinct. Bolt said –

“It was absolutely breathtaking to see this ‘flying bulldog’ of an insect that we weren’t sure existed anymore.

To see how beautiful and big the species is in real life, to hear the sound of its giant wings thrumming as it flew past my head, was just incredible.”

Discovered in 1858 on the Indonesian island of Bacan by British entomologist and  namesake Alfred Russell Wallace (1823-1913), the last sighting of Wallace’s Giant Bee (Megachile pluto) occurred in 1981 when American entomologist Adam C. Messer documented six nests in Indonesia. Two specimens found in February and September of 2018 sold on eBay without a twinge of lost species conscience. Clay Bolt’s capture, imaging and release of a single female giant bee affirm the tenacity of waning species.

Elusive Wallace behemoths build nests inside active tree dwelling termite colonies. With  impressive jaws, females collect and spit out balls of tree resin, forming protective compartments within termite domain. Giant bees depend on low lying forests for resin and termite colonies. Little as we know about resin ball spitting tree dwelling termite colony squatter Indonesian giant bees, science begs us to realize how remarkable it is to photograph one.

 

See the source image

Wallace’s giant bee dwarfs the common honey bee in size. Image © Clay Bolt/claybolt.com.

https://earthsky.org/earth/found-worlds-biggest-bee-wallaces-giant-bee?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=7db7df99b0-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_02_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-7db7df99b0-393970565

 

Portal Turkmenistan


If the Republic of Turkmenistan draws a blank you’re not alone. Geography of the former Soviet Union and Central Asia lean toward murky guesses at best. If it helps Turkmenistan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the northwest, Uzbekistan to the north and east, Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the south and southwest, the Caspian Sea to the west. Annexed by the Russian Empire in 1881, named Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic in 1925, Turkmenistan gained independence in 1991 upon dissolution of the Soviet Union. Today, with a population of barely 6 million, Turkmenistan is one of the most sparsely populated places in Asia.

In 1971 Russian geologists thought they’d found a substantial oil field near the village of Derweze, Turkmenistan (commonly know as Darvaza) Engineers quickly moved in, made camp and started drilling to assess oil reserves. What they found was a massive natural gas pocket, the ground collapsed swallowing drill rigs and the work camp. Worried lethal methane gas could poison nearby residents, authorities set the pit ablaze. They thought it would burn itself out in a few weeks. Over 50 years later, fire rages on.

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/07/140716-door-to-hell-darvaza-crater-george-kourounis-expedition/

Known today as the gate or portal to Hell, virtually all tourism in Turkmenistan is attributed to viewing the Darvaza Crater. No one knows how long it will burn, but geologists suggest it’s one of the largest natural gas reservoirs in the world.

Ponder Climate Change Denial


Rampant denial of humanity’s contribution to climate change explains why I’ve been called an “eco-clown” and “nutstoponder”. Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma can toss a snowball across the Senate floor, declaring  “God is still up there, and He promised to maintain the seasons and that cold and heat would never cease as long as the earth remains, the arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous,” and I’m the delusional nutter taking exception to   Wisconsin Koch puppet Scott Walker “scrubbing” public Natural Resource websites of references to man made climate change. We’re asked to believe Trump’s appointment of Scott Pruitt to head the EPA will restore American greatness, and I’m the nutter.

Links to refresh your memory –

https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/the-world-according-to-koch/

https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/senate-snowball/

https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/american-environmental-research-scramble/

Still in denial? Ponder these short videos –

 

 

American Environmental Research Scramble


America has been dead to me since election night. Self preservation prescribed absolute avoidance of U.S. media. Hearing his voice, seeing that orange face, reacting to Trumpish ascension without blind rage, perfectly good reasons to wash hands of the sordid affair. All well and good until ambushed by CBC radio this afternoon. But for missing that last green light, I might have been out of the vehicle when “U.S. scientists are scrambling to archive environmental research in Canada before Trump inauguration” shot resolve to smithereens. Oh crap! I knew Trump appointed climate denier Scott Pruitt to head the EPA, now I had to look into the impetus of a news bomb.

Oh man, if knowledge were power America wouldn’t be facing the likes of Scott Pruitt. Ponder Pruitt’s environmental legacy below, followed by a link to “Meet Scott Pruitt”-

May 2011: As Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt sues the EPA, alleging that the federal agency violated its own procedures in rejecting a state plan to reduce regional haze at three coal plants. In May 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review Pruitt’s challenge of the EPA’s plan for reducing haze. The EPA’s plan is designed to reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants and industrial sources to improve visibility at federally managed wilderness areas such as the 59,000-acre Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Lawton.

It would target coal-fired power plants operated by Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. at Red Rock and Muskogee and another operated by American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma at Oologah.

September 2011: Oklahoma joins other states in challenging an EPA regulation of power-plant air pollution that crosses state lines. In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the cross-state air pollution rule, which is scheduled to take effect in May 2017.

July 2013: Pruitt and his counterparts in 11 other states sue the EPA in federal court, alleging violations of the Freedom of Information Act. The states sued after the EPA denied a request for communication records between the federal agency and nonprofit environmental groups. Pruitt claimed that the agency encourages certain types of lawsuits by nonprofit environmental organizations, such as Greenpeace, Defenders of Wildlife, WildEarth Guardians and the Sierra Club. The EPA then settles the suits by entering consent decrees that contain obligations not found in federal law, Pruitt claimed.

A district judge dismissed the lawsuit in December 2013, siding with the EPA’s claims that the records request was overly broad and vague.

April 2014: Pruitt sent a letter to the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General, questioning plans to evaluate how the agency and states have done in regulating hydraulic fracturing.

“I am concerned that this project is politically motivated and ignores the EPA’s three previous failed attempts to link hydraulic fracturing to water contamination,” Pruitt wrote. “The U.S. Department of Energy has investigated hydraulic fracturing’s potential harm to water supplies and found no evidence linking the drilling technique to groundwater contamination.”

August 2014: Pruitt joined 11 other states in a suit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of greenhouse gases. Filed in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, the suit specifically seeks to throw out a 2011 settlement in a lawsuit brought against the EPA by 12 states, the District of Columbia and three environmental organizations. In the settlement, the EPA agreed to begin regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

July 2015: Pruitt sues the EPA in Tulsa federal court over the agency’s plan to rein in pollution from coal-fired power plants. In a news release, Pruitt described the EPA’s Clean Power Plan as “an unlawful attempt to expand federal bureaucrats’ authority over states’ energy economies in order to shutter coal-fired power plants and eventually other sources of fossil-fuel generated electricity.” The lawsuit was later dismissed by a judge on jurisdictional grounds.

July 2015: Pruitt files a lawsuit in Tulsa federal court challenging the EPA’s new rules governing pollution controls on waters governed by the Clean Water Act. A judge later dismissed the lawsuit on jurisdictional grounds. An appeal is pending.

October 2015: Pruitt joins 26 other states in challenging the EPA’s Clean Power Plan rules just after they became effective. The new rules require states to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Each state has a customized target and is responsible for drawing up an effective plan to meet its goal. All but two of the state challenges were filed by Republicans. The case is still pending in U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

August 2016: Pruitt joined a dozen other states in a lawsuit challenging federal regulations for methane emissions from new equipment at oil and natural gas sites. The rules are part of the Obama administration’s goal to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industry more than 40 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.

http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/green-life/meet-scott-pruitt-man-picked-lead-epa

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/scientists-copy-climate-data-fearing-trump-raze-article-1.2909960

Scott Pruitt is buddies with James Inhofe, fellow Okkie and Republican chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the genius who tossed a snowball on the senate floor as proof God exists, climate change is a hoax, the politician who declared “God is still up there, and He promised to maintain the seasons and that cold and heat would never cease as long as the earth remains.” https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/senate-snowball/

Scott Pruitt is why U.S. climate researchers scramble to preserve data before Trump’s buffoons assume positions of power.

 

 

Mystery Of 1952 Killer London Fog Solved


December 5, 1952 – residents of London, England woke to cloudless skies characteristic of a prolonged pattern of unusually chilly weather. Shivering citizens fed coal burning fireplaces with earnest, soot belched from thousands of chimneys. Within a few hours thick fog settled over the city, by afternoon fog began to turn “sickly yellow” in hue.

Unaware of temperature inversion caused by a stalled high pressure weather system, Londoners had no way of knowing warm temperatures 1,000 feet above ground blocked noxious soot’s escape. Reeking of rotten eggs, poisonous sulfur rich smog halted air, train, boat and surface transportation. Those who ventured outside reported streets thick with sticky goo and blackened faces of coal miners. Over 5 days an estimated 12,000 succumbed to the killer fog. A government investigation resulted in the Clean Air Act of 1956, restricting burning of coal in urban areas and grants to convert coal heat to gas, oil or electric.

Knowing coal emissions trapped in fog are lethal isn’t the same as understanding chemical interactions at play. It took a trip to China (a coal burning nation, home to 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world) by Texas A&M researcher Renyi Zhang to publish findings Oct. 9 2016 in Proceeding of The National Academy of Sciences. Research indicating the same phenomenon takes place today.

“People have known that sulfate was a big contributor to the fog, and sulfuric acid particles were formed from sulfur dioxide released by coal burning for residential use and power plants, and other means.

But how sulfur dioxide was turned into sulfuric acid was unclear. Our results showed that this process was facilitated by nitrogen dioxide, another co-product of coal burning, and occurred initially on natural fog. Another key aspect in the conversion of sulfur dioxide to sulfate is that it produces acidic particles, which subsequently inhibits this process. Natural fog contained larger particles of several tens of micrometers in size, and the acid formed was sufficiently diluted. Evaporation of those fog particles then left smaller acidic haze particles that covered the city.”

http://www.history.com/news/the-killer-fog-that-blanketed-london-60-years-ago

Climate Change GIF


There are those who flatly deny man-made climate change, others who prescribe to global warming as a natural earth cycle, and scoffers convinced the whole thing is an elaborate hoax. Presidential wannabe Donald Trump contends climate change a conspiracy perpetrated by China to undermine the U.S. economy. Bastions of tight ass right wing patriotic duplicity, the likes of Heartland Institute, Americans for Prosperity and the Heritage Foundation, use their considerable non-profit resources to cast doubt on climate science – target of choice, the NOAA. Inhabiting the opposite end of the spectrum, a plethora of organizations from the David Suzuki Foundation to Greenpeace champion the result of humanity’s indifference to drastic warning signs of climate calamity.

On Monday UK climate scientist Ed Hawkins of the University of Reading, posted this “infographic” on Twitter. In a Washington Post article, Jason Samenow wrote –

“Over the years, scientists have attempted to visually communicate the Earth’s warming in many ways.  They’ve developed an array of maps, charts, and animations that present an unmistakable picture of a warming world.

But I’ve seen no visual as striking and effective as the infographic posted to Twitter Monday by climate scientist Ed Hawkins.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2016/05/10/the-most-compelling-visual-of-global-warming-ever-made/

Regardless of which camp you call home, ponder Hawkin’s graphic. Each ring represents a year from 1850-2016.

See Earth’s Temperature Spiral Toward 2°C : Discovery News