Category: Nature

Water (Law) Source

By , February 20, 2015 2:28 pm

Lately, I’ve become interested, very much so, in water law. Maybe it’s because Utah’s snowpack is at about 70%. Maybe it’s because the amount of water on this earth doesn’t change, but the quality of it does. Whatever the reason, water law has captured my attention. One of my favorite sources of ongoing and accessible information on the subject is the Water Values podcast, a bi-weekly offering by David McGimpsey, an attorney out of Denver.

The podcast eschews legalese in favor of broad coverage of water and water issues, principally via interviews with people who work or write about water, water rights, and the people who use it, whether in industry or in nature. Some fascinating interviews.

Corporations, Corporations, Everywhere, Nor Any Drop to Drink

By , October 22, 2014 11:32 am

In case you don’t get the allusion in the title, it’s to a stanza in Coleridge’s poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:

Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.

I changed a few words to reflect the thinking of’s Lindsay Abrams in her piece Water is the new oil: How corporations took over a basic human right. Two-thirds of the article is an interview Abrams did with Karen Piper, a journalist touting her new book The Price of Thirst: Global Water Inequality and the Coming Chaos, a book now on my wish list, by the way.

The problem with Abram’s story, however, is that it doesn’t deliver on its headline, nor does it deliver on her claim, a claim she makes near the beginning of the piece: “While it’s shocking to watch a city [Detroit] deny the rights of its own citizens, that’s nothing compared to what could happen if private water companies are allowed to take over.” Really? Why is that? Ultimately, she doesn’t say.

Instead, she goes on (or the interview does) to report example after example of governments (Turkey, for example, LA County for another) quasi-governmental organizations (IMF and World Bank), and wannabe governments (ISIS) that are doing much or most of the water damage.

Now, I don’t doubt that water is (or will be soon) a very big problem. Nor do I doubt that some corporations are (or will be) to blame for some of those problems. But why the headline “How corporations took over a basic human right” when the proffered solution-—government-—doesn’t look so hot and when she offers so little evidence of corporate malfeasance?

Methinks it’s because the word corporation sounds oh so much more nefarious than the word government. Based on Abrams’s story, however, maybe we have more to fear from the guys and gals in the white hats.

Cross posted at

Emily Litella: Act II

By , January 4, 2013 11:10 am

A leading environmentalist and opponent of GMOs (genetically modified organisms), Mark Lynas, has issued a blunt statement that he was wrong to oppose GMOs.

I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.

As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely.

So I guess you’ll be wondering—what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist.

Emily Litella was available for comment.

Norman Borlaug would be pleased.

What If This Catches On With Other Kids?

By , May 31, 2011 11:29 am

Let Your Light So Shine Before Men

By , February 23, 2011 10:01 am

In times like these,

the church I belong to shines even more brightly. God bless the people of New Zealand.

(AP Photo/TV3 via Associated Press Television News)

A Majority of Uniformed Americans is a Whole Lot of Nothing

By , February 16, 2011 9:58 pm

About the only thing I agree with Mark Bittman on in this column is that GMO food should be labeled. The rest is, well, an argument built on perhapses and supported by a bunch of maybes. Here’s a whiff:

In one paragraph he writes,

[That a transgenic fish could escape and breed with a wild fish] is impossible, say the creators of the G.E. salmon — a biotech company called AquaBounty — whose interest in approval makes their judgment all but useless.

So AquaBounty’s judgment is almost useless on this subject. Fair enough. Their economic interest calls their impartiality into question. They could be–probably are–biased. Let’s not rely on what they say, Bittman says.

But then he writes,

The subject [of GMO food] is unquestionably complex. Few people outside of scientists working in the field — self included — understand much of anything about gene altering. Still, an older ABC poll found that a majority of Americans believe that G.M.O.’s are unsafe . . .

So, few people understand this stuff, but he’ll cite a survey of those who don’t to support his protest against GMO food. Uninformed people think the stuff is unsafe, and I’m supposed to care? Like AquaBounty, their judgment is probably useless–unless you’re Mark Bittman and need some maybes to support your perhapses.

Update:That Bittman didn’t cite the source for his “older ABC poll” bothered me, so I Googled “abc g.m.o.” and found at least three “older” ABC polls in the first five hits. My educated guess is that Bittman is referring to this one from June 19, 2001 (also found here). That poll says that 52% of the people polled says GMO food is unsafe, 35% unsafe, while 92% want it labeled.

But in quoting this poll, Bittman ignores a trend, one that works against him. A July 13, 2003 ABC poll says, “There have been gains in the belief that genetically modified food is safe to eat – up 11 points since 2001, to 46 percent.” Moreover, whereas in 2001, 55% said they would be less likely to buy GMO food if labeled as such, 52% took that position in 2003. In other words, the trend is against him.

Free Skiing in Maui

By , February 14, 2011 10:41 pm

No lift lines here:

I Used to Think I Was Second to No One When It Came to Loving Brazil, But . . .

By , February 11, 2011 12:37 pm

64-Year-Old Kayaker Completes Trans-Atlantic Voyage from Dakar on the coast of West Africa to Acaraú a few miles northwest of the Brazilian city of Forteleza.

Cameraman Catches Guy in Funny Costume Abusing Fish

By , February 8, 2011 10:48 am

“We’re not sure where she’s been, but now she speaks Russian, has a few tattoos, and insists that we call her Kiki.”

By , February 3, 2011 5:36 pm

Great little story from The New York Times about the theft–and eventual return–of a backyard chicken named Gertrude.

I can relate, well, not totally. Gertrude, the protagonist in the Times’ story, is a Rhode Island Red, my three dumb clucks are Buff Orpingtons. My chickens have never left the yard, while that’s the reason for Gertrude’s story in The Times.

You’ve never met my chickens? If you’ve been reading my blog, you actually have met them. If you haven’t been reading–and even if you have–here they are at a more mature age:

We’ve had them since they hatched about 10 months ago. And though they give certain meaning to the words chicken sh*t and dumb cluck, our backyard wouldn’t be the same without them, nor would our breakfast. After the initial investment for coop, food, and feeders, my Dumb Cluck #1, #2, and #3 almost pay for themselves.

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