The Dakota Pipeline and the Standing Rock Sioux

In 2016, protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline attracted worldwide attention. The oil pipeline was designed to run from North to South Dakota, across Iowa, and into Illinois. The Standing Rock Sioux objected to the pipeline’s path on the grounds that it violated treaty rights and threatened the tribe’s water supply, grave sites and sacred land. Thousands camped out at Standing Rock to try and stop the project . . . In December 2016, the Obama administration blocked construction of the pipeline’s most contested section.

A month later, newly inaugurated president Donald Trump reversed the decision. By June 2017, oil was flowing. In the tumultuous first year of the Trump administration, the media moved on. In September 2017, Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman David Archambault II, a hero while the spotlight was trained on the controversy, was voted out of office.

— Chapter 10, Oak Flat: the Fight for Sacred Land in the American West

This is a fascinating book, as self keeps saying. She hopes she can finish it tonight and return it to the library tomorrow, because it’s way overdue and someone’s put a hold on it.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Things Self Didn’t Know About Copper

Clean technologies generally require more copper than traditional technologies. Wind and solar use about four times more copper than conventional energy to generate one megawatt of power. The average conventional car requires up to 55 pounds of copper, an electric car uses triple that. Usage of copper has climbed dramatically in recent years . . . In the coming decades, we will need to dramatically increase usage of solar and wind power to keep global temperatures down. Mitigating planetary warming will almost certainly cause a further surge in demand for copper.

Worldwide, there is a vibrant trade in stolen copper. When commodity prices rise, so does the number of copper thefts.

— Chapter 5, Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West

Apache Gold Casino, Arizona

Summer is definitely the right season to be reading something like this:

The casino sits at the edge of the San Carlos Reservation. Inside, the air is smoky and dim. Barry White plays on the sound system. Then Weezer. Slot machines ding, buzz, and simulate the sound of smashing glass. The gift shop sells straw hats and rhinestoned flip flops, nail polish and soda. Enlarged black-and-white photos hang in the hallway.. There is a picture of an Apache woman, head bowed, face in shadow, holding a child in the cradleboard. There is a photo of Geronimo, whose hand reaches for the pistol tucked into his waistband. The roulette and blackjack tables are empty, draped in heavy drop cloths. Retired couples and scattered loners gaze intently at screens, pulling levers and punching buttons. According to casino promotional materials, “At the Apache Gold Casino Resort, the magic of the ‘Apache Gold Legend’ lives on. Untold riches lie in this desert oasis, awaiting discovery.”

— Chapter 4, Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West, by Lauren Redniss

Required Reading: Wolves in the American West

Back in February, Montana’s Republican governor killed a wolf without a proper permit. Greg Gianforte, who is best known for body-slamming a reporter on the campaign trail in 2017, trapped the creature after it strayed out of Yellowstone National Park and onto a private ranch owned by one of his political donors — the director of Sinclair Broadcast Group, whose 191 local TV stations might not frown on trapping liberals. A satirist could be proud of this Western. It also exemplified what Chris Servheen, a wildlife biologist in Missoula, describes as a new bout of “anti-predator hysteria in state legislatures in the northern Rocky Mountains.

Lawmakers in Montana and Idaho have recently passed a slew of measures to reduce the number of bears and wolves in their states. In Idaho one law allows wolf-hunting from snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles. It devotes money to private contractors tasked with hunting the animals down and removes limits for the number of wolves one person can kill. The law says that wolves can be killed so long as their number still exceeds the state’s recovery goal of 150 animals. That means 90% of the Gem State’s 1500 wolves are at risk.

The Economist, pp 24 – 25, m

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 148: SPOTS AND DOTS

Yayoi Kusama is queen!

But Renzo Piano is king. Here is the living roof of the building he designed to house the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. They laid sod six inches thick on the roof in 2008. 13 years later, this is the result:

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Coda: Safe Passage, The Next Great Migration

Sonia Shah’s policy recommendations are found at the end. She is very clear, which self appreciated. She offers concrete examples of what is being done, and what more needs to be done.

Instead of expanding the borders of isolated parks and reserves, new conservation efforts are seeking to stitch together private lands, ranches, farms, and parks into wide, long corridors across which animals can safely move. The Yellowstone to Yukon initiative, for example, has brought hundreds of conservation together to manage more than five-hundred thousand square miles stretching southward from northern Canada, to ease wildlife movement across the entire expanse. A similarly ambitious project aims to protect millions of square miles of jaguar habitat across fourteen countries from Mexico to Argentina. Conservationists have pinpointed at least twenty places around the world, including biodiverse but highly fragmented locales such as the Eastern Arc mountains of Tanzania and the Atlantic forest of Brazil, where similar wildlife corridors could connect isolated fragments of protected lands into more than half a million acres of continuous forest across which species could freely move.

The Next Great Migration, pp. 313 – 314

To Roam

Self learns new things every day.

The study of animal movement, once relegated to the margins of biological research, has shifted towards its center. In 2006 a group of scientists gathered at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem to sketch the outlines of a new approach that would simulate movement as one of the central features in the behavior of animals and the functioning of ecosystems. They called the new field “movement ecology.” The following year Wikelski and his colleagues started Movebank, a public database where scientists can share their animal tracking data. Animal trackers add about a million data points every day.

The Next Great Migration: The Beauty of Terror and Life on the Move, Chapter 8 (“The Wild Alien”)

Woe: Dark, Salt, Clear, p. 103

Each day at least four freighters are lost to the seas, their cargoes spilling out into the water to be dispersed by the waves and discovered on beaches years later — trainers, cogs from machines and plastic packaging mixing in with the seaweed and foam left by waves.

After the Oil Spill: Kingu

Kingu was forced to swim through an oil slick to get to his mother, a few chapters back.

Kingu has never been the same since the oil incident in the spring. His urine has a funny smell. He is always hungry, but he tires quickly, even though he is in fair physical condition.

Ice Walker: A Polar Bear’s Journey Through the Fragile Arctic, by James Raffan, Chapter 8 (“Independence”)


A few pages later, the family of three encounters a pod of orcas. The mother and son “dive deeper to swim away from the whales.” But the female, Singu, whose body mass isn’t as great, is buffeted and the whales attack again and again, having observed that Singu is the weakest of the three. Somehow, she is separated from her mother and brother, and a smack from a whale fin knocks her unconscious. Nanu dives again and again, trying to nudge her unconscious cub to the surface. But Singu is unresponsive and sinks like a stone.

Mother and son swim on.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.


The parts of Ice Walker where Nanu encounters a helicopter for the first time are painful. She shrieks and shrieks, because the sound is something she has never heard before, then breaks into a hard run, at her maximum speed of 15 miles per hour (It’s no easy task to move a polar bear at that speed over hard ground!) She even forgets her cubs and leaves them struggling to keep up. This is how self knows Nanu is terrified beyond belief! Because never before has she abandoned her cubs.

How’s everyone’s Valentine Day been going?

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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