Fast as a Cheetah?

Cheetahrunning Link: Cheetah Conservation Fund.

The cheetah is aerodynamically built for speed and can accelerate from zero to 40 mph in three strides and to full speed of 70 mph in seconds. As the cheetah runs, only one foot at a time touches the ground. There are two points, in its 20 to 25 foot stride when no feet touch the ground, as they are fully extended and then totally doubled up. Nearing full speed, the cheetah is running at about 3 strides per second. The cheetah’s respiratory rate climbs from 60 to 150 breaths per minute during a high-speed chase and can run only 400 to 600 yards before it is exhausted; at this time it is extremely vulnerable to other predators, which may not only steal its prey, but attack it as well.

Anti-Green Power Broker: John Stossel

Source: John Stossel | Outside Online.

Stossel, 58, was once a crusading consumer advocate, but he found real fame after doing an about-face in the 1990s and becoming a foe of government regulations that affect business, both big and small. Today he’s the de facto king of regulatory debunking, commanding some of the highest ratings of any ABC correspondent while regularly using his Give Me a Break segments and prime-time specials to ask questions like "Are We Scaring Ourselves to Death?"

Usually his answer is yes, even as he profiles dioxin and asbestos (the dangers of which are overblown, he says). Though Stossel goes after a broad range of targets—in one show he exposed American "freeloaders," including wealthy business owners who enjoy government subsidies—he reserves much of his vitriol for safety laws, fear-mongering greens, and institutions like the EPA.

Critics charge that Stossel oversimplifies reality and makes sizable reporting gaffes, pointing to a 2000 exposeé on organic food in which he suggested that "buying organic could kill you" and cited a test that "proved" that conventional produce is as pesticide-residue-free as organic. (No such test existed, and he later apologized on the air.) But his fans keep the faith. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, sponsors a "Support John Stossel" online petition to counter what it says are "ongoing environmentalist" attacks against him.

SOUND BITE: "Stossel starts with a conclusion he wants to arrive at and looks for the facts to support it," says Peter Hart, a media analyst at the New York City-based group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. "You end up with a very compelling and very incomplete version of reality—not journalism."

NEXT UP: ABC is busy marketing Stossel’s videos and DVDs (his 2005 TV special Myths, Lies, and Nasty Behavior went on sale in January). He’ll also be speaking for organizations like Young America’s Foundation, an outreach group for conservatives.

Anti-Green Power Broker: Mark Rey

Source: Mark Rey | Outside Online.

A former timber-industry lobbyist from Ohio, Rey is head caretaker for America’s 193 million acres of national forest. Throughout his career, he’s been a forceful opponent of what he considers the red tape surrounding wildlife-preservation measures and environmental-assessment reviews, and he has advocated giving state and local agencies real input into the management of federal lands. His critics claim this is just a cover for hardball rollbacks that will open protected lands to more road building and logging. "Rey is the architect of an across-the-board attack on national forests," says Niel Lawrence, director of the forestry program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

As forest chief since 2001, Rey, 52, has been instrumental in creating new "categorical exclusions" to environmental-impact reviews required by the 35-year-old National Environmental Policy Act. Typically, these exclusions have allowed forest managers to relax the reviews when they want to fix a trail or structure. The new exclusions, part of the Bush administration’s Healthy Forests Initiative (first introduced in August 2002), allow the removal of "hazardous fuels"—like trees—in forests where wildfires pose an increased threat. The change has already led to fire-prevention logging on more than 11 million acres.

SOUND BITE: Rey once described forest-conservation laws as "bedtime reading for insomniacs as an alternative to War and Peace."

NEXT UP: Rey plans to revamp the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, a Clinton-era regulation that halted new road building and logging in designated areas in national forests. The rule, which was already repealed in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, is expected to be replaced in May with a far less stringent one, potentially giving the timber, oil, gas, and mining industries access to 58.5 million acres of currently protected areas.

Some Midday Sun Is Healthy

Source: Midday sun holds key to good health? | Science Blog.

Scientists at The University of Manchester have today unveiled new research which claims that going out in the midday sun, without sunscreen, is good for you. The research, led by ultra-violet radiation expert Ann Webb, supports claims that exposing unprotected skin to the sun for short periods helps the body to produce essential Vitamin D.

Dr Webb has produced new figures which not only predict when is the best time to expose unprotected skin to the sun in order to maximise Vitamin D production, but also for how long – depending on location. She has calculated that ‘ten to fifteen minutes* at noon’ is the optimum time for the average person in the UK to spend in the sun without the use of sunscreen.

"Our calculations have found that the best time to be out in the sun if you want to maximise Vitamin D production and its benefits is midday. This is when the sun is highest in the sky and this is when there is more UVB radiation in the spectrum which triggers Vitamin D production in the skin," says Dr Webb.

Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphate from food and is essential in the formation of bones and teeth. A deficiency of Vitamin D leads to a failure of the bones to grow and causes rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults. Recent research also suggests that Vitamin D can help reduce the risks of colon, breast and prostate cancer.

Dr Webb, says: "The two sources of Vitamin D are through your skin or through foods like sardines (fatty fish), but because our everyday diet isn’t very rich in the vitamin it is essential that we get it from the sun."

"You do not need to sunbathe to get your Vitamin D and we are not advocating people do not protect themselves with sunscreen, but if you put sunscreen on before you step out of the house you will not reap any health benefits provided naturally by the sun. After a short period of unprotected exposure you should cover up or put on sunscreen to avoid sunburn."

Thomas Friedman Asks “What’s the matter with big business?”

Source: C.E.O.’s, M.I.A. – New York Times.

What’s the matter with big business?

America faces a huge set of challenges if it is going to retain its competitive edge. As a nation, we have a mounting education deficit, energy deficit, budget deficit, health care deficit and ambition deficit. The administration is in denial on this, and Congress is off on Mars. And yet, when I look around for the group that has both the power and interest in seeing America remain globally focused and competitive – America’s business leaders – they seem to be missing in action.

Yet, with a few admirable exceptions, American business has not gotten out front on these issues. In part, this is because boardrooms tend to be culturally Republican – both uncomfortable and a little afraid to challenge this administration. In part, this is because of the post-Enron keep-your-head-down effect. And in part, this is because in today’s flatter world, many key U.S. companies now make most of their profits abroad and can increasingly recruit the best talent in the world today without ever hiring another American.

So with business with its head in the clouds, labor with its head in the sand, the administration focused on terrorism and Congress catering to people who think "intelligent design" is something done by God and not by Intel, it’s not surprising that "we don’t have a strategy for making America competitive in the 21st century….

Nature in the Backyard: King Snake

Kingsnake_1 This king snake showed up on Sunday near Scooter’s grave. It stayed in the sunny spots under the dogwood trees and didn’t seem to be bothered by our walking nearby and my photo-taking.

I hope this handsome reptile sticks around. The black rat snake that came for lunch a week ago seems to be gone, and we like having wildlife around, even the ones that slither.

What’s Wilderness Worth? Green Economics

Source: What’s Wilderness Worth? | Outside Online. by Bruce Barcott

With an anti-environmental backlash inflicting one defeat after another on conservationists, a band of maverick economists is riding to the rescue with a startling revelation about the true value of our natural resources: Follow the money, and you end up in a very green place.

For more than a century, the people who run America’s extractive industries—logging, mining, and fossil-fuel drilling—have offered one answer. Conservationists and the environmental movement have offered another. Developers have touted job creation and the connection between industrial exploitation and economic vitality. Environmentalists have grounded their appeals in ecological science and the value of wilderness to the human soul. Always at odds, locked in ideological opposition, the two sides, it seems, have long been speaking different languages.

Currently, with tens of millions of acres on the line and developers enjoying a stiff political tailwind blowing out of Washington, D.C., the mutual incomprehension has become nearly absolute. The environment reflects the red-state/blue-state divide and plays out in vitriolic debate.

Amid all the noise, both sides are failing to hear the whisper of a bold development that could break the deadlock and revolutionize sustainable environmental policy: the arrival of wilderness economics, a dollars-and-cents way to attach a fair and reliable estimate to the seemingly uncountable value of preserving wild spaces and pristine natural resources.

This new economic paradigm couldn’t arrive at a more crucial time. The failure of environmentalists to sell their agenda to voters has run headlong into an administration that’s put energy development at the top of its list and is making it easier than ever to siphon private resources from public land. While mainstream media have focused on hot spots like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Bush administration officials have quietly opened millions of acres of wilderness-quality land in the lower 48 to developers. Much of the 58.5 million acres of roadless national forest preserved by the Clinton administration will soon lose its protection. In Wyoming, ranchers who’ve wisely tended their land for generations are watching energy companies ruin their soil and water in a natural-gas free-for-all. In Utah and Colorado, nearly 150,000 acres of wildland—including previously protected sections of Desolation Canyon, as well as spectacular tracts of Sagebrush Pillows and the Dolores River Canyon—have been leased for drilling in the past 14 months. Tens of thousands more will likely follow.

President George W. Bush and his supporters defend these actions in the name of energy security and jobs. But set against the West’s new economic reality—a long-term shift away from extractive industries and toward recreation, tourism, the service sector, and information technology—the aggressive drive to cut and drill without factoring in long-term effects on the value of public wildland isn’t just environmentally unfriendly; it’s economically unsound. Converting the natural wealth contained in the nation’s pristine forests, deserts, canyons, and mesas into a one-time hit of corporate profit is a swindle of the first order, one that should outrage anyone, Republican or Democrat, who favors combining sound business practices with smart environmental stewardship.

Fortunately, the new way of thinking, if embraced by both sides, could lead to an era of compromise, in which decisions about extraction and preservation are based on assessments of long-term value, and of how that value might or might not be sacrificed for short-term gains.

Wilderness economics may not be the last word in the conservation argument, but it’s taken on considerable weight, given the alacrity and scale with which the White House is rolling back wilderness protection. If the current wilderness land grab had an emblematic moment, it was the morning of November 24, 2003. I was on hand that day when the federal government—dramatically reversing long-standing precedent—took a chunk of protected land (acreage that the BLM itself had identified as having "wilderness characteristics," and that was part of the proposed 9.5-million-acre Red Rock Wilderness) and auctioned it off to oil and gas developers.

This is the new story of the West. Conservation is now as much about economics as it is about less tangible aspects like the solace of open space. And it’s not just about the West: These arguments can also play out in African wildlife habitats or Central American jungles. Wilderness is a commodity that no longer just tugs at the heartstrings. It’s become abundantly clear that it tugs at the purse strings, too.

via Alex Steffen  via Triple Pundit

Anti-Green Power Broker: Jerry Falwell

Source: Jerry Falwell | Outside Online.

A Lynchburg, Virginia–based Baptist minister and televangelist who in 1979 helped found the Moral Majority, a group that dramatically infused fundamentalist religious values into American politics, Falwell, 71, remains one of the most influential leaders on the Christian right. Through regular appearances on Fox, CNN, and MSNBC, as well as on his own Liberty Channel, Falwell is a tireless political spokesman who downplays environmental ills, dismisses man-made global warming as "a myth," and promotes the literal application of biblical precepts to the use of natural resources. In this, he’s representative of a huge number of conservative Christians who take their cue from the Book of Genesis and believe—as codified in a 2000 manifesto called "A Faith Community Commitment to the Environment and our Children’s Future," which Falwell signed—that God created plants, oceans, and the beasts of the earth "all for the use of man."

Falwell’s long view may not lend itself to careful stewardship, either. Like many fundamentalists, he believes the planet is heading toward a violent apocalypse that will precede a last judgment by God—a view that also drives the hugely popular Left Behind novels written by Jerry B. Jenkins and one of Falwell’s fellow Moral Majority principals, Tim LaHaye. Environmentalists worry that such thinking fosters lax attitudes about earthly issues like global warming and resource conservation.

SOUND BITE: Falwell has dismissed global warming forecasts as propaganda "created to destroy America’s free enterprise system and our economic stability… I urge everyone to go out and buy an SUV today."

NEXT UP: Not all Christians march to the same drummer. In March, the powerful National Association of Evangelicals—a group with 30 million members from 52 denominations—began a push to convince Washington policymakers that global warming is a threat, setting up a clash between Falwell’s view and this emerging faith-based consensus.

Save Brook Trout and Their Habitat

Brook trout are an indicator species. Brook trout populations provide an indication of the health of the streams they live in. Trout Unlimited has a Back the Brookie campaign aimed at correcting the pollution sources that are fouling the mountain streams where brookies once thrived.

Acid rain appears to be a significant factor. Twenty years ago many power companies and their supporters denied that acid rain was caused by air-born pollution. Apparently there is consensus that pollution is responsible (will global warming follow a similar path?)

I’ve spent many wonderful hours in mountain streams in GA, SC, NC, TN, VA, and WV. Beyond the beauty of these places, mountain streams in the East are a significant source of clean water for the East Coast.

I applaud Trout Unlimited for working to improve the water quality in these streams.

Link: Back the Brookie.

In the clean, cold, crystal clear streams these fish call home, they are a living jewel, sprinkled and scattered throughout mountainous waters from Georgia to Maine.

Their presence in a stream is a sign of good water quality and a healthy, functional, watershed.

Unfortunately, native brook trout are declining throughout much of their historic range. Acid rain, sediment in our streams, habitat damage, and non-native fish threaten the future of this beautiful creature. Brook trout are considered an aquatic “canary in the coal mine”…in other words, their disappearance may be an early signal that our streams (and the watersheds which purify our water) are in trouble.

via Lee Graves, Richmond Times-Dispatch