Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Keystone pipeline case goes to court in Atoka, Oklahoma

defendant Alec Johnson and community supporters from Oklahoma and Texas, followed the next day by a jury trial featuring the unprecedented use of a climate change necessity defense.
WHEN: Rally begins on Wednesday, October 22nd at 6:30pm. Trial begins the following day on Thursday, October 23rd at 9:00am.
WHERE: Both the rally and criminal trial will take place at the Atoka County Courthouse on 200 East Court Street, Atoka, Oklahoma, 74525.
eric johnson who blocked kxl construction in ok faces trial next wednesday‏

eric johnson who blocked kxl construction in ok faces trial next wednesday

kxl pipeline truthforce Add to contacts 4:53 PM clear.gif
To: bill mckibben


Keystone XL Pipeline Case Faces Jury in Oklahoma
Man who blockaded Keystone XL construction argues threats of climate change and environmental harm justify his actions
On April 22, 2013, Alec Johnson disrupted construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline near Tushka, Oklahoma by chaining himself to heavy equipment and effectively halting work. Eventually the police were called and Mr. Johnson was removed from the site and arrested. Now, more than a year after his arrest, Alec Johnson will attempt to make US history becoming the first to argue that he was justified in breaking the law to prevent a greater harm: the urgent threat of climate change. This kind of ‘necessity’ defense rooted in climate justice could have national implications for the growing movement of resistance to the fossil fuel industry across the US.
Mr. Johnson will argue that enforcing future generation’s rights to a stable climate and livable environment is not a crime. His defense will introduce a commanding consensus of climate science, including that of renowned climate scientist Dr. James Hansen who is preparing written testimony for the consideration of the court which will make clear that effective action to address the climate crisis is urgent and can no longer be delayed. Mr. Johnson will also draw attention to imminent health and safety risks posed by Keystone XL. He will address contamination threats to people living near the 1,700 mile pipeline route, the health problems experienced by First Nations communities from the extraction of tar sands, which is the product that flows through the KXL pipeline, as well as the toxic refinery emissions that it is forcing upon Gulf coast communities.
WHO: Alec Johnson, a 62 year old father of two and resident of East Texas, and dozens of supporters from across Oklahoma and Texas many of whom are directly impacted by the Keystone XL pipeline.
WHAT: A rally outside the Atoka County Courthouse featuring the voices of defendant Alec Johnson and community supporters from Oklahoma and Texas, followed the next day by a jury trial featuring the unprecedented use of a climate change necessity defense.
WHEN: Rally begins on Wednesday, October 22nd at 6:30pm. Trial begins the following day on Thursday, October 23rd at 9:00am.
WHERE: Both the rally and criminal trial will take place at the Atoka County Courthouse on 200 East Court Street, Atoka, Oklahoma, 74525.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River flirts with flood stage as intermittent storms pass over south Fayetteville, Arkansas

Trail only 18 inches higher than flow of Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River under S. School Avenue. Whose idea was this? Rain had slacked off but more could come. Video at 8:23 a.m. Tuesday, September 2, 2014. Ever drive South College when was was flowing over the bridge and bridge was temporarily closed? Now there is less room for water under the bridge.
Video of trail and flow under S. School Avenue at 8:23 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014

Monday, September 1, 2014

The horror of leaf-blowing

comments_image 24 COMMENTS

Modern Pestilence: Leaf Blowers Generate Infuriating Noise, Toxic Gases and Hazardous Dust

Blasting out air at hurricane-force speeds, leaf blowers disburse allergens, toxins, pollutants and pathogens into the air we breathe.​
The calm and quiet of suburban existence has always been interrupted by loud, dirty machines in the form of chainsaws, hedge trimmers, lawn mowers, and string trimmers. But none of the tools of modern landscaping inspires as much animus and contempt as the leaf blower, the four-season tool used by do-it-yourself groundskeepers and professional landscapers alike.
The mind-numbing roar of a typical gasoline-powered, two-stroke leaf blower, at 90 to 102 decibels (dB), is only a small part of the overall damage these machines do to a community. Blasting out air at hurricane-force speeds, leaf blowers disburse allergens, toxins, pollutants and pathogens into the air.​
The two-stroke engine is used in leaf blowers because it’s lightweight, inexpensive and relatively powerful. But this engine is an environmental nightmare. Because it doesn’t have a separate lubrication system, like an automobile, the gasoline is combined with oil and the entire mixture is burned.​
This makes the typical leaf blower engine notably inefficient; some 30% of the fuel and oil mixture does not thoroughly combust, which causes the engine to discharge an abundance of air toxins, such as carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides and hydrocarbons. Nitrous oxides make up more than 7% of the gases that cause global warming and factor in the creation of acid rain. Hydrocarbons are volatile organic compounds that are often carcinogenic and contribute to smog formation. Carbon monoxide is toxic to humans and animals in high concentrations and is part of the chemical mix that forms photochemical smog.​
Environmental scientists maintain that the emissions from a single leaf blower over a year’s time are the equivalent of running 80 automobiles 12,500 miles. Still, the two-stroke engine’s emissions may actually be less hazardous than the dust and other particulate matter a leaf blower stirs up.​
Leaf blowers don’t just blow away leaves and lawn clippings, their 180- to 200-mph air output blasts away topsoil, microbial life forms, animal waste, allergic fungi, spores, herbicides, pesticides, and even heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury and lead. This toxic cocktail of engine emissions and dust particulates can exacerbate allergies and asthma in children and adults, and aggravate acute pulmonary disorders such as chronic bronchitis, COPD, emphysema, and pulmonary fibrosis in adults and the elderly. Leaf blower pollutants are so bad the American Lung Association recommends that all individuals avoid them.​
And then there’s the noise pollution. A moderate decibel level, like playing music or having a conversation, is about 60 dB; the noise from a car passing 50 feet away is about 70 dB. But leaf blowers can generate four to eight times the noise of a passing car. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, that’s enough noise pollution to degrade the quality of life by interfering with communication, thinking and sleep. The EPA says such noise can reduce the accuracy of work and increase an individual’s level of aggravation, even hours after exposure.​
The high levels of exhaust, particulate and noise pollution have prompted dozens of municipalities across the U.S. to pass ordinances either restricting the use of leaf blowers or banning them altogether. Most restrictions are seasonal (mostly in the late spring and summer months), while other bans restrict the time of day or days of the week blowers can be used. Some cities, like Los Angeles and Aspen, ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers altogether. Fines vary from as low as $50 to as high as $5,000, depending on the community.​
There's one more big flaw in terms of leaf blower function: Especially when used in the summer months to move grass clippings, leaf blowers don't really clean the area, they just move the mess offsite and onto the sidewalk, street, adjacent properties, and into storm drains and the air. So, it's a zero-sum game, giving the home or business owner a pristine driveway or lawn, while the dirt and debris has just been moved elsewhere in the neighborhood. That's not cleaning—it’s one residence making its mess the community’s problem.
Getting a Ban in Place
Still, getting a leaf-blower ban in place is not always easy. Case in point: the Village of Nyack, NY has been mulling over an ordinance for several years, spanning two mayoral administrations. In 2011, the village’s board sent the matter to an environmental committee comprised of some of the village’s residents, which has yet to return a final recommendation to the board.​
There has been some push-back against an ordinance from some businesses in Nyack, particularly the area’s landscapers, who claim that illicit companies using leaf blowers will steal their business if they are not permitted to use blowers. The landscapers also claim they would be unfairly punished for using their equipment, while loud tools such as jackhammers would not be banned or regulated. Some elderly and disabled residents, who have purchased electric leaf blowers to help them clear snow from their walkways during the winter, also worry what an all-out leaf-blower ban might mean to them.​
“Nyack has to worry about unintended consequences when considering an ordinance,” says Mayor Jennifer Laird White, noting that while the pace of imposing a leaf-blower ordinance might seem slow, the village wants to be thorough and thoughtful in its decision-making process.
But some residents of Nyack say a ban on leaf blowers can't come soon enough. Village resident Matthew Picardi likens the use of blowers on neighboring properties to torture. Picardi says landscapers use leaf blowers as early as 7am and as late as past sunset.​
“I have been blown in the face at close range multiple times while walking and biking, leading to coughing and difficulty breathing, and on one occasion nearly knocking me off of my bike,” he says.​
Picardi notes that landscapers are rarely mindful in their use of leaf blowers and have mixed their use with the application of liquid compounds used in gardening and lawn care.​
“Leaf blowers [are] being used alongside landscapers using chemical sprayers on lawns, potentially making herbicides and pesticides airborne,” he says.​
Mayor White says she is not a fan of leaf blowers, and thinks there's reason to believe they're potentially toxic, but says she's seen no definitive testing as to the hazards.​
“Unfortunately, this is not like climate change, where there's a wealth of proof to make your case,” she says. “I think, as a village, we've got to approach this from a quality of life aspect.”​
The Village of Nyack uses only electric leaf blowers, according to White, and “the department of public works is strongly discouraged from using them,” she says.​
Other residents of Nyack wonder whether it would be expensive to clean the village’s tree-lined riverfront park with rakes rather than leaf blowers, possibly raising their taxes. But that probably wouldn't be the case. In a report to the California Air Resources Board, the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water once pit a grandmother with a rake and a broom against a professional landscaper with electric and gas leaf blowers. In three test cycles, the grandmother cleaned the area faster than any of the battery-powered blowers and 80% as fast as the gas-powered leaf blowers. She also did a better job cleaning up the areas, says the report. When a landscaping company did its own tests, it found that it too could do the job faster using rakes.​
Health and Welfare Issue
Across the Hudson River from Nyack in Eastchester, NY, advocates for a leaf-blower ban got the medical establishment on their side. Every doctor affiliated with Mt. Sinai Children's Hospital's Environmental Health Center signed on to the proposed restrictions, stating:
"Leaf blowers pose multiple hazards to human health. Children are the most susceptible members of our population to these hazards because they breathe more air per pound of body weight per day than adults and thus inhale more of any pollutants that are thrown into the air by this equipment. Children's vulnerability to the health effects of this equipment is further magnified by the fact that they are passing through the stages of early development, and thus their lungs, ears, eyes, and other organ systems are inherently more sensitive to environmental hazards than the organs of adults."​
In other towns that have considered ordinances or bans, opponents have argued that banning the blowers would make landscaping difficult and excessively expensive. Failure to maintain lawns and gardens with leaf blowers, landscapers claim, could result in untidy homes and perhaps even falling property values. However, it hasn’t hurt Carmel and Beverly Hills, the first two California cities to ban the blowers back in the 1970s.​
A ban on leaf blowers certainly hasn’t hurt quality of life in Rye, NY, an affluent bedroom community on the New York/Connecticut border, and perhaps not its landscapers either. When the city was considering a trial summer ban on leaf blowers in 2008, landscapers swarmed city council meetings, saying it would hurt their businesses. But Greenwich Time, the newspaper of neighboring Greenwich, CT, reported that a year later, only one landscaper showed up to a council review of the seasonal ban. Rye now bans all gas-powered leaf blowers.​
Despite the leaf blower bans that are in place, some landscapers still use them. Some wait until the late afternoon, when code enforcers are not on duty. Others consider the fines they get to be just the cost of doing business, while others simply don't pay the fines. A video by actor and environmental activist Ed Begley Jr., released a few years back, showed that landscapers still use leaf blowers in Los Angeles despite a ban.
Nyack's Mayor White also worries that a regulation in her village might not solve the problem. "I don't know how we can enforce it," she says, noting that violators might be finished by the time authorities show up for a non-emergency complaint.
Writing this article was difficult, as the writer suffers from ragweed allergies, which were aggravated by four...leaf blowers used nearby. And then there's the noise....
Cliff Weathers is a senior editor at AlterNet, covering environmental and consumer issues. He is a former deputy editor at Consumer Reports. His work has also appeared in Salon, Car and Driver, Playboy, and Detroit Monthly among other publications. Follow him on Twitter @cliffweathers and on Facebook.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Oregon and Colorado also good role models for Arkansas

Dear Aubey,
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  ― Margaret Mead. 
This week, an army of amazing grassroots volunteers from the Right to Know Colorado campaign delivered 167,950 signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office to qualify a ballot initiative to label GMOs for this November’s election.
The volunteer driven campaign in Colorado crushed the required 86,105 signatures to make it on the ballot by nearly double and already the opposition is heating up and we need your help now to make sure we can defeat Monsanto's GMO Lie Machine this fall.
Help us raise $100,000 in the next 10 days so we can defeat Monsanto and win GMO labeling in Oregon and Colorado! If you donate today, your donation will be matched 3 to 1 by the incredible teams at and Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps.
Please, Aubey – don't miss this chance to have your gift matched by pitching in whatever you can. Every dollar counts!
Colorado and Oregon: NOW the Game is On and Monsanto is Panicking!
Colorado’s amazing success follows on the heels of activists last week from the Oregon Right to Know campaign, which was officially certified by the Oregon Secretary of State’s office for voters to pass Yes on 92 for GMO labeling in Oregon.
With state ballot initiatives for GMO labeling now live in 2 states, Monsanto and their Big Food front groups are hitting the panic button.
Already, you’ve helped pass strong GMO labeling bills in Connecticut, Maine and Vermont and now we need to pass ballot initiatives in Oregon and Colorado to knock Monsanto’s secret plan to kill GMO labeling in Washington DC out for good.
In the past 2 years, Monsanto and the GMA spent more than $70 million to defeat GMO labeling in California and Washington State alone, but they can’t keep us down!
Monsanto is going to come at us with all they've got -- we need to be prepared NOW.
Remember, democracy is like a muscle... either use or lose it!
Thank you for participating in food democracy,
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Action! team
P.S. We understand that not everyone is in a position to donate and want to thank you for whatever contribution you can make, whether it's sharing this information with your friends and family or forwarding this email to whoever you think might be interested in this vital issue. It takes a movement to change the world and we thank each and every one of you for your support.
Funds donated directly to campaigns must be raised through Food Democracy Action, our allied 501(c)4 lobbying arm.

Sierra Club science quiz. Check it out!

Sierra Club - Explore, enjoy and protect the planet
Dear Aubrey,
True or False:
 "There's no global warming in 
North America." 

not science button  that's true button 
Okay, maybe that's an easy one --
that was Fox News inaccurately
reporting the very real impacts
we're already seeing from
global warming.

But it's not far off from the
ridiculous things people say
about science. It's up to us to tell
science fact from science fiction.
Can you spot it? 
Choose your
answer to get started.
Take the Quiz!
The things people say!
"Wind is such an unreliable source of electricity that coal plants are required to operate around the clock as backup for wind power." -- fossil-fuel funded front group ALEC
More and more these days special interests go out of their way to spread misinformation and undermine science -- and the truth isn't always easy to see.
That's why we want to make sure you can spot the difference between science fact and science fiction! Take our Got Science or Not Science quiz today and get a free "Got Science?" sticker.
The Union of Concerned Scientists and the Sierra Club have teamed up to fight back against those who mislead the public about climate change and other vital issues. We want to expose disinformation and corporate "counterfeit science" and help scientists to do real cutting-edge research free from political interference. you think you can spot the fake? We've gathered quotes about climate change, deforestation, even dragons! It's up to you to determine whether each quote has got science or if it's not science. Click here to take the quiz.
And once you've demystified the misinformation, feel free to show off your smarts to your friends and let them know how they can get a free "Got Science?" sticker too.
It's really that simple: Take the quiz. Get the sticker. Tell your friends. Stand up for Science. Done.

It's up to us to defend science and ensure that decisions about our health, safety, and environment are based on sound science—not corporate hype and disinformation.


Your friends at the Union of Concerned Scientists and Sierra Club!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Donna and Kelly Mulhollan at Hobbs State Park next weekend

View online
View Still on the Hill.jpg in slide show
Memo Header
From:  Hobbs State Park – Conservation Area
                                                                        Contact:  479-789-5000

Media Release
July   19, 2014
Musical Group - Still On the Hill - to Perform “Once A River” Songs at Hobbs State Park – Free to the Public
     An exciting project concerning Beaver Lake and its watershed is occurring in Northwest Arkansas.  The popular and award-winning folk duo, Still on the Hill, has written and recorded an entire CD of songs to create awareness of the lake’s history and collective stories.
     The project is being made possible through a collaborative grant from the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, and the National Endowment for the Arts, plus four northwest Arkansas groups – the Association for Beaver Lake Environment (A.B.L.E.), Ozarks Water Watch, Beaver Water District, and Beaver Watershed Alliance, with special additional sponsorship through the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. 
     Still on the Hill will perform 10 free concerts during 2014 in watershed communities, and will give away 100 CDs (one per family) at each performance on a first come, first served basis.  These concerts, in addition to being entertaining and educational, will instill a sense of ownership for the protection of this valuable resource which supplies drinking water and quality of life for one in seven Arkansans!  Mark your calendar.

Still On the Hill Plays “Once a River” songs at Hobbs State Park
Where: Hobbs State Park visitor center – located on Hwy 12 just east of the
              Hwy 12/War Eagle Road intersection.
When:  Saturday July 26   2:00 p.m.
Cost:   FREE – The public is invited
   For information on upcoming programs at Hobbs State Park, go to:


Steve Chyrchel, Interpreter – CIG
Hobbs State Park – Conservation Area
20201 East Hwy 12
Rogers, Arkansas 72756
Phone:  479-789-5006
Fax:         479-789-2151

Description: final Hobbs logo_color_outlDescription: ASP Logo color-1inchHigh copy

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Identifying two species of butterfly: Monarch and Viceroy appear superficially alike but have distinguishing marks when seen upclose and their caterpillars must eat very different species of plants

Aubrey James Shepherd and John Ross Rule discuss similarity and differences of Monarch and Viceroy butterflies in slide show recorded to video on 7 July 2014.
Also appearing on Fayetteville, Arkansas, public TV 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday and at 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday the week of July 13-18, 2014.