Dark side of the moon and #climatechange — The Mountain Town News #ActOnClimate #keepitintheground

Photo credit: Allen Best, The Mountain Town News.

From The Mountain Town News (Allen Best):

Like millions of other Americans, I drove hours to dawdle in the brief darkness of the solar eclipse. Spreading our blanket along a highway in the rolling prairie of Nebraska, my companion and I were surrounded by people from Texas, Iowa and Colorado.

Across the barbed-wired fence was a ranch family, three generations of Nebraska red under the blue sky, marveling to see so many people along their lonely country road. One car an hour was the norm, said the patriarch. We talked like old neighbors, us city folks drawn from across the continent’s midsection and our country cousins we had never met. We were uniformly of good cheer. Did we vote the same last November? I doubt it, but it did not come up at this convergence of harmony.

Then darkness came, cold and quiet. Crickets chirped and Angus cows and calves bawled into the twilight. We shivered in this spectacle on the dark side of the moon, halfway expecting angels to begin dancing about. Then the light returned.

Science had predicted all this with precision. None of us gathered along the barbed wire fences in Nebraska had doubted it. President Donald Trump did not dismiss it as a Chinese hoax.

But why so little faith in climate science? If the precise increase in temperatures and extent of weather extremes remains uncertain, it’s clear that our path is fraught with risk.

Three days later, Colorado’s two senators, Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet, spoke at a Colorado Oil and Gas Association conference. They sit on opposite sides of the political fence, but in Denver they sat together in stuffed chairs to brag, as best they could, about their bipartisan efforts before a crowd clearly tired of the twitter storm in Washington D.C. But one looked over his shoulder when talking about climate change, and one looked straight ahead.

Bennet, a Democrat, has a deep background in fossil fuels. Early in his career, he was up to his elbows in oil and gas as a lieutenant for the billionaire Phil Anschutz. As a senator, Bennet bucked the environmental community in voting to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline. But this year he has been bearing down on climate change.

“As I travel Colorado, people are increasingly worried about climate,” he said. “The effect it is having on their farms and ranches, on their ski areas, and on the national forests.” He told the drillers that they will need to engage in a “constructive conversation” about climate change, because the reality “is just not going to go away.” Better for the United States to figure out the answers than another nation, he added in his own version of make America great.

Gardner, though, is the more important individual in this conversation. He’s a Republican from a town of 3,600 on the Great Plains, He doesn’t deny climate science. Occasionally he’s capable of backbone. After Charlottesville, he immediately issued a statement condemning the racism and white nationalism. At a town hall several days later, he even managed smiles while confronting one infuriated question after another about his effort to dismantle Obamacare. The Resistance can be as nasty as the Tea Party.

But in Denver, Gardner recited tired arguments recycled more times than Seinfeld reruns. He pointed out—accurately—that as a Colorado state legislator he had supported renewable energy that benefited his rural constituents. Then, like an ancient fearing the darkness of an eclipse, he warned of the unbearable costs of renewable energy to people of fixed incomes or on farmers irrigating corn and alfalfa fields. “You don’t have to go so far as to cause economic collapse,” he said.

The argument is absurd. Utilities have been scrambling to get their electrical wires around wind and solar. The Public Service Co. of Colorado on Tuesday announced ambitions to shut down two older coal-fired plants. It’s cheaper for consumers, explained PSCo president David Eves. Our technology has advanced.

Residential customers of Aspen Electric—yes, the ski resort favored by Trumps and other billionaires—got their electricity for 26 percent less in January than the farmers around Gardner’s home-town. Towns and cities can be serviced more cheaply than scattered farms. But Aspen now has 100 percent renewables; farmers remain heavily reliant on coal generation.

Scientists had the eclipse down pat. Unfortunately, they’re probably right about climate change. It will take somebody like Gardner, with the same backbone he did after Charlottesville, to clip that barbed wire fence that has made climate change a partisan issue.

R.I.P. Walter Becker

Walter Becker and Daniel Fagen — Steeley Dan.

From the BBC:

Walter Becker, co-founder and guitarist for the US band Steely Dan, has died aged 67, an announcement on his website said.

No cause of death or other details were given.

Becker missed the band’s July concerts to recover from an unspecified condition, band mate Donald Fagen said at the time.

The jazz-rock group has sold more than 40m albums and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

“Walter’s recovering from a procedure and hopefully he’ll be fine very soon,” Fagen told Billboard magazine earlier this month.

In a statement, he said his band mate was “smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter.

“He was cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically funny,” he said.

“I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band.”

Becker and Fagen began working on music together as students in New York.

In the early 1970s they moved to California to set up the band with guitarists Jeff Baxter and Denny Dias, drummer Jim Hodder and singer David Palmer.
Steely Dan – named after a sex toy in the book Naked Lunch by William Burroughs – released its first album Can’t Buy a Thrill in 1972.

Becker, who also provided backing vocals, and keyboardist and singer Fagen remained the core band members as other musicians and singers came and left.

The band split up in 1981 but reformed in 1993 and released two more albums, one of which – Two Against nature – won the Grammy album of the year award.

Becker also had a career as a solo artist, releasing two albums including Circus Money in 2008.

Boulder Creek back in pre-2013 stream channel #ActOnClimate

The City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks Department (OSMP) has begun a major restoration project that will improve native fish habitat in Boulder Creek and restore natural areas surrounding the creek. This ecological project also will repair damage from the 2013 floods by returning Boulder Creek to its pre-flood channel, and will include the planting of more than 11,000 native trees and shrubs. These plantings will help improve the creek’s sustainability and resiliency, and help mitigate damage to private and public property during future floods. These efforts are occurring in two areas east of Boulder. Photo credit the City of Boulder.

Here’s a report from Charlie Brennan writing in The Boulder Daily Camera. Click through for the whole article and the photos. Here’s an excerpt:

“We are at a very significant milestone,” said Giolitto, who managed the project along with her supervisor, Don D’Amico. “The creek’s flowing back through its pre-flood path. That’s a significant milestone for us. The diversion was pretty significant. We were pretty excited on the construction crew when it happened, when we finally put the creek back.”

There was no Champagne uncorked as that benchmark was achieved several weeks back. But there was great satisfaction for those who have labored since the spring of 2014 to reverse the havoc that saw the creekbed breached, city and private funds inundated by rogue waters and sediment plugs created that impeded an effective flow in a critical drainage.

“The other reason this is a milestone, again, (is) getting the creek to convey its flow, both water and sediment. Getting the earthwork done puts the creek in a place where it can actually convey its sediment,” Giolitto said. “Which is a really important piece to getting it back to creating more resiliency.”

The project involved the contributions of more than 100 city staff, contractors, volunteers and private landowners, and ran to a final tab of $2,030,000. Roughly 25 percent of that was covered by partners that included the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Environment for the Americas and the Green Ditch Company.

Boulder OSMP spokesman Phillip Yates said the city leveraged $520,000 in grants to help pay for the project, putting the city’s actual cost at $1,510,000.

Primary contractors have been North State Environmental and Left Hand Excavating, with Five Smooth Stones Restoration and Stantec providing project design work. Support has also come in the form of labor provided through the Bridge House Ready To Work program.

Finish line in sight

The project, which will involve continued management efforts for at least a couple of years going forward, has included the planting of more than 11,000 shrubs and native trees — yes to the plains cottonwood, thumbs down to the non-native crack willow — improving the native fish habitat and restoring natural areas surrounding the creek.

The project area is transected by 61st Avenue, but does not include a popular public pathway that would put it squarely in the public eye in the way that efforts at popular trail systems such as those at Chautauqua and Mount Sanitas are so visible.

“People might see the impacts of the flood as specifically a very trails-oriented impact,” Yates said. “However, there was pretty extensive damage all across the system. There were water delivery systems that we needed to fix. There was agricultural infrastructure we needed to fix. Then, there were a lot of riparian corridors that were scoured. And then we had to go back and take some steps to have some restoration efforts to then actually make those areas better.”

City restoration projects elsewhere, on trails such as Shadow Canyon South, as well as Mesa Trail, are ongoing, Yates said.

“But right now we’re nearing the finish line,” he said. “And having this (Boulder Creek project) completed is so gratifying, to see that this work is now coming to fruition and we have an ability to look and maybe see the horizon on completing our flood-recovery work.”

The enterprise along Boulder Creek has highlighted the symbiotic approach to land management that the city has strived to employ.

For example, the project repurposed hazard trees that had to be taken down elsewhere in the city, using them for Boulder Creek bank protection and to cover over pools to improve fish habitat.

“Those have been great ways to reuse materials and partner with other people and other departments” in the city, Giolitto.