Spotted lanternfly costing Pennsylvania $50M annually.

Associated Press – U.S.

Study: Spotted lanternfly costing Pennsylvania $50M annually

Michael Rubinkam, AP       January 16, 2020

FILE - This Sept. 19, 2019, file photo, shows a spotted lanternfly at a vineyard in Kutztown, Pa. Penn State researchers estimate the spotted lanternfly is causing some $50 million in damage per year in the state’s hard-hit southeast. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

 

The spotted lanternfly, an invasive pest from Asia that is wreaking havoc on valuable trees and vines, is costing the Pennsylvania economy about $50 million and eliminating nearly 500 jobs each year, according to a Penn State study released Thursday.

The study represents researchers’ first attempt to quantify the destruction caused by the large, colorful planthopper. First detected in the U.S. in 2014, in Pennsylvania’s Berks County, it has since overrun the state’s southeastern corner and spread into nearby states including New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia.

Economists in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences estimated the financial impact on industries most susceptible to spotted lanternfly, including nurseries, vineyards, Christmas tree growers and hardwood producers.

In the state’s hard-hit southeast, spotted lanternfly imposes $29 million in direct costs on growers and forest landowners, according to the study. Secondary costs, including reduced business and household spending, represent another $21 million each year.

If the insect were to expand statewide, it could cause $325 million in damage and wipe out 2,800 jobs, the researchers estimate. The state’s $19 billion forest products industry would be especially vulnerable. Pennsylvania, with its vast unbroken stretches of forest, is the nation’s No. 1 producer of hardwoods.

“The part that we’re really concerned about is what’s going on out in the forest. This thing is feeding on trees and those trees are worth a lot of money,” said Jay Harper, a study co-author and director of Penn State’s Fruit Research and Extension Center.

“This is a call to arms,” he said.

Spotted lanternfly is believed to weaken, though not necessarily kill, trees like maple, oak and black walnut. A greater economic threat than tree mortality is the prospect that states and nations could limit imports from Pennsylvania in an effort to prevent the bugs’ spread, according to Wayne Bender, who leads the Pennsylvania Hardwoods Development Council, part of the state agriculture department.

“The industry is taking it very seriously and has taken proactive … measures to minimize the threat and movement of spotted lanternfly,” he said.

Elsewhere, scientists have been testing chemical and biological methods of lanternfly control. Government contractors are removing tree of heaven — an invasive tree that is the lanternflies’ preferred host — from public property. Pennsylvania has also established a quarantine meant to limit the bugs’ spread.

The Penn State study was funded by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a legislative agency.

Australia Wildfire Forces 4,000 to Flee to Sea

EcoWatch – Austrailia

Australia Wildfire Forces 4,000 to Flee to Sea

         The remains of burnt out buildings are seen along Main Street in the New South Wales town of Cobargo on Dec. 31, 2019, after bushfires ravaged the town. Thousands of holidaymakers and locals were forced to flee to beaches in fire-ravaged southeast Australia. SEAN DAVEY / AFP via Getty Images

An out-of-control wildfire in the Australian state of Victoria forced thousands of people to flee towards the coast Tuesday.

Residents of the town of Mallacoota hunkered down in their homes or headed for the relative safety of the beach when a siren sounded around 8 a.m., BBC News reported. Victoria’s state emergency commissioner Andrew Crisp said 4,000 sheltered by the water.

“It’s mayhem out there, it’s armageddon,” evacuee Charles Livingstone told The Guardian Australia. He said he had evacuated to the town’s jetty Monday night with his wife and 18-month-old baby, but moved to the community center to escape the smoke.

The fire that prompted the flight to the coast sparked Sunday in Wingan, according to The Guardian, but CNN reported that there were more than 10 fires burning Monday in the East Gippsland area where Mallacoota is located. Three of those fires have been burning for more than a month, and several new blazes were started Sunday by dry lightning and then spread because of hot, dry, windy weather.

Mallacoota was not evacuated along with the rest of East Gippsland Sunday, and by Monday it was too dangerous for anyone to move, The Guardian explained.

Instead, residents fled to the water’s edge, and the fire followed them around 1:30 p.m.

“It should have been daylight but it was black like midnight and we could hear the fire roaring,” local business owner David Jeffrey told BBC News. “We were all terrified for our lives.”

He said residents planned to jump off a sea wall into the water if the flames came too close.

Luckily, a change in the wind redirected the fire away from the town.

“I understand there was a public cheer down at the jetty when that was announced,” chief fire service officer Steve Warrington told BBC News.

However, residents will now have to deal with fire damage. Warrington told CNN that “a number of houses” were destroyed or damaged. Mallacoota residents estimated on social media that around 20 homes, the school, golf club and bowling club had been burned, according to The Guardian.

“I just don’t know how we’re going to pull through this, really,” Maisy Roberts, who works at the town’s Croajingolong Cafe and thought her home was destroyed, told 3AW’s Nick McCallum. “It’s just absolute devastation.”

Mallacoota is not the only place in Australia feeling the heat from a devastating fire season. Four people are missing in East Gippsland as a whole, 3AW reported. Initial aerial investigations show that 19 structures have been destroyed in Sarsfield and 24 in Buchanan, but authorities think the final tally for the region will be higher.

There are fires burning in every Australian state, CNN reported, though Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) have been the hardest hit. More than 900 homes have been destroyed in NSW alone.

Twelve people have died in the blazes so far, BBC News reported. On Tuesday, bodies believed to belong to a father and son were discovered in Corbargo, NSW.

Three of the dead were firefighters. Two, both fathers to young children, died in NSW a little less than two weeks ago. A third, 28-year-old Samuel McPaul, died Sunday when fire-created winds lifted his truck and flipped it over. He was newly married and expecting a child.

The fires have been linked to the climate crisis.

“Climate change is influencing the frequency and severity of dangerous bushfire conditions in Australia and other regions of the world,” Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said, according to Time.

Trump rails against windmills: ‘I never understood wind’

The Hill

Trump rails against windmills: ‘I never understood wind’

By John Bowden       December 22, 2019

Trump rails against windmills: 'I never understood wind'
© Getty Images

 

President Trump  lashed out again at wind farms on Saturday, claiming that the production of wind turbines causes a large carbon footprint.

During a speech to the conservative student group Turning Point USA, Trump told attendees that he “never understood” the allure of wind power plants, according to a report from Mediaite.

“I never understood wind,” Trump said, according to Mediaite. “I know windmills very much, I have studied it better than anybody. I know it is very expensive. They are made in China and Germany mostly, very few made here, almost none, but they are manufactured, tremendous — if you are into this — tremendous fumes and gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right?”

“So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint, fumes are spewing into the air, right spewing, whether it is China or Germany, is going into the air,” the president added.

Critics of wind power plants frequently point to the carbon emissions from concrete and other manufacturers involved in the production of wind power farms as a reason against further construction of wind farms. However, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) found that wind farms around the world generated enough energy to avoid 200 million tons of carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels last year, and estimates that most wind power plants repay their own carbon footprints within six months of operation.

Trump also claimed during his speech that wind power plants are responsible for killing birds, including bald eagles.

“A windmill will kill many bald eagles,” he said, according to Mediate. “After a certain number, they make you turn the windmill off, that is true. By the way, they make you turn it off. And yet, if you killed one, they put you in jail. That is OK. But why is it OK for windmills to destroy the bird population?”

study earlier this year found that about 150,000 birds are affected by wind turbines in some way every year in the U.S., a number that remains far lower than the number killed by domestic animals each year.

Perry backers secured lucrative Ukraine gas deal

TheHill.com

Perry backers secured lucrative Ukraine gas deal after his meeting with new president: report

By John Bowden         November 11, 2019

Two political backers of Energy Secretary Rick Perry landed a lucrative oil and gas exploration deal from Ukraine’s government shortly after Perry reportedly included one of the two men in a list of suggested potential advisers to Ukraine’s new president, according to The Associated Press.

The AP reported Monday that Michael Bleyzer was among four names Perry had recommended to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Bleyzer and partner Alex Cranberg later got a contract to drill for oil and gas despite despite offering a bid that was lower than their only other competitor, the AP reported citing internal Ukrainian government documents.

The contract was awarded to Bleyzer and Cranberg because they were deemed as having better technical expertise and stronger financial backing, the AP also reported, citing the documents.

A major GOP donor, Bleyzer supported Perry’s unsuccessful 2012 bid for the Republican presidential nomination. He is based in Perry’s home state of Texas.

He told the AP in a statement that Perry’s conversations with Ukraine’s government “did not play any role in Ukrainian Energy winning its bid” in the country and added that the process “will hopefully serve as an example of how the Ukrainian energy market can be opened for new investments.”

A spokesperson for the Energy Department denied to The Hill that Perry advocated for any specific U.S. figures or business interests during his conversations with Ukraine’s government.

“Throughout his tenure, Secretary Perry has championed the American energy industry all over the world. As previously stated, throughout his engagements with Ukrainian officials Secretary Perry has consistently called for the modernization and reform of Kyiv’s business and energy sector in an effort to create an environment that will incentivize Western companies to do business in Ukraine,” said spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes.

“He delivered that same message during his visit to Ukraine for the Inauguration of President Zelenskyy [sic]. What he did not do is advocate for the business interests of any one individual or company,” she added.

The awarding of a contract to a Perry political ally in Ukraine comes as President Trump’s own conversation with Ukraine’s president about opening an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden has become central to the House’s impeachment inquiry.

Perry has refused to turn over documents related to his interactions with Ukraine as part of the Trump administration’s policies, as requested by a House subpoena.

Trump threatens to pull federal aid for California

The Rachel Maddow Show – The MaddowBlog

Despite crisis, Trump threatens to pull federal aid for California

A melted basketball hoop is seen in a clearing after the Loma fire tore along a ridge top on Sept. 27, 2016 near Morgan Hill, Calif. (Photo by Noah Berger/AP)
A melted basketball hoop is seen in a clearing after the Loma fire tore along a ridge top on Sept. 27, 2016 near Morgan Hill, Calif. Photo by Noah Berger/AP

Nearly a year ago, Donald Trump published a tweet that appeared to include a policy pronouncement. After complaining about California’s approach to forest management – an issue he only pretends to understand – the president wrote that he’d ordered FEMA to send the Golden State “no more money.”

We later learned that the Republican’s rhetoric had no relationship with reality. There was no such order – to FEMA or any other agency – and as we discussed at the time, the president’s bluster was hollow.

All of this came to mind over the weekend, when Trump’s rhetoric took on a familiar tone.

President Donald Trump offered a vague threat to pull California’s federal aid for combating dangerous wildfires on Sunday, sparking a response from Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom as the pair traded barbs through the day.

“The Governor of California, @GavinNewsom, has done a terrible job of forest management,” Trump tweeted early Sunday. “I told him from the first day we met that he must ‘clean’ his forest floors regardless of what his bosses, the environmentalists, DEMAND of him. Must also do burns and cut fire stoppers. Every year, as the fire’s rage & California burns, it is the same thing-and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help. No more. Get your act together Governor. You don’t see close to the level of burn in other states.”

During a brief Q&A yesterday afternoon, Trump kept the offensive going, telling reporters, in reference to California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), “The governor doesn’t know – he’s like a child. He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

I realize projection is a go-to move for the president, but I didn’t really expect him to bring his “no puppet” tactics to wildfire responses.

To the extent that reality has any meaning, Trump’s rhetoric didn’t make any sense. California’s latest wildfires, for example, haven’t burnt down forests. The president’s claims about water distribution were similarly wrong. Even the assertion about the Golden State getting “no more” federal aid is probably not to be taken seriously.

What I find important, however, is the bigger picture: Trump’s hostility toward the nation’s largest state has reached a ridiculous level.

 

In February, Politico ran a feature on “Trump’s War on California,” and it’s safe to say the problem has intensified in the nine months that followed. The White House has, after all, taken steps to revoke California’s right to set its own emissions standards, which came shortly before the Trump administration threatened to withhold federal highway funds from the state. Trump has also gone after California over homelessness in dubious ways.

The New York Times published this striking tidbit in September:

In recent months, the administration’s broader weakening of nationwide auto-emissions standards has become plagued with delays as staff members struggled to prepare legal, technical or scientific justifications for it. As a result, the White House decided to proceed with just one piece of its plan – the move to strip California of its authority to set tougher standards – while delaying its wider strategy, according to these people. […]

Mr. Trump … according to two people familiar with the matter, wanted to press forward with a policy that would punish California.

I’m just going to repeat that sentence for emphasis: “Trump … wanted to press forward with a policy that would punish California.”

It was 44 years ago this week that the New York Daily News ran its infamous “Ford to City: Drop Dead” headline. Don’t be surprised if California headlines soon reflect a related sentiment from a different Republican president.

Replace your plastic bags used in grocery shopping with these reusable produce bags 

Outdoors Tribe
October 18, 2019
Replace hundreds of plastic bags used in grocery shopping with these reusable produce bags 🌎

Make an impact 👉👉 http://bit.ly/322u031

Reusable Produce Bags

Replace hundreds of plastic bags used in grocery shopping with these reusable produce bags 🌎Make an impact 👉👉 http://bit.ly/322u031

Posted by Outdoors Tribe on Friday, October 18, 2019

OPB TV – BBC Newshour

Northwest Family Farm Bankruptcies Increase

 

The number of family farms seeking bankruptcy protection grew 24% over the last year, according to an Ameican Farm Bureau Federation analysis of recent court data.

The analysis found family farm bankruptcies are rising fastest in the Northwest.

“We’ve seen low crop prices, low livestock prices for a number of years now,” said chief economist John Newton. “On the back, now, of that we have the trade war where agriculture’s been unfairly retaliated against.”

Newton monitors Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings as one measure of health for the farm economy. Chapter 12 is a kind of bankruptcy protection meant to help family farmers reorganize and keep farming.

Courtesy of the American Farm Bureau Federation

Nationwide, 580 family farms filed for bankruptcy in the 12-month period ending in September 2019. Newton considers that a sign of poor health.

“While it’s nowhere near the historical highs we saw in the ‘80s, it’s an alarming trend that continues to get worse,” he said.

Newton said farmers are also assuming record debt and taking longer to pay it back.

“I’m getting calls from farmers across the country that may not be at Chapter 12 bankruptcy point, but they’re very close to it,” he said.

Thirty-three farms in the Northwest filed for Chapter 12 protection over the time period measured. Most of them were in Idaho and Montana, but the figure includes Oregon apple farmers struck by tariffs in their major export markets.

Richard and Sydney Blaine, for example, filed for Chapter 12 protection just days after President Donald Trump signed a law this summer making it easier to access. The Family Farmer Relief Act increased the amount of debt a farmer can have —$10 million — and still qualify for Chapter 12 protection.

The 33 Northwest bankruptcies represent a 74% increase over the previous year, according to the American Farm Bureau’s analysis. The size of the increase appears large in part because the Northwest previously had fewer bankruptcy filings than some other regions, such as the Midwest.

Still, economist John Newton said each Chapter 12 bankruptcy matters.

“These are family farms,” he said. “And these are family farms that are having to restructure their debt due to tough financial conditions in agriculture.”

Because of the new bankruptcy rules, more farms could seek protection in the months ahead.

Girls Won All Five Top Prizes at the Broadcom Masters STEM Competition

A Mighty Girl

For The First Time In History, Girls Won All Five Top Prizes at the Broadcom Masters STEM Competition

When the winners were announced at this year’s Broadcom MASTERS Competition, America’s premiere science and engineering competition for middle school students, the stage looked a little different than previous years — for the first time ever, all of the top prize winners were girls! 14-year-old Alaina Gassler won the top award, the $25,000 Samueli Foundation Prize, while 14-year-olds Rachel Bergey, Sidor Clare, Alexis MacAvoy, and Lauren Ejiaga each took home $10,000 prizes. “With so many challenges in our world, Alaina and her fellow Broadcom MASTERS finalists make me optimistic,” says Maya Ajmera, President and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public, which runs the competition, and Publisher of Science News. “I am proud to lead an organization that is inspiring so many young people, especially girls, to continue to innovate.”

The Broadcom MASTERS — which stands for Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars — was founded in 2011 and aims to encourage middle school students to see how their personal passions can lead to career pathways in STEM. The competition is open to students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades; science fairs affiliated with the Society for Science & the Public nominate the top 10% of their participants, who then apply for the chance to join the national competition. This year, there was a pool of 2,348 applicants; 30 finalists were chosen, including 18 girls and 12 boys — the first time the finalists have been majority female as well.

In this blog post, we introduce you to these clever and creative Mighty Girls and their incredible projects. Their initiatives include reducing the size of blind spots in cars, creating new methods for protecting trees from an invasive insect species, studying how to build bricks on Mars, inventing a water filter that can remove heavy metals, and researching how increased ultraviolet light from ozone depletion affects plant growth. Their innovation and curiosity is sure to inspire science-loving kids everywhere!

To encourage your Mighty Girl to see herself as a scientist, just like these competition winners, check out our blog post Ignite Her Curiosity: The Best Books to Inspire Science-Loving Mighty Girls.

Meet The Winners Of The 2019 Broadcom MASTERS

 

Alaina Gassler: Making Vehicles Safer By Removing Blind Spots

Alaina Gassler’s mother hates driving their Jeep Grand Cherokee: the large A-pillar design around the windshield, which provides protection in a rollover crash, also impedes her view with blind spots. The problem piqued the curiosity of the 14-year-old from West Grove, Pennsylvania: “I started to think about how blind spots are a huge problem in all cars,” she says. Alaina knew that her solution had to be inexpensive, easily accessible, and work in different lighting conditions. She created a mount for a webcam that could be installed on the passenger side A-pillar, and 3D printed a part that allowed a projector to display the image at close range inside the car. Her invention won the $25,000 Samueli Foundation Prize, but she’s not done yet: she’s already got plans to create a new prototype with an LCD screen, which is easier to see in bright light. “There’s so many car accidents and injuries and deaths that could have been prevented,” she says. “Since we can’t take [the pillar] out of cars, I decided to get rid of it without getting rid of it.”

 

Rachel Bergey: Trapping Invasive Insects to Protect Trees and Agriculture

In Rachel Bergey’s home in Harleysville, Pennsylvania, spotted lanternflies are a huge problem: “thousands of them have invaded my family’s maple trees,” she says. The invasive species, which is originally from Asia, damages trees and threatens over $18 billion worth of agricultural crops in Pennsylvania alone. One trap currently in use is sticky tape, but tape needs frequent replacement, doesn’t always catch the spotted lanternflies, and it can hurt helpful insects and even birds. As an alternative, Rachel came up with a trap made of a tinfoil dome with a tunnel that leads to insect netting: once the spotted lanternflies are inside, they can’t get out. When she tested it, “the tinfoil and netting trap… caught 103 percent more spotted lanternflies and 94 percent less other insects” than tape. Rachel won the $10,000 Lemelson Award for an invention that shows a promising solution to a real-world problem with her trap. She tells other young scientists to remember that most of science is hard work: “You don’t have to be super smart to be a scientist,” she says. “You just have to be observant… Hard work pays off.”

 

Sidor Clare: Making Bricks on Mars

Like many kids today, Sidor Clare is imagining a future Mars mission but one of her questions was how to build structures when the astronauts arrived. “Astronauts need sturdy building materials,” the Sandy, Utah native points out, “and it takes 9 months and a ton of money to ship materials to Mars.” She and her partner Kassie Holt decided to  find a binding agent that would allow people to make bricks with regolith, Martian soil. The girls used Mars Global Simulant MGS-1, a soil mix that imitates the chemical and mechanical properties of regolith, and tried different binders, including polyester resin, polystyrene, and recycled high density polyethylene, or HDPE. The resin brick was the strongest — so strong that they had to use construction equipment to test it: “Our Mars resin brick can withstand more pressure than concrete.” Sidor won the $10,000 Marconi/Samueli Award for Innovation, which recognizes a young inventor with vision and promise. “A lot of people want to go to Mars,” she says, “and I wanted to help further that exploration.”

 

Lauren Ejiaga: Studying The Effects of Ozone Depletion

“I was always fascinated by nature,” Lauren Ejiaga says, so when she learned about how the thinning of the ozone layer let more ultraviolet rays through the atmosphere, she wondered how that change was affecting plant growth. The aspiring doctor from New Orleans, Louisiana decided to analyze the effects of increased UV radiation on plants, particularly UVB rays. She grew pansies in hollow growing cases that she built from plastic pipes and connectors. Each case had a filter that filtered UVA ray, UVB rays, or neither. She found that plants that got UVA radiation only lost 14% of their chlorophyll, the pigment that allows plants to photosynthesize, compared to her control group, while plants that got UVB radiation only lost 61% of their chlorophyll. “[Ozone depletion] affects us in more ways than what we know,” she concludes. Lauren won the $10,000 STEM Talent Award, sponsored by DoD STEM, which celebrates leadership and technical ability in STEM. She hopes to show other students that you can do science with minimal resources. “[You] don’t really need a bunch of fancy gadgets or whatever to prove that something’s happening,” she says. “They can do it in their home, their backyard. If they want to do a topic, they can go for it.”

 

Alexis MacAvoy: Designing Low-Cost, Eco-Friendly Water Filters

Alexis MacAvoy’s home in Hillsborough, California is near San Francisco Bay, where efforts to clean up heavy metals in the water have cost millions of dollars — a cost that could have been avoided if people had filtered their wastewater. But even today, she says, “80% of the industrial wastewater isn’t filtered whatsoever.” Activated carbon filters can effectively remove these heavy metals, and Alexis wondered if it was possible to make these filters using biowaste like coconut shells or sawdust. After testing several materials, she created filters using sawdust and walnut shells, ground to a specific mesh size and treated with sodium bicarbonate and fluoride; these filters absorbed up to 30 times more copper than a commercial filter! Alexis won the $10,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Advancement for her work to make it easier to keep our water clean. She hopes her win will raise public awareness of the multiple benefits of water filtration: “preserving ecosystems so that no further damage is conducted can actually benefit our health as well.”

Mosco Mitch – Obstructing America’s Business

Attack on the Middle Class

November 7, 2019

These high-pocritical republi-con bastards in the senate then try to blame the Democratic House for doing nothing. John Hanno

No photo description available.