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Author Archive

DUST STORMS……….

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A 2013 sandstorm hits Shandan Horse Ranch in Zhangye City in northwest China’s Gansu province.

 

Two new dust bowls — regions of formerly productive land now crippled by prolonged drought and dust storms — have been developing in China and northern Africa over the past few decades, says Janet Larsen, director of research for the Earth Policy Institute.

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A satellite captured a 2001 dust storm swirling over China. The storm eventually crossed the Pacific and reached the United States.  A now defunct local Silverton, Co. band {Mongolian Dust Storm} was named after this storm that we reported in a CDOT/CAIC weather forecast that winter. It was depositing thick layers of dust on our San Juan snowpack. 

 

In China, dust storms have become almost an annual occurrence since 1990, compared to every 31 years on average historically. In northern China and Mongolia, two large deserts — the Badain Jaran and the Tengger — are expanding and merging, often swirling together in massive sand storms when strong winds blow through each spring. The Gobi desert is also growing, inching ever-closer to Beijing as the grasslands at its edges deteriorate.

Meanwhile, in the Sahel region of Africa, millions of acres are turning to desert each year in countries including Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. Dust from Chad’s Bodele Depression been traveling the globe for many centuries — in fact, scientists think it helped make the Amazon fertile. But the amount of dust blowing out of West Africa has increased in the last 40 years. Dust clouds from the Sahara can affect air quality as far away as Houston, and may even harm Caribbean coral reefs.

The main culprit behind both of these new dust bowls? Overgrazing, says Larsen.

“These are areas where the situation has worsened because of soil erosion, largely because of herders running more livestock over the land than the grass can sustain,” says Larsen. When too many animals are grazed in the same area for too long, they destroy soil’s protective crust and eat or trample all the vegetation, leaving nothing to anchor the soil when the wind blows. Grassland turns to wasteland.

This phenomenon is known as desertification, and it’s a big problem worldwide. According to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, some 12 million hectares of land are lost this way each year, reducing the possible places where food can be grown. The consequences could be far worse than just sand storms, as this UNCCD publication warns:

Desertification is a silent, invisible crisis that is destabilizing communities on a global scale. As the effects of climate change undermine livelihoods, inter-ethnic clashes are breaking out within and across states and fragile states are turning to militarization to control the situation. The effects of desertification are increasingly felt globally as victims turn into refugees, internally displaced people and forced migrants or they turn to radicalization, extremism or resource-driven wars for survival.

And as painful as it is for a blog called “Goats and Soda” to publish this, we must report the news: According to Larsen, goats can be a bellwether of desertification. When a country’s total livestock herd starts to change in proportion — more goats, fewer sheep and cattle — it probably means there’s less good stuff growing on the land.

“Goats are hardier creatures than sheep or cattle; they eat everything. They’ll even eat each other’s hair! As the grasslands deteriorate, goats can still forage on shrubs,” says Larsen. Goats can also cause more soil damage, since their hooves are sharper than sheep or cattle, she adds: “So when you see a big increase in goat numbers, it either means there’s trouble, or trouble’s coming.”

China’s goat population doubled between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s, and continues to grow, surpassing its sheep and cattle populations and reaching 151 million goats as of 2010, notes Larsen. This “goat effect” is also evident in Nigeria and other African countries where desertification is increasing.

Both China and Africa have embarked on grand greenbelt initiatives to fend off their dust bowls, planting billions of trees at the edges of the advancing deserts. Larsen is skeptical that this approach alone will prove effective, since water to nourish the seedlings is scarce in many of the affected areas. She’s more encouraged by more balanced grazing and farming practices.

“Land can be restored from desertification — we did it in the United States after our dust bowl,” she says. “But it’s very, very difficult. That’s why prevention is very important, especially as climate change brings on more extreme droughts. Without good land management practices, [the U.S.] could easily find itself in a dust bowl again.”

 


Benefit for Amy & Bruce Eriksen’s little girl…Nov. 15th 4:00~10:00……

 

Get together for live music, a silent auction to raise money to help support Faye Eriksen and her family while she gets healthy.  You know this could be anyone of us… Please bring your generosity…

 

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RMP ~~ 9″ new snow/.9 H20~ last 24 hrs.

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Elasticity of snow………5/13/14

Check out these cool pictures from Cathy Hartt in Montrose.  She was walking her dog around 7:30 this morning when she observed this “snowslide” at Buckley Park.

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AMERICAN AVALANCHE ASSOCIATION (AAA) AWARDS ~~ by KIITELLÄ

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Dedicated snow scientists that have taught, mentored and influenced many deserve recognition. These awards were presented to Dr. Bruce Jamieson (above) and Ron Perla (below center) at the 2014 ISSW in Banff, Canada.

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~~~  SEE MORE AT Kiitella  ~~~


Between now and Sunday morning the mountains of SW Colorado could see perhaps 18 inches of new snow in favored areas.

 

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JerryO recently “re-up’s”

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Gerald & Allyn “solemnize” their marriage by the mayor of Alta.


A Warhol Leads a Night of Soaring Prices at Christie’s

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“Triple Elvis (Ferus Type),” taken from a publicity shot for his 1960 movie “Flaming Star,” had been expected to sell for around $60 million.

 

Elvis Presley, as depicted in Warhol’s 1963 painting, looked ready for a shootout, staring at the viewer with his gun pointed. But there was no need to pull the trigger: The singer beat out Warhol’s Marlon Brando, along with 78 other works Christie’s had packed into its contemporary art sale on Wednesday night in Manhattan. While Elvis took home the evening’s top price — selling for nearly $82 million — it was just one big number in a night filled with soaring prices.

Christie’s had put together a banquet — 80 works total, 22 of them expected to sell for more than $10 million and nine poised to bring more than $20 million each. It managed to pull it off.

“It’s our highest total ever,” said Brett Gorvy, Christie’s worldwide chairman of postwar and contemporary art. “We saw a lot of new bidders tonight from the Middle East and Asia, but the biggest and most powerful buyers were still from America.”

For months before the sale, experts at Christie’s had been marketing the auction as an event filled with once-in-a-lifetime pieces. It worked. Some of this country’s biggest collectors came to watch the action, including Michael Ovitz, a former Hollywood agent; J. Tomilson Hill, the vice chairman of Blackstone Group; Andrew Saul, a New York businessman; and the Chicago collector Stefan Edlis. The sale totaled $852.9 million, well above its high $836 million estimate. Only five works failed to sell. The evening also trampled Sotheby’s sale on Tuesday, which was a smaller auction (78 lots) that brought $343.6 million. (Final prices include the buyer’s premium: 25 percent of the first $100,000; 20 percent of the next $100,000 to $2 million; and 12 percent of the rest. Estimates do not reflect commissions.)

WestSpiel, the government-controlled German casino company, was the seller of the two Warhols. The paintings had been hanging in its casino in Aachen since the late 1970s. Both were bought by unidentified telephone bidders. “Triple Elvis (Ferus Type),” taken from a publicity shot for his 1960 movie “Flaming Star,” showed Elvis in three overlapping images and had been expected to sell for around $60 million. “Four Marlons,” from 1966, based on a film still from the 1953 movie “The Wild One,” sold for $69.6 million. That too had been expected to sell for around $60 million. The image — Brando in a leather jacket leaning forward on his motorcycle looking the epitome of cool and seductive — is one of the actor’s most famous. Still, neither Warhol beat the $104.5 million paid at Sotheby’s a year ago for “Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster),” a two-panel Warhol from 1963.

It was the multiplication factor — that Christie’s had two major Warhol stars for sale in one evening — that gave the auction heft and helped propel prices, especially for other classic images from the 1960s and early 1970s. One of Twombly’s signature blackboard paintings, being sold by Nicola del Roscio, the artist’s former assistant and archivist who is now president of the Cy Twombly Foundation, had the sale’s most active bidding. Five people chased after the canvas, which is filled with the artist’s signature loops. While it was expected to sell for $35 million to $55 million, it went to a telephone bidder for $69.6 million.

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Friends of Tim Lane in Rio Blanco……..

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Profesor Tim Lane ~ Avalanchistia

 

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I’m riding in the backseat of a vintage 1948 Buick RoadMaster running late for a flight at the Santiago airport.  My head rings with a Pisco buzz, the result of a four hour lunch at the Tongoy with an old friend.  We reviewed lies and good times that we’ve shared while skiing the Rockies and Andes and in other adventures.  In my mind I compare the old ride, belching out fumes and rattling down the highway to my old friend, Señor Tim Lane.  Both genuine, classic originals…..

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Kiitella Project: Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Recognition

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The Grassroots Outdoor Alliance logo illuminated the direction to go for this recognition award… Keep it round and bold – with the classic Kiitella material combination of satin polished jetcut stainless steel, natural wool felt and double-layered birch plywood. And so fun to make an award for you Roanne! – Lisa

See post on Kiitella.com


Pulp Fiction is 20 years old

 

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“Pulp Fiction” was released 20 years ago. Quentin Tarantino’s film blew everyone away and set Internet message boards on fire back when the web was in its infancy. Even if you’re a die-hard fan, bet you don’t know everything ….

~~  CHECK IT OUT  ~~


How Animals Hacked The Rainbow And Got Stumped On Blue

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Surprise! Not one of these things contains a single speck of blue pigment.

 

Until about 600 million years ago, seeing colors didn’t matter so much to Earth’s inhabitants — nobody had eyes.

“Before the eye evolved, you just wouldn’t have seen what was there,” says Andrew Parker, a biologist at London’s Natural History Museum who studies the evolution of color.

Simple animals back then just floated around, he says. They were aware of sunlight, but didn’t have any of the biological bits and pieces needed to perceive color. Then, as Parker tells it, something really big happened.

“A predator that could swim quickly evolved vision,” he explains.

That predator probably looked something like a big shrimp, and now it had eyeballs — compound eyes, like the ones that flies have. “That’s when color kicked off,” Parker says.

Suddenly color could serve as a beacon, alerting predators to tasty food. If you were a worm or a juicy slime blob of a thing — like the soft-bodied ancestors of shrimp or beetles that bobbed about back then — and you stuck out in the murk because you just happened to be yellow or red, you’d be lunch.

So, red prey, for example, had to adapt — by hanging out more often in red seaweed to hide, or by evolving in a way that took advantage of that red color to scare off the enemy. As time wore on, color became useful to animals trying to stay fit, well-fed and sexy enough to get the cool girl or guy — or shrimp-thing.

Millions of species and a few mass extinctions later, creatures with fins, fur and feathers have developed ways to make every color in the Pantone chart.

A lot of the colors in plants and animals come from pigments, colored chemicals that absorb certain wavelengths of light. Many pigments are useful in other ways — granules of melanin, for example, help keep bird feathers strong, and help protect human skin from the sun. Chlorophyll is a chemical that helps plants trap light for photosynthesis; it also makes them look green.

Pigments are like a color currency — many animals can take them from plants, digest them or modify them, and eventually display a version of the pigment in their outer layer. But they have to have evolved the right mechanisms to do so.

Take pink flamingos, for example. Baby flamingos are knobby-kneed, fluffy and awkward. They are also light gray. The adults are pink only because they steal pigments called carotenoids from the foods they eat.

4740758452_1fe2f0af7b_b_sq-5918efa3772050cd5039a789cf0210fa47547788-s3-c85Carotenoids, a class of natural pigments, are abundant in plants, where they play a role in photosynthesis. Different carotenoids make carrots orange and beets red, and are responsible for the range of colors in autumn leaves. Flamingos pick them up from pigment-rich shrimp, crabs and algae. Robins and cardinals get carotenoids from berries, and koi turn orange from munching on algae.

That sort of color change sometimes shows up in humans, too.

“If you eat way too many carrots and the whites of your eyes turn a little pink hue? That’s the same process,” explains Sara Hallager, curator of birds at the Smithsonian National Zoo.

 

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young tent tester WA (Billy) Roos ~ late 60′s

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photo by Matt Wells


Preserving an Accident, the Salton Sea in California, for the Good of Nature

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The Salton Sea, created accidentally when Colorado River floods overwhelmed flimsy dikes, fills crucial ecological niches in southeastern California but is becoming increasingly salty.

 

 

MECCA, Calif. — The area around this town of date palms attracts two kinds of migrants — hundreds of humans who work the land, and millions of birds that stop to rest and gorge at the nearby Salton Sea. The sea is a 110-year-old, increasingly briny, shallow lake that covers 350 square miles but is dwindling fast.

It was actually an accident, created when Colorado River floods overwhelmed flimsy dikes, but it now fills crucial ecological niches in southeastern California. Its wetlands and fish attract as many as 400 species of migrating birds. As it disappears, officials are scrambling to fend off the consequences.

“It’s not a tragedy yet, but it could be a forthcoming tragedy if there is a failure of our government officials to take preventive measures,” said Roger Shintaku, director of the Salton Sea Authority, a quasi-governmental agency.

Avalon is the only city on California’s Catalina Island, which has spent millions to revive tourism but, with limited water sources, is requiring businesses and homes to reduce use by 25 percent.On California Island, Goals for Water and Visitors Collide in DroughtAUG. 9, 2014

Washing sidewalks and watering gardens are among the actions the California water control board voted on Tuesday to restrict.California Approves Forceful Steps Amid DroughtJULY 15, 2014
Every year, the north shore of the Salton Sea is a little farther from this Sonoran Desert town, partly because of drought and partly because of the sale of Colorado River water to coastal areas. The migrating pelicans and grebes that hang out there have fewer fish to eat as the shallow water disappears. And the dust from desiccated shallows blows into the air and is easily inhaled by local children, whose asthma rates lead the state.

Environmentalists say there is some urgency to the problem. A recent report by the Pacific Institute, a nonprofit based in Oakland, predicts that in 15 years the water volume will decrease by 60 percent, 100 square miles of lake bed will be exposed and the water will get three times as salty. The average depth of the receding sea is now less than 30 feet.

The big fish, mostly tilapia now, could disappear. If so, migrating birds, like the brown pelicans on the shore here, will have little to eat. The exposed sand and dust, blown by desert winds, will contribute to dust clouds, making attainment of federal air quality standards impossible. Over 30 years, the cost of inaction, the Pacific Institute report argues, will be $29 billion to $70 billion.

In some ways, Salton’s fate is like that of other disappearing saline lakes, such as the almost-vanished Aral Sea in Central Asia and Lake Urmia in Iran: They are slowly getting saltier and disappearing because people have purloined the water that flows into them.

The people most directly affected by the somewhat overpowering odor live in Imperial County, where the population has many poor farmworkers, and the Coachella Valley around Palm Springs, which is rapidly growing. Researchers estimate that the population around the sea, now about 650,000, will double in 30 years.

“This is a disaster waiting to happen, if it hasn’t already started,” said Bruce Wilcox, who runs the environmental arm of the Imperial Irrigation District. The district receives Colorado River water for its farmers; the runoff and municipal waste feed the Salton Sea.

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Ralph’s of Aspen Ski & Party Togs ~~~ Bernie Arndt photo

 

 

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The Bernie Buzz…..

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~~ PLEASE WATCH ~~


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What we deserve from the election???…….

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Republicans Vow to Fight E.P.A. and Approve Keystone Pipeline

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Senator Mitch McConnell has said he will fight regulations that would limit carbon emissions.

 

WASHINGTON — The new Republican Congress is headed for a clash with the White House over two ambitious Environmental Protection Agency regulations that are the heart of President Obama’s climate change agenda.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the next majority leader, has already vowed to fight the rules, which could curb planet-warming carbon pollution but ultimately shut down coal-fired power plants in his native Kentucky. Mr. McConnell and other Republicans are, in the meantime, stepping up their demands that the president approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to carry petroleum from Canadian oil sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

At this point, Republicans do not have the votes to repeal the E.P.A. regulations, which will have far more impact on curbing carbon emissions than stopping the pipeline, but they say they will use their new powers to delay, defund and otherwise undermine them. Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, a prominent skeptic of climate change and the presumed new chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is expected to open investigations into the E.P.A., call for cuts in its funding and delay the regulations as long as possible.

The Republicans’ new majority in the Senate also increases their leverage in pushing Mr. Obama to approve the pipeline, although it is still unclear if he will do so.

The White House vowed to fight back. “We know that there will be attempts to impede or scale back our actions,” John D. Podesta, the senior White House counselor who is leading Mr. Obama’s climate agenda, said in a statement on Monday. But he added, “We’re confident we can prevail.”

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‘The Laughing Monsters,’ by Denis Johnson ~~ Sunday Book Review ~ NYT

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In Denis Johnson’s new novel, set in Africa, a spy and his ne’er-do-well friend plan to become rich by exploiting post-9/11 politics.

 

Denis Johnson is closest in sensibility to the great Robert Stone, though he lacks that writer’s command of plot and structure. Yet we don’t read Johnson for methodology but for troubled effect and bright astonishments. A writer should write in such a way that nobody can be ignorant of the world and that nobody may say that he is innocent of what it is all about. Sartre says this, more or less, in “What Is Literature?” Johnson writes in just such a way. Life is ludicrous and full of cruel and selfish distractions. Honor is elusive and many find the copious ingestion of drugs necessary. Our ignorance is infinite and our sorrows fearful. We have made an unutterable waste of this world, and our passage through it is bitter and unheroic. Still, the horror can at times be illuminating, and it is necessary that the impossible be addressed. Here is the hapless murderer Bill Houston at the end of Johnson’s first novel, “Angels,” strapped down in the gas chamber, listening to the sound of his heart:

“Boom. . . . Boom! Was there ever anything as pretty as that one? Another coming . . . boom! Beautiful! They just don’t come any better than that. He was in the middle of taking the last breath of his life before he realized he was taking it. But it was all right. Boom! Unbelievable! And another coming? How many of these things do you mean to give away? He got right in the dark between heartbeats, and rested there. And then he saw that another one wasn’t going to come.”

Writing, like old age and Wyoming, is not for sissies.

Johnson was born in Munich, and his childhood was peripatetic. “Every move meant a chance to reinvent myself,” he’s said. His books take that same opportunity. This is his ninth novel. Others include the best-rendered post-nuke Florida Keys dystopia ever (“Fiskadoro”), the big and boldly retro Vietnam novel “Tree of Smoke” and the curiously hypnotic academic novel “The Name of the World.” There’s also the elegant and gloomy Americana novella “Train Dreams,” and lesser merely impressive and enjoyable entertainments, sly riffs on our orphanhood, our muddled dreams, our historical tininess, our moral wobbliness. He’s also written poetry, some plays, a single collection of short stories — the perversely divine “Jesus’ Son” — and a solid collection of political and travel essays, “Seek.” He probably plays the cello too.

“The Laughing Monsters” is a minor work — there’s no rocketing prose or conceptual jumping of lanes. Cheerfully nihilistic, it’s a buddy book dependent for much of its situation on several of Johnson’s early journalistic pieces about Liberia and Charles Taylor and the “atmosphere of happy horror” pervasive at the time. The whores and martinis and low-rent espionage seem no more than familiarly nostalgic, as does a time pre-Ebola. Africa is a hard land and it’s getting even harder.

In Johnson’s earlier novel “The Stars at Noon,” set in Nicaragua, a druggie prostitute is known as Mona Lisa because of her secretive beautiful smile that says: “It’s over — why are we still here?”

What a question! Prescient as ever, even as it all is over faster and faster and we still appear to be here. The critic Walter Benjamin speaks of the Klee painting “Angelus Novus,” from which he derives the concept of “the angel of history.” A stupendous storm propels the angel into the future to which his back is turned, the wreckage of the past growing and growing before him. Whereas we perceive merely a chain of events, the angel sees “one single catastrophe.”

The single catastrophe is what fuels the demands and mysteries of literature. The wreckage is what essential writers particularize, and Denis Johnson’s interests have always been in wreckage, both individual and universal. If “Train Dreams” (a Pulitzer finalist) dealt with the dignified tragedy of a past American anonym, “The Laughing Monsters” addresses the vanishing present, a giddy trickle-down of global exploitation and hubris — the farcical exploits of cold dudes in a hard land.

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