Archive for August 12, 2008

I Hate Naggy Whining Eco-Commercials

I was attempting to watch the National Geographic Channel about illegal aliens. In particular, I was trying to watch how many people were attempting to walk across the Sonoran desert with a 2-liter bottle of water when, in the dry heat, a person needs more like 2 gallons per day to keep from ending up as a pile of scattered, coyote-gnawed bones.

Then a commercial comes on, informing me that 4 out of 10 people in the world do not have clean drinking water; therefore, I should conserve. Then the naggy, scoldy voice informed me that having a dripping faucet would use up 2,700 gallons of water per YEAR. And that I needed to conserve that water, presumably so that some international organization who knows far better about how to use water than I do can take charge of it, or some such crap.

Well, kiss my butt, naggy scolding eco-commercial. Whether I take a 5-minute shower, a 15-minute shower, or run my water 24/7 won’t make a damn bit of difference to those people that do not have potable drinking water. What, exactly, did you propose to do about it? Run a pipeline from my well to, say, some village in Africa? Limit my shower to 2 minutes and bottle the rest so that it can be sent to thirsty people illegally crossing the Sonoran desert? Nah, the point was just to tell me how WRONG I was, and how I should give something, presumably so that the next time I was instructed, I would jump up to do it that much more quickly. Not likely.

I find it amusing that so many eco-SS officers live in California, as ecologically unsustainable as that place is.

I love the Sonoran desert. It hurt my heart to see it on television and not smell the dust, the chaparral, and the scent of water in the desert. Yes, I found that I really could smell water from quite a distance. I lived out there for a couple of years and would like to stay….but, in the time I was there, the population was growing at an amazing rate. What had been a cotton field the week before would have disappeared and there would be a clamor of building. The water there is being sucked up at an unsustainable rate, and yet more people keep moving in as though the party were never going to end. But it will. Probably sooner rather than later. The ancient farming civilizations that have had to deal with prolonged droughts lasting hundreds of years bear mute testimony to that.

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New Bird Flu Strain Detected in Nigeria

ROME (AFP) — A strain of highly pathogenic bird flu previously not recorded in sub-Saharan Africa has been detected in Nigeria, the UN food agency said Tuesday.

Laboratory results from Nigeria and a Food and Agriculture reference laboratory in Italy show that the newly discovered virus strain is genetically different from the strains that circulated in Nigeria in 2006 and 2007, the Rome-based agency said in a statement.

“The detection of a new avian influenza virus strain in Africa raises serious concerns as it remains unknown how this strain has been introduced to the continent,” warned Scott Newman of the FAO’s Animal Health Service.

The new strain is similar to ones previously identified in Italy, Afghanistan and Iran last year, the FAO said.

“It seems to be unlikely that wild birds have carried the strain to Africa, since … this year’s southerly migration into Africa has not really started yet,” Newman said, suggesting “other channels for virus introduction (including) international trade … or illegal and unreported movement of poultry.

He warned that this increased the risk of avian influenza spreading to other countries in western Africa.

Since the avian influenza epidemic caused by the H5N1 strain started five years ago in Asia, the disease has affected more than 60 countries, most of which have succeeded to eliminate the virus from poultry, the FAO said.

In Nigeria, the virus was first confirmed in February 2006 and infected poultry in 25 states before being contained, but the west African economic powerhouse has recently reported two new highly pathogenic bird flu outbreaks in the northern states of Katsina and Kano.

Source: AFP

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Percentage Price Increase Per County Requested by State Farm

Alachua 44 Baker 40 Bay 45 Bradford 51 Brevard 59 Broward 80 Calhoun 25 Charlotte 79 Citrus 39 Clay 51 Collier 86 Columbia 40 Miami-Dade 63 Desoto 71 Dixie 51 Duval 46 Escambia 50 Flagler 88 Franklin 50 Gadsden 25 Gilchrist 40 Glades 71 Gulf 45 Hamilton 40 Hardee 71 Hendry 71 Hernando 26 Highlands 71 Hillsborough 21 Holmes 25 Indian River 40 Jackson 25 Jefferson 43Lafayette 25 Lake 44 Lee 82 Leon 56 Levy 51 Liberty 25 Madison 25 Manatee 71 Marion 44 Martin 62Monroe 76 Nassau 45 Okaloosa 50 Okeechobee 71 Orange 44 Osceola 48 Palm Beach 56 Pasco 19 Pinellas 70 Polk 23 Putnam 57 Santa Rosa 50 Sarasota 72 Seminole 44 St. Johns 47 St. Lucie 45 Sumter 44 Suwannee 25 Taylor 43 Union 57 Volusia 69 Wakulla 45 Walton 45 Washington 25

Source: First Coast News

Why the hell not? My house insurance for a brick single family ranch (which I have never had a claim on) has gone up by over 400% over the last few years.

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USDA Forecasts Robust Corn and Soybean Crops, Despite Flooding

WASHINGTON, Aug 12, 2008 – Despite June’s severe flooding in the Midwest, U.S. farmers are on pace to produce the second largest corn crop and fourth largest soybean crop in history, according to the Crop Production report released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Corn production is forecast at 12.3 billion bushels, down 6 percent from last year’s record, but up 17 percent from 2006. Based on conditions as of August 1, corn yields are expected to average 155 bushels per acre, up 3.9 bushels from last year. If realized, this would be the second highest corn yield on record, behind 2004. Growers are expected to harvest 79.3 million acres of corn for grain, down 8 percent from last year.

Soybean production is forecast at 2.97 billion bushels, up 15 percent from last year but down 7 percent from the 2006 record. Yields are expected to average 40.5 bushels per acre, down 0.7 bushels from 2007, while harvested area is expected to be 17 percent higher than in 2007.

All cotton production is forecast at 13.8 million bales, down 28 percent from last year. Yield is expected to average 842 pounds per acre, down 37 pounds from last year’s record. Producers expect to harvest 7.85 million acres of all cotton, the lowest harvested area since 1983, and 25 percent less than last year.

The August Crop Production report contains NASS’s first estimates of yield and production for corn, soybeans and other spring-planted row crops. To help ensure that these estimates were based on the best information available, NASS supplemented its standard data collection activities in order to account for the impact of the June flooding in the Midwest. NASS personnel re-interviewed approximately 9,000 farmers in flood-affected areas who had previously reported their planted acreage to the agency in early June. Additionally, NASS increased the number of corn and soybean fields selected for objective field measurements in the flood-affected areas and also increased the sample size for the Agricultural Yield Survey, through which farmers report expected crop yields.

The Crop Production report is published monthly and is available online at

Source: USDA

Good news. I hope* that the weather continues to cooperate and no sneaky early freeze/winter occurs.

*Not to be confused with any Obama campaign slogans.

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CSIRO* enlisted to avert global wheat supply crisis

*CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

Cornell University in the United States, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Global Development Program, has subcontracted CSIRO to undertake the research as part of the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat project to tackle Ug99 – a strain of the fungus, wheat stem rust.

World leaders in rust research – Dr Evans Lagudah and Dr Michael Ayliffe from CSIRO Plant Industry in Canberra – will undertake the CSIRO component of this research in Australia.

“Ug99 first occurred in Uganda in 1999, it’s now in Iran and closing in on Asia,” says Dr Lagudah.

“Most crops in Asia’s major wheat growing areas are vulnerable to Ug99, so if it gets to these areas food shortages and famine could result. Ug99 could also pose a bio-security threat to Australia.

“Wheat varieties worldwide, including those in Australia, rely on only a few rust-resistance genes to protect them from different strains of rust, but most of these resistance genes provide little protection against Ug99 and derived strains.”

Through the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) The University of Sydney’s Plant Breeding Institute and the International Centre for Wheat and Maize Improvement (CIMMYT), have coordinated the evaluation of Australian wheat varieties and breeding material against Ug99 in Kenya, to identify resistant and vulnerable varieties.

“Participating in a co-ordinated international consortium is the best way to find solutions to this potential global threat,” Dr Ayliffe says.“The challenge is to now identify and deploy more multiple resistance gene combinations that protect wheat against Ug99 or find other ways to protect wheat from this fungus,” Dr Lagudah says.

Dr Lagudah’s research will focus on rust resistance genes that are effective against Ug99, previously sourced from ancestral wheat species, to identify DNA markers for these genes. DNA markers help wheat breeders incorporate desirable genes into new varieties quickly.

Dr Ayliffe will expand his research into why rice is immune to rust, to determine what protects it against rust and if this mechanism can be transferred to wheat to protect it against Ug99.

“Participating in a co-ordinated international consortium is the best way to find solutions to this potential global threat,” Dr Ayliffe says.

This research adds to the current CSIRO – GRDC partnership and CSIRO’s broader aim to tackle pests and diseases in Australian grain crops and provide better food security for the future.

The University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine is also involved in the project.

Source: CSIRO

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Nancy Pelosi Invests in T. Boone Pickens Water and Land Grab Scheme

Why am I not surprised? Per Dont Go:

Nancy Pelosi says that she is trying to save the planet and prevent global warming, but the reality is that, according to disclosure statements, in May 2007 she invested in T. Boone Picken’s clean energy fuels corp., CLNE, which is the sole sponsor of a proposal in California to funnel $5 billion in state funds and $5 billion in Federal funs to this corporation which will indirectly help them create a giant wind farm in the Texas panhandle.

Whenever there is a fortune to be made through using illegal methods to screw the consumers, the enabling slime trail always leads back to politicians.

What is sad isn’t that politicians can be bought, it’s that they can be bought so cheaply.

If you need a reminder on the illegal methods I’m talking about (not to mention the incredible damage to the Ogallala aquifer), then refresh your memory at JunkScience.

Texanna made some good points that were not previously discussed in my earlier post about T. Boone Pickens’ land and water grabbing:

I am so glad that the water issue is finally coming out. Just a couple of expansions and clarifications.

First, Pickens doesn’t own the all land where he is pumping the water. He made a deal with land owners to lease their water rights. A couple of years ago, he was paying land owners $500 per acre up front, plus another $500 when the wells are drilled. One land owner I spoke with stood to earn $2 million in water lease.

Second, with his water rights, and under current water conservation district rules( 1.5% of available water per well per year; the amount varies depending on how much is available at that particular well site) , he can pump up to 200,000 acre feet of water per year. That is 200,000 acres of land covered with a foot of water. One acre foot of water is 325,851 gallons. That is nearly double what the cities of Amarillo and Lubbock use combined per year.

Third, Roberts County officials DID NOT collude with Pickens. They attempted to prevent the creation of Roberts County Fresh Water Supply District #1 through delaying tactics, but when a county’s population is only about 2,000 and the big guns of a billionaire are threatening lawsuit, they had no choice.

Fourth, the legislators who sponsored the offending laws swear they were not contacted by TBP and had no idea what the consequences would be. Both the law and the amendment were passed during the last crazy days of session, so most lawmakers probably didn’t know what they were voting on.

Finally, for those who say this has no affect on them personally, I’d like to make two points. First, the Ogallala Aquifer makes it possible for the United States to lead the world in agriculture production. Without the water it provides, the corn, wheat and beef industries will be demolished. Second, if a person like TBP can do this is Texas, what will protect you where you live?

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