American Elephants


Do Dead Birds Matter? by The Elephant's Child

Ivanpah-lead-537x357
Let’s see. We are capturing the energy of the sun because it’s free, and replaces nasty coal-fired power plants that produce CO² because the CO² we exhale with every breath is poisoning the earth and causing global warming which causes the seas to rise, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, bad weather, carbon pollution and…Oh wait, it doesn’t? CO² is a natural fertilizer, causes plants to grow and resist drought. That part, at least, is true.

California’s massive Ivanpah solar power plant has 350,000 mirrors which bounce sizzling sunlight to the tops of three 40-story boiler towers, heating steam for turbine electricity generators. Temperatures near the towers can reach up to 1.000 degrees Fahrenheit, heat certainly sufficient to fry a fowl.

Workers in those “green jobs” at the state-of-the-art solar plant call the birds that fly through the concentrated solar rays — “streamers.” Birds ignite in midair with a smoke plume, instant barbecue. Federal investigators saw a bird burn about every two minutes. One environmental group claims the plant kills up to 28,000 birds each year.

The American Bird Conservancy estimates that wind turbines chop up 440,000 birds each year, but an analyst writing in the Wildlife Society Bulletin says it’s closer to 573,000 in addition to 888,000 bats. ( I thought bats only come out at night —our bats did, and slept all day). Airline pilots whose course takes them near the solar plants report being blinded.

The Obama administration remains wildly enthusiastic, and gave Ivanpah a $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz called Ivanpah “a shining example of how America is becoming a world leader in solar energy.” Interestingly, everybody else is trying to get out of solar energy because it’s too expensive. And the sun does go down at night.

I’m not sure what bird fatalities that extensive mean. More mosquitoes, a return of Malaria, and that other new disease transmitted by mosquitoes? What about migratory birds and birds of prey? There is a balance of nature to some extent and if it gets out of whack there are unintended consequences. Europeans still kill off their songbirds by erecting great nets along the flyways to catch them. Whole fried or pickled songbirds were considered a gustatory treat. I thought the practice was outlawed, but apparently not.

The Mohave Desert Food Chain:


A Little Common Sense by The Elephant's Child

The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley: ” Let’s not pretend”our morgues are full of black men because of cops.



I Don’t Know Anything About Ferguson, and Neither Do You. by The Elephant's Child
August 19, 2014, 4:00 pm
Filed under: Politics

Ferguson, Missouri. None of us know what happened there. It’s a complicated situation, and initial assumptions that a rogue policeman shot an unarmed black youth for racial reasons are hooey. The race hustlers have all shown up to inflame the crowds — Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the Black Panthers, ISIS Recruiters, and now Attorney General Eric Holder will arrive to take over the investigation.

The media has performed abysmally. A week later the announcer for ABC news is still describing Ferguson as the suburb “where a policeman shot an unarmed black youth.”

Well, Al Sharpton actually said some correct things, and attempted to defuse the situation. Jesse Jackson pandered for donations and got booed. The Black Panthers worked to inflame the rioters with chants about killing the cop. Recruiters for ISIS were reportedly there, we can only guess at those conversations. Protesters threw rocks at the press. That’s a summary of what I know, which is nothing —nothing at all.

It is frustrating to have to wait for information when you are angry and sure that you do know what happened. But judgment depends on knowing exactly what happened, and none of us do — not even the folks in Ferguson.



We Need More Communication About Militarization. by The Elephant's Child

Police militarization has worried a lot of people. Some of the vehicles that police departments have acquired are distinctly scary. Most of us whose encounters with the police are limited to exceeding the speed limit can’t imagine being confronted with an officer in full military gear, helmet and assault weapon.

Policing is intended to protect civilians and communities, it is defensive in nature. But there are exceptions, and there are crazy people, and there are riots and armed standoffs. Apparently one of the worst situations is a confrontation with meth-cookers who can be heavily armed and high on drugs.

We want our police to be safe. They apply to do dangerous work, and train in how to deal with bad situations. Domestic disputes can elevate into something truly dangerous to everybody nearby.

The solution, as in most things, is communication. Show the vehicles and the equipment to the public. Kids would love to see an ex-military MRAP (Mine-resistant ambush-protected) vehicle. A community that understands why their department acquired such a vehicle, why the department thinks it necessary, and something about their training and goals.

Panic comes when police show up with unexpected and unnecessary force. Understanding defuses scary situations.

On the other hand, I don’t understand why the Agriculture Department needs a swat team armed with machine guns.




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