Three Little Frogies All in a Row

These guys are about as cute as they come.  Left to right from your perspective is Herman, Irving and Gertrude.  They are named after the three baby birds my best friend and I raised when we were about eleven.  Gertrude is a Chachi Tree Frog.  This guy come from Choco Rainforest, a threatened habitat in Ecuador.

In the center, Irving,  lives primarily in humid lowland forests and can be found Nicaragua, Honduras, Coast Rica, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador.  He’s called the Splendid Leaf Frog, and I cannot agree more.  They are nocturnal and arboreal. The only time they come down from the trees is when they breed in tiny fishless pools or tree holes that have collected water.  

In 2003  an on-site (in situ) conservation project was designed for the Splendid Leaf From in the Guayacan Rainforest Reserve.  Since these frogs breed in water-filled cavities in standing or fallen trees, an attempt to simulate breeding sites using plastic tubs were implemented.  The intention of this project was to create artificial reproductive habitats as in their breeding sites in the wild had become very limited.  The researchers were hoping to increase the size and vigor of the existing population.  They  placed tadpoles in these pools, and the project proved to be very successful.  In 2007, the researchers increased the sizes of these artificial pools allowing for many more frog to in habit the reserve.  This is one example of what conservationists have done to help these small often overlooked group of animals, animals that are as important as every species on the planet.  

Herman is a Troschel’s Tree Frog also found throughout South America.  They too live in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and rivers.  Their habitat is also threatened.

If you find yourself out and about in areas where frogs live, be careful.  Unless you know your frogs, do not touch. Some of them secret lethal substances as a protection against predation.  It works.  Your beautiful eyes, may have Xs in them.

Tree Frogs - They are so cute.
                                                                         Tree Frogs – They are so cute.

EPA: Thin Blue Line or Thin Black Line

In an attempt to understand and report on how Trump and Pruitt’s proposal regarding defunding the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) will affect our lives is enormously complex. I thought, I’ll just try and simplify this for us by making a list of many of the changes that may occur.  It’s important to note that at this time these are only proposals.  Congress will be writing the actual appropriations bills that will fund the bill, and if it passes the house and the Senate, the president must agree with the bill for it to become a Law. If the President vetos the bill, two-thirds of the Representatives and Senate must vote to  override the veto, and the bill becomes a Law.  

With regard to the Defunding EPA bill, there are many in the house and Senate that will be likely to have issues with several of these EPA cuts, and so we needn’t get all in a tither about this passing.  However, the President is pushing hard to get this passed.  We do need to stay informed, donate, sign petitions, go to town hall meetings, and march to let the government know that Defunding the EPA is a bad idea.  

Eliminating more than 50 EPA programs will result in 3200 people becoming members of the unemployed. What happened to creating jobs, I wonder.  I would also argue that we need to make our 21st century the Ecological Century focusing on changing to a green economy.  All of this money saved, some $347 million, will of course be allocated to building our military, moving ever closer to war, and The Wall which terrorists can take pictures of as they fly over it.  Note: we’re talking about $347 million a year.  Yikes!  Yes, I am cynical, because, if we don’t have our Federal Government actively involved, even dedicated, to protecting our rare tiny blue dot, there isn’t going to be a plan (planet) B, and delaying efforts to stop global warming from reaching a critical state needs to begin now. 

For those whom may not know, Scott Pruitt is the U.S. EPA administrator and does not consider CO2 to be the cause of global warming.  Since increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere are the direct cause of humans using fossil fuel supplied energy and carbon leaching of the soil, Pruitt is basically saying that humans have little to do with climate change–this despite the unquestionable scientific proof that comes from worldwide collections of data compiled for decades that show quite the opposite.  As most know, 95% of the scientists all over the globe say that the climate change we are experiencing right now is the direct result of COemissions.  This is a people caused problem.

Sadly, because many scientists have either falsified data or created poor tests, thus claiming results that ultimately cannot stand the test of time, ‘Science’  is now viewed with suspicion.  An example of deliberately flawed findings that continue to cause serious problems is the false claim that vaccines cause autism.  Science, as with anything else is a work in progress, and fortunately it is a self examining discipline.  There are good tests, and tests that are questionable, but, bottomline, science has made our lives better and far more interesting than we could imagine.  We are, nevertheless, beginning to pay the price for many of our scientific achievements and technological advances.  Not our fault.  How could we predicted this future when the industrial revolution was in its infancy.

For me, the biggest scientific mistakes we have made were due to the idea that we could control nature.  We are discovering that this is impossible, and guess what, nature is rebelling.  The abused will at some point always act out.  And boy our tiny little planet is acting out.   The error behind this idea of control is equal t0 the idea of Manifest Destiny.  Just say’n.

Before everyone starts blaming . . . , realize that life is nothing more than an experiment, and often we don’t know the effects until way down the road.  Our responsibility is ultimately to make things right, once we recognize the detrimental effects of our decisions and actions.  This is one of the problems with defunding the EPA which will be discussed shortly.

It is also important to know that Science holds the solution to the enormous problems we face as a result of human created global warming.   We now are beginning to understand how nature actually works, and we are learning how to use nature to rectify or solve many of the problems we have created.  We are learning how to mimic nature so that nature itself is stimulated to work according to natural law once again.  Read the article in this blog, “Cow Save the Planet”, to get an idea of what I’m talking about.  Another example is related to the study of fractals – check it out – just google it.  If aggressive climate change research and development is not undertaken from this point on, we are doomed.

So what are the projected plans for defunding the EPA.

  1. Undoing environmental regulations that help to keep us and the environment as safe as possible is one such plan as the new administration wants to trim initiatives to protect air and water quality.  As with all things, revisiting many of the regulations already implemented is not a bad idea.  Some regulations may be obsolete, may need updating, or proven to be unnecessary expenditures.  The EPA is human created and so not perfect. Sometimes the EPA messes up, but this isn’t a reason to cut back on funding.  The dangers of turning back the clock to 1977 by defunding the EPA may include smoggy skies and polluted rivers..

Those who remember the bleak times when day ratings on how healthy it was to go outside kept increasing year after year in Los Angeles, New York and other urban environments were grateful when the EPA was created and blue skies returned.  There were days when we were told that it was best to stay in doors.  Fortunately we didn’t have “The Killer Fog That Blanketed London” for 5 days and killed 4,000 Londoners.

Hop a plane and visit Beijing if you’d like to experience this.  China is now beginning to create it’s own EPA and implement regulations. How would you like to go to this wedding?

You may now risk your lives and kiss the bride.

Green peace has an excellent article about why China has this problem and what they are now doing about it.If you’d like to read this article , go to their Blogpost: Greenpeace East Asia

 

Extreme Pollution in China. Photo from Blog: Greenpeace East Asia.  A Before Picture would be nice.

2. Who will come to our aid in times of an environmental crisis?  President Trump believes that each state must take charge of  environmental issues and regulations for their state.  Unfortunately, the environment doesn’t have borders, and one can only imagine the political posturing that might occur as a result of an environmental disaster–disputes over what needs to be done, how to do what is needed, and who will pay for clean up.  Need I say more.  This is a Federal Government’s job.

An aside:  Weather is global.  Dust storms in the Sahara are why we have rain forests in South Africa.  Because of climate change and deforestation, scientists are discovering a change in the pattern of dust storms which will have an effect on the rain forests.  It is also projected that the rain forests will be gone my mid-century, which will result in the release of far more carbon into the atmosphere than we burning fossil fuels.  Furthermore, the water cycle, rain, absorption, evaporation will also change dramatically.  This will have local and global effects. So, EPA’s need to spring into action everywhere.  Rather than funding wars, you can imagine what I’d like to see done.

Another thought.  Imagine a governor wanting to create an alternative energy economy in an Fossil Fuel dependent State?  Though states do need to be involved, Environmental Protection, grants, research and development need Federal participation.

3.  Climate change programs will be eliminated, such as Obama’s, Clean Power Plan aimed at reducing CO2 emissions.

4.  Regulations said to hobble U.S. Oil drillers, fracking operations, coal minors, and farmers will be dismantled.  Many may ask, why farms.  Farms are not simply pastoral vistas waiting to be painted.  Back in the 1960s bird populations were dropping because of the use of DDT.  Today, worldwide bee populations are disappearing, blamed on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides.  Friends of the Earth have stopped many large retailers from selling products containing neonicotinoids.   If you’d like to check out the EPA general scope of regulations for farmers, click here.

5.  Here’s a biggy.  Trump plans on trimming the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  This will end missions that observe the Earth’s oceans and carbon dioxide levels.  Really? With CO2 levels on the rise and ice caps melting which means islands disappearing, Florida underwater etc..  In my opinion, this cut is so transparent.  Pruitt doesn’t want anything that would prove he’s wrong about Co2 levels and global warming.

NASA’s (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Earth science budget is on the cutting board–a mere $102 million gone.  

FYI:  Pruitt wants Congress to determine if CO2 is a pollutant needing regulation. Huh!  Actually we already know that it is.  What a waste of money,  and guess who are the participants? Answer: republicans  and lawmakers from oil-producing states. 

6.  The Hill reports that slashes in funding for industrial waste cleanup through the Superfund program is on the table.  This means that if we to have an environmental catastrophe that requires clean up, e.g. coal waste slurry in rivers, the Feds won’t be coming to help.  And, since near everybody is downstream, who is responsible to clean it up as it travels across borders?  

It is far more important to have preventive measures in place as cleanup is far more expensive and may take decades to repair the damage done than the cost of implementing safeguards.

Also, region-specific environmental programs such as those monitoring pollutants, or determining the mass die off of fish in the Great Lakes for example are to be eliminated. Consider this.  The Great Lakes hold 20% of the fresh water in the world.  It is vastly important that The FEDERAL GOVERNMENT be in charge of helping to maintain the health of these lakes.  

Case in point. The Buffalo River, connected to Lake Erie by the Erie Canal, became an industrial dumping ground.  Pollutants from Lake Erie added to the problem.  In 1968 the River burst into flames as a result of its chemical makeup. Obviously the river was lifeless.  After decades and millions of dollars spent, including help from the Federal Government beginning during the Johnson administration, the Buffalo River is almost fully restored. More on this here.

7. 31% of the EPA’s Enforcement division budget will be cut.  This division is responsible for fining companies for polluting.

8.  The Energy Star appliance efficiency program which aims at reducing U.S. energy consumption is just one of dozens of programs being illuminated or targeted for funding cuts.

Considering that Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney considers green regulations to be a “waste of money” and Trump’s belief that little harm to air and water quality will result from these budget cuts, it’s no wonder that most of the people in the United States are concerned. So I say go out and march.  

My favorite line from all of this is, ‘Make America Gag Again’.  Thanks Conrad Schneider, the advocacy director at Clean Air Task Force.

Make our voices heard.  Environmental marches in Washington DC and around the country will be taking place.  My contribution is my labor, that is, I’m trying to make a difference by helping people to understand a variety of issues important to all of us.  I fund this, sort of, by designing t-s, signs and a bunch of other stuff to help get the word out there. If you’d like to check out what environmental paraphernalia is available from Earth and World Peace, click the link.  Check out other designers too.  My motto is get loud and march in peace.  

On this blog is Carl Sagan Essay, “Pale Blue Dot”  (very slightly edited) If you haven’t read it, do.  It is beautiful.  

We the people get to choose our fate. Stop EPA Funding.
        We the people get to choose our fate. Stop EPA Defunding.