Thursday, December 21, 2017

12/22 Grizzly, extreme weather, bad traffic, spotted owl, kelp, spending bill, affordable housing, Jingle Bells

North American Brown Bear [Wikipedia]
Grizzly Bear
The grizzly bear (Ursus arctos ssp.) is a large subspecies of brown bear inhabiting North America. Scientists generally do not use the name grizzly bear but call it the North American brown bear…. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark first described it as grisley, which could be interpreted as either "grizzly" (i.e., "grizzled"—that is, with golden and grey tips of the hair) or "grisly" ("fear-inspiring", now usually "gruesome"). The modern spelling supposes the former meaning; even so, naturalist George Ord formally classified it in 1815 as U. horribilis, not for its hair, but for its character. (Wikipedia)

Weather extremes now surpassing the realm of natural possibilities
A new report from the American Meteorological Society makes a rather stunning statement about climate change. For the first time, researchers have concluded that specific weather-related events could not have happened without the influence of climate change caused by human activity. Three events studied in 2016 were so extreme that they did not fit into the context of natural climate conditions, according to researchers working on separate projects. One involved the global heat record for 2016; another was focused on warmth across Asia; and the third was the “blob” of warm ocean water familiar to folks who follow weather in the Pacific Northwest. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

The Shortest Days Of The Year, And The Worst Traffic Of The Season

As the sun sets on this winter solstice, bringing an end to the shortest day of the year, headlights will flicker on in traffic jams across the country, according to estimates from AAA. Wednesday and Thursday afternoon were expected to see the most crowded roads for this holiday season. In New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston, the worst day for travel was Wednesday. But in other cities — including Washington, D.C, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Atlanta and Detroit — the real backlog is predicted to kick in on Thursday afternoon. As holiday travelers combine with everyday commuters, drivers can expect trips to take as much as 2 1/2 times longer than usual.  Camila Domonoske reports. (NPR)

On This Day in 1994: Federal Judge Upholds Controversial Spotted Owl Plan 
On Dec. 21, 1994, Federal District Court Judge William L. Dwyer (1929-2002) upholds the federal spotted owl management plan in a key National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) court decision. The case has important repercussions for logging and environmental protection in the Northwest, and it also creates important precedents in interpretation of NEPA, the nation’s environmental protection statute. The decision holds that the federal government’s “ecosystem analysis” approach sufficiently complies with the intent of NEPA. It also, for the first time, emphasizes that compliance is dependent on careful monitoring in the future. (HistoryLink.Org)

World War I-era maps help track history of kelp forests in Pacific Northwest
In the early 1900s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recognized a problem. The United States relied heavily on fertilizer to grow crops and support its burgeoning economy, yet a crucial ingredient for fertilizer — potash, a mixture of potassium and salts — was mined almost exclusively in Germany…. Seeking ways to ease this dependency, the USDA commissioned several surveys of an alternative source of potash: kelp beds in the Pacific Northwest… [The] USDA sent surveyors—including George Rigg, an ecologist from the University of Washington—to map the kelp beds along the coast of California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Rigg set out in a yacht with a 40-horsepower motor and mapped the coastline around Puget Sound in 1911-12. More than 100 years later, scientists at the University of Chicago used these maps to track historical changes in the kelp forests of the Pacific Northwest. As it turned out, the original maps from the kelp surveys ended up at the University of Chicago Library, where Cathy Pfister, professor in the department of ecology and evolution, discovered them. She worked with the library’s preservation staff to digitize the maps, and compared them to modern surveys conducted by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources over the past 26 years. What they found is a relatively rare positive story when it comes to ecological studies in a time of accelerating climate change. The abundance of most modern kelp beds along the Washington coast has remained constant over the last century despite a seawater temperature increase of 0.72 degrees Celsius. The few exceptions are kelp beds closest to Puget Sound, Seattle and Tacoma. Matt Wood reports. (UChicago News)

Congress Passes Bill To Avert Government Shutdown
After a monumental legislative victory on taxes this week, Republicans in Congress have been scrambling to avoid a chaotic government shutdown that could overshadow their signature tax bill before it even gets signed into law. The House and Senate passed a spending bill on Thursday that would push a deadline to fund the government back from midnight on Friday to Jan. 19, allowing lawmakers to head home for the holidays without resolving much of their unfinished business. In addition to most Republicans, about a dozen House Democrats and several Senate Democrats also voted for the bill.  Miles Parks reports. (NPR)

Tax reform's impact on affordable housing, local nonprofits
After a final procedural vote in the House sent a sweeping set of tax reforms to President Donald Trump, Republicans celebrated a move they said would put more money in people’s pockets and save corporations billions, which they’d use to hire more people and raise wages. But in Washington state, low-income housing advocates worry a provision in the bill will lead to thousands of fewer affordable housing units being built — at a time when the need couldn’t be greater. Nonprofit groups, meanwhile, worry a doubling of the standard deduction for individuals will mean fewer people will file itemized returns. And without the incentive of writing off charitable donations, they say people could donate hundreds of millions of dollars less each year to nonprofits in the state. Kerry Murakami reports. (Crosscut)

Canadian researcher faces far-right backlash after research uncovers Jingle Bells' racist past
A Canadian professor teaching at Boston University in the U.S. is facing severe backlash online after she published a research paper outlining the racist origins of the beloved Christmas song Jingle Bells. "It has been quite surreal. It's been a crash course in public relations and internet trolling," said Kyna Hamill, a lecturer at Boston University. For years, Hamill has been studying the history of the song Jingle Bells, but only recently uncovered the song's racist past. In a peer-reviewed research paper published in September, she says the song was originally performed in blackface in a minstrel show as One Horse Open Sleigh at Ordway Hall in Boston, Mass., in September 1857. She writes that the composer "capitalized on minstrel music and entered upon a 'safe' ground for satirizing black participation in northern winter activities." Chris Walker and Jaimie Kehler report. (CBC)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  845 PM PST Thu Dec 21 2017  
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FRIDAY AFTERNOON

GALE WATCH IN EFFECT FROM FRIDAY EVENING THROUGH SATURDAY
 MORNING  
FRI
 E wind 5 to 15 kt rising to 15 to 25 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less building to 2 to 4 ft in the afternoon. W  swell 5 ft at 14 seconds. A chance of rain.
FRI NIGHT
 E wind 20 to 30 kt becoming 25 to 30 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. W swell 5 ft at 14 seconds.
SAT
 E wind 25 to 30 kt. Wind waves 4 to 5 ft. W swell 4 ft at  13 seconds.
SAT NIGHT
 E wind 20 to 30 kt easing to 15 to 25 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. SW swell 4 ft at 11 seconds.
SUN
 E wind 20 to 30 kt easing to 10 kt in the afternoon. Wind  waves 3 to 5 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less in the afternoon. SW  swell 5 ft at 10 seconds.

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