June « 2010 « verdure
two vegetarians, seven legs
Sunday, June 27th, 2010

In our backyard. Mike took the bunny picture.

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still spilling
Sunday, June 13th, 2010

I was at first giving the benefit of the doubt. The scales of pressure and depth seriously complicate plugging the blown out Deepwater Horizon well. This is not your garden hose springing a leak, and I do not expect the fix to be kindergarten simple as so many armchair idiots have been professing (balloons! hair! Hooters girls’ pantyhose!). However, as this drags on through each failure and more details of short sighted greed and disregard for safety surface, I’ve lost any sense of goodwill. Sure, they’re now capturing some of the oil, but how much is still being spilled? The numbers keep changing. Oh, it’s pumping out a mere 1,000 barrels per day, no, maybe it’s more like 5,000, well, since we’re now collecting 10,000 barrels, it must be closer to 12,000 to 25,000 barrels a day. For over a month, outside scientists have been delivering much higher estimates, which have been rebuffed by the government before relenting with small increases in the official flow rate. The latest estimate from the government is 25,000 to 30,000 barrels of oil a day, although this is based on information gathered before cutting the riser pipe. BP has lost all credibility in being able to or even interested in determining the scope of this disaster, let alone showing they are capable of ending it.

And while I do not expect the government to have vast oil drilling expertise generally (except in the MMS. complete fail. How in the hell is Ken Salazar still in charge of anything?) it has towed the corporate line, letting BP flail around while the Gulf and shoreline become coated in ever increasing fields of poison. Obama, here was your opportunity to take disaster and bring the best minds and expertise together to shut down the well, contain the oil, and tackle the clean up. Mobilize America. Do more than talk about ass kicking and making BP pay out on claims. Get an accurate assessment of the problem and then react accordingly. Convey competence because you actually know what’s going on and what to do to fix it, instead of coming across passive, shirking responsibility by trying to talk down the probable impact of the catastrophe. No more of this display of ratcheting up political pressure. We need more than press conferences. The EPA’s own contingency plan authorizes the National Response Team’s On-Scene Coordinator “to direct all federal, state, or private response and recovery actions.” BP shouldn’t be running anything. Fucking own the disaster response.

Mike wonders about the possibility that BP is intentionally failing to cap the well because it means losing the future revenue stream from the well once it is permanently sealed. Somehow it falls a little flat to learn that the BP’s share of oil revenue from the Deepwater Horizon well will be “donated” to help wildlife. BP is responsible for the cleanup costs. You can’t call providing some method of meeting your obligations donating out of the goodness of your non-existent heart. The excellent Rolling Stone article on the spill clearly shows that BP doesn’t even put the pretense of good corporate citizenry.

“Since 2007, according to analysis by the Center for Public Integrity, BP has received 760 citations for “egregious and willful” safety violations – those “committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.” The rest of the oil industry combined has received a total of one.”

“In 2005, 15 workers were killed and 170 injured after a tower filled with gasoline exploded at a BP refinery in Texas. Investigators found that the company had flouted its own safety procedures and illegally shut off a warning system before the blast. An internal cost-benefit analysis conducted by BP – explicitly based on the children’s tale The Three Little Pigs – revealed that the oil giant had considered making buildings at the refinery blast-resistant to protect its workers (the pigs) from an explosion (the wolf). BP knew lives were on the line: “If the wolf blows down the house, the piggy is gobbled.” But the company determined it would be cheaper to simply pay off the families of dead pigs.”

Fines obviously do not matter. We keep throwing spare change penalties for destroying human and environmental life and wellbeing. A $75 million cap on liabilities from the spill? BP posted a profit of $6.08 billion for the first quarter of 2010. 75 million is 1.2 % of their play money, from just 3 months. What fairy tale is the Gulf? So far it seems to be the one where BP gets to write their own happy ending.

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Friday, June 11th, 2010

Lake Wales Ridge runs in a narrow strip north to south down the center of Florida, roughly centered over Polk County. The slightly higher elevation relative to to the rest of Florida kept these rolling hills dry when much of the rest of Florida was under water, allowing for a unique, isolated ecosystems to evolve.

As with most of Florida, the soil is pure sand. Without the Gulf nearby, it gets hotter than along the coast. We aimed to arrive shortly after dawn, and watched the sun rise about the the time we got into orange grove country.

Although I’m finding mention of it now, I did not have warning beforehand of the honor system fee to enter the Walk in the Water State Forest. That wasn’t really a problem (I try to always bring some ones with me) except that the collection pipe was at a completely separate trail head a mile or two to the north. Not terribly convenient.

A recent fire had burned down the vegetation near the trailhead.

It had rained the night before, leaving the sand clean to read the fresh footprints. There were many deer hoof prints, some probable raccoon prints, and then we saw bambi out ahead on the trail.

Spicebush swallowtail, we surmise. And then we got tired of the horse flies and turned around.

Hickory Lake Park was more desert like.

Hallictid bee on scrub morning glory

Scrub lizards

By the time we stopped at Crooked Lake Park, it was getting quite warm, although it was only around 11 am.

In a field of flowering prickly pear

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no manatees
Monday, June 7th, 2010

Little Manatee River does not have any manatees in it right now. The water looked far too low, and they will be out in the gulf in this season anyway. I’ve actually seen no mention at all about manatees at the state park. Perhaps the manatees never come up this far.

The south side of the park has the ranger station ($5 entrance fee per vehicle), equestrian trails (negative coggins required. If you don’t know, it doesn’t apply to you) campsites, a canoe launch and a short, hidden nature trail.

Not sure what type of dragonfly this was.

Palamedes swallowtail, all stained glass like.

Swallowtail kite, three pictures stitched into one.

The hiking trails are north of the river, but there is no bridge within the park. Upon our second visit to the ranger station, the polite park ranger gave us a map noted with a lock combination that opens the gate to the parking area for the hiking trail. Parking area is perhaps a bit generous, as is calling the two tire tracks off of the highway leading to the gate a “gravel road.” You don’t get much access to the river, and the trail blazes aren’t nearly as frequent as at Myakka or Withlacochee, but it’s a really nice trail, lush and intimate without having to clear away branches or wade through mud, and distinct from the terrain on the other side of the river.

We saw lots of flitty butterflies (see Mike’s picture here, while I was dousing myself in anti mosquito oil) and these beautiful black winged damselflies with iridescent green bodies, also not in my Audubon guide. They would land and blossom their wings, but preferred the shadows near the water, where all I got were blurry photos.

yellow rat snake

perhaps a broadhead skink.

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eastern towhee
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

… which did not sound at all like drink-your-teeeaaa, toe-WHEEE, che-wink or wank. At the Florida Botanical Gardens.

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