Grand Canyon at risk as Arizona officials ask Trump to end uranium mining ban

By photosearth / June 26, 2017

Image of the Grand Canyon and surrounding area taken from the International Space Station

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Exclusive: Powerful regional officials to ask administration to end 20-year ban, saying it is unlawful and inhibits economic opportunity

A coalition of influential officials in Arizona and Utah is urging the Trump administration to consider rolling back Obama-era environmental protections that ban new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon.


They argue that the 20-year ban that came into effect in 2012 is unlawful and stifles economic opportunity in the mining industry. But supporters of the ban say new mining activity could increase the risk of uranium-contaminated water flowing into the canyon. Past mining in the region has left hundreds of polluted sites among Arizonas Navajo population, leading to serious health consequences, including cancer and kidney failure.

The new appeal to the Trump administration appears in the draft of a letter expected to be sent on Monday to the US interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, by the Mohave County board of supervisors, whose region borders the north side of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Similar letters are being drawn up by other regional leaders in neighboring county governments in southern Utah, to be sent to Washington by the end of the week, according to officials.

The Mohave County leaders also plan to dispatch a second letter on Monday asking the federal government to scrap national monument protections for lands of natural wonder throughout Arizona, claiming their designation is unconstitutional and prevents economic development of coal, oil and gas deposits. Utah leaders will follow with letters requesting the government shrink national monuments in southern Utah, such as Bears Ears and Grand Escalante, in order to open up a greater area for mineral exploitation, the Guardian has learned.

The battle to restore mining activity near the Grand Canyon is part of broader push by conservatives to roll back protections on Americas 640m acres of public land. Earlier this year, Congress reversed the Bureau of Land Managements Planning 2.0 rule, an Obama-era initiative that gave the public greater input on how land should be used. At the same time, Zinke has ended the moratorium on federal coal leases while pledging to open up public lands to greater oil and gas extraction. Trump has also ordered Zinke to review 27 national monument designations and report as to whether some parks might be reversed or reduced in size.

The letters come amid fears that the Trump administration will favor the powerful mining lobby, increasing the risk, particularly, of uranium contaminating water flowing into the Grand Canyon. Photograph: Stephen Yelverton Photography/Getty Images

As threats to Americas public lands multiply, the Guardian is launching a new series called This Land is Your Land to explore the future of Americas public lands and the fight to protect them. As part of that effort, the Guardian is asking readers to help raise $50,000 to support coverage of this issue.

Trumps review of national monuments has increased fears among environmental advocates that the Mohave County leaders are pushing at an open door. Many fear the administration will favor the powerful mining lobby over concerns from the tourism industry and the Native Americans who live in the region, such as the Havasupai, whose reservation lies west of the canyon.

Carletta Tilousi of the Havasupai tribal council told the Guardian: We are already one of the smallest tribes in the country with just 775 people, and our stories of living down in the Grand Canyon go back to the beginning of time.

We are faced with the potential dangers of uranium contamination into our sole water supply, (local) testing in other areas has already shown traces of uranium from mining in the Grand Canyon region, and I dont think we would be able to survive an environmental catastrophe here, I just dont know where we would go, she added. The Havasupai territory is renowned for its turquoise waterfalls, fed by the water source now under threat.

The Mohave County boards letter says that the mining of uranium does not affect ground water nor destroy the natural resources of the land.

The new letters to Zinke are on the Mohave boards public agenda and will be presented for final approval at a supervisors meeting scheduled for Monday morning.

Board chairman Gary Watson told the Guardian on Friday that he was confident of winning a majority of votes among the five county supervisors.

I think the Trump administration is very interested in looking at the situation. A number of companies are very anxious to get in there and start extracting uranium. There is no danger, he said.

He plans to follow up those requests within six months with an appeal to the federal government to open up national forest land in his region for logging, he said.

The mining request claims there is enough high-grade uranium under the largely rural area known as the Arizona Strip to the north of the canyon to provide power generation to the state of California for 20 years.

The letter also points out that uranium has many military uses and could inject $29bn into the area economy over 42 years. This ban took away much needed growth and jobs from our area These [uranium] deposits represent the last available use of our public lands for economic growth Environmental laws already on the books will protect the public from damage to the Grand Canyon watershed, the letter says.

That and the letter requesting the lifting of national monument titles for the Vermilion Cliffs area in northern Arizona, Parashant, which straddles the Arizona-Utah border, and the Sonoran desert near Phoenix, were signed by Watson and were already initialed by the county attorney and county manager.

When Barack Obamas interior secretary, Ken Salazar, banned new mining claims on a million acres of land surrounding the Grand Canyon for 20 years in 2012, he said it was the right approach for this priceless American landscape to protect if for the 5 million annual visitors to Grand Canyon national park, nearby Native American communities and millions more who rely on the Colorado river flowing through it.

Although there are thousands of older claims for uranium in the area, related regulations prohibit speculative drilling for the deep-seated mineral, according to Ted Zukoski, a lawyer with campaign group Earthjustice.

That factor and an extended slump in the uranium market has kept mining largely at bay recently.

The Sonoran desert near Phoenix, Arizona. Mohave County leaders have signed letters urging Trump to rescind national monument status for this and other parks. Photograph: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

But Salazars ban brought a legal challenge from the National Mining Association and others, and a decision is expected on that from the ninth circuit court of appeals soon.

And work began in 2015 to reopen the dormant Canyon Mine six miles from the south rim of the Grand Canyon, close to tourist areas and water sources for the Havasupai people, who have lived at the bottom of the canyon for millennia.

Obama was lobbied in vain to name a large area around the Grand Canyon a national monument in 2016, which would have stopped all mining permanently.

During that debate it emerged that the libertarian Koch brothers were reported to be channeling funds to the pro-development lobby in Arizona.

Mohave County previously created the Arizona-Utah local economic coalition alongside four counties in southern Utah Kane, Washington, San Juan and Garfield and letters will be sent to Zinke from the coalition and from the individual counties later this week, supporting Mohaves request to lift the uranium ban and also asking for the right to exploit minerals within national monument areas in the region, Jim Matson, Kane county commissioner, told the Guardian last Friday.

These restrictions have been opportunity killers. Economic development on our public lands is terribly important, he said.

Opponents are skeptical.

Thats ridiculous, said Roger Clark, program director of the Grand Canyon Trust, an environmental campaign group. Every time we look for evidence we find contamination, 100% of the time.

Americas public lands are under threat. Support coverage of this critical issue

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Scientists Solve Mystery Of How Pumice Stones Float

By photosearth / June 24, 2017

Floating rocks sound like they belong on Pandora, not on Earth, but they are a real phenomenon, occurring when volcanoes produce rocks less dense than water. However, geologists have been puzzled how these pumice stones often continue to float for years, before eventually sinking. Now the high-powered X-rays at Berkeley’s Advanced Light Source synchrotron have provided an answer.

Just as boats float because the air inside them makes their average density lower than water’s, a network of gas-filled holes allows some pumice stones to rise to the surface. Underwater volcanoes can spit out so many of these stones that ships sometimes sail through pumice rafts miles wide formed from millions of stones. In 2012 scientists only discovered an underwater eruption off New Zealand because boats reported vast pumice rafts.

The phenomenon is more than a curiosity; pumice stones can carry nutrients across oceans to places where they are scarce, stimulating marine life, but the ash is a menace to ships’ engines.

Although the stones’ initial buoyancy is understood, water eventually gets inside, weighing the stones down until they sink. The curious thing is why this takes so long. “The question of floating pumice has been around the literature for a long time, and it hadn’t been resolved,” said UC Berkeley graduate student Kristen Fauria in a statement. It was originally thought that the pumice’s porosity is essentially sealed.”

However, further examination showed the holes in pumice are fairly open and often internally connected. Fauria compared this to an uncorked bottle, saying: “If you leave the cap off and it still floats … what’s going on?” Even more strangely, some stones have been seen surfacing during the day, after sinking at night.

Fauria collected pumices from the Medicine Lake Volcano, Northern California, and Guatemala’s Santa Maria Volcano and coated them in wax, before exposing them to synchrotron radiation. Although some holes were large enough to let water in, she found others were around the size of a human hair, and twisted.

In Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Fauria reports the surface tension inside these small pores is high enough that gas remains trapped inside, forming bubbles thatallow it to float. Fauria and her coauthors established a formula linking the length of time a stone floats to the size of the pumice, the rate at which gas and water diffuse and the extent to which the stone is saturated with water, improving on previous time estimates by a factor of more than 100.

Warmer conditions cause the gas to expand, pushing out some of the water and causing submerged stones to bob to the surface.

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Scientists Forced To Write Studies To Refute Scott Pruitt’s Climate Denial Bullshit

By photosearth / June 24, 2017

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is Scott Pruitt, a bizarre human that flat-out denies the science behind climate change. We dont mean that he merely denies that humans have any influence on the climate which he does. Pruitt also refutes the basic fact that carbon dioxide warms the atmosphere, which is like a physicist claiming that magnetic forces are powered by unicorn dreams.

Hes made plenty of other climate claims too, all of which have the intellectual rigor of a pineapple. One of them that satellite data indicates that warming has leveled off in the last few decades is a common trope of climate deniers. Now, a new paper has been released by researchers in order to directly refute this.

Appearing in the journal Scientific Reports,the study is essentially a reassessment of the satellite data that has tracked the planets atmospheric temperature since 1979.

Satellite temperature measurements do not support the claim of a leveling off of warming over the past two decades, the authors write in their study. Our results support and strengthen previous findings of a large human-caused contribution to warming.

The team, led by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, wrote it to specifically take on Pruitt and his wildly erroneous claims a rather unprecedented move, but one thats a sign of the times.

Pruitt, an attorney general whose career has been dominated by his attempts to sue the EPA, made the leveling claim after a recent Senate confirmation hearing. This is referenced right at the start of this study, and the authors sift through the data once again in order to point out how bogus this notion is.

No serious scientist believes that the troposphere hasnt warmed significantly in the last few decades. Papers that attempt to refute this fact never make it past peer review. Climate scientists do not have arguments about this.

The fact that this paper even exists boggles the mind.

There have always been plenty of climate change deniers, but now that so many are in powerful government positions, scientists are starting to feel like they have no choice but to speak out. Were just one step away from researchers explaining in scientific journals why the Earth isnt flat.

This gives us an idea, though. There are so many claims of breathtaking stupidity out there about climate change that it would be fun to refute them via scientific study.

One of the more hilariously dim examples came courtesy of Republican State Senator Scott Wagner, who recently claimed that climate change is being caused by human body heat because theres just so many of us, you know?

Anyone want to do the mathematics on that one? Get in touch!

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Earth Has A Strange Hidden Layer Of Tectonic Plates

By photosearth / June 24, 2017

Earths tectonic plates are weird as hell. First there werent any, then there was a massive shell, then there were babycontinents, then supercontinents, microcontinents, regular continents, all of them shifting around the Earths crust and changing its appearance, like a very slow inkblot test.

Now, it appears theyre set to get even stranger. A team of researchers led by the University of Houston has concluded that, beneath our worlds tectonic plates, theres another separate layer of independent plates doing their own thing.

Speaking at a joint conference between the Japanese and American Geophysical Unions in Tokyo this week, the team say that theyve been using seismic waves to peer beneath the crust. These waves travel at different speeds through different materials, and as such, researchers can use them to find out whats beneath their feet.

Their research uncovered a mysterious layer present beneath Japan, Korea, and Northeast China, as well as beneath the island of Tonga. Theyre definitely composed of the same material as modern tectonic plates, but theyre found incredibly deep within the mantle. So what are they?

Today’s tectonic plates. USGS

The tectonic plates weve all come to know and love well, except creationists we suppose are found within the lithosphere, the outer shell of a rocky planet, including ours. They are composed of the crust whether thats the less dense continental variety or the dense, submarine oceanic flavor and the upper mantle, a layer of slowly moving, superheated solid rock called the asthenosphere.

This causes them to drift around, bang into each other, grind past each other, and sometimes even destroy each other. That, in essence, is where we were at as of 2017.

However, this new research suggeststhat beneath the seven/eight major tectonic plates resides another layer of them. They appear to be vast, continental-sized segments of ancient plates gliding fairly quickly around a transition zone 440-660 kilometers (about 273-410 miles) beneath the surface.

The base of the regular tectonic plates, at least when theyre flat on the surface, is about 200 kilometers. (124 miles), so the newly discovered ones are way beneath that. So whats going on here?

Its likely that these plates are ancient ones. They would have encountered another tectonic plate during their more shallow existence at a subduction zone. Being denser than the other, they would have sunk beneath their colossal opponent, broken off, and drifted down into the mantle.

The discovery of this new layer of plate tectonics solves a long-standing mystery.

On occasion, incredibly deep-seated earthquakes rock the countries sitting above these plates, but they appeared to be originating from way below any known tectonic plate. You need plates to get quakes, so this has baffling scientists for a while now.

The newly discovered tectonic plates are found within the middle section of the mantle (medium orange). USGS

However, this new research has shown that they are probably coming from this new layer of tectonic plates. They may be semi-detached from the primary plates these days, but these enormous slabs can still bend, buckle, and break and cause quakes as they do so. Indeed, their ongoing destruction is so energetic that its causing powerful shockwaves to make it all the way to the surface.

The research has yet to be peer-reviewed, but its looking likely that, once again, Earths hellish depths have been holding back more secrets from us than wed realized.

[H/T: Guardian]

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You can watch ‘Planet Earth 2’ without cablehere’s how

By photosearth / June 24, 2017

The BBC blew away nature buffs when it released its Planet Earth series in 2006 after five years of recording incredibly beautiful footage ofanimals in their remotehabitats.

Now nature is getting another breathtaking closeup in the BBC’s Planet Earth 2. Viewers in the U.K. experienced the sequel, narrated by David Attenborough and with music by Hans Zimmer, on BBC One in late 2016, but many other nature fans around the world are still catching up.

Screengrab via BBC Earth/YouTube

The six-episode series follows the format of the original, focusing episodes on habitats like mountains and grasslands. Within these habitats, the filmmakerszoom in on unique species and natural events, often capturing the stunning drama of our natural world. While the themes are similar to the original, advancements in photography and the incrediblescenes captured by the filmmakers make the sequel just as captivating.One segment from the “Islands” episode even went viral, because watching an iguana run from dozens of hungry snakes is just as intense as it sounds.

It’s clearwhy you’d want to watchPlanet Earth 2,but unfortunately, that’s easier said than doneeven if you have a cable or satellite subscription.

How to watchPlanet Earth 2 with cable

Cable and satellite service subscribers in the U.S. can log into theBBC America websiteor its companion app to stream recent content. The site is trickybecause it seems to indicate that you can stream Planet Earth 2 on demand.

Screengrab via BBC America

I followed the instructions and signed in with my cable provider, which is listed among those supported by BBC America’s website. I had to search to navigate to the Planet Earth 2 page, and when I got there, I spent several frustrating minutes attempting to find a place to play full episodes.


I never found it. The site’s FAQ section says new episodes are availablefor streaming for a limited time after they air, so my best guess is that because Planet Earth 2 aired in February and March in the U.S., these episodes are no longer available. I emailed a publicist for BBC America to see if I was doing something wrong and to ask when theepisodes might return. I never got a response.

Screengrab via BBC Earth/YouTube

How to watchPlanet Earth 2without cable

So let’s take a look at your other (legal) streaming options. (Spoiler: You’re not going to like them.)

Planet Earth 2 is available to purchase for $2.99 perepisode or $19.99 for the full season in HD on Amazon, Google Play, and other places you canpurchase streaming content like PlayStation store. You can get the standard definition version a bit cheaper, but we recommend HD because it’d be a shame to miss out on the show’s spectacular photography. Cable, satellite, and Sling TV subscribers will rightfully be salty about this option, because who wants to pay twice just to have an on-demand option?

Screengrab via Google Play

If you want to watch Planet Earth 2 right now, buying a digital copy is your best option. Episodes do still run on the BBC America TV channel, but you’ll have to check your local listings to catch them. With a little DVR magic, you may even be able to record most or all of the episodes for a proper binge watch.

If you’re willing to put in some effort to save a few bucks, you can also check your local library for a copy of the Blu-ray. If noneof these options sounds appealing, just sit tight for awhile.The first season Planet Earth is streaming on Netflix, so it’s a good bet that Planet Earth 2 will show up eventually.

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Traditional Irish Cookery

By photosearth / June 23, 2017

Traditional Irish Cookery

Traditional Irish Cookery

  • Used Book in Good Condition

Ireland has always been renowned for the quality and freshness of its ingredients and the hearty style of its cooking. From mussels and Dublin Bay prawns to succulent beef, wholesome breads and an imaginative range of recipes for potatoes, this attractive and authentic collection offers a selection of recipes which bring to life the flavours of the Emerald Isle. As a practical book for those who love to cook in the Irish style or as a memento of a trip to this fascinating country.

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List Price: $ 8.95

Price: $ 3.49

Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato

By photosearth / June 22, 2017

Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato

Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato

  • Great product!

“Illustrated in dePaola’s signature style, this has an inviting look. Buoyant watercolors are framed by thin orange borders….An engaging read-aloud choice for St. Patrick’s Day.” — BooklistA Cheery picture book, with the artist using the lighter, brighter side of his palette….Attractive and amusing.” — Kirkus Reviews“Jamie O’Rourke is the laziest man in all of Ireland.” So begins well-known children’s book author and illustrator Tomie dePaola’s retelling of a popular Irish folktale. Jamie is accustomed to his wife doing all the household and garden chores, so when she injures her back, he figures he’s sure to starve to death. But as luck would have it, he chances upon a leprechaun. The elfin man offers Jamie the biggest “pratie” in the world in exchange for letting him go.

Feeling self-satisfied, Jamie plants the seed, which soon grows into a potato big enough to be a logistical nightmare for the village. Luckily, his wife comes through for him once again, and everyone ends up happy and full. This is not a redemptive tale–Jamie does not learn to be industrious. It is, however, a lively, simple-yet-outlandish, brightly illustrated story about a man and a potato, with a leprechaun thrown in, for luck. (Ages 4 to 8)

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List Price: $ 6.99

Price: $ 3.84

Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New England’s Vampires

By photosearth / June 21, 2017

Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New England’s Vampires

Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New England's Vampires

  • Used Book in Good Condition

Forget Bela Lugosi’s Count Dracula. In nineteenth-century New England another sort of vampire was relentlessly ravishing the populace, or so it was believed by many rural communities suffering the plague of tuberculosis. Indeed, as this fascinating book shows, the vampire of folk superstition figures significantly in the attempt of early Americans to reasonably explain and vanquish the dreaded affliction then known as consumption. In gripping narrative detail, folklorist Michael E. Bell reconstructs a distant world, where on March 17, 1892, three corpses were exhumed from a Rhode Island cemetery. One of them, Mercy Brown, who had succumbed to consumption, appeared to have turned over in her grave. Mercy’s family cut out her heart, which still held clots of blood, burned it on a nearby rock, and fed the ashes to her ailing brother. To Mercy’s community she had become a vampire living a spectral existence and consuming the vitality of her siblings. From documents written as early as 1790 to a recent conversation with a descendant of Mercy Brown, Bell investigates twenty cases in which the vampiric dead were exhumed to save the ailing living. He also explores a widespread folk tradition that has survived generations, as ordinary people today strive to battle extraordinary diseases like Ebola or AIDS with a deeply rooted belief in their power to heal themselves. “Bell’s absorbing account is … a major contribution to the study of New England folk beliefs.”—Boston Globe “Filled with ghostly tales, glowing corpses, rearranged bones, visits to hidden graveyards…. This is a marvelous book.”—Providence Journal

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Price: $ 30.00

Irish cooking like an adventure. Cookbook: 25 Recipes for every day.

By photosearth / June 20, 2017

Irish cooking like an adventure. Cookbook: 25 Recipes for every day.

Irish cooking like an adventure. Cookbook: 25 Recipes for every day.

Reading through the book, you will realize that Irish recipes give you light and also the most delicious foods which are also very easy to prepare. According to research, the potato makes up as the Irish people’s staple food, and they have used different skills to make it fit into several types of meals. This book is subdivided into two chapters all of which contains various types of recipes including Irish soups, dishes with meat, stew vegetables, dishes with potatoes and lastly Irish desserts. All these recipes have been researched to ensure that they easily fit into your daily meals.

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