Thursday Morning: Burning Bright

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

— excerpt, The Tyger by William Blake

Props to Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, for evacuating a city under immediate threat of fire without any casualties directly attributable to the blaze. There was one death reported due to a vehicle accident, but it’s not clear the accident was caused by the fire or the evacuation process. I don’t know that an American city could have responded as quickly with the same results, but then Fort McMurray’s folks remember the Slave Lake wildfire five years ago in May 2011. Slave Lake, located roughly 250 miles southwest of Fort McMurray, was similarly forced to evacuate its 7,000 residents after 60 mph winds fanned a forest fire out of control and into the town.

In addition to expanded evacuation south of Fort McMurray, another wildfire in northern Alberta approximately 500 miles northwest of Fort McMurray forced evacuation of the town of High Level last evening. Fortunately, cooler weather will help battling this and Fort McMurray’s blaze; temperatures are expected to be 20 degrees cooler than the 88F degree high reached yesterday in Fort McMurray. There’s no rain in the forecast for nearly a week, though.

If you look at a satellite map of Alberta, you’ll note the areas surrounding these two municipalities actually had quite a bit of forest near them to their west (Fort McMurray is south of the Athabasca tar sands production site by a 30-minute drive). I’d like to know how much of this is boreal forest, which was once aggressively protected by Canada — before Alberta’s Stephen Harper became PM, that is. Despite the efforts of NGOs, expansion of the tar sands escalated dramatically from 2006 on. Now that oil prices have plummeted, production at Athabasca may drop, but too late to prevent damage to a wide swath of forest, not to mention the clearing done to support oil and gas development in northwestern Alberta. With the likelihood of wildfires throughout the rest of the summer running high, let’s hope the current Trudeau administration invests heavily in forest restoration efforts to replace growth lost to both fossil fuel production and to fire.

Reforestation is only a start, thought; additional protections going forward are needed as boreal forest is the largest carbon sink on earth, bigger than rain forests. We Americans don’t pay as much attention to Canadian deforestation because the country’s population is much smaller than Brazil. But Canada’s forests are critically important to reducing CO2, locking it up in trees and preserving it in bogs. We’re Canada’s largest trading partner and its largest consumer of wood products. We should be more aware and more responsible for our role in protecting Canada’s boreal forest.

Bits and pieces

  • Ford sinks cash into software company Pivotal (Detroit Free Press) — One of the many recent investment/partnerships with technology firms to augment vehicles’ features. Ford said it would have difficulty doing what Pivotal does. Let’s hope Pivotal is more conscious of cybersecurity than its automotive partners.
  • Former Apple employees to release new AI bot, VIV next week (Apple Insider) — Description sounds like Siri let out of the iPhone, or Amazon’s Alexa on Echo bot. Whatever it is, stay away from me with this stuff.
  • Nearly 300 million email account credentials floated in criminal underground (Reuters) — A massive collection including tens of millions of accounts on Yahoo, Microsoft, and Gmail email services was offered up in exchange for favorable comments in hacker forums. Something about this scenario sounds fishy, especially since the hacker first asked for 50 rubles (about one dollar) in exchange for all the compromised email accounts’ credentials. Some of the accounts belonged to banking, manufacturing, and retail personnel.
  • Has the revolution begun? Shareholders protest Reckitt Benckiser’s CEO compensation (Bloomberg) — Is this the beginning of a trend?

Your assignment today: check your area for wildfire or bushfire risk, and develop a personal evacuation strategy. Fortunately in my area we have standing water after nearly 24 hours of rain. Out of here, gang.

UPDATE — 2:00 P.M. EDT —
Fire’s still spreading across portions of Fort McMurray. Reporter vince McDermott believes he just lost his home this morning while he was at work. Must be just awful to cover a story affecting your community so dramatically and find yourself experiencing loss, too.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.
13 replies
  1. P J Evans says:

    The seismologists and geologists are worried about the San Andreas from Cajon Pass to Parkfield – it’s been locked for 150 years, and that’s a lot of stress built up.

  2. SpaceLifeForm says:

    So, who is trying to fool whom?
    http://nbc4i.com/2016/05/04/police-stop-calling-drug-dealers-phone-were-trying-to-search-it/

    ~
    Police are trying to search through texts and contacts, but they say that the constant stream of calls and texts is “really annoying.”
    In a very tongue in cheek Facebook post, police said, “First of all, he is all out of drugs for tonight. Secondly you don’t need to call – we will come to you soon enough.”
    Police also say Notman’s ringtone is terrible.

    Do they really believe the drug dealers contacts actually follow
    the Alliance PD on Facebook?

    Perhaps it is an April Fools Day joke a month and four days late.

    • martin says:

      Oh. My. God. Thanks for the link Denis. Unbelievable. I can’t imagine what was going through these peoples minds. One thing is clear though..I bet most of them were scared to death. Had one car gone up in flames..the rest of the ones behind would have been trapped. I bet the temperature blistered the paint, notwithstanding the barrage of embers falling. A person wouldn’t last 5 minutes. What a nightmare.

  3. Evangelista says:

    Rayne,

    I hate to bung up lumps on the currently credited flat-earth, but, I guess, as official on-site “Climate-Change” denier it’s my job:
    .
    I beg you please to note that forests do not ‘store’ carbon (dioxide) [as carbon-base life-forms trees, being made of carbon, like we are, ourselves, do ‘store’ carbon, until their oxidations (scientific term, includes decomposition, which is slow oxidation). The “atmospheric carbon” trees are assigned to ‘store’ in the flatearth belief construct of “Climate-Change” is, scientifically, carbon dioxide that trees, like all other photosynthesizing life-forms, utilize in their photosynthesis conversions of raw materials to plant-usable structures. In photosynthesis the carbon component is drawn out from the carbon dioxide, the two oxygens are released. This is important, because we animal life-forms breathe the oxygen and utilize it, in the process attaching a carbon to pairs of oxygen.

    It is for the mutual utilizations of each other’s exhaust gases that plants and animals are symbiotic. It is for Earth-life symbiosis that ‘engineering’ solutions to reduce carbon (dioxide) by “sequestering” are not only idiotic and ridiculous, but also self-destructive: Every time a carbon dioxide is actually ‘sequestered’, here meaning taken out of the Earth System, by bottling, pumping into old salt-mines, or whatever, two oxygens are removed with the one carbon.

    Even if you see why this is important, you might not see why “boreal forests”, “rain forests” and other mature tree growths are important (especially if you accept Congressional authority, Congress having, in April, ‘ordered’ EPA to recognize all “bio-mass” equal, living, dead, mature growing, cut-over-regrowing, for all “storing” carbon). The reason is that mature forests do more carbon dioxide converting to make plant-fiber. This makes growing mature trees (boreal forest, rain forest, etc.) important to atmospheric oxygen-carbon dioxide balance Dead trees, meaning cut trees, burnt trees, “bio-mass” fiber, etc., do no converting (except oxidizing as they slowly compost, where they may); for this they are zero, neither improving or worsening balance. Burning trees oxidize rapidly, adding carbon-gases, furthering imbalance. Replant trees, seedlings, saplings, poles, etc. are positive, but, being smaller, do less converting. There is a ratio-relationship between the growth-rings of trees, the amount of wood fiber each ring (a year’s growth) deposits around the circumfrance of a tree trunk fro the height of the tree, and the amount of CO2 the tree converted the year of the ring to plant fiber and oxygen released. A growth-ring two millimeters wide is four millimeters diametric growth, and growing on a one hundred centimeter trunk-diameter represents significantly more growth than the same on a fifty centimeter trunk diameter, and way, way more than the same on a one centimeter seedling trunk diameter (which would not be able to deploy enough leaf, or needle to generate that much growth).

    Thus, contradictory to Congressional “science”, which Congress has ordered EPA to go by, ‘harvested’, or, cut-over, burnt-over and even regrowing forest land is not, by any stretch, equivalent to mature forest in carbon-dioxide conversion capacity.

    This is why the burn-off of Alberta boreal forest is a significant loss for planetary gas-balance, why deploying 90 firefighters, barely enough to watch a burn that size, way too few to actually battle a blaze, is as much cause to question as Flint Michigan doing nothing about known residential lead piping. It is also why moving indigenous populations out of mature rain-forest to regrowing areas (abandoned farmed-out land) in “exchanging”, so the mature forest can be logged, burnt and farmed, supposedly in lieu of the exchanged regrowing ‘forest’, is cause to question. Note that “Climate Science” allows such ‘exchanging’ and accepts that “carbon is sequestered” in the exchanged low CO2 converting areas.

    All is gong to end badly, for human beings (the planet is going to do just fine, adjusting to changes as geologic record shows it right along has), because while a passions-pleasing religion and yearning for rapture is engendered in true-believers by a catechism of bullshit couched in catchy euphemisms, not nothing, but increasing worsening is being perpetrated by the blindered and the profiteering.

    • John Casper says:

      Evangelista,

      Last week, I requested links to support a sampling of the many claims you made on Rayne’s, “Wednesday Morning: Lüg mich an, Lügner,” post.

      https://www.emptywheel.net/2016/05/05/thursday-morning-burning-bright/?replytocom=702747#respond

      You responded:
      “Sorry I missed your first query, I didn’t read on down and I ran out of time, or I would have answered yours first. It’s an easy one:…”

      Then I responded:
      “Until you provide links that support your claim:”

      “And, lost somewhere in the underbrush, it is geared to encouraging pension and foundation ‘disinvestment’ from fossil fuels, to facilitate moving ownership of lucrative energy sources from conservative/conservationist owners to the markets, where the industry players can buy them up(someone has to be buying for the “socially conscious” to be selling).”

      it’s false, incomplete, inaccurate and pretty close to nonsense.

      Almost a week ago, you volunteered, “it’s an easy one.”

      Good, it should be easy to share relevant quotes from reliable links.

  4. Ken Muldrew says:

    Most tar sands development is SAGD which only logs for roads and well pads (and, of course, the steam and treatment plant, but there’s only one of those in each development). There are a half-dozen open-pit mines North of Ft. Mac, where the bitumen is just below the surface. The amount of logging done for tar sands development pales before that done for conventional oil and gas (again, just for roads and well pads, but thousands of them rather than tens). And the amount of logging done for conventional oil and gas pales in comparison to that done for wood, pulp, and paper production. If you are worried about protection of the boreal forest, tar sands development shouldn’t even be on the radar. Most of the sites are just off the highways so they don’t even have to clear much for their roads.

  5. Ian says:

    RAYNE asks:
    · Has the revolution begun? Shareholders protest Reckitt Benckiser’s CEO compensation(Bloomberg) — Is this the beginning of a trend?
    .
    [extract from]BLOOMBERG says:
    Since Kapoor took over from predecessor Bart Becht, he’s generated a total return of 134 percent, well above the FTSE 100. Still, investors are losing patience with outsized pay: almost 60 percent shot down payouts at BP Plc, which awarded CEO Bob Dudley a 20 percent increase even as the oil company’s shares tumbled.
    For the first time since 2012, FTSE 100 companies are losing votes on executive pay practices — even though so far, there have been no resignations as a result.
    .
    I SAY:
    In both cases the common elements are:
    a) A British company [a plc] with British Institutional Investors well aware of several reports carried in both the Financial Times and in various industries specialized presses that this “American-invented” practice of “fearing your CEO is about to be enticed away from you by just about every other corporation on the planet unless you load them down with as much silver as they would have gotten from every other corporation on the planet first ” is an American invention that has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with the ACTUAL motivation of 95%+ of most multinational’s CEO’s—regardless of Nationality.
    b) Individuals [Kapoor & Dudley] who could easily be defined as “part of the problem—and NOT part of the solution”—so shareholders KNOW that it would be at best NO NET LOSS if the CEO left–& might actually be a benefit.
    .
    RECKITT & COLMAN plc was a multinational CPGM [Consumer Packaged Goods Manufacturer] that until the mid-1980’s was in primarily old British Empire countries [i.e. before the definition of BRICS made them exciting],sold [in the 1990’s] many of their subsidiaries in those ex-British Empire countries [2016=EM or Emerging Markets] to invest in the slowly growing [2%-7%/annum] consumer markets of North America & Western Europe while promising Shareholders that Profits & Dividends would grow at 15%/annum.[just as the economies of the ex-British Empire countries/BRICS/EM countries were just starting to do].
    .
    The only way you can do that is by reducing your fixed costs/overhead by the extra large % difference—[e.g Sales:+4%/yr+Fixed Costs/Overhead (minus ) -30%/yr=Profits +12% /yr[say].The existing in-house trained management was unable/unwilling to do that so a smaller Dutch multinational Benckiser with CEO the iconic Bart Becht bought them out[took them over], Becht moved himself & the Head Office of the combined corporation to Greater London——& did it/organized it [the drastic changes in the way of doing business that -30% /yr Fixed Cost reductions require] Bart Becht was beloved & would have been paid whatever he asked for. His successor has no such achievements to his credit—and it shows with the shareholders revolt.
    .
    BP plc—one of the oil industries “super-majors” [as the Oil & Gas Journal calls them] with [US citizen] Dudley 1st coming to prominence as the individual in charge of the BP-[Russian Oil company] TNK Joint Venture when Mr Putin came to power. Dudley was
    a) NOT regarded as politically able to navigate the insistence of the Kremlin that TNK was the “wrong Russian oil company” &
    b) is also recording as advocating “putting up with the malice” that infests the US judicial system—instead of treating the US Judiciary & legal system to a “scorched earth policy” after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
    .
    US citizen’s should be aware that, just as the Saudi Foreign Minister—rightly—threatened to take his countries $750bn of US Treasury financing “elsewhere” if the Congress [& the US electorate] decided to ignore existing International Law—& just as the entire world’s Treasuries & Central Bank’s ACTUALLY [contractually] DID “take their “Sovereign debt financing needs”—-“elsewhere” [in the Q4 2015 and Q1 2016 period] in the light of the SCOTUS decision in the case of NML v Argentina—there was a view expressed by several [British] investors at the time of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that BP plc itself should have done the same as Saudi Arabia is threatening to do—and the world’s 199 Governments & their Treasuries have already done.
    .
    So Dudley is seen as “a mere manager” & “not a leader of men” in the opinion of many shareholders.
    .
    Hence the shareholder’s revolt

  6. Rayne says:

    Ken Muldrew (8:43) — The amazing thing about today’s internet is that I can see for myself the devastation fossil fuels development has caused. I’ve looked at satellite maps of Alberta, and the Athabasca tar sands mining site is far worse than the oil+gas development in AB’s northwest because it has completely scalped the earth of all vegetation and removed the layer of bog materials accumulated over gods-know-how-long from an area as large as the city of London UK. Northwest AB may have been harvested of trees, but undergrowth has remained over much of the area along with the bog beneath.

    The problem with oil+gas development in AB’s northwest isn’t as much boreal deforestation as it is water pollution due to the large quantities required for injection wells and the pollution it brings with to the surface. combined with hydrologic damage.

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