News Ticker

CSI Charlotte? … Global warming harms Arctic red knots … more sage means more sage grouse … Duke fined $6 mil for coal ash damage to Dan River

An investigative wing of Pick Up Your Path? Why not?

Standard operating procedure (SOP) upon finding a beer or soda or Red Bull or some such can is to stomp it flat on the pavement. It saves precious room in the litter bag.

Also SOP is to curse the idiot who flung it aside. It’s those moments of anger/frustration that I wish I knew the wrongdoer’s name and whereabouts.

This morning I envisioned how to channel my anger/frustration into devising a new criminal investigation unit to finger the perps: CSI Charlotte.

Cans, bottles and other possibly identifiable junk would be brought to a field lab (my garage) for fingerprints and further analysis. It would be great if one of my operatives could hasten this message to Pick Up Your Path headquarters (my spare bedroom): “Sir, we have a positive identification, sir!” We’d be big into formality.

Of course, I could no longer smash cans as that would destroy evidence. It means a second (or third) bag would join me on my jaunts to hold the state’s case. Heaven forbid we’d interfere with the sleuthing.

Once the irrefutable evidence is in, we’d skip courtroom proceedings and go straight to the sentencing phase. The guilty would quake – quake! – in their shoes as I gave them my withering Lee Van Cleef evil eye while reading – aloud and loudly – their summary punishment: “Here’s a 30 gallon Hefty bag. Walk the sidewalks and don’t come back until it’s full.”

Climate change means smaller, less healthy Arctic red knots

Arctic ice in portions of northern Russia is melting earlier than usual and this offshoot of global warming is harmful to red knots, a bird that times the hatch of its eggs to coincide with the emergence of insects that red knot nestlings feed upon.

The man-made warmth causes the insects to emerge earlier than usual as the ice disappears, thereby denying red knot offspring enough food at the right time in their early growth stages. The result is smaller, less hardy birds. And the birds need the strength: the red knot migrates to west Africa for the winter.

Dutch researchers report in Science that the survival rate for young food-deprived red knots in the affected parts of Russia is less than half that of red knots elsewhere.

More sage means more greater sage grouse

This item hits me somewhat close to home: I spent a big chunk of this past July hiking in Wyoming, and parts of that journey were spent motoring down dusty roads between backpacking put-in points. The roads were frequently adjacent to enormous patches of sage where the greater sage grouse lives.


Startled by my car, greater sage grouse take wing to the safety of the sagebrush just east of Jeffrey City, Wyoming.

On more than one occasion the birds strutted along the road and when spooked by my car, the speedy fliers were a sight to see. What I didn’t realize was that the birds are threatened due to loss of their sage habitat to mining, fossil fuel exploration and ranching.

That’s especially noteworthy since one of the major areas of habitat loss is the gigantic 30,000 acre Jonah Field natural gas site just south of Pinedale, Wyoming, my jumping off spot to the Bridger Wilderness. (At nighttime from high altitude vantage points, hikers can readily see hundred of working wells sprawled across the sagebrush prairie.)

The fields have destroyed the sage habitat the grouse need to survive along with secondary pollution caused by wastewater. This has cut the historical range of the grouse in half. The sage habitat is also crucial to antelope and other wildlife.

But the October-November issue National Wildlife reports on a joint effort – the Sage Grouse Initiative – between conservationists, state governments, energy companies and others to seek ways to conserve the sagebrush areas and thus keep the greater sage grouse off the Endangered Species List.

Unfortunately, there are still some recalcitrant Republicans in Congress who resist the initiative. These short-sighted representatives have gone so far as to insert language in a defense bill to block sage grouse recovery.

Duke Energy coughs up $6 million fine for coal ash contamination to Dan River

After contesting a nearly identical amount, Duke Energy has paid a $6 million fine to the state of North Carolina as part of its reparations for a coal ash spill from the company’s retaining ponds that polluted the Dan River.

The fine was within a few hundred thousand dollars of the initial penalty assessed to Duke.

The Dan has yet to recover from the contamination caused by the coal ash slurry that generally sank to the river bottom. While the coal ash – and its poisonous heavy metal components – may be nearly invisible now, it is all but unrecoverable.

About Dave Bradley (264 Articles)
I was a writer by trade so one would think letters would come easily for me. It is so now, but wasn't always that way. Indeed, the first letter was written the Monday after Ellen started her freshman year in college. For years I've wondered - with no good answers - why I swiveled my office chair toward my computer screen to fire up a word processing document for that first letter. I just don't know. I just did. Perhaps it was the angst of separation or wanting to say things that had gone unsaid at that moment when we parted ways in front of her college dormitory. What was a one-off became habitual. When her brother Reid enrolled in the same college, his name was added to the salutation line. They were kids then and are adults now. No matter. The letter writing habit remains so today. I live in Brevard, North Carolina. I'm well away from where they live and don't see them nearly as often as I'd like. That's why letters, at least to me, fill the void of distance. The pages give me something to say and the space to say it. There is no assurance they read the letters; indeed, I have never asked if they do so. With the pace of their busy lives who could blame them for letting a letter sit unopened? Over time, it has dawned on me that the letters are both communicative - and cathartic. By nature, letters are about the writer; the writer can only write about their situation. Perhaps that is as it should be. It's all about the here and now from one person's perspective.

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