The first piece of Trump’s wall is set to go through a Texas wildlife refuge

GR: Destroying a nature refuge to satisfy a campaign promise is probably more than Trump’s fellow phobes wanted. But there is no limit to the damage Trump will do to get some approval. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about the harm from such a wall. Perhaps we can help some of Trump’s supporters see the truth by sharing this bit of nasty outcome.

An official told the Texas Observer that construction would “essentially destroy the refuge.”

CREDIT: AP Photo/Eric Gay

“U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has begun preparations to construct the first leg of the Trump administration’s border wall through the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge in South Texas, according to the Texas Observer.

An Ocelot seen at the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge near Alamo, Texas.  (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

“The Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge comprises 2,088-acres along the U.S.-Mexico border, and was established in 1943 for the protection of migratory birds.

“Federal officials told the Texas Observer that the wall would consist of an 18-foot levee wall that would stretch for three miles in the wildlife refuge. The construction plan would require building a road south of the wall, as well as clearing land on either side. Such construction would “essentially destroy the refuge,” an official told the Texas Observer.

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is home to 400 bird species, 450 types of plants, half of all butterfly species found in North America, and such rarities as the Indigo Snake and Altamira Oriole shown here.

“Congress is still debating funding for the billion-dollar wall, but a federal official told the Texas Observer that funds could be transferred from within the Department of Homeland Security to pay for construction at the refuge. Construction within the refuge could begin as early as winter of 2018.” –Natasha Geiling (The first piece of Trump’s wall is set to go through a Texas wildlife refuge)

After Midnight, Special Edition, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

After Midnight – Today’s Nuclear Threat

Licorne nuclear test – French Polynesia, 1970

GR: We are destroying the world. Gradually by building, introducing invasive-species, removing forests, and polluting (including such accomplishments as ocean acidification and global warming). Our species is slowly erasing all Earth’s ecosystems from the tiniest million lives of a single cell, to the 100 trillion lives within a tiger, to the billion trillion lives of a forest. We’ve passed the “golden years” of old age and begun the long slide into oblivion. Not without moments of joy, a slow death is preferable to abrupt ends by accident or malice. But now the most powerful human on Earth has asked “Somebody hits us within ISIS — you wouldn’t fight back with a nuke?” (Trump to Chris Matthews, MSNBC, March 30, 2016). Today, Eliot’s Hollow Men could end “Not with a whimper but a bang.”

The piece below is from the introduction to a special edition of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists titled After Midnight. Click for more blog posts on the growing nuclear threat.

“Since its founding more than 70 years ago, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has been dedicated to the proposition that nuclear weapons should never again be used. Over the decades since the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, the Bulletin has published countless articles arguing in favor of arms control, disarmament, and policy changes like no-first-use and the de-alerting of missiles that make nuclear warfare less likely. These articles have been premised, generally, on the idea that the limited battlefield use of nuclear weapons is a dangerous fantasy, that any use of nuclear weapons threatens to (and likely will) escalate into a worldwide, civilization-ending thermonuclear war. With the end of the Cold War, this taboo against the use of nuclear weapons appeared to strengthen; the prospect of atomic Armageddon seemed passé.

“In the age of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, however, the possible use of nuclear weapons has, horrifyingly, crawled from the dustbin of history. Leaders in the United States and Russia have rattled their nuclear sabers with extraordinary carelessness and stupidity. North Korea continues to test nuclear warheads and the missiles they might be mated to – and to threaten to use them. India and Pakistan periodically flaunt their ability and willingness to nuke one another, should the need arise, in a war that would likely have worldwide environmental consequences. And the probability that terrorists might acquire and use a nuclear weapon is certainly greater than zero. (Here’s how former Defense Secretary William Perry’s website puts it: “Experts differ on the likelihood of an attack but most believe that it is no longer a matter of if a terrorist attack will occur, but when.”)

“I would prefer to inhabit a more reasonable and safer world, and working toward one is at the center of the Bulletin’s mission. But the world as it actually exists – with its panoply of irrationality and purblind ignorance – demands attention. In this special issue, “After midnight,” top experts examine the ethics and practicalities of preparing a humanitarian response to the use of nuclear weapons, some realistic scenarios that could lead to regional nuclear weapons use – mini-Armageddons, if you will excuse the oxymoron – and various ways in which nuclear warfare might be forestalled or, in the event the unthinkable begins, stopped.

“It is my honest hope that these articles describe the horror of the aftermath of nuclear weapons use in a way that reinforces the taboo, and ensures that horrific aftermath never arrives. It is my honest fear that some world leaders lack the imagination to foresee and head off that horror.” –John Mecklin (Introduction: Into the aftermath: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Vol 73, No 4).

Here are the links for stories within the Journal. Some are free.

Introduction: Into the aftermath

John Mecklin
Free-access article

Interview: NUKEMAP creator Alex Wellerstein puts nuclear risk on the radar

Elisabeth Eaves
Free-access article

US cities are not medically prepared for a nuclear detonation
Jerome M. Hauer
Free-access article

The right planning now will save countless lives after a nuclear attack
Dan Hanfling, Frederick M. Burkle, Jr., and Cham Dallas

After nuclear midnight: The impacts of a nuclear war in India and Pakistan

Karthika Sasikumar

A plausible scenario of nuclear war in Europe, and how to deter it: A perspective from Estonia
Jüri Luik and Tomas Jermalavičius

Nuclear foreboding:  Future shadows cast by nuclear winter
Richard Turco

The N.EX.T. Project: Arms control and disarmament approachesfor a deadlocked age

Introduction: Nuclear disarmament and arms control for the next decade
Ulrich Kühn
Free-access article

Europe’s nuclear woes: Mitigating the challenges of the next years
Ulrich Kühn, Shatabhisha Shetty, and Polina Sinovets

What arguments motivate citizens to demand nuclear disarmament?
Anne I. Harrington, Eliza Gheorghe, and Anya Loukianova Fink

Nuclear disarmament summits: A proposal to break the international impasse
Kelsey Davenport, Jana Puglierin, and Petr Topychkanov

The future of US-Russian nuclear deterrence and arms control

Tatiana Anichkina, Anna Péczeli, Nickolas Roth

Amid high tensions, an urgent need for nuclear restraint
Anastasia Malygina, Sven-Eric Fikenscher, and Jenny Nielsen

Nuclear Notebook

Indian nuclear forces, 2017
Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris
Free-access article

Book Review

Preserving biodiversity, preventing climate disaster: Childish dreams or audacious strategies?
Liam Heneghan

Additional Reading

Bunkers for the 0.003 percent
An interview with Garrett M. Graff
Elisabeth Eaves
Free-access article on the Bulletin website

Let’s end on a lighter note. Here’s a short video you might have missed:

Trump “Review” Includes Seven of California’s National Monuments

GR: Republican tools of homocentric businesses are hard at work opening the land to exploitation. What happened to us? Is this capitalism run wild, or is it something quite a bit simpler. Is the solution simply to outlaw money in politics (this link takes you to one of my posts on this subject)? Would that lead to strong nature conservation, pollution restrictions, single-payer health, financial regulation, restricted arms sales, fewer wars, and more?

Trump Opens Monuments to Exploitation

Seven of California’s national monuments are under “review” as a result of President Trump’s executive order leveling an all-out assault on our public lands.

“In April, the Carrizo Plain National Monument, located in a remote area east of San Luis Obispo, California, erupted with wildflowers in an occasional event known as a “super bloom.” Bob Wick, with the Bureau of Land Management, wrote on the agency’s Flickr page that “(t)he Valley floor has endless expanses of yellows and purples from coreopsis, tidy tips and phacelia, with smaller patches of dozens of other species … (And) the Temblor Range is painted with swaths of orange, yellow and purple like something out of a storybook. I have never seen such a spectacular array of blooms. Ever.”

“The Carrizo Plain National Monument is one of seven California national monuments under review by the U.S. Department of the Interior to determine if they should remain as designated, or if their boundaries or management should be changed by the federal government. This unprecedented review, ordered by President Trump, affects 27 national monuments designated under the Antiquities Act of 1906.

“California’s seven national monuments under review are special places and must remain protected. These areas were designated after years of community-based organizing, extensive effort to detail the specific historical, cultural and ecological values that make these areas meet the strict criteria for monument designation, and broad public outreach efforts. These lands receive overwhelming public support from the local community and stakeholders. After monument designation, collaborative efforts continue with the monument management planning process involving all stakeholders, particularly the local communities around the monuments.

“In California, the president’s Executive Order affects seven national monuments—the most of any state with monuments under review. These seven monuments are widely supported by both Californians and most Americans. Many include lands sacred to Native American Tribes or capture historic locales celebrating our American legacy. Others provide invaluable cultural, scientific and recreational resources that provide immeasurable social, economic and ecosystem protection benefits to local communities. These monuments provide habitat for some of California’s most iconic wildlife, including the California condor, desert tortoise, and San Joaquin kit fox. They are places for both Americans and global visitors to reconnect with nature and recreate.” –Kim Delfino (California’s Monumental Distress – Defenders of Wildlife Blog)

What Happens If the U. S. Exits the Paris Climate Accord?

GR: The probability of devastating climate change is growing. Some believe that we are nearing the point beyond which there is no return. Recent analyses show that our options for reversing climate change are fading. There is a real danger that if the U. S. withdraws from the Paris climate treaty other nations will follow our lead. Climatologists agree that if the Paris Accord breaks down, global disaster may be inescapable.

Cracks stretch across the dry bed of Lake Mendocino, a key Mendocino County reservoir, in Ukiah, California February 25, 2014. To Match CALIFORNIA-DROUGHT/ Picture taken February 25, 2014. REUTERS/Noah Berger (UNITED STATES – Tags: ENVIRONMENT DISASTER) Go to for drought information.

WASHINGTON (AP) — “Earth is likely to reach more dangerous levels of warming even sooner if the U.S. retreats from its pledge to cut carbon dioxide pollution, scientists said. That’s because America contributes so much to rising temperatures.

“President Donald Trump, who once proclaimed global warming a Chinese hoax, said in a tweet Saturday that he would make his “final decision” this coming week on whether the United States stays in or leaves the 2015 Paris climate change accord in which nearly every nation agreed to curb its greenhouse gas emissions.

“Leaders of seven wealthy democracies, at a summit in Sicily, urged Trump to commit his administration to the agreement, but said in their closing statement that the U.S., for now, “is not in a position to join the consensus.”

“I hope they decide in the right way,” said Italy’s prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni. More downbeat was German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said the leaders’ talks were “very difficult, if not to say, very unsatisfactory.”

“In an attempt to understand what could happen to the planet if the U.S. pulls out of Paris, The Associated Press consulted with more than two dozen climate scientists and analyzed a special computer model scenario designed to calculate potential effects.

“Scientists said it would worsen an already bad problem and make it far more difficult to prevent crossing a dangerous global temperature threshold.

“Calculations suggest it could result in emissions of up to 3 billion tons of additional carbon dioxide in the air a year. When it adds up year after year, scientists said that is enough to melt ice sheets faster, raise seas higher and trigger more extreme weather.

“If we lag, the noose tightens,” said Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer, co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal Climatic Change.” –Seth Borenstein (Continue: News from The Associated Press.)