Today’s blacklisted Americans: Conservative Supreme Court justices doxed and threatened by pro-abortion protesters

The left goes after the conservatives on the Supreme Court
The left goes after the conservatives on the Supreme Court

Persecution is now cool! The leaked draft opinion by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito that suggested that Roe vs Wade will be overturned this year has resulted in another wave of persecution by pro-abortion activists, almost all of which are Democrats and leftists.

The first indication that the threats and hate were real was revealed two days after Alito’s draft was leaked when his office canceled a scheduled public appearance by him at judicial conference this week.

Though the office provided no explanation for the cancellation, the reasons soon became obvious when two different radical left organizations partnered to publish the home addresses of all six conservative Supreme Court justices, encouraging protesters to go there and use “a diversity of tactics” to “force accountability.”

In collaboration with Vigil for Democracy, Ruth Sent Us generated and posted a Google Maps graphic pinning what it claims are the home addresses of Justices Barrett, Kavanaugh, Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Roberts, where they presumably reside with their families. Vigil for Democracy titled the map, “Extremist Justices,” adding, “Where the six Christian fundamentalist Justices issue their shadow docket rulings.” The map has 3,185 views so far.

In Virginia, where three of the six justices live, protesting outside a private home is illegal.

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Sunspot update: The Sun rages on

Time for my monthly sunspot cycle update, where I take NOAA’s monthly graph showing the long term trends in the Sun’s sunspot activity, and annotate it with additional data to provide some context.

The trend of sunspot activity exceeding the predictions continued in February. While the increase in activity from January still left it less than the activity in December, the total number of sunspots is still far above the number predicted by NOAA’s panel of solar scientists in 2020, with the rise towards a solar maximum also much steeper and far faster than predicted.
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Sierra Club official arrested for vandalizing Brownsville public mural with anti-SpaceX graffiti

Brownsville police today arrested Rebekah Lyn Hinojosa, a Sierra Club official, for spraying anti-SpaceX graffiti on the downtown mural painted by LA artist Teddy Kelly.

Hinojosa was taken into custody for spray painting the words “gentrified stop SpaceX” on a mural in downtown Brownsville. Hinojosa is the Senior Gulf Coast Campaign Representative for the Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign, according to the Sierra Club website.

The level of ignorance illustrated by Hinojosa is difficult to measure. First, how can she think destroying art is no worse than “dirty fuels”?

Second, her belief that gentrification is somehow evil illustrates a truly profound close-mindedness and a refusal to notice that the prosperity that SpaceX is bringing Brownsville is helping everyone, poor and rich alike. She would be hard-pressed to find anyone who lives in Brownsville unhappy with SpaceX, if she made the slightest effort to ask — which she obviously does not wish to do.

Third, it appears she assumes her a short meaningless slogan constitutes a reasoned argument that will certainly change minds. And if she is right, we are truly doomed.

Hinojosa’s act however reveals the rising level of mindless hate against SpaceX’s achievements among the wine-and-cheese Democratic Party suburban crowd, the only people who really support leftist environmental organizations like the Sierra Club. They are beginning to marshal their forces to destroy the company, and sadly, their allies in the Democratic Party now control much of the government. At a minimum, expect serious delays at Boca Chica and with Starship due to this anti-capitalism campaign.

Hat tip to Robert Pratt of Pratt on Texas for letting me know about this story.

Sunspot Update: The Sun quiets down, but just a little

With the posting yesterday by NOAA of its monthly update to its graph showing the long term trends in the Sun’s sunspot activity, it is time for me to do my own update, showing this graph below with annotations in order to provide some context.

While sunspot activity dropped slightly in January, the activity still remained well above the prediction made by NOAA’s panel of solar scientists in 2020, with the upward trend towards a solar maximum much steeper than predicted as well.
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Sunspot update: The Sun blasts off!

Over the weekend NOAA posted its monthly update to its graph showing the long term trends in the Sun’s sunspot activity. As I do every month, I have posted that graph below, annotated to show the previous solar cycle predictions and thus provide context.

In December the Sun’s sunspot activity not only continued the pattern of the past two years — whereby sunspot activity has consistently exceeded the prediction of NOAA’s solar scientist panel — the amount of activity shot up like a rocket. December 2021 saw the most sunspots in a single month since September 2015, when the Sun was about a third of the way into its ramp down from the solar maximum in 2014.

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FAA’s approval of SpaceX’s Starship operations delayed at least a month

The FAA has now had to delay the final approval of its environmental reassessment of SpaceX’s Starship facility and operations at Boca Chica for at least one month because NOAA has refused to approve the plan.

That puts NOAA’s generic review of Rocket Landing and Launches back to at least the end of January, with the much more complex and contentious USFWS [Fish and Wildlife] review also pending (this one is habitat and species review of impacts to bird and wildlife populations specific to Boca Chica).

The earliest approval by the FAA (which again, is far from a sure thing) should be projected into February. And the actual launch license process can’t be started until then. March is absolutely the earliest even the giddiest optimist could expect for Starship’s Maiden Orbital Flight.

It appears that the bureaucrats in NOAA are hostile to the launch site, and are looking for reasons, mostly environmental, to either block it or slow it down.

It also appears that a second Department of the Interior agency must sign off, and it is also hostile.

Based on this story, it looks like Starship’s first orbital flight will not happen until the latter half of ’22, if then. Nor can we expect any help from the Biden administration. Unlike Trump, the Democrats now running the executive branch of government do not like private enterprise and business, and generally look for excuses to regulate and even block it, especially if they think there is the slightest chance it might harm some formerly unknown species somewhere.

This is America today, no longer free. Rather than you making the decision freely, as an American citizen, un-elected federal government officials now decide whether you can do anything, or not.

Sunspot update: Sun continues to be more active than predicted

Time for our monthly sunspot update, using NOAA’s most recent monthly graph of sunspot activity. That graph is below, annotated to show the previous solar cycle predictions and thus provide context. It covers all activity through the month of November.

The pattern for the past two years since the end of the solar minimum continues, with sunspot activity consistently exceeding the prediction of NOAA’s panel of solar scientists, as indicated by the red curve. The activity in November dropped very slightly from October, but remained more active than the prediction.

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Sunspot update: Sun continues its higher than predicted activity

With the beginning of a new month comes my monthly sunspot update, based on NOAA’s most recent monthly graph of sunspot activity. That graph is below, annotated to show the previous solar cycle predictions and thus provide context. It has now been extended from last month to include the Sun’s sunspot activity in October.

Sunspot activity in October continued to be higher than predicted, though the month saw a slight drop from September. Even so, the number of sunspots seen on the Sun’s facing hemisphere in October were the most since August of 2016, when the Sun was ramping down to solar minimum.

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Drop in aviation during COVID lockdowns caused no change in high cirrus clouds, contrary to predictions of climate models

The uncertainty of climate science: In the twenty-five years since I became a science journalist, I cannot count the number of high profile press releases and scientific papers that I’ve read claiming that the increase in aviation and the resulting contrails from airplanes was going to be a major contributor to human-caused global warming. According to the models, the increase in contrails was increasing the high altitude cirrus cover, and thus in a variety of ways acting to warm the planet.

Well, a paper just published in Geophysical Research Letters took a look at the effect the sudden and almost complete cessation of aviation during the 2020 COVID lockdowns had on high altitude cirrus clouds. If the models were right, the lack of air traffic should have caused a reduction in cirrus clouds, thus demonstrating the models were correct.

The models were wrong, once again. From the abstract:

We find that, despite the very large reduction in air traffic, neither cirrus cover nor temperature ranges changed by enough to be detectable relative to the year-to-year variability of natural cirrus. Comparing the satellite observations to previous model-simulated aviation cirrus, we determine that any aviation-induced change in cirrus would have a much smaller magnitude than would be inferred from climate model simulations. These results suggest that the warming effect of cirrus clouds produced by aircraft may be smaller than previously believed. [emphasis mine]

In other words, air traffic apparently has no impact on the high altitude cloud cover. The models that said this traffic was a contributor to global warming were 100% wrong. It apparently is not.

Of course, there remains some uncertainty even with this result, as it is for only one year. The effect of air traffic on clouds could have been disguised in 2020 by the natural fluctuations normally seen from year to year, though the paper’s authors think not.

Assuming this data is confirmed, the authors also concede that the plans to mitigate contrails by rerouting planes so that they do not all fly along the same routes could be very counter-productive. It will cause those detours to burn more fossil fuels, while changing nothing in the cloud cover in the upper atmosphere.

Ah, the law or unintended consequences once again rears its ugly head. Too bad global warming activists never seem to admit it exists, even though it constantly bites them in the rear, time after time after time after time after time….

California environment overregulation sole cause of shipping backup

California environment regulations that ban the use of any truck more than three years old, essentially banning half of all fleet trucks and practically all small private truck companies, is the real cause of the shipping backlog that is piling up outside the ports of Los Angles and Long Beach.

This banning was established by a deal the EPA made with California in October 2020, when Trump was still president.

In effect, what this 2020 determination and settlement created was an inability of half the nation’s truckers from picking up anything from the Port of LA or Port of Long Beach. Virtually all private owner operator trucks and half of the fleet trucks that are used for moving containers across the nation were shut out.

In an effort to offset the problem, transportation companies started using compliant trucks (low emission) to take the products to the California state line, where they could be transferred to non-compliant trucks who cannot enter California. However, the scale of the problem creates an immediate bottleneck that builds over time. It doesn’t matter if the ports start working 24/7, they are only going to end up with even more containers waiting on a limited amount of available trucks.

Essentially, California is now holding the entire nation hostage. The backlog is only going to get worse. Moreover, the deal as designed favored big operations, such as Amazon, Walmart, UPS, FedEx, Samsung, The Home Depot and Target, because they can afford the extra costs of shipping to alternative ports. The small companies are essentially shut out.

So much for protecting the little guy, Mr. Trump. This highlights again Trump’s primary failure. He did not clean house when in office, and thus allowed the bureaucracy — clearly operating as agents of the Democratic Party — to double cross and stymie him at every opportunity.

Sunspot update: The boom in sunspots returns!

It is time for my monthly sunspot update, based on the most recent NOAA monthly graph, showing the changes in the Sun’s sunspot activity during September. That graph is below, annotated to show the previous solar cycle predictions and thus provide context.

In September sunspot activity boomed once again, producing the most sunspots in a month since 2016 and ending the slight drop in activity in August to return to the pattern the Sun has exhibited since the end of solar minimum. Consistently the number of sunspots on the visible hemisphere of the Sun since 2020 has exceeded the April 2020 prediction of the NOAA scientist panel, as indicated by the red curve in the graph.

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Sunspot update: Activity declines in August to just above prediction

On September 1st NOAA released its update of its monthly sunspot cycle graph, showing the Sun’s sunspot activity for the past month. That graph is below, annotated to show the previous solar cycle predictions and thus provide context.

In August sunspot activity dropped from July so that it was only slightly above the prediction of NOAA’s panel of solar scientists, as indicated by the red curve. The blank streak at the very end of July ended on August 2nd (a streak of seven days and the longest in years), but was followed during the month by an additional five blank days.

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The knives aimed at SpaceX are getting sharpened

Starship must be banned!
Banning Starship: The new goal of our leftist masters.

Two stories today mark what appears to be a growing political campaign focused on squelching by any means possible the continued unparalleled success of the company SpaceX. And the simultaneous publication of both stories on the same day also suggests that this campaign is deliberately timed to force the FAA to shut down SpaceX at Boca Chica.

First we have a story at aimed at SpaceX’s Starlink constellation, making it the big villain in the growing threat of satellite collisions.

SpaceX’s Starlink satellites alone are involved in about 1,600 close encounters between two spacecraft every week, that’s about 50 % of all such incidents, according to Hugh Lewis, the head of the Astronautics Research Group at the University of Southampton, U.K. These encounters include situations when two spacecraft pass within a distance of 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) from each other.

Lewis, Europe’s leading expert on space debris, makes regular estimates of the situation in orbit based on data from the Socrates (Satellite Orbital Conjunction Reports Assessing Threatening Encounters in Space ) database. This tool, managed by Celestrack, provides information about satellite orbits and models their trajectories into the future to assess collision risk.

Though his data appears accurate and the growing risk of collisions is real, it appears from the story that Lewis, one of only two experts interviewed, has a strong hostility to SpaceX. He doesn’t like the fact that SpaceX is so successful in such a short time, and appears to want something done to control it.

The article also nonchalantly sloughs off one very significant fact: Very few satellite collisions have actually occurred. While the risk is certainly going to increase, that increase is not going to be fueled just by SpaceX. At least four large constellations are presently in the works, all comparable to Starlink in some manner. To focus on SpaceX in particular makes this article appear like a hatchet job.

Then we have a news story from CBS and its very partisan and leftist news show, Sixty Minutes+, providing a loud soapbox for the very small number of anti-development environmentalists fighting to block SpaceX’s operations in Boca Chica, Texas.
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Sunspot update: Another month of greater activity than predicted

NOAA this past weekend released an update of its monthly sunspot cycle graph, showing the Sun’s sunspot activity for the past month. That graph is below, annotated to show the previous solar cycle predictions and thus provide context.

In July the Sun’s hot streak of sunspot activity continued. The number of sunspots on its visible hemisphere continued to exceed the prediction of NOAA’s solar science panel, with the numbers in July easily topping June’s numbers. Only at the very end of July was there a streak of five blank days, the first time the Sun has been blank of sunspots since May 6th, a stretch of activity not seen for years, since the last solar maximum was ramping down to solar minimum in ’16-’17.

The political consequences of this continuing high activity could be quite profound.
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FAA, local Texas DA, and environmental group out to get SpaceX and Starship

Two news articles today suggest that a number of government officials, environmental groups, and some news media are beginning to team up to damage SpaceX and hinder its ability to succeed.

First we have this Verge article, aimed at suggesting that SpaceX violated its launch license and ignored FAA warnings not to launch during a December 9th test flight of the eighth Starship prototype.

Minutes before liftoff, Elon Musk’s SpaceX ignored at least two warnings from the Federal Aviation Administration that launching its first high-altitude Starship prototype last December would violate the company’s launch license, confidential documents and letters obtained by The Verge show. And while SpaceX was under investigation, it told the FAA that the agency’s software was a “source of frustration” that has been “shown to be inaccurate at times or overly conservative,” according to the documents.

The article generally takes the side of the FAA, suggesting that SpaceX was lax and nonchalant about the risks relating to weather and launch conditions, and proceeded with its launch even though FAA officials thought it unsafe. It also quotes Wayne Monteith, the head of the FAA’s space division, blasting SpaceX for showing “a concerning lack of operational control and process discipline that is inconsistent with a strong safety culture,” claiming that FAA software showed a risk to nearby buildings and homes should the rocket explode in the air.

However, buried far down in the article it also notes,
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Sunspot update: Activity in May continued to exceed predictions

Time for our monthly sunspot update. On June 1st NOAA updated its monthly graph showing the Sun’s sunspot activity through the end of May 2021. Below is that updated graph, annotated as always to show the previous solar cycle predictions.

As has happened now for almost every month since the Sun’s sunspot cycle began to increase following the long and deep minimum in 2019, the activity in June exceeded the numbers predicted by the computer models of NOAA’s panel of solar scientists. While the activity dipped slightly from April, it still was more active than predicted.

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Today’s blacklisted Americans: Biden administration working to blackball fossil fuel companies from obtaining financial services

Disagree with John Kerry? No more bank services for you!
Disagree with John Kerry?
No more bank services for you!

They’re coming for you next: The Biden administration, under the leadership of its “climate envoy” John Kerry, is apparently working behind the scenes to force banks to blackball fossil fuel companies from obtaining financial services.

Not surprisingly, the initial news stories from the mainstream press in mid-March describing this effort were written to hide the Biden administration’s goals. For example, Politico described a number of meetings arranged by Kerry and the Biden administration both with climate activist groups as well as financial institutes aimed at making those financial institutions “put your money behind your climate PR,” but the article only hinted at what the goals were.

Kerry has pitched banks on creating a U.S. net-zero banking alliance following the climate commitments from six major Wall Street banks, according to two people familiar with the discussions. Citi, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs all set 2050 net-zero goals and JPMorgan Chase has said its lending would be aligned with the Paris agreement although Kerry and his team are pushing for more specific financial commitments as part of this effort.

Kerry also wants clear near-term actions from banks by 2030, which would align with the Biden administration’s timeline for the new emissions target it intends to submit as part of the Paris Climate Agreement process. [emphasis mine]

Doesn’t meeting “net-zero” goals for climate change sound wonderful? But what does it mean?
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Today’s blacklisted American: All conservatives on Facebook

The Bill of Rights cancelled at Facebook and Instagram
No first amendment on Facebook.

The new dark age of silencing: It isn’t really news to post an article describing the effort at Facebook to silence and squelch conservative thought. I along with many others have already done so repeatedly, with the worst and most blatant banning beginning with the wave of censorship that these big social media sites initiated just after January 6th. Nor has Facebook eased up in subsequent months. For example, in April Facebook blackballed a mother for daring to criticize the radical Marxist and racist policies of her school board.

Since then, Facebook has shut down a pro-Israel Christian site with 77 million followers and blocked the viewing of reviews of a climate book by former Obama science advisor Steve Koonin that raised doubts about the theory of human-caused climate change.

In the former case, it appears that Facebook allowed itself to be influenced by a orchestrated attack by radical Islamic organizations, which posted more than a million comments of complaint to the site in an effort to get it canceled. Facebook of course complied.

In the latter case Facebook took on faith the complaints made by pro-global warming websites, which claimed that the book was false simply because it disagreed with those pro-global warming sites. None of them actually cited any incorrect facts put forth by the reviewed book. And even if they had found errors and falsehoods, the right answer to bad speech is never censorship, but an educated response.

Facebook claims that this censorship campaign is not really aimed at any particular political point of view, but is instead designed to reduce the overall political content on Facebook. And yet, their own description of their effort illustrates its partisan nature:
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Sunspot update: Sunspot activity continues to exceed predictions

The uncertainty of science: On May 1st NOAA updated its monthly graph to show the Sun’s sunspot activity through the end of April 2021. As I do every month, I have annotated it to show the previous solar cycle predictions and posted it below.

In my sunspot update last month I reviewed in detail the range of predictions by solar scientist for the upcoming solar maximum, noting that based on the higher than expected sunspot activity that has been occurring since the ramp up to solar maximum began in 2020, it appeared that all of their predictions might be wrong. The continuing high activity that occurred in April continued that trend.

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Starship #11 debris fuels environmentalist opposition

They’re coming for you next: The debris that fell as far as five and a half miles away when SpaceX’s Starship #11 prototype exploded just before landing on March 30th has increased the already vocal opposition from various environmentalist activists of the space project.

Environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club, the Friends of Wildlife Corridor, and concerned citizens in the environmental research field have expressed their dissent about the SpaceX activities at Boca Chica.

Chris Sandoval, a science teacher in Brownsville with degrees in Wildlife and Fisheries and Ecotoxicology, has put forth a research paper explaining the possible effects of SpaceX activity in the surrounding natural habitats and economic consequences as a result of their expansion in the region.

Sandoval says research would show that contamination from rocket fluids would harm wildlife in the surrounding area. “Contaminants such as those of hydrocarbons are able to kill aquatic life, both vertebrate and invertebrate, at very low concentrations, especially when it’s in a semi-enclosed area as the Lagunas are,” explained Sandoval.

And yet, none of these claims seem to apply to the government-run spaceports in Florida and California, both of which are also surrounded by wildlife refuges. Why is that? Why do these environmentalists have a particular opposition to the spaceport of this private company, but none or little opposition to the government’s? Could it be that what they really oppose is private enterprise, and are using the environment as a tool to destroy it?

I should add, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that manages this refuge, SpaceX has been working closely with them on mitigating the damage, which in the end I suspect will be quite minimal. The ecology is far stronger than these environmentalist like to portray it. What SpaceX did hardly compares to the damage a hurricane would cause, and that is not an unusual event at this Gulf coast location.

Whether this environmental opposition to SpaceX will result in any major delays or obstacles remains to be seen. Under a Trump administration I would not be too concerned. Under today’s Democratic Party Biden administration, who knows? The tendency of Democrats is to regulate, and to use their power to squeeze others. So far that has not yet happened aggressively in connection to SpaceX, though there have been signs that the Biden administration is interested in increasing the regulatory roadblocks SpaceX must face. We will only have to wait and see.

Above all this increases the urgency for SpaceX to shift as soon as possible its Starship and Super Heavy test flights to the two oil-rigs it purchased and are refitting as floating launch and landing platforms. Once the bulk of those test flights are far away, out in the ocean, the political clout of these protesters will be minimized.

Sunspot update: Higher than predicted activity continues

The uncertainty of science: Time for our monthly update of the Sun’s on-going sunspot cycle. Below is NOAA’s April 1, 2021 monthly graph, showing the Sun’s sunspot activity through the end of March 2021. I have annotated it as always to show the previous solar cycle predictions.

The higher than expected sunspot activity that has been occurring almost from the moment the ramp up to solar maximum began in 2020 continued in March. The numbers weren’t as high as they were in December and January, but they were still higher than the predicted sunspot number.

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Sunspot update: February activity declines to predicted values

Time to do another sunspot update. Below is NOAA’s March 1, 2021 monthly graph, showing the Sun’s monthly sunspot activity. It is annotated by me as always to show the previous solar cycle predictions.

February continued the decline of sunspot activity seen in January after a very unusually active November and December. Though the actual sunspot number was more than the prediction, the difference in February was trivial.
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Giant Antarctic iceberg disintegrates, missing South Georgia Island

NASA photo of disintergrating iceberg

Chicken Little was wrong again! The giant Antarctic iceberg, that some scientists were terrified would crash into South Georgia Island and harm the wildlife that lives there, has done exactly what every other iceberg has done since scientists began tracking them by satellite, disintegrate and float around the island, doing it no harm at all.

The NASA satellite photo to the right shows the situation on February 11, 2021. In November the iceberg was almost exactly the same shape and size as South Georgia island, and was heading right for it. (See the graphics from my earlier post.) At that time there were cries of impended disaster from our typically panicky and fear-driven scientists of the environmental community, claiming that the berg might become grounded against the island to do harm to the wildlife there, even though thousands of bergs of all sizes have all routinely floated around the island harmlessly.

Since then the iceberg has broken up and (surprise!) floated around the island harmlessly, as shown by the satellite photo. The doomsayers were wrong again, as they are and have been routinely for decades.

Considering the terrible track record of predictions by the environmental movement, you’d think people would stop buying into its cries that the sky is falling, but sadly they still do, and apparently will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Sunspot update: January activity returns to expected levels

Though I am a bit late this month, it is once again time provide my monthly update of the Sun’s on-going sunspot cycle. Below is NOAA’s February 1, 2021 monthly graph, showing the Sun’s monthly sunspot activity. I have, as I do each month, annotated it to show the previous solar cycle predictions.

After two months of relatively high activity, activity that was very high so early in the ramp up to solar maximum, the number of sunspots in January dropped down to closely match the predicted value. It was still higher, but not by much.

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Environmentalists cheer FAA blocking of Starship test flight

Two Starship prototypes now on launchpads
Two Starships are better than one!

They’re coming for you next: It appears the environmentalist movement is thrilled that the FAA and the Biden administration blocked last week’s test flight of SpaceX’s ninth prototype of Starship.

It also appears they are gunning to end Starship entirely, and might now have the right people in charge to get it done.

Jim Chapman, president of the nonprofit Friends of the Wildlife Corridor, says it is unusual for a federal regulatory agency to allow a company to conduct tests prior to completion of an environmental review and licenses issued.

He and other environmentalists have repeatedly expressed concerns to Border Report of what they say is a lack of oversight by the FAA on this site. But Friday’s actions gave Chapman some hope. “The fact that the FAA is going by the book for a change is a good development,” Chapman said. “They’re following the law by doing that and they’re supposed to do the environmental evaluation before they issue new licenses and up until now they kind of haven’t been doing that.”

The irony here is that these environmentalists are claiming that SpaceX’s rocket facility at Boca Chica will threaten the local beach wildlife, when we have more than a half century of evidence from Cape Canaveral that a rocket launch facility does the exact opposite. When the federal government established its Florida spaceport it reserved vast tracts around it for safety, but also reserved that land as a wildlife preserve. The result has been that the beach wildlife at Cape Canaveral has thrived, and been protected.

What these environmentalist really want to do is prevent SpaceX from flying, merely because they hate the development of new technology and the advancement of human capabilities. The environmental movement is routinely against anything new, and has been for decades.

With the Democrats controlling Congress and the White House, their allies are now in power. I would not at all be surprised if the FAA’s action last week is also tied to this environmental review. If so, expect future test flights at Boca Chica to be further delayed and stretched out.

Meanwhile, this past weekend SpaceX rolled out its tenth Starship prototype, placing it on a second launchpad right next to prototype #9, as shown by the screen capture above from the LabPadre 24/7 live feed this morning. The company sure is making it clear that the only reason they have been stalled is the government.

Giant iceberg from Antarctica breaking up

As should have been expected, the giant iceberg the size of Delaware that had broken from the Antarctic ice pack in 2017 and was drifting directly towards South Georgia Island (a wildlife preserve), is now breaking up without doing any harm to the island itself.

Seawater has been cutting like a knife through A-68A, the enormous Antarctic iceberg drifting in the southern Atlantic Ocean. On January 11, 2021, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the NOAA-20 satellite acquired this image showing the remainder of A-68A, along with two large pieces that broke off in December 2020.

The U.S. National Ice Center (USNIC) reported on January 8 that A-68A measured 74 kilometers long and 44 kilometers wide. That equates to an area about twice the size of Houston—still sizable, but quite a bit smaller than its Delaware-sized status in July 2017 when it calved from the Larsen C Ice Shelf. The pieces that broke from A-68A in December (forming A-68D and A-68E) are smaller, but remain large enough to be tracked by the USNIC.

Every report about this, including today’s, waxes eloquently about the terrible threat the iceberg poses to the wildlife on South Georgia Island should it become grounded there, even though all past data, let me repeat, all past data indicated that it would not hit the island but drift around as it broke up.

And, surprise surprise, that is exactly what it has been doing.

Wealthy environmentalist picks his preferred UK spaceport

Capitalism in space: A wealthy businessman who is also involved in environmental causes has invested almost 1.5 million pounds in the proposed spaceport planned for the Shetland Islands, the northernmost British islands.

What makes this investment especially interesting is this same environmentalist’s opposition to a different spaceport proposed for Sutherland, Scotland.

Danish businessman Mr Povlsen, who is reportedly worth £4.5bn thanks to his Bestseller clothes retail empire, and his wife own thousands of acres of land in Sutherland, and on other estates in the Highlands. [Their company] Wildland Ltd has raised concerns about Space Hub Sutherland’s impact on the Caithness and Sutherland Peatlands Special Protection Area, and has sought a judicial review of Highland Council’s permission for the satellite launch project.

Another of the Povlsens’ companies, Wildland Ventures Ltd, has invested in Shetland Space Centre.

This apparently is the ultimate in NIMBY (not in my backyard!). It seems this couple is throwing its weight behind the Shetland site in order to help keep the Sutherland site (in their backyard) from being built.

Giant iceberg heading to possible collision with South Georgia Island

Track of iceberg in the past three years

Close-up comparing iceberg with South Georgia Island.

The largest section of a huge iceberg that broke off from Antarctica’s Larson ice shelf in 2017 is now headed directly for a collision with remote South Georgia Island.

The first image to the right shows the iceberg’s movement since 2017. The second zooms in to show that the iceberg and island are almost the exact same size, 100 miles long.

South Georgia Island, 1,000 miles east of South America, has no permanent human inhabitants, though explorers, scientists, and mountain climbers do go there periodically. Instead, it is a wildlife preserve:

Around five million seals call the islands home, as well as 65 million birds of 30 different species. Migrating whales and various fish species populate the surrounding waters and there is a large penguin population.

The first link above, from the European Space Agency (ESA), typically shivers with the modern mindless fear that seems to permeate everything our culture considers:

About the same size as the South Atlantic island, it could ground in the shallow waters offshore and cause real problems for the island wildlife and seafloor-dwelling life. Penguins and seals need access to the sea to feed so the iceberg could easily block their foraging routes and life on the seafloor could be crushed if the berg grounds. The fear is that if the berg does anchor against the South Georgia coast, it could remain there for up to 10 years. When the A38 grounded here in 2004, many dead penguin chicks and seal pups were found along the shoreline.

All maybe true, but then, the arrival of icebergs this large to South Georgia Island while likely rare is also quite normal. The sea life there has had to adapt to these events, or else it would not have survived to today.

Also, note the blue lines. Those are the tracks of past icebergs as recorded from orbit. Not only is it common for icebergs to be aimed at South Georgia Island, the currents appear to guide them around the island once they get close. While this new berg is so huge it might plow into the island anyway, the data here suggests it will not.

Regardless, this somewhat rare event provides scientists a opportunity to learn something about the survival of species in hostile environments. We can’t prevent such things, but we can learn their consequences as well as how life adapts under such conditions.

Bezos sells another $3 billion of Amazon shares

Jeff Bezos continues to accelerate his sale of his Amazon stock, selling another $3 billion this week.

In August, Bezos offloaded more than $3.1 billion of Amazon shares, after selling more than $4.1 billion worth of shares in February. The sales this week bring his total cash out in 2020 to more than $10.2 billion so far, which is a notable jump from 2019, when Bezos sold $2.8 billion worth of shares.

While Bezos had originally said these sales were for financing his space company, Blue Origin, it now appears that the bulk of this new money is aimed at funding environmental political organizations such as the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Wildlife Fund.

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