Archive for April 2013

Bumper Sticker Of The Day…   Leave a comment

If only that were possible.

Posted April 26, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Caribou Coexist   Leave a comment

Over four decades of development on the North Slope have shown that caribou can co-exist happily with development. In fact, it appears they like oil rigs. The Central Arctic Herd, which calves right in the Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk oil fields, has increased from 3,000 animals to more than 23,400 animals since 1975. Facilities in the Coastal Plain area were designed to protect this important species and their habitat.

Caribou are the most numerous large mammals in the Coastal Plain. Two herds migrate through the area at different times of the year. The Porcupine Herd (named after the Porcupine River), which numbers approximately 123,000 animals, generally spends time during the summer months on the Coastal Plain, and the smaller Central Arctic Herd, approximately 32,000 animals, stay to the west of the Coastal Plain. While I’m going to focus on the Porcupine Herd, the basic features of the ecology and annual cycle of events are similar for both groups.

The spring migration begins in early March as caribou gradually drift toward the northern limits of their wintering areas. The Porcupine Herd follows three major routes to the North Slope from primary wintering areas in Alaska and the Yukon Territory; the Richardson route, the Old Crow route, and the Arctic Village/South Brooks Range route.

The caribou segregate themselves into groups which migrate at different times. Pregnant females along with some yearlings and barren cows are the first to migrate, followed by bulls and the remaining juveniles. In mid-to-late May the pregnant females arrive on the North Slope, while the others follow a few weeks later.

Calving takes place during the last week in May and the first two weeks of June in the foothills and coastal region stretching from the Hulahula River in ANWR and the Babbage River located in Canada. The area is generally snow free by early June. Caribou are not distributed evenly across the area; instead, they gather in more, limited locations which vary from year to year.

By mid-to-late July, most Porcupine Caribou have moved off the Coastal Plain and into the Brooks Range foothills and mountains. Although some of the Porcupine Caribou occasionally remain on the North Slope for the winter, the Porcupine Caribou usually travel south and east to Canada. When they do stay on the North Slope, the Porcupine Caribou usually move westward from the Coastal Plain area and mingle with caribou from the Central Arctic Herd.

As the mosquitoes emerge in late June and early July, the caribou gather into enormous post-calving aggregations, sometimes numbering in the tens of thousands. For example, in 1987, over 93,000 caribou assembled in one group south of Camden Bay. The caribou seek areas where breezes and cooler temperatures reduce the harassment by mosquitoes, and when there is no wind, the caribou move continually. Cold winds offer relief from the mosquitoes and permit the caribou to rest and feed freely.

The fall migration may begin any time from late August to mid-October as the caribou start to move generally southward. This migration will carry the caribou one hundred to three hundred miles south into the area south of the Brooks and into the southern Richardson and Ogilvie mountains in the Yukon Territory. The caribou continue to live on fat as they move south; the males will need energy reserves for the rut and all will need it during the winter. At this time, the bulls are shedding the velvet from their antlers and rubbing them against trees and shrubs.

The other caribou in ANWR, the Central Arctic Herd, follow the same basic annual pattern as the Porcupine Herd, except that migrations are much shorter. Caribou from the Central Arctic Herd move between the arctic coast and the Brooks Range mountains, with most animals remaining north of the continental divide all year. Central Arctic Caribou use the northwestern part of the Coastal Plain during summer, and in most years several hundred to a thousand spend the winter near the Sadlerochit Mountains of ANWR.

Both the Porcupine and ‘Central Arctic Herds are biologically healthy. After a long period of stability at around 100,000 animals, the Porcupine Herd began to grow steadily during the late 1970s and 1980s and reached 180,000 animals by 1989. The herd then decreased during a series of severe winters and was down to 160,000 in 1992. In 2002, the Porcupine Herd numbered 123,000, but the caribou were in excellent physiological condition.

The Central Arctic Herd also increased during the 1970s and 1980s from 6,000 in 1978 to 23,400 in 1982. Rapid growth stopped in the late 1980s, however, and the herd now appears stable at around 32,000 animals. Relatively low calf production and survival in recent years may result from severe winter weather which has also depleted moose and Dall sheep populations in the central arctic area. It is also possible that the Central Arctic Herd is approaching range carrying capacity.

The caribou in the two herds which utilized portions of ANWR during their migration are an important subsistence food source for Inupiat Eskimos and Athabascan Indians who live in communities near the migratory routes of the caribou herds, but contrary to the histrionics of the residents of Arctic Village, which is actually 150 miles south of the proposed development of ANWR, caribou are not endangered and are actually thriving right in the middle of the oil patch.

Common Sense Science Allows for Faith   2 comments

As the post I reblogged a few days ago points out, many people believe that Christians deny science. That’s nonsense. We just believe in applying common sense to science.

The cosmological argument for the origins of the universe is not the only science that points to God. Our argument for God is much more broadly based than that.

The teleological argument states that the design of the universe implies a creator (God). It applies common sense without calling on faith or the Bible to show that God exists. The evidence for intelligent design surrounds us at every turn. If you look at a computer, you don’t assume it came together by random coalescence of the components. You immediately conclude an intelligent being built it. Reason dictates that information does not derive from non-information. The information in the DNA code is incredible. Even simple creatures are extremely complex at the DNA level. To believe that such information-rich coding came from impersonal processes is a leap of faith I’m not capable of.

The universe is based on several fundamental constants of physics. Stephen Hawking noted:

“…the universe and the laws of physics seem to have been specifically designed for us. If any one of about 40 physical qualities had more than slightly different values, life as we know it could not exist: Either atoms would not be stable, or they wouldn’t combine into molecules, or the stars wouldn’t form the heavier elements, or the universe would collapse before life could develop, and so on….” (Austin American-Statesman, October 19, 1997).

Since Hawking’s statement in 1997, much additional evidence has been identified. Astronomer Hugh Ross in 2009 listed 167 physical constants that point to the conclusion of the existence of God. The issue is the incredibly interrelated complexity of the laws of physics themselves. Why did they arise in this way if not by an all-powerful God for the ultimate purpose of life? Where did the laws of physics come from? How can inanimate objects like electrons follow laws? Why is reality structured the way it is? Random chance cannot explain it.

The Bible affirms, by the way, the scientific idea of fixed laws of nature. Jeremiah 33:25:

This is what the Lord says: ‘If I have not made my covenant with day and night and established the laws of heaven and earth, then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his sons to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes[a] and have compassion on them.’”

Beyond the biological questions that our existence brings to mind, there are the metaphysical and philosophical questions. Why is the water boiling? Because, scientifically, I applied heat to it and raised the temperature by so many BTUs, causing the molecules to vibrate, but the more human answer is “I wanted a cup of tea.” The second explanation is a valid description of reality, but it does not speak to science because it addresses the cause for the water being on the stove in the first place not the how of how it started boiling. No human, even one enamored of scientism, would insist it was the wrong answer, that I was crazy or rejecting science if I answered the question in that way. Yet, they do exactly that when the question is “Why does the world exist?”

Science has its place in describing the “how” of the universe, but people seeking an atheistic answer to the “why” of the universe violate scientific parameters when they insist that only science can provide all the answers. There are valid areas of inquiring outside of science.

Posted April 26, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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CONSTITUTION: a Government of Enumerated and Delegated Powers   Leave a comment

Why is this unclear? Am I missing something?

The Rio Norte Line

“The government of the United States can claim no powers which are not granted to it by the Constitution, and the powers actually granted must be such as are expressly given or given by necessary implication.”  Martin v. Hunter, (1816) 1 Wheat, (U.S.) 326.

–Chief Justice John Marshall

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Posted April 26, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Is Alaska Just Different?   2 comments

Few impacts in Alaska as FAA furloughs delay flights around US

Nice headline, right. It comes from the following article in the Alaska Dispatch.

Basically this story illustrates something I’m wondering about. How much of the sequestration furloughs are hype? Yeah, Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport does not compare to LAX in passenger jets, but it is the busiest cargo airport in the nation. You read that RIGHT. There are few delays affecting passengers, but there are also few delays affecting cargo ships. Is Alaska just different? I don’t think so. I think we may just be a bit more prone to calling a spade and spade.  There’s a random sentence buried in the middle of this article that says the result of the furlough is that fewer staff are gone on any given day. I read the airport manager saying that because people are working less paid hours, they’re taking less leave, so the tower at AIA is actually more fully staffed. This can’t just be happening at AIA.

I have to wonder how many supervisors in towers across the nation are telling their controllers to delay flights a bit to make it painful and manipulate public opinion.

Slaying a Government Giant   Leave a comment

Traveling by air has been a lot fun this week. It sure is great being deliberately abused by our government in an effort to score political points. The sequestration cuts only 2% of the growth of federal spending, not actual spending (over the next 10 years), but President Obama and the Democrats so opposed any cuts in government spending that they have to make the illusion painful in order to justify Obama’s budget and the budget produced by Senate Democrats which proposes nearly $50 trillion in federal spending over the

On their way to that atrocity, both President Obama’s budget and the Senate Democrat budget propose to repeal the sequester cuts and adopt yet another tax increase instead. That would be on top of the $1 trillion in Obamacare tax increases already going into effect this year, and the $600 billion tax increase already enacted in January to let the Bush tax cuts expire for the nation’s job creators, investors, and successful small businesses (aka “the rich”). I admit that I lack patience with slow learners. But if you don’t understand yet that the ultimate goal of today’s Democrat Party is to raise taxes until they have all of your income, it is too much of a burden on me to share a country with you.

So to instruct the American people of the necessity to get back on track with the Democrat Party program, this week the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began imposing artificial, unnecessary delays on air travel, particularly out of how profile airports around New York, Washington, and Los Angeles. The FAA and the Obama Administration blame that on the sequester cuts, which they blame on the Republicans.

Notice that in the new, transformational Obama era, our nation’s politics are now all about who gets the blame, rather than about who takes the credit. That is because America is in an accelerating, downward spiral to third world status. So the game now is hot potato over who gets stuck with the blame for that. There is nothing going on in Obama’s new Amerika to take credit for.

The sequester and exactly what gets cut was concocted within the Obama Administration, in the office of then OMB Director, now Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, to get an agreement out of the House Republicans to raise the debt limit to allow trillions more in additional federal borrowing. Obama was so certain that Republicans actually do not want to cut spending either, he was confident they would cave and cancel the sequester before it became effective. He was shocked when the Republicans stood by the cuts.

The portion of those cuts that the Obama Administration specified apply to the FAA is $600 million. They could cut instead the $500 million the FAA is spending on consultants, the $325 million it is spending on supplies and travel, and the Transportation Department’s new $474 million grant program “to make communities more livable and sustainable,” as reported in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. Republicans have also already passed legislation in the House, and introduced it in the Senate, to give President Obama complete discretion to make the 2% cuts in spending growth out of the most wasteful federal spending to be found.

When a Petroleum Reserve is a Park   Leave a comment

Last year Secretary Salazar released a new Integrated Activity Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (IAP/EIS) for the 23 million acre National Petroleum Reserve- Alaska (NPR-A).  The plan, which had been under consideration for a year and gone through a public comment period, closed 30% of the reserve to oil and gas exploration in the SW and NE corners and allowed oil exploration in roughly half.

Alaska’s delegation to Washington and the Governor derided the plan as treating an officially designated petroleum reserve as a wildlife refuge. Rex Rock of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) which owns land within NPR-A and whose Alaskan Native shareholders subsist off the lands in question stated, “the Department of the Interior is locking up the most prospective areas for increased domestic energy supply, while proposing lease sales on tracts of land with low oil potential”.  Secretary Salazar said in his announcement that the version of the plan chosen was drafted with the strongest conservation measures in mind. Four plans were released in March 2011 by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) part of the Dept. of Interior.

NPR-A is the largest petroleum reserve in America and was established during WWII as a possible source for domestic oil supply. The reserve lies in the northcentral region of Alaska just to the west of Prudhoe Bay and Alpine oil field. Since 2000, 29 private wells have been drilled in NPR-A. The US government has drilled and abandoned without cleanup 136 wells there (Google Lisa Murkowski and legacy oil wells). Not a single barrel of oil has been produced from the area, mainly due to the lack of roads and pipelines to NPR-A. Permits to cross the bordering Colville River to link to pipelines in Prudhoe Bay and the Trans Alaska Pipeline have been blocked. In May 2011 President Obama stated he supported yearly lease sales in NPR-A to allow for greater domestic oil production. Many Alaskans consider the President’s optimism a political red herring since the limited tracks offered had few prospects and access was being blocked by his administration. No industry would bid on land unless they thought commercial reserves they could deliver to market lay under it.

The Secretary’s new plan took 30% of the most oil-rich prospects off the table and allowed exploration in only half of the remaining. Special “no-go” zones near Teshekpuk Lake in the NE corner close to Alpine oil field just outside of NPR-A have been created as well as by the village of Wainwright where a possible Chukchi Sea pipeline would reach landfall. Yes, those areas contain the expected largest quantities of oil and/or are necessary for the transport of oil. Alaskans view this as deliberate administrative blocking to discourage development that has strong support from the Native community and the governing North Slope Borough. The Secretary, in making his decision on the plan, stated that environmental concern and conservation were his first priorities.

Secretary Salazar outright ignores the history and reality of Prudhoe Bay. Built on tundra littered with thousands of lakes and wetlands, Prudhoe Bay has managed to retain a 100% success rate with wildlife, birds and fish of the area. All species of bird, fish, mammals and plant life are monitored by law within the oil fields on multiple levels of jurisdiction. Not a single species or site has shown decline in animal population or degradation due to development. In fact, the bird and mammal populations within the oil field are higher than the surrounding areas because no hunting is permitted within the fields. Teshekpuk Lake within NPR-A is no different from other areas within Prudhoe Bay and sports no special or different wildlife or fauna than other areas on the coast.

Salazar claimed conservation of caribou and Native subsistence culture (“Native interests”) are reasons for taking land off the leasing schedule. This is completely unsupported by the Native community. Arctic Slope Regional Corporation is a Native-owned company representing the people of the area and is also one of the most active oil companies in the state. The Western Arctic Herd which migrates through NPR-A calves further to the south, not around the coast or newly restricted areas. For perspective, the Central Arctic Herd at Prudhoe Bay (to the east) has increased from 5000 to 66,000 animals and calves in the middle of the oil fields. My husband has taken photographs with a telephoto lens showing a calf sliding out of its mother. He was standing at the door of the Main Construction Camp Housing Unit.

Caribou, waterfowl, and fish do not stop moving at the edge of a “special area” but roam freely. Locking up one part of land to allow development in another means nothing to migrating animals, birds and fish. Both the North Slope Borough and the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and all the local village corporations support development in all of NPR-A.

Both the North Slope Borough and the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation derive revenue from taxes and leases on their private land from the industry. These tax and royalty dollars pay for the construction of schools, public utilities, airports and hospitals for the Arctic communities. The USGS recently revised its estimates of oil and gas for NPR-A down from 9bbls to 1bbls with 500,000 million barrels being economically recoverable. It’s also thought that 50 trillion cubic feet of gas exist under the reserve.  This estimate includes oil from land recently taken off the table by the Secretary.

Some of the areas taken off the table by the Secretary in plan B-2 are areas that had already been leased to commercial entities and that have proven oil potential.  Authority to operate these leases will have to be rescinded by the government, bringing into question the entire leasing process.

Recently problems with ConocoPhillips “CD-5” drill site just inside NPR-A on Native lands were cleared up but showed the inconsistencies and double standards of the federal agencies involved in permitting operations.  Despite issuing environmental operations permits itself for the project, the EPA disapproved and prevented US Corps permits on construction of a bridge to the site. Yes, the EPA issued permits for the project and then disapproved the Corps permits for the same project. The project was delayed for three years while ConocoPhillips continued to pay on the federal lease every year without the ability to produce from it. The permit that was finally issued included 22 special conditions meant to minimize the impact to the environment within the Arctic Coast Plain. Now, seven members of the village of Nuiqsut (a village created – along with Atqasuk — in the 1970s for the express purpose of soaking the oil companies) are suing to prevent the bridge across the Colville River from being built and the Center for Biodiversity has announced its planning to sue under the Endangered Species Act.

And people wonder why Alaskans think we might be better off as an independent nation? Really??? You wonder? Isn’t that a little like wondering why a battered wife wants to leave the man that’s beating her?

Do you have another 26 minutes to listen to Ravi?   2 comments

I’ve enjoyed Zacharias’ books. This is the first time I’ve actually heard him speak, except in short excerpts.


Albert Einstein, Berlin, 1930
A discussion on science and religion.
He said that our human sense of beauty and our religious instinct are “tributary forms in helping the reasoning faculty towards its highest achievements. You are right in speaking of the moral foundations of science, but you cannot turn round and speak of the scientific foundations of morality.”

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Posted April 26, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Truth About ANWR   5 comments

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a huge swath of the eastern Alaska Arctic Coast, stretching from the Dalton Highway east to the Canadian border and from the Arctic Ocean south to the southern foothills of the Brooks Range. It’s an amazing place – austere and mysterious, largely empty and great for photography and wildlife viewing.

Geologists overwhelmingly agree that the Arctic Coastal Plain has the nation’s best geologic prospects for major new onshore oil discoveries. According to the Department of Interior’s 1987 resource evaluation of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s Coastal Plain, there is a 95% chance that a ‘super field’ with 500 million barrels would be discovered. DOI also estimates that there exists a mean of 3.5 billion barrels, and a 5% chance that a large Prudhoe Bay type discovery would be made.

The high potential for significant discoveries of oil and gas in ANWR has long been recognized. Early 20th century explorers of the region found oil seeps and oil-stained sands. Since ANWR was established in 1960, exploration in the region has been restricted to surface geological investigations, aeromagnetic surveys, and two winter seismic surveys (1983-84 and 1984-85). No exploratory drilling has been accomplished in the area except for one well commenced in the winter of 1984-85 on Kaktovik Inupiat Corporation (KIC) and Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) lands southeast of Kaktovik on the Coastal Plain.

Although little oil and gas exploration has taken place in ANWR, the Coastal Plain is believed to have economically recoverable oil resources. The Coastal Plain lies between two known major discovery areas. About 65 miles to the west of the Coastal Plain, the Prudhoe Bay, Lisburne, Endicott, Milne Point, and Kuparuk oil fields are currently in production. Approximately 1.5 million barrels of oil a day are produced from these fields, representing 25% of our domestic production. The TransAlaska Pipeline has transported about 16 billion barrels of oil in its 37-year history. To the east of the Coastal Plain, major discoveries have been made in Canada, near the Mackenzie River Delta and in the Beaufort Sea.

In 1980, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated the Coastal Plain could contain up to 17 billion barrels of oil and 34 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

After several years of surface geological investigations, aeromagnetic surveys, and two winter seismic surveys, the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI), in its April 1987 report on the oil and gas potential of the Coastal Plain, estimated that there are billions of barrels of oil to be discovered in the area. DOI estimates that “in-place resources” range from 4.8 billion to 29.4 billion barrels of oil. Recoverable oil estimates ranges from 600 million to 9.2 billion barrels. They also reported identifying 26 separate oil and gas prospects in the Coastal Plain that could each contain “super giant” fields (500 million barrels or more).

The geologic indicators are very favorable for the presence of significant oil and gas resources in ANWR, but the limited data means that there is a high level of uncertainty about how much oil and gas may be present. Consequently, current estimates represent the best scientific guesses. However, most geologists agree that the potential is on the order of billions of barrels of recoverable oil and trillions of cubic feet of recoverable gas. These resources may rival or exceed the initial reserves at Prudhoe Bay. The validity of these estimates can be proved only by drilling exploratory wells. Authorization for exploration must be given by Congress and the President.

ANWR is 19 million acres in size. The area of proposed development is 2000 acres. That’s the size of the red patch on the map. For perspective, that is only 100 times the size of the cabin site my husband and I are developing. It is one-third the area occupied by the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Both my home and the cabin site are in the borough and we travel 50 road miles between the two. Got it? Perspective is an amazing thing.

ANWR is very important for Alaska and the nation. Prudhoe Bay, which accounts for over half of North Slope production and 25% of domestic oil reserves, began its decline in 1988, and no new on-shore fields have yet been discovered with the potential to compensate for that decline.

We need ANWR.

Tell your congressional delegation.

U.S. Panel Finds Little Evidence to Support Universal Screening For Suicide   Leave a comment

This is further evidence of what we’ve been saying. While better database availability for fire arms sales might keep some guns out of the hands of law-abiding felons and schizophrenics, it would fail to catch the vast majority of those who might harm themselves or others with a gun, so it is merely an exercise in firearms registration. To what end? Because statists believe the government has a right to know? That’s not in the Constitution and is in fact a violation of both the 2nd Amendment and the 4th Amendment. Government does not have the authority to harass the citizens.

Posted April 24, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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