Red Squirrels Are Annoying And Mean

Trump the red squirrelRed squirrels can be annoying because they’re so noisy – chattering loudly at anything they don’t like from their perches in the trees. But they can also be greedy, mean and stupid.

I recently visited Michigan and stayed with a friend at his family’s cabin on a lake. At least once a day we enjoyed the beautiful scenery by sitting quietly in Adirondack chairs on the cabin’s lawn. The local chipmunks came up to us to beg for food the first time I sat in one of the chairs, and my friend explained that he often threw handfuls of sunflower seeds to them.

I told him I was a bit confused because there was a small live animal trap near the chairs, and I presumed he was using it to catch troublesome chipmunks. He told me the trap wasn’t for chipmunks, but for red squirrels. They caused a lot of trouble, he said, so he was trying to trap all the local ones. The spaces between the wires on the trap’s cage, he pointed out, were big enough for chipmunks to escape through them, but they were too small for red squirrels to fit through. He said he took the squirrels that he caught several miles away to release them, and they didn’t come back. He added that many of his neighbors on the lake were doing the same thing.

The next day I saw firsthand why he didn’t like the red squirrels. I was sitting in one of the chairs by myself and several chipmunks approached me from different directions. I yelled to my friend about what was happening. He came out from the cabin’s screened patio with a handful of sunflower seeds, threw them onto a nearby bare spot on the ground, and went back inside. The chipmunks immediately ran to the seeds and began stuffing them in their cheek pouches as fast as they could. There were a lot of arguments among the chipmunks about who got the seeds. They chased each other around a lot, while stopping just long enough to pick up another seed or two. One or two of them appeared to be dominant, but all them got at least one chance to grab some seeds.

Then a red squirrel showed up. First, he sat in the tree above the bare spot and yelled at the chipmunks. It was obvious that he was telling them that all of the seeds were his. They ignored him until he ran down the tree and began to chase them. But the way he chased them was different from the way the chipmunks chased each other. He didn’t want to just argue about who got the most seeds, he was trying to hurt the chipmunks. He would charge onto the bare spot and all of the chipmunks would scatter. He’d pick one out and chase it with his teeth bared for a relatively long distance before giving up and returning to the seeds. Then he’d discover the other chipmunks had been busy gathering more seeds while he’d been away, and he’d pick out another chipmunk and chase it while the other chipmunks immediately returned to the bare spot to get more seeds. It appeared that the chipmunks understood they could get more seeds if they took turns keeping the squirrel busy.

In the end, the red squirrel was so busy trying to bully the chipmunks that he got very few seeds.

EPA Announces Rules to Cut Methane Emissions

oil well
Oil Well (Wikipedia)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced some new rules last week designed to cut the amount of methane gas released into the atmosphere as a byproduct of oil drilling operations. Methane is a greenhouse gas that’s being blamed for about 25% of the ongoing manmade global warming. The new rules are part of the Obama administration’s efforts to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

The EPA estimates the proposed rules would reduce methane emissions by 340,000 to 400,000 short tons by 2025, the equivalent of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 7.7 to 9 million metric tons. The agency estimates the cost to implement the rules would be about $420 million, but the benefits to the economy would exceed that amount by about $120 to $150 million.

The oil industry, of course, immediately criticized the rules, even though they would only apply to new drilling operations. The American Petroleum Institute complained that the new rules would be “duplicative, costly, and undermine America’s competitiveness.”

The Republican National Committee (RNC) also weighed in against the new methane rules, but in an unexpected manner. “We are concerned that restrictions on methane gas emissions might be extended beyond new oil drilling operations,” said RNC spokesperson Kirsty Kookorian. “If they become widespread, it could make it very difficult for us to conduct Republican presidential candidate debates.”

Updates

On September 10, 2018, it was reported that the Donald Trump administration plans to propose to eliminate regulations that limit methane emissions from oil and natural gas wells.

U.S.A. #1 in Natural Gas Production

The national trade association of the oil and natural gas industry, the American Petroleum Institute, is running a TV commercial touting America as the new “Energy Superpower” because the U.S. is now the world’s #1 producer of natural gas. The ad says that, “The new energy superpower is red, white and blue.” It gives credit for this achievement to the industry’s growing use of the controversial practice of underground hydraulic fracturing.

But the environmental group No Fracking Way says that fracking causes groundwater pollution, earthquakes, and increased methane emissions. They complain that the TV commercial is being used to deceptively justify the further expansion of fracking.

“The fossil fuel industry is also lying about the biggest reason natural gas production has increased,” said the group’s spokesperson. “The real reason is the growing number of blathering TV show hosts on the Fox News Channel.”

 

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