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Thune, Noem Fight Pine Beetle, Ignore Climate Change

When it comes to climate change, Republicans are like our drunk uncle: he won't admit he has a drinking problem, but he sure likes us to spend our money bailing him out when his drinking wraps his car around a tree and puts him in jail.

Rep. Kristi Noem and Senator John Thune are both pleased that the Farm Bill directs more resources to the Black Hills to fight the pine beetle. But the pine beetle epidemic is brought to us in part by climate change:

Scientists say climate change is to blame: Winters haven’t been cold enough to reduce beetle populations. The average U.S. temperature has increased as much as 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit (1.06 Celsius) since 1895, with most occurring since 1970, according to the National Climate Assessment issued in May by the Obama administration.

The warming let beetles proliferate at higher elevations and latitudes, and resulted in more generations per year in some areas, according to a 2011 Forest Service report [Jennifer Oldham, "Pine Beetles Ravaging Forests Strain Budgets in U.S. West," Bloomberg, 2014.06.02].

Climate change is causing problems the cost South Dakota and Uncle Sam money. Yet Rep. Noem and Senator Thune have both supported legislation that prevent us from addressing or even studying climate change. When President Barack Obama tries to tackle the cause of climate change, Senator Thune cries "Energy tax!"

Listen to the Republicans, and we'll end up with ears full of sand and Hills full of dead trees as we treat the symptoms but ignore the disease of climate change.


  1. larry kurtz 2014.06.09

    There is a Neiman epidemic in the Hills: the bark beetle is preserving water supplies that ponderosa pine has been sucking out of the ground for decades.

  2. Michael B 2014.06.09

    The pine beetle threat is immediate. Climate change is an ongoing process. Obama cannot change anything now by his new rules. It may affect the climate ever so slightly far down the road.
    All it would take is one volcano that is due to go off for us to have nuclear winter.

  3. Michael N 2014.06.09

    Winter not cold enough? We had roughly 6 months of it.

  4. larry kurtz 2014.06.09

    There is no pine beetle threat.

  5. Jerry 2014.06.09

    Larry is absolutely correct regarding ground water and a more pristine habitat for wildlife. The loss of the pine is no big deal and neither is the damn beetle. Let nature take its course and cleanse this place. Direct resources to the working poor and provide them with healthcare and work on the climate change. Let the pine beetle does its thing, when it gets tired of it, it will die off like in the past eons. Look at it this way, the Aspen and Birch make for greater looking forests in the fall, ask Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, they will tell you.

  6. larry kurtz 2014.06.09

    Thanks, Jerry: the GOP is biggest threat to the Black Hills.

  7. larry kurtz 2014.06.09

    Ask Heritage whether grant money shapes 'scientific opinion' and they will laugh at you.

  8. Michael N 2014.06.09

    Its all right there Larry, follow the money.

  9. larry kurtz 2014.06.09

    The money in the fake pine beetle war goes right into Thune and Noem's war chests: ponderosa pine is infesting the Black Hills, a point missing in the Bloomberg piece that Cory cites in his post.

    The Forest Service should come out of the USDA and the Black Hills National Forest should become a National Monument managed by the Park Service and the tribes.

  10. Jerry 2014.06.09

    In my case, you cannot see the forest for the trees. The Forest Service is just another wasted form of government spending. The National Monument idea makes more sense than anything that I have seen lately. By giving ownership back to the tribes and the Park Service, it would be a coup for all involved to make the Black Hills Healthy again.

  11. larry kurtz 2014.06.09

    I am so embarrassed of my home state, Jerry: the property in Spearditch Canyon that Homesnake Homestake is deeding to the state is yet another example of the culture of corruption that doomed the Black Hills.

  12. Sam 2 2014.06.09

    The pone Beatles come every 100 years or so. Just part of the natural process. They were also here in 1910.

  13. Stan Gibilisco 2014.06.09

    Deadwood got its name from tree death caused by fires and pine beetles back in the late 1800s.

    Dang climate change!

    Destroying our economy is the wrong medicine for this disease.

    Climate change is a religion.

    The Church of Global Warming.

    A little truth can lead to a hell of a lot of baloney.

  14. Stan Gibilisco 2014.06.09

    Mix church and state ... You get trouble.

  15. Jerry 2014.06.09

    So what do you think Stan about global warming? Do you think that we would have this kind of infestation over such a vast area if we had normal winters like when you here a youngster? Or do you think that this is just a cycle and it will just simply go away and we can develop gills if not? In Deadwood, there is a gin joint that Kevin Costner owns that has some movie memorabilia about Waterworld, maybe we should visit that place and check out the movie to see how things will be on our East Coast and in particular, Florida. I say start buying property in Northern Florida as it will be the new beach destination.

  16. Stan Gibilisco 2014.06.09

    Imagine a huge wildfire, and you have a truck full of water. It is the only water supply for miles around, and you will die of thirst if you don't save it for drinking.

    But you empty that one truck, maybe 10,000 gallons of water, in an attempt to put out the wildfire that would need 10,000,000,000 gallons of water to quench.

    So you die of thirst and get burned to death at the same time.

    Shucks. You could have just let yourself burn up and had water to drink while dying. Or would that simply prolong the agony?

    That is what this administration proposes to do ... in effect ... speed up our demise.

    It will do essentially nothing to slow global warming, but will wreck our economy while we wait for Gaia to take her revenge upon us.

    I do not deny that global warming is taking place. I will even concede that human activity is accelerating it. But merely legislating certain industries out of existence will no more cure this disease than a single antibiotic tablet will cure pneumonia.

    I believe we will have to face the consequences of global warming and prepare ourselves for effects that many of us have not foreseen, perhaps not even seriously imagined, such as an open Arctic Ocean causing massive and constant blizzards over the polar regions, creating glaciers, leading to a new and exaggerated and early Ice Age.

    Some good effects might result such as longer growing seasons.

    But trying to stop all this is, in my opinion, futile. The damage is done and we would do well to prepare ourselves to live with the harvest of our past irresponsibility.

    And as for those who use all this as an excuse to expand and consolidate your power to boss other people around and make them miserable only because they know of no other way to validate themselves, as if they were not valid to begin with as creatures of this world ...

    ... shame on them. They are not fooling me.

    As for beach front property, forget it. I went through Hurricane Andrew in South Florida, spent years as a beach bum only to get multiple skin cancers ... I don't care where the water line in Florida is.

    Maybe we can all just starve ourselves to death or freeze ourselves to death before all these horrible events come to pass ... I guess killing the patient would, in fact, "cure" the disease.

  17. Stan Gibilisco 2014.06.09

    This last winter was profoundly normal, Jerry, like the ones I grew up with in the 60s and 70s, back when they talked about damming the Bering Strait in an attempt to warm the planet.

  18. Stan Gibilisco 2014.06.09

    Baloney then, baloney now. Click on my name, above, for details ...

  19. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.06.09

    Stan, it was a normal winter for the 60s and 70s. 40-50 years have passed since then and the climate is so different already that last winter was a shock to people under 35. They didn't remember ever having a winter like the last one.

    I remember so many layers of clothing! Just to go out to feed the cattle. But younger people have a different "normal". The planet has a different normal now. Last winter was an abberation.

  20. larry kurtz 2014.06.09

    The Industrial Revolution cleared hardwoods whose leaves reflect sunlight in the summer and hold snowpacks: it led to the coniferous tree farms we see today. Spruce and pine needles absorb heat and shed snow: note Colorado's record this year due to wildfires that have restored the aspen clones.

  21. Tim 2014.06.09

    Noem, Thune and other legislators are not the only problem, I tried to have a conversation in the comment section of Thune's energy tax article yesterday in the RC Journal, RCJ refused to post any of my links, also refused to post when I tried to explain to other commentators that they weren't posting my links. Damn right wing rag. Like Fox News just local I guess. Hard to argue with RWNJ's like Stan when I can't post my side.

  22. larry kurtz 2014.06.09

    Stan is not a RWNJ: use your real or whole names when attacking other commenters.

  23. Stan Gibilisco 2014.06.09

    I asked for it! I can take it. Indeed Stan Gibilisco is my real name. So shoot and aim straight, and earn my respect by taking the bag off your head ...

    But seriously, this whole business miffs me in part because I despair to the following extent ...

    We fiddle while Rome burns, and the bloody thing is not even in tune.

    Who was it who used the term "suffocate in your own waste"?

    That time has come.

    What does RWNJ stand for? "Right Wing Nut Job"? Pretty close, but I am the only right winger I know who advocates for socialized medicine.

    Nut job, guilty as charged.

  24. Tim 2014.06.09

    Larry, I have a good reason for not using my last name that Cory is aware of. Make sure you know what is going on before you call me out.

  25. Tim 2014.06.09

    I need a break, I'll confine myself to just reading, better to keep my keyboard to myself when discussing the few things I am passionate about.

  26. Jerry 2014.06.09

    One of the reasons there has been such an onslaught of the pine beetle is that the winters are not as cold as they used to be. There may be a few real cold days but not like the weeks of below zero weather we used to have in the 50's and 60's. That is not only here in South Dakota either, that is any of the Rocky Mountain states as well. It has been getting warmer and the bugs are the real winners in that. Also me I guess, because I am older now and the those long winters would not be fun anymore. Sorry you cannot remember so good Stan, they say that is one of the first thing that goes.

  27. Douglas Wiken 2014.06.09

    As a matter of simple etiquette, if you can't or won't publish your real whole name, perhaps personal attacks on those who do use their own names is inappropriate. Personal attacks are almost always inappropriate when the content of posts should be the actual target.

  28. Stan Gibilisco 2014.06.09

    Actually I grew up in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

    The ice would get so thick on Lac Courte O'Reilles that they could drive a bulldozer out there to clear a skating rink the size of a football field, right out in front of our cabin.

    Not so now. But they say this past winter was an exception.

    I will not argue that global warming is not taking place.

    I will not argue that humanity is not, at least in part, causing it.

    I will argue that destroying whole industries with blind zeal is a stupid, counterproductive, and downright masochistic kettle of crap.

    And Tim, let the passions fly. Don't let loons like me spook you off.

    I need to vent more, lot less ... Get that blood pressure down.

  29. Stan Gibilisco 2014.06.09

    Jerry, the first thing that "went" was not my memory.

  30. Douglas Wiken 2014.06.09

    I see no reason to waste the lumber turned green by the Pine Beetles. There is a Swedish heat treatment that would kill all beetle life and make the wood harder and stronger. SDSM&T should be working on building a portable version of that system.

  31. larry kurtz 2014.06.10

    Most of the trees taken both by the bark beetle and in fuel treatments are too small to mill or treat for construction; however, ponderosa pine is very high in VOCs and could be distilled for use in diesel engines used to log.

    The Neimans spend money on politicians who in turn coerce the Forest Service to do their bidding.

  32. Anne Beal 2014.06.10

    I have a thermometer and a lot of plants. Tried growing Zone 4 plants but they don't survive here anymore. Lowes will still try to sell you oak trees because they think they can grow here, but they can't. The plum trees on the south side of the house survived but did not bloom this spring, same thing with the tulips. Still waiting to see if the daylilies will bloom but just about given up hope. The "sub-zero" rose bushes ALL died over the past few years and as of this spring I have none left. My neighbor used to have beautiful roses too but they are all gone now. I am replacing all the dead plants with Zone 3 varieties but will not buy roses or oak trees again.
    Hopefully I will have tomatoes and peppers this year. Last year I got beautiful plants but no fruit. This year I planted them in a different location, along the south side of a metal building, in the hope they will get enough heat.
    I think it's amazing how people who live indoors actually buy this global warming nonsense.

  33. Nick Nemec 2014.06.10

    I have no idea where you live Anne Beal, but with the exception of the very highest elevations of the Black Hills if you can't grow zone 4 plants anywhere in South Dakota you really need to change your gardening methods.

  34. Nick Nemec 2014.06.10

    My daughter used to live in Colman and now lives in Madison, a gardener in that part of the state who can't grow zone 4 plants is a real putz who should just give up.

  35. Lynn 2014.06.10

    Showing love and care for plants help quite a bit rather than being angry all the time.

  36. Les 2014.06.10

    Arizona scientists say a winter of several weeks necessary below 20 degrees and up here we say several weeks below -20 to kill the bug larvae. Sounds like science to me.
    For all those here attempting to justify climate change by their (not even a fraction of a drop in the bucket of time) many years on this planet, get real. Most of us couldn't begin the quantify the time involved.
    "Blue Stain", Wiken. Very pretty wood in construction.

  37. Les 2014.06.10

    """ a gardener in that part of the state who can't grow zone 4 plants is a real putz who should just give up."""
    Yes, (commissioner, not) Nemec. It appears the voters chose properly.

  38. Jerry 2014.06.10

    Anne Beal, some people cannot grow stuff, so they go to a local nursery rather than a national one. In those places, you will find folks that actually are familiar with what will grow and what will not. Or you can forgetaboutit as fortunately for you there are produce sections in the markets. In my travels in South Dakota, I have seen pear trees that produce very good, although small pears, in Wall, South Dakota. I have also seen and actually eaten, some of the best bing cherries ever around the St. Onge area of South Dakota. I think that county extension offices offer some guidance in gardening. As you seem to know the joys of being around a computer, perhaps you could look up some information on the you tube and see how it is done. Global warming is real Anne, while you are checking out the you tube, try taking a look at the Marshall Islands and see what the effect of global warming and rising seas is doing there. Or check out Ft. Lauderdale, Florida or Norfolk, Virginia as a couple of places that rising seas are causing huge problems.

  39. Douglas Wiken 2014.06.10

    The RC Journal yesterday printed an idiotic Thune column in which he tries to scare everybody on the terrors of doing anything which might reduce the fossil fuel industries profits.

  40. CK 2014.06.10

    Anne Beal: That's funny, because there are 300+ year old oak trees less than a mile away from here. Also, there are 2 100+ year old roses planted next to my parents house. Not to mention the shelter belts planted in the 20's and 30's. Y ou can't just stick stuff in the ground and expect it to grow...You have to care for it properly.

  41. Nick Nemec 2014.06.10

    Oh yes Les, I lost an election and now I'm forever prevented from expressing an opinion on anything. Since you hide behind a semi-anonymous name I have no idea who you are or what area your expertise is in. But, I've been a farmer and grower of plants for my entire life, save for a few years in the Marine Corps. I'll stand behind my statement that zone 4 plants can easily be grown in South Dakota. Anyone having problems growing zone 4 plants in SD should study up to determine what they are doing wrong. I recommend contacting a local master gardener or the SDSU Extension Service for advise.

  42. Nick Nemec 2014.06.10

    Anne, I would caution against planting fruit trees near the south side of any building. The added solar heat radiated from the building will force the fruit trees to flower earlier than they should and they will be more susceptible to a late frost. Plant them on the north side and they will flower a few days later than normal and might escape a late frost that would otherwise kill the blossoms.

    I always hesitate to purchase plants from the "greenhouses" they set up in the parking lots of chain hardware stores. The staff there generally knows much less than even a mediocre gardener. Get your stuff from a reputable local greenhouse, they know local conditions and can actually give advise that will help.

    Oak trees and roses grow easily in SD especially eastern SD. The Madison area is a garden spot. Take a road trip up to McCrory Gardens in Brookings, it's beautiful and all the plants are labeled with scientific and cultivar name, It'll give you an idea of the possible.

  43. Nick Nemec 2014.06.10

    Last fall at a farmers market in Spearfish I purchased locally grown peaches. The farmer said his orchard was over 4000ft elevation.

  44. Jerry 2014.06.10

    The bottom line is this, the only way some of these trees and plants grow here now is because it is getting warmer and they are able to withstand even the colder winter months.

  45. Les 2014.06.10

    """ a gardener in that part of the state who can't grow zone 4 plants is a real putz who should just give up."""
    We've met during your campaign Nick and you didn't call me or anyone else a putz. It was "nice to meet you Les", in fact we got along great. You've called me stupid on this blog and now you call Anne a putz and if this is your way of expressing an opinion you're darn sure not the guy I met. You ten Dems that manage Maddville should be happy there are some centrists of the opposing color venting with you. Tell us to be gone and I'm sure most will oblige you.
    Another fact, many don't know how to garden and calling them a putz darn sure doesn't help them become a gardener or to walk a non partisan line, which is the only hope for you Dems in SD to ever have a voice.

  46. Les 2014.06.10

    More scientific evidence from Jerry.

  47. larry kurtz 2014.06.10

    You're being so putz-like, Les.

    Box Elder Creek and Elk Creek running under I-90 is a good gauge of how much the bark beetle affects water supplies: how are they looking right now?

  48. Jerry 2014.06.10

    Here is some more common sense evidence for you Les. There are many of us on this planet now and with many, we use more resources and have been doing so each and every year. I do not know if you know anything about livestock, but I can tell you something about sheep. If you have ever been in a barn and then bring in a load of sheep to shear, you will find out about warming right quick like.

  49. Jerry 2014.06.10

    Mr. Wiken, it looks like Les took the bait and swallowed it like a bullhead spawning. The right always looks to someone that is as brilliant as John Thune to give them direction. In the meantime, Florida keeps pumping and the ice shelves keep melting, good call there Senator, how much moolah did Exxon and Koch give you for that little rant?

  50. Nick Nemec 2014.06.10

    You're going to have to refresh my memory Les, where did we meet?

    Anne using her failed garden to argue that global cooling exists and SD is now zone 3 instead of zone 4 is a leap without evidence.

  51. Les 2014.06.10

    """"The bottom line is this, the only way some of these trees and plants grow here now is because it is getting warmer and they are able to withstand even the colder winter months."""" Yes, Nick. Just as Jerry is using his failed logic to convince us these trees now only grow here with climate change, when they've been grown here for over a hundred years.
    Which bait would you be speaking of Jer? You MADD folks are throwing bait like monkeys throw feces.
    Tell me Jer, how warm does it get in a sheep barn? Scientifically speaking of course!

  52. Nick Nemec 2014.06.11

    Les, don't bait me into defending some other Madvillian's comments.

    The gardening climate zone map has changed over the years nearly always to the warmer, and Anne's claim that we're now zone 3 is just not true. Here's a link that compares the differences in the map.

  53. Les 2014.06.11

    I don't see any bait you or Jer are talking about, Nick. I will agree with some climate change as has happened for millions of years for various reasons. I don't agree with allowing some sheep to die to cool the barn as Jer would suggest or minimizing a person rather than their words as you do to correct a problem that if it exists, took time to happen and will take time to correct.
    Your links don't mean squat as has been proven with all the fraudulent science discovered on the Global Warming issue.

  54. Jerry 2014.06.11

    LOL Les, you amuse me. The earth did not suddenly start to warm, it has taken those hundreds of years, not very long in the history of the world unless you believe it to be 10,000 years old you rascal. Here in the America, the native population before the Italian fellow found the place and it got popular, was somewhere in the neighborhood of a couple of million. Today, it is much bigger and I am not talking about the whole of America which would be from the tip of South America to the bounds of North America. These new and old inhabitants did not just arrive in the last couple of hundred years Les. As we now like to speak of animals, I will speak of rabbits and their reproduction, need I go further?

    A sheep's temperature is a little over 102 degrees. Believe it or not, the wool they carry can actually help insulate them from the heat as well as the cold. So if you add all of these animals into the equation, along with the cattle and other livestock we have to sustain us, we just keep adding to the warming. So Earth is like a sheep barn then Les.

    The bait is all the chum that your two lovable twins, Thune and NOem toss to you.

  55. Les 2014.06.11

    I am glad I gave you some amusement to start your day, Jer.
    My family has been in the hvac biz for 70 years and I am well aware of insulation necessary for the summer as well as winter. I do agree to your statement of years to change, Jer. The complexity of the issue is beyond the comprehension of our best weather folks as they continue with their struggle for weather prediction accuracy..
    The US is now subsidizing the world with our cheap energy coal while we freeze under 4.25 propane. Burn down the house if you think as our prez does that is the way to cure an ancient problem. I guess when the smoke clears we will have cooled somewhat.

  56. Jerry 2014.06.11

    As always Les, and that is not a condescending remark either. As someone who is in the air handling business that deals with the accuracy needed to make sure your buildings are fully controlled, why not use what I use, electric heat and cooling. Pick yourself up off the floor now Les and lets talk about that. South Dakota has a vast variety of heating sources that are not coal nor natural gas. We have geothermal, we have solar and if you step outside your camp right now, you can feel the wind. There is no need to have any fossil fuels if we would just use our knowledge to develop sustainable renewable energy right here.

    The beauty of it all is that it will not stop climate change, but it will slow it down considerably, perhaps enough to allow us to survive as we know ourselves now. As a bonus, the changing of methods we use for energy would be of huge economic expansion, in particular business like you yourself have run for the last decades.

  57. Jerry 2014.06.11

    Exactly Mr. Nemec, and as luck would have it, South Dakota is a prime spot for this type of energy. I think Winner, South Dakota has a closed loop geothermal system that takes care of the energy needs for some businesses there, at least I believe they did at one time. Philip, South Dakota as well. There is no reason why not to kick coal in the teeth and rid ourselves from this polluter as there is no such thing as clean coal. Thanks, for the article.

  58. Jerry 2014.06.11

    Good point Larry, now if we had a energy bank where consumers could borrow the money to install these products and use their utility bills as a payment plan for the difference, think of what that would do for the economy and for the pocketbooks of consumers. Bonus, it would also help our mother heal her wounds.

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