Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

DC Celebrates Cherry Blossom Festival with Bare Branches

April 8, 2013

DC Celebrates Cherry Blossom Festival with Bare Branches

Tourists have infested thronged Washington for the city’s annual Spring celebration, the National Cherry Blossom Festival. This year’s festival has concerts, kites, kimonos, food, fireworks ….. everything but cherry blossoms. Unseasonably cool temperatures have resulted in tiny green and pink buds but no real blossoms. The festival ends next weekend; maybe the cherry blossoms will be out by then.

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Image (“DC Spring Weenies, Barracks Row“) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Rock Creek Park: 20 Deer Down, 130 to Go.

April 2, 2013

Rock Creek Park: 20 Deer Down, 130 to Go.

Despite protests by concerned DC citizens, sharpshooters have bagged 20 deer in Rock Creek Park, which runs though the middle of the Nation’s Capital. The National Park Service is reducing whitetail over-population in the urban outdoors, and hopes to harvest a total of 150 critters by the end of a 3-year deer-reduction period. Resulting venison is donated to local food banks and shelters.

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Short Link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-goP

Image (“Rock Creek Deer Hunt, after Atelier de Walt Disney”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Bye-Bye Bambi: The Hunt Is On In Rock Creek Park.

March 27, 2013

Bye-Bye Bambi: The Hunt Is On In Rock Creek Park.

In the dead of night, while half the city is out of town for Easter Week, the National Park Service is implementing its ruthless slaughter of helpless, cute, fuzzy deer whitetail reduction plan in Rock Creek Park.

More:

“‘Deer Reduction Operations’ to Begin Tonight in Rock Creek Park,” Martin Austermuhle, DCist

“Sharpshooters to begin killing deer in Rock Creek Park for National Park Service,” AP via Washington Post

“Rock Creek Park Deer Slaughter Starts Tonight,” Will Sommer, Washington City Paper blog.

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Short Link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-gmJ

Image (“Bye-Bye Bambi, after Atelier de Walt Disney”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length

Rock Creek Park: The Hunt Is On

March 18, 2013

Rock Creek Park: The Hunt Is On
Rock Creek Park runs right through the middle of Washington DC, and it has a problem. The skinny ribbon of National Parkland is infested with deer, five times more than the 1,750 acres can support. The deer wander onto Rock Creek Parkway where commuting motorists mince them into Bambi-burgers. They cause international incidents by browsing backyards on Embassy Row and visit the grounds of the Vice President’s residence for wrestling matches with the Secret Service.

The National Park Service issued shoot-to-kill orders, but five DC residents went to court to stop the hunt. A judge just threw out their lawsuit so the hunt is back on. The NPS plans to donate harvested venison to area homeless shelters.

UPDATE:

“Rock Creek Park Deer Killing for Me, Not for Thee,” Will Sommer, Washington CityPaper blog

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Short Link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-ggu

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length

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Groundhog Day

February 2, 2013

Groundhog Day

It’s February 2nd, time to monitor Marmota monax and dream of winter’s end. Whether or not you believe in woodchuck weathermen, one thing is certain: you can’t have groundhogs if you want a backyard full of fresh garden veggies.

Groundhogs (aka woodchucks, whistlepigs, and marmots) are insecto-vegetarians and confirmed locavores. If you plan to plant this spring, harvest those hairy beasts now. Celebrate Groundhog Day with critter cuisine.

Serving suggestions:

Woodchuck au Vin

Canadian Fried Woodchuck

Groundhog Pie

Woodchuck Recipes from Michigan (Oriental Groundhog,Waco Groundhog in Sour Cream,Woodchuck Stew, Woodchuck Meat Loaf)

More groundhog lore and recipes here and here.

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NASA Explores New Car Smell

November 26, 2012

NASA Explores New Car Smell

Attention space travelers: That new space capsule may smell good, but that aroma isn’t good for you. NASA’s Goddard Laboratory is on the case:

“For some people, the best part about buying a new car is its factory-fresh new car smell, a distinctive aroma created when the chemicals and residual solvents used to manufacture dashboards, car seats, carpeting and other vehicle appointments that outgas and fill the cabin. While the scent may be alluring to some, many researchers believe exposure to these gases isn’t particularly healthy — so unhealthy, in fact, that some recommend that drivers keep their new cars ventilated while driving.

Outgassed solvents, epoxies, lubricants, and other materials aren’t especially wholesome for contamination-sensitive telescope mirrors, thermal-control units, high-voltage electronic boxes, cryogenic instruments, detectors and solar arrays, either. As a result, NASA engineers are always looking for new techniques to prevent these gases from adhering to instrument and spacecraft surfaces and potentially shortening their lives.

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Vehicular Venison

November 5, 2012

Vehicular Venison

It’s that time again. The leaves are turning bright autumn colors, and lovesick deer on the road to romance are finding it crowded with motor vehicles. There are more deer and cars in the U.S. than ever before, so the situation isn’t as amusing as it might initially seem. Deer cause car crashes that kill about 200 people in the US each year, twice as many as Hurricane Sandy. State Farm Insurance says deer collided with 1.23 million vehicles between July 2011 and June 2012, 7.7 percent more than last year. The company’s claims from deer collisions rose almost 8 percent while those for other collisions fell 8.5 percent.

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Refining Starbucks

August 23, 2012

Refining Starbucks

Researchers at the City University of Hong Kong, working with The Climate Group and Starbucks Hong Kong, have converted coffee grounds and stale pastry into plastic’s chemical components. The demonstration project used a small biorefinery rig sufficient for “proof of concept.” The process uses enzymes from fungi to break the waste’s carbohydrates into sugars and ferment them into succinic acid, which can be used to make many things, such as pharmaceutical additives, detergent, solvents, polymers, mulch films, rubbish bags, flushable hygiene products, and artificial sweetener.

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Gibson Guitars Caught Smuggling

August 9, 2012

Gibson Guitars Caught Smuggling

Gibson Guitars agreed to pay penalties totaling over $$600,000 for smuggling exotic endangered wood into the United States in violation of the century-old Lacey Act. The Act was amended in 2008 to ban importation of illegally harvested hardwoods like Madagascar ebony. Gibson builds many well-known guitar models including the ES-355 (B.B. King and Chuck Berry play it) and the Les Paul, and many of these guitars have ebony fretboards. Madagascar has forbidden logging of its slow-growing ebony since 2006, meaning US importation from that date forward was illegal.

In order to avoid criminal prosecution, Gibson acknowledged that it imported exotic wood in violation of environmental laws, paid the Justice Department $300,000 in penalties, forfeited claims to over $250,000 worth of wood seized by the Feds, and contributed $50,000 to a foundation to promote the conservation of protected tree species.

At least Gibson didn’t get caught smuggling illegal weapons into the country. Blackwater did that.

More:

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Surf’s Up: America’s Most Bacterial Beaches

July 10, 2012

Surf's Up: America's Most Bacterial Beaches

Summer’s here, and microbes are cavorting in the waves at beaches across the country. If you like to body-surf with bacteria and paddle through pathogens, the Natural Resources Defense Council has your itinerary ready. It’s their annual Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches.

Call the local visitor’s bureau before you pack the car, though. At a time when great white sharks terrorize bathers on both coasts, some spoil-sport health agencies close down beaches just because some teeny critters might cause stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, respiratory infections, meningitis, and hepatitis. Wimps.

More:

“America’s Dirtiest Beaches,” Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones

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Short Link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-dzl

Image (“The Great Wipeout Off Kanagawa, after Hokusai”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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