Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

Ocean acidification explained in 2 minutes

September 21, 2018

“Ocean acidification explained in 2 minutes,” a Grist video animated by Amelia Bates and written by Amelia Urry.

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New Fairfax County Archery Program

September 18, 2018

New Fairfax County Archery Program

Like many Eastern suburbs, Virginia’s Fairfax County has way too many whitetail deer munching on backyard greenery and blundering in front of moving minivans. The county’s parks department has a chosen technology to control the antlered population boom: bows and arrows. Registered bow hunters climb into tree stand blinds and shoot down at the critters, so there’s little chance of stray shots perforating the neighbors.

Yum, venison steaks!

More:

“Deer control hunt begins in Fairfax County,” Madeleine Simon, WTOP News

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

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Scott Pruitt Slithers Out of Washington

July 5, 2018

Scott Pruitt Slithers Out of Washington

EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt resigned on Thursday, maybe because of the stern yet civil scolding he got from a sixth-grade teacher on Monday. More likely it was due to a mean tweet by Fox host Laura Ingraham. This is the Trump Administration, so the 13 active investigations into Mr. Pruitt’s conduct don’t count.

Lest you think the environment will now be saved and EPA will emerge from the swamp, the agency is now run by coal industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler. Fun fact: coal is the product of 300 million-year-old swamps.

More:

“Trump EPA head steps down after wave of ethics, management scandals,” Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post

“E.P.A. Chief Scott Pruitt Resigns Under a Cloud of Ethics Scandals,” Coral Davenport, New York Times

“Scott Pruitt resigns: Trump’s scandal-ridden EPA chief steps down,” Oliver Milman and Sabrina Siddiqui, The Guardian

“The scandals that led to Scott Pruitt’s resignation,” Haley Britzky, Axios

“Local Mom Who Told Scott Pruitt To Resign Reacts To His Departure,” Rachel Kurzius, DCist

“Trump Defends Pruitt Until the Very End,” Maria Mendez, Roll Call

“Pruitt Survived By Praising Trump, Who In Turn Fired Pruitt Without Speaking To Him,” Nicole LaFond, TPM Livewire

“Scott Pruitt’s parting words to Trump: you are president ‘because of God’s providence,’”Tara Isabella Burton, Vox 

“How things will (and won’t) change at EPA with Scott Pruitt gone,” Amy Harder, Axios

“Scott Pruitt’s replacement Andrew Wheeler could be even more dangerous for the EPA,” Katherine Ellen Foley, Quartz

“Scott Pruitt is gone. His successor is already feeling the heat.” Dino Grandoni, Washington Post

(more…)

Mr. Trash Wheel

March 9, 2018

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor features 10 museums, 5 historic ships, a sports complex, concert halls, an aquarium, restaurants, bars, and shopping, but everyone wants to see Mr. Trash Wheel. The floating water wheel has collected millions of stares, hundreds of Twitter followers, and 1,490,960 pounds of trash since May 2014, including 703,799 chip bags and 9,857,900 cigarette butts.

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Ocean Acidification: A Crash Course

February 20, 2018

As the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, it’s becoming more acidic—eroding the shells of marine life vital to the food web. Jim Toomey illustrates the issues. Produced by the Pew Trusts.

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Wildfire: Let It Burn

August 11, 2017

Wildfire: Let It Burn

“Scientists at the cutting edge of ecological research … argue that the century-old American practice of suppressing wildfires has been nothing less than a calamity. They are calling for a new approach that basically involves letting backcountry fires burn across millions of acres.

In principle, the federal government accepted a version of this argument years ago, but in practice, fires are still routinely stamped out across much of the country. To the biologists, that has imperiled the plants and animals — hundreds of them, it turns out — that prefer to live in recently burned forests.”

“Scientists are still trying to figure out how regularly forests burned in what is now the United States in the centuries before European settlement, but reams of evidence suggest the acreage that burned was more than is allowed to burn today — possibly 20 million or 30 million acres in a typical year. Today, closer to four million or five million acres burn every year.

‘From an ecological standpoint, everything I’ve learned teaches me this is a good idea: Stop putting out fires,’ said Jennifer R. Marlon, a geographer at Yale who was among the first to use the term “fire deficit” to describe the situation. ‘These forests are made to have fire.’

Human lives are at stake, too. Firefighters die, more than a dozen in some years, putting out fires that many scientists think should be allowed to burn.”

— Let Forest Fires Burn? What the Black-Backed Woodpecker Knows,” Justin Gillis, New York Times

More:

“The Future of Fighting Wildfires in the Era of Climate Change,” Bob Berwyn, Pacific Standard

“Benefits of Fire,” SmokeyBear.com

“Adapt to more wildfire in western North American forests as climate changes,” Tania Schoennagela, Jennifer K. Balcha, Hannah Brenkert-Smith et al., PNAS

“Fire Ecology,” Pacific Biodiversity Institute

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Top image (“Smokey Says ‘Let It Burn'”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Forage Fish

August 9, 2017

Herring, menhaden, anchovies, sprats, silversides, smelt, sardines. These fish play a massive role in the ocean’s ecosystem. Jim Toomey illustrates why they’re important. Produced by the Pew Trusts.

More about forage fish here.

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Wildfire Strategy: Let It Burn

July 14, 2017

Wildfire Strategy

Every year since the dawn of time, the Santa Ana winds lash Southern California’s dry autumn brushlands into explosive, blazing infernos. Every year since the dawn of the last century, Southern Californians express surprise as they are engulfed in a sea of flame. With climate change, things won’t get better.

“We will never be able to control wildfire,” explains Tania Schoennagel of the Institute for Alpine and Arctic Research, “We have to learn to live with it and adapt, just like we do with droughts and flooding. Our current wildfire policies can’t protect people and homes.”

More:

“The Future of Fighting Wildfires in the Era of Climate Change,” Bob Berwyn, Pacific Standard

“Adapt to more wildfire in western North American forests as climate changes,” Tania Schoennagela, Jennifer K. Balcha, Hannah Brenkert-Smith et al., PNAS

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

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Groundhog Day

February 2, 2017

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.

In his book Groundhog Day, Don Yoder reprints a classic groundhog recipe from Cooking with the Groundhog, published as a fundraiser by a hospital auxiliary in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, home of the “official” Groundhog’s Day Festival (there are more than a few others ). A Georgia groundhog is on Twitter.

Five years ago, whilst stalking the elusive picture book Geoffrey Groundhog Predicts the Weather, we espied an ad for the Range Kleen Preseasoned Cast Iron 10 Inch Fry Pan on the book’s Amazon.com page and cooked up today’s graphic. There’s obviously no “storybook ending” to this post if you’re a groundhog.

Related:

“Eight Things You Didn’t Know About Groundhogs,” Jason G. Goldman, Scientific American blog

“Groundhogs and Ground Squirrels: Winter Prognosticators,”  Sharol Nelson-Embry, Quest

“40 years of groundhog forecasts, mapped,” Kennedy Elliott and Shelly Tan, Washington Post

“Punxsutawney Phil: incompetent — or evil?” Phil Edwards, Vox

“Depressed Groundhog Sees Shadow Of Rodent He Once Was,”The Onion

“Where Did Groundhog Day Come From? ” Mental Floss

“A Short History of Groundhog Day,” Danny Lewis, Smithsonian.com

“Groundhog Day Explained,” CGP Grey (video)

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Image (“Marmot sauté, after John James Audubon”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Standing Rock

November 22, 2016

“Mni Wiconi: The Standing at Standing Rock,” a short film by Lucian Read about the Native American people of the Standing Rock  community who oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline project. “Mni Wiconi” means “Water is Life” in the Sioux language.

This week, some people are choosing to join them for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Updates:

“Medics Describe How Police Sprayed Standing Rock Demonstrators With Tear Gas and Water Cannons,” Alleen Brown, The Intercept

“Police defend use of water cannons on Dakota Access protesters in freezing weather,” Derek Hawkins, Washington Post

“Trump owns stock in Dakota Access parent company,” Harper Neidig, The Hill
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