Cowlix Wearing my mind on my sleeve

Environment Archives
Sunday, January 05, 2003 Permanent link to this day
Stopping to hear the flowers grow

Slow down, stop even, and listen to the world around you. [via The Excitement Machine]

Friday, December 27, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Doing the math

Albert Bartlett on sustainability:

The related terms, "sustainable" and "sustainability" have become popular and are used to describe a wide variety of activities which are generally ecologically laudable. At the same time, the term "compromise" is heard more frequently because the needs of the environment often are in conflict with the needs of humans. A brief examination of the question of compromise shows that a series of ten compromises, each of which saves 70% of the remaining environment, results in the saving of only 3% of the environment.

[via Ned Blog]

Sunday, July 21, 2002 Permanent link to this day
When the well runs dry

Societal End-Stage: Hydraulic Despotism?

What would happen to a modern society like ours if a resource (or two) that we take for granted and that we depend upon for survival - were to suddenly become scarce? For example, what if water or oxygen supplies could no longer support the global population? Would there be worldwide panic and chaos? Or would society somehow mould itself around the circumstances? Relatedly, what would happen if we ran out of energy sources to power our industrialised civilization? Would we voluntarily scale back production and global standards of living? Or would such a reorganisation demand state intervention?

[via abuddhas memes]

Monday, May 20, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Shrinking polar bear habitat

Polar bears on the web: the Norwegian Polar Institute and the WWF (no, not that WWF) have tagged two female polar bears and put the tracking system on the web.

See also: Polar Bears at Risk

Wednesday, April 24, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Basket snake

India's Snake Charmers Fade, Blaming Eco-Laws, TV: wildlife protection laws and increased education about snakes via nature TV programs is contributing to the decline of a profession, according to the people affected.

Thursday, April 18, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Violent diversity

Earthquakes, Volcanoes Tied to Species Diversity?: on the strong ties shown by Sagar Kathuria and K.N. Ganeshaiah between geologically violent and biologically diverse areas of the planet.

Based on the results, they conclude that, in contrast to the huge losses of life and property that often occur in the immediate aftermath of volcanoes and earthquakes, major upheavals such as these offer a sort of "safe haven" for living things over long geological periods of time.

This happens because the cataclysmic events cause variations of altitude in the surrounding areas, provide volcanic and magma mineral nutrients, and bring about climatic changes, all of which translate into diverse habitats conducive to supporting a wide range of species.

See also: Tectonic activities shape the spatial patchiness in the distribution of global biological diversity, published by the team in the Indian science journal Current Science.

Saturday, April 13, 2002 Permanent link to this day
No wake zone

Hawaii's Wake: scientists using the QuikSCAT satellite have discovered the Hawaiian Lee Counter Current, the disturbance in the Pacific Ocean's currents caused by Hawaii, extends just a bit more than the 300 kilometers previously thought. Instead, the wake extends almost 8000 kilometers.

See also:

Saturday, April 06, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Stormy weather

Its Even Worse Than It Appears: on reports of unpredictable and extreme weather being caused by the polar ozone holes.

Dr Solomon said the ozone hole over Antarctica, and lesser ozone depletions over the Arctic, have now established a pattern in which vortices of extremely cold air are becoming trapped over the polar regions instead of performing their natural function of spreading to lower latitudes and cooling global weather systems.

Dr Solomon led the 1986-87 research expedition to Antarctica that proved that chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, in aerosol sprays were accumulating above the poles and driving a complex chemical chain reaction that destroyed the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere.

After hearing from Dr Solomon and other researchers, some delegates said they would advise their governments that the option of waiting for more evidence of climate change was being overtaken by the real thing. Outbreaks of extreme weather would take an unacceptable toll of human life, farm production and social infrastructure, including transport systems and buildings.

This story originally appeared here in the Otago Daily Times, but the version I linked to is more readable.

Friday, April 05, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Black water, under water

Divers find evidence of black water's devastation: on the aftermath of the blackwater event off South Florida.

Sound of silence

Shut Up! Bernie Krause talks about building his collection of natural sound recordings and the loss of quietness to human intrusion.

But natural sound is not merely a profession for Krause. Aural wonders are Krause's obsession, and he has become a veritable missionary of naturalism and sound. He equates the loss of a vibrant soundscape with the loss of a natural habitat, and he says that nowadays he has to record about 2,000 hours to produce one hour of usable sound; when he first started three decades ago, it only took 15. And, he adds indignantly, 25 percent of the habitat in his audio library no longer exists because of environmental degradation by humans.

Sunday, March 31, 2002 Permanent link to this day

Media flogs phony ice shelf scare story: The New Australian points out some inaccuracies in reporting of the Larsen B ice shelf collapse. [via 2012]

Saturday, March 30, 2002 Permanent link to this day

What Is Real Security?: on the danger to centralzed power generation and distribution systems.

Tuvalu report

A new report from Australia's National Tidal Facility disputes the notion that Tuvalu is sinking. The report is based in part on the same data referenced by an article zem posted here. [via The Daily Grail]

Friday, March 29, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Shelf collapse photo

One of the first photos from ESA's new Envisat satellite is of the Antarctic ice shelf collapse. They also have a nice animation of the progressive shrinking of the shelf over the last 16 years.

See also: 'Green' satellite calls home

Thursday, March 28, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Doomed to repeat?

Peter Clark, Jerry Mitrovica, Glenn Milne and Mark Tamisiea have published research showing that a sudden rise of the sea level several thousand years ago was due to the collapse of an Antarctic ice shelf. Ring a bell? Is it time to start building an ark?

Tuesday, March 26, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Black water

Photos from SeaWiFS mounted on Orbview-2 show an area of black water moving into Florida Bay, about 50 miles north of the Keys, over the last few days. Scientists at Florida Marine Research Institute and Mote Marine Laboratory are trying to figure out what's causing the change.

See also:

Scientists are baffled by a mysterious "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico off southern Florida, an area normally rife with fish but described by fishermen now as fouled by murky waters and barren of marine life.

And like any good mystery, investigators haven't ruled out any culprit in their search for the cause of the zone, which spans from Marathon Key to Naples.

Samples researchers took Tuesday were in water they said was unusually dark.

"Goodness gracious," said Erich Bartels, a biologist with Mote, "seven feet of water and you can't see the bottom."

That was in water that is usually postcard turquoise with clear water in the shallow parts. This was mostly blackish green and pea green at smaller depths.

Fish spotter pilots were the first to discover the black water in January. Though fishermen didn't find dead fish in its wake, they report an abysmal season for those waters and unusual behavior in the few fish they did find.

While the images from the private company Orbimage's SeaWiFS and a NASA satellite show that the water might be coming from the Shark River, not all the pictures are consistent with that possibility, Muller-Karger said.

[via The Daily Grail]

Friday, March 22, 2002 Permanent link to this day

The Navy is planning ahead for the continued melting of the Arctic ice cap. With predictions that the ice cap could disappear by 2050, a symposium was held last year on Naval Operations in an Ice-Free Arctic. The report, which was released earlier this month but I haven't found on the web yet, is reported to focus on the challenges to the navy in patrolling a new ocean.

See also: Climate Change and Arctic Sea Ice: a Greenpeace report from 1999 on the non-military implications of the melting ice cap.

[via Follow Me Here]

Tuesday, March 19, 2002 Permanent link to this day

Data from Terra's MODIS instrument shows that the Larsen B ice shelf of the Antarctic Peninsula collapsed and broken apart during the 35 days starting January 31st, sending 3250 km2 of 200 meter thick ice into the Weddell Sea in the form of thousands of icebergs. This ice was already floating so will not directly result in a sea level rise. This would seem to be close to the climax of a break up that started several years ago.

See also:

[via Excess Bloggage]

Tuesday, March 12, 2002 Permanent link to this day
The other Afghan problem

Afghanistan's Environmental Casualties

Amid the ongoing US-led campaign against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, little has been said about Afghanistan's environment. That is a critical oversight, because the landlocked country of 25 million is facing a crippling environmental disaster, one greatly exacerbated by 23 years of war. At this point, another round of civil war could wipe out the country's forests as well as several endangered species.

"Losses of natural resources are beyond estimation," says Abdul Wajid Adil, of the Peshawar, Pakistan-based Society for Afghanistan's Viable Environment (SAVE). "Damage to the environment is second only to human loss."

Friday, March 08, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Tuvalu followup

As zem points out in a comment to a post I made a couple of days ago, the verdict is still out on whether Tuvalu will actually turn into the next Atlantis. The article he referenced refers to data from the South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project, which has reports online back to 1995 on the sea level in the region.

In a related followup, back in November I referenced a Washington Times editorial, Spare the tears for Tuvalu, which quickly disappeared into their archive. I found a copy today, in a Yahoo Groups post.

However, sea level around Tuvalu has been falling precipitously for the last half-century. You could look it up in the Oct. 27 issue of Science, which was available for days before The Guardian went to press.

French scientists, led by Cecile Cabanes, used data collected by altimeters aboard the TOPEX/Poseidon satellite, and then compared them to a longer record of deep ocean temperatures that extends back to 1955. Sure enough, where the data overlapped (the satellite went up in 1993), there was very good agreement. The warmer (or colder) the ocean became, the more sea level rose (or fell).

Tuvalu is near the epicenter of a region where the sea level has been declining for nearly 50 years. In fact, the decline is so steep that even using the U.N.'s lurid (and wrong) median estimates of global warming for the next century will not get the Tuvalus back to their 1950 sea level until 2050.

Wednesday, March 06, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Tuvalu lawsuit

Tuvalu, the tiny island nation that is slowly disappearing into the sea, is planning to sue several countries for the pollution it claims caused the global warming which in turn caused the sea level to rise.

The nation of 26 square kilometers, most of it only a few meters above sea level, has set the ultimate challenge of wresting control of the global warming agenda before it sinks forever beneath the waves. When that will happen is anyone's guess. But Prime Minister Koloa Talake says the only thing rising faster than the tide around his country's nine atolls is the cost of moving the 11,000 inhabitants elsewhere.

Talake blames the United States and other leading economies for their half-hearted commitment to emissions reductions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its protocols. Washington, the only country to repudiate its signature on the critical Kyoto Protocol, will presumably be the first target of the US law firm that has been engaged to pursue this intriguing legal action. After that it gets a little tricky.

Monday, February 25, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Can they hear the boats?

Manatees, Bioacoustics and Boats: researchers have been looking at what manatees can hear in an effort to understand why they don't avoid boats and what can be done to warn them away from the danger.

Thursday, February 21, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Ivory-billed woodpecker

Searchers Say Rare Woodpecker Was Possibly Heard, if Not Seen: birdwatchers who spent a month in a Louisiana forest looking for the ivory-billed woodpecker didn't see it, but they think they heard it and have it on tape. The searchers were following a tip from a student who claims he saw a pair of the birds in 1999.

On Jan. 27, at 3:30 p.m., four of the six members of the search team, in an undisclosed spot in the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area near Slidell, La., heard a series of double raps characteristic of the drumming of the ivory-billed woodpecker. They managed to record the last double-rap of the sequence and some subsequent rapping.

On the same day, members of a Cornell Lab of Ornithology research group heard a similar sound in the same area, and two days later, other members of the team heard loud rapping uncharacteristic of other woodpeckers.

Wednesday, February 20, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Back from the brink

Shades of Gray: a series on the recovery of the Eastern North Pacific gray whale. [via Breaching the Web]

Sunday, December 16, 2001 Permanent link to this day
Afghan drought

Afghan Drought Inflicts Its Own Misery: on the other Afghan crisis - a drought in southwest Asia that has last three years.

Bird alert

The Tempest Over a Teaspoon of a Bird: on two calliope hummingbirds, which should be a lot farther south this time of year, which have been in north Manhattan for the past month.

Sunday, December 09, 2001 Permanent link to this day
Rainfall suppression

Air pollution, specifically carbon particles, may be interfering with the Earth's hydrological cycle and suppressing rainfall over affected areas. This is the conclusion of a report by Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists using data from the Terra satellite and the Indian Ocean Experiment. [via dangerousmeta]

Tuesday, December 04, 2001 Permanent link to this day
Whooping crane migration

The Whooping Cranes have landed in Florida. [via Robot Wisdom]

Sunday, December 02, 2001 Permanent link to this day
Exploding Earth

Tom Chalko is trying to warn us that the Earth, which he says can be considered as a giant nuclear reactor, could explode as a result of global warming. His paper, which has been published in the NU Journal of Discovery, will be presented at the 2002 World Congress on Survival of the Species. [via CommUnity of Minds]

Friday, November 30, 2001 Permanent link to this day
Fish decline

Reg Watson and Daniel Pauly from the UBC Fisheries Centre have published a study claiming that the oceans' fish stock is declining faster than previously predicted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization because of over-reporting of catches by China.

Monday, November 26, 2001 Permanent link to this day
The art of a tree

On standing under a sycamore tree in autumn. [via Follow Me Here]

Wednesday, November 21, 2001 Permanent link to this day
Solar winner

Nuna wins.

Just when you thought you'd seen everything

Photos of the Hawaiian Happyface Spider. [via Plep]

Tuesday, November 20, 2001 Permanent link to this day
Tuvalu sinking?

The rising sea is claiming Tuvalu. Is it just the first? Or is it even true? The Washington Times ran an editorial, "Spare the tears for Tuvalu", on 11/13 based that recent research showed that the sea level was actually dropping, though some think that's a short term effect. [via Undernews]

Solar Race

The 2001 World Solar Challenge is under way in Australia. At the end of day 3, 10 of the original 38 cars have been withdrawn or "trailered". Nuna, from the Netherlands, and Australia's Aurora are neck and neck for the lead. A marathon repair effort got England's entry, Mad Dog, back in the race today after hitting a road sign and winding up in a ditch yesterday.

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Copyright © 2001-2002 by Wes Cowley