Posted at 2:38 pm
This video may be hard to watch, but I encourage you to do so. The concept of “fair chase” ought to be the foundation upon which licensed hunting occurs. There is no chance for fair chase in operations where wild foxes and coyotes are trapped, then crated and sold into fox-coyote pen operations. People send their hunting dogs into these fenced enclosures to “train” them to hunt. From what I’ve seen and learned from interviewing a few folks, it’s really just a blood sport. As a nation, we have given a collective thumbs-down on dog-fighting. It’s illegal. This should be too. This video was made by TrainingNotTorture.org, with first-hand pictures they took through the fence on their neighbor’s property. This group, and Project Coyote, were key in getting the state of Florida to ban fox and coyote pen operations this past June. It is still legal in my state (North Carolina).
Posted at 8:18 am
Earth from space, from the "blue marble" series by NASA.
Geoengineering is probably the greatest example of scientific hubris I can think of. Period.
Several weeks ago, a story I wrote on geoengineering was published in The Observer and News & Observer. It was more of a perspective piece than a “here’s what’s new” story; and it was an attempt to introduce general readers to the basic concept and see what our area NC scientists think about it. Before writing it, I’d heard of geoengineering but I’d never looked deeply into it. And now I can say without a qualm I think it’s a dastardly idea.
Geoengineering is the process of engineering solutions to slow or halt global climate change caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Some ideas mimic the known cooling effects of massive volcanic eruptions by injecting aerosols into the atmosphere. Others focus on removing carbon from the atmosphere though industrial-scaled sequestration. Critics say that geoengineering proposals detract from efforts to reduce carbon dioxide-emitting activities, and that costs, benefits and potential harm all need to be assessed before trying it. Continue reading
Posted at 6:33 am
Since moving to N.C. from Florida, I’ve gone through a few painful adjustments and bouts of homesickness. I’m accustomed to “winter” lasting only six to eight weeks (usually mid-Dec to mid-February), and I’m used to very strong sun. I miss both these things, plus the big water birds I used to see so easily. I love Florida’s rare natural spaces with a passion. Before meeting my significant other, I would often throw my kayak on my car, pick a river and print off a map using my father’s chart software, and spend all day exploring the crooks and crannies of dark tannin-landed rivers hemmed by swamp cypress or crystal clear waterways bordered by bottomland forests. I’d bring my binoculars and watch snowy egrets, juvenile little blue herons, belted kingfishers — and once, even a reddish egret and a glossy ibis. Something about watching these big birds stalk prey or groom near the water while I floated silently by in my yak made me feel that “complete” natural Florida feeling. Sun on my face, nature doing its thing, and water and trees all around. Here are some of the pictures I’ve taken from my kayak:
Sunrise at Bivens Arm, Gainesville, Florida. (© DeLene Beeland 2005)
Posted at 8:00 am
What’s causing amphibian declines? Atrazine exposure? Chytrid fungus? Loss of habitat and climate change? All four elements working synergistically? Science News recently ran an in-depth feature re-examining the risks of atrazine, one of the world’s most widely used agricultural pesticides. In this piece, “Weedkiller in the cross hairs” by veteran science writer Janet Raloff, I learned that the largest U.S. producer of atrazine — Syngenta Crop Protection — is 30 minutes down the road from me, in Greensboro, N.C. Her article tussles with the various angles of whether exposure to atrazine in a laboratory setting can accurately model effects of the chemical upon wild amphibians, but one bit of reporting that made my heart drop was a USGS map delineating where atrazine was predicted to occur based on watersheds and monitoring data. Check it out:
USGS map modeling atrazine concentrations in stream water, in 2007.
The red areas indicate concentrations exceeding 1.026 micrograms per liter (same as parts per billion measurement). I find it really curious that what appears to be Charlotte is an atrazine hot spot in my state. Why not the Piedmont of N.C., where lots of corn, soy and vegetable farming occurs? Why would it accumulate in an urban area? (Do you know? Comment section is always open…) And I can’t help but wonder why there is no data for the area south of Lake Okeechobee in Florida, where large tracts of sugar cane and vegetable farms have bled phosphorous and nitrogren into the Glades for years and years. It would not be a huge leap of logic to hypothesize that pesticides too are leaking south in this area. Continue reading
Posted at 9:50 pm
Just finished a new post for Science in the Triangle, on a solar fuels conference at UNC-Chapel Hill. You can read it here.
Posted at 2:00 pm
Linda Aldredge's treehouse; in Catskill near Woodstock, New York.
As a professional writer who collectively calls my kitchen counter, dining table and couch my “office,” I often long for a quiet place where I can carve out a small space to write. In quiet solitude. With at least six linear feet of uninterrupted desk space where I can lay out my interview notes and reference papers and leave them there day after day. A place where no phones ring, and no emails ping. No engines rev or hum, and there are no reminders of the daily grind. In this space, I hear only the call of birds and the rustle of wind. And because my current office is my kitchen counter, dining table and couch — and has been for the past year — this desire for a writer’s studio is deeply entrenched. It’s odd, but even though I work from home I don’t have a dedicated space to work. Continue reading