algae, algae farms, beer, Environment, global warming, oceans, plastic, spiders, The Ocean Cleanup, Uncategorized

News from The Treetalker

The Ocean Cleanup Has Reached the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Ocean Cleanup, an idea brought to life by founder and CEO Boyan Slat, has been in the news for a month or so. The 2,000 foot-long U-shaped floating pipe, launched a month ago from San Francisco, reached its goal on Thursday—the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” an area in the Pacific Ocean that is more than twice the size of Texas. The goal of the mission is to trap floating plastic, return the debris to shore, recycle the plastic and create new products from it.

There will certainly be some trial and error, but if successful, the project could expand to the other 4 garbage patches. They are hopeful that they can clean up 90% of the plastic garbage in the world’s oceans by 2040.

First, a link to the CNN article, with video.

Here is a link to the project’s site.

It is also good to know that this is not the only program committed to help clean up the oceansthe California Coastal Commission’s volunteer group is focusing on trash reduction with land-based efforts. There are a group of volunteers that clean up beaches and coastal waters, preventing yet more plastic waste from entering the ocean in the first place.

Also, The Marine Debris Program is an initiative included in the Save Our Seas Act, signed by President Trump last week.

 

Below, a view of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Photo AFP


Experts say algae is the food of the future. Here’s why.
by Rachel Crane   @CNNTech

The article’s author visited an Algae “farm” in southern New Mexico, where a strain of algae, nannochloropsis, is being grown. It is already available in supplement form at The Vitamin Shoppe and on Amazon, and is being developed into snacks and protein powders. These powders will be “virtually imperceptible when added to other foods, and not going to change the flavor.”

The company’s CEO, Miguel Calatayud, believes that if the world’s population grows from 7.5 billion to 10 billion as expected, we’ll need to think more seriously about protein alternatives like algae.

“There will not be enough animal protein or other vegetable protein,” he said. “There won’t be enough arable land, and what’s even more important, there won’t be enough fresh water.”

Their strain of algae takes what would otherwise be wasted — saltwater, desert land and CO2 — and turns it into something special. Made up of 40% protein, it can produce about seven times the amount of protein as soybeans on the same amount of land. The plant also releases oxygen into the air. (About 50% of the world’s oxygen comes from algae).

“There are tons of desert areas all over the world and most of them have brackish water underneath,” he said. “What we are building it’s 100% sustainable and 100% scalable.”An interesting article.

Read the rest of it and see video here.

180530100615-mission-ahead-algae-1-780x439

And now, here’s some news that might motivate governments to take action on climate change:

Add beer to the list of foods threatened by climate change
Rising temperatures and periods of drought will target barley crops worldwide

By Jennifer Leman, October 15, 2018, for ScienceNews

‘Malted barley — a key ingredient in beer including IPAs, stouts and pilsners — is particularly sensitive to warmer temperatures and drought, both of which are likely to increase due to climate change. As a result, average global barley crop yields could drop as much as 17 percent by 2099, compared with the average yield from 1981 to 2010, under the more extreme climate change projections, researchers report October 15 in Nature Plants.

That decline “could lead to, on average, a doubling of price in some countries,” says coauthor Steven Davis, an Earth systems scientist at University of California, Irvine. Consumption would also drop globally by an average of 16 percent, or roughly what people in the United States consumed in 2011.’

The report also mentions that other crops such as maize, wheat and soy and wine grapes are also threatened by the global rising of average atmospheric temperatures as well as by pests emboldened by erratic weather.

Some other details here

Danielle Griscti:Flickr

And Spotlight on:

Yellow garden spider
They
are found throughout most of the United States. They are orb-weaving spiders, spinning their webs in circular, spiral patterns. Orb-weavers have an extra claw on each foot, to handle the threads while spinning. They prefer sunny places with as little wind as possible to build their webs. The web of this spider spirals out from the center and can be two feet across. The female builds the large web, and a male will build a smaller web on the outer part of her web. The male’s web is a thick zigzag of white silk.
The spider had various meanings—it could be a trickster, a creator, or an intercessor between gods and man. Here is an Osage legend, which teaches that smaller doesn’t mean less significant:
“The Spider and the People”
One day, the chief of the Isolated Earth people was hunting in the forest. He was also hunting for a symbol to give life to his people. He came upon the tracks of a huge stag. The chief became very excited.
“Grandfather Deer,” he said, “surely you will show yourself. You are going to become the symbol of my people.”
He began to follow the tracks. His eyes were on nothing else as he followed those tracks, and he ran faster and faster through the forest. Suddenly, he ran right into a huge spider’s web that had been strung between the trees, across the trail. When he got up off the ground, he was very angry. He struck at the spider sitting at the edge of the web. But the spider jumped out of reach. Then the spider spoke to the man.
“Grandson,” the spider said, “why do you run through the woods looking at nothing but the ground?”
The chief felt foolish, but he had to answer the spider. “I was following the tracks of a great deer,” the chief said. “I am seeking a symbol of strength for my people.”
“I can be such a symbol to you, “said the spider.
“How can you be a symbol of strength?” said the chief. “You are small and weak, and I didn’t even see you as I followed the great Deer.”
“Grandson,” said the spider, “look upon me. I am patient. I watch and I wait. Then all things come to me. If your people learn this, they will be strong indeed.”
The chief saw that this was so. Thus the Spider became one of the symbols of the people.

From Black Walnut Companions, Secret Voices from the Forest, Vol. 2: Midcontinent

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Also, remember that Volume 3 of my series of books about trees is available on Amazon.

Vol. 3 - The East copy

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News from The Treetalker

Greek island Tilos on its way to becoming fully powered by renewable energy, Oct 10, 2018, Megan Treaty, for TreeHugger

This small Greek island in the Aegean Sea, home to only about 500 people year-round, but whose population doubles during tourist season, is about to show the islands around the world how to become energy independent using only renewable sources, if only on a small scale, using wind turbines, photovoltaic and a battery storage system. They are hoping to initially cover 70% of their needs, ramping it up to 100% soon.

They are currently dependent on fossil fuels that are delivered by an undersea cable, which is unreliable and is subject to tectonic activity. For the full article, click here.

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How will 9 billion or 10 billion people eat without destroying the environment? By Joel Achenbach, for
The Washington Post, October 10, 2018

A sobering report published Wednesday in the journal Nature argues that a sustainable food system that doesn’t ravage the environment is going to require dramatic reforms, including a radical change in dietary habits.

The report comes on the heels of a warning from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that global leaders need to take unprecedented action in the next decade to keep the planet’s average temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

Global warming has typically been linked to the burning of fossil fuels, but food production is a huge and underappreciated factor, and the new report seeks to place food in the center of the conversation about how humanity can create a sustainable future.

Half the planet’s ice-free land surface is devoted to livestock or the growing of feed for those animals. That’s an area equal to North and South America combined. Rain forests are steadily being cleared for cropland. And the demand for food is increasing faster than the population: Rising income in China and many other formerly impoverished countries brings with it a higher demand for meat and other forms of animal protein. Some 70 percent of the world’s fresh water is already used in agriculture, and the demand for that water will intensify. To read the rest of the article, click here.

(Daniel Acker:Bloomberg)

The Climate Outlook Is Dire. So, What’s Next?
By Somini Sengupta, for The New York Times, Oct. 9, 2018

A report issued Sunday by 91 scientists painted a stark portrait of how quickly the planet is heating up and how serious the consequences are. In response, the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, warned world leaders, “Do what science demands before it is too late.”

With the world’s largest emitters of CO2 unwilling to back off on their own pollution-causing policies, and the poorer countries unable to afford to change, things look frighteningly like we’re headed for catastrophe, and a lot faster than we previously thought. For the rest of the article, go here.

rendon Thorne:Bloomberg

US states agree on plan to manage overtaxed Colorado River
By DAN ELLIOTT, Oct 10, 2018, for Associated Press News

Seven Southwestern U.S. states that depend on the overtaxed Colorado River say they have reached tentative agreements on managing the waterway amid an unprecedented drought. The plans announced Tuesday, Oct. 9 were a milestone for the river, which supports 40 million people and 6,300 square miles (16,300 square kilometers) of farmland in the U.S. and Mexico. The plans aren’t designed to prevent a shortage, but they’re intended to help manage and minimize the problems.

If you are interested in reading the details of this story, go here.

Ross D. Franklin

Also, Spotlight On:

Pipsissewa
The Creek Indians called the Spotted wintergreen “pipsisikweu,” which means “breaks into small pieces,” after the belief that that it could break down gallstones and kidney stones. The plant has been employed for centuries to treat many ills, but as it is increasingly rare, it is best not to collect it from the wild.
Pipsissewa has been a traditional ingredient of root beer and is still included in several brands. The oil is a flavoring agent for dental preparations, especially if combined with menthol and eucalyptus. In the 19th century Alice Morse Earle wrote in Old Time Gardens that the word Pipsissewa is one of a few words from the Algonquin that is today used in the English language.

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OK then. Another month gone by. Who knows what will happen next, right? Stay tuned to your local real news station…or not, as you choose.

Remember, Volume Three: The East of Secret Voices has been released see my page on Amazon to buy it. Have a great week (or month)!

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News from The Treetalker

Large wind and solar farms in the Sahara would increase heat, rain, vegetation

September 6, 2018

Wind and solar farms are known to have local effects on heat, humidity and other factors that may be beneficial — or detrimental — to the regions in which they are situated. A new climate-modeling study finds that a massive wind and solar installation in the Sahara Desert and neighboring Sahel would increase local temperature, precipitation and vegetation. Overall, the researchers report, the effects would likely benefit the region.

read the article here.

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Map by Eviatar Bach

GOING THE DISTANCE  Painted ladies travel 12,000 km each year, farther than any known butterfly migration

By Leah Rosenbaum, June 20, 2018

Though found across the world, the orange-and-brown beauties that live in Southern Europe migrate into Africa each fall, crossing the Sahara on their journey; analysis of butterfly wings suggests that the butterflies head back to Europe in the spring. The round-trip is about 2,000 more than successive generations of monarchs are known to travel in a year. Some tenacious individuals even make the return trip in a single lifetime.

Read the article here.

061818_LR_butterfly-est_feat

A Leader in the War on Poverty Opens a New Front: Pollution
By Kendra Pierre-Louis, Aug. 24, 2018

The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is resurrecting the Poor People’s Campaign, a movement started by Martin Luther King Jr. He sees the climate and environment as issues on par with poverty and racism.

He and Al Gore are bringing attention to the problem of coal ash, its pollution of local drinking water and the health of citizens and workers in the area.

Read the article here.

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WWF“What does ‘protecting people and forests,
supporting economic growth’ mean to you?”

Forest News, Gabrielle Lipton, July 12, 2018, Dateline: Indonesia

At the 2018 Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit, Forest News spoke to the director for The Nature Conservancy about rethinking the way forests factor into development, if they are to keep giving us the things we want and need.

The initial economic growth of these countries has been fueled by harvesting and selling of timber. This area holds about 60% of the world’s population, and as people’s lifestyle improves, forested land disappears in favor of agriculture, animal husbandry and mining. This results in poor air quality because of carbon emissions.

The organizations attending the Summit are working to advance ideas about ways to help the population’s economic growth continue to expand without cutting down all the trees.

Read this article here.

Xavier Cortada

T Agitprop—12 Artists on Climate Change, by Zoe Lescaze of the New York Times, August 22, 2018

A strongly visual article about the work of 12 contemporary artists who focus on several different aspects of climate change, such as rising sea levels, or connections to other living species and our affect on them, the destruction of beautiful natural landscapes, the extraction of resources from the land, the impact of more powerful storms on society and critically endangered species and the issue of extinction.

Visit the article for a look at some of their works and their stories.

Xavier Leoty:AFP

From Angelique Chrisafis, in France, for The Guardian, August 24, 2018
Choose a Side: the Battle to Keep French Isle McDonald’s-Free

The Mayor of Ile d’Oleron, the second-biggest island off mainland france after Corsica, is a major tourist destination is leading the fight, saying the island is “not about mass consumption.” Others say, “Oleron is a beautiful place, it’s important to protect it. We don’t need McDonald’s in a place that is pioneering local organic food, sustainable development, zero waste and alternative ways of living that aren’t about mass consumption.”

The battle has been going on for 4 years. Recently, a court in Poitiers ruled that the town had no legal basis to stop McDonald’s and must let them come in or pay fines on a daily basis. The verdict on the appeal is due next month.

Read the article here.

Dmitry Kostyukov:NYT

Also from the New York Times:
Paris Bees at Work From Notre-Dame to the Luxembourg Gardens
Paris has seen a marked rise in urban beekeeping, with more than 1,000 hives atop landmark buildings as well as in community gardens across the city.
By Alissa J. Rubin, August 24, 2018

Hives have been on the roof of the Opera Garnier for over 30 years; there are hives on top of Notre-Dame Cathedral, and Luxembourg Gardens have been home to honeybees for over 150 years. They also give apiculture classes, with perhaps 200 people graduating every year.

Paris officials want to ensure that there will be enough bees to service the trees and flowers of the many local parks, gardens and cemeteries. “Perhaps one reason people now want to keep bees is that it’s a way of participating in the protection of the environment.”

Paris has all but ensured the relative purity of its honey by eliminating the use of pesticides in city parks and gardens, and forbidding pesticides on plantings on home terraces and roofs, as well as cemeteries.

Read the article here.

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Remember, Secret Voices from the Forest—Volume Three: The East is now available, $32.95 on Amazon.

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News from The Treetalker

Three from the BBC

Britain has been suffering through a tremendous heat wave this summer. Parks, gardens crops are all brown and withered. See this article in the NY Times for details on that. But rain has finally returned, by the bucket load, apparently, with accompanying floods, of course.

As a result of the heat wave, there were huge wait times in cross-Channel rail services at the Euro Tunnel, leaving customers waiting, sometime for more than 5 hours in 30C heat (that’s the high 80s, for old-timers like me), often with no facilities.

The queues on the UK side were apparently due to large numbers of passengers headed out for vacations in France, but since the air conditioners in the train were overwhelmed by the heat, the service was unavailable.

They ran additional trains a night, to make up for the time losses, and staff left a water hose running for children and dogs, and a refrigerated van was providing bottles of water. Read the article (and there are lots of pics and video) here.

©howardwalmsley

©Howard Walmsley

BBC Weather forecaster Matt Taylor said there had been a “drastic change” from the heatwave to cooler, wetter and windier conditions.

I’ll say! Apparently, “more than a month’s worth of rain fell within a few hours in Northern Ireland on Saturday. Belfast saw 99mm of rain and homes were flooded in County Antrim. A cleanup operation continued on Sunday. Flights from Edinburgh, Birmingham, Luton and Stansted were delayed on Saturday and some cancelled after temporary restrictions were put in place during thunderstorms across Europe on Friday.”

Flights from several airports were delayed or cancelled; flooding was widespread.

Saturday was the first day since 23 June that nowhere in the UK had temperatures above 25C.

Matt Taylor said the cooler conditions would continue over the next few days, but added that it “doesn’t mean that summer is done with us yet”!!

See pics, video and the rest of the article here.

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Brits use yellow and orange for precipitation

And from a scientific point of view–Mary Halton, the BBC News Science reporter explains why rain after a dry spell smells so good to us. “Known as petrichor, the scent has long been chased by scientists and even perfumers for its enduring appeal.”

This scent is actually produced by an abundant soil bacteria as they create a molecule called geosmin. The drops of water hitting the ground cause it to be released into the air. Humans are extremely sensitive to it. But, although we love the smell, we don’t like the taste. Go figure.

Read the rest of the article, and see pics and videos (the BBC seems to be partial to lots of video) here.

©SciencePhotoLib

©Science Photo Library

And one more thing…Blood Moon this last week. Go to CNN’s page of wonderful pics for more like this from all over the world.

Aris Messinis:AFP:Getty Images

Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images

Also SPOTLIGHT ON the Black Tupelo Tree

 Although Black tupelo produces a good quality honey, the most prized “Tupelo Honey” comes from its cousin, Nyssa Ogeche, the White tupelo tree, which only grows in North Western Florida and Southern Georgia. Because of its high fructose content, this honey resists crystallization for many years, and must be certified by pollen analysis to be the real deal. Beehive keepers clean out their hives before and after the White tupelo blossoms, to keep the honey as pure in content as possible.
The blossom season only lasts about a month, and, according to the folks at the Savannah Bee Company, “Biologists estimate that it takes two million Tupelo tree flowers to produce one pound of honey, and one honeybee produces about 1/12 of a teaspoon in its lifetime.”  This company sponsors an educational program for elementary school children called “The Bee Cause Project.” By installing open-window beehives in classrooms for the children to observe a hive in operation, and teaching them the role of bees in food production, they learn the importance of the smallest creatures to our lives.

Jennifer BehnkinMO Dept.Conservation

MO Dept. of Conservation/Jennifer Behnkin

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July 20, 2018 – In her blog for Scientific American, Jennifer M. Archambault wrote about Using Herbicides to Save Endangered Snails.

The habitat of the rare, tiny Panhandle pebbles snail, which consumes algae and other microorganisms and is integral to maintaining the ecological balance in river systems, is threatened by an invasive aquatic plant called hydrilla. Introduced through the aquarium trade in the 1950s into the ponds and canals of Florida, it has worked its way into many southern states and is on the Federal Noxious Weeds list. Humans aid in its spread, as it can easily propigate from small fragments on boat motors or fishing equipment. After much field study and testing, it was found in a pilot study in the Eno River in North Carolina that, with applications of a herbicide, the hydrilla is dramatically thinning, and the snails’ population is growing. A great deal of work is left to do to control the hydrilla in the greater Southern water system, but the data gives hope. Read Jennifer’s blog post here.

From ScienceDaily, July 5, 2018. Bacteria-powered solar cell converts light to energy, even under overcast skies!

U of BC researchers have found a cheap, sustainable way to build a solar cell using bacteria that convert light to energy. Their cell generated a current stronger than any previously recorded from such a device, and worked as efficiently in dim light as in bright light. This innovation could be a step toward wider adoption of solar power in places like British Columbia and parts of northern Europe where overcast skies are common. This is great news, particularly since it’s from Canada, where the government hopefully cares about its environment more than the current administration in the U.S.

“We recorded the highest current density for a biogenic solar cell. These hybrid materials that we are developing can be manufactured economically and sustainably, and, with sufficient optimization, could perform at comparable efficiencies as conventional solar cells.” Read the article here.

Another article from ScienceDaily, June 18, 2018

Cementless fly ash binder makes concrete ‘green’
Engineers use byproduct from coal-fired power plants to replace Portland cement. It is made primarily of fly ash, a byproduct of coal-fired power plants. If you noticed an article in the NY Times this week that reported the EPA is easing standards on the disposal of toxic coal ash, this development could provide some way of cleaning up some of the messes created by these plants. Read more about this new composite, environmentally friendly material here.

Another, related article about this sustainable alternative to traditional concrete using coal fly ash is here. This article mentions that the production method doesn’t require heating, which is one of the other polluting aspects of concrete manufacture. The cement less binder also aids groundwater and mitigates flooding, because water can pass through it, unlike cement. Read this article here.

Also, Focus On the Anhinga.

This bird quickly spears a fish with its sharp bill, then flips it into the air and swallows it head first. Sometimes the Anhinga spears the fish so hard it has to return to shore to get the fish off its bill by banging the fish against a rock.
Also known as snakebird, the Anhinga sometimes swims slowly underwater stalking fish around submerged vegetation, but when hunting at the surface, it stretches its head and neck flat out on the surface of the water, above its submerged body. With head and neck stretched out, it has the appearance of a snake is gliding through the water.
The Anhinga’s feathers are not waterproofed with oils, and can get waterlogged, but this helps it stay submerged for long periods of time. Afterwards, it will perch for long periods with its wings spread to dry them. If it tries to fly with wet wings, it has difficultly getting airborne, so it has to take off by flapping energetically and running on the surface of the water.
Once in the air, it is a graceful flier and can go long distances without flapping its wings, using thermals for soaring, and can achieve altitudes of several thousand feet.

 

 

 

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Pollution is changing the fungi that provide mineral nutrients to tree roots, which could explain malnutrition trends in Europe’s trees.

To get nutrients from the soil, trees host fungi, known as mycorrhizal fungi, in their roots. These fungi receive carbon from the tree in exchange for essential nutrients, like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which they gather from the soil.

A huge, 10-year study of 13,000 soil samples across 20 European countries has revealed that many tree fungi communities are stressed by pollution, indicating that current pollution limits set by European countries may not be strict enough, that they may need to lower the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus levels allowed for soil amendments. To read all of this article, click here.

Imperial College, London

Imperial College, London

Study shows evidence of convergence in bird and primate evolution.

Neuroscientists have identified the neural circuit that may underlay intelligence in birds, according to a new study. “An area of the brain that plays a major role in primate intelligence. . .transfers information between the two largest areas of the brain, which allows for higher-order processing and more sophisticated behavior. In humans and primates, these specific nuclei are large compared to other mammals.”

Birds have a similar structure that has similar connectivity, located in a different part of the brain, which does the same thing – circulates information between the cortex and the cerebellum.

The study determined that the structure in parrots is much larger than that of other birds, with the relevant structure two to five times larger in parrots than in other birds, which has developed independently, involving sophisticated behaviors such as use of tools and self-awareness. Read the rest of the article here.

Andrew Iwaniuk

Andrew Iwaniuk

From the Washington Post Energy and Environment Newsletter. July 6, 2018, Lindsey Bever reporting.

Hawaii just banned your favorite sunscreen to protect its coral reefs

According to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, coral reefs are crucial to marine and human life.

In addition to protecting sea creatures, the Smithsonian said, the reefs provide food, medication and tourism jobs, among other things — at a value of $30 billion to $172 billion per year.

Hawaii’s state lawmakers passed legislation in May that would ban skin-care companies from selling and distributing sunscreens on the islands that contain two chemicals deemed damaging to coral reefs. The chemicals, oxybenzone and octinoxate, have significant harmful impacts on Hawaii’s marine environment and residing ecosystems.”

The bill was opposed by various companies and business associations and even some dermatologists, who worry that the ban may discourage people from wearing sunscreen at all. (Blah-blah – no surprise that Big Money doesn’t care about anything other than making more money.)

Read the full article here.

Caleb Jones:AP file

Caleb Jones/AP

From NBC News, Associated Press, June 15, 2018.

Lions and tigers and bears are increasingly becoming night owls because of us, a new study says.

Scientists have long known that human activity disrupts nature. Besides becoming more vigilant and reducing time spent looking for food, many mammals may travel to remote areas or move around less to avoid contact with people. (I know how they feel.)

The latest research found even activities like hiking and camping can scare animals and drive them to become more active at night.

Researchers analyzed 76 studies involving 62 species on six continents, including lions in Tanzania, otters in Brazil, coyotes in California, wild boars in Poland and tigers in Nepal. The study suggests that animals might be “playing it safe around people.”

Read the complete article here.

Shivang Mehta Photography

Shivang Mehta Photography

From NBC News, June 7 2018, Brandon Specktor reporting.

Climate change killed the aliens, and it might kill us too!

Professor Adam Frank, astrophysicist at the U. of Rochester, NY published a new paper in May that “aims to take a 10,000-light-year view of human-caused climate change.”

Using mathematical models based on the disappearance of the lost civilization of Easter Island, Frank and his colleagues simulated how various alien civilizations might rise and fall if they were to increasingly convert their planet’s limited natural resources into energy.

The results, as you might expect, were generally pretty grim. Of four common “trajectories” for energy-intense civilizations, three ended in apocalypse. The fourth scenario — a path that involved converting the whole alien society to sustainable sources of energy — worked only when civilizations recognized the damage they were doing to the planet, and acted in the right away.

“The last scenario is the most frightening,” Frank said. “Even if you did the right thing, if you waited too long, you could still have your population collapse.”

Read the rest of this interesting “what if?” article here.

Michael Osadciw:U of Rochester

Illustration by Michael Osadciw/U of Rochester

Also, on my “Spotlight On” page, a bit about our favorite summer plant, Poison Ivy.

poison-ivy

Again, don’t forget, Volume 3 of Secret Voices from the Forest is available now on Amazon – you can get there directly via this link.

Have a great week!

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