arctic ice melting, bird flyway, books, cleaner car emissions, Environment, environmental news in New Mexico, global warming, Lebanon, Nature, oceans, Sunflower, Uncategorized, Weather, Wildlife

A little more news…

NOAA Climate.gov

Our Future Depends on the Arctic
Save it from the ravages of warming and we can save the planet.

By Durwood J. Zaelke and Paul Bledsoe
The authors work for groups focused on climate policy.
Dec. 14, 2019, NYTimes California Today

Delegates from all over the world spent two weeks in Madrid, trying to work out how to reach a global goal of net zero emissions by 2050. As the United Nations’ secretary general, António Guterres, warned in opening the meeting: “The point of no return is no longer over the horizon. It is in sight and hurtling toward us.”

Perhaps nowhere is that more true than in the Arctic. The surface air there is warming at twice the global rate and temperatures over the past five years have exceeded all previous records since 1900.

A study published in Geophysical Research Letters in June described the catastrophic consequences of losing the Arctic’s reflective summer sea ice, which reflects incoming solar warming back to space, that would otherwise be absorbed by the ocean. Equal to an extra 25 years of current levels of emissions, it will push us more quickly towards catastrophic damage: more intense heat waves and coastal flooding, extinctions of species and threats to food supplies.

The heating up of the Arctic is also speeding the thawing of permafrost, causing the release of more carbon dioxide and methane, a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide when measured over 20 years, along with nitrous oxide, a powerful long-lived climate pollutant.

If we are to keep the Arctic ice strong, we not only need to cut diesel emissions, limit methane emissions from landfills, and keep strict regulations on refrigerants in air-conditioners and consumer products. California has cut these emissions by more than 90% since the 1960s.

Several other geoengineering ideas are being floated, such as putting a covering of white sand over first year ice, to enhance its reflectivity, or introduce particles into the atmosphere to reflect solar radiation. There are potential risks with these procedures, and there could be experiments to see if the risks are worth the effort.

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New Clean-Car Rules for New Mexico,
December 4, 2019, Sierra Club

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that New Mexico will join 14 other states in adopting clean-car standards requiring new cars sold in the state to emit fewer greenhouse gases. The standards also mandate an increasing percentage of cars to have zero emissions.

Lujan Grisham made the announcement in September at Climate Week in New York City, where U.S. governors met to discuss states advancing ambitious climate action in the face of federal inaction. The move came on the heels of the announcement that the Trump administration is revoking California’s authority to set fuel-efficiency and greenhouse-gas standards stricter than federal standards. California and nearly two dozen other states are suing the administration over the attack.

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Diego Ibarra Sanchez

Where Eagle Feathers Fall Like Snow,
By Helen Sullivan, NYTimes Climate Forward

January 6, 2020

Adonis Al Khatib, of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon, works with students, community leaders and hunting associations to instill sustainable hunting practices. Hunting is ubiquitous in Lebanon, which has the 11th-highest rate of small-arms ownership in the world. Half to three-quarters of boys own guns, and birds can be a common target.

Among the Society’s top concerns is protecting the 2.5 billion migratory birds that pass over the country twice a year. During those journeys, 2.6 million migratory birds are shot or trapped illegally, according to BirdLife International; S.P.N.L. is that organization’s official partner in Lebanon. As other countries examine why some of their protected birds aren’t returning from migration, Lebanon has come under the spotlight.

Lebanon’s topography is dominated by two long mountain ranges. Various bird migration routes, or flyways, pass through the country; when squeezed between mountains, the routes narrow, forming bottlenecks. The bottlenecks create conditions for satisfying bird-watching, and make it easier for organizations like S.P.N.L. to conduct bird counts.

But the bottlenecks also serve hunters. At certain points throughout the country, the narrow flyways funnel birds through elevated vantage points from which hunters can get easy shots.

Assad Serhal, a founder of S.P.N.L., is a reformed hunter. The organization has lobbied Lebanon’s government for stricter anti-poaching laws, and has reintroduced a traditional Islamic system of conservation to Lebanon.

Twenty years ago, on very old military maps, he noticed areas labeled, “hima.” In Arabic, hima can mean refuge, protected area, private pasture or homeland; “Humat al-Hima” (Defenders of the Homeland) is Tunisia’s national anthem. Mr. Serhal had known vaguely of the idea, but had no idea that hima had existed in Lebanon.

He discovered that the concept dates back more than 1,000 years, with a mention in the Quran. Muhammad had designated certain areas as hima, which meant they were subject to rules about grazing, hunting or even trade. On Mr. Serhal’s maps, it turned out, hima signified communal areas. The word’s appearance gave him an idea: Perhaps he could revive its traditional meaning.

Mr. Serhal thought that, instead, hima might be accepted as a traditional concept; it also would include communities and municipalities in the design of the conservation areas. Hima wouldn’t be just about protecting nature, Mr. Serhal said; it would be “nature plus people.” When S.P.N.L. helped a community design a local hima, the group suggested additional conservation methods, like banning hunting.

The first hima was established in southern Lebanon in 2004. Today there are 25; they have been given legal status by the government and cover more land than Lebanon’s national parks. Five of the designated hima are also what BirdLife calls “Important Bird Areas,” of which there are 15 in the country.

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And in “Spotlight On”

http---cdn.cnn.com-cnnnext-dam-assets-190815135835-03-north-dakota-sunflower

 Sunflower

Our native Sunflower was domesticated and cultivated by indigenous Americans, possibly as long as five thousand years ago, when seeds were selected for the best size and shape to produce the largest crop. They were used to make flour, cooking oil, dye, and medicinal ointments. It has been suggested that the sunflower was domesticated before the maize plant. Some American Indian tribes planted sunflowers as a “fourth sister” to the combination of corn, beans, and squash.
Early Spanish explorers took seeds back to Europe around 1500. In 1716, the English granted a patent for a process of squeezing oil from sunflower seed. By 1769, sunflower oil had become a popular commodity with members of the Russian Orthodox Church, because it was one of the few oils not forbidden during Lent.
By 1830, the manufacture of sunflower oil had become a commercial enterprise, and Russian farmers were growing over two million acres of the plant. By 1880, sunflower seeds called the “Mammoth Russian” were being marketed in catalogs in the U.S.
Canada began the first government sponsored breeding program in 1930, and because of high demand for sunflower oil, production grew. More recently, because of increasing concerns about high cholesterol in the diet, demand increased further, and U.S. production took off. Today the sunflower is the most important native crop plant produced in the United States. (from Volume 2, Elm Companions)

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And again, don’t forget you can buy all three volumes of Secret Voices from the Forest, Thoughts and Dreams of North American Trees, on Amazon.

cover   cover-SV2   Vol. 3 - The East copy

 

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Children taking Action, Dolphins, endangered species, Environment, green living, Green Movement, hydrogen fuel, invasive species, Nature, oceans, plants, Renewable Energy, self-sustainability, Uncategorized, water purification, Whales

News from The Treetalker

Invasive, native marsh grasses may provide similar benefits to protected wetlands, Science Daily, via N.C. State University

Researchers here have noticed that the Common reed, which is an invasive species, has many of the same benefits for protected wetlands as the native marsh grasses it is crowding out, such as equivalent or even better levels of carbon storage, erosion prevention and plant diversity.

A great deal of money is spent trying to eradicate it, this research could impact management strategies, since this species protects shorelines from erosion by spreading more quickly. Shoreline erosion is a major problem, with rising seas.

read more here.

Seth Theuerkauf

Photo: Seth Theuerkauf

Researchers create hydrogen fuel from seawater, Stanford University, March 18, 2019

A “Water Engine” splits the molecules in water to access the hydrogen, which is then used as alternative energy (in hydrogen powered vehicles, for instance.) However, the existing water-splitting methods rely on highly purified water, which is a precious resource and costly to produce.

Stanford researchers have devised a way to generate hydrogen fuel using solar power, electrodes and saltwater from San Francisco Bay.

Splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen with electricity — called electrolysis — is a simple and old idea: a power source connects to two electrodes placed in water. When power turns on, hydrogen gas bubbles out of the negative end — called the cathode — and breathable oxygen emerges at the positive end — the anode.

But negatively charged chloride in seawater salt can corrode the positive end, limiting the system’s lifespan. The team wanted to find a way to stop those seawater components from breaking down the submerged anodes. They discovered that if they coated the anode with layers that were rich in magnetically negative charges, the layers repelled chloride and slowed down the decay of the underlying metal.

The surprisingly quick and simple solution is detailed in the following article, which you can read here.

H. Dai, Yun Kuang, Michael Kenney

H. Dai, Yun Kuang, Michael Kenney

Schools’ climate strike: Young people protest across EnglandBBC News, March 15, 2019Young people who have skipped school to join climate change protests across England have told the BBC there is no point in learning when their future is at risk.Thousands of schoolchildren have flooded into city and town centers across the country as classrooms around the world were abandoned for a day of demonstration. Some of their administrators were not in favor of the demonstrations, and said there would be consequences for skipping classes. One student responded, “I really don’t care what consequences they give us, it’s more important that we fight for our future. This is the world we’re going to have to live in.”Read more here

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An Elusive (Recently Discovered) Whale Is Found All Around the Worldby Karen Weintraub, for The New York Times, March 22, 2019.Researchers are learning about a newly identified species of baleen whales, tracing sightings and sounds to learn that they stay mainly in tropical waters. Salvatore Cerchio stunned the small world of whale science in 2015 when he found examples of a new species in the wild for the first time. Now, he’s mapped the habitat of that species, called Omura’s whale after Hideo Omura, a prominent Japanese whale biologist.The surprise in the new study, published in Frontiers in Marine Science, is that Omura’s whales, though little seen, are widespread across the tropical world.A researcher found a population off the northwest coast of Madagascar, where he works, and compiled reports of sightings from Japan, Australia, Brazil and off the coasts of Indonesia, among others. In total, from photographs, audio recordings, museums and documents, he identified 161 accounts of Omura’s whales in 95 locales.Technological innovation in recording devices, advances in genetic analysis — and simply knowing what to look for — seem to have led to the new insights. Scientists said the finding is a reminder of how little we actually know about what goes on in the world’s oceans.Read details here.

photo quora

Photo: Earth.com

Also, this week, “Spotlight On:” the Atlantic spotted dolphin…

atlantic_spotted_dolphin_stenella_frontalis

Photo: Quora

and remember, you can find all three volumes of “Secret Voices from the Forest, Thoughts and Dreams of North American Trees, on Amazon.

Make sure you buy them from me personally. There are people selling them for some outrageously high prices, which is some new weird scam. Vols 1 & 2 are $28.95, and Vol 3 is $32.95.

Vol. 3 - The East copy   cover-SV2  cover

 

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News from The Treetalker

Courtesy WhatWhenHow

Courtesy WhatWhenHow.com

Why large forest fires may not be a big threat to some endangered animals, January 29, 2019, ScienceDaily. Source: Oxford University Press USA

Spurred by climate change, megafires in western North America are becoming more frequent, causing speculation that endangered species will have an even more difficult surviving.

The Great Gray Owl, endangered in California, is a resident of Yosemite National Park and Stanislaus National Forest, which are areas that were badly burnt in the 2013 Rim Fire, experiencing a 104,000 acre burn.

In surveys covering a 3-year period following the fire, it was found that, rather than decreasing in number, the Grey Owls have adjusted to the terrain well, using large trees that were killed for nesting, and finding plentiful food in the rodent populations that have increased, due to more meadow area. Read the rest of the article here.

Neil Palmer:CIAT

Cattle urine’s planet-warming power can be curtailed with land restoration, January 29, 2019, Science News. Source: International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

The exceptional climate-altering capabilities of cattle are mainly due to methane, which they blast into the atmosphere during their daily digestive routine. Cattle urine is a lesser-known climate offender. It produces nitrous oxide (N2O), which has warming power far greater than that of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main driver of global warming. A new study shows that these N2O emissions can be significantly curbed by healthy cattle pastures.

In the majority of test sites, degraded pastures emitted significantly more N2O — sometimes up to three times as much, than restored pasture.

Degraded livestock land is generally characterized by overgrazing, soil compaction, loss of organic material and low levels of nutrients and soil carbon. Large-scale land restoration with improved forage grasses, rotational grazing and the addition of shrubs and trees, could significantly mitigate the negative climate effects wrought by degradation. In addition to reducing N2O emissions, restored landscapes generally contain more carbon, have healthier soils and more robust and productive livestock. Find the rest of this article here.

Odd Andersen:Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Teenagers Emerge as a Force in Climate Protests Across Europe, By Milan Schreuer, Elian Peltier and Christopher F. Schuetze, for the NYTimes, Jan. 31, 2019

Tens of thousand of children skipped school in Belgium on Thursday to join demonstrations for action against climate change, part of a broader environmental protest movement across Europe that has gathered force over the past several weeks.

In Germany, France, Sweden, Switzerland and elsewhere, activists have come together on social media to gather in large numbers and without much apparent preparation, the protests taking a different shape in each country.

In Germany, students have protested on Fridays, communicating mainly through the messaging app WhatsApp; in Belgium, they organize on Facebook and have skipped school by the thousands on four consecutive Thursdays.

Last Sunday, climate protests in Brussels swelled to an estimated 100,000 people of all ages. That same day, an estimated 80,000 took part in cities across France — more than turned out for the “Yellow Vest” protests the day before.

The climate movement has no obvious leaders or structure, but young people feel that most older people do not feel the urgency that the young do about global warming, and want their governments to take action while there is still time. For the rest of this article, click here.

Johnny Milano for The New York Times

Global Warming Concerns Rise Among Americans in New Poll, by John Schwartz, for the NYTimes, Jan. 22, 2019

Some 73 percent of Americans polled online late last year by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, said that global warming was happening, the report found, a jump of 10 percentage points from 2015 and three points since last March. This suggests that climate change has moved out of the realm of the hypothetical for a wide majority of Americans.

Americans’ growing understanding of global warming is part of a long-term trend, which is attributed to the recent increase of extreme weather events with plausible connections to a warming planet, and to the publicity that surrounded two major scientific reports on climate change last year. For more on this, click here.

Wensum Alliance

Norfolk study shows new ditches could help improve rivers, by Maggie Dolan and Nic Rigby for the  BBC.

The amount of harmful sludge entering rivers from farmers’ fields can be more than halved with special ditches, a new study by The Rivers Trust found. Its research showed only 14% of UK rivers are currently in a healthy state.

That health can be damaged by sediment containing fertilizer chemicals which can harm water quality and fish.

The study by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Wensum Alliance used traps (pictured) near the Blackwater – a tributary which flows into the River Wensum at Lenwade, which in turn flows through Norwich. They then tested the water downriver and found a 58% reduction in sediment year on year.

Traps were also placed near roads, which can also add pollution to waterways. For more on this, click here.

Getty Images/ Kean Collection

And, lastly, I saw this article in this morning’s Washington Post’s daily newsletter, “Today’s WorldView.”  Really fascinating.

The salient points to me were, “Scientists from University College London, U.K. estimate that 60 million people were living across the Americas at the end of the 15th Century, and that this was reduced to just five or six million within a hundred years, eliminated by introduced disease (smallpox, measles, etc), warfare, slavery and societal collapse. Vast swaths of agricultural land was then reclaimed by fast-growing trees and other vegetation. This pulled down enough carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the atmosphere to eventually chill the planet.”

Read the article at this link.

See you next time, whenever that might be! 

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ants, books, coral reefs, Environment, Nature, oceans, Uncategorized, wild horses, Wildlife

News from The Treetalker – Nov 26, 2018

Lisa Carne

photo: Lisa Carne

Saving Coral

BBC Earth, by Zoe Cormier

“So far we’ve lost half the world’s reefs, and one of the biggest threats – climate change – shows no sign of abating. Scientists say if we do nothing, 90 per cent of the world’s tropical reefs will be gone by 2050, along with all the fish, wildlife and humans that depend on them.”

The Director of the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology says that we have learned that “putting a big seawall around the reefs” and leaving them alone doesn’t work. “We have to stop thinking that if we leave nature alone and treat it with the utmost respect that is sufficient. It’s not,” she says.

Not all hope is lost, she says: we just need to apply the science, ingenuity, manpower and – above all – money, while we still can.

“It might seem hopeless – but look at the hole in the ozone layer,” she says. “We identified the problem, acted to remove harmful gases from the atmosphere, and boom: the hole closed. That’s remarkable, and it shows that we can fix these things, we just have to start acting now.”

Read the entire article here

Larisa Bogardis

photo: Larissa Bogardis

Judge blocks controversial plan to sterilize wild horses in Oregon

From NBC News, by Daniella Silva, Nov 5, 2018

“U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Mosman issued a preliminary injunction on Friday that stops the Bureau of Land Management from moving forward with its plan to surgically remove the ovaries of wild mares in the Warm Springs Management Area of Hines, Oregon, according to court records.”

Read the entire article here.

Timothée Brütsch

photo: Timothee Brutsch

For ants, unity is strength — and health: Ant social networks put a brake on disease spread

From ScienceDaily, 23 November 2018

“High population density, as well as frequent and close contacts between individuals, contribute to a rapid spread of diseases. To protect their colonies, ants have developed disease defense mechanisms, including adaptations to their social organization. Ants do not interact randomly with other colony members, but are organized in sub-groups according to their age and the tasks they carry out.

“How ants collectively deal with problems, such as the risk of an epidemic, could give insights into general principles of disease dynamics. Social interactions are the routes on which diseases travel and define how epidemics may spread. Basic research on ants can help us to deeper understand epidemiological processes, which can be relevant also in other social groups.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Also, if you’d like to visit my website, here is the link.

And if you are interested in my books about the sentience of North American trees, visit Amazon to purchase.

Vol. 3 - The East copy

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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.

y289J_ycM2qYMOyI

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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News from The Treetalker

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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cutting pollution, Environment, Nature, plants, Uncategorized, Wildlife

News from The Treetalker

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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books, Environment, forests, green living, gulf coast, ice rinks, stadiums, methane from livestock industry, Nature, recycling, Spanish Moss, Uncategorized

The Treetalker

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Focus on: Spanish Moss—This familiar plant, seen draping off Live oak and Bald cypress trees all along the Gulf Coast, is not a moss at all. Rather, it is an epiphyte, which attaches itself to tree trunks and branches, rather than rooting in the soil.
However, it is not parasitic, and does not compete with its host for food. It takes in nutrients and moisture directly from air and rain, through the scales on the long gray “stems.”—thus the common name, “air plant;” but because it is so exposed, it is unable to tolerate airborne pollution or excessively cold temperatures.
It is the only member of the bromeliad family—which includes orchids and pineapples—that is indigenous to the North American continent.
Although today Spanish moss is mostly used in flower arrangements and as packing material, it was once utilized as stuffing for furniture, mattresses, automobile seats and the walls of homes as insulation. In 1939, over 10,000 tons of moss were processed for these purposes.

Environmental Happenings:— This week, some articles from the NY Times special newsletter, “Climate Fwd:” You can access the report at this link. 
The articles were written by
By John Schwartz, Brad Plumer and Livia Albeck-Ripka for the article, published on May 30, 2018.

* 1) Creating an ice rink in the deserts of Nevada? Boy, there’s an energy guzzler!

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** 2) Most of us environmentally-minded folk have heard that the methane produced by livestock accounts for 26% of all methane emissions in the U.S. (Do they consider what people might be adding to that figure?) Some scientists—of course—are trying to develop a drug to counter the problem; however, one Canadian farmer discovered, by accident, that his cows were healthier and produced less gas when they ate seaweed that had washed up on the shore. Turns out some types of seaweed contains a substance that neutralizes the methane-producing stomach enzyme.

Ah, nature always finds a way. . .

So the scientists are testing new diets, with some promising results.

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*** 3) final article in this report: “Aspirational recycling.”

You may also have heard recently that China, who has been one of the world’s main importers of recyclable waste (geez – who would WANT that job?), has recently said it will reject shipments that are more than 0.5 % impure – like, when people don’t wash things out, or put other kinds of garbage in the recycling bins – apparently messy cardboard pizza boxes are a big offender, along with all those things we think are #1’s and #2’s, but are actually #5’s or something else (like the lids of just about everything!)

So, “rinse stuff out and read the numbers in the little triangles on the bottom of the item” is the main takeaway, but do read the article.

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My new book, Secret Voices from the Forest—Thoughts and Dreams of North American Trees, Volume Three: The East has just come from the printer. Buy at Amazon—I’m the only one selling it!  $32.95 + shipping.

Vol. 3 - The East copy

And finally, my latest blog post, “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing,” in which I (sort of) express my views on current events.

For all these articles, visit my personal website.

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coywolf, Environment, global warming, green living, methane from livestock industry, Nature, silvopasture, spiders, Uncategorized, Wildlife

New Stories on The Treetalker

Coming Soon!

Secret Voices from the Forest—Thoughts and Dreams of North American Trees—Volume 3: The East will be available by this time next week, through my website http://secret-voices.com or on Amazon. Check there after June 10.cover proof #1

Also this week, at The Treetalker, some new posts

Spotlight on: The Coywolf – a new species!  http://laurajmerrilltreetalker.com/index.html

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Environmental Happenings:  http://laurajmerrilltreetalker.com/environmental-happenings.html

  1. Silvopasturing – a way of raising cattle that is far more environmentally friendly than the common practice of raising animals in feedlots.
  2. Don’t Kill That Spider! – the little beasties that live in our homes.

    And on my blog: http://laurajmerrilltreetalker.com/blog.html

    “The Problem with Self Publishing”

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endangered species, Environment, environmental agencies, Nature, trees

Positive News about Trees & the Environment

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Costa Rica just became the first country in Latin America to ban hunting for sport. Costa Rica’s Congress voted unanimously on Monday to approve the ban, which will protect the country’s wildlife – including several species of native big cats, such as the pictured Jaguar. Any hunters caught breaking the new law will face jail time or hefty fines.

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An Oxford-based startup, UAE Drones for Good, has an ambitious plan to combat deforestation by planting 1 billion trees a year by using drones.

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I don’t usually promote somebody elses sales pitch, but you can get a good book about seed libraries from Mother Earth News. See their site for details.

Rod Mast

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) funds grants to civil society groups that implement diverse projects to safeguard the world’s biodiversity hotspots – areas that harbor 90 percent of the biological diversity of the planet. The article, the gist of which you can read at

http://laurajmerrilltreetalker.com

is about “Five of the Threatened Species We’re Fighting to Save.” They are: Rhinos, Tigers, African and Asian Elephants and the Saola, a deer-like animal.

 

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