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Category Archives: Ecology

Jellyfish Lake

Ever wonder what happens if you put a bunch of jellyfish in a lake and take away all their natural predators? Jellyfish explosion! At least that is what happened at Jellyfish Lake on the island of Padua. Check out the YouTube video. It is a pretty eerie site. (via Neatorama)

Prius Hybrid

While I think that hybrids are just a band-aid solution to bigger problem, I do believe that they increase people’s awareness of environmental issues. A recent poll by CNN/USA Today/Gallup found out that 48% of Americans drive less because of the high cost of gas. An even higher number, 54%, have cutback on buying household items for the same reason. Thus, it is no surprise that 57% of those surveyed said they would seriously consider buying a hybrid.

On another note, a Ford Executive stated that U.S. consumers would still buy SUVs if gas hit $4 a gallon. He left soon after to take those 12 people out to lunch.

Greenland Glaciers

As global warming continues to escalate, so does the rate at which Greenland’s glaciers break off and melt into the ocean. From Live Science:

Those faster-moving glaciers now dump in a year twice as much ice into the Atlantic as they did in 1996, researchers said Thursday. The resulting icebergs, along with increased melting of Greenland’s ice sheet, could account for nearly 17 percent of the estimated one-tenth of an inch annual rise in global sea levels, or twice what was previously believed, said Eric Rignot of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
That stepped-up flow accounted for about two-thirds of the net 54 cubic miles of ice Greenland lost in 2005. That compares with 22 cubic miles in 1996. The most recent volume is more than 200 times the amount of fresh water used by Los Angeles in a year, Rignot said.

You can be part of the solution.

Napa Valley

I just rolled back into the Cinci late this afternoon, which was shortly followed by a three-hour nap. Already, I miss the perfect weather, rolling hills, and emerald landscape of northern California. On Saturday night, Rahul and I went to visit Cathie in Napa Valley. Cathie is the link between the two of us being Rahul’s mother-in-law and one of my mom’s closest friends. That and Cathie’s daughter, Rahul’s wife, Sarah, used to baby-sit me.

Napa Valley was absolutely gorgeous. For a gift two years ago, my mom bought my dad a hot air balloon ride over the Valley at dawn. I had no clue how beautiful it was until I was able to see the untouched beauty of the vineyards for myself. Cathie, Rahul, and I drove around most of the loop inside the Valley and ended up doing a wine tasting at a local vineyard. Once it got too dark to enjoy the scenery, we ended up eating at a wonderful Mexican restaurant who’s name I cannot remember.

Yesterday, we had to drive Rahul down to the Bay Area for his flight the next morning. The journey there was absolutely breath taking. James tells me that the two hour drive is a twice daily commute for God-awful hordes of people every morning who either cannot afford to live in the Bay Area or choose not to live there. But for a newbie like me straight outta the plains of Nebraska, it was an incredible trip.

And the most geeky part: I got to drive through my first wind farm.

San Francisco Wind Farm

Well, goodbye California. Goodbye 70 degree sunny weather. Goodbye leaving the windows open and wearing summer clothes. Hello Cincinnati.

Cross and Earth

It looks like Bush might even be losing some of his religious right these days. A group of 85 evangelical Christian leaders are supporting a bill that would curb America’s emissions of green house gases. The article pulls a great stat that really puts our place in causing global warming in perspective:

The United States, with around 5 percent of the world’s population, accounts for a quarter of its greenhouse gases and U.S. emissions rose by 2 percentage points in 2004 alone, according to government figures.

Deutsch probably tried to silence those figures.

Exxon Mobile Fossil Fuel Dinosaur

On the heals of Bush’s claim to reduce our oil dependency on the Middle East 75% by 2025, Exxon replies it is impossible and not worth trying. From Reuters:

“Realistically, it is simply not feasible in any time period relevant to our discussion today,” Exxon Mobil Senior Vice President Stuart McGill said, referring to what he called the “misperception” that the United States can achieve energy independence.

The world’s largest publicly traded oil company, however, says hoping to end foreign oil imports is not only a bad idea, but also impossible.
“Americans depend upon imports to fill the gap,” McGill said. “No combination of conservation measures, alternative energy sources and technological advances could realistically and economically provide a way to completely replace those imports in the short or medium term.”

Instead of trying to achieve energy independence, importing nations like the U.S. should be promoting energy interdependence, McGill said.

I am sure it comes as a big surprise to you that the largest, most profitable corporation ever in the world says there’s nothing you can do to stop them. But I thought you should know. Your base are belong to us.

Blue Marble

President Bush’s appointee at NASA, Geoorge C. Deutsch, resigned yesterday as growing controversy continues to surround his position. As mentioned previously, Deutsch was responsible for trying to gag NASA’s lead climatologist, James Hansen, from disclosing his research about global warming. Not only did he try to muzzle NASA’s scientists, he tried to tell them what to do. He demanded that the lead web designer of the organization put the word “theory” with every mention of the Big Bang. To no surprise, Deutsch believes in intelligent design.

So not only is this whipper-snapper telling our countries most brilliant scientists how to do their jobs, he did not even complete college! Even worse, he lied about it! From the NYTimes:

According to his résumé, Mr. Deutsch received a “Bachelor of Arts in journalism, Class of 2003.”

Yesterday, officials at Texas A&M said that was not the case.

“George Carlton Deutsch III did attend Texas A&M University but has not completed the requirements for a degree,” said an e-mail message from Rita Presley, assistant to the registrar at the university, responding to a query from The Times.

You’re doing a great job, Deutschie!

Dr. James Hansen does a great job of putting this all in perspective:

Yesterday, Dr. Hansen said that the questions about Mr. Deutsch’s credentials were important, but were a distraction from the broader issue of political control of scientific information.

“He’s only a bit player,” Dr. Hansen said of Mr. Deutsch. “The problem is much broader and much deeper and it goes across agencies. That’s what I’m really concerned about.”

“On climate, the public has been misinformed and not informed,” he said. “The foundation of a democracy is an informed public, which obviously means an honestly informed public. That’s the big issue here.”

Golden Fronted Bowerbird

A team of research scientists exploring isolated jungles of Papua have discovered an untouched paradise They found dozens of new exotic species of insects, birds, and plants in their initial study and say they have barely scratched the surface. From LiveScience:

The team also found wildlife that were remarkably unafraid of humans during their rapid assessment survey of the Foja Mountains, which has more than two million acres of old growth tropical forest, Bruce Beehler, a co-leader of the monthlong trip, said in announcing the discoveries on Tuesday.

Two Long-Beaked Echidnas, a primitive egg-laying mammal, simply allowed scientists to pick them up and bring them back to their camp to be studied, he said.
“There was not a single trail, no sign of civilization, no sign of even local communities ever having been there,” said Beehler, adding that two headmen from the Kwerba and Papasena tribes, the customary landowners of the Foja Mountains, accompanied the expedition.

The area is so rich in diversity and teaming with life that they barely had to leave their base camp in order to conduct their research. Luckily, the error is protected from logging, but the growing timber demands from China and Japan worries the scientists. Check out their press release.

Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change

The UK government has just published a book that synthesizes all of the scientific findings presented at the 2005 Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change” conference. Entitled “Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change”, the book examines the real threat of global warming due to humanity and its future impacts. It focuses on three crucial questions:

1. For different levels of climate change what are the key impacts, for different regions and sectors, and for the world as a whole?

2. What would such levels of climate change imply in terms of greenhouse gas stabilisation concentrations and emission pathways required to achieve such levels?

3. What technological options are there for achieving stabilisation of greenhouse gases at different stabilisation concentrations in the atmosphere, taking into account costs and uncertainties?

Here is a short summary from Treehugger:

Currently, the atmosphere contains about 380 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas linked closest to climate change and the principal concern of scientists, compared to levels before the industrial revolution of about 275ppm. The European Union adopted a previous target of preventing a rise in global average temperature of more than two degrees Celsius, which, according to the book, might be too high — enough to trigger melting of the Greenland ice sheet. Above two degrees, says the report, the risks increase “very substantially”, with “potentially large numbers of extinctions” and “major increases in hunger and water shortage risks… particularly in developing countries”. The book concludes, therefore, that in order to have a good chance of achieving the EU’s two-degree target, levels need to be stabilized below 450 ppm.

In the foreword, Prime Minister Tony Blair writes: “It is now plain that the emission of greenhouse gases, associated with industrialisation and economic growth from a world population that has increased six-fold in 200 years, is causing global warming at a rate that is unsustainable.”

The book is free and available for download. For more information on what you can personally do, check out Green-E and TerraPass.

Bush State of the Union

During Bush’s last State of the Union, he discussed our need to remove our dependence on foreign oil:

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology…

Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. (Applause.)

Apparently, what he said is not what he meant. From KR:

One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America’s dependence on Middle East oil by cutting imports from there 75 percent by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said Wednesday that the president didn’t mean it literally.
“This was purely an example,” Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said.

What? Bush lie?