The mandate at an Atlantic working summit on Wednesday was intense: figure out how the world’s resources can be used more thoughtfully. Unexpectedly, in two hours of discussion about saving the environment, supporting the poor, and reducing waste, one of the most engaging topics was fish.
“Everything in the ocean depends on them,” explained Ellen Pikitch, the executive director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University. Specifically, underwater ecosystems rely heavily on “forage fish,” which include sardines, anchovies, herring, and more. But according to a report released by Pikitch’s solemnly named Forage Fish Task Force, many of these species are dying out. This is because they’re sensitive to changes in the environment and over-pursued by fishermen, who can easily scoop up densely packed schools.
Why should anyone care about forage fish?
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
For nearly two weeks, the nation has been transfixed by wildfire spreading through Yosemite National Park, threatening to pollute San Francisco’s water supply and destroy some of America’s most cherished landscapes. As terrible as the Rim Fire seems, though, the question of its long-term effects, and whether in some ways it could actually be ecologically beneficial, is a complicated one.
Some parts of Yosemite may be radically altered, entering entire new ecological states. Yet others may be restored to historical conditions that prevailed for thousands of years from the last Ice Age’s end until the 19th century, when short-sighted fire management disrupted natural fire cycles and transformed the landscape.
Read more. [Image: NASA Earth Observatory]
Conservation isn’t the first word that comes to most people’s minds when they think of conservative values. That’s a shame.
President Reagan explained why in 1984. “We want to protect and conserve the land on which we live — our countryside, our rivers and mountains, our plains and meadows and forests,” he said. “This is our patrimony. This is what we leave to our children. And our great moral responsibility is to leave it to them either as we found it or better than we found it.”
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
An animated guide to the different energy sources that power our nation
The pace of global warming is going to make it difficult if not impossible for species to find appropriate habitats.
Farmers in Brazil are more likely to invade each others’ land in years that are particularly wet or unusually dry. Americans honk their horns more at other cars when it’s hot outside. Countries in the tropics are more likely to have civil wars in years that are especially hot or dry.
They may seem random, but actually, these events are all connected. New research from Princeton University and UC Berkeley published today in Science reveals a link between big shifts in climate and precipitation and a rise in interpersonal violence, institutional breakdown, and especially inter-group violence, such as war. Not only does the paper shed light on past bouts of global conflict, it also offers a warning about the future. The world is expected to warm by at least 2 degrees Celsius over the next few decades, unless governments do something drastic, and the researchers say that increased bloodshed could be a serious side-effect of that trend.
Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]
Last Saturday, July 27, about 13,200 gallons (50,000 liters) of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Thailand, pouring from a leaky pipeline, creating a huge slick miles wide. The oil slick soon began washing ashore on the tourist island of Samet, fouling several popular white sand beaches, and now has spread to nearby smaller islands. Pipeline operator PTT Global Chemical Plc. has apologized and pledges to have the spill cleaned within days, as tourism officials have raised alarms about the sharp drop in tourist dollars. Gathered here are images of the early clean-up work taking place on Thailand’s Samet Island.
On a warm summer afternoon three years ago, Scott Bauer was hiking near the redwoods in Northern California when he came upon a clearing in the forest. As a scientist with the state’s department of fish and wildlife, Bauer had heard about marijuana farms in national parks, but he had never seen one up close. The scale of destruction surprised him. Towering pines and Douglas firs, some over a century old, had been leveled, and a bulldozer had dumped several tons of sediment into a nearby creek, choking it off.
As Bauer got closer he found piles of burnt trash, half empty sacks of toxic pesticides seeping into the soil, and the withering stalks of hundreds of marijuana plants spread out over five acres of denuded landscape.
"The growers had split," Bauer says. "But it was clear they had little regard for the damage they were causing."
Read more. [Image: Alexandria Sage/Reuters]
Why is it so important to protect bird species that are endangered by New Zealand’s cats?
Because our natural environment is arguably our greatest asset. And because the economic value of [our environment] has hardly been capitalized on, and it is continuing to rise at an exponential rate, as the rest of the world cursed by high population density sits in its own nest.
Read more. [Image: Alexis Madrigal]
"Based on our research, we found that cats distinguish between the low- to mid-light wave spectrum — meaning purple, blue, yellow, and green, with blue and green being the strongest colors they see," says Hutton. The architects beta-tested their design with their own cats, he adds: "They weren’t too fond of the power tools, but as soon as the assembly started they were all over the outdoor carpet we used for the interior insulation and began climbing in and out of the boxes."
Read more. [Images: I HAVE CAT]