Archive for March, 2010

Talk About a Bad, Bad Move

March 31, 2010

Many things Obama has done seem to be good but to open the Atlantic coast to drilling is a huge mistake and I can see no way to support this move. I see this as a huge betrayel by Obama!!! Have you ever been disappointed by someone you admire? Well here is an example…This is Obama pulling a Palin. I see it Hansen’s way. We have to jump over fossil fuels!!!!!
Matt

So Much Out There Is Changing

March 30, 2010

If you do not want to see the world as we know it change dramatically for the worse then you will become committed to the mitigation of global climate change. There is so much to watch and monitor and the question that comes to me is where does one start! If you are concerned by global warming it is easy to be overwhelmed but there is much to watch closely. Methane gas, a ticking timebomb, is leaking out of the Arctic Ocean and if that happens I see humankind at the point of no return…grave stuff that is happening now and there is no stopping this if it occurs.
Matt

Global Climate Change; Proliferating Like Weeds

March 29, 2010

I caught an Amtrak Train from Florence South Carolina to Washington D.C. All the way I saw Kudzu Vines and I also saw bamboo, Japanese Honeysuckle Vines and so on. What these have in common is that they are exotic plants and with global climate change in the form of increasing temperatures they will expand their distribution and threaten the endemic plants and native biodiversity of entire ecosystems.

Fires and pine beetles are the scourge in the west . Whacky weather and water that will decrease in the west and there may be more than bargained for in other areas…

This, and more, will probably happen and some of this is starting to happen now.

I see a strange world out there and it will get stranger if we let the route of the problem, fossil fuels and inneficiencies proliferate like weeds.

We now probably have some control over the worst outcomes but we need to get busy and stop fidgeting around on this problem.
Matt

The Right News and Stuff From the Garage

March 27, 2010

I get the message…Tiger Woods will be at the Master’s golf tournament in April…and did you know Sarah Palin came to a John McCain political rally to help boost McCain…big whoop!!!All of this has captured the T.V. media’s attention while Cap and Trade slogs its way through the US congress and so forth. I find our lack of attention to these things that matter real disturbing in fact my finger hurts as I wag it as I hear about nonessential “news” like Biden dropping the F-bomb…I say who cares.

On another topic a gentleman worked on a $100 dollar camera and weather balloon to take photos of his house in the process he got photos of planet earth and these same photos cost about 100 times less than they would cost the US Government to do…Friedman, in his book “Hot, Flat and Crowded” writes about this kind of enginuity being spawned in American garages. Gladwell talks about this type of intelligence and he is not US centric. Gladwell, in Outliers, and an example he uses the is the Beetles to show how this type of “home grown” intelligance is spawned throughout history. I see this balloon as an example of this kind of thinking and I agree, “better late than never”.
Matt

Use You As A Guide

March 26, 2010

There seems to be know shortage of good topics to pass on, or blog about…but though I do not blog about global climate change everyday does not mean it is a topic that is not foremost on my mind. There is much to write about, or pass on to you. I get articles on global climate change each day. I find it hard to read about certain aspects of climate change…and try to at least pass them on but certain days are full of global climate change articles but I find these articles hard to keep pace with…this is one of those days. If you look youwill find a lot out there on climate change, but I just cannot look. Use your own interest as a guide.
Matt

Associated Press, “Plight of Bees Worsens this Winter and Scientists Spot Stew of Pesticides in Pollen, Hives”

March 26, 2010

This might be of interest to you.
Matt
March 24, 2010

By Garance Burke, Seth Borenstein

MERCED, Calif. (AP) — The mysterious 4-year-old crisis of disappearing honeybees is deepening. A quick federal survey indicates a heavy bee die-off this winter, while a new study shows honeybees’ pollen and hives laden with pesticides.

Two federal agencies along with regulators in California and Canada are scrambling to figure out what is behind this relatively recent threat, ordering new research on pesticides used in fields and orchards. Federal courts are even weighing in this month, ruling that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency overlooked a requirement when allowing a pesticide on the market.

And on Thursday, chemists at a scientific conference in San Francisco will tackle the issue of chemicals and dwindling bees in response to the new study.

Scientists are concerned because of the vital role bees play in our food supply. About one-third of the human diet is from plants that require pollination from honeybees, which means everything from apples to zucchini.

Bees have been declining over decades from various causes. But in 2006 a new concern, “colony collapse disorder,” was blamed for large, inexplicable die-offs. The disorder, which causes adult bees to abandon their hives and fly off to die, is likely a combination of many causes, including parasites, viruses, bacteria, poor nutrition and pesticides, experts say.

Wisconsin Public Radio, “Looking Ahead on Debate Over Carp Control”

March 26, 2010

This might be the end of the Great Lakes, certainly as we know it.

March 22, 2010

By Chuck Quirmbach
Go to the story here: http://www.wpr.org/news/newsstories.cfm or click directly on this link to listen to this story now using RealPlayer.

The U.S. Supreme Court has again said “no” to an immediate closing of navigational locks linked to the Asian Carp controversy.

Citizen Scientists: Learning from the Whitebark Pine Guru

March 24, 2010

This is truley sad but I am a witness to the Whitebarkpine Nut blinking out as a food for the grizzly: citizen scientists are showing us why with the help of pine beetle expertise.
Matt

by Whitney Leonard March 22, 2010 Favorite Local To This Post
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In the wintertime, the tiny town of Cooke City, Montana is accessible only by a twisty road that runs 50 miles through the northern section of Yellowstone National Park and then abruptly dead-ends—for cars, at least—at the east end of Cooke City’s Main Street, where the plows stop and the snow begins. On skis, it is a different story. For the fifteen of us who gathered in Cooke for a field workshop on whitebark pine last weekend, the end of the pavement and the beginning of the snow was where our trip began.

As one of the organizers of this workshop, I was particularly excited to be standing at the edge of town, finally strapping on my skis along with a full turnout of folks from all over Montana. NRDC had teamed up with the Montana Backcountry Alliance to organize this workshop with the aim of educating citizens about whitebark pine, its importance in the ecosystem, and the crisis it faces as mountain pine beetles munch their way across the American West on an unprecedented scale. We formed an intriguing crew that day, with an age range spanning five decades, and with professions ranging from seasonal forest service employees to a Buddhist educator, a journalist, and a former mayor.

We were extremely lucky to have beetle expert and backcountry skier extraordinaire Dr. Jesse Logan leading our workshop, imparting both his knowledge and his enthusiasm for whitebark pine. Now retired, Jesse most recently served as Project Leader for the Forest Service’s Interior West Bark Beetle Project and is one of the country’s top experts on whitebark pine and the mischievous mountain pine beetle. And while he loves to make jokes about his age, he could probably leave most of us younger skiers in the dust if he wanted to.

As Jesse explained to our group, whitebark pine is a keystone species in high-altitude ecosystems, where it not only provides shelter and food for animals but also stabilizes and shades the snowpack to extend precious snowmelt flows into the summer months. Whitebark seeds are also a critical food for grizzly bears in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), and the tree’s decline was a key factor in the recent decision by a federal judge to put grizzlies back on the endangered species list.

Whitebark pine across the GYE is now rapidly falling victim to the hungry mountain pine beetle, which bores into and kills these trees, as climate change allows the beetle to thrive in previously inhospitable whitebark forests. As beetles take the mature trees, an introduced pathogen known as blister rust is busy killing the smaller trees, creating a perfect storm for our poor whitebark. Last summer NRDC teamed up with the Forest Service to support an unprecedented ecosystem-wide aerial assessment conducted by Jesse Logan, geographer Wally McFarlane, pilot Bruce Gordon, and a team of other scientists and citizens. The results were staggering, showing that whitebark forests have been hit much harder than previously estimated—and whitebark may be functionally extinct from the GYE in less than a decade.

As the situation gets more dire by the year, continuing to document the pace of change is key. An ecosystem as vast as the GYE is the perfect place to make use of the people who are already out in the backcountry every day, skiing, snowboarding, or hiking through whitebark territory. So NRDC has worked with our partners to build a network of citizen scientists who contribute photographs and observations to a growing database, and last weekend’s workshop was designed to expand this network. Montana Backcountry Alliance was a perfect partner for this type of effort, as a group of people who already appreciate the value of the rugged ecosystems where they recreate. By teaching people like this to understand and document the ongoing whitebark devastation, we are expanding our collective capacity to tell the story of this crisis.

[Dr. Jesse Logan (second from left), myself (far right), and other participants skiing up the Daisy Pass road on Henderson Mountain]

The first part of our ski tour in Cooke City can’t really be called a backcountry tour, since we were skinning up a snow-covered road, but even that was enough to start giving us a sense of the landscape. Looking across the valley, we could see a carpet of forest that looked healthy in the valley floor, but at the higher elevations—the whitebark forests—we could see telltale patches of dead or dying trees. On our side of the valley, as we continued skiing up the flank of Henderson Mountain, we slowly rose out of the spruce/fir mixed forest and into groves where we got our first close-up look at whitebark pine. This was what we’d come for.

To describe this experience, I should first explain that ski touring through whitebark forest with Jesse is a bit like getting a tour of the Vatican from the pope himself. He has a deep passion for his surroundings, he can answer any relevant question you could throw at him, and he sincerely wants to you to learn from him and to spread this knowledge to others.

Jesse stopped at the first dead whitebark tree along the trail, and we all gathered around like eager little students. He pointed out certain key features—the round spread of the crown and the clusters of five needles tell you it’s a whitebark; the little holes and bits of residue on the bark tell you this tree has been attacked by mountain pine beetles, and the rusty color of the needles tells you it was probably attacked and killed two summers ago. After staying green for a while, the needles probably turned red last summer and they will likely fall off next summer, leaving the gray “ghost tree” that is becoming all too common in the GYE.

[The group inspecting our first dead whitebark tree]

Moving on, we gradually ascended into pure whitebark forest, where we saw more healthy-looking green trees mixed with the obviously dead red and gray trees. Now we were really in the heart of the classroom. We spent the rest of the afternoon in this section of forest, moving from tree to tree like second-graders playing soccer (except that we were on skis), clustered tightly and eager to get in on the action. There Jesse showed us trees in different stages of health, pointed out the characteristic vertical tunnels bored by mountain pine beetles under the bark, and finally showed us… drumroll… our first real mountain pine beetle!

It is amazing that such tiny beetles can cause such large-scale devastation among trees that could otherwise live for over 1000 years. The mature beetles look pretty much exactly like mouse turds, as one member of our group noted, and Jesse acknowledged it was the best comparison he’d heard yet. After hearing so much about them and seeing evidence everywhere, we all got a kick out of finally seeing those hungry little beetles.

Having had a chance to see both trees and beetles and every state of their interactions, we eventually turned and headed back down the mountain. Ski conditions, as had been clear on the way up, were not going to be ideal, but we’re always content to take what we can get during a bad snow winter like this. Skiing through beautiful, perfectly-spaced whitebark—even on a somewhat crunchy crust—still made for a nice trip down. Then hitting the snowy road again, we flew down through the lower sections of the forest, back toward town. As Cooke City’s few buildings glided into sight, suddenly the snow on the road ended and we found ourselves standing back on Main Street.

Stowing away our ski gear, we all went our separate ways at the end of the day. But the next time each of us travels into the backcountry, we are now equipped to be part of the citizen science network documenting the whitebark crisis. New ambassadors for this majestic tree, we are eager to tell the story of whitebark and the mountain pine beetle, and to advocate for more resources and research into what can be done to protect these trees and these ecosystems.

Is there any hope? Will the few whitebark trees with natural beetle resistance hold the key to whitebark survival? Does our best hope lie in gnarled krummholz or dwarf trees that are currently too small to attract beetles? Researchers like Jesse are working to find the answers to these questions. And now we are here to help.

[Mixed forest with some living whitebard (front left), some dead whitebark (center), and other conifers]

Photos by Whitney Leonard and Adam Switalski. More photos of the event can be found here: http://picasaweb.google.com/whitney.a.leonard/WhitebarkPineWorkshop#

Arctic: A Very Cold War

March 24, 2010

Our greed and country nationalizm is unparalleled and not only will snuff out the polar bear but take us with the bear.
Matt

Watch here: http://WWW.YouTube.com/watch v=8CBPX726X3Q

Sitting Back and Enjoying While I Can

March 24, 2010

I have definite opinions about our changing climate but I am going to enjoy the beauty of the day while I can…It is supposed to get in the mid seventies and Regina and Pat have a wetland pine strand in their backyard with cozy seats for the likes of me to sit and watch the day go by as I kick back and sip on coffee and not worry about what I see as the dreads of global warming.I put on my game face and enjoy the day much like the game face I saw on the female Red Wolf, sitting on the den top at the See Dee Environmental Center in South Carolina.