Environmental Article

February 25, 2015

Picture of a large cargo ship transiting the Panama Canal, Panama

Panama Canal: Superhighway for Invasive Species

Once the newest expansion of the Panama Canal is completed in 2016, the new dimensions of the waterway will be able to accommodate much larger ships and researchers predict that ports along the Gulf and East Coast will now deal with 25 percent of the ship traffic that goes to the West Coast. Unfortunately, scientists fear that accompanying these large ships on their voyage will be more invasive species to these areas such as the zebra muscle and Asian shore crab. Because of this increased risk, new regulations must be put in place to prevent the threat of invasive organisms.

Tree climbing classes raise awareness

February 25, 2015

Tree climbing as a tool to build respect for trees by: Rhett A. Butler

Tim Kovar, a master tree climber, runs Tree Climbing Planet in Portland which is essentially a tree climbing school. His students range from age 6 to 85 and are from all around the world. Students take part in his week long course for a variety of reasons but Kovar hopes each leave with an increased awareness of the importance of conservation.

Tree climbing plays a big role in forest research since so many species reside in the canopies of trees. In the 1970s scientists started to use mountaineering techniques and ropes to climb rain forest trees for long-term study and observation.

Kovar began climbing twenty years ago. He enjoys the connected feeling he gets to nature when he climbs, “”When you are aloft in a tree, you open a door to a deeper sense of being, a deeper sense to our natural world. We use trees every day; they are essential for our survival,” he said.

“From the house we live in to the air we breathe, we need them to live. When you climb up into the arms of a tree with an open mind, you slip into a very peaceful state – abandoned of burdens and voided of earthly responsibilities. It becomes a meditation, creating a true sense of connectedness to our natural existence,” said Kovar.

Rainforest in Indonesian Borneo.

The image above depicts Kovar in a tree.

He did an interview with a reporter on Jan. 16, to the text click the link: http://news.mongabay.com/2015/0116-kovar-tree-climbing-interview.html

Brainy Mouse Embryo

February 23, 2015

mouse embryo

The genes between humans and chimpanzees are almost all the same, but the question at hand is why the human brain is larger. A team of scientists found that humans have a small difference in the regulator gene HARE5.  This gene was put into a mouse embryo to show the difference between the human and chimpanzee HARE5 gene. During the gestation period of development the differences in brain size were noticeable to the naked eye and by the end the mouse treated with the human HARE5 produced a 12% larger brain. Many others tried and failed at these experiments showing the difficulties they propose. The mice will be followed into adulthood to monitor differences in brain structure, development, and behavioral activity. This finding will be helpful researching into what makes the human brain so different from other species and why some people get diseases that chimpanzees don’t, such as Alzheimer.

Feds Propose Protection of Calving, Foraging Areas of Last 450 Whales on East Coast

February 18, 2015

There has been  lot of conservation effort to protect animal species over the years and today the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed to protect 39,655 square miles as critical habitat for North Atlantic right whales. The species faces a serious risk of extinction with only 450 of them left. The proposed rule would protect the habitat as well as the Northeast feeding areas in the Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank region and calving grounds from southern North Carolina to northern Florida. These whales are on an extinction crossroads with offshore oil drilling, military sonar, and commercial shipping that are posing a serious risk to their survival. Jane Davenport, a senior staff attorney at Defenders of Wildlife, happy about the fisheries strides to protect the right whales, but believes that they could do so much more with it. With the whales strenuous migrating habits every year, she believes that they should provide sufficient habitat protection from fishing gear, ship strikes, and offshore energy development.


Adaptive Grazing

February 18, 2015

cute cow

Ranchers were seeking healthier grazing practices for their cattle and were unaware that they were helping take additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Also known as adaptive multi-paddock (AMP) grazing, this technique uses smaller fields for shorter periods of grazing for livestock. This allow a longer recovery period, mimicking patterns of natural herd migrations. Byck investigated just how effective AMP grazing is and determine what is the best ranching technique to sequester the carbon dioxide and improve the socio-ecological system of the land. Previous research suggests adaptive grazing added, “30 tons of carbon per hectare over 10 years compared to conventionally grazed ranches.” The only incentive necessary to persuade ranchers to use this technique would be to  provide the evidence that AMP grazing will permit them to become more financially stable by improving the health of their land and livestock.

Too Much Plastic in Our Oceans

February 17, 2015

A new study was done to measure the amount of trash in the ocean waters.  This study was the first time that specifies how much garbage is found in the ocean every year.  Before now, the statistics were found using sample counts of the plastic floating on the water surface in large garbage patches.  The research found eight million metric tons of plastic waste is in the ocean’s waters each year, and this will liking increase over the next decade by a lot unless nations take care of how to dispose their trash.  The eight million metric tons is equivalent to “five plastic grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world”.  The researchers used a complex calculation that looked at the overall mass of waste produced per a person every year in the 192 nations that are at the coastlines.  The researchers also looked how each nation handles their waste and calculated how much of the pastil could end up in the ocean because of their waste management practices.  The researchers think the increase to waste is because of the increase towards population growth.  The research also found the top 20 worst plastic polluters where China is ranked #1 and the United States is ranked #20.  Americans may generate 2.6 kilograms of waste per a person each day while China only produces 1.10 kilograms of waste per a person each day, but the United States is ranked lower for having a better efficient waste management.  The problem with the waste is when exposed to saltwater and the sun, the waste shreds into tiny pieces that become cover in toxic substances.  Then the marine organisms consume these tiny pieces and reabsorb the toxic substances where this toxic could be in the fish you eat.  Another thing is cleaning up the plastic is hard because only some plastic floats while most of it settles to the bottom of the ocean floor if its not wash away to the shore.  Overall, ocean plastic is found everywhere, even buried in the Arctic ice where we need to find a better waste management system.





Study Shows Neighborhood Socializing Promotes an Increase In Green Habits

February 16, 2015

A study called Know Your Neighbors, Save the Planet: Social Capital and the Widening Wedge of Pro-Environmental Outcomes has made many interesting discoveries about socializing and environmental habits. More than family members or friends who have a similar knowledge base and socio-economic upbringing, this study biggest discovery was that neighbors can introduce new ideas and help you maintain good environmental habits. All the conclusions that came from this study include:

• Socializing with neighbors is positively linked to a set of environmental behaviors, namely, buying chemical-free fruits and vegetables, using less water, consuming less household energy, and driving less

• Generalized trust in others is positively linked to a willingness to make personal sacrifices for the environment through green taxes, higher prices and standard of living reductions

• Hours watching TV was negatively associated with a willingness to make standard of living reductions for the benefit of the environment.

• Religious attendance significantly was positively linked to the likelihood that respondents would be willing pay higher taxes and higher prices for the benefit of the natural environment



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