Daily Archives: June 15, 2008

Summer Reading

It utterly shocks me every time I make a reference to plastic alligators, Macy’s bags with poisonous snakes in them, a guy named Skink or my favorite Bass Lure …. the Double Whammy …. and people look back at me with blank stares. Like, don’t you get it? “To be or not to be” jokes or allusions to Sherlock Holmes are always understood. Or at least, people pretend to get them. But does no one read contemporary literature?i-063766bd3ece4fb038e4ba54e03ffd38-tourist_season.jpg Continue reading Summer Reading

Sacromento Woo Death?

Medical woo is not restricted to Minnesota. They even have it in California.

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. – A 76-year-old man operating an unlicensed chiropractic clinic out of his Oak Park, Calif., garage is suspected of killing one of his patients with a neck manipulation, according to Sacramento police.Antonio Arellano, whose only training was a massage class he took in the 1940s, was booked into the Sacramento County jail Friday on suspicion of murder, authorities said.According to police, Jose Lopez, 64, and his wife went to Arellano’s home on Washington Avenue on Tuesday. Lopez went to see Arellano for help with pain in his extremities, police said.During the treatment, Arellano adjusted the victim’s neck, …Two days later, he was declared brain dead.

Details here. Chiropractry is not my area of expertise, but the last couple/few experiences I’ve known of have lead me to estimate Chiropractry as more woo-ish than real. Even so, I do hope that Antonio is not typical. (Or is he???)

Nature Conservation News

On Sale in Madagascar: Carboni-caefbbb646c3239a71e76136a9a92c2b-wood-PC-1.jpg

This time, the forest product for sale is 100 percent sustainable and guaranteed to return on the investment. The product is carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that healthy forests can store in vast reserves and prevent from being released into the atmosphere. Put simply, protecting an intact forest keeps its store of carbon from heating the planet.In a landmark agreement, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the government of Madagascar announced the sale of more than nine million tons of carbon offsets to help safeguard this African nation’s wildlife-rich Makira Forest. Proceeds from sales will also contribute to the economic wellbeing of people living around Makira and help fight global climate change.The carbon offsets will be marketed and sold by the Madagascar government in private transactions with the aid of the Makira Carbon Company (MCC) established by WCS. MCC will work in collaboration with Madagascar’s Ministry of Environment, Water, Forests, and Tourism. Sales will target principals, brokers, dealers, and other intermediaries in the U.S. and abroad who wish to purchase high-quality emissions reductions delivering multiple benefits to both the environment and economy.

Saving the world’s most threatened birds…i-79bde2734ae87f061395d43a460ac2ea-2.jpg

What’s the best way to save a species? Should we target conservation at individual sites, or perhaps use a much broader approach – taking action at the landscape or seascape scale? For 99% of Globally Threatened Birds, safeguarding Important Bird Areas (IBAs) is a key part of the solution.Questions of scale for conservation programmes are the subject of a paper by scientists from BirdLife International and Conservation International published in the inaugural issue of Conservation Letters. The study identified the most appropriate spatial scale of conservation efforts for 4,239 species of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles on the IUCN Red List.Experts classified each species into one of four conservation strategies. The results were stark. “For 79% of threatened bird species, the highest priority conservation action in the immediate future is to provide effective safeguarding of individual IBAs or networks of IBAs” said Dr Stuart Butchart, BirdLife’s Global Research Coordinator and a co-author on the paper.

Vote for Ecotourism in Gaboni-6fec5edb5af0f471cfc41fc2279448e9-3.jpg

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Gabon Ecotourism Project has been chosen as a finalist in National Geographic and Ashoka’s Changemakers Geotourism Challenge Competition. The Geotourism Challenge is a global search for innovations in tourism that sustain, enhance, and preserve local culture and place. A prestigious panel of judges selected WCS and 14 others among the 323 entries from 84 countries as finalists.

Teshekpuk Goes to the Birdsi-1cb59d2727ca097c1890bb6a47a25038-4.jpg

As global energy demand soars, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) took an important step recently to protect the heart of western Alaska’s Arctic coastal plain from commercial exploration. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) applauds the decision to grant permanent protection to the Teshekpuk region, a key nesting site for migratory birds and other wildlife in the Arctic.Teshekpuk Lake is part of National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A). Encompassing 23 million acres, it is considered the largest single piece of undisturbed public land in the United States.”This represents a significant conservation victory for Arctic wildlife and demonstrates that there is room for both protection of key areas and for responsible energy development in the Arctic coastal plain rich in natural resources,” said Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, WCS President and CEO.

Resident waders disappearing down-underi-d83c2dd2cab7876afe6981ebdace38d0-5.jpg

A recent study of Australia’s wetlands has revealed that 81% of resident wading birds have disappeared in just quarter of a century throughout the mostly inland habitats of eastern Australia. The paper, published in Biological Conservation, reported that agricultural extraction and inadequate water allocation may have caused the steep declines.Scientists from the University of New South Wales undertook aerial surveys of wetlands in eastern Australia between 1983 and 2006. During the monitoring period all resident wading birds declined.The steepest drop was observed in Banded Lapwing Vanellus tricolor whose population plummeted by 98%. Further significant falls were detected in Red-necked Avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae (-85%), Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus (-80%), and Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles (-69%). Because resident birds don’t leave the country – unlike their migratory counter-parts – the researchers concluded that the declines were causes by changes within Australia.Wetlands in arid Australia do not hold water every year. With many bird species relying upon wetland habitats for their food, the frequency of flooding is crucially important for their survival. Deluges of flood water – the life blood for breeding shorebirds – have been tamed by dams, levee banks and agricultural extraction. The researchers reported that wetland area declined at 40% of the most important sites. Floods are becoming increasingly rare.

Champion for Wild Tanzaniai-4c1cdbc381c9b22a44436429dcbfa9c2-6.jpg

Dr. Tim Davenport of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Africa program has been named the recipient of the prestigious 2008 Parker/Gentry Award for Conservation Biology by the Field Museum in Chicago.The Field Museum is recognizing Dr. Davenport for his “outstanding achievements in conserving the unique biota of the southern highlands of Tanzania and other endangered habitats of eastern Africa.” Davenport collaborated with Tanzanian biologists and local community members to protect threatened wildlife and plants in Mt. Rungwe and surrounding montane forests. His work has been instrumental in the establishment of Kitulo National Park in Tanzania. In 2005, Davenport and his colleagues discovered the Kipunji, the first new genus of monkey found in more than 80 years.

BirdLife welcomes FAO report on bioenergyi-6ff3bbe2a7f1ef919b2ef7402026a380-7.jpg

BirdLife International has welcomed the launch of a report that highlights the increasing international recognition that while growth in bioenergy offers new opportunities for sustainable development, it also carries significant environmental risks.The launch took place at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) conference on World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy in Rome, Italy. Entitled Bioenergy, food security and sustainability, the report cautions that with the use of current technologies and set policies, the growth in liquid biofuels is contributing to negative impacts on the environment and food security and is leading to an increase in world food prices.While governments, the private sector and civil society can take important measures to promote sustainable production of bioenergy, many challenges are global in nature and cannot be tackled without a concerted international response. The report suggests that “an international approach is needed to address the full spectrum of bioenergy applications including, most urgently, liquid biofuels for transport”.

Amboseli Lions May Go Extinct

i-2fdeccc605f17c96115dee1aede60def-lion.jpgBy African standards, Kenya’s Amboseli itself is small, but it is part of two or more large scale systems that extend far beyond its boundaries. One is the Serengeti Ecosystem, which extends far to the south in Tanzania. The other is the Nilotic (mainly Maasai) Pastoralist cattle keeping culture. It is being reported that lions in Amboseli are in crisis because of conflict between these two systems.From a National Geographic Society press release: Continue reading Amboseli Lions May Go Extinct

Space Events

Jason-1 Will Make its 30,000th Orbiti-365fc70dd3bba485e5fc1316786a6d9f-jason-1-orbit2.jpg

The Jason-1 spacecraft will make its 30,000th science orbit this week. Revolution number 30,000 will begin at 10:27 UTC (3:27 a.m. PDT) on June 14th, 2008 and will be completed at 12:19 UTC (5:19 a.m. PDT). From its vantage point 1,336 kilometers (830 miles) above Earth, Jason-1 uses its radar altimeter to precisely measure the topography of the ocean surface.Jason-1 was launched December 7, 2001, as the follow-on to Topex/Poseidon, which successfully collected science data from 1992 to 2005. Both missions are a partnership between NASA and the French space agency, CNES. Covering 95% of Earth’s ice-free ocean every 10 days, Jason-1 continues the critical data record of ocean surface topography, increasing our understanding of ocean circulation and the oceans’ role in climate. ….

Read the rest here. International Mission Studying Sun to Concludei-736c9e185dea3d909e4538a93482cf4f-ulysses-20080222-browse.jpg

After more than 17 years of pioneering solar science, a joint NASA and European Space Agency mission to study the sun will end on or about July 1.The Ulysses spacecraft has endured for almost four times its expected lifespan. However, the spacecraft will cease operations because of a decline in power produced by its onboard generators. Ulysses has forever changed the way scientists view the sun and its effect on the surrounding space. Mission results and the science legacy it leaves behind were reviewed today at a media briefing at European Space Agency Headquarters in Paris.

More here.