Category Archives: Nature conservation

Wildlife in Protected Areas Compared to Non-Protected Areas of Kenya It has become virtually axiomatic that as climate shifts or other potential insults to the ecology of a given area occur, plants and animals enclosed in parks bounded by “impermeable” landscapes are at great risk. Instead of the extreme ranges of a plant or animal moving north or south, or across a gradient of rainfall, or up or down in elevation, organisms that are protected in parks are also stuck in the parks and risk local extinction when change happens or disease becomes endemic, or poaching uncontrolled or fire more common or …. well, we can go on and on.

In a new study on “The Status of Wildlife in Protected Areas Compared to Non-Protected Areas of Kenya,”, the famous Kenyan wildlife ecologist David Western has demonstrated the severity of this problem in that East African nation.

From the abstract:
Continue reading Wildlife in Protected Areas Compared to Non-Protected Areas of Kenya

Life in Biosphere 2

Several years ago, I was at a going away party for Bruno. Bruno was a hard core scientist who was being brought into the Biosphere project down in Arizona to get it straightened out after a long period of bad press.

One of the folks at the party was an archaeology graduate student, Ben, who had a very dry sense of humor. As Ben was leaving that evening, he turned to Bruno to wish him well.

“Bruno, see you around! And good luck with the terrarium!”


Sorry, that’s my only Biosphere story. Here’s a Ted Talk on it:

Continue reading Life in Biosphere 2

Finding Coral


The Finding Coral expedition set sail June 8th in search of deep sea corals on in Hecate Strait and the Queen Charlotte Basin. Two Deep Worker manned submarines will be piloted by our blue ribbon science team, traveling to depths up to 500 metres to document evidence of corals, associated species, and damage from human impacts.

The Finding Coral Expedition is the first of its kind in B.C.: an expedition specifically designed to study deep water corals and document threats to their well being.

Day 10 video:

Day 12 video:

The Finding Coral Website is Here

Important and cool nature and conservation news.

You really must give up seafood from the ocean. Or at least, there is an argument that says this, and you can read it here.

Wolverines. I once saw a wolverine in a state that was known to not have wolverines anymore. That was a long time ago and I think they are recognized as having returned to those forests. Now, we have wolverines in Colorado for the first time since 1919. I am shocked and amazed that wolverines had been extirpated from Colorado.

All ivory is bad. Antique, modern, you name it. If you buy ivory, you are poaching an African Elephant. I assume you knew this already, but here is a recent story on a related issue.

Is it true that “Sustainability will not come without reductions in consumption”?

Or, putting it another way,

“Why does our energy system face security and environmental challenges?”

Please visit ScienceBlog’s new blog, The Energy Grid, which is one of those shorter term issue-driven blogs we do at Sb nwo and then.

This particular iteration is moderated by Jonas Meckling, from the Belfer Center, and hosted by James Hrynyshyn, who I got to know a bit at the conference last winter, and Coby Beck, both of Scienceblogs Dot Com, and a few other rather impressive looking people.

So, please go and help them save the world. Seriously. Let’s get a great discussion going here.

Long awaited Hudson River dredging starts soon

Costly Superfund dredging set for Hudson River

(AP) — People look funny at David Mathis when he takes a dip off his dock in the Hudson River. Health officials have long warned people not to eat fish caught from this slow-flowing stretch south of the Adirondacks and swimming here is unthinkable to many.

I worked for a year or so in an early 19th century “gas house” (where gas was made from coal) that was situated in a back yard of a home on the Hudson River. The elder gentleman who lived in that house, the father of the man who owned the land and rented us the gas house (which we used as a lab) fished for stripers off his porch every day, and often caught them. He ate all the stripers he caught.

These fish were living on the PCB sediments from the Waterford GE PCB plant (where I later worked on the RKO device which would be used to destroy the PCBs). Once I asked the man if he thought it was safe to eat the fish, and he yelled at me for a long time about how stupid the whole environmental movement was and how the hippies should just keep to themselves.

Within six months of that conversation he was dead of several forms of cancer that kinda all rushed in there at once.

Saying “I told you so” is not always fun.

Right Good News for Whale

Nice going, mom! Right whales break birth record

(AP) — Right whales have plenty to celebrate this Mother’s Day – the sea moms gave birth to a record 39 calves this spring.

Considering that there are only a few hundred of these whales left, this is good news. The “right whales” were originally called that because back in the old days when our oil supply came mainly from fellow mammals, they were identified as the “right whale” to hunt down and kill for the oil. The term “Right Whale” refers to several different species, but the one being discussed here is the North Atlantic right whale, Eubalaena glacialis

Earth Day!

I remember my first Earth Day, which was also The first Earth Day. There was a big lead up to it. Our teachers had us make poster size drawings appropriate for Earth Day. I have no recollection of what I did. But, I do remember putting an air quality measuring device in my back yard and turning it in at the firehouse and getting the building next door busted for burning bad heating oil. I was also armed that summer with a plastic card that I could use to measure smoke quality. I’d wear the card around my neck and go around the city, and whenever I saw a smoke stack belching smoke I’d hold the card up and estimate the percentage of particulate matter using the card. Then I’d get the address of the smoke stack and fill out a report and turn it in somewhere.

I think that was the same year that the Albany Billiard Ball Factory burned down and exploded multiple times, spewing more toxic crap into the air than the entire city had been spewing all year. Which tells us something: Don’t let your freakin’ factory blow up, man!

Anyway, as a kid, I was already into the environment owing to the influences of Rachel Carson and, more locally, Robert Rienow, but Earth Day certainly increased my interest and involvement. I started a club, called the Nature Conservation Club, or the NCC, and made all my friends and family join it. I even got Pete Segeer to join!!! And I wrote letters and continued turning in smoky factories and carrying out interventions (regarding littering behavior).

I think that is the main function of Earth Day: To be a focal point to garner effort and resources in the educational setting to bring kids on board with, well, saving the Earth. Earth day helped make conservation a basic issue simply by getting the kids involved so that as they grew up they thought differently about conservation than many of their parents had.

Earth Day: It worked!

(Check out Seed’s cool slide show)

Over Fishing and the War on Science

Blogfish has an interesting writeup on what they call “New England’s War on Science” ( might think of it as “Coastal New England’s War on Science”)

Fishing interests in New England have convinced politicians to launch a new war on science and common sense. They want to keep catching fish faster than they can reproduce.

New England’s war on science might be dismissed as simple regional protectionism if it didn’t include Senators Kennedy, Kerry, Snowe, Collins, Reed, Whitehouse and Shaheen. That’s not just a few fishermen throwing elbows. Or is it?

Which is, of course, a mix of Democratic and Republican politicians.

This war has been going on since Sixteen Oh Something when Samuele de Champlain watched his men pulling pulling ‘countless cod sufficient such ye can walk across their backs to reech thine distant shore’ or words to that effect and his first mate and ship’s surgeon started arguing over whether cod reproduced naturally or were placed there by divine intervention as were humans.

OK, I’m joking about the exact details of Champlain’s observation, but it is true that back in the day you could not swing a dead catfish without hitting a shoal of cod on the New England coast, and today there are almost none. The sea has been scoured almost clean in this region. And, most disturbing, we have good Democrats with their own war on science.

Go to Blogfish’s links and poke around with the links.