We propose a Wildlife Conservation Stamp, comparable to the well-known Duck Stamp, to support the acquisition of habitat and the conservation of all wildlife in the National Wildlife Refuge system with an emphasis on non-game species. A Wildlife Conservation Stamp would allow birders, photographers, hikers, and other people who enjoy wildlife in a non-consumptive way to financially show their support of the National Wildlife Refuge system.
Bird watchers are numerous. Duck hunters are required to buy duck stamps before they hunt ducks, but lots of people, including birders and such, buy the stamps because they are pretty and they support habitat conservation. But more birds and conservation oriented people would buy something like a duck stamp but not a duck stamp if it was offered, thus more funds for conservation.
I imagine that the art on a Wildlife conservation Stamp would also be interesting. There would be loons. Trees. Frogs. Other non-duck things. Break the hegemony of the duck! So if you are a wildlife artist you should really want this.
In Minnesota’s Lakes Country, what we sometimes call “Up North,” the people have various degrees of knowledge of the land and its wildlife. Cabin people and campers visit briefly and may learn in detail the workings of a particular lake or patch of forest, but are usually poorly informed of the true nature of the landscape. People with “lake homes” (seasonally used cabins on steroids owned by people who live elsewhere) may spend more time in Lakes Country but actually know less about it than campers might because having central heating and air conditioning, a paved driveway, and big-ass SUV tends to isolate one from Nature’s tooth and claw, as it were, even if one spends more time than others in proximity to the wild lands. People who live year round in Lakes Country would be expected to have the best understanding of the landscape on which they live, but knowledge does not really seep into one’s brain from mere propinquity (well, sure, maybe a little) and as skeptics we know that many people over-estimate the value and extent of their own knowledge and understanding that comes from categorical association and undervalue the importance of purposeful learning and research. Continue reading Why Minnesota Can't Have Nice Things→
There are several things that cause extinction, but ultimately it is always the same: The last individual (or small number of individuals) of a species die. That may sound like a trivial explanation for extinction but consider what happens when you work backwards from that tragic moment in time. Well, you have more individuals in a population that was once much larger but was reduced in size somehow, which then dwindled to the last few, the last one, then zero. But how did that small population go from hundreds to a few then to zero? Most likely for no particular reason other than this: The number of individuals in a population can be made to vary in roughly absolute terms, as well as relative terms. Say there is a population of a rare rabbit, Bugs bunnii living in a region the size of Yellowstone National Park. If you introduce 1,000 coyotes to this area, they will eat rabbits indiscriminately, all species, and along the way they may consume almost all of the B. bunnii leaving maybe three or four. Then, those wemaining wabbits die off because they are all males, or for some other totally dumb and tragic reason. Continue reading Extinction rates have NOT been over-estimated→
The Saba Bank is a major coral reef in the Caribbean which sports a high level of biodiversity but also attracts oil tankers, and is thus an important natural area under threat. The tankers anchor here to avoid paying fees in various ports, but the anchors themselves drag along the reef and cause havoc.
There is now an effort to have the Saba Bank designated as an internationally recognized sensitive area, but one thing standing it the way of this effort is a lack of scientific knowledge of the region.
In the US, political parties have what is called a “platform” which is a list of assertions … “we want this” and “we want that” sort of assertions. The “platform” is made up, quaintly, of “planks” with each plank being about one issue. Like for my local Democratic Farm Labor party unit, one of our Planks is to get the damn road fixed over at Devil’s Triangle, a particularly bad intersection down on Route 169. That’s a local plank, but if we go to a party event, and a gubernatorial candidate is answering questions, she or he is expected to know what the heck is being talked about if someone brings up “Devil’s Triangle.”
The flames were so hot that we could feel it on our faces over 300 feet away as we stood near the corner of Delaware and Whitehall avenues. At first we gawked at the burning factory from about 100 feet away, but a large explosion caused us all to turn and run. But not too far. While watching from some 200 feet away, the police came by and pushed us back to the 300 foot mark just before several explosions in a row came along. The stuff that came down on us out of the sky was cooled enough to not burn, and some of the bits were recognizable as small fragments of colored billiard balls.
The first Earth Day was a red letter day in the long, hard struggle to make being good to the environment … to the Earth … normal instead of a fringe idea held only by quirky college professors and stoned-out hippies. This year, the first significant health care insurance reform bill was passed and it will be a red letter event in a long, hard struggle to make universal quality heath coverage and care normal instead a fringe idea held only by Kenyan born socialist Negros from Chicago. Or whatever the teabaggers are calling it now. So today, at the beginning of a true change in how we do things, we can look back and reflect on another, similar (yet different) change in the way we do things. Continue reading Earth Day has special significance this year→