WHAT HAVE WE DONE

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/06/starved-polar-bear-record-sea-ice-melt

Fragile Legacy

Portuguese Man-O'-War, Watercolor illustrations after John White, 1585-1593

Portuguese Man-O’-War, Watercolor illustrations after John White, 1585-1593

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/07/science/blaschka-glass-menagerie-inspires-marine-expedition.html?_r=0

MAUNA LANI REEF, Hawaii — After a long, cold swim in the dark, we spotted it on the night reef with our dive lights: Octopus ornatus, the ornate octopus, a foot-long creature in an amber shade of orange with bright white spots and dashes along all its arms.

It sat stolidly in the light of the camera, 30 feet below the surface, unfazed by the attention. I reached out a finger and it touched me with its suctioned tentacles. When it scuttled in the other direction, I herded it between my cupped hands as it watched me attentively with searching golden eyes.

As if levitating, it smoothly lifted off and tried to jet over my head, but slowly enough that I could catch it gently in midair — like handling a large bird, albeit one with eight sticky tentacles. Holding it at eye level, I looked into its eyes. I felt connected, sort of an octopus whisperer.

Then a tentacle slapped the front of my mask. The octopus crawled up my arm and vanished into the night.

. . . We are on a quest to lure these elusive and delicate invertebrates in front of the camera lens.

Our inspiration springs from an unlikely source: a collection of 570 superbly wrought, anatomically perfect glass sculptures of marine creatures from the 19th century.

These delicate folds and strands of glass make up the Blaschka collection of glass invertebrates at Cornell

. . . Our quest is also to use the Blaschka collection as a time capsule, to take a snapshot of change.
How many of these creatures that were so common 150 years ago can still be found today?

The oceans are changing rapidly, with a 30 percent increase in acidity in the last 200 years, lethally stressful warming in many tropical seas, and significant coastal pollution and overfishing just about everywhere. If ever there was a time to compare the plentiful past with an ocean in jeopardy, that time would be now.


C. Drew Harvell is the associate director for environment at the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell, and curator of the Cornell Collection of Blaschka Invertebrate Models.

http://opiniontoday.com/2013/05/06/a-glass-ocean/

Du Bon Usage Des Arbres

lindenLinden Tree On A Bastion
Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528)

 

 

Frédéric Joignot, The Guardian

“Man is senescent, that is to say is programmed to die, but a plane tree is not,” says French botanist Francis Hallé. After its leaves have fallen, life begins again in the spring and the tree recovers its youthful genomes. If it is not subjected to accidents, diseases or humans, the plane tree could live for centuries.
The botanist knows of a 2,000-year-old olive tree in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on the Côte d’Azur

Humans, with a mere 2 square metres of skin, underestimate the surface area of a tree. To calculate that you need to measure both sides of each leaf, add the surface of the trunk, the branches and boughs, the perennial and feeder roots and the absorbent root hairs, not forgetting the bark pockets. A 15-metre tree in leaf would cover a total area of 200 hectares, which is the size of Monaco. A tree doubles its weight when wet, and its entire surface breathes and allows us to breathe.

Hallé believes that arboreal photosynthesis is our best ally in the fight against global warming. Buffon’s plane tree, like all trees, absorbs quantities of carbon dioxide, responsible for greenhouse gases, and between 20% and 50% of matter produced by the tree, including wood, roots, leaves and fruit, is composed of CO2. When trees breathe they clean the atmosphere and retain CO2 and urban pollutants such as heavy metals, lead, manganese, industrial soot and nitrous oxide. These are stored in the wood. That is why we should refrain as much as possible from cutting down old trees. The older they are, the better they control pollutants.

At the same time, trees release oxygen that allows us to live. An adult human consumes about 700g of O2 per day, or 255kg per year. In that time, an average tree produces 15kg to 30kg, so about 10 trees are required to provide oxygen for one person. Trees also humidify and cool the atmosphere by evaporation and transpiration. A wooded area of 50 square metres brings the temperature down by 3.5C and increases the humidity by 50%. Leaf movement, especially in conifers, releases negative ions that are supposed to have beneficial effects on health and mood.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jan/03/trees-allies-against-climate-change

The Hidden Moon

hidden moon LBH

In articles for Yale Environment 360, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert reported on a study that found that the pace of global warming is outstripping projections, and on the possibility that scientists will designate a new geological epoch to reflect the changes that humans have caused.