Spring Pools

Georg Flegel (1566 Olomuc-23 March 1638 Frankfurt-am-Main)

 


Spring Pools

These pools that, though in forests, still reflect
The total sky almost without defect,
And like the flowers beside them, chill and shiver,
Will like the flowers beside them soon be gone,
And yet not out by any brook or river,
But up by roots to bring dark foliage on.

The trees that have it in their pent-up buds
To darken nature and be summer woods –
Let them think twice before they use their powers
To blot out and drink up and sweep away
These flowery waters and these watery flowers
From snow that melted only yesterday.


Robert Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)

 

In the Wilderness

Bosch_-_Saint_John_the_Baptist_in_the_Desert_Jheronimus van Aken  (c. 1450 – 9 August 1516)


Species across land, rivers, and seas decimated as humans kill for food in unsustainable numbers and destroy habitats


The number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years, according to a new analysis.

Creatures across land, rivers, and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats, the research by scientists at World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London found.

“If half the animals died in London zoo next week it would be front page news,” said Professor Ken Norris, ZSL’s director of science. “But that is happening in the great outdoors.
This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live.” He said nature, which provides food and clean water and air, was essential for human wellbeing.

“We have lost one half of the animal population and knowing this is driven by human consumption, this is clearly a call to arms and we must act now,” said Mike Barratt, director of science and policy at WWF.
He said more of the Earth must be protected from development and deforestation, while food and energy had to be produced sustainably.

The number of animals living on the land has fallen by 40% since 1970.
From forest elephants in central Africa, where poaching rates now exceed birth rates, to the Hoolock gibbon in Bangladesh and European snakes like the meadow and asp vipers, destruction of habitat has seen populations tumble.

Marine animal populations have also fallen by 40% overall, with turtles suffering in particular.
Hunting, the destruction of nesting grounds and getting drowned in fishing nets have seen turtle numbers fall by 80%.

A second index in the new Living Planet report calculates humanity’s “ecological footprint”, ie the scale at which it is using up natural resources.

Currently, the global population is cutting down trees faster than they regrow,
catching fish faster than the oceans can restock,
pumping water from rivers and aquifers faster than rainfall can replenish them,
and emitting more climate-warming carbon dioxide than oceans and forests can absorb.

The report concludes that today’s average global rate of consumption would need 1.5 planet Earths to sustain it.
But four planets would be required to sustain US levels of consumption, or 2.5 Earths to match UK consumption levels.

The fastest decline among the animal populations were found in freshwater ecosystems, where numbers have plummeted by 75% since 1970.
“Rivers are the bottom of the system,” said Dave Tickner, WWF’s chief freshwater adviser. “Whatever happens on the land, it all ends up in the rivers.” For example, he said, tens of billions of tonnes of effluent are dumped in the Ganges in India every year.

As well as pollution, dams and the increasing abstraction of water damage freshwater systems. There are more than 45,000 major dams – 15m or higher – around the world.
“These slice rivers up into a thousand pieces,” Tickner said, preventing the healthy flow of water.
While population has risen fourfold in the last century, water use has gone up sevenfold. “We are living thirstier and thirstier lives,” he said.


http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/29/earth-lost-50-wildlife-in-40-years-wwf

Trees Cry Out

Carl Blechen (July 29, 1798 – July 23, 1840), When drought hits, trees suffer—a process that makes sounds.
Scientists have known for decades that microphones can pick up the sounds that trees make.
Now, scientists may have found the key to understanding these particular cries for help.
In the lab, a team of French scientists has captured the ultrasonic noise made by bubbles forming inside water-stressed trees.
Because trees also make noises that aren’t related to drought impacts, scientists hadn’t before been able to discern which sounds were most worrisome.

The findings could lead to the design of a handheld device that allows people to diagnose stressed trees using only microphones.
Such a device may be particularly important as droughts become more common and more severe.

Across western North America, from Mexico to Alaska, forest die-off is occurring on an extraordinary scale, unprecedented in at least the last century-and-a-half — and perhaps much longer. All told, the Rocky Mountains in Canada and the United States have seen nearly 70,000 square miles of forest — an area the size of Washington state — die since 2000.

In 2005 Colorado researchers noticed that aspens were suddenly dying in large numbers. The die-off is called Sudden Aspen Death, or SAD.
It’s growing at an exponential rate – and killing not only mature trees, but the root mass as well.
An aspen grove is the offspring of a large single underground clonal mass, which sends up shoots.  “The whole organism is disappearing and it has profound implications,” said Wayne Shepperd, of the Forest Service. “When the roots die, groves that are hundreds or thousands of years old aren’t going to be there anymore.”

A study published in Nature last fall suggested that trees in many places—from tropical rain forests in South America to arid woodlands in the U.S. West—already “live on the edge,” meaning their cavitation rate is almost as high as they can sustain.
Sizeable areas of forest in Australia, Russia, France, and other countries have experienced die-offs, most of which appears to have been caused by drought, high temperatures, or both.

Shifts in rainfall patterns and increasing temperatures associated with climate change are likely to cause widespread forest decline in regions where droughts are predicted to increase in duration and severity
.

http://bajandreamer.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/rains-no-cure/

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v491/n7426/full/nature11688.html

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/whats_killing_the_great_forests_of_the_american_west/2252/

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/04/130415-trees-drought-water-science-global-warming-sounds/