11.29.11 News by Nature
_ No doubt there are many in this country who don’t have as much to be thankful for as these folks. Then again, many do. Certainly, we all can be thankful for living in such interesting times. So far, this century beats heck out of the 50 years before it. Increasingly, the old rules no longer apply, even as those who promulgated those rules fight tooth and nail to make sure they do. That said, some of those rules do apply and always will and it’s up to this generation to sort through them. To help illustrate the notion of national deliberation in this week’s issue, NBN needed to look no further than our own holiday dinner, not pictured here. (We have no idea who these folks are, just as they likely have no idea they have become the generic holiday dinner “Google Image.”) This Thanksgiving NBN had a free-range, antibiotic-free fresh turkey served with candied yams out of a BPA-laced, plastic-lined metal can. Stovetop stuffing shared the table with pecan pie hand-made by the neighborhood market. There were Green Giant broccoli spears and home-made cranberry relish. To drive the point home: the gray was half Campbells, half handmade. And it was all superb. Toward that end, we have a few short articles this week—sorry nothing over 300-words—that show NBN’s appreciation of a country in the middle of making up its mind. We’re thankful this week for food mega-corp Cargill, we’re also thankful for the end of an era, we hope, in that most traditional of seaports: Gloucester, MA. We belabor, briefly, who is to blame for the country’s indecisiveness—readers and voters. Then we discuss a press release on anti-recycling efforts by a company we’ve trashed before. You might be thankful these articles are so short, we’re thankful for you taking the time to read them at all. Nov. 2011 was NBN’s best month yet. Have a great week folks and thank you, again, for reading NBN.
11.22.11 IN NBN
_ In News by Nature this week we have “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Smart Grid” in Alternative Energy News and in Global Warming News we have “Everything You Want to Know About Hydrofracking: But Were Too Disinterested to Ask.”
_ A trashcan may not seem cover-worth of any publication, but as you can see this is no ordinary trash can. This trash can is an illustration, literal and visual, of the little changes revolutionizing how this country does things. This solar powered trash compactor/can is one of hundreds throughout Boston and increasingly other cities. By placing a photovoltaic panel and a battery in a trash compactor, these cities have reduced pick-ups at these public receptacles by more than two-thirds. On the way down to see this trash can, and a few other city holiday attractions this past weekend, NBN staffers passed three wind turbines that have been erected in just the past two years. These turbines are probably producing power enough to light up 50 or 60 homes on windy days. In the city we saw brand new, self-serve bike rental stands in some half-dozen locations. All these images suggest the country's SUV mentality is finally yielding to common sense. Yet, this country saw similar greening in the early 1970s before the oil industry declared all-out war on conservation and efficiency, with the auto, advertising, finance and retail industries going along for the ride. Is that what we’re seeing again in this country? Are the windmills, public trash compactors and rental bikes another fad on the verge of being beat back by the same specials interest bent on clearing a profit at all costs to the public and planet? Or are these images above the precursors of a revolution in this country’s energy extraction and consumption which provides profit and protects our future? In search of an answer this week we have “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Smart Grid” in Alternative Energy News and in Global Warming News we have “Everything You Want to Know About Hydrofracking But Were Too Disinterested to Ask”. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading NBN.
_11.15.11 IN NBN
_In News by Nature this week: Recycling News offers an explanation for New York City’s abysmal recycling record and Popular Wisdom looks at the Third-World’s trash-pickers and similar career opportunities in this country.
_ On Saturday NBN staff spent five hours on line waiting for a chance to audition for the reality TV show “Amazing Race.” You can argue the only amazing thing about this anything-but-a-race pictured here is it illustrates like few other photos we could round up what people are willing to waste. In this case, a beautiful, sunny fall Saturday for a one-minute, one-in-10,000 shot at competing for $1 million while allowing an audience of 10 million viewers to sit in judgment of your judgment, maturity and decision-making abilities. As you can see in the photo, NBN was far from alone. At its longest, this line wrapped completely around this furniture store with about 100 feet of overlap. That’s .31 miles. (Thanks Google Earth) Estimating about one person per foot, that’s around 1,600 people. Times five hours each—some folks waited since midnight—that’s 8,000 manhours spent standing in a line. That line could have built about 10 small homes in the time it spent doing absolutely nothing. There’s no telling how much trash could have been turned into valuable raw materials in the same amount of time. That’s what this issue of NBN is devoted to: the value of trash and time and the surplus of both in this country these days. In Recycling News we offer an explanation for New York’s City’s abysmal recycle record: it’s got something to do with Goodfellas. Then, in Popular Wisdom we look at the Third World's Zabaleen and the career opportunities in recycling in this country. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading NBN.
_11.08.11 IN NBN
_ News by Nature this week: In Opinion News we suggest that to save the planet socialism and capitalism both best be taken in moderation. In School News we attempt to explain an MIT invention that sees through walls, big thick concrete walls.
Picture Perhaps Dylan Should have Written: The Tides They Are A-Changing
_ Anyone spending any time with the New York Times this Saturday knows, the times they are a-changing. Not like Bob Dylan bawled about in the 1960s. That was small potatoes. Let’s start with the wild turkeys invading Staten Island on pg. A14. Then on pg. A9 the paper has ranchers and environmentalists working together to protect the former’s cattle and the latter’s grey wolves. Then we have back-to-back stories out of Texas which certainly paint an interesting picture about that state’s resistance to change in a world that’s changing. There’s the pg. A12 piece about the Mason, TX, instructor refusing to teach Muslims, liberals and Obama voters the finer points of concealing handguns. Then we have the pg. A13 article about the Oilfield Christian Fellowship preacher getting the Word of God out to those non-believers of the Gospel of Global Warming. Now, you can argue that’s just another Saturday in the insane asylum called life. We argue this week that these articles are the harbingers of much bigger changes to the fabric of this country which NBN writes about in Opinion News this week. Then in School News we have something short on MIT getting a leg-up on Superman’s x-ray vision. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading NBN.
11.01.11 IN NBN
In Commercial Fishing News this week: anger over job losses from a policy we argue was secretly designed to lose jobs. In Opinion News we ask readers the question we didn’t get to ask Massachusetts State Rep. John Tierney—a big fan of the bottom fishing fleet. In Endangered News we talk about the possible contribution scallop dredging may have had on the disappearance of the East Coast’s eel grass.
NBN’s consistent criticism of the bottom trawling industry means we probably don’t have many fishing buddies in this business. So in this issue we just come right out and say it: trawling in all forms has got to be greatly reduced. If that happened some of the best tasting food in the ocean would become very scarce, as would a few thousand jobs and the billions dollars they generate for the U.S. But take a look at this video. We’ve posted it many times and we do so again to show how the nets these trawlers use rip up the ocean bottom. The ocean floor is home to plants, corals, shellfish, worms and young fish. Tearing it up like this year-in-and-year-out has got to come at a substantial cost to the overall health of the ocean ecosystems.
We might have gotten away with this destructive form of fishing 60 years ago, but with all the other ecological pressures being brought to bear on our marine ecosystems, it’s becoming increasingly clear we can no longer rely on this excessively destructive technique as our primary means of harvesting seafood. Draggers are working our waters from the Gulf of Alaska to the Gulf of Maine. Toward that end, in Commercial Fishing News this week we talk about anger over job losses from a policy called catch shares which we argue was secretly designed to lose jobs. In Opinion News we ask readers the question we didn’t get to ask Massachusetts State Rep. John Tierney—a big fan of the bottom fishing fleet. In Endangered News we talk about the possible contribution scallop dredging may have had on the disappearance of the East Coast’s eel grass. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading NBN.
10.25.11 IN NBN
News by Nature writes this week in Alternative Energy News on who wins and for how long in Pennsylvania's fracking debate. In Watershed News we ask if the nation's loss of wetlands is significant, alarming or horrific. Hint: You have to take this answer with a grain of salt.
It’s rare a nation’s dirty laundry is displayed the way it was in Boston, Massachusetts this past weekend. At left, the Occupy Boston movement saw a crowd gather in anticipation of the 6 pm Saturday appearance of famed linguist and socialist sympathizer Noam Chomsky. On the right we have Biff and the boys waiting to see how Harvard’s crew team will place in the Head of the Charles, the world's largest two-day and decidedly Ivy-League rowing event on the river by the same name. Talk about a culture clash in a country once-called a melting pot. For photographers the difference between these two crowds reached beyond the obvious disparity in their incomes. The folks on the left were happy to get in the picture, the folks on the right decidedly less so. However, both appeared to be enjoying themselves equally in what were clearly festive atmospheres on either side of Beantown on a beautiful fall New England weekend. From that NBN draws more hope than dismay in what will doubtlessly be viewed as one of the more divisive times in this country’s history. So, it’s with an eye toward reconciliation that we write this week in Alternative Energy News on Pennsylvanian haves and have-nots taking sides on the Key Stone State’s fracking debate and arcane laws dividing folks over solar power’s promise in the Peach State. In Watershed News salt trumps semantics in the latest wetlands loss report. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading NBN. Oh yeah, you might want to check out NBN’s Occupy Boston slideshow below. Sadly, Biff and the boys weren’t quite so cooperative. Why would that be?
10.18.11 IN NBN
In News by Nature this week we have the Great Northeast Salmon Run in Biodiversity News and we talk about the constitutionality of forcing power companies to buy alternative energy in Wind Power News.
There is great news partly involving this dam and the half-built device atop it that we wrote a briefly about last week. After speaking with folks from the National Fish and Wildlife Service this week the plot thickened. This is the Great Stone Dam in Lawrence Massachusetts. The device on top is called a crest gate: an inflatable bulkhead of sorts designed to keep flood waters from spilling over the top of the dam as is happening on the left where the crest gate had yet to be built at the time of this picture. That spillage confuses salmon, and other anadromous fish, keeping them from reaching a fish lift at the far end of the dam. The crest gate’s been finished and functioning for two years now and lo-and-behold, the Merrimack River salmon run hit a record high this year. Making the story even more interesting, baby salmon spend two years at sea before returning to rivers where they are born and spawn. The crest gate works. The salmon are back. Case closed, right? If only nature were that simple. We discuss why it isn’t in Biodiversity News this week. Then we have something short in Wind Power News about commercial and constitutional interests conflicting with the global good vis-a-vis global warming. As we point out, its a problem popping up a lot lately. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading NBN.
10.13.11 IN NBN
10.13 in News by Nature: will our wasteful ways of days gone by fare us well into the future? The answer’s in Good News this week.
This picture of a fleet of boats racing around the East End of New York’s Long Island this past weekend can be viewed two ways. First, the record warmth meant a great day to be out on the waters. On the other hand, we’re not supposed to have 80-degree temperatures in the second week of Oct. For that matter, NBN is going on record predicting October 2011 is going to among the warmest on record in the Northeast. Is this good news or bad news? We might ask the same question of what’s looking to be a great scallop season in these same waters this year. NBN took a little dive this past weekend and found the once scarce, always delectable Peconic Bay scallop is thriving on a bay bottom that looks more like a wet desert. Is the scallop thriving because there are no other species to compete with it, like starfish? Such questions leave little doubt that a changing world will bring good and bad with it. Toward that end we have a piece this week in Good News suggesting mankind’s incredible waste of natural resources over the past century may actually work in our favor as we start to plot a course through the next century. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading NBN.
10.4.11 IN NBN
In News by Nature this Week we ponder the fate of our forests in Global Warming News and we tell the Wall Street protestors what they are they protesting in the Opinion Page.
This is how the Smokey Mountains got their name: Mists hugging rolling hills carpeted with trees. However, this same picture about 100 years ago would have no trees. In the earliest years of this country pretty much every tree east of the Mississippi was cut down to make homes, furniture and room for farming. Those that weren’t cut down were killed by disease, like American chestnut blight. Today the forests of the Eastern U.S. are among the world’s healthiest, even though they are all secondary growth. Sadly, older forests elsewhere in the world are not doing as well. They are being ravaged by disease, drought, and marauding insects all of which are believed to have been unleashed by global warming. So what do these healthy eastern U.S. forests have that other forests don't? We look at that and other interesting questions raised in an excellent New York Times article we review this week in Global Warming News. Then we have a short Op-Ed in the Opinion Page telling all the Wall Street protesters what they are protesting. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading NBN.
09.27.11 IN NBN
News by Nature this week is all about fish and fishing. In Weird Science we ask: If dolphins could talk to humans, would they want to? In Today’s Catch we examine the significance of old growth ocean ecosystems through the lens of the recent Whitehouse decision to protect 123 jobs that destroy those ecosystems.
Never let it be said that NBN is above using blood and guts to make a point. This week that point is: Fishing is fun. Case in point, this 14.5 pound remnant of a Pollock caught 25 miles off the coast of New Hampshire in a place called Jeffrey’s Ledge this past summer. The fish fought like a shark right up to the point that it was bitten in half by a shark. As it was being reeled in, everyone on the boat crowded around knowing this was going to be the biggest fish of the day. The excitement alone was well worth the $88 it cost to get on that boat for a day’s worth of fishing. Add on the 25 pounds of prime cod, haddock, and pollock filet that was caught in addition to this half fish and the fact that you don’t have a boat to worry about once you hit the dock, and that $88 turned out to be a great investment. Yet, the boat was only half-full. It seems to NBN there’s an investment opportunity here. You can learn more about that opportunity this week in Today’s Catch. Then in Weird Science we look at millions being spent to see if porpoises, when given a chance, will strike up a conversation with humans. Given how much humans love fishing porpoises might think twice before doing that. Below we have our weekly dose of insights and slights inspired by the latest environmental and science news. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading NBN.
09.20.11 IN NBN
In News by Nature this week we argure all the bad environmental news out there is Good News. In Fishing News this week we offer a critique of cute commercials by the Koch Brothers of Commercial Fishing
NBN delved deep into politics in the last few issues because politics determines what happens in the environment. And what’s happening in politics suggests it’s 1982 all over again. Only it isn’t. In just 30 years the world has become a vastly different place, economically and ecologically. What’s frighteningly identical is the willful disregard of the environment in the search for economic remedies. When Pres. Ronald Reagan was sworn in, the U.S. was on its economic knees. What did Reagan do? He pulled freshly installed solar panels off the Whitehouse roof and started cozying up to Middle East oil producers. Now the US is on its economic knees again and the country is once again eyeing oil for its salvation. Ah, well. Since NBN doesn’t believe in going down fighting—we’d rather live to fight another day— we’re going to take the poistion of this fellow fishing from a buoy in the middle of New York’s Little Peconic Bay this week: things could be worse.. Toward that end we offer a piece in Good News suggesting there is something good all the bad environmental news out there. In Fishing News this week we offer a critique of cute commercials by the Koch Brother of Commercial Fishing, Legal Seafood. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading NBN.
09.13.11 IN NBN
News by Nature this week ponders prospects for environmental epiphanies in today’s political climate in Opinion News. In Popular Wisdom we weigh the pros and cons of civil discourse versus civil war in sending a unified message to a very divided Congress.
We here at NBN like to think we do more harm than good to the planet. We’re obsessive about recycling, we pick up beach trash that isn’t ours, we shun fertilizers and pesticides on our office landscaping and we write these environmental columns every few days in an attempt to offset guilt over our remaining indulgences that come at the expense of the environment. But at the end of the day, NBN still does much more harm than good to the planet. We use public water which, once befouled by our laundry soap, shampoo and occasional paintbrush clean-up water, is discharged into a near-by river via a near-by wastewater treatment plant. We drive a car, albeit rarely, that only gets 20 mpg. NBN’s offices have no solar panels or wind turbines powering them. And yet, despite all that we know that, ecologically speaking, we’re comparatively good green citizens. That’s bad. So we wrote this week's issue which explores what is green enough when it comes to really fixing the planet’s problems. We ponder prospects for environmental epiphanies in today’s political climate in Opinion News. In Popular Wisdom we weigh civil discourse versus civil war in sending a unified message to a very divided Congress. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading NBN.
09.06.2011 News by Nature This Week:
Born to Run or Born to Recline? In Weird Science
Born to Run or Born to Recline? In Weird Science
Shown here is an osprey’s nest in the town of Southold, NY, before and after Hurricane Irene. Hard to imagine, isn’t it, that a bird’s nest withstood the 65 mile-per-hour gusts better than so many trees and utility poles throughout the town? This nest is in the middle of an extended causeway. It's about as exposed to the weather as it could possibly be. It endured Irene for almost 18 hours. The photo above was taken at 2:30 pm Aug. 28 about 12 hours before Irene passed over Long Island. The photo at right shows the nest empty at 7:38 am the day after the storm. The image below was taken five hours after that. We seriously doubt the bird weathered the whole storm in this bowl of branches. In either case, this mini-photo essay makes clear that eons of evolution taught this bird to build a great nest. In the interest of full disclosure we should mention this platform was put up by conservation-minded people in southold. But the nest was built by birds guided by a few thousand-year-education incorporated into the animal's DNA by a process called evolution. It's the exact mechanisms of that process that we examine in Weird Science vis-a-vis the latest controversy to hit the world of evolutionary theory: Born to Run. NBN asks if some of us are born to run while others are born to sit in front of the computers. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading NBN.
09.06.2011 IN NBN
This week News by Nature has the disappointment of seasonal beach closures versus year-round jobs in Wastewater Woes and Wonders and in Opinion News we pick apart a well written, if poorly thought out piece suggesting a consumption-driven economy is the engine of innovation.
Welcome to the vibrant Joppa Flats of the Merrimack River in Newbury, MA. What’s that you say? This is just a picture of mud! Look a little closer. Those holes are occupied by the siphon tubes of big, fat New England Ipswich clams. This is the bivalve that birthed the concept of the fried clam. Unlike the deep-fried rubber bands Howard Johnsons introduced to the country in an ocean of tartar sauce in the 1960s, a properly breaded and fried Ipswich clam is a multi-textured entrée equivalent of the ice cream cone. And it has been around since long before Howard Johnsons got its HoJo working. What’s harder to see alongside the big holes here are the innumerable little holes which represent tiny Ipswich Clams. Also invisible are all the worms navigating between all these clams packed shell to shell 12 inches deep in the muddy sand. This photo makes clear that the Joppa Flats are teeming with life despite the millions of gallons of partially treated waste water from six sewage treatment plants, the nearest a few hundred yards upstream, that washes over them every day. Worse, each of those plants regularly overflows during really heavy rain, discharging untreated sewage into the river and eventually over these hapless clams which suck it in like Campbell’s Soup. Judging by all these clams, those plants and their pollution don't seem to be hurting the Joppa Flats. Yet, right now the EPA if forcing cash-strapped communities running those sewage treatment plants up-river to clean them at costs running deep into eight-figures. One more thing to consider: these clams are too toxic to eat. That’s the point of this week’s NBN. How far do we want to take this whole environmental thing. Is the planet clean enough? Can we coast for a while and let unfettered industry set the nation back on economic sound footing? That’s the decision this nation, and by extension the world, is facing. Toward that end in Wastewater Woes and Wonders we look at summer beach closures versus year-round job creation in the light of the upcoming election, and in Opinion News we pick apart a well written, if poorly thought out piece suggesting a consumption driven economy is the engine of innovation. Below we have all kinds of cool tidbits, you’ll also enjoy. Summer’s over, the work-year has resumed, have a great week. And thank you for reading NBN.
08.16.11 IN NBN
News by Nature this week engages in a little equivocation. In Watershed News we struggle to see both sides of the New York hydrofracking controversy. In Endangered Species News we have a Saudi Oil Prince launching a five-year assessment of the world’s coral reefs, and in Recycling News we have a great guest piece on the recent spike in recycled paper fiber prices and the problems with single stream recycling.
Equivocation [ih-kwiv-uh-key-shuh] Def: the use of equivocal or ambiguous expressions, especially in order to mislead.
Equivocation [ih-kwiv-uh-key-shuh] Def: the use of equivocal or ambiguous expressions, especially in order to mislead.
Welcome to the Wood’s Hole hostel in the southwest Virginia wilderness. So, what does this place have to do with equivocation? It represents exactly what we as a nation should strive for unequivocally: a completely sustainable lifestyle. We posted this picture of the hostel shrouded in fog to illustrate what’s happening in the country and world around us. A sustainable vision for the future is being clouded over by economic realities of today. While the world’s relentless rifling of resources is certainly to blame for the global economic mess once again demanding out attention, does anyone doubt that the folks making money from that rifling are engaging in a little equivocation right now? Clouding the issues with vague arguments that anything getting in the way of making money, by any means, threatens the future? Certainly this country couldn’t be more susceptible to such equivocation than it is right now. Interesting isn’t it that just as the king of equivocation, Rupert Murdoch, was getting crucified, Standard and Poors unilaterally decides it’s time to steal every headline aimed at every reader past puberty? Does Murdoch have any friends over at Standard and Poors? (Please pardon our equivocation.) A better question is: why is NBN concerned? We’re concerned because there are a lot of very powerful people fighting viciously the ideal that Wood’s Hole holds out: Replacing our consumption-driven economy with a conservation-driven economy. People can still make a lot of money conserving our resources, just not the same people making all the money now exploiting our resources. That’s where the equivocation comes in. Toward that end in Watershed News we examine recent equivocation in hydrofracking in New York. Then in Endangered Species News we have a Saudi Oil Prince launching a five-year assessment of the world’s coral reefs. Talk about opportunity for equivocation. And in Recycling News we have a guest piece on the recent spike in recycled paper prices and the problems with single stream recycling. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading News by Nature. Also, thanks to Jim for pointing out that Murdoch coincidence.
08.02.11 IN NBN
This week in News by Nature: In Down on the Farm we finish everything on our plates, grocery store shelves and in our trash dumpsters. In Opinion News we imagine a world where you can grow your own cereal, or not and in Commercial Fishing News we look at a solution to fish farm pollution.
If these cows look content, they pale alongside the ecstasy etched on the face of anyone fortunate enough to eat a ribeye steak carved from the carcasses of these carefully crafted animals. These are not just any beef cows, these are grassfed, free-range, chemical free animals who have the run of a northeast Massachusetts pasture that costs about $80,000 to $90,000 per acre on the real estate market. Not surprising then that the aforementioned ribeyes cost $16 a pound. But imagine a world where beef is not what’s for dinner but it’s what’s for special occasions only and that price tag become a little more palatable. We here at NBN think that’s the way it should be and that’s what this issue is all about: the food we eat, where it comes from and what we do with it when we’re no longer hungry. Toward that end, in Down on the Farm we ponder finishing everything on our plates, grocery store shelves and in our trash dumpsters. In Opinion News we imagine a world where you grow your own cereal and in Commercial Fishing News we look at a solution to fish farm pollution. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading NBN.
07.12.11 IN NBN
In News by Nature this week Commercial Fishing Policy News wonders why we worry over the loss of jobs from a year-old policy that no one wants to admit was designed to cut jobs. In Popular Wisdom we ask if those commercial fishermen losing their jobs can now become entertainers, and in the Opinion Page we ask if TV’s commercial fishermen make real commercial fishermen look bad.
To slightly misquote from the “Wind in the Willows”: “There is nothing, absolutely nothing, nearly half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats.” When that “messing around” means pulling huge fluke (see right) from New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay, the quantifier in that quote becomes a quarter. That’s what NBN did for a few cherished hours two weeks ago, fishing in that iconic seaside destination: The Jersey Shore. Embarrassing TV depictions aside, the Jersey Shore’s barrier beaches are remarkable. The state’s barrier islands, like Long Beach Island shown here, protect what was probably once one of the most productive marine estuaries in the country. It's the large green area pictured here, gratis Google Earth. Yet, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has labeled the bay one of the most polluted and threatened coastal estuaries in the country. That’s because every shade of grey in this Google Earth image here is chock-a-block housing, filled to capacity with vacationers boating, jetskiing, eating and drinking at a near pathological pace. Everything exhausted along the way is going into these waters, not to mention petroleum-laced road-runoff when it rains and all kinds of salt when it snows. So it came as something of a surprise to NBN to see the terrific fluke fishing in the bay this year. It comes, after years of fishermen bitterly bemoaning the ever tightening federal restrictions on catching fluke. It just shows to go ya: Give nature a little regulatory breathing room and even in the face of all this pollution, she bounces back big time. Toward that end in Commercial Fishing Policy News this week we look at the year-old radical revision of commercial fishing policy called Catch Shares through a new study by a very rich environmental group that ignored the ecology of the new policy and picked apart the economics. In Popular Wisdom we ask if commercial fishermen should out seeking a different kind of catch and in the Opinion Page we ask if all fishermen hate fish like those on TV appear to. Have a good week folks and thank you for reading NBN.
07.05.11 IN NBN
In News by Nature this week: Popular Wisdom uses a fascinating MIT study on color memory in chimps to illustrate a dangerously deceptive campaign gaining traction in this country to discredit science. In Opinion News we take a trip down Memory Lane with a few Hummer commercials that tug at heart strings that, we argue, increasingly have to be cut today.
This week NBN takes on ignorance. So, why this photo of the amazing lilies gracing the entrance to the offices on NBN? It’s not just because we didn’t have any better cover art. (We didn’t.) But as we looked over our articles this week we realized these gorgeous flowers were the perfect illustration for the guile and deceptive practices used by folks selling products and/or political messages these days that maybe we shouldn’t ought to buy. Using beauty to sell the beast is a long-standing tradition that this country can increasingly ill-afford to indulge. Tradition is often rooted in ignorance and ignorance in good times is not always such a bad thing. It can simply mean you choose not to look too closely at your behavior because you’re happy with how things are. In bad times ignorance becomes a luxury, and these are certainly not good times. We have got to start paying close attention to what’s going on around us. These flowers may look great, but they are also the product of an exceptionally wet spring in the northeast that's been part of alarmingly freaky weather this year that we really have to take a harder look at. We need more science and less tradition yet there are those saying just the opposite. To wit, in Popular Wisdom this week we uses a fascinating MIT study on color memory in chimps to illustrate the dangerously deceptive campaign gaining traction in this country discrediting the money being spent by the National Science foundation. Then in Opinion News we take a trip down Memory Lane with a few Hummer commercials that tugged at heart strings a few years ago that are still very sensitive today. Have a great holiday folks and thank you for reading News by Nature.
06.21.11 IN NBN
In News by Nature this week we ask in Watershed News if China’s lead pollution cover-up may be a symptom of over-population and in Weird Science we discuss the political press opportunities in science that’s not as weird as it’s made to sound
This little daring was found abandoned and motionless in a flower bed outside the NY offices of NBN. When staff stumbled upon it, the baby whitetail gave a start and then stopped about 10 feet away. It showed little fear and even approached one staff member holding out a sprig of Virginia creeper which deer dearly love to eat. When the staffer returned with a camera, the fawn came to its senses and bounded off. This little thing is as vulnerable as an animal can get, yet it was willing to approach another animal—the NBN staffer—that was several times its size and in possession of a keen appreciation of venison and veal. The only reason this animal is so reckless is its parents, like every other whitetail in suburban USA, are adapting to humans. That’s pretty much the story these days: nature adapting to humans. Humans haven’t just fooled with Mother Nature, we’ve pretty much deflowered her. It’s the China shop syndrome: Humans have so broken this planet that now we may no longer want nature to take its course. We have to fix her or face nature's fury, which we fear is just getting fired up. We offer as evidence in Watershed News the prospect that China’s lead pollution problem is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Then we look at one US senator’s annual trip to the trough of political platitudes via his report slamming some not-so Weird Science. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading News by Nature.
06.14.11 in NBN
News by Nature this week: In Good News we ask: Will the distant future exonerate humans as stewards of the environment? On the Opinion Page we attack a news group doing everything it can to make that answer "No." And in Invasive Species News real scientists finally question waging war on plants and animals from outer spaces.
Welcome to Massachusetts’ Plum Island. A pool table flat, cold water Atlantic ocean beach that’s a great place for little kids to splash around and for big kids to go body-surfing. That rock field in the distance has great striped bass fishing and because it is so shallow here, there is supreme snorkeling throughout. So why is the beach closed? Because some seven miles of beach beyond this sign are closed from late spring to mid-summer so a dozen or so pairs of endangered piping plovers can raise a similar number of young, if the weather and predators permit. Last year there were no birds at all found nesting on the half-mile of beach shown here, the nicest on the seven miles, yet it was still closed until July 7. Sound absurd? Maybe not. Once rare, piping plovers are staging a come-back due to such over-kill policies inconveniencing beach-goers up and down the Atlantic. In keeping with this message of no-sacrifice-is-to-great-for-the-environment, in Good News this week NBN has a NYTimes piece which says we may have made a mess of this planet but in the long run humans are always willing, and able, to fix what they've broken. On the Opinion Page we attack a news group for doing everything it can to sabotage that optimistic forcast. Can you guess which news group? And in Invasive Species News scientists are finally questioning the wisdom of waging war on invasive plants and animals. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading News by Nature.
06.07.11 IN NBN
In News by Nature this week: Popular Wisdom ponders prospects that pollution problems may leave China dependent on US food and clean water. In Solar Power News we have free solar lightbulbs that cost a Haitian week’s wages. And in Global Warming News: why economists shouldn't write about disasters.
Is this where gas prices are heading? NBN certainly hopes so. Yes, it’s easy to applaud high gas prices when your commute is about three minutes long—approximately the time required to stumble from bedroom to bathroom to coffee pot to the offices of NBN across the hall from that bedroom. But for those driving an hour or more to work, these gas prices can mean a mortgage payment made or missed. Yet, imagine a world where every flat surface in the country is faced with solar panels. Imagine a world where we plugged our cars into wall sockets powered by those panels and/or small wind turbines fixed to our roofs. Imagine a world where every office cubicle is moved into the occupant’s home. Gas prices like this would mean nothing to us then. It’s going to happen. As this country scrammbles to cut costs, our efforts are invitably going to turn to our own horrendously wasteful lifestyles. The only question is: When? Will corporate inertia, self indulgence and the enormous investment already made in fossil fuel fired industry leave this country last in the race for energy efficiency or first? Toward that end, in Popular Wisdom we wonder if China is worse off than we are and won't one day be dependent on US food and clean water. In Solar News we wonder about the wisdom of solar lightbulbs that cost a Haitian week’s wages being handed out for free to that island’s earthquake victims. And in Global Warming News: why economists shouldn't write about natural disasters. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading NBN.
05.31.11 IN NBN: Weird Science
In News by Nature this week:Weird Science News questions quantum computers and three-card monte. Down on the Farm looks at test-tube tube steaks and in Popular Wisdom we look at having a little less fun in exchange for living a whole lot longer.
This is the sort of photo we’re supposed to run in our Memorial Day issue to honor those folks without whose sacrifice there probably wouldn’t be an NBN. That doesn’t stop us from really wishing we didn’t have to write this. About the only thing all races, creeds and countries in this world share in common is we grow up with folks, usually older than ourselves, telling us there are causes more important than life and then asking us to go die for them. We’re going to go out on a limb here and say humans have so many such causes because humans are so uncomfortable with the prospect that this dearest gift of all, life, can be taken away so inconsequentially. We had to believe these causes which launched so many wars and killed so many millions are more important than the life they purport to improve because the alternative was to spend our lives dreading death or worse, life under the control of others. What kind of life is that? Increasingly these days, advances in life science are prompting us to look much harder at these causes. This week we plumb the depths of some of the stranger life sciences to show how the promise of life can be far too long, rich and rewarding to cash in for vague causes we'd love now to see forgotten forever. In Weird Science News we question quantum computers connecting us with other worlds. In Down on the Farm we look at test-tube tube steaks and burgers, and in Popular Wisdom we look at having a little less fun in exchange for living a lot longer. So, a sincere thank you to all the folks who all too often sacrificed everything for uncertain reward, you deserve to be honored, and thank you for reading NBN. Have a great week.
05.24.11 IN NBN: Recycling
In News by Nature this week we have a short piece in Opinion News on when going green means going extreme. In Wind News, turbines turn out windfarm problems, and we try not to be too hurtful in some very hurtful wetoldjasos in Bad News.
Those windows had the coolest blisters and bubbles, but they also kept the offices at a bracing 59 degrees in the winter. (Hands off that thermostat!) Anyone waiting to catch the train this past winter in New London saw no such hardship because the station radiators don’t have a thermostat and must operate around the clock to replace the heat pouring through those equally antiquated windows. Said traveler may, however, wonder why it costs $75 to take the train 110 miles north from New London to Boston while it cost $79 to fly 600 miles from North Carolina to Boston. With these numbers in mind we dedicate this issue of NBN to the many virtues of energy efficiency. In Opinion News we have a short piece on when going green means going extreme. In Wind News turbines turn out windfarm problems and we try not to be too hurtful in some very hurtful Wetoldjasos in Bad News. We also have some select tidbits and press releases from the latest in science and environmental news below. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading News By Nature.
05.10.11 IN NBN
In News by Nature this week Wind Power News wonders why the feds recently halved the area for windfarms off new England. A federal scientist brings a high pressure plan to clean up polluted shellfish in Biodiversity News and in Solar Power News we make sense of a befuddling press release on a new solar energy hybrid that makes electricity and hot water.
We’re out hiking the Appalachian Trail this Week. While we’re out contemplating nature we ask you to complete these two photos. On the left we have a tree hugger silently enjoying nature’s largess, on the right we have a different sort of thrill seeker also having the time of his life. Being a treehugger is not all it’s cracked up to be and being an adrenalin junkie definitely has its high points. But here’s the catch. If the hiker were to try the jet ski, does anyone doubt she would love it. Of course not. It’s fun. But what’s lost in our consumer culture, is living simply is just as much fun, we just have to try it. In other words the guy doing the backflip on the $2500 jetski in a $250 wetsuit burning $4 per gallon gas would enjoy the hiking just as much as the backflip. Jetskies get really boring after a season or two, where you can hike as hard or easy as you want. The landscape is ever-changing and there's no pollution. Unfortunately, simple living, while it’s great for the planet is real bad for the economy. OK, off the soap box and into the News by Nature: In Wind Power News we look at why the fed recently halved the area it’s willing to lease for windfarms, and the answer is as much bad news as good for fishermen. In Biodiversity News federal scientists bring out a high pressure plan to clean up polluted shellfish and in Solar Power News we make some sense of a befuddling press release on a new solar energy hybrid that makes electricity and hot water. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading News by Nature. If there a more typos than most weeks, it because we're living simple this week.
05.03.11 IN NBN: Recycling
In News by Nature this week: A defeated local bottled water ban sheds light on a stalled state bottled water deposit law in Recycling News; Triple A subprime mortgages and certified pesticide-free blueberries raise skepticism over organic rating agencies in Down on the Farm; And malathion vs. magnets in mosquito control in Biodiversity News.
This issue is all about having perspective in those oh-so-emotional environmental issues. So, allow us to present to you our public dis-servant of the week presidential candidate Rick Santorum. (No, not this guy above.) Santorum is being so honored this week for being the first to rekindle the 2008 political cheer “Drill Baby, Drill” in New Hampshire last week. What part of “Deep Water Horizon” do you suppose Santorum doesn’t understand? NBN dug out this video to, we hope, lend perspective to this sort of political pandering. It took just two years and the worst oil spill in US history to put this once powerful political message into perspective.
Elsewhere in NBN, Moody’s past sub-prime bond certification practices lend perspective to present pesticide free blueberry certification in Down on the Farm. A voter defeat of a bottled water ban in Concord, MA, casts light on a proposed statewide bottled water deposit law in Recycling News. And in Biodiversity News we weigh what back yard deployment of the environmentally friendly Mosquito Magnet might mean to marsh ecosystems region wide. This thing kills a lot of mosquitos. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading NBN.
04.26.11 IN NBN
This week in NBN we're boycotting Made-in-China in Watershed News: It's about the environment and jobs. And we love those clams that love that dirty water in Good News.
Yes, April showers bring May flowers, they also bring an awful lot of this stuff: storm water runoff. The seasonal surplus of water carries unquantifiable quantities of crap into rivers and streams this time of year. Unquantifiable, that is, until you see something like this: the still-melting pile of ice left over from this snowy winter. In these piles we find the oily, salty residue of urban life scrapped from our streets just weeks ago. It’s slowly melting into mounds of small pieces of trash that otherwise wash unseen into our rivers and streams each time it rains. Storm water runoff is like civilization's car wash and our watersheds are the drains. That’s why we post this photo: to illustrate how nasty this stuff is and the direct road it travels through the storm drain in the middle of the photo to the river in the background. However, if you think this looks bad, imagine what we’d find in coastal China, as we do this week in Watershed News. In Good News, we’re loving the clams that love this dirty water. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading NBN.
04.19.11 IN NBN
This Week in News by Nature we have: fracking forces hard choices on hard-bitten country in Opinion News; how can you throw that out!, in Recycling News; and the plastic disk dilemma in Wastewater Woes.
This issue is dedicated to the tough environmental problems whose solutions only beget more problems. These green Catch-22s makes it easier to shrug your shoulders, and they fuel arguments against any solutions that run at all counter to industry interests. Like this video here of commercial fishermen decrying the new federal policy called catch shares. Who wouldn’t complain if the exciting career they’ve chosen, often following in family footsteps, was being gutted by scientists who’ve never professionally fished before?
Yet, if we’re to truly set this planet on a sustainable course and start to correct the damage done by oilmen, miners, car makers, farmers, fishermen—heck, pretty much everybody—massive industries employing millions of people are going to have to change dramatically or end completely. You might say: “That’s stinks,” and that’s the point of this week’s issue of NBN. In theOpinion Page politicians fawn over fracking because we give them political cover; Recycling News, has one environmentalists’ angst over discarding a perfectily good, 30-year-old microwave; and in a new page called Wastewater Woes, we ponder public opinion of tiny plastic disks washing up on North Atlantic beaches. Have a great week folks and thanks for reading NBN.
04.12.11 IN NBN
In News by Nature this week: Working for free can pay a wealth of information in Popular Wisdom, watching the Flintstones vs surfing the web when you're out of work, in the Opinion Page and life as we don't know it in Weird Science.
This Weird Science issue of NBN is dedicated to the internet. “Nothing weird about that,” you might say. Oh, yes there is, when you really consider the power and potential of this technology. We lead off this issue with this “Sixth Sense” video to illustrate. It was a huge hit among techo-fans when it was first released two years ago. Now, half of the advancements proposed are available on the latest iPhone. Two years from now, can we expect our iPhones to instantly image the world around us and download relevant information, as depicted in the video? Will iPhones become our third eye, hardwired to our second brain, the internet? What will that make our existing brains? Central processing units? Alright, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, but it is fun to think about.
We don’t, in this issue of NBN. This week is more for folks outside the reach of this technology. On the Opinion Page this week we weigh the rewards of watching the Flintstones against surfing the internet for a jobless fellow who’s a whiz with heating and air conditioning installations. Then in Popular Wisdom we ponder the wave of the future: jobs that don’t pay money. They actually pay something far better. Finally, in Weird Science we look at a new life form found in the family trees of our own DNA. Evolution isn’t a theory anymore, and humans have some scary skeletons in our genetic closets. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading News by Nature.
04.05.11 IN NBN
In News by Nature this week we have the power of plastic politics in Recycling News, a world full of wastewater work from a shortage of drinking water in Watershed News and trash incineration versus recycling in Bad News.
Note these open jars of jam on the tables of the Farmers Diner in Quechee, VT. The stuff tastes a lot better than it looks, in no small part because the diner makes great food. More to the point, the diner doesn’t use those ridiculous little plastic containers of jam. If you want to take a big step toward cleaning up the planet, stop making the billions of ridiculous little plastic containers we keep putting our food, soap, toys, batteries, cigarette lighters and coffee in every day. The stuff kills marine animals, it contributes to global warming and fills up landfills. Tiny pieces of plastic are even working their way into the food chain, meaning we’re eating the stuff. And it’s not just plastic. Toxic metals, petroleum products, just about everything man makes is slowly being dissipated into the air we breath, the water we drink, and the food we eat. Which is why we’ve dedicated this issue of NBN to militant recycling. We’re talking peeling-the-cellophane-windows-off-the-bills-we-get-in-the-mail militant. In Bad News we question the wisdom of trash incineration versus recycling vis-à-vis a recent report about air pollution violations by a leading waste-to-energy firm. In Watershed News we talk about the surplus of jobs in sewer work prompted by the shortage of drinking water, and in Recycling News we talk about the power politics of plastic. Have a great day folks and thanks for reading NBN.
03.29.11 IN NBN: Invasive Species.
In News by Nature this week we have evolution by other means for an invasive toad Down Under in Weird Science, then we discuss choosing our battles more wisely in the war on invasive species in Invasive News.
Ever since the first Norway rat braved a bow line to climb aboard a ship headed overseas, invasive species have been riding mankind's coattails into ecological futures bearing little resemblance to what Darwin honed his theories on. Evolution these days is more like survival of the fastest to exploit whatever environmental conditions spring up on the wake of human dalliances with Mother Nature’s design. Delicate balances struck between species that co- existed for millennia have been wiped out in decades by animals and plants intentionally or erroneously imported by humans from distant regions of the planet. These imported plants and animals become invaders, overwhelming entire ecosystems instead of just occupying niches there in. We're ending up with monocultures instead of eco-“systems” and we’re spending $138 billion a year in the US alone to stop it. What can possibly make us think we can restore in a few dozen years environmental balance it took nature an epoch or two to build? In Invasive News we have evidence that such lofty ambitions are succeeding in a battle against Asian clams in New York’s Lake George. Then in Weird Science we tease apart definitions of “fittest” as Darwin theorized it, and how the concept applies to Australia’s cane toad infestation. We're talking toads as big as cats. We're rethinking invasive species in News by Nature this week. Think these flowers look nice? They are an invasive plant called purple loosestrife. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading NBN.
03.22.11 IN NBN
In News by Nature this week we have Vernal Ponds and the people who love them in Good News, When useless data becomes useful in Popular Wisdom and what money means to Vernal Ponds in Watershed News.
Unbeknownst to 95 percent of the country, Big Night a.k.a. First Night is fast approaching. So why do we show this picture of these folks listening to someone explain something most of us will never know anything about? Because these are the other five percent, First Night fanatics, a growing number fans of amphibians who can’t wait for the first few warm rainy nights of spring. That’s when salamanders, frogs, fairy shrimp and leeches make their way to temporary water bodies called vernal ponds. For two or three very select nights these creatures have an all out orgy and it’s truly something to watch and hear, even if you’re not into that sort of thing. We write about it this week because this phenomenon and the creatures that participate, embody the concept of biodiversity while the folks who promote it, like this woman here, are helping a whole generation of young kids to understand the importance of biodiversity. To help you understand same, we have a piece in Popular Wisdom on raw data and what it means to the future of real environmental protection. In Biodiversity News we excerpt a string of emails to illustrate just how fanatical these vernal pond people are and in Watershed News we weigh the diminishing development threats to vernal ponds against the rising financial threats faced by those who protect them, like these folks from the Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading News by Nature.
03.15.11 IN NBN
In News by Nature this week we compare overfishing with our oil addiction in the Opinion Page and then we have the high environmental price paid for cheap fish and why we have to pay more, money that is, to fix things in Biodiversity News.
This week in NBN we attempt a little perspective on a subject few think about whilst pounding down their filet-o-fish sandwiches: the toll commercial fishing takes on ocean ecosystems. In particular, trawling. These are supposedly before and after images of what trawl nets do to the ocean floor. The damage is probably not this dramatic. But logic dictates that any boat dragging nets along the ocean floor does some damage, and when you look at how many boats are out there you better understand why we devoted this issue of NBN to the subject. That said, trawlers produce some of the finest tasting food in the world and it’s a tradition that goes way back. Moreover, images like these do produce an overly sentimental reaction among industry opponents that, right or wrong, is now taking a high toll on some very hard working folks creating a lot of jobs. So, why care about a bunch of underwater plants and animals we can't see? We discuss those pros and cons in Biodiversity News this week, then in the Opinion Page we compare the environmental price being paid for cheap oil to the environmental price being paid for cheap fish. On that cheerful note, have a great week and thank you for reading NBN. Boy, it seems like everything is hitting the fan this week, doesn't it?
03.08.11 IN NBN
This week in News by Nature we look at an expensive cesspool providing a valuable lesson in Watershed News and what the governor got wrong going to bat for the oil industry in the Opinion Page.
This week NBN is doing some bottom feeding: picking at a few of the little things that damage or help the environment that are less easily measured than world-wide average temperatures or the thickness of the ozone layer. We offer up this rest stop on Interstate 91 in Guilford VT, to illustrate. It was built to accommodate 30,000 people a year but wound up attracting 500,000. The veneer of soil sitting on top of the bedrock in this mountainous part of the world couldn’t absorb all that restroom waste so the state built one of the most expensive and nicely named cesspools on the planet that we talk about in Watershed News this week. In the Opinion Page we have a questionable quote from a Mississippi governor that breathes new life into an age-old adage from Detroit at time when we need to start re-examining our ago-old adages. Big cars may mean big profits, but they also make big problems. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading NBN.
03.01.11 IN NBN
This week in News by Nature we have a far-fetched explanation for ever-more far-flung oil exploration in Global Warming News. We attempt to summarize in Watershed News a brilliant New York Times expose on new-found dangers of hydrofracking and a guest on the Opinion Page casts sun power in a new light.
Here the sunset over Plum Gut in Orient, NY, is offering only color to warm the end of a frigid February day, but it spent the previous 10 hours bathing the surrounding waters in energy that will soon attract hordes of fish and expensive boats full of people bent on catching a fine meal. Yup, this little orange orb packs a punch. Yet, for reasons we attempt to explain in this issue of NBN, those same people, and everyone else, seem equally bent on catching those fish using energy in the form of a black ooze milked from the ground and burned in their boats, rather than tap the immaculate energy this fire ball showers down on us every day. Along the way we are befouling the air and water shown here. NBN attempts an explanation by cobbling together hydrofracking, solar power, the unrest in the Middle East and the Tea Party movement into a longer-than-we’d-like article in Global Warming News. Then in Watershed News we compress a long NYTimes article into a short explanation of the new found dangers of hydrofacking to places like Plum Gut . And on the Opinion Page we let a guest writer expand more eloquently then we can on the illogic behind all the above. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading News by Nature.
02.22.11 IN NBN
News by Nature this week asks: are these interesting times in the accursed sense? And Opinion News weighs utopia vs sweatshops as options for the future in Popular Wisdom.
This sun has risen exactly like this in exactly this location over Long Island, NY’s Little Peconic Bay every Feb.20 for the past few million years. That’s about the only thing not changing these days.The Middle East is poised to become either an Islamist caliphate or a model of democracy in midst of autocracy. The US workforce by way of Wisconsin, is either returning to Upton Sinclair’s slaughter houses or a new era of cooperation with enterprise that could redefine labor for the foreseeable future. Lastly, the planet itself could be on the precipice of climate change that may render uninhabitable regions of continental proportions if we don’t make dramatic lifestyle changes.
Or it could be that we’re about to dangerously overhaul the nation’s energy policies and infrastructure in a futile effort to thwart what might be just a 20- or 30-year natural weather pattern that science hasn’t figured out yet. The geopolitical stuff above will probably sort itself into reasonable compromises that won't leave the Mid-East in Osama Bin Laden's hands. Such stark extremes aren’t likely to happen in this age of the internet. About the climate change and how American' workers extract a living from the planet--yes labor negotiations are an environmental issue--we’re not so sure and that’s what we focus on this week. In Opinion News we ponder Chinese proverbs and ask just how “interesting are these times.” In Popular Wisdom we retool old notions of work and play and what happens to both when consumption plummets, as it must if this planet is going to carry us into a few million more of these gorgeous sunrises. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading NBN.
02.15.11 IN NBN
In News by Nature this week we have Texas fighting the EPA and itself in Watershed News and recognizing local heroes not looking for recognition in Good News.
Meet the largest source of water pollution today. Non-point source pollution. Oil like this is not supposed to just ooze from river banks. Yet, that’s exactly what you see seeping from the sands in these photos of the banks of the Merrimack River in Massachusetts. Normally, this might not be cause for alarm. These little pockets of oily ooze could always just be an oil drum buried by an old gas station. By itself, it's not a major source of pollution. But being along the banks of what was once one the nation’s most industrialized rivers, it’s not unreasonable to think ooze like this is seeping out largely unseen along 100 miles or more of this river. There is all kind of oily and chemical waste buried along the banks of the Merrimack, which feeds the largest salt marsh in New England: The Great Marsh. Make no mistake, ooze like this has hobbled the Great Marsh ecosystem for close to a century. Similar environments along the entire US coastline are suffering similarly. The Mississippi River, which drains 40 percent of the country's farmland, has created one of the world's largest dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico. That’s what this issue of News by Nature is dedicated to, invisible oozes and troubled rivers. In Watershed News we go after Texas for fighting EPA efforts to force the state to clean up its act. In Good News we applaud a little-known group seeking no applause for single-handedly cleaning up a horribly fouled river in New England’s industrial heartland. (Anybody know how to spell handedly?) Thanks for reading folks and have a great week.
02.01.11 IN NBN
News by Nature this week has the upside of self indulgence in Opinion News and quantity trumps quality in our digital world in Popular Wisdom.
We’re all such a optimists around the offices of NBN, trying to put a smiley face on the endless stream of bad news that makes up our daily digital diets these days, that we thought we’d devote an entire issue to Bad News. No, we’re not just taking the week off, and plugging in an RSS Feed for Google News. We actually have some pretty cool stuff we’d like to coat-tail onto the theme of State of the Union last Tuesday: the times they are-a changing. Big time. The old models don’t apply and millions of hard working folks who lived a half century according to those old models are being forced by technology to completely reinvent themselves at an age when you used to think about retirement. In some respect, we’re seeing technology merge with Mother Nature to rechannel human evolution in some mysterious ways. We stretch that idea to its logical limits with a piece in Popular Wisdom this week on the changing night club scene. What’s that got to do with Nature? We’re not sure but, it’s an eye-opener from a guy with unique insight into yet another long-standing corner of our culture under going radical changes. Next, in Opinion Page we look at what some equally expert dooms-dayers over-looked in forecasting this country’s imminent demise. Yes, we look for the silver lining here. We had to. This piece is such bad news we needed to temper it somewhat. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading NBN.
01.25.11 IN NBN
In News by Nature this week we have questionable Congressmen questioning Global Warming in Popular Wisdom. In Opinion Page we question the role of evolution in supporting global warming skepticism and in Your News a New Hampshire recycling experts weighs in on e-Waste.
Is the Jan. 2, 2011, picture at left irrefutable proof of global warming or just an unusually warm day in January? Let’s also consider that the day before that picture was taken the temperature in northeastern Massachusetts was 61 degrees. Let’s factor in that 2010 was the warmest year yet in Boston. Now, let’s consider the photo at right, taken 23 days after New Years. Looks like things are back to normal. Even below normal. Let’s also consider that the New Years Day high for the area was 70 degrees way back in 1876. Confused? You won’t be after this Global Warming issue of News by Nature. Are we flirting with a future where our great, great grandchildren can only imagine what coral reefs were like as they snorkel around the remains of New York’s Times Square? Or are we hysterically plunging into unnecessarily overhauling our energy policy at a time such dalliances could put millions more folks out of work? How did we get so thoroughly dependent on fossil fuels when renewable energy was discovered first. We need some answers, and NBN has 'em this week. In Opinion News we attempt to leverage Darwin’s theory of evolution into understanding how we got so addicted to oil and why so many people now refuse to buy into global warming. Then, in Popular Wisdom we wonder how a new Congress with little use for Darwin, or science in general, has come up with their own answers to global warming. Lastly, in our digression of the week we have a short piece with a ton of links in Your News on what is and is not electronic recycling from people much more expert than NBN. Have a great week folks and thank you for reading News by Nature.
01.18.11 IN NBN
In News by Nature this week we turn our attention to alternative energy. In Weird Science News we have the ultimate in green energy: tree power. In Biodiversity News, we ask if the dead birds in Arkansas are the canaries in the world's coal mine and in Alternative Energy News : is the tide turning on water current power?
Who in New England knows that vast expanses of Palm Springs California and elsewhere are carpeted with wind turbines like these? Or, has anyone done a tally recently of the number of solar panels producing energy in this country? The point we want to make in this week’s NBN is that while everyone is fixed on where the economy is going and who is taking it there, the country is subtly transforming. Like the water powered NYC supermarket and parking lot we talk about in Alternative Energy News. Or, we have the ultimate in green energy—tree power, and we’re not talking fire wood—in Weird Science. Lastly, in Biodiversity News a noted Harvard biologist takes all the fun out of the bird and fish die-offs that made the news recently.
01.11.11 IN NBN
Given the weird date, News by Nature decided to delve into some Weird Science this week with an article on exercise, evolution and eternity.
These Christmas cacti are an on going lunchtime science experiment in the offices of NBN. If you look closely at the bulge at the blossom base at left, that’s what we hope will be a brand new hybrid plant cross-fertilized from the two proud, if slightly mismatched parents poorly pictured at right. (If you look closely at the leaves of the two plants at right, you'll see slight variations suggesting two different strains of Christmas cactus.) When these two plants bloomed, NBN staffers assumed the role of matchmakers and did a little cacti carnal knowledge. Now we await a new delivery we hope is gestating in the bulging botanical birth canal at left. Why are we sharing this, let alone asking you to read deeper into the pages of this website this week? Because that’s what NBN is all about: making science simple. Whoda thought you could cross fertilize Christmas cacti while eating an egg salad sandwich on your lunchbreak? Toward that end in Weird Science this week we look deep into the you-are-what-you-exercise question to see if we can run away from our own mortality. We got some pretty cool studies and books pointing that way. As is NBN’s job, we take that idea to the extreme. Have a great week folks and keep reading your NBN.