Seth’s photo of the view from the hill at Morgan’s Rock in Nicaragua
Today marks ten years since the first post on this platform. Seth’s description of a crab-eating little possum wandering by as he was reading, and a sloth-sighting together with two people visiting Nicaragua from the USA, reads like an entry in a travelogue. A later post about boarding down a volcano was the most viewed post of the first year.
Seth sandboarding down Volcán Cerro Negro in Nicaragua
A man named Baba Ramdev, a yoga guru, was on a hunger strike to protest corruption when Michael, a senior at Amherst College, landed in India to begin an internship
Michael’s first post likewise starts as a travelogue, but veers into different territory as he reads the news about two men who are sacrificing comfort, and even life, for causes they believe in. The post goes on to identify drinking water as a cause worthy of the reader’s attention. Over the course of his time with us in India he wrote some of my personal favorites. He helped me better understand that the value of the internships we offered were as much about personal growth as about work experience.
Within a few years, permits could be issued for commercial miners hoping to harvest the submerged wealth of the sea. Illustration by Sophi Miyoko Gullbrants
A decade was set in motion. This is our 10,286th post. Whatever meaning might be drawn from statistics, such as 827,462 views of our posts as of this writing, I find reasons to continue what those two started. Every day a bird is featured, thanks to Amie’s network of bird photographers. And every day I scan the news to share something enlightening, or I jot a note about a new idea we are trying out, always related to causes we care about. Today, on this rounding out of a decade, I mark the occasion by sharing the latest publication of a writer whose work rarely makes me happy but who I nonetheless link to often as a head-out-of-the-sand gesture:
June 14, 2021
The International Seabed Authority is headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica, in a building that looks a bit like a prison and a bit like a Holiday Inn. The I.S.A., which has been described as “chronically overlooked” and is so obscure that even many Jamaicans don’t know it exists, has jurisdiction over roughly half the globe. Continue reading
San Gerarda de Dota, Costa Rica
A section of the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline in Superior, Wis. Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune, via Associated Press
McKibben, always ahead of the curve, has this proposal for us all to consider:
Michael Siluk/Education Images — Universal Images Group via Getty Images
The announcement this week from the Canadian company TC Energy that it was pulling the plug on the Keystone XL pipeline project was greeted with jubilation by Indigenous groups, farmers and ranchers, climate scientists and other activists who have spent the last decade fighting its construction.
The question now is whether it will be a one-off victory or a template for action going forward — as it must, if we’re serious about either climate change or human rights. Continue reading
Guardian graphic | Source: Morales-Caselles et al, Nature Sustainability, 2021
Thanks, Damian Carrington, for getting us the data that Morales-Caselles et al compiled making us wonder whether convenience is worth this cost:
Just 10 plastic products make up 75% of all items and scientists say the pollution must be stopped at source
Plastic items from takeaway food and drink dominate the litter in the world’s oceans, according to the most comprehensive study to date. Continue reading
Wild Asian elephants lie on the ground and rest in Jinning district of Kunming, Yunnan province, China June 7, 2021. A herd of 15 wild elephants has trekked hundreds of kilometres after leaving their forest habitat in Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve, according to local media. Picture taken June 7, 2021 with a drone. China Daily via REUTERS
It has been awhile, too long, since we nodded to Alan Taylor’s photo selections, so here is to closing out the week with images:
An optical illusion at the Eiffel Tower, scenes from the French Open, a surfing competition in El Salvador, a presidential election in Peru, Olympic qualifying skateboarding trials in Italy, a giant sinkhole in Mexico, a sunrise annular eclipse seen in New York City, a platypus health check in Australia, and much more
A Lupine field in full bloom is pictured near Sollested on Lolland island in Denmark on June 8, 2021. – Denmark OUT (Photo by Mads Claus Rasmussen / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP) / Denmark OUT (Photo by MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)
Cochabamba Cloud Forest, Bolivia
Mad Island Marsh Preserve, TX
The National Bison Range in Montana, now managed by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. DAVE FITZPATRICK / U.S.FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
Thanks to Jim Robbins, as always, for this look into How Returning Lands to Native Tribes Is Helping Protect Nature:
From California to Maine, land is being given back to Native American tribes who are committing to managing it for conservation. Some tribes are using traditional knowledge, from how to support wildlife to the use of prescribed fires, to protect their ancestral grounds.
In 1908 the U.S. government seized some 18,000 acres of land from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes to create the National Bison Range in the heart of their reservation in the mountain-ringed Mission Valley of western Montana.
While the goal of protecting the remnants of America’s once-plentiful bison was worthy, for the last century the federal facility has been a symbol to the tribes here of the injustices forced upon them by the government, and they have long fought to get the bison range returned. Continue reading
La Cinturita, Pueblo Nuevo Viñas, Guatemala
Houseboats on the shrinking Lake Oroville reservoir in California last month. Many have now been removed from the lake. Patrick T. Fallon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
We knew a bit about almonds being very thirsty trees, but when you see the trees being uprooted, it becomes even more real. The questions surrounding drought are too much for a short article, so thanks to one of our favored science writers, Henry Fountain, for keeping this focused:
Answers to questions about the current situation in California and the Western half of the United States.
Almond trees are removed from an orchard in Snelling, Calif. Farmers are making plans to plant less water-intensive crops because of the drought. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Much of the Western half of the United States is in the grip of a severe drought of historic proportions. Conditions are especially bad in California and the Southwest, but the drought extends into the Pacific Northwest, much of the Intermountain West, and even the Northern Plains.
Drought emergencies have been declared. Farmers and ranchers are suffering. States are facing water cutbacks. Large wildfires are burning earlier than usual. And there appears to be little relief in sight.
What is a drought, exactly?
There are no precise parameters that define a drought, but it is generally understood to mean a period of abnormally dry weather that goes on for long enough to have an impact on water supplies, farming, livestock operations, energy production and other activities. Continue reading
Seedlings from arabica coffee beans collected from the remaining trees on a onetime coffee farm in Escazu, Costa Rica that Organikos is regenerating as bird habitat
After the 2020 coffee did not germinate, I did my homework to ensure we would have more success in 2021. A funny thing happened on the way to germination…
From the time we started packing coffee samples two years ago, well prior to the Authentica shops opening until now, I have been saving every Organikos coffee bag we use in our home, and collecting them from friends as well. I did not know what I would do with them, until it finally occurred to me to take a hole puncher and see if I could replicate the drainage of a typical agricultural planter bag (like the black ones in the photo below). With the bag folded and 7 well-placed punches, 26 holes result. This year we have close to 300 coffee seedlings, which I am now transplanting into the larger bags for the next phase of their growth.
Kraft bags chosen to reduce plastic waste from more conventional coffee bags are convertible for re-use in planting trees–shown here as we move coffee seedlings to “second shift” planter bags
I will write more on how this will work, so stay tuned; Organikos bags will do double duty as tree planters. Households in the USA can use the bag this way for their own plantings, but we will offer an incentive for those who prefer to leave the planting to others. We have reached agreement with a forest regeneration organization in Costa Rica that every bag like this that we can provide them, they will use for seedlings. There is a low carbon footprint option for how to get these bags from USA households back to Costa Rica for this purpose, and when we have it in place you will hear it here first.
Cochabamba Cloud Forest, Bolivia
Nelson, picking burdock.
Most of us, top of mind, would mention visual and olfactory pleasures as the primary sensation that flowers wow us with. Thanks to Helen Rosner for reminding us, and to Alexis Nikole Nelson for demonstrating to us, the other sensory pleasures of (some) flowers:
Nothing takes me back to the Midwestern pastoral of my youth quite like the smells of springtime: freshly cut grass with an edge of lawnmower fuel, the sweet ozone of an imminent thunderstorm. Most of all, it’s lilac bushes, which grow stately and ragged in the hard soil of Chicago’s front yards, or peek over back fences to wave down the alleyways. In May, the tiny purple flowers would open; by June, their thick perfume hung in a haze around each bush, the barest breeze sending out intoxicating eddies of rich scent. When I left home and moved to the East Coast, I sometimes bought cheap lilac colognes—there are plenty of lilacs out here, too, but sometimes a person is a little homesick and needs a whiff on demand. Scent, so neurologically intertwined with memory, is an emotional catapult, and I found that even the clumsiest molecular facsimile of lilac would get the job done. Continue reading
Thanks to Veronique Greenwood for this:
A small experiment using sleights of hand and illusions offers insights into how birds and people perceive the world.
The coin is in the illusionist’s left hand, now it’s in the right — or is it? Sleight of hand tricks are old standbys for magicians, street performers and people who’ve had a little too much to drink at parties. Continue reading