Friday, October 25, 2013

Sign on for Another NJ Comeback Story

How great would it be for oysters to make a comeback in New York and New Jersey's waters?

This is where they were once so abundant that ships could not navigate up the Hudson River during low tide because oyster reefs rose out of the water like massive boulders.

Where oysters the size of dinner plates were so sweet they were fit only for Europe's princes -- hence the name: Princes Bay, Staten Island.

The symbolism alone would be a wonderful thing not to mention that oysters clean the water as they filter it and their reefs provide natural resilience to storm surges.

Sign this petition to encourage Governor Christie to life the ban on oyster projects in New Jersey's northern waters.

How great would it be for oysters to make a comeback in New York and New Jersey's waters?

Really great.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sea Serpents Roam

A snorkeler found an 18 foot oarfish in California.  Wild.

Looks a lot like this early image of a sea serpent.

There's even a three masted ship in both pics.  The sea -- where sea serpents and imaginations roam.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Frank the Pug was Right

Good things come in small packages. One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.  What's the running joke?  It's not the size of the boat, it's the...

And the black-faced pug, Frank, chides in Men in Black:  "When will you humans learn?  Just because something is important doesn't mean that it's not very small."

Darn pug was all too right.  Phytoplankton, which illuminate like beautiful, tiny jewels under a microscope, are the foundation of the ocean's food web.  They're incredibly important.

Their energy kick starts and travels all the way up the food web.  Slightly larger animals like krill, copepods, and immature versions of clams and fish, known as zooplankton, eat the exquisite gems.  Bigger creatures like herring and anchovy eat the zooplankton. 

Along comes tuna and cod to eat the herring and anchovy.  Next come the top predators like sharks that eat the tuna and cod.  If any of these links break, especially the first one, most marine life would not survive.

Which is lousy because scientists recently reported a dramatic and consistent decline in phytoplankton. 

Why is this happening?  All fingers point to the ill effects of burning fossil fuels to run our vehicles and power our lives.

What can we do about it?  Support clean energy and marine protected areas, and evoke Frank the pug when someone tries to deny the unprecedented impact humans are having on our big blue marble spinning through space.   

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ten Thousand Walrus with Nowhere to Go

It's one of the first threats to nature I ever heard about -- habitat loss.  Somehow it sounded innocuous enough.  I thought, how bad can it be, so the animals just relocate to another place.  Their new home may be even better.  Certainly, I was in denial or maybe just plain dull.

Think about taking away anyone's home, a home that has always been their home, a home that is part of their DNA.  A snake or a honey bee or a walrus.  Without it, where do they rest?  Where do they eat?  How can they relax and be healthy and happy?  Some can adapt but most cannot.    

When I saw this picture, I wasn't quite sure what it was.  Are those ants?

No, these are over 10,000 walruses, a horde, scrambling and huddling on a strip of land in Alaska because  their habitat -- sea ice -- is nowhere to be found.  Their sea ice home has always been there until now. These are refugees of an overheated planet because humans burn fossil fuels to run our vehicles, TVs, and factories.

Awhile ago I read about a polar bear that swam huge miles.  Turns out polar bears are amazingly strong swimmers but even they cannot tread water forever.  They need sea ice to live on and raise their young.  Next time you hear about an unprecedented polar bear swim, ask why the bear had to swim that far and long.

Thing is, it doesn't have to be this way.  We can do it differently and better.  There are technologies and options and growing awareness.  Let's stop making nature a climate refugee and extend a helping hand to that exhausted polar bear.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It's True, People Die from Pollution

Two pieces of news caught in my throat like the moment before a cough.

A new study concluded "that improvements in U.S. air quality since 1990 have sparked a 35 percent reduction in deaths and disability specifically attributable to air pollution."

Another report, this one from China, determined that the country's heavy air pollution from burning coal reduces life expectancy by 5 years.   That's 500 million people dying before their countrymen simply based on their source of energy.

Yet no one's making a great deal of noise about it.  It's barely picking up.  The message that air pollution is literally killing people seems so crazy in its complacency.

Isn't one death from pollution enough?  These aren't industrial accidents or unpreventable results.  It's us poisoning ourselves and our planet for a few extra coins.

Somewhere eyes sting and Dylan Thomas's fierce tears flow.  We can do better than this.