Author Archive

Thursday, May 19th, 2011 | Author:  | 14,732 views - starting Aug 9/09

during my recent travels in southeast asia, i was blessed with the opportunity to visit moonriver lodge, a family owned & operated farmstay in the middle of Malaysia’s Sigar Highlands pristine bamboo jungle … i wrote this blog post for my gracious hosts ….

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tree fern

tree fern

Ferns are intensely fascinating and beautiful plants. They’re among the oldest plants on Earth and they dominated many ecosystems around the world in prehistoric times.

If you’re a fern lover, you must visit the bamboo forest at Moonriver Lodge. You’ll find ferns big and small, including fern trees! And of course, whorled fiddleheads pepper the landscape with spectacular, subtle grace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But by far the most stunning ferns you’ll see are the glow-in-the-light (or iridescent) ferns along the footpath of the bamboo forest trail. These ferns are humble in their beauty, so you have to pay attention to the fringes of the path in order to find them.

They’re colloquially known as the peacock fern or paku merak (which translates from Malay to English as “peacock nail”). The botanical name of the species is Selaginella willdenowii (synonym S. wallichiana) and they’re actually lycopods or club mosses (close relatives of ferns).

Once you discover them, you’ll be amazed by their exquisiteness. Their leaves glitter metallic blues, violets, and greens. Each leaf is subtly different and every angle catches the sunlight with a distinctive hue.

more…

Saturday, January 15th, 2011 | Author:  | 3,048 views - starting Aug 9/09

blue gold

a documentary about water … stark, informative, shocking, imperative to watch …

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010 | Author:  | 9,738 views - starting Aug 9/09

Tuna are magnificent fish. They are large, stealth predators with powerful, stream-lined bodies that can out-perform even the most sophisticated machine (of comparable size) in strength, resilience, and vigor.

Unfortunately for them, they are also incredibly tasty and one of the most desirable ocean catches worldwide. Unfortunately for humans, they are not nearly as abundant as they once were because over-fishing threatens their survival and neither are they as nutritious because they are becoming increasingly contaminated with pollutants such as heavy metals.

more…

Sunday, April 25th, 2010 | Author:  | 5,512 views - starting Aug 9/09

I’m proud and fortunate to be a co-inhabitant of Earth … I think everyone should feel that sense of pride –- not quite patriotism or nationalism … just Earthism

I think I’ve coined a new word …

it sounds awkward, but the sentiment is, I believe, noble … if we all inspire a swelling of honour for being alive on this stupendous host planet, then respecting our home would be an innate habit, an inevitable consequence of our mundane routines … we wouldn’t have to think about taking care of the Earth, it would be automatic … as parents love their child, as siblings care for each other, as friends look out for one another, each human would have the same concern for Home … it would be effortless and intrinsically rewarding … it would be a necessity and a natural way of living …

it’s not a primitive mind-set, nor does it imply sacrifice … for we are sacrificing more if we ruthlessly imperil life on the planet … it isn’t difficult to live conscientiously … a “simple life” doesn’t mean “boring” or even “deprived” … i think it suggests respect more than anything … respect for oneself as well as for other living beings …

Monday, April 19th, 2010 | Author:  | 33,377 views - starting Aug 9/09

 

Leptonycteris curasoae. Copyright US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Recently, the explosion of agave nectar consumption has dramatically increased demand for the agricultural production of agave crops.  Agave nectar is advertised as a safe and nutritious alternative sweetener that can be enjoyed by everyone, especially diabetics, without the potential side-effects suffered from consuming sugar cane, honey, corn syrup, and sugar alcohols.  However, agave agriculture is not an ecologically sustainable practice.  The biodiversity of agave plants, their native desert ecosystems, and the pollinator bat species that depend on agave for food are all at risk.

It has become widespread knowledge that the world’s pollinators are dwindling.  Thanks to the global voices of entomologists (scientists who study insects) and ornithologists (scientists who study birds), public concerns about the precipitous decline in pollinator populations have motivated successful conservation strategies to help protect commonly loved species such as honey bees, Monarch butterflies, and various hummingbirds.

However, the number of plant pollinators whose existence is under threat is, sadly, far greater than what most people realize.  One very important group of pollinators, bats, is often overlooked; yet, in many ecosystems bats are primary pollinators and dispersers of seeds for thousands of plants, including plants used and consumed by humans.

Agaves are among the plants that some species of bats pollinate. However, what makes this relationship especially unique is that bats and agaves are reliant upon each other—loss of one will effect dire consequences for the other. So how does the agave nectar industry affect the ecology of bats and of agave? Let’s take a closer look at the biology of agaves and bats in South America.

more…

Thursday, October 15th, 2009 | Author:  | 4,259 views - starting Aug 9/09

i’m so pleased to see how many people are enjoying this blog … i’ve received a lot of fantastic feedback and a lot of questions about when the next posts will be coming … i’ve had to take a pause from writing for this blog because i’m currently editing a textbook (in addition to the usual smorgasbord of work contracts and academic interests that revolve through my mind on a daily basis) … i already have a million ideas bustling in my brain for future threads to post, but will likely write about an issue that is particularly urgent and that i am especially passionate about — the ecological and biological dangers of GMOsmore…

Category: agriculture, Ecosystems, GMOs, life  | 2 Comments

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Wednesday, July 29th, 2009 | Author:  | 11,641 views - starting Aug 9/09

piezoelectricity? … what is that? … too many syllables!

no, wait! read on!! … physics is really cool! …atom

understanding the physics of our world and of our surrounding galaxy and Universe is an intensely fascinating venture! … the principles of physics, chemistry, math, and biology that govern and effect our existence are literally incredible …

it’s exciting to see how persistent humans are in exploring realms of the unknown … we really are innately curious creatures, and that makes life a lot of fun! … for millenia humans have probed and prodded physical and metaphysical realms to search for the answers to their incessant, insatiable questions … this is a good thing because we’ve learned so much … the power of our knowledge, however, must be respected deeply because knowledge can be used destructively or constructively …

in the mid- to late-19th century, several scientists discovered some materials generate an electrical potential when they are mechanically stressed (e.g., squeezed, compressed, etc.) … dubbed piezomorphic (a word derived from Greek: piezo = squeeze or press + morh = form) substances, people soon realized that there was a great potential (no pun intended!) for using these materials to generate different forms of energymore…

Category: Energy  | Tags: , ,  | 6 Comments

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Monday, July 27th, 2009 | Author:  | 13,656 views - starting Aug 9/09

skinny whale what?!?

gray whale identification

a quick reference to distinguishing gray whales from other species ... click for a larger image

according to the urban dictionary, there is such a thing as “dolphin whale syndrome” … that made me chuckle …

according to biologists, however, there is also such as thing as “skinny whale syndrome” … this one’s not so funny …

skinny whale syndrome is a recent phenomenon that is being observed in pacific gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) by fishermen, local people living near marine environments, and marine biologists … the migration, feeding, and breeding behaviours of these magnificent mammals are changing … more…

Category: climate change, Ecosystems, life, oceans, water, wildlife  | Tags: , , , , , , ,  | 2 Comments

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Friday, July 24th, 2009 | Author:  | 8,258 views - starting Aug 9/09

weyburn project

here’s a look at a “real life” example of CO2 capture & storage (CCS) technology put into practice …

in north america, the weyburn project in weyburn, saskatchewan, canada, was actualized in 2000 … it involves capturing CO2 gas from the dakota gasification company (dgc), a coal gasification plant in north dakota …

according to the dgc website, “each day the synfuels plant converts approximately 18,000 tons of lignite coal into an average 145 million cubic feet of synthetic natural gas” … the CO2 gas by-product of burning coal is captured and ‘recycled’ by the oil extraction industry in saskatchewan instead of being released into the atmosphere … more…

Category: climate change, Energy, pollution  | Tags: , ,  | 3 Comments

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Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 | Author:  | 4,290 views - starting Aug 9/09
exposed bedrock in the guld of maine, usa

exposed bedrock in the gulf of maine, usa

well, if injecting CO2 supercritical gas into bedrock is loaded with caveats, imagine how much worse it is to inject CO2 gas into the ocean — a living ecosystem teeming with biota (albeit i am not averse to Buddhist teachings and the contemporary Gaeia hypothesis, which contend that all matter has life) …

i’m especially bothered by any anthropogenic perturbations to oceans, largely because my training and schooling as a marine biologist made me shockingly aware of the enormity and extent of issues plaguing marine ecosystems as well as the (often unappreciated) importance that oceans play in global ecosystems …

so what may happen as a result of our attempts to store excess atmospheric CO2 gas in oceans? more…

Category: climate change, Ecosystems, Energy, life, oceans, water, wildlife  | Tags: , , , ,  | Leave a Comment

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