Sunday, April 30, 2017

Meet the Kids Who Are Suing the Adminstration About Climate Change

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Climate Change
Environmental & Science Education

A short video by an incredible group of young people.

And here is a short article about them.

In closing, Be the Rain by Neil Young.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday Poem

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Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

A Friday poem by poet, journalist and civil servant,  C. P. Cavafy

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Galapagos Islands: The Charles Darwin Research Center & 4 Conservancy Projects

by Steven Beardsley

The Charles Darwin Research Center
In December I had the opportunity to visit the Galapagos Islands. In Santa Cruz I got to visit the famous Darwin Center that is completely funded through donations from people around the world. The following are about 4 different projects conducted by the center alone, aimed at fostering environmental education as well as conservation efforts on the island.

Restoring Mangrove Finch Population

Information on the Magrove Finch Recovery Project
On the Galapagos Islands the first thing you notice are the glut of finches that are in the cities and airports. Unlike pigeons, these finches are magnificent and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Many probably remember that these finches were what inspired Darwin’s theory of adaptation as each finch had a different shaped beak that allowed them to only eat certain things. While I was at the station I learned about a project to restore the Mangrove Finch population. The project focuses on protecting the finches from other birds and invasive species that try to eat the finches’ eggs.

The Galapagos Verde 2050 Project with Information on Groasis

Galapagos Verde 2050

As the name suggests, this project aims to restore the degraded ecosystems of the Galapagos to benefit both the animals and people living here. The project does this “through the use of the Groasis Technology” (Galapagos Verde 2050). I looked up what the project meant by “Groasis Technology,” which apparently means technology that helps plants survive in arid environments where there is little rainfall. Check out this site with a video and info graphic to learn more.

Vegetation present on the Islands

Restoring “Los Gemelos”

“Los Gemelos” translates directly to “The Twins,” but refers to an area in Santa Cruz where two magma chambers were formed from volcanic activity. This particular area is important because it is home to a forested area dominated by a specific species of tree called giant daisy-tree or Scalesia pedunculata. As one can imagine, this species of trees is endangered by invasive species such as blackberry plants. According to the “Restoring Los Gemelos” project, the focus is to "restore the 100 hectares of remaining Scalesia” (Restoring Los Gemelos).

With Galapagos Turtles at the Breeding Center on Santa Cruz Island

Galapagos Turtle Restoration Initiative

The final project that learned about that is common throughout the islands is the Galapagos Turtle Restoration Initiative. I will talk more about the Galapagos turtles and sad history of their exploitation in another post, but in general there are at least one turtle breeding center on each of the populated islands: Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Floreana, and Isabella. Santa Cruz with the Charles Darwin Research Center has two breeding centers. Long term goals of this project include: “Restoring tortoise populations to historical numbers, including those considered 'extinct in the wild,' through a combination of in situ management, breeding and rearing tortoises where appropriate, and repopulation of Santa Fe Island, where the endemic tortoise species is extinct, through the use of an analog (closely-related) species" (Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative).

Standing with a bust of Charles Darwin

In addition to these conservancy projects, the center provides educational videos and exhibits on the history of Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle,the volcanic formation of the islands, and various examples of skeletal structures of the animals. The station also has a library that I, unfortunately, did not get to visit because it only opened on Monday and Wednesday at certain hours.

Additional Resources on Conservancy Projects on the Islands:
Galapagos Verde 2050
Galapagos Tortoise Restoration

Steven Beardsley is a graduate of Hamline University. He worked for the Center for Global Environmental Education throughout his four years. Steven is now teaching English in Ecuador and periodically posting about his travels while there.

National Parks from Space

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Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

In celebration of National Park Week April 15 to April 23, 2017, National Geographic posted some photographs of several national parks--the icons, I suppose--from space.

Breathtakingly beautiful.

You can, if you, want compare and contrast landforms and landscapes.

For those parks you've visited you can see them from a much different perspective and appreciate them differently.  For those you haven't visited you can simply be glad that the parks are there.

The Washington Post published a few if these and included the accompanying National Geographic stories.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Hamline's composting pilot is now underway!

CGEE Student Voice
Waste Diversion
Campus Sustainability
by Jenni Abere

After a year of planning and several near-starts, we officially started our organics composting pilot on the second floor of Anderson Center, during Earth Week.

Hamline head of Dining Services, Ed Kreitzman, posing with the new bins.
The pilot is sort of a hodgepodge, using the same bins and simply covered up the old signs with new signs. If it goes well, composting will be a permanent part of Hamline's waste diversion and we may get new bins to fully integrate it.

Dining Services and Catering switched their inventory over to all compostable items: cups, bowls, plates, straws, utensils ... These items are used at the Piper Grill in the evening hours, as well as to supplement the washable dishes in the dining hall.

I've spent some time standing by the bins and helping people with the new change -- and observing how people react to it. Most people are very excited to see this. Some people are confused, but it's easy to learn. It actually requires less sorting than our old system since basically everything is compostable now.

There doesn't appear to be any contamination in the composting bins, which is great. There's no sorting process for composting and plastic contamination is a big problem for soil quality. However, much of what ends up in the recycling and trash bins should be composted. People are still confused about napkins, since they are used to throwing them in the trash for so long. The compostable "plastic" greenware also confuses people and has ended up in recycling bins.

I'm a little worried that if there are any problems, we'll stop collecting compost. But I think that people are already picking up on it, and that it will be a success. We're hoping to demonstrate that this change will actually save us money, since there is a tax on trash and not on composting. If everybody pays attention to the change, and starts off on the right foot, composting will be a part of Hamline for years to come.


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Edward Hessler

So, what's it like to be a squirrel?

While we really can't know one of the first steps is to follow their steps for a few minutes. I marvel at their climbing and traversing skills.

NPR has a feature today on their GoPro worldview. So, click and be in awe of their abilities.

The NPR piece by Adam Frank is really a double-feature--a film and an informed, interesting philosophical discussion about being something other than your self, a something that is conscious.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Post Earth Day Musing

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Earth Day
Edward Hessler

This year was the celebration, maybe marking is the better term, of Earth Day.
Number 47.

It takes a moggie to provide some perspective, even a drawing of one or in this case two, commenting, in their inimitable ZEN way on the event.

About Alfred Wegener: Continental Drift

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History of Science
Edward Hessler

Sweet Fern Productions does it again with this short animated film on Alfred Wegener. I think it is paper and string made possible by a compelling vision and immense talent.
Wegener was a meteorologist who noticed some things about the shapes of continents and suggested a solution to one of Pangea's puzzles: continental drift known by different names today. Wegener is a story, a real story in the history of science.

The principals of Sweet Fern Productions are Flora Lichtman and Sharon Shattuck. Lichtman was once a regular on NPR's Science Friday. They are drop dead talented.
There are not many historical novels about science that do what Clare Dudman accomplishes in "One Day The Ice Will Reveal All Its Dead."   It is as it said, a "page turner" with each page beautifully written while sticking to the science.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

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Earth Day
Edward Hessler

A few items about the March for Science and Earth Day.

--Here are some samples of signs from various marches for science.

--Here are Bill Nye's "The Science Guy" remarks to the crowd in D. C. on the occasion of the march for science.

Fire in a hard, pouring rain.

Thanks, Mr. Nye.
--It IS Earth Day, too an event thatsometimes seems submerged in the March for Science.  The Google Doodle for Earth Day is wonderful.

A fox leaves a warm bed after dreaming what our planet might be if the climate changes too much. On the way, the fox grabs some friends and together they come up with some solutions.

Here, it is.
Take care.

Friday, April 21, 2017

March for Science

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Edward Hessler

When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.--Winnie-the-Pooh

So if you need help deciding on whether or not to march for science April 22, here is some help. Make use of a time-honored decision tree.

If you've not been following the media a lot of ink has been thrown as well as words voiced on whether the march is a good thing or a bad thing. Should it be pure? What happens when "impurities" are added and so on. For me, at least three cheers for science!

Thank you, PZ Myers, UMN-Morris for posting this great cartoon.

Friday Poem

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Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

Today's poem is by Lou Lipsitz.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Tyson on the Denial of Science

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Environmental & Science Education
History of Science
Edward Hessler

I hope you've run into this video already but if not here it is.

Renowned astrophysicist and public face of science, Neil deGrasse Tyson has a new video on science denial as well as what science is.  

It is a wonderful prelude to the March for Science. It is billed as a message to politicians and while it is not likely to change anyone's mind about the value of science, these are words and images worth one's time.  

He does a great job with the nature of the beast--what science is and how it works.

It may be viewed here.


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Edward Hessler

The Texas Hill Country is known for its beautiful flowers.

Here is a lovely group of photographs.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Doctors in War Zones

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by Edward Hessler

Syrian Doctors is the title of a Charlie Rose interview with Dr. Rola Hallam and Dr. Annie Sparrow, physicians who have been on the front lines delivering medical assistance in war-torn Syria.

The compelling interview is not too long, about 13 minutes.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Pulitzer Prize: Editorial Writing

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Water & Watersheds
Environmental and Science Education
by Edward Hessler

I don't miss Ron Meador's columns on the environment (MinnPost). If his pieces are not the best in the state, they rank right up there. Today Meador starts by by saying that he writes "in appreciation, admiration and even a little awe of Art Cullen of Storm Lake, Iowa, winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in editorial writing."

The subject of these columns has been fertilizer-laden run-off from Big Ag and buffer strips.

After reading Meador's column I find myself in awe of Mr. Cullen and am glad to know about his work. You may read the essay here. I hope you will.

For a British take see here.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Interview with Catherine Hayhoe

Climate Change
by Edward Hessler

Katharine Anne Scott Hayhoe is both an atmospheric and political scientist at Texas Tech University.  She also is director of the Climate Science Center.

Professor Hayhoe is also an evangelical Christian.


In this short interview, starting at ~ 4:34, she and New Yorker editor, David Remnick discuss climate change and her work.

And if you are a fan of Margaret Atwood, this segment also includes a discussion with her about the reality of perhaps her most well known book, The Handmaid's Tale.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

March for Science: Preview

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Art and Environment
by Edward Hessler

Jane Hirshfield is chancellor of the American Academy of Poets. She will read this poem from the stage at the Washington March for Science, April 22.

There is a wonderful affinity in this poem with another day of celebration, memory and sadness on April 22: Earth Day!

Put on those walkin' shoes and march where you are and whatever you are doing, even in place.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday Poem

Art and Environment
by Ed Hessler

Today's poem is by Jim Culleny.

Read it while drinking a cup of coffee. Tea will work, too. As will a glass of water. You don't need to drink anything but drink it up. The poem in my view is good to the very last drop.

[Wikimedia Commons]

Mr. Culleny is poetry editor of 3QuarksDaily. Man, he knows poetry and has introduced me to many poets. I look forward to his choices. He also writes fine poems. Here is a little about him (scroll down) and the blog, 3QuarksDaily.

And about those quarks. Murray Gell-Mann named a group of elementary atomic particles "quarks". They are fundamental parts of matter. About the choice of this name he wrote:

The mathematics clearly called for a set of underlying elementary objects — at that time we needed three types of them — elementary objects that could be combined three at a time in different ways to make all the heavy particles we knew. ... I needed a name for them and called them quarks, after the taunting cry of the gulls, "Three quarks for Muster mark," from Finnegan's Wake by the Irish writer James Joyce.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Tongues of Sandpaper

Environmental & Science Education
by Edward Hessler

A cat's sandpapery tongue [Wikimedia Commons]

I'm quite sure that those of you who like kittehs have felt their sandpapery tongues and noticed how they drink.

KQED takes a deep look at moggie tongues.

A another good film and a great story.

Monday, April 10, 2017


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Water and Watersheds
by Edward Hessler

The Atchley family—Romey, David, Sky and their dog, Charley—is the only family that lives in what they clearly regard as splendid isolation on the bank of the Nowitna River, Alaska. They've lived there for about 20 years.

The family keeps its own time, moving clock hands forward or backward depending on the light.

Photographer Ed Gold visited them in winter and shot some photographs of what this way of life is like.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Friday Poetry Extra

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Art and Environment
by Edward Hessler

Each year the Park Bugle, a newspaper serving the neighborhoods of St. Anthony Park/Falcon Heights/Lauderdale/Como Park, St Paul publish a spring poetry issue.

This year is the seventh. The poems are chosen from submissions by residents. You can meet them here and read the winning entries.

One of them, F. Garvin Davenport, is a former Hamline University faculty member (English) and  administrator. He gave distinguished service to both. Davenport retired after forty years of service to this university. Dr. Davenport and I shared a love of redbuds.

Professor Davenport also introduced visiting scientists who participated in two marvelous HU lecture series, one in physics, the other in chemistry. He talked; we ate lunch. What a deal! These introductions were wonderfully honed comments by someone who cared about the speaker and us, the listeners. Fortunately a few of these were compiled into a small booklet before he left.  These comments put paid to the famous/infamous divide between C. P. Snow's two cultures, "science" and "the arts." In my view, certainly in a liberal arts college/university, both are liberal arts.

Hamline Magazine did a story on Dr. Davenport upon his retirement entitled "Life in the Liberal Arts." I send the magazine in its entirety. The story is found on pages 15 and following.

Friday Poem

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Art and Environment
by Edward Hessler

Today's poem is by Wislawa Szymborska.


A major film—A Quiet Passion—about poet Emily Dickinson was released earlier this year. For reviews see Rotten Tomatoes.

I offer a short film narrated by PBS's Jeffrey Brown on a recent Dickinson exhibit as a substitute!

April is National Poetry Month.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Cardboard Boats

Environmental & Science Education
by Edward Hessler

Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

The Milk Carton Boat Race at the Minneapolis Aquatennial is now a memory, a casualty of shortening the Aquatennial from two weeks to four days. Most of those boats used plastic milk cartons although some, "purists" one could say, used cardboard cartons.

A milk carton boat at the Aquatennial. [Michael Hicks, 2005] 

Cardboard boat races were alive and well at the University of New Brunswick—Fredericton, Canada this week. At the end of the semester, second year civil engineering students were challenged to float a boat constructed from cardboard and duct tape in a test of water worthiness. The competition was held in the Lady Beaverbrook swimming pool.

Professors Bruce Wilson and Katy Haralampides captained the boats.

No boat made it from one end of the pool to the other but some came close. One boat managed to float four students until "raucous behaviour" sank it (Now, this is hard to imagine.) About the boats Professor Haralampides said "Structurally—for the most part—they were okay. Overall they floated the whole way."

In a pool interview Haralampides listed some things students learned doing this project. "Teamwork skills, communication skills, analyzing, buoyancy calculations, stress and bending-moment calculations. It's also interactive and a lot of fun." A pretty decent list.

The article with a short video may be viewed here.

Monday, April 3, 2017

A Teacher Alert: A Mailing about Climate Change is on the Way to Your Mailbox

Climate Change
Environmental & Science Education
by Edward Hessler

On March 20 I received a mailing from a colleague about an unsolicited national mailing from the Heartland Institute to science teachers and science department chairs. It included a book entitled Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming and an accompanying DVD. The following day a Minnesota science teacher received the same mailing. It is likely that other Minnesota educators have also received this.

The first mailing was to 25,000 science teachers. The plan is for a similar mailing every two weeks until every public school science teacher in the nation is reached. I've seen numbers in excess of 200,000.

The mailing was the topic of a story by Frontline (March 28). It is also the topic of an important blog post by Greg Laden, a Twin Cities blogger who writes frequently and I think with some authority on climate change.

Dr. Laden's post includes information about the Heartland Institute, consensus science (a relatively new concept in science) and references to several recent books on climate change.  From my perspective it is a valuable and useful post for science and environmental educators. I recommend you scan the responses and Laden's responses.

You will notice in Laden's responses that he has insights into the nature of teaching, the daily life of teachers and standards in science.

Naomi Klein who writes for The Nation attended and reported on the Heartland's Institute's Sixth International Conference on Climate Change in 2011. It was received with mixed responses!

h/t Glenn Branch, NCSE for pointing me to the PBS report.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Water IS Life

Civil War
Water & Watersheds
by Edward Hessler

NPR's Goats and Soda premiers a film today on transporting water from the Nile to Palorinya, a refugee camp in Uganda.

The camp like all these camps lie far from both my reality and imagination of what a refugee camp is like. It is not a week-end camping on the North Shore or camping to see the Sandys staging for their northern push in Nebraska.

The Palorinya refugee camp is now home to Sudanese who have come there because of civil strife in Sudan. For how long is not known.

Each day refugees are provided 15 liters (~4 gallons) of water for ALL of their daily needs. The average US family, on the other hand, uses about 1135 liters  (300 gallons) of water each day. And it comes directly to us, in pipes, from faucets. We do none of the "getting."

Refugee camp in Ethiopia, 2008 - Photo by John Lavall

Let's see. I washed this morning, drank a couple glasses of water brushed my teeth, flushed the toilet, made a single cup of coffee and cleaned the filter, each done casually and without regard. (We've a new filter in the office and it takes more water to clean after emptying than I expected and then there is the sponging up after...)

Water is an expectation of daily life here. There it is a hope and worked for. It organizes daily life.

The film was made by Tim McDonnell who had come on a Fulbright National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship to document the effects of climate change on food supplies.