Saturday, September 30, 2023

Recap Of 2023 RT Hawk Nestng Season


Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Biodiversity, Nature, Wildlife, Evolutionary Biology

Ed Hessler

Watch a recap of the 2023 nesting season with the Cornell University red-tailed hawks, Big Red and Arthur. It begins in February and ends when the fledgings leave the nest.

This was Big Red's 20th season, the  beginning and ending of another cycle of her life. Be sure to click the link below the 5 m 09 m video where you can read about hawks on the Cornell University campus. I didn't check the link to another video at the bottom but it's there and I hope worth your time and interest.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Friday Poem

Environmental & Science Education, Poetry, Art & Environment

Ed Hessler

It is from A Witness Tree, for which Robert Frost was awarded with the a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry 1943.

A Witness Tree was published by Henry Holt and Company, 1942.

Here is a short summary of the poem from AmericanPoems.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Bluefin Tuna

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Biodiversity, Nature, Wildlife, Earth & Space Sciences, Earth Systems, Sustainabiilty

Ed Hessler

Science Friday's Ira Flatow talks with Karen Pinchin, the author of "Kings of Their Own Ocean: Tuna, Obsession And The Future Of Our Seas."  The date of the 16m 5 s program is August 11, 2023.

Inside Hook interview with Pinchin.

A review, The Coast.

About the bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus).

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Nature Interviews Dr. Peter Hotez About His New Book On Anti-Science

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine, Science & Society, Literacy

Ed Hessler

This post began the day I read the interview below in the British journal Nature. It  has lain dormant in my e-mail draft box for a few days.  Not the best place to be because sometimes I overlook them, even forget about them. It is still recent though as well as important since it is about the dangers of anti-science; to be even more blunt "the deadly dangers...".

Some of you will recognize this name: Dr. Peter Hotez, a highly regarded vaccine specialist and developer. I've referred to him in some posts during the COVID - 19 pandemic. The threat to science literacy is real, as he put it "coordinated", one I don't think is likely to be overcome. Hotez his just released a book, The Deadly Rise of Anti-Science: A Scientist’s Warning Johns Hopkins University Press (2023).

The British journal Nature's Julian Nowogrodzki spoke with Dr. Hotez about his new book and anti-science views on society and also personally. As usual I'm including the titles given to the segments, teasers I hope will lead you to read it. I'm a science educator and literacy about science is perhaps as primary aim as there is. This essay shows how difficult this task is and remains.  

It may be found at Nature or in a  pdf. The article is described in Nature Briefing as a 7-minute read to give you an idea.
-- You prefer to say ‘anti-science aggression’ rather than ‘misinformation’. Why?

-- Anti-science rhetoric is not new. What’s changed?

-- How did you see this play out during the COVID-19 pandemic?

-- How did speaking out during the pandemic affect you?

--  So how can this be stopped?

-- What can researchers do?

-- What’s your advice for dealing with online trolls?

-- Have you changed anyone’s mind? 

-- In your book’s dedication, you thank police departments and hospital security forces for keeping your family safe. How do you deal with fear? 

-- What’s your message to scientists?
His advice to scientists included the noble work that scientists do and that the attacks have to do with political gain. He thinks "some comfort" can be found in that. This could be said to science educators, K-12 some of whom have felt pressure to change their curriculum to accomodate certain views, often included in legislation that so far has not passed in any state but has been widely introduced.
h/t To a friend for giving me kick in the britches to complete it and move it to the blog although I took my time about it. I'm always glad to be the beneficiary of another pair of eyes. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

10 Photographers Zoom In On Their Favorite Birds

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Nature, Biodiversity, Wildlife, Biological Evolution

Ed Hessler

The Smithsonian Magazine for September - October 2023 has an article Bird by Bird by Jennie Rothenberg Gritz in which "America's best wildlife photographers zoom in on their favorite feather creatures." Her introduction to the photographs will add to your enjoyment of this great article.

I don't know whether there are plans that it will ever become an exhibit - there are probably not  enough images - but I'm glad it is on an exclusive exhibit for us. The range maps are from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology;' ; and Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. 

The text is dissected as displayed but persevere for it is worth reading and will add to your enjoyment. These images show me what it means to be labeled a "top photographer" for these shooters are at the top of their game.
All of the birds are my favorites as are all of the images. And there is much to discover in them -inferences about habitat, behavior, adaptations, etc.

Monday, September 25, 2023

OTC Products Backed by Use of Science Words

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Literacy, Science & Society, Health, Medicine

Ed Hessler

Sunday, August 27, 2023 the Science & Health section of the StarTribune reprinted a column by Rina Raphael, a reporter for the New York Times. See end for details about access.

The article is about not being able to "browse a grocery store or pharmacy without being subject to labels that promote health benefits." Some examples may be found in the illustration by Nuri DuCassi of the Star Tribune who bordered the column with labels in the tradition of another era, including mortar and pestle and finger pointing hand. Some of them are "STIMULATES & BOOSTS," "DOCTOR RECOMMENDED", "EVIDENCE-BASED," "CLINICALLY -TESTED."

Raphael included other claims, too, such as those found in "the beauty department", and "the supplements section." You may have thought such claims had diminished with the end of the booming patent medicine era in the U.S. Such labels, with the glow and glitter of science terms have been used by"marketers for centuries." 
Such labels have been given a term coined by "Timothy Caulfield": 'scienceploitation.'"  (my emphasis).

Because I'm happy to note you can read the reporting, I'm not going to include much more from it. This is worth repeating though. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) revised its guidelines for health-related products which includes comments on health claims. They should be supported "with high quality, randomized, controlled human clinical trials." Sounds good but the explosion of brands makes this impossible "to monitor how companies market...without a huge increase in funding."

You'll learn why lists of ingredients obscure more than they reveal and what they hide in a thick fog; the common use of the disclaimer - "is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease."; mention of research studies on websites that summarize "emerging data without mentioning the product."

Raphael includes some recommendations for consumers some recommendations which I think can be helpful; and she notes that tne "buzzy" phrase "microbiome-friendly" has a special danger since microbiome research is in its infancy.

Mayo Clinic's Connect posted Raphaels's reporting. Same article in both news outlets, the New York Times and the Star Tribune. If you subscribe, look it up to see the wonderful illustration. You may be able to catch a glimpse even if you are not a subscriber of some of the illustration so here is the title again: Step Right Up! Buy a Cure Backed  By Science Words!
Please read the reporting. It is a welcome article for those interested in good health and scientific literacy. I'm glad the Star Tribune reprinted it. A real service to readers. 

One response to Raphael's reporting was published September 4, 2023 from a Minneapolis reader. It introduced me to a new term which is related to the idea of "scienceploitation": "science washing." I looked it up to find this definition: a "deliberate attempt to simulate scientific practices or quality to deceive others." It is behind a paywall but if you have a subscription type in "Letter. Evidence base can be pretty weak."  You may want to add the date, too (above).

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Sunspots Green Flashing

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Solar System, Earth & Space Science Earth Systems, Astronomy

Ed Hessler

Green rays of light can also be seen on the lower edges of large sunspots as well as their typical association with the upper and lower rims of the sun.

Photographer Marco Meniero posted an image and summary on Earth Science Picture of the Day (EPOD) in which four effects are shown.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

A Tree And A Red Sprite

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Earth & Space Science, Earth Systems, Art & Environment

Ed Hessler

This Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) features a composite image, using it to make reflective comments on time, distance, the unusual (extraordinary) and the common (ordinary), rates, brightness and darkness, fragility and durability.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Friday Poem

Environmental & Science Education, Poetry, Art & Environment, Childhood

Ed Hessler

Moon Breath is by Mary Jo Salter.

A recent Friday poem featured one of her poems but I found this one irresistible. The brief "about the poet" is found in the link above and is different from the previous one.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Tour of a Black Hole

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Astrophysics, Astronomy, Cosmology, History of Science

Ed Hessler

Take a journey inside a black hole without going there. You will remain intact but your brain may be jiggled.

Janna Levin, a theoretical physicist at Barnard College, is the tour guide (9 m). 

Brought to you by The Well (Big Think).


Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Changes in the Amazon

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Sustainability, Global Change, Global Climate Change, Nature, Wildlife

Ed Hessler

This immersive from the British journal Nature titled "Trouble in the Amazon," is about the rainforest beginning to release its stored carbon.

It includes photographs, videos, maps and charts. The reading time is estimated to be 22 minutes. There is also a plain PDF version which has a few pictures and maps.

I'm hesitant to post this because I think I've posted it before but it is dated August 24, 2023 and that's the day I wrote this.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

A Child Tells Us Children Can Thrive By Five

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Early Childhood, Science & Society, Brain

Ed Hessler

Seven-year-old Molly Wright, one of the youngest-ever TED speakers, talks about the research-backed ways parents and caregivers can support healthy brain development. Wright highlights the benefits of play on lifelong learning, behavior and well being. She is joined on stage by one-year old Ari and his dad. 7m 29s.

This program was one of the top ten TED science programs in 2021.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Do Your Own Reseach: Ideas on Doing Research That Can Be Meaningful When You Lack the Expertise


Environmental & Science Education, STEM, History of Science, Nature of Science

Ed Hessler

Just below is the "abstract" of another presentation by Sabine Hossenfelder. There is no script, etc., unless you are a member of her YouTube Patreon channel.

"A lot of scientists make jokes about people who do their own research. I want you to know, that it’s utterly okay to do your own research --- provided you do it right. But how do you do that? I have collected some tips that I hope you will find helpful." She talks about her experience for she talks a lot about areas in which she is not an expert or has the background.

These are ideas worth encountering and the lessons on doing science provide insights into the nature of science. As usual, have some note paper available if you want to know more about what a topic she mentions means.

The presentation is 18 minutes 27 seconds long.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Milkyway Airglow

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Earth & Space Science, Earth Systems, Astrophysics, Solar System

Ed Hessler

Earth Science Picture of the DAY (EPOD) for 9.7.2023 features a type of airglow, a phenomenon that I've never seen or heard of with respect to the Milkyway. It is something I'd love to see just once but don't expect I will. Much of what is above me is a victim of what I call "cityglow."

Observer and photographer Soumyadeep Mukerjee describes his unlikely-to-be-forgotten experience upon seeing for the first time and its causes, in a sky where chemistry and physics rule.

The Wiki entry on airglow or nightglow gives an idea of its range. I have noticed some of them before but never the one Mukherjee brought to the attention of EPOD viewers.


Saturday, September 16, 2023

Galaxy NGC 4632 Polar Ring

Environmental Science Education, STEM, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Cosmology, Earth & Space Science, Computation, Nature of Science

Ed Hessler

One thing hidden from optical telescopes is the Polar Ring of Galaxy NGC 4632. 

Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) features this ring composed of hydrogen gas, tells us how the image was made and offers a couple of hypotheses on their formation. It is another example of how new tools, techniques and science (computation) interact. Science and engineering.
I was interested to learn that other rings have been discovered using starlight. FiveThirtyEight Science by Rebecca Boyle has a comprehensive explanation of its use, especially in the detection of planets. 

APOD's image of the hidden polar ring serves as a frame for the galaxy with a tail just long enough to be in the shape of the letter 9.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Friday Poem

Environmental & Science Education, Poetry, Art & Environment, Nature, Wildlife, Biodiversity

Ed Hessler

Two Pigeons is by Mary Jo Salter. 

Publishing information is found below the poem.

Mary Jo Salter is Krieger-Eisenhower Professor at Johns Hopkins.

I enjoyed this long conversation (1:21:08) with her by Seth J. Gillihan who hosts the Pod Cast Series, Think Act Be.  Gillihan  provides a list of some of the topics the two of them talked about. Of course she reads a few poems. The podcast was reproduced on Listen Notes, a search engine for podcasts.  I've no experience with the podcast world and must rely on you.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

An Analysis of Stone Balls from Archeological Sites

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Archeology, Models, Nature of Science, History of Science, Society, Culture, Computation

Ed Hessler

This news report by news intern Phie Jacobs in the journal Science (September 5, 2023) for general readers may be read here; the original technical paper on which the news report is based may be read here.  The latter includes information about the authors, their contributions, the abstract, introduction which includes background and the question, a map you will find useful, diagrams/illustrations, and a discussion. It is always of interest to compare the titles.

These three sentences from the abstract provide my introduction.  "Spheroids are one of the least understood lithic items yet are one of the most enduring, spanning from the Oldowan to the Middle Palaeolithic. Why and how they were made remains highly debated. We seek to address whether spheroids represent unintentional by-products of percussive tasks or if they were intentionally knapped tools with specific manufacturing goals."

Jacobs describes how scientists at the Computational Archaeology Laboratory of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI) developed new, sophisticated, 3D analysis software that can measure angles on the surface of a spheroid, calculate the level of surface curvature, and determine the object’s center of mass. They used this software to analyze 3D scans of 150 limestone spheroids from the northern Israeli site."  From this, a  reconstruction on how they might have been made followed--"as best they could."

For the researchers the analysis hints that early toolmakers had an appreciation for both symmetry and beauty." Of course, a dissenting view with reasons and suggestions to further buttress the case, is presented. The Jacobs reporting includes an image at the top that will tell you why this analytic approach was required. The spheroids consist of limestone. Two other definitions may be helpful: Acheulean and symmetry

Information about writer Phie Jacobs is at the end of his report.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

An Early Bird-Like Dinosaur

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Biological Evolution, Paleontology, Nature of Science, History of Science

Ed Hessler

--Early bird evolution is complicated. -- Hailu You, palaontologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 
You is a co-author of a September 6, 2023 paper published in the British journal Nature titled "A new avialan theropod from an emerging Jurassic terrestrial fauna."

Jude Coleman has written a Nature News comment which is archived here and I hope stable. I include both because most are tucked away behind a paywall PDQ but both are working at the time of posting.

The quote in the epigraph is one to remember not only with respect to early bird evolution but to evolution, generally. See Orgel's 2nd rule which is related. Coleman notes that its specialty was likely running or wading not flying like a contemporary Archaeopteryx. Both lived 150 mya

Coleman quotes paleontologist Mark Loewen who was not not involved in the study said that the research "'adds to mounting evidence that by the time of Archaeopteryx, dinosaurs had already diversified into different kinds of birds." 
This means new ecological niches.

There is an artist's rendition of this bantam-sized bird. The colors, as much as we might like them to be real are the product of imagination.

The reporting by Coleman is short but richly so I'll not extract from it. There is a reference for the original paper, which is behind a paywall, with some information visible - the title, about the authors and a few lines from the abstract. 
There are the usual insights in Coleman's reporting into how scientist's reason as well as how evolution works. 

This was a lucky find as Coleman observes.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

The Souring of Sour Cherry Farming in Michigan.

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Agriculture, Society, Sustainability

Ed Hessler

The headline below from the StarTribune business section for August 20, 2023 caught my attention. The photograph at the top --a page wide -- of an orchard in Michigan also drew me in. I was led me to speculate, assume I knew what was ahead.  I didn't The headline:

"Michigan Cherry Farmers Abandoning Business." 
The reporting, reprinted in the Star Tribune is by Candice Williams of the Detroit News.

You probably know where I'm going with respect to the cause. I thought of global change, particularly climate change.

It is due to local and global changes but ones very easily overlooked by most of us as we go about our business.

The list can be reduced to two: "weather concerns and competition from imports that have driven down -- and in some cases eliminated --- profits for tart cherry farmers."

At one time Michigan was the top tart cherry producer but in 2012, writes Williams, the "tart cherry crop harvest was low, blamed on bad weather." The result was that "U.S. processors turned to imports to fill the gap." "Julie Gordon, president at the Cherry Marketing Institute in Dewitt, Mich," noted that "most of our processors went back to domestic product, but then some of them did not. ... Over the years, it's just increased."

What happens when the decision is made by farmers  to "stop growing cherries is that they remove the trees from their orchards so they don't become a haven for insects and diseases that would impact other farmers." Other factors have come into play as well, e.g., "invasive species...suburban sprawl, markets that favor imports with their support of low prices, etc.... ... making it more economically feasible to develop the land." 

The reporting is sprinkled throughout with comments from others including farmers, one a "fourth generation farmer, John Pulcipher" who went out of business and Doug White, a neighbor who lives close by who is also "exiting the business."  
White puts it plainly "'Business has changed. I guess I need to move on. The margins aren't there" as Pulcipher also noted. White has some ideas and hopes for how the land might be used which depend on investors, one of which will still  allow "'people (to) come and enjoy the views that I've had over 35 years." The photograph gracing this article give you an idea of just how lovely that view is.

Sour cherry farmers have very few options. 
Who knows whether and for how long current conditions will be stable. It is not hard to imagine changes in some of these variables, e.g., tariff regulations, unforeseen supply chain changes, the energy costs of importing sour cherries as well as such costs in the domestic distribution network. You can imagine others. Our global interdependence in just one of these--farming practices, new environmental regulations, a series of bad weather, climate change could lead to much deeper and wide-ranging problems.

The Star Tribune article is protected by a paywall but here is the full story from ArcaMax. It  includes a smaller image of that view overlooking Lake Michigan.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Project Feederwatch Sign Up

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Behavior, Biodiversity, Biological Evolution, Sustainability, Global Change, Citizen Science

Ed Hessler

This offer of a poster - a double sided "Summer Birds With Bird Friendly Garden Plants" -  for becoming a member of the the 2023-24 Cornell Lab FeederWatch season ends September 30 2023. You don't need a feeder, just an area with plantings, habitat, water or food that attracts birds.

Details here.

About Project FeederWatch. (Shows a previous poster.)

Sunday, September 10, 2023

APOD Update: Comet Nishimura

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Earth & Space Sciences, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Solar System

Astronomy Picture of the Week (APOD) includes a new image of Comet Nishimura. 

It's tail is growing. The whole comet, tail and coma is aglow with light that is nearly magical. 

The image includes comments on when it will be nearest earth, nearest the sun, comet debris, and where to look for it.

A beauty and an interesting astronomical event.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Take a Moment With Nature's Sounds Backed With Fitting Human Music

Environmental & Science Education, Art & Environment, Nature, Wildlife

Ed Hessler

Tim Kahl is a producer of videos for poetry readings around the Sacramento, CA area, in particular the Sacramento Poetry Center (SPC).

You may view one of them here (44s)--a moment with nature with a human musical touch that doesn't overwhelm the natural sounds which are identified. You will also note that the SPC still exists. Clade, their journal is published semiannually, but for me the arithmetic doesn't work when I try to learn the publication date of a particular issue which are issued without dates.

Friday, September 8, 2023

Friday Poem

Environmental & Science Education, Poetry, Art & Environment

Today's poem includes two poems about the well-known painting by Pieter BrueghelThe Fall of Icarus.

These are but two of several poems about this painting but these two are often found referenced to the other.

There is a small image of the painting with the link to the Auden poem, Musee des Belles Arts. The link to The Fall of Icarus above has a much enlarged painting as well as an extensive explanation about it.

For information about the Greek myth of Icarus this one is divided into short sections where you can learn about events leading up to the fall to Icarus's  drowning.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

An Octopus Behavior in the Deep Ocean

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Earth Systems, Earth & Space Science, Nature, Wildlife, Nature of Science, History of Science

Ed Hessler

Science Advances reports (23 August 2023, v. 934, # 34) on a paper by 18 authors titled "Abyssal hydrothermal springs—Cryptic incubators for brooding octopus."

The introduction notes that "of all the hurdles faced by animals in the deep sea, cold may be the most challenging. Metabolism slows as temperature drops. ... Consequently, growth, locomotion, reproduction, and similar integrative physiological processes are typically slow in deep- or cold-water species, often lead to delayed (embryonic) development, low birth rates and long lives. Rates of embryonic development...for species inhabiting waters near  0 degrees C can be 4 to 33 times slower than related taxa from waters 10 degrees C warmer.

In deep waters "off central California, thousands of octopus (Muusoctopus robustus) migrates through cold dark waters to hydrothermal springs near an extinct volcano to mate, nest, and die, forming the largest known aggregation of octopus on Earth. Warmth from the springs plays a key role by raising metabolic rates, speeding embryonic development, and presumably increasing reproductive success (the authors) call attention that brood times for females are ~1.8 years, far faster than expected for abyssal octopods.

The Octopus Garden as it is known, is found in waters 3175- to 3300-m depth (~10417 ft to ~10827 ft) "to which male and female M. robust migrate to these hydrothermal springs.  ... The remarkable aggregation of ~ 6000 M. Robustus nesting at (these depths)... at the Octopus Garden suggests strongly that this breeding behavior provides a reproductive advantage." 

The authors also discuss this as an adaptation. "Deep-sea octopuses that nest on the seafloor require exposed rock surfaces for egg laying. M. robustus, after spending much of its life foraging over the muddy abyssal landscape, finds its way to relatively rare rocky habitat on seamounts to reproduce, resulting in localized breeding groups. Aggregation in rocky areas, with or without thermal springs have influenced reproductive success by enhancing made finding. However, not all rock surfaces are suitable.... Currents sweeping over the knoll housing the Octopus Garden, weak flow from hydrothermal springs, and perhaps also the nesting behavior of M. robustus act to resuspend and sweep away fine sediments to maintain open space. .... Whether the use of thermal springs by M. robustus arose in part from the availability of suitable nesting space or ... ancestral affinity...for warm brooding sites is unknown."

The authors wonder whether such thermal springs are common or just hard to find (cryptic) and make some suggestions on selecting possible sites for future research.

The paper includes graphs, illustrations and photographs.  There is much more in this paper if you want a deeper "dive," e.g., the materials and methods section. Remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROV) are a relatively new tool which is changing deep water research practices as well as its nature, extending the history of science.

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins wrote a book, "The Extended Phenotype."  I don't see it mentioned very often, if at all any more and it isn't in this paper, but at one time, as this Wiki entry notes "the concept of extended phenotype has provided a useful frame for subsequent scientific work.  Dawkins himself asserted, 'Extended phenotypes are worthy of the name only if they are candidate adaptations for the benefit of alleles responsible for variations in them," illustrating the idea with a possible candidate construction: "a beaver's dam."
PubMed has a report published in 2018 which is about the revival of the extended phenotype. The author ends the paper by writing "What is beyond doubt then is that the original EP concept is alive and well and has become a seed corn for research into evolution and coexistence within ecosystems of varying complexities. On the practical side, it is timely as a better understanding of the co‐evolution of species in complex ecosystems has great potential for agricultural applications and for conservation and mitigating climate change."

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Pollination: Bees at Work

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Science Images for August from the Journal Nature

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Art & Environment, Science & Society, Nature, Wildlife, Earth & Space Science, Earth Systems, Astrophysics, Astronomy

Ed Hessler

It's September and a new gallery of the sharpest science shots from August's abundance has been chosen by Nature's photography team.  Emma Stove provides comment on each of them.

Visit and return anytime via this link.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Fire When Microgravity Prevails

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Earth & Space Science, Earth Systems, Solar System, Astrophysics

Ed Hessler

What fire looks like under the condition of microgravity has been tested in the International Space Station's Combustion Integration Rack.

Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) has an image and their usual through explainer with links. You might ask why do this in the first place. Our curiosity played a part but some of the motivation was to help scientists understand fire.

Here is the eye-poppiing image. Take a guess on what you think it looks like before opening the link. I didn't have the chance and would certainly have been wrong, When I opened this I have no idea of what's ahead.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

A Geomicrobiologist at Work

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Geology, Earth & Space Science, Earth Systems, Nature of Science

Where I Work (Nature, August 28, 2023) is about geomicrobiologist Karen Lloyd, a member of the Department of Microbiology, University of Tennessee.
Writer Virginia Gewin introduces us.

The short article with a photograph of Lloyd in a pool around a hot spring in Chile may be read here.


Saturday, September 2, 2023

Farmers Adapting to The Growing Pattern of Extreme Weather

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Sustainability, Agriculture, Global Change, Climate Change

Ed Hessler

--It (farming) seems like a constant challenge with the weather. But I have a hard time blaming Mother Nature for it. That's her job. And it's our job to deal with it --Zack Koscielny, Farmer, Green Beach Farm, Strathclair, Manitoba (Star Tribune, July 2, 2022)

In a story reprinted in the Star Tribune on July 2, Sara Miller Llana and Stephanie Hanes for the Christian Science Monitor with a contribution on a Minnesota family who practices another form of this farming by Star Tribune reporter Gail Rosenblum write about the nature of that  "job" and what the Kossicielny family (son, father and mother, 4th generation farmers) is doing, "instead of all this 'woe is me' stuff, as son Zack Kosscielny. put it. He thinks "farmers have such an opportunity if the magae land properly and stop fighting Mother Nature."

The family has faced "successive dry spells", a "major spring blizzard...flooding in the Red River Valley" which "brought unseasonably cold, damp weather that has delayed planting across the province." The family has chosen to intercrop, pasture pigs and chickens outdoors where calves are now born rather than in a barn, rotational grazing, cover cropping "or even growing trees in pastures.". All this goes under the general rubric of "regenerative agriculture".

Zack Koscielny "grew up ecologically minded" and "after earning a degree in agroecology at the University of Manitoba, he had no intention of going into monoculture-style grain production." He now runs "800 acres that have seen Timothy grass and a variety of vetches return. With big cracks forming on his hills last year, the rains this year are not replenished by 'any stretch,' he says. "'But we're just surprised how much progress we've made. And even with dry conditions we've added animals every year of the drought..'"

Reporter Gail Rosenbaum highlights another aspect of permaculture. Anne and Peter Schwagerl of Browns Valley, MN plant "Kernza, a perennial wheat that will make their soil more resilient to erosion." It, as Anne Schwager said, "provides an armor for the soil. It's like a cousin to wheat, but you don't have to work the ground."

The reporting includes more details on this way of agriculture and I urge you to read it in full if you can. It is as as you would suspect behind a subscription wall. Here is the report published in another outlet.

In addition, the  reporters call attention to the Manitoba Forage & Grassland Association Conference in November on regenerative agriculture" on the practices and the questions they and climate change raise for agriculture in the near and long-term future.