The Oyster’s Garter is officially on indefinite hiatus, though the archives will remain up. Thanks for reading!
The Oyster’s Garter is going to be syndicated by Slate spinoff Double X! While the Oyster’s Garter home will remain here, blog posts will be simultaneously published over at Double X.
Double X is a new Web magazine, founded by women but not just for women, that Slate will launch in spring 2009. The site will spin off from Slate ‘s XX Factor blog, where we’ve started a conversation among women–about politics, sex, and culture–that both men and women listen in on…We’ll tackle subjects high and low with an approach that’s unabashedly intellectual but not dry or condescending.
Double X is scheduled to launch in early May. I’m planning some extra-special sciencey goodness for launch week, but if you have suggestions for a glorious meeting of ladyblog+marine science, let me know!
Both the House and the Senate have approved increased funding for ocean research! Sheril broke the news yesterday:
The package includes ocean exploration, NOAA undersea research, ocean and coastal mapping integration, the integrated coastal and ocean observation system*, federal ocean acidification research and monitoring, coastal and estuarine land conservation, and lots more…Folks, this is as much a bill about the environment as it is about people and our collective future.
The bill will now to to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law. Congratulations to all who worked hard to get this bill through!
For more ocean policy goodness, check out this NYT profile of Jane Lubchenco, the head of NOAA. She plans to create a climate observation service similar to the National Weather Service and to tackle the problem of overfishing.
Dr. Lubchenco, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a MacArthur grant recipient, said she did not take the NOAA job thinking it would be another chance for her to chip away at the culture of science — not consciously, anyway. “I took the job because I had the chance to be helpful,” she said.
As you might recall, I was honored to be included in Open Laboratory 2008, a compendium of the year’s best science blogging. Now I’m EXTRA thrilled to announce that Open Laboratory 2008 is now available for sale! Though you can read all the entries for free on their original blogs, why would you want to do that when you can keep & treasure this gorgeous volume?
In case you hadn’t already heard the news, President Bush has created three new marine protected area that encompasses some very special places. Newly protected areas include the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on earth*, and the Line Islands, home to some of the most pristine coral reefs left in the world.
So how will being in a reserve help these ecosystems? Classification as a national monument means that commercial fishing, waste dumping (yes, waste dumping is legal in many places) and oil drilling are banned. Critically, deep sea mining (as nearly brought about by the now-troubled Nautilus Mineral) will not be allowed.
Certainly, there’s room to increase these protections even further. Recreational fishing (with a permit) is still allowed, the waters above the Mariana trench are not protected, and Bush could have easily made the reserves even bigger. (Sarah Chasis at the Huffington Post has suggestions for the Obama administration.) But I am thrilled, and thankful, that President Bush took this enormous step forward to protect the oceans.
Now how about that Endangered Species Act?
*NOT the Laurentian Abyss, as stated by that respected scientific publication The Transformers movie. No crushed Decepticons will be protected by this reserve.
My Dear Oyster’s Garter column on shape-changing plankton, “How a coccolithophore without its plates is like a grin without a cat,” will be included in Open Laboratory 2008: The Best Science Writing on Blogs! Open Laboratory is a compendium of the year’s best science blogging, and my entry was one of the 50 selected from 518 nominations.
You’ll be able to get all 50 essays (plus a poem and cartoon) on caressable, lovable bound paper later in the month. Special thanks to Karen James for nominating the winning post, to editor Jennifer Rohn, and to the coordinators and judges – reading all 518 must have been quite the labor of love.
Last week, the California Public Utilities Commission approved a new power line through the desert – and I think it is a great decision. No, my brain hasn’t been eaten by development zombies…but allow me to transport you to those halcyon days of last July, when Eric wrote a Managed World entry on a tradeoff between generating solar power in the desert and running a power line through the relatively pristine Anza-Borrego State Park.
Besides damaging a gorgeous desert wilderness (with fantastic marine fossils! And most of the last population of Peninsular bighorn sheep! Can you tell I’ve got a crush on Anza-Borrego?), the power line through the undeveloped park would have seriously increased the risk of backcountry fires. Several of the October 2007 wildfires were started by power lines. Sure, the desert is fire-adapted, but it’s meant to burn every 20 years, not every 5, and that’s not even getting into the human and economic costs of GIANT FRIGGIN FIRES.
So why am I happy that the power line was approved? Because it won’t run through the park, but along an already-developed corridor – Interstate 8. The power line will not disrupt the wilderness, and since it’s along a busy freeway, hopefully any fires will be noticed and quickly controlled. And the dense population on the coast will have access to all that nice desert renewable energy.
There is a downside, of course. Since all of San Diego County’s electricity lines are alongside Route 8, a fire there could knock out electricity for the entire county. However, since we live in a mild climate – nobody’s going to freeze to death if the power goes out – it’s a risk that I am happy to take.
I think this is one Managed World tradeoff that we can celebrate. Yay solar power! Yay power-line-free wilderness!
Now where’s our cheap, subsidized residential solar panels?
My collection of marine invertebrate videos, proven to wow high school students, is now online! It’s organized by phylum, common name, action, feeding type, and location. Please enjoy, spineless brethren!
It’s a bit incomplete since I only teach half the phyla, but I’m going to keep on adding videos as I come across them. Suggestions for must-have videos or for better organization are most welcome.