Ocean win in Congress! Plus, Lubchenco in NYT.

March 26, 2009

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.


The Managed World: Wolves in the West

April 13, 2008

There is no place on earth, no matter how remote, untouched by humans. We are mighty: we can trawl the deep, explore the South Pole, and fish every single island in the South Pacific. But as every young nerdling knows, with great power comes great responsibility. That is why I’m introducing a new series in the Oyster’s Garter: The Managed World.

If we want to have nice things, like coral reefs and top predators, we’re going to have to actively take care of them. There’s too many people with too much technology for a laissez-faire approach. We need to actively choose the world we want to live in – and I am rooting against the world of Oryx and Crake.

So, for this first Managed World: wolves. The American West isn’t as big as it used to be. There’s no uninhabited lands for unprotected wolves to roam – instead, there’s a patchwork of ranches and towns and farms. So do we want truly wild wolves? Or do we only want to have wolves as exhibits in a park-zoo?

Read the rest of this entry »


Tell environmental philanthropists how to spend their money!

March 19, 2008

Don’t have huge wads of cash to donate but wish you did? Tell philanthropy-minded rich folks how to spend their environmental dollars. The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (of NPR advertising fame) funded the Keystone Center for Science & Public Policy to create a “listening survey” designed to answer this question:

What are the major challenges to biodiversity conservation over the next 5 to 10 years and beyond and what might be the most significant opportunities for philanthropic impact?

The results will inform the Doris Duke Foundation’s giving. In other words, this survey could have a real impact in how environmental dollars are spent. So click here to tell them what you think!

The survey took me about 15 minutes to complete. There aren’t many questions, but many of them are open-ended. And you get a cookie at the end! (ok, it’s only a nerd-cookie, but you do get to see the results of the survey so far. including write-in comments.)

Via Bug Girl


China bans plastic shopping bags

January 12, 2008

Like South Africa, Ireland, Taiwan, and Bangladesh, China has banned free plastic shopping bags. The flimsiest bags are banned outright, while merchants will be required to charge extra for the more study type. Go China!

Screw that scene in American Beauty – plastic bags are ugly litter, clog storm drains, and blow into waterways. At sea, 90% of the trash I see is plastic bags. They never biodegrade, strangle sea life (particularly endangered sea turtle that mistake them for jellyfish) and are a navigational hazard (picking shreds of bag out of the propellor is Not Fun).

Australia may be next to implement a plastic bag ban. Will the US be an environmental luddite on yet another issue? Probably, but write your elected representatives anyway!

Special bonus! Sing along with the Australian minister of the environment as he rocks out with Midnight Oil. I *heart* Peter Garrett.


But do you ever see redtail hawks in Crip territory?

January 9, 2008

I love urban wildlife. For all the hundreds of species that are pushed out, a few can make a go of it in human-dominated landscapes. There’s urban salmon that spawn in the middle of Seattle and wild turkeys that beat on Boston joggers. There’s female moose in Wyoming that protect their calves from grizzly bears by hanging out near paved roads. And of course, the red-tail hawks of the Upper East Side.

I think urban wildlife is incredibly important to maintaining city dwellers’ connection to nature. The “Last Child in the Woods” syndrome has been amply documented, but not everyone has the opportunity to run amuck in an Idealized American Childhood. If an enterprising kid can catch frogs and see raptors, he or she is going to feel some connection to the natural world.

Cities can do relatively easy things to encourage wildlife to reside in their parks and streams. Minimizing big open spaces encourages more small mammals – cool ones like the Vancouver marmot. Removing antiquated culverts that block streams encourages fish migration. And apparently Florida has built special highway underpasses for its bears (scroll down).

Right now I’m pretty happy watching the extremely dignified and dinosaur-esque pelicans off SIO and looking for the San Diego Bay green sea turtles.

Photo from palemale.com


Fisheries management & snacks – two great tastes that taste great together

October 1, 2007

Why do fisheries fail in the developed world? We’ve got all these scientists and agencies and laws and monitoring. Kate Wing of the NRDC has a tabletop fisheries management simulation that offers great insight. I know that even the most dedicated gamers among you are unlikely to play “fisheries,” but although it lacks boffer weapons, it does have snacks! And knowledge! Mmmm….crunchy knowledge….

Via Carnival of the Blue V


Ben Hueso laments Mexico sewage problem

September 17, 2007

San Diego City Council member Ben Hueso posted a commentary at Voice of San Diego lamenting the lack of sewage treatment in Baja – and criticizing the U.S. developers (Donald Trump! eeek!) that make the problem even worse. It’s shocking that all the millions of dollars in real estate development doesn’t go towards improving local infrastructure. Besides, who wants step outside their lovely seaside condo to go swimming in turds?


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