December 29, 2004

December 22, 2004

Climate-change blog

Real Climate is a group blog by scientists who want to share new information on climate-change research and combat ideologically motivated disinformation.

December 21, 2004

Thank the Romans for your stately elms

All the elm trees in Britain are descended from one tree brought by the Romans two thousand years ago, researchers say.
The ultimate lard-butt hunt

It's about as far from "fair chase" as you can get: shoot wildlife (non-native species) from your PC. I am not surprised that this idea arose in Texas, where shooting at animals lured by automatic grain dispensers is considered the standard way of doing things.

Columnist Kathleen Parker picked up on this story too, but uses it as an anthropocentric springboard to denounce violent video games.

December 17, 2004

Evangelical Christianity and the environment

This article raises the question whether pro-life evangelicals can overcome "a deep-rooted prejudice that associates environmentalism with paganism, pantheism and the Counterculture and New Left revolts of the 1960s-all Godzilla-sized bogeymen in the evangelical worldview. (It's worth noting here that the distrust is mutual.)"

While the director of the Evangelical Environmental Network thinks that pro-life views and environmental protection are compatible, there is also the group that associates environmental catastrophe with the awaited arrival of the Messiah. Some of them even try to quantify catastrophes, wars, and disasters in a "Rapture speedometer."

The journalist Bill Moyers, who writes frequently on issues of American culture and religion, was gloomier about the anti-environmental form of Christianity in his acceptance speech in a recent awards ceremony.

December 13, 2004

Species differentiation by interstate highway

The Denver Post covers plans to reintroduce Mexican grey wolves in southern Colorado. (Link may expire.)

The Mexican gray wolf is the smallest American wolf. Females typically weigh 50-65 pounds. Males generally weigh in at 70-75 pounds.

In the desert southwest, Mexican gray wolves prey on antelope, deer, javelina and peccary, but they'll take elk when they can get it.

At this time in Colorado, any wolves south of an arbitrary federal boundary, Interstate 70, are part of the Southwest wolf recovery program and are fully protected as an endangered species. Wolves north of I-70 are considered merely threatened.

December 07, 2004

Best Ornamental Plants for Colorado

The Denver Post offers its suggestions as to the best grasses and ornamental plants for Colorado's Front Range area. (Warning: the link may expire in early 2005.)
Coyotes inside the Beltway

It's hard to avoid lobbyist jokes when you're writing about the growing coyote population in Washington, DC.

Michelle Nijhuis, one of High Country News' syndicated writers, notes, "As someone who feels under-represented in Washington, D.C., I find this news encouraging. Also encouraging are reports that coyotes are growing fatter as they move east, since Westerners need a few more heavyweights on Capitol Hill. It's time to leap over the species barrier and recruit these tough characters for national office.

December 01, 2004

What's in Your Go Kit?

Here is an interesting list of things you should have in your jump kit/go kit--in other words, the bag you might keep packed in your backcountry vehicle or in your home in case of emergency. But as the authors point out, the main "go kit" is between your ears. (Thanks to Making Light.)

November 27, 2004

Another bison history

The idea that prehistoric hunters, wielding the big spear points associated with Folsom Man, etc., killed all much of the North American megafauna (mammoths, giant ground sloths, etc.) has become almost "gospel." Likewise, these hunters are accused of killing off the former giant bison and/or forcing them into dwarfism--yes, the bison or American buffalo we know now would be the "dwarf."

New research, however, suggests that the hunting peoples maybe were not to blame.

On that larger topic of "missing" animals, Connie Barlow's Ghosts of Evolution is an excellent read. After reading it last year, I can never look at an avocado or the common roadside "coyote gourd" the same away again.

September 12, 2004

Nature and spirituality

A story in today's Denver Post about the growing number of people in some Colorado counties without a formal religious affiliation also drops this nugget:

"A growing number of Westerners finds spirituality in nature. [Oregon sociology professor Mark] Shibley, who has studied that trend, said nature spirituality is to Generation X and Gen-Y what New Age was to baby boomers."

August 23, 2004

"Where You At?"

Rebecca of "What's in Rebecca's Pocket?" blog rediscovers the "Where You At?" bioregional information quiz, which first appeared in CoEvolution Quarterly, later known as Whole Earth Review, in 1981. I am glad to have done my part in disseminating it through my nature-writing classes.

(Whole Earth Review is no more, but the Web site still exists.)

February 07, 2004

The Thin Wall of History

On Saturday, January 31, some of the class and I went to the National Park Service's recreation of Bent's Fort, an 1840s trading post located on the Arkansas River just below La Junta, Colorado.
Our guide, pictured at left, was himself a former nature-writing student, Mario Medina, an NPS interpreter who assumes the persona of an 1840s Taoseño -- a man from Taos, New Mexico -- working at the fort.

The fort itself occupies exact spot and dimensions as the original structure, as nearly as can be determined.

In his 1840s persona, Mario always speaks as "we" -- the inhabitants of the fort circa 1845. Sometimes, I think, the wall between Then and Now grows thin: at one point I caught him pointing to a crack in a wall and saying how it disclosed the presence of an earlier, walled-up door.

But wait, Mario! This building was erected in 1976 for the national Bicentennial. Ironically, it has stood for almost 30 years, which is longer than the original Bent's Fort lasted. Still, on a chilly winter day with few interruptions from the outside world, I can see how Now becomes Then, if only briefly.

This was perhaps my sixth visit to the fort, and I have taken "the tour" various times, but Mario's is the best, beginning clear back in the Pleistocene Era and discussing how ecological as well as political and economic factors led to the fort's establishment where it is.

Best news: a willow tree, described by 19th-century visitors growing under the southeast bastion, has sprouted again from its roots.