Sub-headline: as usual, it blows up in their face. News is coming out that the Office of Management and Budget blocked NOAA from releasing its worst case scenario estimates for the oil spill. Seriously? OMB? A spokesman said “”The issue was the modeling, the science and the assumptions they were using to come up with their analysis.” Right… so you hire a world-renowned (and officially recognized genius) scientist to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and then some economist in the budget office tells her organization they aren’t doing the modeling right?
River otters have made a comeback in West Virginia and might be rewarded with a place on the trapping list. Generally, I think I’m pretty good at not anthropomorphizing animals, but killing otters does seem a good deal like killing preschoolers. But I’ll harden my heart.
(While I was researching this post, my girlfriend stumbled upon a wonderful tongue-twister: “otter article.” Enjoy!)
Former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall passed away over the weekend. He did as much as Muir and Roosevelt to create the Myth of Wilderness that inspired so many Americans, helping to enact the Wilderness Act in 1964 and helping to create Redwood National Park, Cape Cod National Seashore, and Point Reyes National Seashore. He fought in WWII. He led a lawsuit in the late 1970s against the government on behalf of Navajo uranium miners. The Udalls are one of the great (perhaps unsung) political clans of the country. He was a Great American, and one of my heroes: “Over the long haul of life on this planet, it is the ecologists, and not the bookkeepers of business, who are the ultimate accountants.”
The University of Arizona houses his manuscript collection.
Bob Edwards remembers Steward Udall: “I have lived in Washington, DC far too long to have political heroes, but Stewart Udall was the model of what a public servant should be.”
There’s been a lot of news about sea lions in California recently. It started when the famous sea lions at Pier 39 in San Francisco went missing (don’t worry, they’re coming back). Then Oregon wildlife officials started euthanizing sea lions for eating the endangered chinook salmon. Now this from the LA Times, where “starving sea lion pups” are showing up on beaches in Orange County. Many of these stories present the phenomenon as something of a mystery: something unusual is going on with sea lions. A suggestion that it might have something to do with El Niño.
Thanks to the internet (and a proxy to Cal’s library), that can easily be checked. A search for California sea lions from 1998-1999 on LexisNexis reveals:
CONSERVATION officials have found at least 700 pups of the rare New Zealand sea lion dead on a sub-Antarctic island, adding to reports of sea lion deaths in California, Chile and Peru. (The Scotsman, Jan 30 1998)
Note also that, perhaps not coincidentally, this was the year that orcas were first spotted hunting sea otters.
- 17 new invert species being described in South Africa.
- “In the future, giant, autonomous fish farms may whir through the open ocean, mimicking the movements of wild schools or even allowing fish to forage “free range” before capturing them once again. Already scientists have constructed working remote control cages.” I try not to get too much into semiotics/the simulacrum, but seriously. We have to build robots to simulate what once worked just fine? How about just not over-harvesting? “In the future, the ocean will be teeming with fish, an astounding return to a once-extraordinary abundance.” WTF SCIENCE.
- Nice and morbid article on the work of a fellow Berkeleyan Steve Bellan on anthrax in Etosha NP, with pictures.
- The Carteret Islands are being inundated by rising sea levels, forcing migration of about 800 of the 1,300 inhabitants. This spring, Dan Box traveled to the islands to report on the evacuation.
- Carol Kaesuk Yoon on “Naming Nature.”
- National Red Lists is a new website spearheaded by ZSL to consolidate national-level information on species declines.
- An interview with Erik Patel on the ecological ramifications of the political unrest in Madagascar, though take with a grain of salt because his solution to the poverty/conservation problem is birth control and tourism…
- It’s been a slightly environmental few days for the Obama administration, with Tom Vilsack (Sec of Ag) releasing a new vision for the Forest Service (Defenders of Wildlife seems to like it), and the Obama family taking a trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.
- Himalayas proving to be a hotspot for describing new species.
- A roundup of the recent SCB conference in China, from CI.
- The amazing impact of a city abandoned 900 years ago on crops grown in drought conditions, today. So, the next time somebody tells you there’s no such thing as wilderness, that human’s impact on the land lasts longer than you could imagine, BELIEVE IT.It’s true in America, too, where old American Indian middens still have higher levels of non-native plants.
- Extinctions can be correlated with genetic history. Not surprising, but interesting.
So says the NY Times. It could very well be that, in the United States, the last coal-fired power plant has already been built. That’s quite a thought.