News Roundup

  • 408 mammal species have been discovered in the past 15 years.
  • Remarkable footage” of arctic unicorns narwhals.
  • Hurray for more climate change hysteria (no sarcasm — I think a little scientific hysteria is a good thing): Australian fires are a “wake up call.” Much as we saw after Katrina, some are proposing that climate change be taken into account when re-building. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s environment chief has banned climate change ads for being “insidious propaganda.” Um, okay.
  • No, seriously. We need to get more hysterical — a recent study showed that the words used by the IPCC in its recent climate report are understood very differently than they are meant. Although “Very likely” is specifically defined as “more than 90% chance”, more than half of the participants in the study often scored “very likely” as less than 66% certain! And yet Vicky Pope at the Guardian is concerned that scientists are OVERplaying the dangers. Right… that’s how we get environment ministers banning ads about climate change.
  • Honestly, I say this about once a month, but Keith Rizzardi’s coverage of the Endangered Species Act is a phenomenal effort and product. Here he goes through a bunch of recent news (homeless man jailed for eating steelhead trout!), and here he posts recent ESA findings. It’s kind of a one-stop place to stay up-to-date on endangered species in the USA.
  • I can’t quite explain how excited I am to see CJB posting stuff that didn’t quite find the right place to be published. BLOGSCIENCE!
  • Your Lands, Your Wildlife has released a report on “Restoring Balance to the Management of Our Public Lands” (pdf).
  • Since it’s all over the wires, I’d be remiss in mentioning this nice study of migrating songbirds. “Tiny backpacks” appears to be the buzz word. (Stutchbury et al., Science, 323:896, doi 10.1126/science.1166664).

I’ll leave you, without comment, Thoreau’s thoughts on the wood thrush song, which really is quite delightful (and claimed among its other fans Edwin Way Teale):

As I come over the hill, I hear the wood thrush singing his evening lay. This is the only bird whose note affects me like music, affects the flow and tenor of my thought, my fancy and imagination. It lifts and exhilerates me. It is inspiring. It is a meidcative draught to my soul. It is an elixir to my eyes and a fountain of youth to all my senses. It changes all hours to an eternal morning. It banishes all trivialness. It reinstates me in my dominion, makes me the lord of creation, is chief musician of my court. This minstrel sings in a time, a heroic age, with which no event in the village can be contemporary. How can they be contemporary when only the latter is temporary at all? How can the infinite and eternal be contemporary with the finite and the temporal? So there is something in the music of the cow-bell, something sweeter and more nutritious, than in the milk which the farmers drink. This thrush’s song is a ranze des vaches to me. I long for wildness, a nature which I cannot put my foot through, woods where the wood thrush forever sings, where the hours are early morning ones, and there is dew on the grass, and the day is forever unproved, where I might have a fertile unknown for a soil about me. I would go after the cows, I would watch the flocks of Admetus there forever, only for my board and clothes. A New Hampshire everlasting and unfallen…All that was riped and fairest in the wilderness and the wild man is preserved and transmitted to us in the strain of the wood thrush. It is the mediator between barbarism and civilization. It is unrepentant as Greece.

Posted by Tim on February 13th, 2009 • • Comments Off
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New Names on Thoreau’s Dance Card

Two great ways to get your science written up in the New York Times: link it to climate change or to Thoreau. Boston University’s Richard Primack and Harvard’s Charles Davis hedged their bets and got lucky yesterday. It seems lots of flowers present in Thoreau’s journals are nowhere to be found by industrious grad students these days, and those that remain are blooming earlier in the year. It’s just more bad news for proud Yankees already wringing their hands over their sugar maples turning Canadian.

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Posted by Brian on October 28th, 2008 • • 1 comment
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