Tag Archives: ecology

Changes in the Land – William Cronon


Changes in the Land

Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England

William Cronon

Genre: Nature

Price: $7.99

Publish Date: April 1, 2011

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Seller: Macmillan / Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC

Winner of the Francis Parkman Prize Changes in the Land offers an original and persuasive interpretation of the changing circumstances in New England's plant and animal communities that occurred with the shift from Indian to European dominance. With the tools of both historian and ecologist, Cronon constructs an interdisciplinary analysis of how the land and the people influenced one another, and how that complex web of relationships shaped New England's communities.


Changes in the Land – William Cronon

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Earth Week Daily Action: Adopt the Right Pet

What do Earth Week and Earth Day have to do with dogs, cats and maybe even snakes?

As it turns out, a lot.

* Wild cats kill billions of birds and mammals each year. In fact, “feral” cats are the number one cause of death for both, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Ecology.com says that, “over the years…cats have brought about the extinction of 33 bird species.”

* Free-ranging dogs, which can include dogs born into the wild, feral dogs and street dogs, may carry rabies; in fact, more than 55,000 people die from rabies bites mostly inflicted by dogs each year.

* Pet snakes, released into the wild when they get too big, are threatening biodiversity in places like the Florida Everglades. The Burmese python is preying on birds, mammals like raccoons and opossum, and even alligators.

Plus, “puppy mills” run horrible, factory-style breeding facilities that often put profits above the welfare of the dog. These breeders may turn out “picture perfect” canines, but in reality, with so many millions of dogs in shelters and on the streets, isn’t it more humane to adopt a stray than to order up a brand new dog?

During Earth Week, being kind to our pets is a good way to be kind to the planet. Here’s what you can do:

* Adopt a pet from a shelter rather than a breeder. Shelter pets need homes, so adopting a pet that’s already alive is a wonderfully humane action to take. In fact, you may prevent that animal from being euthanized. You’ll definitely get it off the street. Contact your local animal rescue league or find a nearby shelter through your local Humane Society. The Shelter Pet Project also makes it easy to find a pet or pet adoption group.

* Take a stray dog or cat to a shelter where it can be put up for adoption. If you see a stray dog or cat, don’t leave it on the street. Alert the nearest shelter so the animal can be picked up, hopefully cleaned up and fed, and made available for adoption.

* If you get a pet, have it spayed or neutered so it will not reproduce. The Humane Society estimates that “in every community, in every state, there are homeless animals. In the U.S., there are an estimated 6-8 million homeless animals entering animal shelters every year.” Spaying or neutering your pet will help prevent more animals from becoming homeless. It’s also good for the animal, both in terms of extending its life span and reducing its risk of contracting various diseases.

* Keep cats indoors so they won’t wander off and become strays; keep dogs on a leash when you walk them outdoors. If you do let your dogs off leash or your cat out for a stroll, consider having the vet embed an electronic ID chip. It’s a relatively painless process that will help you locate your animal in the event it gets lost.

* Clean up after your pet. Dogs and outdoor cats generate a large amount of fecal waste. You probably won’t be able to find the cat waste, since it’s often buried, but clean up after your dog to reduce foul odors, habitat for flies and other insects, and a big mess if you happen to step in it.

Avoid the following pet phaux-pas:

* Don’t adopt or buy an exotic pet, like a snake, bearded dragon, iguana or other reptile. Smaller reptiles are hard to keep alive. Larger reptiles, like snakes, will soon become too much too handle.

* Don’t release exotic pets into the wild. Most of them cannot survive when they’re left to fend for themselves, especially if they’re used to a warm climate but you release them into the cold. In particular, don’t release large snakes like pythons and boa constrictors; they will quickly decimate local animal populations.

* Don’t overfeed your pet. By some estimates, 53 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats are overweight or obese.Producing all the food that pets eat takes a similar environmental toll as producing food for people. Plus, it’s bad for the animals’ health. Keep your pet alive longer without wasting excessive natural resources by feeding Fido or Fluffy only as much as it needs to stay well.

* Don’t buy from a puppy mill. Don’t encourage ruthless breeders to turn out millions of animals that may never find a home. Most well-treated dogs and cats will be wonderful, loving pets, regardless of their pedigree.

* Don’t follow the fads. Remember, bunnies grow up to be rabbits and chicks turn into chickens. Don’t buy an animal just because it’s Easter and it would be fun to have a live bunny rabbit around!

What recommendations do you have for adopting and raising pets so you can minimize their impact on the environment while still giving them a loving, humane home? Please share!

9 Reasons to Stop Eating Meat in Honor of Earth Day
5 Reasons Not to Buy a Puppy for Christmas

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Earth Week Daily Action: Adopt the Right Pet

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5 Nature Poets to Enjoy During National Poetry Month

If you’ve ever been tempted to write a poem about your favorite landscape, the seashore or the rites of Spring, now’s the time to do it. April is National Poetry Month, so grab a pen and paper, find your favorite outdoor perch and start scribbling.

If you need inspiration, review the works of these five American poets who wrote about nature and used the natural world to help clarify daily life while exploring some of the more complicated aspects of society.

Emily DickinsonEmily Dickinson lived in Amherst, Massachusetts in the late 19th century. Famously introverted and considered an eccentric by her neighbors, she spent much of her time in her bedroom, where she wrote nearly 1,800 poems during her lifetime. Though she often touched onthemes of death and immortality, she also had a keen understanding of nature, which she may have observed from her bedroom window.

One of her most charming poems is called “A Bird Came Down the Walk”:

“A bird came down the walk:
He did not know I saw;
He bit an angle-worm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw”

Here’s the complete poem.

She also wrote “A Light Exists in Spring.” Here’s the opening stanza:

“A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period –
When March is scarcely here…”

Here is the complete poem.

Robert Frost – This famous American poet won four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry. He took his inspiration from early 1900s rural life in New England. Though set in nature, his poems often focused on importantsocial and philosophical issues. You’ll probably know him best for “The Road Not Taken,” but don’t overlook “Mending Wall,” from whence comes the famous line, “Good fences make good neighbors.” It starts…

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast…

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows…”

Read the complete poem here.

Gary SnyderGary Snyder is an essayist, lecturer, environmental activist and yes, poet. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, he’s been described as the “poet laureate of Deep Ecology” as well as a writer associated with San Francisco’s Beat Generation. He’s a master at using natural imagery to convey universal truths. You’ll find references to mountains, volcanoes, the Arctic, flora and fauna in his stanzas, and in the books for which he became well known, such as “Turtle Island.

Enjoy “Pine Tree Tops:”

“In the blue night
frost haze, the sky glows
with the moon
pine tree tops
bend snow-blue, fade
into sky, frost, starlight.
The creak of boots.
Rabbit tracks, deer tracks,
What do we know.”

Mary Oliver – A winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, Mary Oliver was born in the Midwest in 1945. Shebegan writing poetry and later moved to Massachusetts, which servesas her home base while she writes, teaches and leads workshops. Her poetry celebrates the natural world, beauty, silence, love and the spirit. She’s published many books, including “Wild Geese,” which contains a poem by the same name. Here’s an excerpt:

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves…”

You can listen to Mary Oliver read the entire poem here.

Ralph Waldo Emerson – Philosopher, Transcendentalist, essayist and poet:Ralph Waldo Emerson was another poet born in Massachusetts, though in 1803. His most famous essay was on “Self-Reliance.” He titled his first book Nature, which expressed his belief that everything in the world is a microcosm of the universe.

Here’s an excerpt from a beautiful, moving poem simply titled, “Nature.”

“Winters know
Easily to shed the snow,
And the untaught Spring is wise
In cowslips and anemones.
Nature, hating art and pains,
Baulks and baffles plotting brains;
Casualty and Surprise
Are the apples of her eyes;
But she dearly loves the poor,
And, by marvel of her own,
Strikes the loud pretender down.”

You can see a list of more Nature poems dating back to Virgil in 37 BCE and including the Japanese poet Basho, at Poets.org.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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5 Nature Poets to Enjoy During National Poetry Month

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The Drought Isn’t Just a California Problem

Mother Jones

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California’s been getting a lot of attention for the drought, but it’s not alone in its lack of rain: This year is on track to be the driest on record for several western states. As the map below—a recent iteration from the US Drought Monitor—shows, virtually all of Washington, Oregon, and Nevada are covered in swaths of “severe,” “extreme,” or “exceptional” drought.

Here’s a primer of the situation in each state:


While Oregon is technically in its fourth year of drought, the state started feeling the effects in earnest in 2014. Since then, Gov. Kate Brown has declared two-thirds of the state’s counties to be in a state of emergency. “The extreme drought conditions we are experiencing reflect a new reality in Oregon,” she said in a July statement.

The past year hasn’t been particularly dry, but it has been abnormally warm, meaning some water is falling as rain but not freezing into a slow-trickling snowpack that feeds streams. While the western side of the state, which relies on rain-fed reservoirs, has been shielded from the worst effects of the drought, the eastern side relies on snowpack, which is at record low levels. The snow that did fall melted more than two months earlier than it usually does.

Of the water that’s diverted from streams and rivers, about 85 percent is used on agriculture. Top products include cattle and milk, hay, wheat, and “greenhouse products” (flowers and herbs). Like in California, irrigation districts are cutting off water to farmers with junior water rights. Farmers are compensating for the lack of surface water by pumping groundwater, but unlike California, Oregon has regulated its groundwater for more than 50 years. In water basins that are deemed to be in critical condition, farmers are prohibited from digging new wells.


Nevada relies on water from the Colorado River, which is stored in two giant reservoirs: Lake Mead, in Nevada, and Lake Powell, in Utah. Las Vegas depends on Lake Mead, about 15 miles from the city, for 90 percent of its water, but the reservoir is just 38 percent full. Still, officials are confident there’s enough in the reservoirs to stave off water cuts, at least for the next year.

NASA images from 2000 to 2015 show Lake Mead shrinking while Las Vegas expands. NASA

With its sprawling cities in the middle of the desert, Nevada has been forced to be smart about water for years. This is in part due to history: The amount of water that localities could take from Lake Mead was decided when the lake was created back in the 1930s, and that allocation has stayed constant while the population of the state has shot up. Las Vegas may seem like a giant party of fountains and pools, but the city recycles (treats and reuses) a whopping 94 percent of its water. The state pioneered “cash for grass” programs, in which residents or businesses get rebates for replacing turf with desert landscaping; since 1999, the state has removed roughly 4,000 acres of turf. In Las Vegas, any home built after the year 2000 is prohibited from having a front lawn.


Like Oregon, Washington derives its water from snow melt and can’t count on El Nino to boost the water supply. Last June, snowpack levels in the state were at their median levels, but by this past May, when Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency, the levels were at 20 percent of the median. Now, stream levels across the state continue to reach record lows. This has spurred some action: The state allocated $16 million to drought responses over the next two years, including grants to help the agriculture industry, which is a leading producer of apples, milk, wheat, and hops. The Department of Agriculture estimates the drought will cost the state $1.2 billion in 2015 in lost crops, or about 12 percent of past crop values. Some localities are imposing restrictions on watering lawns, and the Seattle/Tacoma area is asking for a 10 percent reduction in voluntary water use to avoid future cuts.

Washington’s Chiwauwkum Creek wildfire in 2014. Washington Department of Ecology

The drought has also turned the normally cool, rainy state into a wildfire hotspot: The state is on track to experience the most destructive and costly year of fires on record. Earlier this week, three firefighters were killed battling a wildfire. “Our fire season started a month ahead, our crops matured weeks ahead and the dry weather we usually get in August, we’ve had since May,” Peter Goldmark, Washington’s commissioner of public lands, told the New York Times earlier this month.

State ecologists are also concerned about the drought’s effects on fish, particularly salmon, which swim upstream in the late summer and fall to spawn but may have trouble doing so this year because streams are so shallow and warm. The state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife is now creating artificial channels, using sandbags and plastic sheeting, to help the fish move upstream.

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The Drought Isn’t Just a California Problem

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The Gut Balance Revolution – Gerard E. Mullin


The Gut Balance Revolution
Boost Your Metabolism, Restore Your Inner Ecology, and Lose the Weight for Good!
Gerard E. Mullin

Genre: Health & Fitness

Price: $12.99

Publish Date: June 9, 2015

Publisher: Rodale

Seller: Rodale Inc.

Losing weight for good is truly possible! Recent cutting-edge research shows that human intestinal microbiota influences metabolism, appetite, energy, hormones, inflammation, and insulin resistance. Because gut microflora plays a central role in weight management, losing weight is much more than cutting calories, fat, or carbs. When the trillions of live bacteria in our digestive tract–the gut microbiome–are balanced, excess pounds melt away and we feel revitalized. A leading authority on digestive health and the gut microbiome, Dr. Gerard E. Mullin shares the first proven, science-based program to restore and retain weight loss by achieving a balanced gut flora in The Gut Balance Revolution. He reveals how to stifle the fat-forming, disease-promoting gut bacteria, reseed your gut with good fat-burning ones, and fertilize those friendly flora with just the right foods to reboot, rebalance, and renew your health–and lose weight for good. It&apos;s all grounded in hard science and his over 20 years of clinical experience with patients in his medical practice. Dr. Gerry Mullinís trailblazing program provides: Research The latest, up-to-date frontline science behind how balancing your gut flora can burn fat and restore health Reboot, Rebalance, Renew Step-by-step meals plans, food charts, plus 50 delicious, easy recipes Rev Up An exercise routine for each phase of the process Real Life Bona fide success stories of people who seamlessly lost up to 40 pounds–and kept it off!

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The Gut Balance Revolution – Gerard E. Mullin

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The EPA Dithers While a Popular Pesticide Threatens Ecosystems

Mother Jones

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Ah, summer—the season when trillions of corn and soybean plants tower horizon-to-horizon in the Midwest. All told, US farmers planted more than 170 million acres in these two crops this year—a combined landmass roughly equal in size to the state of Texas. That’s great news for the companies that turn corn and soy into livestock feed, sweeteners, and food additives; but not so great for honeybees, wild pollinating insects like bumblebees, and birds.

That’s because these crops—along with other major ones like alfalfa and sunflower—are widely treated with pesticides called neonicotinoids. Made by European chemical giants Bayer and Syngenta, these chemicals generate a staggering $2.6 billion in annual revenue worldwide—and have come under heavy suspicion as a trigger of colony collapse disorder and other, less visible, ecological calamities.

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The EPA Dithers While a Popular Pesticide Threatens Ecosystems

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Ecology in the Age of Us – Double-Decker River Invaders

Double-decker invasive species illustrate the extent of the disruption of river ecosystems from human activities. This article is from: Ecology in the Age of Us – Double-Decker River Invaders Related ArticlesCelebrating a Reviving River Through Sail and SongTwo Climate Analysts Weigh the Notion of a ‘Good’ Path in the AnthropoceneIndian Point’s Tritium Problem and the N.R.C.’s Regulatory Problem

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Ecology in the Age of Us – Double-Decker River Invaders

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The five ways to stop climate change. Oh, wait, make that one way

The five ways to stop climate change. Oh, wait, make that one way


Scientists confirm what we already know, but may not want to hear: there’s no magic method to stop climate change. A new study that analyzed the five leading strategies to prevent global warming found that, really, it all comes down to reducing global carbon emissions.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology in the Environment, ranks the strategies according to factors such as feasibility, risk, and cost. It suggests that, if we want to keep the planet closest to how we know it now, we should focus on No. 1. If, however, all you want is inspiration for your next cli-fi piece, No. 5 might be where it’s at.

Here they are, in order from best to worst:

  1. Reduce carbon emissions through improving energy efficiency, conserving usage, and adopting renewable energy sources. The study suggests that this is, by far, the top thing we need to do to stop global warming.
  1. Sequester more carbon by letting plants do their thing. Promote forest regrowth and stop clearcutting the Amazon, and trees will suck up more CO2 for us. Also, simple agricultural practices such as leaving leftover plant waste after harvest and allowing it to break back down into the soil will bury some more of that carbon back in the ground.
  1. Sequester carbon through capture and storage. One method is to capture CO2 before it’s released into the atmosphere and pump it underground. Problem is, this is expensive, and it could lead to dangerous leaks. “No one wants to live next to a huge underground pool of carbon dioxide that might suffocate them or their children — no matter how small the risk,” says the study’s lead author, Daniela Cusack, a professor of geography at UCLA.
  1. Sequester carbon by fertilizing the ocean. This would give phytoplankton a boost, which take in CO2 through photosynthesis, and then carry it to the bottom of the ocean when they die. But letting the algae run amuck would likely drive out other marine life, which could then create ugly worldwide impacts.
  1. Geoengineer to keep out some of that dang sunlight, by creating artificial clouds, or putting solar reflectors in outer space to keep the rays from getting down here. Because, if we reach a point where we’re this far down the list, we’re probably all sun-phobic zombies, anyway

The good news is, it sounds like we know what we need to do! The bad news is, we’re still not doing enough of it.

No way around it: Reducing emissions will be the primary way to fight climate change, UCLA study finds, UCLA Newsroom
Here are the five best ways to fight climate change, ranked by scientists, Smithsonian.com

Samantha Larson is a science nerd, adventure enthusiast, and fellow at Grist. Follow her on Twitter.

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The five ways to stop climate change. Oh, wait, make that one way

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Paris bans cars, makes transit free to fight air pollution

Paris bans cars, makes transit free to fight air pollution

Evan Bench

Air pollution is about as romantic as wilted flowers, chapped lips, and corked wine, so the record-setting smog that has settled over the City of Love in the past few days is definitely dampening the mood.

Unseasonably warm weather has triggered unprecedented air pollution levels in Paris. Over the weekend, the city responded by offering free public transportation and bike sharing. (Similar measures were taken throughout nearby Belguim, which also reduced speed limits.) But that wasn’t enough to fix the problem, so Paris and 22 surrounding areas are taking more extreme steps, banning nearly half of vehicles from their roads.

Private cars and motorcycles with even registration numbers will be barred from the streets on Monday. Unless the air quality improves quickly and dramatically, odd registration numbers will be banned from the roads on Tuesday. Electric vehicles and hybrids will be exempted, as will any cars carrying at least three people. About 700 police officers will be stationed at checkpoints, handing out $31 (€22) fines to violators.

Agence France-Presse reports that Paris has tried the approach before:

Ecology Minister Philippe Martin said he understood the “difficulties, the irritation and even anger” over the move, adding: “But we just had to take this decision.”

Martin said similar measures in 1997 “had yielded results”, adding that he hoped that the number of vehicles on the roads would be “significantly lower” on Monday, without giving a figure.

Trains and buses will remain free while the car restrictions are in place, giving Parisians yet more public places where they can nuzzle and talk excitedly about government policies until the ugly smog burns off.

Polluted Paris prepares for partial car ban, Agence France-Presse
Paris offers free public transport to reduce severe smog, BBC

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants: johnupton@gmail.com.

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Paris bans cars, makes transit free to fight air pollution

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Low-lying islands are going to drown, so should we even bother trying to save their ecosystems?

Low-lying islands are going to drown, so should we even bother trying to save their ecosystems?


Islands are hot spots of biodiversity, often home to rich and unique ecosystems. Despite covering just 5 percent of the Earth’s land, the planet’s 180,000-odd islands contain a fifth of its plant and animal species. Around half of recorded extinctions have occurred on islands.

Unfortunately, many islands have been infested in recent centuries with ecosystem-wrecking rats and other invasive species. So scientists the world over have clamored to remove the destructive pests and protect the original inhabitants. More than 900 islands have been cleansed of rats and other animal invaders so far, often through the controversial use of poisoned baits.

But a new paper published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution asks an unsettling question: When it comes to low-lying islands that will eventually be swallowed by sea-level rise, why bother?

The authors of the paper studied 604 islands where animal pests were removed and concluded that 26 would be completely inundated with one meter of sea-level rise, which is expected within this century. An estimated 6 to 19 percent of the 4,500 islands in biodiversity hot spots studied are expected to eventually drown.

“It may be that eventually we will be faced with some tough decisions about whether we move species in order to save them or whether we do nothing and let them go extinct,” University of Auckland’s James Russell, one of the authors, told The New Zealand Herald.

The authors stop well short of calling on island conservationists to abandon their efforts. But they say much more consideration needs to be given to climate change when planning restoration projects.

“Despite clear and imminent risks, the consequences of sea-level rise for island biodiversity remain one of the least studied of all climate-change issues, both locally and globally,” the scientists write.

Climate change, sea-level rise, and conservation: keeping island biodiversity afloat, Trends in Ecology and Evolution
Island sanctuaries could be swallowed by sea level rise – study, The New Zealand Herald

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants: johnupton@gmail.com.

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Low-lying islands are going to drown, so should we even bother trying to save their ecosystems?

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