For the Science Geeks

Hello everyone!

I don’t have the time to write a lengthy post today, but I thought this article about geoengineering might interest those of you who like the nitty gritty science aspect of the climate change debate.  Enjoy!

http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/10/geoengineering-through-the-eyes-of-the-ipcc/

Love,

Joan

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The Cloud Machine

The Cloud Machine

Photo taken by Laura M. in Costa Rica.

When I was little, I used to think that the purpose of factories was to make clouds. As I grew up, I learned I wasn’t so wrong. Only, the clouds factories produce are not the pure, white fluffy ones at which we like to gaze. They emit toxic substances that damage to DNA in developing embryos, and inflict diseases of different severities to those who are nearby. This does not only happen with factories, but with cars, motorcycles, lawnmowers, etc., as well. To counter this, walk, cycle, or bus to your destinations. If a car must be driven, drive an environmentally friendly car (good mileage, low emissions, hybridized, electrically-powered), and choose a car over a motorcycle or scooter (the emissions are better). The first step to reducing toxic substances in our air is by altering our means of transportation.

Apply yourself, every day!

Laura

Interesting Reads:

Air Pollution a Leading Cause of Cancer

A Toxic Home on the Range?

Help with carbon footprint

Motorcycles vs. Cars

What Wildlife Conservation Really Looks Like

Hello everyone!

I’m sorry I broke our promise and didn’t update on Monday.  It is possible that my updates will be coming primarily on Thursdays because those are the days when I actually have free time!  Now that I’m in college I have embarked on the journey of independent life, but I want to take a moment to look back on this most recent summer, and share with you guys the amazing experience I had.

I was privileged enough to be able to work with the endangered Oregon Silverspot Butterfly at my local zoo.  I got to be a part of a real wildlife conservation team and I am proud to be able to say that I contributed to making a difference for this species.  Now I’m here to tell you firsthand what wildlife conservation really looks like.

It looks like piles of bins filled with frass (commonly known as caterpillar poo), waiting for me to wash them.  It looks like row upon row of violets – the only thing the caterpillars eat.  It looks like empty buckets that I must spend three hours filling with leaves.  It looks like my coworkers bending over a caterpillar that I’m not allowed to touch because I’m just an intern.  It looks like a sterile lab with bins carefully stacked on shelves, housing precious members of an endangered species.  It looks like yet another boring day stretching out ahead of me.

It also looks like the promise of a trip to the Oregon coastline.  I still remember how excited I was at the prospect of getting to see live butterflies in their natural habitat.  The car ride was long and cramped, but the trek up to the site where we would release our fully fledged butterflies was misty and included a beautiful view of the ocean.  My coworkers were grumbling about the lack of sun, but I didn’t mind seeing as how I’ve always preferred rainy weather.  I had a feeling this was going to be good.  When we reached the top of the hill we could see little boxes dotting the field.  The butterflies were housed in these.  Unzipping the mesh around the containers we peeked inside.  Most of the chrysali were still intact, but a couple butterflies were clinging to the mesh, fanning their newly formed wings.  Because my fellow intern and I had gotten all the boring tasks over the summer, our supervisors suggested that we be the ones who got to release them.  Gently, oh so gently, I leaned over and nudged one onto my index finger.  Straightening, I held it to my face and studied it.  It was beautiful!  It’s orange wings seemed like fire against the grey sky, and the little silver spots on the undersides of its wings gleamed with new life.  I was standing here on this Earth with an endangered species perching on my hand, and I had been one of the key contributors in giving it life.  Suddenly, in a burst of energy, it fluttered away.  In that moment I knew that no matter how mundane my job had been over the summer, it was all worth it.  I was an active participant in giving hope to a species that had been on the decline.  I could call myself a wildlife conservationist.  A few minutes later the sun burst through the clouds, and as if on cue the field was suddenly filled with butterflies.  They danced through the air, courting one another, promising a new generation of an age old species.  And I was happy.

It was an amazing experience, and if you guys want to help the Oregon Silverspot Butterfly, one easy way is to buy the Silverspot IPA made by the Pelican Pub and Brewery.  (But only if you’re 21 or older – despite the fact that I’m in college I can’t condone underage drinking!)  Part of the proceeds of this beer go towards my zoo’s conservation program.  If you can’t find this beer in any stores near you, then do some research on endangered species in your area and see if there are any easy ways to help!

Enjoy the beautiful fall colors,

Joan

One of the beautiful creatures I released into the wild.

One of the beautiful creatures I released into the wild.

Slime Mold Solves Maze – Intelligence?

Hello everyone!
This is Laura here, I’ve been back at home from Hawaii for a few weeks now. I’ve just been so busy that I haven’t had time to update the blog.
Joan and I are in college now, and we have to focus much more on schoolwork. That means putting in every bit of effort that we can, to make sure that our dollars don’t go to waste. From this point on, we’ll be posting once a week on MONDAYS!

This video was posted by a friend of mine on Facebook – it’s pretty nuts. See why slime mold is so flippin’ cool! Does this make you rethink intelligence? When a single celled organism can, with no mistakes, find its way through a maze, choose healthy food, and explore an area? What makes humans, dolphins, dogs, cats, etc. intelligent?

Love, Laura

Midway

A small island of Midway, mostly known for the Battle of Midway, is also home to thousands of albatross. See how our everyday habits of using plastic transforms the health of the oceans and its dependents.

Chris Jordan came to my high school a year ago. I was able to talk to him personally. Of course, I was bawling when I was, but that’s okay. That’s the point! If you want to help him out, donate here (http://midwayfilm.com/donate.html) AND do your part to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Rapid Extinction

“The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles … hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages … And we think some plastic bags and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet isn’t going anywhere. WE are!

We’re going away. Pack your shit, folks. We’re going away. And we won’t leave much of a trace, either. Maybe a little Styrofoam … The planet’ll be here and we’ll be long gone. Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet’ll shake us off like a bad case of fleas.” George Carlin

Upon discovering George Carlin, I immediately loved his wit.

In one stand up of his, he made a few points about saving the environment. I agree with absolutely everything he said… except how the plastic bags and aluminum cans won’t make a difference. No litter makes a difference to Earth, when you look at Earth as if it’s not a life form containing millions and billions of other lifeforms. Oh, but it does.

Species go extinct, yes. That happens a lot, actually. 99% of life that has ever existed on Earth is now dead…and look how much life we still have. There’s been a lot of life. The thing is…. That 99% of life has gone extinct over the course of ~2.7 billion years. In the past 7 years alone, 121 species have gone extinct16,928 species are threatened to be extinct. The rate of extinction has gone up not due to natural causes, but us. For things like aluminum cans and plastic.

The power to change the rate of extinction does not lie within the big companies that dominate the world. It lies within the consumers; us. The key to changing the world is not feeding the fire. To be a responsible consumer, buy from responsible sellers.

  • Reuse what you were originally going to throw away (or recycle, but reusing is the best option).
  • Buy organic produce (produce grown without the use of pesticides or other unnatural agents in the soil)
  • Don’t buy from the big corporations that are money hungry. Focus on local businesses and honest organizations.

If we don’t feed the corporations that are using their tools to hurt the environment (typically as a byproduct, but a careless one), they cease to exist. Without a public to serve, they can’t keep harming the environment.

We don’t only practice environmental conservation because it’ll save our behinds in the future, we practice it because we care for the wellbeing of all species inhabiting this planet. We’re only a fraction of the population; the fraction that has the most influence; the responsibility to not get carried away with our technological ability and weapons of destruction.

Be responsible, recognize your power, change the world.

Love, Laura

Sources in MLA 7 Format

Endangered Species International. “Total Number of Extinct Species: 905 (was 784 in 2006).” Endangered Species International. Endangered Species International, 2006. Web. 29 Aug. 2013. <http://www.endangeredspeciesinternational.org/overview1.html&gt;.
Smithsonian. “Archean : The First Life on Earth.” Archean : The First Life on Earth. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, n.d. Web. 29 Aug. 2013. <http://paleobiology.si.edu/geotime/main/htmlversion/archean3.html&gt;.

Fun DIYs and Ways to Reuse

Fun DIYs and Ways to Reuse

Stumbled upon this page on StumbleUpon. Here’s the link to many fun crafts and interesting ways to reuse certain items. 🙂

Includes:

  1. Marshmallow cupcake frosting
  2. Growing lettuce from “old” purchased bunches of lettuce
  3. Instant sunburn relief with Aloe trick
  4. Color gradient eggs for Easter
  5. Easy embossed jars
  6. Faux stones on a concrete patio
  7. Magnetic scrabble wall board for an ongoing family game
  8. Pallets to patio furniture
  9. Paint swatches to homemade calendar
  10. Pallets to puns signs
  11. How to make a polka dot cake
  12. Reclaimed window coffee table
  13. Bunk bed into stargazing tree house
  14. Rose petal tea light
  15. Harmless fresh scent for a bathroom
  16. Old tire to an ottoman
  17. Funky ice cube “tray”
  18. PVC pipe hair appliance holders
  19. Colored tape for highlights

Cool finds like these remind us how easy it is to give a new life to our used items. This is important. Think of how many things we throw away a year that could have been put to a nifty use? A lot, that’s how many. Fun DIY projects not only reduce waste, but give you a sense of accomplishment. A sense of accomplishment gives us that extra “umph” to get through the daily grind, a true necessity. If we don’t feel like we’ve accomplished anything, we’ll just feel stuck and glum! So get crackin’ and have fun!

Love, Laura