Global temperature records were broken yet again in April for the 12th consecutive month, the longest such streak in the 137-year record of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Overall, 13 out of the 15 highest monthly temperature departures in the record have all occurred since February 2015. NOAA said the combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for April 2016 was 1.10°C (1.98°F) above the 20th century average of 13.7°C (56.7°F) – the highest temperature departure for April since global records began in 1880. This value surpassed the previous record set in 2010 by 0.28°C (0.50°F). The global analysis from NOAA confirmed the findings of separate datasets from NASA and the Japan Meteorological Administration.
Posts tagged ‘environment’
Wild land, what is it?
Is it pristine land, untouched by humans? Is its value derived from its pristine (untouched) state? Maybe this has been the most popular public notion of what wilderness is, but now we’re realizing the functionallity of wild land is so important for many reasons that affect us directly. One reason, is that functional, wild land doesn’t cost us anything to maintain – it is this cost of maintaining our built environment that is the root of the word “sustainable”. So we are learning what costs are incured by removing components of wild lands, or by diminishing, altering, re-arranging, changing the percentages of components, or altering dynamic processes (floods, fires).
These components include animal life, plant life, soil life and geology, water (surface) saturation, rainfall, ground water, rivers (acequia, canal and dam systems), lakes, fire cycles, air quality (pollution by particulates, NOx, acid rain, elevated CO2), and other micobiotic and fungal relationships that we are as yet unaware of.
Wilderness as a mental state has also been valued and is important, again, just knowing that there is a pure land, untouched and beautiful, a virgin – this mental state then releases our stress of seeing all the abused, degraded and “raped” lands all around us.
Also as a place to physically go for recreation and relaxation, the stress releiving properties are used in this way too: backpacking, camping, day hiking and even motor touring through national parks and wilderness areas.
Then there is the monetary value of fishing, hunting and outfitting/guiding that provides economy and livelihood for people as well.
But the cost of human landscapes, and lack of cost of wild ones, is something that is not usually recognized. This cost of the human landscape is actually considered part of the economy, and is planned for and included in the GDP. However, it is not considered an unaffordable cost.
The price of doing business – it gets higher all the time, with every acre of wild land that is altered. The cost/benefit analysis, as we know, does not take into account the costs of: restoring nature, restoring natural balances (removing invasive species, controlling disease vectors, mental health care, pollution of: air, water, biota, soil, bacteria and fungus, and overpopulation of humans and under/overpopulation of biotic communities).
We usually talk about human overpopulation, and wildlife extinction or underpopulation, but we don’t usually speak of or recognize animal and plant (and microbal) overpopulation. Some obvious ones: white-tailed deer, insects, etc., but almost all environments are full of overpopulated species, and again, invasives are obvious, but not so the natives in overpopulation, including forests and shrub lands. We just don’t see all the imbalance in nature, we call it “normal” or “natural” and thats the end of it. I would like to see this change.
I would also like to see functioning “wild” lands respected for the cost saving, life giving places they are.
I would like to see the true cost of doing business calculated. That being shown, “transparent” they call it, business as usual may not be done. That may violate the “Limited Liability” of the corporation. Maybe we need a “Fully Liable” corporation, who would sign up for that? Wether we sign up for it or not, it is the reality of living on Earth. Ultimately, we are all “fully liable” for how we live, for how we treat this gift of life.
There has always been a cost of doing this business of living, the question is, can we any longer afford “the way of plunder”?
A great article in “Outside” magazine was sent to me recently:
about how the Colorado river was released from its last dam so that it could flow all the way to the ocean in the Gulf of California. This has not happened but rarely since 1966 when the Glen Canyon dam was built to create Lake Powell.
Hopes are for more releases in the next 5 years to maintain some riparian restoration efforts in the delta. As water supplies tighten up in the Southwest, and as Big Business and Big Decisions continue to be made in the interest of money and people and people with money, the land itself is busy making its own decisions. Thank you for looking up and away from human business toward the actual life which supports it all. (and saying), “wait, we need rivers to flow to the Ocean for about a million reasons, and a million more we don’t even know yet.”
Another article in the “High Country News” about wildlife connectivity in the West:
Its nice to get data about critical wildlife habitat out to the world at large, but really, at this point ALL habitat is critical, as wildlife are losing ground, falling out of balance with their predator/prey populations, and coming down with incurable fungal diseases.
With more humans to feed every day, wildlife, and nature in general, takes a back seat to human needs. Some day we may realize that we need wild, intact natural ecosystems in order to grow our food, have clean water, and be in balance with pests and disease.
Amazing, simply amazing. The confluence between research science, technology, and volunteers on a massive scale yield these, I’ll say it again, amazing, heat maps of bird migration: Forecasts : BirdCast.
Without waiting for years of study to become published, and then instantly become irrelevant, this “real time” network of volunteers and bird scientists have been putting together easily readable maps and graphs that show how bird migration not only shapes up for this season, week by week, even day by day, but how it compares to other years at the same time.
To say that bird migration depends on the weather is an understatement, birds must follow weather patterns in order to move the distances they need to arrive at feeding and breeding grounds just in time to continue their life cycle. When those patterns are too early, birds can “hold on” to their current position to avoid being swept away to an area that is still too cold or dormant. When the wind and weather is too late, birds may be stranded in inhospitable locations. Even more complicated is when the seasons get mixed up, as in New England this spring, with winter and summer alternating rapidly, too cold, too hot, with “just right” fleeting fast away.
If you want a graphic example, in real time, of life trying to adapt to a rapidly changing climate regime, the heat maps of e-bird are a good place to look.
Read this timely article by Laura Paskus here:
Thanks Laura for bringing this issue to light in the Reporter; as people become aware of the dangers to wildlife in these “pinch points”, we have a chance to change history for the better, for animals and ourselves.
Western Willow Flycatcher habitat was improved last Saturday at the Sevilleta Wildlife Refuge as 22 volunteers with the New Mexico Volunteers for the Outdoors helped by cutting and trimming willows, then planting them in holes that were augered down to the water table.
Satisfying work on a calm, clear February day. Flocks of snow geese headed south to the Bosque del Apache refuge as we worked on the willow prep. under the budding old growth cottonwoods along the Rio Grande. Cutting all but the very top branches off the willow rods helps the willow roots get a good start. By May they will be leafed out and growing into their first season in their new spot along the river. These Gooding’s willows will grow much taller than the ubiquitous Coyote Willow, and when filled out with new branches in a few years, provide good habitat, along with the Cottonwoods, for the endangered Western Willow Flycatcher.
The refuge manager, Kathy Granillo, also voiced her concern for wildlife pathways throughout the state of NM, and recognizes the importance of wildlife connectivity between all the refuge lands. Even though Sevilleta is the largest refuge, 200,000 + acres, it still depends on connectivity with surrounding lands to stay healthy.
As we like to say at Pathways, “Life is a moving thing!”
This weekend Pathways will be helping with another wildlife track and sign course with professional tracker,
Casey McFarland. Read some of the history of this course here: History | Tracker Certification.
There is still room for a couple more people, so contact Casey directly; email: email@example.com and take advantage of this great opportunity to see another side of animal, bird and insect life here in NM.
See Caroline Fraser’s blog, iWild, here: The world after burning: This is what New… – iWILD. and then follow the link to the “Yale 360” blog to read her article on the Megadrought in the SW United States.
Impacts to wildlife are beyond measuring at this time and scale, for there is little measured data before the fire. Now many of the smaller mammal species are just “gone”, and the habitat loss for forest species has been severely fragmented by this “un-natural” fire. In fact, we are witnessing, if we care to look, a flipping of the forest ecosystem to a grasslands ecosystem, with little hope of the recovery of the vast Ponderosa Pine forests that once characterized this region’s mountains.
We have few remaining large, native mammalian species left here in NM. The Bison, Grizzly Bears, and Timber Wolves have been expatriated from the wild, with Rocky Mt. and Desert Big Horn Sheep being repatriated with limited success, and Rocky Mt. Elk repatriated with unbalanced success, and lets mention the Pronghorn (Antelope) as well, although still present in the wild in NM, its numbers have been greatly reduced. That leaves the Mule Deer, some White-tailed Deer, Black Bears, and the Mountain Lion. The Mule Deer have suffered dramatic population losses over the past decade in NM, the cause? NM Game and Fish is “unsure of the cause”, and it “remains a mystery”. Black Bear populations are healthy in some parts of the state, but data is just now being accurately, or I should say, more accurately gathered, but much is still unknown about Black Bear ecology and their relationships with other species, like humans. Mountain Lion data is very scarce, and policy on hunting and depredation numbers continue to be driven by “sportsmen”, not science, of which there is precious little.
So that sums it up for the large animals in this state, which should be the easy ones to count, know about, and care for, but by the evidence we haven’t done a very good job of “managing the ecosystem for wildlife”.
Surf over to High Country News for this report on scientific evidence that wildlife overpasses are working well!