A disturbing recent poll… [thanks to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Holiday Lectures]
For a Biology extra credit assignment, I was able to watch one of this year’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute Holiday Lectures; this one, by Daniel Schrag, Ph.D., is entitled “Earth’s Climate: Back to the Future.”
It’s really informative and full of facts about global warming, glaciers, and climate change. Here’s what I was able to write about it:
One thing that I learned during this lecture was that glaciers exist even in the tropics! Since I don’t know much about tropical environments, I found it extremely surprising to find out that scientists and researchers such as Dr. Lonnie Thompson create entire studies, and even careers, out of researching the environments surrounding glaciers near the Equator. Studying glaciers in this region obviously involves traveling and trekking up to environments with very high altitudes that allow these glaciers to exist. At altitudes of up to 25,000 ft, these types of scientists bring drilling equipment to core through the glaciers in order for observations to be made. I found it incredibly interesting to hear about all the effort and planning that must go into executing these complicated and specific studies, and could not help but admire the bravery and determination of these climate scientists as they make these time-consuming and dangerous journeys to help us learn more about our Earth’s environment. On continents such as South America (Andes Mountains), Africa (Kilimanjaro), and various parts of Asia, these scientists are able to use solar-powered equipment to create and record their observations and studies. By observing the aesthetically organized banding patterns in these glaciers and how they were being effected by the melting of the glacier, scientists were able to deduce that this melting of the glaciers is not a normal occurrence that happens on a regular basis; this is a new and recent phenomenon that is affecting glaciers in the tropics (and otherwise) throughout our world today, due to our overconsumption and abuse of fossil fuels as a world population.
The significance of these glaciers and large deposits of snow in these environments of higher altitudes, and the reason that their melting it is such a relevant issue, is that these resources act as our world’s “natural reservoirs,” serving as a natural storage for our world’s fresh water. As Daniel Schrag explains, a good example of how crucial this water source is for us is agriculture in the state of California. The annual snowfall in the Sierra Nevada mountains accumulates during the winter months, and slowly melts throughout the spring, summer and fall; this provides a constant flow of traveling water to the lower-lying regions, and is usually sufficient enough to last farmers (and the Californian population in general) the entirety of the year. The real problem occurs when there are not enough instances of cold temperatures to provide sufficient snowfall in the winter, or when the snow that does accumulate actually melts too quickly, leaving the latter part of the year sans this natural water-rationing resource. At the current rate, it is projected that by the end of the century, this will be the case, therefore introducing a large obstacle for Californian and United States agriculture.
Related to this issue is the consistency and recurrence of heat waves; record temperatures this past year across the United States were constantly being revised and then surpassed again. Even in 2003, France saw over fifteen thousand heat-related deaths in a summer heat wave. While treatments and precautions for humans may be constantly improving, these heat waves also create a very imposing threat for our national and international agriculture. As stated in the lecture, “A one-degree rise above 29℃ (~84℉) causes a 10% reduction in yield of maize, rice, and wheat worldwide.” This is clearly an issue that cannot be ignored; with thousands of people starving each day, this imminent loss of so many crops is a situation that demands our direct attention and initiatives to attempt to combat this trend.
If you love honey like we do, this is definitely something to check out. Bee Raw Honey is dedicated to making delicious, unprocessed honey that maintains all of the natural flavors and health benefits that nature intended!
The variety of sources, flavors, and “honey pairings” that Bee Raw Honey provides on its website is impressive, to say the least - and that’s not even to mention the fantastic support and awareness they are raising for the environment and for our dear honeybees.
Bee Raw Honey, you’ve got our vote!
As you all know, CCD among colonies of honey bees has been a very serious problem in recent years, affecting larger percentages of bees each year. Recent research has finally been able to provide us with more information as to why so many bees are dying - one step closer to finding a solution.
Your Own Submissions!
Many apologies for the necessary delay in posts! Due to travel conditions which provided very scarce (if any) internet access, posting new media, questions, or ideas proved near impossible. The good news is there are brand new, original photographs on the way to being posted!
Also, your own photographs, comments, ideas, etc. are ALWAYS welcome! (And of course you will be credited!!) Thanks everyone, new photos coming soon.
Any LOTR fans out there will probably appreciate this more than most.. although any construction or D.I.Y. enthusiasts will enjoy it as well! Clicking on the link above will direct you to a site devoted to one man’s eco-friendly house. He designed and built the house out of wood, mud, and stone, to accommodate his family of four - but why? “It’s fun,” he states. The site is full of plenty of photographs, floor plans, and even pretty detailed instructions of the innovative home; there is even a section that details small things we can all do to help the environment! (The page can be found HERE.) Way to go, Simon, and the others like you who have chosen to get creative, in order to create a more sustainable home!
[Many thanks to autumnsprout!]