Real life

monkey_on_my_back.jpg“The written word is weak.  Many people prefer life to it.”

Annie Dillard

That’s my excuse.  I’ve been living life, rather than recording it.  Ye gods, it’s been over a month.  And here’s my little secret: It feels great!  I’ve been learning a lot as I’ve meandered along, feeling my way, with the Natural Patriot.  But I cannot tell you how refreshing it’s felt to just forget about it for a while.  I don’t want to say that blogging has been a monkey on my back, but, well . . .

People often ask me: “Where do you find the time to blog?”  I answer them honestly: “I don’t!” Time spent doing this is stolen from something else.  Generally sleep, interactions with real humans like my family, and/or productive work.  And deficits of all of those things take their toll.  Recently I’ve been reminded of the value of doing all those things. Hence the long silence.  I don’t mean to whine or anything.  But there it is.

Right.  I am posting this partly in order to quell any fears among faithful readers that I have experienced some sort of tragedy that’s kept me from my rounds here. I haven’t. And the Natural Patriot will be back in the saddle again soon. 

But I also feel I’ve learned an important, small lesson that may be worth sharing.  Based on my experiences of the last month, I can strongly recommend the following general approach.  I will propose it a as three-step program:

1) Turn off your computer. After reading this of course. 

2) Go outside.  Adjust your vision to a world that spans more than 20 inches diagonally and that exists in three dimensions.  Wave some smelling salts under your other four senses and wake them up.  It may take them a while to get going again.  Listen to the spring peepers — I heard them tonight, while planting spindly little tomatoes in our new naked little garden plot in the last few photons of the day (more about that later). If you don’t hear spring peepers, listen to something else, anything — crickets, pigeons, wind. Silence. Stay out if it starts to rain, or if you get a chill.  Feel your body begin to cope with the shiver.  

And here is the key:

3) Keep doing this for a while.  The real world works on a very different time scale than the virtual one. Seeds need time to grow and all that. Sleeping outside for several nights in a row helps a lot.

earth-hands.jpgThere’s a lot I could tell, and I may yet do so, about recent activities.  Backpacking with the lad was good, for example.  I may return to that.  For now, however, I want to get back in the queue (is that the correct spelling?) because Earth Day is this week and I feel some sort of mystical Naturally Patriotic duty not to allow this most sacred of occasions to pass without comment of some sort.  Even if I am listening to spring peepers with the computer off. 

For now, I will close with only one item of news related to both my activities of the last week and the upcoming Earth Day, primarily for my local homies.  As many of you know, Governor Kaine of Virginia has established a Commission on Climate Change and charged it to hold a series of meetings to figure out and advise him on what is going on in this state, where we are headed, and what we can do about it. 

The third meeting of the Governor’s Climate Change Commission will be held on Earth Day, 22 April (day after tomorrow), and is open to the public.  I strongly encourage all Virginians who can attend to do so, and to make your voices heard on this critical issue.

guv-commission-logo.jpgThe meeting will be held at the University Center of The College of William and Mary.  The agenda, presentations, location, and other information can be found here. The meeting runs from 10:00 Am to 5:00 PM, with public comment at the end.  I will be one of those making a presentation, in my case on impacts of climate change on coastal ecosystems and living marine resources.  I’ve been told that the last meeting in Charlottesville attracted a strong student presence and the Commission took their comments very seriously.  This is a chance to make democracy work — please do your part if you can.

Thank you for your attention, and your patience.  Y’all come back. 

Posted in Biodiversity, Biophilia, Blogospheria | 5 Comments

Friday poetry: The lone prairie

prairiewy.jpg[Editor’s note: This week’s entry comes from Johhny Cash.  That’s right, the Man in Black. The song itself is, of course, an old traditional whose author has been lost to us.  The poetry in this piece comes in the prayer of Johnny’s spoken-word introduction. I don’t know if these are his own words, or those of the anonymous cowboy. But they send shivers down my spine every time I hear them. They are written in the plain Christian idiom of his tradition, but they also speak more broadly to the spirit of natural patriotism. Sixth in a series.]

Oh, bury me not on the lone prairie
Traditional, interpreted by Johhny Cash

johnnycash.jpgLord, I’ve never lived where churches grow.
I loved creation better as it stood
that day you finished it so long ago
and looked upon your work and called it good.
I know that others find you in the light
that sifted down through tinted window panes.
And yet I seem to feel you near tonight
in this dim, quiet starlight on the plains.
I thank you, Lord, that I’m placed so well
that you’ve made my freedom so complete
that I’m no slave to whistle, clock or bell,
nor weak-eyed prisoner of Wall or Street.
Just let me live my life as I’ve begun
and give me work that’s open to the sky.
Make me a partner of the wind and sun
and I won’t ask a life that’s soft or high.
Let me be easy on the man that’s down.
Let me be square and generous with all.
I’m careless sometimes, Lord, when I’m in town
but never let them say I’m mean or small.
Make me as big and open as the plains
and honest as the horse between my knees,
clean as a wind that blows behind the rains,
free as the hawk that circles down the breeze.
Forgive me, Lord, if sometimes I forget —
You know about the reasons that are hid.
You understand the things that gall or fret.
Well, you knew me better than my mother did.
Just keep an eye on all that’s done or said
and right me sometimes when I turn aside.
And guide me on that long, dim trail ahead
that stretches upward toward the great divide.

 

prairie-city-oregon.jpg
       

Posted in Biophilia, Poetry | Comments Off on Friday poetry: The lone prairie

In praise of maggots.

milkweed_butterfly_by_doug_tallamy.jpgNow that’s what I’m talking about.

The NYT has a great article about Doug Tallamy, a fellow ecologist at the University of Delaware who studies insects.  He and his wife are on a mission to reclaim their farm from aggressive invasive plant species and make it hospitable again for . . . maggots.  Why maggots?  because chickadees love to eat them. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about the frightful scene that develops in your fetid garbage can, but rather the larvae of native flies that burrow into goldentod stems and other plants in the yard. And not just maggots but the menagerie of inconspicuous creeping and crawling and flitting creatures that metamorphose into butterflies and that nourish the birds. 

Theirs is a personal project of ecological engineering to support biodiversity.  It resonated with me immediately since, in the warming weekends of spring, I like to go out and whack back the vines and pull out the invasive privet thickets that sprout up everywhere, and clear patches around native saplings that are struggling under honeysuckle, and so on. 

goldenrodmill.jpg“Restoration ecology” is not quite the appropriate term since some of the plants they foster are not native to their specific region.  On the other hand, they do support native insects, and therefore higher levels in the food web.  And in any case, as climate change and other environmental impacts progress, we need to shift our focus to “emerging ecosystems”.  While remaining (or becoming) aware of the sometimes forgotten baselines of how nature used to look and work, we also need to incorporate the reality that geographc ranges of species are shifting, some invaders are here to stay, and some natives are disappearing inexorably.  How do we maintain biodiversity and functional, resilient ecosystem in this new world order? 

The answers are not yet clear.  But efforts like those of the Tallamys are  small experiments toward finding the answers. Doug has written a book about this, “Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens“, which I very much look forward to reading.  His basic thesis is deceptively simple: bugs are the key link in the food chain.  And bugs tend to be tallamybook.jpgextremely finicky eaters.  Many are strict specialists on one or a few types of plants.  This means that yards and gardens filled with ornamental plants introduced from elsewhere often support only invasive pest species and not the native insects adapted to local conditions and enjoyed by local birds and other animals.  Encouraging native plants — and insects — is a concrete way to restiore ecological balance to the patches of land over which we personally have stewardship. 

And that is an exciting and hopeful message.  We often feel helpless when confronted with all the bad news about environmental degradation.  Here is something we can do personally to sustain biodiversity.  Nurture native plants and the creatures that depend on them.  One yard at a time. Power to the people (and other organisms)!

Posted in Biodiversity, Biophilia, Books and media, Education, Sustainability | 2 Comments

The first peeps of spring

spring_peeper.jpgIt happens gradually, of course, so there is no bright line that marks the beginning of the new year.  Crocuses come up through the snow sometimes, long before anyone else would say it is spring.  Daffodils are in full bloom around here.  The small scarlet flowers of the ubiquitous red maples that haze the late winter woods are actually beginning already to fall and collect in drifts around the porch.  Traditionally, robins have signalled the beginning of spring, although in this neck of the woods we seem nowadays to have a few around for most of the winter.

Sometimes you just feel it in the air, something you can’t quite put your finger on, like that warm, portentious wind that Pliny is said to have believed impregnated the mares prancing in the spring pastures.

But for me, the real turning point, the signal that always fills me with the excitement and beauty of the world waking up again is the first evening when I hear the unmistakable chorus of spring peepers in the woods (you can listen here).  Generally it’s a warmish night shortly after a good strong rain.  The frogs have emerged from their winter torpor and are looking for love, so to speak, and a good little pond to lay their eggs in.

This year, spring began two nights ago, when we came home from work a bit late and suddenly the chorus emerged into consciousness from the background noise.  Winter is gone!

crucifer.jpgPseudacris crucifer (formerly known as Hyla crucifer) are tiny little frogs only an inch or so long as adults.  The genus name comes from the Greek meaning “false locust”, presumably because they sound like a cricket or locust (and are not much bigger than one, for that matter).  The species name crucifer comes from the cross-shaped marking on its back.

I can vividly remember seeing them for the first time in my life — maybe the only time, though I’ve heard them many times — when I was maybe eight or nine at Bull Run Park in Northern Virginia and being mesmerized.  As a suburban kid this was real, exotic wildilfe to me. Complete animals, so tiny and beautful.

A year or two ago, I heard them calling during daytime, strangely enough, from a drainage ditch near the dump.  It gave me a surge of hope that, even in this tired landscape, Nature remains resilient.  Many happy returns, little friends.

Posted in Biodiversity, Biophilia | Tagged | 1 Comment

The so-called Environmental Protection Agency

epa_seal.jpgInteresting editorial in Nature today. It details a phenomenon that, sadly, is characteristic of this administration, thankfully now a lame duck.  I quote the editorial in full:

The EPA’s tailspin

The director of the Environmental Protection Agency is sabotaging both himself and his agency.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is fast losing the few shreds of credibility it has left. The Bush administration has always shown more zeal in protecting business interests than the environment. But the agency’s current administrator, Stephen Johnson, a veteran EPA toxicologist who was promoted to the top slot in 2005, has done so with reckless disregard for law, science or the agency’s own rules — or, it seems, the anguished protests of his own subordinates.

On 27 February, to take the first of two examples that surfaced last week, Senator Barbara Boxer (Democrat, California) used a routine budget hearing to give Johnson a grilling. Why hadn’t he given her state permission to regulate the carbon dioxide emissions of vehicle exhausts? California needs a waiver from the EPA to regulate in this way, and in the past such waivers have been granted easily. And, Boxer reminded him via a series of leaked memos and PowerPoint presentations, Johnson’s own top-level staff begged him to sign the waiver in this case. “This is a choice only you can make,” one colleague wrote to him. “But I ask you to think about the history and the future of the agency in making it. If you are asked to deny this waiver, I fear the credibility of the agency that we both love will be irreparably damaged.”

In December, Johnson announced he would refuse the waiver, an act that would also deny permission to more than a dozen other states seeking to base their exhaust regulations on California’s. Johnson argued that climate change is not a local phenomenon, so dealing with it isn’t what the authors of the Clean Air Act intended for the waiver system.

Although logical, this argument is similar to that made by Johnson’s EPA in an earlier case involving Massachusetts, when the agency fought against CO2 regulation all the way to the Supreme Court — and lost. His insistence on using it again can perhaps best be understood from the fact that Johnson answers to a White House that is hostile to regulation on principle. It is also worth noting that his refusal documentation, made official on 29 February, extensively quotes an industry trade association, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

The second example came on 29 February, in the form of a joint letter to Johnson from the four labour unions representing most of the EPA’s professional staff. Listing examples of alleged bad faith by Johnson, the unions essentially refused to work with him until he cleans up his act. Among the complaints was an assertion that he repeatedly ignored the EPA’s official Principles of Scientific Integrity, citing “fluoride drinking water standards, organophosphate pesticide registration, control of mercury emissions from power plants” — and the waiver refusal.

In a rational world, Johnson would resign in favour of someone who could at least feign an interest in the environment. Alas, it seems that he will probably stay on until January 2009, refusing waivers, fighting lawsuits and further depressing employees’ morale. In the meantime, we can only offer those employees a fantasy: the White House doesn’t want the agency to do anything, so shut it down until next January. Take some fully paid sabbatical time to relax, and prepare for a return to the old-fashioned protecting of the environment that so many of you joined the agency for.

Ten months left now . . .

Posted in Politics, Science, Sustainability | 6 Comments

The promise of biofuels: a lot of hot air?

up_in_smoke.jpgI suppose we should have known it was all too good to be true.  What could be wrong with using plants for fuel?  They take carbon out of the air, so burning them up in the tank just puts it back up there — no net change, right?

Wrong.

We’ve already heard about the massive quantities of synthetic fertilizer and water required to keep a biofuel crop like corn going.  And there is the distinctly distasteful problem that the corn would do a lot more good feeding someone.  Indeed, the headlong rush into converting cropland to biofuel cultivation is already raising food prices.

As if that weren’t bad enough, it turns out that even where the major biofuels would seem to have a hands-down advantage over petroleum, i.e., on the balance sheet for net carbon emissions, the story is quite a bit less rosy than it appears.

A new study by Fargione et al in Science has crunched the numbers to show why. The key advance here is that these authors calculated the amount of carbon present in both the standing biomass (i.e., trees) and in the underlying soils on the land that is cleared for biofuel crops.  They then estimated how much of that carbon is released into the atmosphere, and over how long a time span, by burning or microbial decomposition in exposed soil.  It turns out that a large quantity of carbon is lost gradually from the soil over the course of decades after land has been cleared.  Fargione and colleagues call this the “carbon debt” from land conversion:

“Over time, biofuels from converted land can repay this carbon debt if their production and combustion have net [greenhouse gas, GHG] emissions that are less than the life-cycle emissions of the fossil fuels they displace. Until the carbon debt is repaid, biofuels from converted lands have greater GHG impacts than those of the fossil fuels they displace.”

Greater GHG impacts than petroleum. The figure below shows the numbers for several major types of biofuel operations that involve land conversion.

fargione_fig_1.jpg

The figure shows for each of nine scenarios (A) the carbon debt, i.e., the CO2 emissions from soils and biomass lost or degraded during habitat conversion, (B)  the percentage of that debt due to biofuel production as opposed to other uses, (C) the annual carbon repayment rate, meaning the greenhouse gas reduction from fossil fuel use displaced by the biofuel production, as well as carbon storage in soils, and — here’s the kicker — (D) the number of years required to repay biofuel carbon debt.   The results are, to put it mildly, sobering.  For example, conversion of native grassland (if you could find some) to cornfields for ethanol production requires 93 years to break even.  In Indonesia and Malaysia, where vast swaths of virgin rainforest are being burned down every year to plant oil palms, it would take four centuries to repay the debt. As the authors note:

“Our analyses suggest that biofuels, if produced on converted land, could, for long periods of time, be much greater net emitters of greenhouse gases than the fossil fuels that they typically displace. All but two—sugarcane ethanol and soybean biodiesel on Cerrado—would generate greater GHG emissions for at least half a century, with several forms of biofuel production from land conversion doing so for centuries. At least for current or developing biofuel technologies, any strategy to reduce GHG emissions that causes land conversion from native ecosystems to cropland is likely to be counter-productive.”

Now, lest I be accused (again) of being pessimistic, there is some good news of sorts here if you hunt for it.  The main point is that not all biofuels are created equal. As I’ve discussed before, you can avoid the carbon debt by brewing fuel from plants growing on land that is too degraded to produce much of anything else, or from harvesting of natural prairie vegetation that does not require the land clearing that sends all that wood and humus and soil carbon up in smoke.  Doing that on a commercial scale is of course not as straightforward as growing corn or soybeans, but these data emphasize that it is well worth exploring.

Maybe that way we can minimize the hot air.

[Source: Fargione, J., J. Hill, D. Tilman, S. Polasky, and P. Hawthorne. 2008. Land Clearing and the Biofuel Carbon Debt. Science 319: 1235 – 1238.]

Posted in Biodiversity, Science, Sustainability | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Carnivals in town

carnival_of_the_blue.jpgTired of sifting through the virtual world for interesting stuff?

Blog carnivals in two pleasing, environmentally friendly colors are now online. Get your blue at Kate Wing’s blog, host this time around of the tenth monthly Carnival of the Blue, which covers the waterfront as the saying goes . . .

cog.bmp . . . and your green at Confessions of a Closet Environmentalist, this week’s host (they’re a bit ahead of us above the tide line). Good stuff at both venues.

Posted in Blogospheria, Oceans, Science, Sustainability | Comments Off on Carnivals in town

Friday poetry 5: Oh, Earth, Wait for Me

pablo_neruda.gif[Editor’s note: Few have employed the Spanish language so masterfully as Pablo Neruda.  I’ve often felt that an important incentive to improve my own rudimentary Spanish would be the ability to read and appreciate Neruda’s poetry in his native tongue.  For now, alas, I have to be satisfied with the translation of by Alastair Reid, who has been called “Neruda’s most talented and imaginitive English translator”.  This is from Neruda’s poetic autobiography, written in his elder years as he reminisced down his long and eventful life from his remote home on the coast of Chile.  As winter winds down here in Virginia, and I can already see in the woods the subtle wash of red maple buds, I’m waiting for the earth too.]

Oh tierra, esperame
(Oh, Earth, Wait for Me)

Pablo Neruda
from “Isla Negra

atacama.jpgReturn me, oh sun,
to my country destiny,
rain of the ancient woods.
Bring me back its aroma, and the swords
falling from the sky,
the solitary peace of pasture and rock,
the damp at the river margins,
the smell of the larch tree,
the wind alive like a heart
beating in the crowded remoteness
of the towering araucaria.

Earth, give me back your pristine gifts,
towers of silence which rose from
the solemnity of their roots.
I want to go back to being what I haven’t been,
to learn to return from such depths
that among all natural things
I may live or not live.  I don’t mind
being one stone more, the dark stone,
the pure stone that the river bears away.

[The photo below shows Neruda’s house at Isla Negra, Chile]

 

isla_negra.jpg
        

Posted in Natural Patriots, Poetry | 4 Comments

A climate for conflict

agincourt.jpgAs the evidence for ongoing climate change has grown incontrovertible, there is increasing urgency to the question of what these changes hold in store for us.  Some wondered why Al Gore and the IPCC should be awarded the Nobel peace prize for promoting climate science?  Is there really a connection?  One source of insight involves querying the past: what consequences have past climate changes had for human society?

In a relatively new study (published in December 2007 — I’m a little behind the curve here), David Zhang and colleagues exploit new high-resolution paleo-temperature records to address this question. The paper assembles evidence from five to ten centuries of human history to show that climate variation drives changing food production, which among animals typically results in what we ecologists call “intraspecific competition”, that is, competition among members of the same species.  Among humans we call it war.

zhang_figure_1.jpgThe Figure at left shows the northern hemisphere temperature variation (as anomalies from the long-term average, panel A), war frequency, and rate of change in human population from 1400 to approximately the beginning of the industrial revolution in 1900. The number of wars is shown for the northern hemisphere as a whole (bright green line, and right axis scale), Asia (pink), Europe (turquoise), and arid areas of the northern hemisphere (orange). Panel C shows number of wars worldwide as recorded by three different authors using different thresholds for defining war — as can be seen, the trends are roughly similar. Finally, panel D shows the 20-year population growth rate in Europe (turquoise), Asia (pink), and the northern hemisphere as a whole (blue), as well as the 50-year fatality index in the region (bright green). Cold phases of history are shaded in gray. The bright green curves correspond to the right axis.

What to make of all this?  First, we can see that climate varied during this time between cool and warmer periods that lasted decades to a few centuries. More importantly, these cool and warm periods coincided with times of unrest and relative tranquility, respectively.  Considering the whole global data base, there is a strongly significant negative correlation between war and temperature, with temperature anomaly explaining 28% of the variation in war frequency.  Even more telling, this “rhythm of history” was roughly synchronous across the northern hemisphere. Since, during these centuries, China and Europe were still largely isolated from one another, the synchrony of these trends over such an area, comprising much of the northern half of the planet, is difficult to explain by any factor other than the clear signal of large-scale global climate.

The relationships are even more pronounced in the finer-resolution record for China during the longer period from AD 1000 – 1900 (see figure below): here each of the cool periods (gray shading) saw a major spike in the number of wars.

zhang_fig_s5.jpgWhat is the mechanism behind these patterns? The answer appears to be pretty simple, and readily predictable from basic principles of population ecology.  Climate cooling reduces agricultural production, mainly by shortening the growing season and reducing available land for cultivation. Because the political boundaries of states in these agrarian societies were less porous than they are today, there was little opportunity for mass migration during the resultant shortages of food (and, since the problems were regional, nowhere to go in any case).  So the four horsemen — death, famine, war, and pestilence — mounted up and rode in.

zhang_fig_s3.jpgThe figure at right summarizes in diagrammatic form the pathways by which long-term climate variation influenced frequency of war and human population dynamics in China and Europe during preindustrial times (i.e. up to 1900). Solid lines indicate direct effects, and dotted lines indirect feedbacks. Thicker arrows indicates stronger correlations.  There are several inrerrelated impacts of climate change mediated by the interactions of humans with our food supply and with each other, but food supply is central.

So, OK, this data comes from back when people rode horses and peasants grubbed for potatos all winter long and so forth.  Why should we care in the 21st century?  We have refigerators and grocery stores!  Besides, the climate now is warming, rather than cooling, so it should all be good, right?  The most general message for us today is that climate variation has profound impacts on the global ecosystem’s ability to provide vital services, which in turn have profound implications for human society and well-being.  Although a warming climate has been good for us in the past, and will surely be good for some people in some places in coming decades too, we are facing a much bigger and faster warming than the earth has seen in a very long time.  And one of the consequences is change in rainfall, which is an even more powerful regulator of agricultural productivity than temperature.  And when food runs low, conflict is inevitable, as we are seeing in Darfur.  Too little (crop)land to go around was evidently a key match to the flame in Rwanda during the 1990s also.

Scholars have long sought, with only partial success, to explain the conflicts that repeatedly plague civilization. The results of this paper indicate that human ecology is –- or was — forced to a surprising degree by the same basic environmental drivers and by similar, if more destructive, mechanisms of competition that regulate populations of other animals.

There is hopeful news too. We have learned a thing or two in the last millennium.  As the authors note:

“In the long run and at a global scale, technological and social development raised the population growth rate . . . reduced climate dependence of growth rate of population (after A.D. 1400), postponed the time of population decrease, and accelerated subsequent population recovery . . . The gradual increase in time delays for [northern hemisphere] population declines as we moved into the modern era may reflect that at least some social mechanismsmay becoming more effective over time at the macroscale.”

At the same time:

“these adaptive choices that are positive to humanity have not let the human race escape from social calamities such as population collapse caused by severe cooling at both the global and continental scales as shown in the history of the past millennium. For armed conflict, the positive social mechanisms could neither reduce the number of wars nor indefinitely postpone the times of war outbreak in any cooling periods . . . Although we have more robust social institutions at both international and national levels, and much more advanced social and technological developments at present, a much larger population size, higher standard of living, and more strictly controlled political boundaries will limit some adaptive choices to climate change. We hope that positive social mechanisms that are conducive to human adaptability will play an ever more effective role in meeting the challenges of the future.”

[Original source (open access): Zhang, D.D., P. Brecke, H.F. Lee, Y.-Q. He, and J. Zhang. 2007. Global climate change, war, and population decline in recent human history.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 104:19214-19219.]

[The painting shows the English victory over the French at the battle of Agincourt in 1415.]

Posted in Education, Politics, Science, Sustainability | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

As Garth would say, “Excellent!”

wayne_and_garth.jpgTop ten list – Excellent!

I am honored to have received the Excellent blog award, bestowed after a rigorous screening and review process, and accompanied by a handsome prize consisting of the right to display proudly a small jpeg image on my website (see below left, and in the sidebar).

The honor was bestowed by the venerable Coturnix (aka Bora Zivkovic) at “A blog around the clock“.  For those less familiar with the minutiae of blog history, Bora is a pioneer of science blogging.  His multifarious accomplishments include (1) serving as the Online Community Manager at PLoS-ONE (Public Library of Science), the rapidly growing open-access biology journal that encourages online commentary; (2) conceiving the idea for, and editing, the inaugural two issues of “The Open Laboratory: The Best Science Writing on Blogs“, which have been made available to Luddites in old-fashioned paper format, available here; (3) co-organizing the (first?) North Carolina Science Blogging Conference, which drew a large number of premier science bloggers , journalists, scientists, and educators from around North America, and which I will definitely want to attend next time around.    

excellentblog.jpgAn honor such as this comes with responsibility of course.  And in the characteristic pyramid-scheme modus operandi of the blogosphere, mine is to finger ten more blogs that I deem “excellent!”  I am of course delighted to do so.  Thus, in no particular order:

Growth is madness. It’s the economy, stupid.  And the people (yes, us) that keep cranking it upward.

Trinifar. More than food for thought – a feast for thought.

The other 95%.  Wide-ranging essays, musings, and news related to the bizarre and multifarious creatures that populate our earth.

Church of the Flying Spaghetti MonsterAmen brothers and sisters!

The Beagle Project.  A clever premise, which provides scaffolding for some interesting discussion.

Earth Forum.  More than just a blog — it’s an encyclopedia too!

Framing science.  And politics, etc.  The power of words, for good and ill.

Environmental economics.  WWA (Wonks with attitude). Actually makes economics interesting.

Children and Nature Network.  OK, I cheated — it’s not a blog.  But I love what these guys are about and what they’re doing.

Blogfish.  One of my early inspirations in blogging. A pioneer at the interface of marine science, conservation, and outreach.

There you have it.  Tag — you’re it!

 

Posted in Blogospheria, Education, Science | 7 Comments