Tag Archives | Nature

This Is Absolutely Terrifying: “There Are Really Only Two Big Patches of Intact Forest Left on Earth”

Alias 0591 (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Alias 0591 (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Lindsay Abrams writes at Salon:

Can a forest that exists only in the spaces between roads and patches cleared for human settlement and agricultural development truly be called a forest?

Not so much, say researchers studying the growing, global problem of forest fragmentation. And the “persistent, deleterious and often unpredicted” consequences of human activity, finds a new study conducted by a team off 24 international scientists, and funded by the National Science Foundation, may be ruinous for plant and animal life.

“There are really only two big patches of intact forest left on Earth — the Amazon and the Congo — and they shine out like eyes from the center of the map,” lead author Nick Haddad, a professor at North Carolina State University, told the New Yorker.

“Nearly 20 percent of the world’s remaining forests are the distance of a football field — or about 100 meters — away from forest edges,” he elaborated in a statement.

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The Octopus Tree of Oregon

Alicia Mueller (CC BY 2.0)

Alicia Mueller (CC BY 2.0)

The Octopus Tree, a Sitka Spruce, is located on the Oregon coast, only a few hundred feet from the Cape Meares Lighthouse. The tree is suspected to be between 250 – 300 years old.

How the Spruce came to be shaped like an octopus is unknown, but there are two popular theories. Some suspect that it was used formed by Native Americans to hold canoes and the dead. Others think it was just formed by extreme weather.

The sign posted in front of the tree reads:

The Forces that shaped this unique Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) have been debated for many years. Whether natural events or possible Native Americans were the cause remains a mystery.

The tree measures more than 46 feed in circumference and has no central trunk. Instead, limbs extend horizontally from the base as much as 16 feet before turning upward. It is 105 feet tall and is estimated to be 250 to 300 years old.

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The Lookout: Short Doc About Living Alone on a Mountain

Leif Haugen is a fire lookout and spends his summers alone on top of a mountain in Montana. “I think there’s something about keeping things simple that is absolutely resonate,” Haugen says. In this documentary, filmmaker Brian Bolsters explores what it means to live a solitary life.


The Lookout from Brian Bolster on Vimeo.

Brian Bolster’s description via Vimeo:

Although fire lookouts continue to be critical front-line components of our forest system’s battle to detect and prevent wildfires, their roles often times go unnoticed, due largely to both the manual nature of the work involved and the quiet, extremely solitary nature of the working environment.  Leif Haugen is a fire lookout in a remote corner of the Flathead National Forest in northwestern Montana, and each summer he lives and works alone on top of a mountain three miles from the Canadian border.  A simple, somewhat primitive one-room structure serves as both his home and office; however, what it may lack in amenities (neither electricity nor running water are available) is more than compensated for by the majestic, 360-degree views of the world that his perch provides. 

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Mushroom Medicine: 5 Fungi Capable Of Profound Healing

Luke Sumpter via reset.me:

Fungi are a fascinating life form. They belong neither to the plant nor animal kingdoms, and they actually share more DNA with animals that they do with plants. Adding to their strangeness, the largest organism ever discovered on the planet is a network of mushroom mycelium that weaves across a colossal 2,200 acres underneath Oregon’s ancient Malheur National Forest.

Another standout quality of fungi is that some species are among the most potent natural medicines available. They offer an amazing spectrum of health benefits, from anti-tumor and anti-oxidant qualities, to depression and anxiety relief.

Here is a list describing five of the most potent mushroom medicines known to date:

1. Reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum)

"Ganoderma lucidum 01" by Eric Steinert - photo taken by Eric Steinert at Paussac, France. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Ganoderma lucidum 01” by Eric Steinert – photo taken by Eric Steinert at Paussac, France. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The reishi mushroom has been used by physicians for thousands of years in China, where it was deemed to be so effective at preventing illness and curing disease that it earned the prestigious title, ‘Mushroom of Immortality.’ It was once reserved exclusively for the healing benefit of the upper echelons of society, as described in aHuffington Post article

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Great Barrier Reef Corals Eat Plastic

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These are corals on the Great Barrier Reef. Credit: Mia Hoogenboom

 

Via ScienceDaily:

Researchers in Australia have found that corals commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef will eat micro-plastic pollution.

“Corals are non-selective feeders and our results show that they can consume microplastics when the plastics are present in seawater,” says Dr Mia Hoogenboom, a Chief Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

“If microplastic pollution increases on the Great Barrier Reef, corals could be negatively affected as their tiny stomach-cavities become full of indigestible plastic,” Dr Hoogenboom says.

Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic in the environment and are a widespread contaminant in marine ecosystems, particularly in inshore coral reefs.

Despite the proliferation of microplastics, their impact on marine ecosystems is poorly understood.

“Marine plastic pollution is a global problem and microplastics can have negative effects on the health of marine organisms,” says Dr Hoogenboom.

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Bigger Than Science, Bigger Than Religion

Genesis Farm. (Photo: Michael Taylor/flickr/cc)

Genesis Farm. (Photo: Michael Taylor/flickr/cc)

Richard Schiffman writes at Common Dreams:

The world as we know it is slipping away. At the current rate of destruction, tropical rainforest could be gone within as little as 40 years. The seas are being overfished to the point of exhaustion, and coral reefs are dying from ocean acidification. Biologists say that we are currently at the start of the largest mass extinction event since the disappearance of the dinosaurs. As greenhouse gases increasingly accumulate in the atmosphere, temperatures are likely to rise faster than our current ecological and agricultural systems can adapt.

It is no secret that the Earth is in trouble and that we humans are to blame. Just knowing these grim facts, however, won’t get us very far. We have to transform this knowledge into a deep passion to change course. But passion does not come primarily from the head; it is a product of the heart.

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Map shows the loudest and quietest areas in the US

National Park Service Division of Natural Sounds and Night Skies

National Park Service Division of Natural Sounds and Night Skies

Brad Plumer | @bradplumer via Vox:

Not surprisingly, cities tend to be very noisy, with background levels averaging around 50 to 60 decibels. And that’s just the average: heavy truck traffic can reach around 85 dB, while construction jackhammers can reach 95 dB if you’re standing less than 50 feet away.

By contrast, regions like Yellowstone National Park have background noise levels down at around 20 decibels, which, as Underwood reports, is about as hushed as things were before European colonization.

So who cares? For one, all the artificial noise and light that cities produce can have bizarre effects on humans and wildlife — effects we have yet to fully understand. Loud cities can interfere with the ability of owls and bats to hunt. And, because of urban noise, some male birds now have to sing at higher frequencies, making them less attractive to potential mates.

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Herbalism, Ayahuasca and Symbiotic Culture with Dan DeLion – Free Radical Media Podcast

In this installment of the Free Radical Media podcast, hosts Eric Scott Pickard and Patrick Ryan are joined by their friend and former guest, Dan DeLion. DeLion, herbalist, forager, naturalist and teacher is the founder of the organization Return to Nature. This time around, Dan discusses his new, far-ranging documentary project, “Hunting the Medicine: Stalking the Wild Spirit,” which has taken him to such places as Columbia and India. He also details his recent personal experience with Ayahuasca in a Shamanic setting, and shares his views and insight into the world of herbalism and the philosophy of living in harmony with the natural world. Dan’s website can be found here.

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Animal Sex: How Octopuses Do It

Screen shot 2015-02-03 at 1.13.13 PM

Joseph Castro Via Live Science:

Often considered the smartest invertebrates (animals without backbones) on the planet, octopuses can use tools, unscrew jar lids and tightly control their body color to match their surroundings. They use this sharp intelligence especially in situations of survival — including when they are trying to avoid getting eaten by their hungry mates.

Octopuses come in all shapes and sizes and inhabit diverse regions of the ocean. There are about 100 different species of octopuses in the genus Octopus, and at least another 150 species in other genera, said Jennifer Mather, a cephalopod expert at the University of Lethbridge in Canada. Scientists have witnessed the mating behavior of only about a dozen species, she added.

The marine animals have very short lives, generally lasting only a few years long and sometimes as short as 6 months. They spend their youth alone, eating and growing before reaching sexual maturity.

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