Sea lice win gold

The former Attorney General of Norway, Georg Fredrik Rieber-Mohn, made a statement today warning Canada to take the threat to wild salmon posed by open net salmon farms. The essay length piece is straightforward, intelligent, and quite concise about what needs to be done to protect BC’s wild salmon: “If you want to protect wild salmon then you have to move salmon farms away from migration routes.”

The entire piece can be read over at Alexandra Morton’s excellent blog, http://alexandramorton.typepad.com/alexandra_morton/

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Remember Climategate?

I didn’t. Climategate is the nickname for the security breach at the University of East Anglia that saw some 3000 internal files related to climatology, including around 1000 personal emails exchanged by faculty members conducting climate research. According to climate skeptics, some of the emails contained evidence (mostly text exchanges) that leading researchers who supported anthropogenic climate change intentionally manipulated data to further their political agenda. Scary stuff… too bad it probably ain’t true. An academic review board at Pennsylvania State University recently cleared Dr. Michael E. Mann, one of the central figures embroiled in the controversy, of any scientific wrongdoing; they are now reviewing whether his conduct has negatively impact the public perception of the veracity of climate change data (doesn’t the fact your launching such an investigation answer that question?).

Indeed, many of the “smoking gun” comments found in the leaked emails can be explained when they are placed in a proper conversational context, as opposed to being excised and subjected to detailed, perhaps unrealistic scrutiny as an stand alone sentence (for example, Kevin Trenberth’s statement about the unfortunate state of climatological data collection).

However, it should be said that some of what’s come to light just looks bad no matter how you couch it (for example,Phil Jones’ comment about deleting data before it could be released through the freedom of information act). Thankfully, that’s all these statements really do: stand out like a sore thumb and embarrass those who wrote them. There is presently no evidence to suggest that anyone ever actually acted on their impulse to withhold data. Anyway, that’s it for my very cursory summary of Climategate; while I always try to keep an open mind and avoid becoming dogmatic, even about something like climate change, I can’t help but feel some of my conspiracy theorist brethren are reaching on this one. We all have ideological axes to grind and are bound to let our political views tinge our conversation from time to time; that should come as no surprise. What is surprising is that we still assume scientific researchers somehow transcend this fact.

Kicking stuff – the energy source of the future?

…no. But this is still pretty cool; a group of students at Harvard have developed a soccer ball that becomes charged with electrical energy through use. When it’s fully charged, you can use it to power simple devices like cell phones and LED lights.

Obviously this isn’t going to drive nuclear power plants or solar panel manufacturers out of business, but the idea of harvesting pre-existing kinetic energy to create electricity is definitely interesting. If only we could harvest the energy generated by sitting on your ass and blogging, we’d be set.

Links to more information on sOccket – http://www.greenoptimistic.com/2010/02/01/soccket-a-soccer-ball-that-generates-and-stores-renewable-energy/
http://www.soccket.com/

California to begin installing statewide greenhouse gas emissions monitoring system

California is beginning the process of installing a statewide network of machines that will monitor acute greenhouse gas emissions from major pollution sources, such as animal feedlots and other industrial scale operations. The machines are manufactured by a company in Silicon Valley, Picarro, and cost about $50,000 dollars a pop. That may sound like a lot, considering they only measure “local” levels and have to be distributed throughout the state, but depending on atmospheric conditions just one analyzer can cover an area of several hundred square miles.

It’s very encouraging to see this type of technology increase in affordability and power; in a country like Canada, where a huge percentage of the population and industrial centers are clustered in a thin strip along the U.S. border, they could be extremely useful. Too bad our current government isn’t nearly as progressive as the California state legislature, which is requiring that the state reach 1990 emissions levels by 2020.

Borneo Trip Blogs

Blogs, videos, and photos of the Borneo trip are now available on the Ethical Expeditions website. The students are challenging their beliefs and assumptions about sustainability, and are learning how complex the local issues of Borneo can be. As an outsider on the trip it’s great to see what my peers are learning and to learn from their reports from the field.

A Spine-less Endeavour: Caroline’s Experiential Learning Study of Invertebrate Communities in the Cheakamus River

On Dec. 1, 2009 Caroline Hedin presented her findings from a stream ecology experiential learning block she took in October.  The block consisted of an internship with ecologist Mike Stamford who is researching the lasting impacts of a sodium hydroxide spill on invertebrate communities in the Cheakamus River near Squamish, BC.  Occurring in 2005, the spill was caused by the derailment of CN Rail car carrying sodium hydroxide. When the car tipped over its contents spilled into the Cheakamus River killing all salmon, fry, and invertebrates.

Caroline met Mike while hitchhiking to a fish conference. After hearing about Mike’s research, Caroline convinced Mike to take her on as an intern to gain valuable experience conducting an ecological study. During her internship Caroline collected samples of invertebrates from different locations on the Cheakamus River above and below the location of the 2005 spill. Once the samples were collected the invertebrates were sorted by size and type.  Caroline had the duty of sorting the larger invertebrates.

The findings of the study Caroline participated in indicate that that the river has possibly recovered from the sodium hydroxide spill. Some of the data collected was unexplainable and needs further study. A possibility for discrepancies in the data is that construction on the Sea to Sky highway could have influenced river invertebrate communities. Also, additional testing at more sites along the river needs to occur before a more definite conclusion can be reached.

Overall, Caroline says she learned much about scientific study during her internship. She states that it was insightful to learn how to design an effective study and then critique it, and how to properly collect data.  Most importantly, Caroline is grateful that Mike took her on as intern and that she learned much from him.

350.org Vigil for Survival Photos

On Friday, December 11th, students from Quest University and members of the Squamish Climate Action Network gathered to hold a vigil for survival. As a member of Ecoquest, I was enthused by the success the Squamish CAN has already had in its short life, and am sure there is a lot we can learn about organizing successful events and maintaining members’ interest. We all met at 7:00, but some of us stuck around and kept talking until 9:30. All in all a great evening.