2010, International Year of Biodiversity

The UN’s declaration that 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity coincides nicely with it also being the “Year of the Tiger” according to the oriental calendar. Big cats are a good example of biodiversity that is in danger of extinction due to loss of habitat, man, and climate change. As the International Year of Biodiversity, 2010 is supposed to be the culmination of a decade’s worth of achievements toward an overall conservation target aiming to save biodiversity worldwide.

In the U.S. the Center for Biological Diversity identified 1000 plants and animals that need protection immediately to avoid extinction. This month the center filed a notice to sue the USFWS for waiting far too long in granting federal protection to 144 species in this country including the plains buffalo. It seems there has been a lot of delays in Washington even though scientific petitions have been filed to protect these species. Besides the 144 there are also 249 that have been officially “recognized as deserving protection but have been ‘precluded’ from receiving it.” Some of these species have already become extinct waiting on the candidate list for as long as 30 years. This is comparable to dying while waiting for a reprieve while on death row because you are innocent.

Hopefully with a concentrated effort by all nations to step up their reaction time to save the biodiversity within their borders by thwarting attempts by poachers, as well as, stronger laws and prosecution of same, stopping international trade of exotic animals and/or their body parts, and educating local populations that it is more profitable to conserve and protect native species in the long term than continue to use them to extinction at which time the profits stop altogether. Then what?

Without a restoration process, overuse of anything finite leads to extinction. Native American ancestory believed in giving back to the earth at all times and only taking what was absolutely necessary to live. That was a valuable belief system we somehow tossed to the point we now struggle to preserve our national parks and forests.


New Findings Show Relative Relationship Between CO2 Emissions and Global Warming

New Findings to be published in Nature find that each carbon dioxide emission “results in the same global temperature increase, regardless of when or over what period of time the emission occurs,” according to an article on Science Daily’s website. That means we can now predict that X amount of CO2 will result in Y amount of global temperature increase.

The article stated: “Professor Damon Matthews of Concordia University together with colleagues from Victoria and the U.K., used a combination of global climate models and historical climate data” for their new findings. The conclusion is that if we want to restrict global warming to 2 degrees, we must restrict total carbon emissions—”from now until forever.”

The validity of climate models has been an argument of skeptics but an article from Science Daily’s website late last year announced “findings published in the online edition of the journal Science shed further light on the fluctuations in greenhouse gases and climate in Earth’s past, and appear to confirm the validity of the types of computer models that are used to project a warmer climate in the future.” Ice core samples were used for the completed analysis of the global carbon cycle and climate for a 70,000-year period in the most recent Ice Age. The analysis showed a “remarkable correlation between carbon dioxide levels and surprisingly abrupt changes in climate.”

Professor Matthews said that he thinks most people understand CO2 emissions contribute to global warming but do not understand all the complexities in between. He said, “Our findings allow people to make a robust estimate of their contribution to global warming based simply on total carbon dioxide emissions.”

So man contributes directly to global warming as long as man keeps emitting carbon dioxide emissions into the air. We are indeed a closed ecosystem on earth. These findings show that even when we emit CO2 and think we’re getting away with it because there is no immediate response, at some point in time—a simple linear relationship, that carbon dioxide will come back to haunt us in the form of warmer global temperatures.

Read: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090610154453.htm.



U.S. Bats Threatened with Extinction

The word extinction is being tossed around a lot regarding bats and the rapid spread of “White Nose” disease affecting them in our Northeastern States. The disease is currently active in Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia.

According to an article from Connecticut’s Hartford Curant: “The syndrome, first discovered in New York state in 2006, is a condition in which the heads, legs and wings of hibernating bats are coated with a white fungus that scientists have identified as a rare form of geomyces, a fungus usually found in cold, dry environments, such as the tundra in the Arctic.”

Bats store body fat for hibernation. The fungus causes them to itch and scratch, disturbing their sleep. As a result the bat’s body fat is depleted before winter is over and they leave the cave in search of food and die from the cold. Millions of bats have died in our Northeastern states already as scientists narrow the causes down to two.

One group of scientists is studying the difference between European White Nose fungus and that found in the U.S. Thousands of tourists are attracted to underground caves in New York to view bats where “White Nose” was first spotted as a problem. It’s quite possible that a traveler introduced the fungus from Europe. U.S. bats would not be immune to this strain. Another group of scientists found that the digestive makeup of bats with the fungus is different. They are unable to process the hard shell bodies of bugs that are their main diet.

The race is on to uncover the main cause of the disease and then administer some sort of bio or chemical control to stop it before it hits the greater bat populations of our southern states. Bats eat their body weight in insect pests and are every bit as important as bees for pollination. Without bats the U.S. will see a serious rise in insect populations and suffer as much relative to food crops that rely on pollination.

Imagine an escalating mosquito population in states like Michigan that are surrounded by so much water and no swooping bats to eat them by the thousands on a nightly basis. Funny, but when most people think of plagues, they would more than likely include creepy little critters like the bat, when that couldn’t be farther from the truth. It looks like the poor little bats need better defenses against mankind, a truth that relates to many other living things on earth these days.

As a matter of fact, it appears we’re creating tribulations and plagues all by ourselves.



New Meaning for the Words Ants in My Pants

Earlierthis monthwhile working outside, I noticed a prevalence of little reddish ants. I’m not saying fire ants necessarily because they are not supposedly indigenous to Michigan, but little reddish ants seem to be everywhere and they bite. I got bit on my left leg. A trail of horribly itchy red bites took about a week or more to get rid of. I put my usual sting cure on them, a wet aspirin. Aspirin is just salicylic acid, so meat tenderizer, and anything else including special shampoos that have salicylic acid usually work to take the sting away. Not so for those bumps.

I live in the country and have been bitten by chiggers, mosquitoes, spiders, fleas, and am really allergic to apple maggot fly bites that many people call black flies. They are those triangular shaped flies with spotted wings. I guess they don’t bite as much as deposit eggs under the skin. Lovely. But, I know when I’ve been bitten by one of those. I feel the pinch, the skin gets hot, and aspirin works great. Not so with the trail on my left leg. I put all the over the counter stuff on the bites, and the household stuff like ammonia, alcohol, baking soda, vinegar, you name it. I even took tweezers and pulled at what looked like the spot of entry, then applied Neosporin.

Nothing worked. The dots remained and eventually ran their course. After beating up my skin so bad, I started to worry about scars. I can tell where the bites were but they left little trace considering what I did to them and my skin. I was soooo happy when they were gone.

Last week it was cool outside and I didn’t do much work out there at all so there was little chance for me to get bit right? I thought nothing of pulling on a pair of jeans and sweatshirt I threw off to the side of my nightstand just the day before. I left the house to run errands on Thursday before Memorial weekend. I thought the itch behind my right leg was persistent as I stood at my pharmacy to pick up my renewed prescription for Allegra. I remember scratching there more than once while I was running around. Something in my jeans felt picky.

When I got home and removed my jeans I had a trail on my inner thigh around the back of my knee and down the outside of my lower leg. I was so disgusted knowing what those bites were and how they would itch, be ugly, and not go away all weekend. If that wasn’t bad enough, when I woke up Friday morning and thought I had hives on my back and neck, I found it was yet another trail of ant bites.

I didn’t try any weird treatments this time. I learned my lesson the bites are much like poison ivy, oak, and sumac, all of which I’ve had my fair share. I had poison ivy four times one summer thanks to my cat. They are miserable but I won’t die. My husband made sure I was planning to wear long pants when we went out to eat so as not to look like I had some sort of plague.

So memorial weekend did create quite a memory for me. Now I know what not to do while working in my yard in Michigan. I have biting ants that I didn’t have before. Call them what you will, but I say they are indeed fire ants, and Michigan is getting more and more of them because of climate change. I watched a little black ant bite me and nothing happened. I saw the color of the ants in question. They are reddish and seem to be everywhere. Like a nightmare they are not centrally located around a large mound like ant experts describe.

When I started to plant my vegetable garden in a pair of shorts and spotted little reddish ants in the dirt, I quickly went inside and returned with long pants, and knee high socks over the pant legs. I also had on a long sleeved shirt that I tucked in. Real cute. My mom said to put rubber bands around the sleeves of my shirt also. Yard work will not be fun when temperatures soar above 80 degrees and I have to wear this kind of get up.

One good thought: I know these ants are in Michigan now. And one good cure for the itch is an ice pack. But my one bad thought outweighs the good. What else is in store for us insect wise in Michigan? What plague of things we didn’t have to worry about before will global climate change bring? The ants are bad enough. I don’t even want to think about the mosquito populations.


We’re About to Lose One of the Largest Forests in America to Big Money Interests

I just wrote about Colorado’s forests being decimated by beetles whose populations are out of control due to global warming. They are killing lodge pole pines with other evergreen trees at risk also, while the Bush administration pushes to end the Roadless Rule that will decimate one of the largest forested areas in the country, which is in Idaho to the mining, oil, and lumber industry. The big picture for the wolf kill, buffalo kill, and mustang roundups is getting clearer isn’t it? Alaska, Wyoming, and Idaho are some of the states with huge forests at risk without this rule, and the same states that are home to the slaughter of these animals. If these animals remained protected, their habitat couldn’t be touched. They must be removed for the next phase of this unethical, and unscrupulous plan to take place! So now we should see clearly we’ve been lied to again about the reasons for the slaughter.

The intelligence and ethics level of this administration has hit an all time low by destroying the very trees that help remove CO2 from the air and protect us from baking at a time when many of our trees have been destroyed already by fires and floods over the past two years, and on the heels of the Colorado lodge pole blight. We need more trees, not less. Do we see Europe attacking their landscapes as we do? http://www.15years.gov.si/backround-information/biodiversity/.

We cannot afford to let this happen in the interest of big money because once our forests are gone, they are gone forever. And don’t think that once oil, lumber, and mining interests move in they will simply stop with a new president in office. This is the march of the wealthy destroying our country in their last ditch effort to get a stronghold before this administration is through. The sad thing is we haven’t even begun to practice conservation. We haven’t unleashed the alternative energy innovation we already have. This is the same type of unintelligent, quick-triggered decision-making that ignored any and all alternatives that got us into a war, which is costing us dearly. We must unite to keep this type of movement from advancing until we see this administration exit.

The Heritage Forest Campaign explains:

Spanning 58.5 million acres in 38 states, America’s national forest roadless areas contain some of our nation’s last pristine forests. From the expansive wilds of the American Southwest and Northern Rockies to the colorful deciduous woods of New England and the Appalachians, these last tracts of unspoiled backcountry provide habitat for wildlife, headwaters to rivers, and unparalleled recreational opportunities for millions of Americans.

The state of Idaho contains over 9.3 million acres of National Forest roadless areas – the most of any state outside of Alaska. Idaho’s roadless backcountry makes up the core of the last intact forest ecosystem in the lower 48 states – the last place where all of the native plants, fish and wildlife – from the smallest plant to the largest predator – can still be found.

In 2001, the U.S. Forest Service issued the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which protects Idaho’s and all of the country’s national forest roadless areas from most logging and new roads being built for mining, coal, gas, logging and other development. The rule was the result of almost three years of deliberation that included 600 public hearings and more than 1.5 million written comments submitted with the overwhelming majority supporting the complete protection of all remaining roadless areas.

The American public has continued to support this policy, and has repeatedly opposed proposals to reverse or weaken it.

Please join forces for OUR heritage, OUR land, OUR wildlife, and OUR vision for the future not the powerful big money interests that seek to take every last pristine piece of God’s country we have left.

Sign a petition to Chief Gail Kimble to save our forests. There is an April 7th deadline so please sign on for a unified voice: http://actionnetwork.org/campaign/idaho_roadless/i3u8iui227b7jnew?


Pine Trees in Danger from Beetles as Bush Looks to Trample Our Biggest Forest

Many of us had lovely ash trees in our yard once upon a time, and there are many parks around Michigan that have yet to clear out all of the ash trees that died from the ash borer, a simple bug.
Well, there are a lot more bugs to come and we can thank global warming for it.

Colorado is bearing the brunt of an increase in bark beetle bugs that have killed millions of acres of lodge pole pines. These pines are exactly what their name describes, tall, tall trees pine trees whose needled branches are disproportionately at the top third of the entire trunk, think Q-tip. The bottom portion of the trunk is a straight shot of wood, used to build log lodges.

An article on abcnews.com stated 1.5 million acres are already wiped out and all of the lodge pole pines may be gone in 3 to 5 years. It said the infestation was first noticed in 1996. What the heck takes so long for our agencies to act on anything? I lost my ash tree, and the whole time Bayer brand systemic spray would have worked. By time I applied anything to my tree, it was already too late. I know what I found for news before that. Our state officials said nothing worked against the ash borer…so people failed to act. State officials were wrong!

Colorado officials said, “the infestation was concentrated in five northern Colorado counties straddling the Continental Divide and has reached southern Wyoming.” The amount of trees taken by the beetles increased 1500 percent last year and “forest officials attributed the spread of the beetle to warm winters and drought. Susan Gray, group leader for forest health management with the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region, said only 20-below-zero temperatures for a sustained period can kill the beetles.” Keep an eye on your spruce trees! Spruce and aspen pines are susceptible to the beetle also.

To add insult to injury relative to our trees and forests, the Bush administration looks to weaken the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. This rule protects millions of acres of trees in Idaho against the oil, natural gas, timer, and mining industries. According to Earthjustice, Idaho contains more unspoiled wild forest than any state outside Alaska, providing the last intact forest habitat for countless fish, wildlife, and plant species. These areas are enjoyed by hunters, anglers, hikers, and all who treasure the backcountry. Earthjustice disclosed why Bush is pushing the Roadless Rule aside:

The administration’s proposal will open the door to logging millions of pristine acres, risk dangerous toxic contamination from mining, degrade clean fish-bearing streams and important wildlife habitat, and fail to live up to the public’s overwhelming desire to protect all of these areas for future generations.

This forest giveaway could lead to 545 million tons of phosphate being mined on nearly 8,000 unspoiled acres near Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Any increase in phosphate mining would worsen the already serious problem of selenium poisoning in local streams and aquifers. Selenium is an extremely dangerous contaminant known to cause birth defects, which bio-accumulates in the food web — persisting for centuries after entering the environment.

Read more about this and sign a petition to stop President Bush before he weakens the Roadless Rule even more. We’re already losing trees and a lot of our landscape from extreme weather, i.e., floods, fires, tornadoes, and now bugs. Does the Bush administration have a clue about conservation? Do they even care? Trees protect us from the sun, and take CO2 out of the air for Pete’s sake, and the powers that be want to give them away to big money.

About the pine beetle infestation:

More about Bush sidestepping the Roadless Rule: http://www.earthjustice.org/our_work/campaigns/roadless_rule.html
Sign the petition to save our national forests: http://action.earthjustice.org/campaign/roadless_ID_0308


Watch CNN’s “Planet in Peril” Tonight at 9:00pm

This should be pretty good. I watched the one on the Science Channel. It answered quite a few of the questions I’ve heard floating around and showcased some of America’s most energy efficient cities like New York. I will be blogging about that soon.

CNN appears to be more accessible to the general public than the Science Channel but I still think that every major network should keep the environment in our faces until we realize duh, it sustains us, we should take better care of it than stripping it bare of everything and leaving a trail of pollution.


Wake Up Call; Fires, Floods, and Drought

As a quarter million people flee the fires of the Santa Ana winds in southern California, Atlanta’s water supply dwindles and without relief will be gone by January, and floods and tornadoes have steadily pummeled the middle of our country. It’s a little obvious something’s up. Is it global warming and how worse can it get? A lot.

In light of all that’s happening, I searched global warming on the internet and there was a whole new cache of naysayers. Something set them off and I’m thinking it was Al Gore getting the Nobel Prize. I was a little surprised. I checked again today and the opposition has leveled off. Looks to me like the fossil fuel industry turned up the heat against going green. For a few days their bloggers put out a surge of propaganda like: Global warming is a U.N. conspiracy. Watching the news about California tonight, I don’t think so, and when are we going to start thinking about the other guys, especially other Americans?

Global warming affects the entire population of the world and everything in it. Isn’t it wiser to err on the side of caution if things aren’t certain? Besides what’s wrong with cleaning up after ourselves, the outcome of which would be:

The oil money that feeds terrorism will literally dry up.

We get away from fossil fuels for good. No more of the landscape will be destroyed with incessant stripping and drilling.

We could get agriculture involved. Instead of subsidizing them for loss, part of their land will be set aside for wind and solar farms bringing in alternative income.

A new economy gives everyone a chance at new jobs. New investments can be made in the stock market. New people will be able to offer new innovation to sustain us for years to come, creating more jobs.

Disease will dwindle. Clean up the air, earth, and water and possibly ease someone’s suffering.

Low utility bills or none at all. Trying to cut back on energy use, my last combined gas and electric bill fell even more. I paid $103.00 last month for my gas and electric. I’m home all day. The PC is going, TV is on, and an air cleaner. I haven’t taken everything off of standby yet…another TV, Roomba, printer, stereo, DVD player, etc. But by changing my light bulbs, unplugging the old fridge in the garage, adding two overhead fans in the house, regulating my window coverings, and hanging my laundry out on a line, what a difference!

Finally, if we do heat up all at once, chances are our power grids won’t hold up. So we’ll be miserable. Wouldn’t it be better to use that which is going to fry us to cool us? Solar energy could run our a/c units, keep the fridge going, and many other things like boil water.


Fear of Pandemic as Dengue Fever Afflicts Hundreds of Thousands

Not long ago I read about China’s fear of a Dengue Fever outbreak. I heard of Dengue Fever but couldn’t recall anything about it. So I looked it up. It’s a painful disease that people can get from mosquitoes that can be fatal. Just the other day I opened up my web browser and the front page was about a Dengue Fever outbreak racing through South America. South America is too close for comfort. I think it’s funny we’re not hearing anything about it here when its so bad there that there is fear of a pandemic.

Scientists said Dengue Fever is reaching record levels in South America and the Caribbean as the rainy season continues. Officials are doing whatever they can to curb the outbreak before it has an impact on the economy as tourists are reluctant to visit countries where they have to worry about mosquito bites. It was reported that hundreds of thousands of people have been afflicted and 200 have died from Dengue Fever in South America. There is no vaccine, and virtually no cure. The problem is we aren’t hearing anything, so our health officials and doctors aren’t on the alert for it if someone does bring it here. My fear is that not long ago 9 states were under water from constant flooding. The residual water laying around in stagnant pools just screams for mosquitoes and Dengue Fever.

The disease is also called Break-Bone Fever because it causes intense pain in the joints. The article stated “A deadly hemorrhagic form, which also causes internal and external bleeding, accounts for less than 5 percent of cases but has shown signs of growing.” It’s feared that it will get worse because tourists and people moving about are passing around 4 different strains of the disease. A person might suffer and recover from one strain, but become exposed to another. When that happens, it becomes likely that person will develop the hemorrhagic form.

Over 630,000 people have suffered from Dengue in South America so far with over 12,000 getting the deadly hemorrhagic type. Dengue Fever has more than doubled in Mexico also at some of the most popular tourist destinations like Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, and Acapulco.

It was thought Dengue Fever was pretty much eradicated until now where it’s causing serious health problems in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico right now. The only way to keep it contained is for people to vigilantly use mosquito repellent which is almost impossible to get people to do all the time and everywhere.

Mosquito born diseases are on the rise world wide. DEET the best defense for controlling mosquito populations was banned years ago because it was found to cause birth defects and all types of problems for small children. There has been little else developed since to take its place, another thing I find odd. We can plan a new strategy for walking on the moon, create batteries from viruses, but no one has a replacement for DEET without all the side effects?

Read more about Dengue Fever:


Facts About Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is nothing to be taken lightly.

I woke up this morning and the news just happened to feature a woman who had just gone through a yearlong ordeal because of Lyme disease from a tick she found on herself. Her testimony was an eye opener. Did you know 20,000 people a year get Lyme disease but then only 30% get diagnosed correctly for the disease. So who knows how many people a year get it.

This particular woman went to bed fine and woke up paralyzed from her waist down and neck up. No one diagnosed her correctly for a year. Think about that. If you are the head of the household and wake up one morning paralyzed and then can’t get diagnosed correctly for almost a year after constant visits to the doctor and hospital, pills, treatments, etc. It would just about break a person. There is even more bad news. 60% of the blood tests for Lyme disease are inaccurate also. There really is no way of diagnosing the disease.

The woman remembered pulling a tick off of herself a year prior to any symptoms showing up. A person can harbor the disease for years before any symptoms show up. Once a tick of this sort gets engorged with blood they are easy to spot. It needs to be removed within 24 hours. Once removed, there will be a bulls-eye looking mark. It is important to seek medical treatment immediately because the disease is caused by bacteria. Antibiotics work more easily if they are administered right away, otherwise the bacteria will cause an infection throughout the body. The woman who was on the news was lucky. After a year, a doctor diagnosed her correctly. She had to get high doses of antibiotics into her heart for two weeks.

This is just an example of why no one should feel global warming won’t affect them. Besides the weather itself getting worse with more tornadoes, and straight-line winds, bugs that carry disease might really be worse. There are many, many hunters in Michigan that could be affected easily if the tick populations continue to grow. Deet is the spray of choice to keep ticks off. But Deet is dangerous to children. Keeping covered up from head to toe is the next best thing. What affects everyone in the summertime here is mosquitoes. That’s a bad scenario if global warming keeps warming our winters to the point nothing totally freezes anymore. There will nothing to kill off pests like mosquitoes, which really carry some miserable and deadly diseases.