Nature Blog Network Future Earth: July 2008

Thursday, 31 July 2008

The "p" word....(puffins 2)

Concerned about declining puffins in UK (see Future Earth's Ppppppick up a puffin)? Don't let the "f" word's Gordon Ramsey near the Farne islands then.

(Credit to for puffin pic)

Friday, 25 July 2008

"From the Mountains to the Sea"

As one of the 1,200 or so conservation biologists who registered for the conservation biology bio-fest in Chattanooga Tennessee, I spent all last week bouncing between sessions on ecological responses of various creatures to our rapidly changing environment.

Amidst this sea of beards and beige, by the end of the week, the creature I was most concerned about was the conservation biologist him/herself. We all want to measure stuff, and at the moment we are spending a huge amount of time and energy on monitoring our own decline. Take all the data on "winners and losers" in our changing climate, put on a clean pair of shoes and hotfoot to the doors of policy makers, papers, tv and radio producers. Get the warnings out there and see if you can get the world to understand the word biodiversity before it becomes irrelevant.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Eye in the sky

O.K. - last one - and you can find the other 27 most beautiful abstract satellite images of earth here. What artistic brushstrokes will a changing climate and burgeoning human population sketch on our future earth?

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Eye of the beholder (2)

Another one for you. Where is the beholding eye?

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Beauty in the eye of the beholder

Tell me what or where this beautiful image is, and I'll post the link!

"Waste not, want not"

Don't you just hate it when those old parental sayings come into sharp focus - especially when they come back to you through the mouths of your politicians? And when you know they are right. How can we possibly be throwing away so much food in some societies - even the most selfish of interests should buy into this one. And if you buy either the environmental or economic arguments, you get the other one free - with collected health points thrown in along the way.

But a glimmer of hope on the recycling front from the centre of environmentally damaging incineration - Japan. Total recycling, no waste collection in the village of Kamikatsu. 100% recycling.... good effort. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.... or rather, in your bin and don't burn it.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Fabulous fences

I've been watching this living fence for a year now, enjoying its responses to the changing seasons. It is layered Hawthorn, with a few Hawthorn trees left to grow on. Between the winter and summer pics above, a realisation that wooden fencing is increasingly in short supply globally has added a practical edge to my interest. Traditionally laid in winter, before the sap rises, the stems are severed with a billhook until they lean over on their own with just a small amount of tissue to keep the trees alive. Stumps and "pleachers" (the layered stems) send up new shoots which thicken and strengthen the hedge. Stakes at regular intervals and a woven layer of hazel sticks along the top ("heatherings") keep this living artwork in place - beautiful.

Perhaps not quite so obviously beautiful as living fences of rosa rugosa and some of the living fences in widespread use across central/southern America. The experience in Africa has been mixed (I have seen park managers spend years trying to reduce the invasive spread of "prickly pear" planted with all good fencing intention) but living fences are being reinvented in our carbon constrained world. There are downsides but generally living fences must be preferable to carbon-unfriendly metal & plastic n'est-ce-pas?

Back to watching the twigs grow....the screenplay for ."There will be Wood" is Future Earth's next offering to Daniel Day Lewis.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Where are the women?

O.K. O.K. O.K. ..... for those reeling from waves of pixelated testosterone after the marvellous men (Darwin Dates, below), here's the oestrogenous counterpart of some wonderful women. Just my personal pick of four who have helped us understand the natural world, whether breaking it down into constituent particles or demonstrating its ecological connectivity at the larger scale - Rosalind Franklin, Marie Curie, Joan Root and Wangari Maathai.

And yes, they all bumped their heads against a glass ceiling but Wangari Maathai at least is living proof of being able to shatter it in this 21st Century. And your top picks from the pantheon of greats.. either sex?

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Darwin Dates - 1st July 1858

Exactly 150 years ago today, on July 1st in 1858, Charles Darwin's and Alfred Russel Wallace's joint paper, On the Tendency of Species to Form Varieties, and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection was read at a meeting of the Linnean Society of London.