Nature Blog Network Future Earth: November 2008

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

"A mutt like me"?

There he was, America's new President-elect, thinking he would have to start fending off the anti-war lobby, the anti-abortion lobby, the 'market forces' lobby, the 'drill-baby-drill' lobby and the odd pitbull in lipstick (lips seem to have gone a bit pale on that front however). Was it a deliberate distraction ploy from the issues of the day, to stir up the dog lobby?
Acceptance speech... "...the new puppy that will be coming with us to the White House...". You could almost hear the tital wave of "ahhhhhhh..." sweeping across the nation and beyond.
Press conference.... "hypoallergenic dog...". Hmmm, interesting - now just how hypoallergenic does it have to be?. Some very helpful insights here such as that from Patrick Mahaney, Pet Care Examiner. And then .... "a mutt like me". Well, he strikes me as a perfect pedigree, breeding true. So my new recommendation for those Obama girls is a beagle (actually a pair - one each) - calm under fire, fleet of foot, minds of their own and long, silky ears to cut off unfavourable comments.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Presidential Paws

President-elect Obama's first good decision - a new puppy for the family moving to the White House. Perhaps he's read the Canine Charter and knows what that will do for family health and happiness amidst the pressures of the new job.

His first bad decision would be to listen to dog people about which breed would suit as whatever they chose there will be howls of disapproval. Of course it should be a Velcro Vizsla - a sleek and charming orator (just listen to all the singing vizslas on the web).

Nor should he listen to his Kenyan 'family' where dogs are mostly for guarding or hunting - apart from the stock of labradors fringing Nairobi which provide pampered prey for prowling leopards....

(For more of the intermittent canine posts on this blog click the "Man's Best Friend" link on the side panel.)

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

What can Obama do for the Great Apes?

Finally, a U.S. President who is welcomed the world over, who has the intelligence, charisma and demeanour that mark out a leader, and who ......wait for it ..... understands what is happening to our environment.

The blogosphere is alive with this today, but my angle is this. After Obama has dealt with a crashing economy, restoring world relations and rebalancing the climate..... might he just be tempted to give a nod to his African and Asian heritage and the Great Apes that unite them? Now we just have to keep them alive until he can get round to it......!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Vote, vote, vote!

Please, please, America - vote, vote, vote. My life in Africa provided a stark realisation of how precious this is and what a difference it can make. And if you are undecided, just ask whether you would feel confident about your country's engagement with the rest of the World with Sarah Palin as President.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Pines gain value on the climate exchange - a boost for boreal forest stocks!

Boreal Forests (nickname "The Taigas"?): 1. Tropical Forests: less than 1?

At last, the underdog Boreal Forests ( are gaining ground against premiership leaders Tropical Forests in the race to save the planet. So much global publicity and funding is focused on the carbon, biodiversity and water management roles of tropical forests that the boreal forests rarely get a mention. But here's some good news for this important biome - European scientists looked at chemicals called terpenes that are released from boreal forests across northern regions such as Canada, Scandinavia and Russia. Terpenes give pine forests their distinctive smell, and the team found that they react in the air to form tiny aerosol particles that condensed water vapour and doubled the thickness of clouds above the forests, reflecting an extra 5% sunlight back into space. Over such a large area, and in such a finely balanced system, this could be an invaluable contribution.

Fortunately for tropical forests they can also do some of this - just not quite so well. O.K. pundits, off you go. I sense a vigorous debate on the way, as the Boreal Forests fight to claim their place in history. Or, rather, on Future Earth.

Living planet?

latest Living Planet Report produced every couple of years by WWF, the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network, measures the health of the planet's ecosystems and the extent of human demand on them.

In summary this 2008 "human demands on the world's natural capital measure nearly a third more than earth can sustain."

We have an increasingly start choice - do we just let competition sort it out (and would the "fittest" survive?) or do we collaborate to sort it out together, as we naked apes are supposed to be able to do? Whatever kind of society we want we don't have much time to ponder. Andy Dufrein's "get busy living or get busy dying" (Shawshank Redemption) has some resonance for humanity.