22 November 2012
08 November 2012
The only truly flying mammals are bats, of which there are 16 species in BC. I've never seen any in or around the bog, but I'd be surprised if there weren't any there. One reason they are 'invisible' is that they are mostly active at dusk and at dawn, some species are fully nocturnal and some are both nocturnal and crepuscular. I am not out in the bog at these times. However, if there were a significant colony near the more frequently walked parts of the DNR, I would expect to see droppings, which I haven't so far.
Right now, bats, like all other creatures, including humans, are preparing for winter. Flying, like keeping blood warm, uses a lot of calories. Bats eat insects and other arthropods, and my goodness are they efficient at catching them - they have to be, I have no idea how many calories there are in the average insect, but it's certainly not like eating the fat and sugar laden foods that some of us two-legged mammals eat.
The bug supply dwindles in the winter months, so some species of bats, just like birds, migrate south to warmer, more food-rich climes, others stay and hibernate.
Winter can drive some of us bats, for others, it's the best time of year, but we all have different ways of over-wintering. I just consider myself lucky we humans don't have to hang upside down in some dark cave somewhere.
Or are we?
30 October 2012
Right now, our friends across the pond in the European Union are considering what wetland drainage and rewetting means to climate change policy. It's a very complex question: you and I know that petlands are enormously important as a carbon sink, but how do you account for that? What kind of research is required, and how can this new information be used to create better land use policies?
It's a question our government has entirely ignored. Right now in Alberta, tar sands mining projects are tearing up over 30 000 hectares of wetlands. That's 15 Burns Bogs that are being excavated and destroyed at this very moment. What's worse, and even more inexcusable, is that the industry isn't going to even attempt to replace these ruined ecosystems; instead it will be mostly turned into upland forest, reducing the total peatlands in the Athabasca region by 2/3!
Imagine if we strip mined the entire Fraser Delta River Ramsar Site, replaced 2/3 of it with golf courses, and called it a day. That wouldn't qualify as "peatland restoration" and it shouldn't. This is an enormous loss of natural capital, billions of dollars of carbon sequestration potential that we are losing forever.
If Canada implemented greenhouse gas accounting, companies and governments would have to consider the contributions of peatlands. Right now they can simply choose to ignore them, which lets the industry pretend it's greener than it really is. If tar sands companies were held to account for the real cost of their projects, they'd have to invest tens of billions of dollars in actually restoring the environment. Instead we let them dig up peat in one area, bury it in another, and call that restoration.
That's not restoration, that's rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
18 October 2012
|Tasty broccoli or Fibonacci sequence? Both, actually!|
This is an essential feature of the universe we find ourselves in. It's part of the fabric of reality which enables our very existence. We are ourselves enormously complex, chaotic, yet seemingly miraculously ordered communities of cells, bacteria, and systems, that work together so well we appear as individuals.
Which is why we should pay so close attention to the little details in nature, as they can often tell us something about our own lives. Every time I'm out in the bog, I learn a little more: about myself, about others, and about the world. I see something new, and my perspective broadens.
As a part of a community of billions of people, it's hard not to feel like an ant. While we do sometimes think of ourselves as rugged individuals, out to change the world, I tend to fall back to feeling like an ant in the colony. While a select few seem to be in charge and definitely like to try and tell us how we ought to live, the vast majority of us are more than happy to simply be a part of society.
We take our cues as to how to behave from our family and friends. And we learn, well enough to get along with each other, for the most part. Ants are similar, and most of the time, they work together as one to survive, succeed, and raise a new generation.
But not always. Sometimes, ants make mistakes. They follow the wrong cues, they get lost, and they don't know how badly they've gone astray. They never figure it out, either. They just keep on going in the wrong direction until they're all dead. The result is this: the Ant Death Spiral.
I hope humans aren't quite that similar. But sometimes I wonder.
09 October 2012
The Conservative government in Great Britain - technically Conservative-Liberal coalition, has responded to environmental concerns like those raised at last year's Durban Conference on Climate Change, by committing to eliminating peat from all commercially available gardening products. They have a phased plan, no more peat will be used :-
- in public parks and gardens throughout Britain by 2015
- in the gardens of people's homes by 2020
- in all commercial plant growing by 2030