Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Round Up of News on Glyphosate

Click for photo credit.
A recent report was published in the Lancet titled "Carcinogenicity of tetrachlorovinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate" that summarizes recent findings on the carcinogenic properties of commonly used pesticides.  You can read it here.  The World Health Organization's (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer Monograph Working Group, the authors of the report, assessed the cancer risks associated with these chemicals.

The bombshell from the report is that glyphosate, used as an herbicide in over 750 commercially available products (including Roundup), was classified as probably carcinogenic to humans.  This is in direct contrast to the EPA that has not found any significant risk to people and the environment from the use of glyphosate.

The Des Moines Register published an article yesterday highlighting the critique of the WHO report while also noting that others are calling for a review of EPA policy regarding glyphosate.

I don't think we've heard the last on this issue.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bridges--A New Poem by Stan Brunn

Photo by Bob Brinkmann

12 March 2015                                


Life is a bridge of daily journeys

            Work to leisure; awake to sleep; darkness to sunrise.

Each day and hour is a bridge to the next

            Each year a bridge to the next.

We celebrate bridges: birthdays, holidays and year’s end

            Some with joy, others with anxiety.

We witness the bridges of weather and seasons

             From rain to sun; from winter to spring.

Our bridges are boundaries into the known and unknown

            Sometimes crossed without thinking, other times with risks.

Some bridges crossed are deeply personal

Adolescence, marriage, parenting and grandparenting.

While teen and retirement bridges may be defined with ease

Gender, identity and intellect are far more fuzzy.

Our personal maps are some bridges we traverse with ease,

            Work spaces, social classes and heritage sites.

And those school, religion, language, health and planning districts

            And jigsaw puzzles of local, state and international boundaries.

Crossing bridges for some bring fear, despair, uncertainty and sadness

For other bridges no ends exist:  freedom, learning, justice and hopes.

And some bridges we cannot enter and will not cross

            Religion, gender, lifestyle, citizenship and ideology.

Some bridges bring newfound joys when finally crossed

            And healing, loving, forgiving, unexpected growth.

Some bridges are visible: play spaces, streets and roads

Others invisible - time zones, space travel, internet and Facebook.

Those songs we sing, languages we speak and prayers we utter

Are bridges of the soul, the mind and the spirit.

Our personal geographies contain “maps of bridges”

            Some visible, some known, some we create, others created.

Each journey is a bridge across time and space

Life itself is a journey of bridges.

                                                                                           Stan Brunn

Photo by Bob Brinkmann

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Best Thing You Will See Online March 23, 2015

Sedna Epic Expedition

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Yesterday at the Explorers Club in Manhattan I heard a talk by Susan Eaton, the leader of the Sedna Epic Expedition.  The goal of the expedition team is to snorkel the Northwest Passage in 100 days. This is a daunting goal given the risks of cold, ice, animals, and general weather conditions.  They team is trying to draw attention to issues of climate change in the Arctic.  They are conducting scientific experiments and providing educational opportunities about the ocean for native peoples along the way.

The team uses the name Sedna because the snorkeling will be done by a team of 10 women in a relay using motorized snorkeling systems.  Sedna is the goddess of the sea in native Inuit religion.

The team is looking for others to participate in the exhibit in a support capacity.  They are looking for all kinds of people (especially women) including scientists, artists, photographers, etc.  For more information please see the expedition Website here.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Spirit of Exploration Celebrated at the American Museum of Natural History

The Explorers Club gala last night under the blue whale at the
American Museum of Natural History.  Photo by George Veni.
 Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Explorer's Club Annual Gala at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan.  It was a great event and I got to meet some terrific people.  Awards were given to many who are pushing the edge of exploration.

I was representing the National Cave and Karst Research Institute (NCKRI) with the Director of the Institute, George Veni, and the institute's Director of Development, Suzanna Hernandez and her husband.  Some highlights:

I got to hang out with Bill Steele, one of the most famous cave explorer's in the world.  He received a Citation of Merit from the Club.  He has pushed the edges of caving and has explored some of the most interesting caves in the world.

Noted Cave Explorer Bill Steele and George Veni, the Director of the
National Cave and Karst Research Institute.
Besides my NCKRI dinner companions, I had the pleasure of meeting Ellen Prager and her family at our table.  She is a writer and ocean explorer and has a personal mission of bringing good science to the general public.

l also got to meet some of the crew of the Paragon StratEx Team that organized the 135,000 foot jump from the stratosphere.  The team won the President's Tribute award.

Your's truly and George Veni.
Neil deGrasse Tyson was also present and won the Explorers Club Medal for his contributions to education and exploration.  He gave a very inspiring acceptance speech that got everyone motivated to continue to push the edge.

If there is someone who knows about pushing the edge it is the Honorable Alexandra Shackleton, the granddaughter of Sir Ernest Shackleton the famous Antarctic explorer.  This year marks the 100 year anniversary of the famous Shackleton Expedition and she was on hand to mark the occasion.

Teddy Roosevelt loomed large over the proceedings. He was very influential in the founding of the Natural History Museum and the Explorer's Club.  I often teach about the importance of TR in the development of the modern sustainability movement at Hofstra University where my office is in Roosevelt Hall, named after the President.  In reflecting on the evening, I was struck how much the spirit of exploration infused my life and the lives of so many of my colleagues throughout the years.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Day of Equinoxity-A New Poem by Stan Brunn

The Day of Equinoxity

On this day of equal night and darkness

All should seek to be extra-nice.
Photo by Bob Brinkmann

Discover ways to promote a world of closeness

And harmony in all forms of justice.

Equal this day are those named Phyllis and Alice

And those gents named Maurice and Elvis.

And those living in Connecticut and Kansas

And those in ghettos and who are stateless.

We think of the shy and voluptuous

And the self-righteous and the religious.

Yes, and don’t forget the priest and the waitress

The struggling student and members of congress.

Remember those on Facebook and wireless

And those who are wild and those sleepless.

Those who live in worlds we call placeless

And those in places which are timeless.

Let’s not forget those in worlds of loneliness

Who constantly are in need of an atlas.

                                                                                                               Stan Brunn 21 March 2015