Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Best Visualization You Will See Today

Carbon dioxide through the centuries.


Aggressive New Climate Change Rules Unveiled

Monthly carbon dioxide trends seen at Mauna Loa, Hawaii.
They were at the highest ever seen in the last 650,000 years this year.
Click for image credit. The annual variations are associated
with seasonal variations but the long term trend is up.
The New York Times is reporting that President Obama is releasing new aggressive climate change rules that will require that states cut greenhouse gas emissions 32% from 2005 levels by 2035. This is a larger cut than what was expected. Since coal burning power plants are the largest producer of  greenhouse gas emissions, it is likely that the coal industry will be hit hard by the new rules. At the same time, states will need to significantly increase the output of renewable energy.

If you look at the details of what is in the rule, you will find that it replicates some of the same policies that were in the failed climate change legislation that the President proposed early in his first term. However, the rules he proposes are more aggressive and do not include some of the economic redevelopment policies that were in the failed legislation. I wonder if opponents will wish they went with a better deal.

The news of the climate rule is resulting in a political dance we've seen before. The coal states and coal lobby are urging states not to comply and are ramping up lawsuits and the climate change denial rhetoric. However, the President is clearly on the offensive by making the rules stronger than anyone anticipated. It will be an interesting few months.

In the mean time, the monthly carbon dioxide levels at Mauna Loa continue to rise.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Best Thing You Will See Online July 31, 2015

A flyover of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Today I continue my series highlighting interesting open access Flickr photos of all 59 U.S. National Parks. In this post we go to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska. 

I'll run through all 59 National Parks in alphabetical order. If you have any photos that you would like to share from any national park that I could post, please send them along. Following the photos, you'll find links to previous On the Brink posts of the National Parks. Check them out to see the beauty of the U.S. National Parks as captured by visitors.


Click for photo credit.
Click for photo credit.
Click for photo credit.
Click for photo credit.
Click for photo credit.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park
Mesa Verde National Park
Mount Rainier National Park
North Cascades National Park
Olympic National Park

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Best Wisconsin Video You Will See July 30, 2015

Blaze orange....

Killing for Sport Follow Up

Someone sent me a question on my post, Killing for Sportthat I posted yesterday. They wanted to know what I hunted.
My dad (left) and my brother Charlie with a deer and our dog Lola
in northern Wisconsin.

I haven't hunted since I was in college. Hunting is something we did as a family and most of my experience with hunting was as a child. My family has hunting land and a cabin in northern Wisconsin that we call The Farm. Part of the 120 acres is a former dairy pasture but most of it is wooded and there is abundant wildlife including deer, bear, and a variety of wild cats like bobcat. We didn't go there just to hunt. We also went fishing, built things, cut firewood, and collected mushrooms, berries, and nuts. We spent many weekends and large chunks of the summer in the area.  We had a wonderful time. Most of the hunting we did as a family was for deer although in southern Wisconsin my brother Charlie and I would go squirrel hunting once in a while. We ate the squirrels we shot. But of the two of us, Charlie was the real hunter. He loved it. As the youngest in the family, I tagged along and tried not to make too much noise.

My brother John and my Dad. I'm sure the catch was made into a fish fry.
The deer that were shot were dressed in the field and they would hang from a tree to dry out for a few days if the weather was cool. Then, we would take the carcass to a local butcher where he would cut it into steaks and chops and turn some of it to hamburger, sausage, or jerky. Every butcher shop in Wisconsin has their own way of butchering and their own recipes for sausage and jerky. There is a tremendous variability in the way the deer are processed--which leads to a bit of friendly competition over who has the best deer or jerky meat among families. The skin would be salted and sent to a processing plant to be tanned.

My brothers, brothers in law, and nephews enjoyed hunting a bit more than I did. They are wonderful people and ethical hunters. I always loved the company and good times with family, but I was more into books than hunting. I stopped going years ago but the rest of the group still enjoys it. There is no doubt that the time I spent hunting and more generally in nature with my family had a great impact on my environmental outlook and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to spend so much time outside when I was young.

My parents with their catch.
Hunting is a very big deal in rural Wisconsin. If you watch a Green Bay Packer home game in the winter, you will see that a large chunk of the stadium is wearing blaze orange jackets--the required color one has to wear when deer hunting during rifle season in Wisconsin. For many people, their orange hunting jacket is the warmest jacket they own and thus serves as their main winter coat.

In the fall during hunting season you will also see cars with deer strapped to the top driving from the hunting lands back to more urbanized areas. During opening weekend of rifle season, the weekend before Thanksgiving, the traffic leaving Milwaukee can get a bit intense as many work their way to the northern part of the state. Many hunters take the week off and come back to their families on Thanksgiving Day. It is a distinct cultural phenomenon that is unlike anything I've seen anywhere else in the U.S.

In Wisconsin last year over 600,000 deer rifle season hunting permits were sold and nearly 200,000 deer were killed. Note that this number of permits is approximately 1/10th of the human population of the state of Wisconsin. While hunting is thought of as traditionally a male domain, roughly 35% of first time hunters are female.

Top 10 Hofstra Student Garden Facts

From left to right: garden manager, Joe Murphy, me, stormwater research
assistant Lauren D'Orsa, and stormwater research assistant Keshanti Nandlall.
Photo by Michael O'Connor.
The Hofstra Student Garden is looking great this year under the care of garden manager, Joe Murphy. We had an open house yesterday to show off the garden and it was a nice success. I made a flier that listed the Top 10 Hofstra Student Garden Facts and I thought I would share them with you:


·        The first student garden was founded at Hofstra by Professor Cynthia Bogard. Since 2011, the garden has been managed by Sustainability Studies students and clubs.
·        The first garden was located at the Netherlands. This garden closed last year due to accessibility issues.
·        The current garden has been in use for the last three years and was dedicated by noted urban agriculturalist Will Allen.
·        It is used by classes to learn about urban agriculture.
·        It is used by students to give workshops to children.
·        Global Teacher Prize winner Steven Ritz helped with a workshop in the garden in April.
·        The garden uses no herbicides or pesticides.
·        The student managers are paid by the National Center for Suburban Studies.
·        All food grown at the garden is donated to The Mary Brennan Inn, a local shelter


·       A new shed and hoop house will be built in the coming year.