Tag: Oregon State University

Our beautiful planet.

It is the only lovely planet that we all have.

That ‘we’ being all the animals, plants, insects and humans there are.

I’m not saying anything new and not making this plea for the first time in this place.

But just take a few minutes out of your busy day to reflect that for you, for me, for everyone wherever they are in the world, physically and culturally, doing nothing is not an option.

More of that in a minute.

First I want to share with you a few autumnal photographs of our home here in Oregon.

Below was taken at 9am on October 24th showing the  mountain mist right down to the tops of our trees that mark the edge of our driveway from the house to our Hugo Road entrance.

Next, a sunrise photograph with the camera pointing to the East. The tree line follows the ridge of some hills the other side of Hugo Road. The picture taken on the 19th October at 07:20.
Now a close-up of the remains of a very old tree trunk with the trees that border Bummer Creek, that runs through our land, just showing through the morning mist. Taken on the 24th October at 09:05.

Final photograph I wanted to share with you is this beautiful sight of the moon taken from our property at 16:05 on the 25th. October.

Regular readers will know that Jean and I are not believers in any religion; we are atheists. But to my way of thinking that puts even more pressure on me and Jean to try to make a difference. We do all that we can but there’s no doubt that we can do more.

Yesterday, I referred to Bill Ripple, or to give him his full signature: William J. Ripple, Distinguished Professor of Ecology, Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.

I sent Bill an email:

Dear Bill (and forgive the over familiarity if that offends),
I am a Brit, just turned 73, living with my beautiful wife, Jean, London-born as I was, down in Merlin, Oregon.

We live on 13 wonderful acres of rural property with 6 dogs (down from 12 when we moved here 5 years ago) and 4 horses, the majority of whom are ex-rescues.

I am the author of the blog Learning from Dogs and want to publish a post highlighting that viewpoint article. Because I believe with every neuron left in my ageing brain that the political changes that this world so urgently needs can only come when 99.9% of the public are screaming out “enough is enough”!

But there’s another saying that comes to mind, the one about being the change you want to see or something like that.

Is there information anywhere online that spells out, almost in words of one syllable, what lifestyle changes each of us can and need to commit to today? Changes that are as appropriate for elderly authors living in the country as young people seeking their first job or those up to their necks in working and raising families?

For that is what I want to publish on my blog!

If it would be easier for me to make an appointment to call you and take notes over the phone then I am just as happy to do that.

Sincerely,

Paul Handover
Hugo Road, Merlin,

Bill promptly replied:

Hi Paul, how long of a list of lifestyle changes do you want to make? Would three or four be enough? Bill

then followed that up with another email:

Paul, Consider suggesting that if people want to help, they could have fewer children, reduce energy consumption such as driving autos and flying, avoid meat and eat mostly plant-based foods and avoid wasting food. Below are quotes from our paper. Bill

“It is also time to re-examine and change our individual behaviors, including limiting our own reproduction (ideally to replacement level at most) and drastically diminishing our per capita consumption of fossil fuels, meat, and other resources ….

… reducing food waste through education and better infrastructure; promoting dietary shifts towards mostly plant-based foods

Now watch this video

I will close this post by listing out all the things that you and I can do now!

  • Set a target for reducing your car mileage next year compared to 2017,
  • If you are a regular aircraft passenger, then set a target for flying fewer hours in 2018 compared to 2017,
  • reduce or stop eating meat,
  • do not waste food,
  • reduce the use of heating and cooling in your home/s for next year,
  • commit to a dietary change away from meats and processed foods to a plant-based diet.

Then for younger couples who want a family around them, limit the number of children to a “replacement level” at most. Adopt??

A plea for this planet!

I feel compelled to ‘bang the drum’!

The recent news that many scientists have signed an open letter warning about how soon it will be too late to “save Earth” has been widely broadcast; not that this stops me from republishing the version of the news story that I read on the EarthSky blog site.

Here it is.

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Scientists warn: Soon it will be too late to save Earth

By Eleanor Imster in EARTH | HUMAN WORLD | November 16, 2017
More than 15,000 scientists in 184 countries have signed a letter urging the world to address major environmental concerns. “Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out.”

A letter to all of us, signed by more than 15,000 scientists (and counting) in 184 countries, warns that human well-being will be severely jeopardized by continuing trends in environmental harm, including our changing climate, deforestation, loss of access to fresh water, species extinctions and human population growth.

Entitled World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice, it was published in the international journal Bioscience on November 13, 2017.

In 1992, more than 1,700 scientists signed a World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity published by the Union of Concerned Scientists. But global trends have worsened since 1992, the authors wrote in the new letter. In the last 25 years, trends in nine environmental issues suggest that humanity is continuing to risk its future.

Read the letter here.

The scientists wrote:

Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home.

The letter also says …

By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperiled biosphere.

The article was written by an international team led by William Ripple of Oregon State University led the international team of scientists who created the letter. Ripple said in a statement:

Some people might be tempted to dismiss this evidence and think we are just being alarmist. Scientists are in the business of analyzing data and looking at the long-term consequences. Those who signed this second warning aren’t just raising a false alarm. They are acknowledging the obvious signs that we are heading down an unsustainable path. We are hoping that our paper will ignite a wide-spread public debate about the global environment and climate.

Progress in some areas — such as a reduction in ozone-depleting chemicals and an increase in energy generated from renewable sources — shows that positive changes can be made, the authors wrote. There has been a rapid decline in fertility rates in some regions, which can be attributed to investments in education for women, they added. The rate of deforestation in some regions has also slowed.

The warning came with steps that can be taken to reverse negative trends, but the authors suggested that it may take a groundswell of public pressure to convince political leaders to take the right corrective actions. Such activities could include establishing more terrestrial and marine reserves, strengthening enforcement of anti-poaching laws and restraints on wildlife trade, expanding family planning and educational programs for women, promoting a dietary shift toward plant-based foods and massively adopting renewable energy and other “green” technologies.

Scientists who did not sign the warning prior to publication can endorse the published warning here.

Bottom line: A letter entitled World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice, urging the world to address major environmental concerns. was signed by more than 15,000 scientists in 184 countries.

Read more from Oregon State University

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As is the way with this modern inter-connected world it was but a moment to track down said William Ripple, find his email address and ask him what he recommended as the top things that you and I should be doing now.

Not just for you and me but for all the animals as well on this very beautiful planet.

Bill’s reply is part of tomorrow’ post. See you then!

Return to Predators!

The critical value of predators.

Not so long ago there was some discussion about how important it was for the natural way of things to include predators. I mentioned how this had been the topic of a post published some time ago in this place.

It was back in February, 2014 and I have republished it today.

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The critical value of predators in our wild lands.

February 24th, 2014

The consequences of the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park.

I have two people to offer my thanks to for today’s post: Suzann and Ginger. Both of them within hours of each other sent me an email recommending the following video. So, without further ado, here is that video. (Oh, would you believe this. The video was released on February 13th, 2014 and, at the time of me writing this post, has been viewed 1,453,345 times! Wow!)

Published on Feb 13, 2014

Visit http://sustainableman.org/ to explore the world of sustainability.

For more from George Monbiot, visit http://www.monbiot.com/ and for more on “rewilding” visit http://bit.ly/1hKGemK and/or check out George Monbiot’s book Feral: rewilding the land, the sea and human life: http://amzn.to/1dgdLi9

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable “trophic cascade” occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix.

Narration from TED: “For more wonder, rewild the world” by George Monbiot. Watch the full talk, here: http://bit.ly/N3m62h

B-Roll Credits:
“Greater Yellowstone Coalition – Wolves” (http://bit.ly/1lK4LaT)
“Wolf Mountain” (http://bit.ly/1hgi6JE)
“Primodial – Yellowstone” (https://vimeo.com/77097538)
“Timelapse: Yellowstone National Park” (http://bit.ly/1kF5axc)
“Yellowstone” (http://bit.ly/1bPI6DM)
“Howling Wolves – Heulende Wölfe” (http://bit.ly/1c2Oidv)
“Fooled by Nature: Beaver Dams” (http://bit.ly/NGgQSU)

Music Credits:
“Unfoldment, Revealment, Evolution, Exposition, Integration, Arson” by Chris Zabriskie (http://bit.ly/1c2uckW)

FAIR USE NOTICE: This video may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes only. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 106A-117 of the US Copyright Law.

For any concerns or questions, you may contact us athttp://sustainableman.org/contact/

If you want to read more on a general level, then my post on the 11th January, 2014, An echo in the hills! may be worthwhile. It included this from William Ripple, of Oregon State University:

ooOOoo

Top dogs keep ecosystems in order

Many of these large carnivore species are endangered and some are at risk of extinction, either in specific regions or entirely. Ironically, they are vanishing just as we are learning about their important ecological effects, which is what led us to write a new paper in the journal Science to document their role.

From a review of published reports, we singled out seven species that have been studied for their important ecological role and widespread effects, known as trophic cascades. These are the African lion, leopard, Eurasian lynx, cougar, gray wolf, sea otter and dingo.

Based on field research, my Oregon State University co-author Robert Beschta and I documented the impact of cougars and wolves on the regeneration of forest tree stands and riverside vegetation in Yellowstone and other national parks in western North America. Fewer predators, we found, lead to an increase in browsing animals such as deer and elk. More browsing disrupts vegetation, reduces birds and some mammals and changes other parts of the ecosystem. From the actions of the top predator, widespread impacts cascade down the food chain.

Similar effects were found in studies of Eurasian lynx, dingoes, lions and sea otters. For example in Europe, absence of lynx has been closely tied to the abundance of roe deer, red fox and hare. In Australia, the construction of a 3,400-mile dingo-proof fence has enabled scientists to study ecosystems with and without dingoes which are closely related to gray wolves. They found that dingoes control populations of herbivores and exotic red foxes. The suppression of these species by dingoes reduces predation pressure, benefiting plants and smaller native prey.

In some parts of Africa, the decrease of lions and leopards has coincided with a dramatic increase in olive baboons, which threaten crops and livestock. In the waters off southeast Alaska, a decline in sea otters through killer whale predation has led to a rise in sea urchins and loss of kelp beds.

Predators are integral, not expendable

We are now obtaining a deeper appreciation of the impact of large carnivores on ecosystems, a view that can be traced back to the work of landmark ecologist Aldo Leopold. The perception that predators are harmful and deplete fish and wildlife is outdated. Many scientists and wildlife managers now recognise the growing evidence of carnivores’ complex role in ecosystems, and their social and economic benefits. Leopold recognised these relationships, but his observations were ignored for decades after his death in 1948.

op carnivores, at work keeping things in check. Doug Smith
Top carnivores, at work keeping things in check. Doug Smith

Human tolerance of these species is the major issue. Most would agree these animals have an intrinsic right to exist, but additionally they provide economic and ecological services that people value. Among the services documented in other studies are carbon sequestration, restoration of riverside ecosystems, biodiversity and disease control. For example, wolves may limit large herbivore populations, thus decreasing browsing on young trees that sequester carbon when they escape browsing and grow taller. Where large carnivore populations have been restored – such as wolves in Yellowstone or Eurasian lynx in Finland – ecosystems appear to be bouncing back.

I am impressed with how resilient the Yellowstone ecosystem is, and while ecosystem restoration isn’t happening quickly everywhere in this park, it has started. In some cases where vegetation loss has led to soil erosion, for example, full restoration may not be possible in the near term. What is certain is that ecosystems and the elements of them are highly interconnected. The work at Yellowstone and other places shows how species affect each another through different pathways. It’s humbling as a scientist to witness this interconnectedness of nature.

My co-authors and I have called for an international initiative to conserve large carnivores in co-existence with people. This effort could be modelled after a couple of other successful efforts including the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe, a non-profit scientific group affiliated with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and the Global Tiger Initiative which involves all 13 of the tiger-range countries. With more tolerance by humans, we might be able to avoid extinctions. The world would be a scary place without these predators.

William Ripple does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

ooOOoo

The ConversationMan! We are a strange species at times!

Hazel’s postscript.

Decisions!

In my post informing all you lovely people that Hazel had died in the early hours of Wednesday morning I included:

There has been so much interest and concern over her from you all that I wanted to post this without delay. We will be arranging to have the exact cause of death determined so that, too, may be shared with you all.

The background is that our vet, Dr. Jim Goodbrod, had been in touch with the appropriate health authority with regard to the risk of Coccidioidomycosis, the medical term for the fungal infection of Hazel’s lungs that was the first diagnosis of what was ailing Hazel. Reason why is that Coccidioidomycosis can be a danger to humans if the spores in a body are released following the corpse being open up.

The next step was that Oregon State University (OSU) expressed an interest in doing further research on Hazel’s body because Coccidioidomycosis was so rarely seen in Oregon. That would have entailed shipping Hazel’s body up to Corvallis in Oregon and then having her cremated up there.

In the end, we thought that the most dignified way of treating Hazel was to have her cremated by Stephens locally in Grants Pass. They have been very kind in keeping Hazel’s body chilled while we worked out the if’s and how’s of working with OSU.

We expect that by the end of today, Friday, our lovely dog will have been cremated.

On Saturday, I will be publishing a eulogy to Hazel and Sunday’s Picture Parade will be devoted to remembering the beautiful dog that she was.

The critical value of predators in our wild lands.

The consequences of the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park.

I have two people to offer my thanks to for today’s post: Suzann and Ginger.   Both of them within hours of each other sent me an email recommending the following video.  So, without further ado, here is that video.  (Oh, would you believe this.  The video was released on February 13th, 2014 and, at the time of me writing this post, has been viewed 1,453,345 times! Wow!)

Published on Feb 13, 2014

Visit http://sustainableman.org/ to explore the world of sustainability.

For more from George Monbiot, visit http://www.monbiot.com/ and for more on “rewilding” visit http://bit.ly/1hKGemK and/or check out George Monbiot’s book Feral: rewilding the land, the sea and human life: http://amzn.to/1dgdLi9

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable “trophic cascade” occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix.

Narration from TED: “For more wonder, rewild the world” by George Monbiot. Watch the full talk, here: http://bit.ly/N3m62h

B-Roll Credits:
“Greater Yellowstone Coalition – Wolves” (http://bit.ly/1lK4LaT)
“Wolf Mountain” (http://bit.ly/1hgi6JE)
“Primodial – Yellowstone” (https://vimeo.com/77097538)
“Timelapse: Yellowstone National Park” (http://bit.ly/1kF5axc)
“Yellowstone” (http://bit.ly/1bPI6DM)
“Howling Wolves – Heulende Wölfe” (http://bit.ly/1c2Oidv)
“Fooled by Nature: Beaver Dams” (http://bit.ly/NGgQSU)

Music Credits:
“Unfoldment, Revealment, Evolution, Exposition, Integration, Arson” by Chris Zabriskie (http://bit.ly/1c2uckW)

FAIR USE NOTICE: This video may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes only. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 106A-117 of the US Copyright Law.

For any concerns or questions, you may contact us athttp://sustainableman.org/contact/

If you want to read more on a general level, then my post on the 11th January, 2014, An echo in the hills! may be worthwhile. It included this from William Ripple, of Oregon State University:

ooOOoo

Top dogs keep ecosystems in order

Many of these large carnivore species are endangered and some are at risk of extinction, either in specific regions or entirely. Ironically, they are vanishing just as we are learning about their important ecological effects, which is what led us to write a new paper in the journal Science to document their role.

From a review of published reports, we singled out seven species that have been studied for their important ecological role and widespread effects, known as trophic cascades. These are the African lion, leopard, Eurasian lynx, cougar, gray wolf, sea otter and dingo.

Based on field research, my Oregon State University co-author Robert Beschta and I documented the impact of cougars and wolves on the regeneration of forest tree stands and riverside vegetation in Yellowstone and other national parks in western North America. Fewer predators, we found, lead to an increase in browsing animals such as deer and elk. More browsing disrupts vegetation, reduces birds and some mammals and changes other parts of the ecosystem. From the actions of the top predator, widespread impacts cascade down the food chain.

Similar effects were found in studies of Eurasian lynx, dingoes, lions and sea otters. For example in Europe, absence of lynx has been closely tied to the abundance of roe deer, red fox and hare. In Australia, the construction of a 3,400-mile dingo-proof fence has enabled scientists to study ecosystems with and without dingoes which are closely related to gray wolves. They found that dingoes control populations of herbivores and exotic red foxes. The suppression of these species by dingoes reduces predation pressure, benefiting plants and smaller native prey.

In some parts of Africa, the decrease of lions and leopards has coincided with a dramatic increase in olive baboons, which threaten crops and livestock. In the waters off southeast Alaska, a decline in sea otters through killer whale predation has led to a rise in sea urchins and loss of kelp beds.

Predators are integral, not expendable

We are now obtaining a deeper appreciation of the impact of large carnivores on ecosystems, a view that can be traced back to the work of landmark ecologist Aldo Leopold. The perception that predators are harmful and deplete fish and wildlife is outdated. Many scientists and wildlife managers now recognise the growing evidence of carnivores’ complex role in ecosystems, and their social and economic benefits. Leopold recognised these relationships, but his observations were ignored for decades after his death in 1948.

op carnivores, at work keeping things in check. Doug Smith
Top carnivores, at work keeping things in check. Doug Smith

Human tolerance of these species is the major issue. Most would agree these animals have an intrinsic right to exist, but additionally they provide economic and ecological services that people value. Among the services documented in other studies are carbon sequestration, restoration of riverside ecosystems, biodiversity and disease control. For example, wolves may limit large herbivore populations, thus decreasing browsing on young trees that sequester carbon when they escape browsing and grow taller. Where large carnivore populations have been restored – such as wolves in Yellowstone or Eurasian lynx in Finland – ecosystems appear to be bouncing back.

I am impressed with how resilient the Yellowstone ecosystem is, and while ecosystem restoration isn’t happening quickly everywhere in this park, it has started. In some cases where vegetation loss has led to soil erosion, for example, full restoration may not be possible in the near term. What is certain is that ecosystems and the elements of them are highly interconnected. The work at Yellowstone and other places shows how species affect each another through different pathways. It’s humbling as a scientist to witness this interconnectedness of nature.

My co-authors and I have called for an international initiative to conserve large carnivores in co-existence with people. This effort could be modelled after a couple of other successful efforts including the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe, a non-profit scientific group affiliated with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and the Global Tiger Initiative which involves all 13 of the tiger-range countries. With more tolerance by humans, we might be able to avoid extinctions. The world would be a scary place without these predators.

William Ripple does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

ooOOoo

The ConversationMan! We are a strange species at times!

Taking a pause today!

Life has conspired with too many distractions.

It’s 11am Thursday at the time of writing this.

We have a visit to our property in a little over 2 hours time from the other students, Rhianna, our teacher, and mentors from the Land Stewardship course that Jean and I undertook at Oregon State University in the Spring.

I seemed to have picked up a Summer head cold that is making me more grumpy than usual!

Plus I have to focus on an interesting ‘project’ that I will write about early next week.

So there!

Let me leave you with these two pictures of the softness of cloud and low mist that brought some much-needed rain to us a few days ago.

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Looking out to the North-East with Sexton Mountain, some 5 miles away, just off picture to the left.

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Looking East across our fields to the forest beyond.

If anyone wants to put these pictures into context, there was a property map published in the LfD post of the 22nd, Sing for the trees.