Share | | More

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Biodiversity is good vs. minks can go straight to hell

Biodiversity is priceless and must be conserved. After all, it is diversity within and between living things that supports ecosystems, buffering them against variations in climate and other environmental factors. For this reason, biodiversity is generally thought to make ecosystems stable and resilient to change. In turn, we humans base our societies and economies on the stable and relatively predictable provision of ecosystem products and services. In short: humans need biodiversity, because we need sound and stable ecosystems.

But does that mean that we have to like every animal out there?

Yeah right. Let me introduce you to minks. Minks, for those of you who don't know, are murderous beady-eyed devils. They make seriously foul messes wherever they go. Their stench could deactivate the magnetic strip on a credit card. And they kill chickens.

And yesterday, they killed my chickens. In characteristically brutal fashion.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Overlooked Species Theatre Presents: Sculpins

Editor's Note: Overlooked Species Theatre is a feature in which we highlight species or species groups that seem to be, well, overlooked. A key feature of OST is blatant anthropomorphizing of the subjects, and for this we make no apologies because this is a blog and not a thesis. In this edition, we attribute extreme surliness to sculpins.  

Question, hotshot: Why is Chuck Norris afraid to fish?

Answer: Because he might catch a sculpin.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Taxpayer pockets at risk for cleaning up oil spills

The ongoing environmental disaster from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico might have you asking yourself the following question: “What would happen if a similar spill were to occur here at home?” As BC currently has in place a moratorium on offshore drilling, we will hopefully never find out. However, we do not have a ban on oil tankers, and they’re currently a serious threat. For the sake of argument, let us say that a slightly smaller spill than the Deepwater Horizon occurs, somewhere in magnitude around the Exxon Valdez. Aside from the obvious devastation of marine life and local economies (see our oil-spill model), there would be a substantial cost to clean up the oil itself.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The glass ball: A beachcomber's lament

This time of year is often a bit deflating. Winter has barely begun and the next couple of months promise only darkness and cold. Yet when I was growing up on the shores of the Pacific, this time of year was rivaled only by Christmas in terms of sheer excitement. The holidays might be over, but it was mere weeks until glass ball season.

In the first few months of the year, I would eagerly await the raging south-west winds, which often heralded exotic treasures from the open sea. If these storms sustained themselves for long enough, they would begin to transport objects from the North Pacific current straight to our doorstep on the BC coast.

The North Pacific Current runs from the open ocean east of Japan to the open ocean west of California and forms the northern portion of the North Pacific Gyre. At its eastern terminus, the warm Kuroshio current from the south collides with the arctic Oyashio Current to feed the North Pacific Current. This brings all sorts of unusual items from the coast of Japan into the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Most of this debris ends floating around in the Pacific or washes up on the shores of Hawaii, but given the right conditions, some would make it to North America.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Plastic, plastic everywhere

I'm writing to share with you all one of my biggest pet peeves. No, it isn't global warming deniers, people who talk loudly on cell phones in public, or even car alarms (though those are certainly all in the running). It's something more seemingly benign, but ultimately more horrible.

I don't have a horrible-enough font at my disposal to describe it (Eds. note:  Showcard Gothic is pretty terrifying). Now I know what you're thinking: are car alarms really as annoying as global warming deniers? Perhaps a question  more relevant to this discussion would be: how can something so useful and seemingly beneficial to society be so ultimately terrible? The answer:

(Credit: State of Hawaii)

Friday, January 7, 2011

So long 2010: A year in review

Well, happy 2011! We’ve survived another trip around the sun aboard our shiny, water-coated vessel, and ended up back where we started (in solar terms anyway). Another summer has come and gone, blessing fishermen, bears, and natal streams across BC with record numbers of sockeye salmon. Over twenty-thousand grey whales have migrated from their calving grounds near the Baja Peninsula to the rich marine-buffet of the Bering Strait and back, while millions of shorebirds have completed even longer return migrations.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Nothing new under the sun

"For one species to mourn the death of another is a new thing under the sun. 
The Cro-Magnon who slew the last mammoth thought only of steaks. 
The sportsman who shot the last [Passenger] pigeon thought only of his prowess. 
The sailor who clubbed the last auk thought of nothing at all."
- Aldo Leopold

Maybe Aldo spoke too soon. Maybe, when there's money to be made, there's nothing new under the sun.

 (This image is from this article in the Huffington Post)