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Don’t Go Away Mad, Just Go Away

March 29, 2015


The Koch brothers are a wondrous phenomenon. You probably knew that. What can you do (?), you might ask. We know the feeling. Well, here is something. A public service announcement from our colleagues at EcoWatch, linking to a petition effort worthy of your consideration:

The Natural History Museum just released an unprecedented letter signed by the world’s top scientists, including several Nobel laureates, calling on science and natural history museums to cut all ties to the fossil fuel industry.

The letter comes on the heels of recent news that Smithsonian-affiliated scientist Willie Soon took $1.25 million from the Koch brothers, Exxon Mobil, American Petroleum Institute and other covert funders to publish junk science denying man-made climate change, and failed to disclose any funding-related conflicts of interest.

In particular, it points a finger at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (D.C.) and the American Museum of Natural History (NY), where David Koch is a member of the board, a major donor and exhibit sponsor.

Oil mogul David Koch sits on the boards of our nation’s largest and most respected natural history museums, while he bankrolls groups that deny climate science.

Sign this petition to the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History: It’s time to get science deniers out of science museums. Kick Koch off the Board! Read more…

Big Goals About Basic Things

March 29, 2015

In response to this successful project, the Gates Foundation recently approved a two-year grant to Kohler to design and fabricate five closed-loop flush toilet systems for field testing in developing world locations that do not have adequate sanitation. Kohler

Some of the things many of us take for granted in the “developed” world – access to toilets and clean drinking water among them, are daily challenges for many living in the “developing” world. India’s new prime minister set a challenge for a Clean India by 2019, which will include 100 million toilets across the country. The goals coincide well with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, and Kohler’s production of a closed loop toilet system design created by Caltech University that is already coming on line in test areas in India. Read more…

Bird of the Day: Roadside Hawk (Bosque del Cabo, Costa Rica)

March 28, 2015

Blue Mountain Peak

March 28, 2015

John walking down the mossy forest path

Last week, we hiked up to Blue Mountain Peak, the highest point in Jamaica. To reach the summit, you have to go through Portland Gap, a saddle between Mossman’s and Blue Mountain Peaks and a good point for camping out if you want to do the hike in the morning. Starting with all our camping gear on our backs at the trailhead around 4,185ft, we took a brisk hour’s hike to Portland Gap, gaining 1,356ft of elevation in the process. We set up our tents at Portland Gap, an area with the most Rufous-throated Solitaires we’ve seen so far – they’re very shy birds and are most often only heard, their haunting whistles echoing eerily over valleys and through the forest.

An elusive Rufous-throated Solitaire at Portland Gap

The Gap also ended up being a great spot to see Read more…

To The Forest, Once Again

March 28, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 7.05.16 AM

Oliver Sacks, this week, shares a very brief, but powerful reverie that also brings our attention to the man above and the book below.  All seem worthy of your time:

Driving down Ninth Avenue, choking on diesel fumes from a truck just ahead of us, I say to my friend Billy (he is exactly two-thirds my age), “I wonder whether you will see the end of internal-combustion engines, the end of oil, a cleaner world.”

Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 7.14.40 AMA cleaner world. The thought zooms me away from Ninth Avenue to a forest world—in particular, to the one described in “That Glorious Forest,” Sir Ghillean Prance’s book about his thirty-nine visits to the Amazon in the past fifty years. Prance, one of our greatest tropical botanists, is very much in the tradition of Henry Walter Bates and Alfred Russel Wallace and Richard Spruce, who charted the region in the eighteen-fifties. But Prance’s is not just a botanical eye: he sees what we are doing to the Amazon and its many peoples; he speaks for conservation Read more…

Bird of the Day: Spotted Owlet (Bangalore, Karnataka)

March 27, 2015

Spotted Owlet by Brinda Suresh - RAXA Collective

The Simple Things

March 27, 2015

When we find ourselves absolutely overwhelmed by the complexities, demands, and irrational expectations surrounding field work, it’s really nice to remember the simple things – and within them, find peace of mind, stability, and renewed strength.

Waking up early enough so as not to have to rush through a French-press filled with Blue Mountain coffee is a must.  It’s 10 minutes of tranquility, when one can sit with friends, contemplate the day’s tasks, and appreciate the scenery you’ve missed while rushing from one place to the next.

And what about those incredibly infrequent times that the birds come to you?   Read more…


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