Here are activities you can do outdoors, at home and/or online
Life Lab: Gifts from the Garden – Nature-Based Crafts, Nov 30, 4 pm
Learn to make nature-based crafts. Create our own holiday gifts. Life Lab staff will share tried and true crafts that we have made in our youth garden-programs. On Zoom register HERE.
Elkhorn Slough Reserve Tours, Saturdays 1 pm
Join us at the Elkhorn Slough Reserve each Saturday for docent-led tours at 1 pm. Tours can last from 1 to 2 hours depending on interest and number of participants. No reservation is needed. Tours meet at the Visitor Center. Binoculars are available. If you have questions, contact the Reserve at (831) 728-2822. Meet at Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Rd., Watsonville. More INFO.
Friends of SLV Water: Webinar on winter debris flow, Dec 1, 7 – 8 pm
FSLVW will host an educational webinar with Dr. Gail Mahood, Director-Elect of the SLV Water District and Emerita Professor of Geology at Stanford University. The webinar will cover winter debris flows in SLV following the CZU Wildfire. This will supplement previous county webinars, and discuss risks, how they vary across the SLV, and how to interpret the maps and reports.To receive more information and the Zoom call-in details, register in advance by emailing HERE.
Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History: 2020 Vision – Submit your photo by Dec 1
Opening in January 2021, 2020 Vision is a community-sourced photography exhibition that will tell the story of this past year through the lens of the natural phenomena that have impacted Santa Cruz County in 2020. Show us a natural phenomenon (any observable event or process in nature) that caught your attention. Whether your lens was turned to the sky, looking out over a vast landscape, or zooming in on something more intimate, we want to see images that illustrate the diversity of nature and how humans interact with it, taken throughout the calendar year. Up to 100 images will be selected for the virtual exhibit and twenty will be featured in the physical exhibit. Special recognition will be given to the top images in the following categories: Amateur, Professional, Youth, and Story-telling. More info HERE.
Homeless Garden Project’s Sustain in Place, Dec 12, 3 – 4 pm
Our next in a series of at-home tastings, features readings from Seedfolks, by Newberry Medal winner Paul Fleischman. This story, suitable for both adults and children, is of a diverse cast of characters transforming an empty lot in Cleveland, Ohio into a community garden and the transformations that they personally experience. The story resonates with HGP’s mission and the life transformations that our trainees experience in the soil of our urban farm and garden.We’re excited to celebrate with you at this festive and memorable virtual gathering featuring Seedfolks’ author, Paul Fleischman, as well as six community leaders who will each read a chapter. Get tickets HERE. ($25 – $95)
EcoWatch: Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
“Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as flavor, texture and color. Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans’ twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use.
Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.” Read MORE.
EcoWatch, Nov 23: Invasive Tegu Lizard Threatens Endangered Species
These black-and-white lizards could be the punchline of a joke, except the situation is no laughing matter. That’s because the Argentine black-and-white tegu is an invasive species of dog-sized lizards that scientists worry could pose a threat to endangered species across the Southeast. The tegus first came to the region as escaped or released pets and began to spread in South Florida more than a decade ago, National Geographic reported. But they are now reaching other states in the region and have been spotted in Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Louisiana and Alabama. “[T]he entire southeast portion of the United States is at risk,” reports USGS biologist Amy Yackel Adams. “Much of this area has a climate that is suitable for tegus.” Learn MORE.
Wild Salmon Center: On Northern California’s Klamath River, dams have brought spring Chinook to the brink. To save the species, Indigenous knowledge is key.
The dams’ longevity has muddied the salmon restoration argument for dam removal. Since the 1910s, no ocean-returning fish on the Klamath River could climb higher than Copco 1. Maybe, asked some opponents, salmon never reached Klamath Lake in the first place? Indigenous knowledge was mostly ignored. And old newspapers, settler accounts, ethnographic accounts indicating that salmon migrated above the dams, the skeptics just dismissed. “Dam removal skeptics found it easy to create confusion later, because the dams went in before western scientists had “hard data” on salmon numbers,” says Dr. Sloat. “Indigenous knowledge was mostly ignored. Then archeologists found the middens.” Read MORE.
Medium, Tenderly Mag: 37 Pictures of Majestic Animals Being Incorrigible Goofs
“For the last three years, the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards (CWPA) has been single-mindedly focused on showcasing a profoundly underserved aspect of wildlife photography: Pictures that show the goofy side of our animal friends. It turns out that, contrary to what National Geographic might want you to think not every wild animal wakes up looking like their Instagram photos. In fact, for every picture where these guys are being majestic and proud and flat-out awe-inspiring, there’s one where they’re just as awkward and absurd as we are. And the CWPA is committed to uncovering the very best of those moments while highlighting an important message of wildlife conservation in partnership with The Born Free Foundation. Here are some of the extremely relatable finalists from this year’s awards.” Learn more at Medium.
Optimist Daily: Rare Black Rhino Birth
The population of the critically endangered eastern black rhino has just gotten bigger, thanks to the birth of a healthy calf at Chester Zoo in the UK. Following 15 months of pregnancy, the celebratory event was caught on the zoo’s security camera which shows the young calf suckling from her mother, Ema Elsa, just 10 minutes after she was born. “The birth of a critically endangered eastern black rhino is always very special,” said Andrew McKenzie, team manager of rhinos at the zoo. “And to be able to watch on camera as a calf is born is an incredible privilege – with rhino numbers so, so low it, sadly, isn’t something that’s captured very often. Watch video HERE.
Daily Kos, Nov 17: Why Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante Matter
Among the action items on President-elect Biden’s early agenda is the restoration of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. The monuments encompass vast swaths of the spectacular red rock terrain that comprises much of south-central and southeastern Utah’s canyon and mesa landscape. These monuments need restoration because in December 2017 the Trump administration, in an historically unprecedented move, drastically slashed their size — Bears Ears by about 85% and Grand Staircase Escalante by nearly half. President Biden can and will quickly reverse those actions. The ambitious Biden-Harris Plan For Tribal Nations emphasizes that “As President, Biden will take immediate steps to reverse the Trump administration’s assault on America’s natural treasures, including by reversing Trump’s attacks on…Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.”
The significance of restoring—and in the case of Bears Ears, one hopes also expanding—these monuments can hardly be understated. Restoring the protected status of these lands is not just about preserving scenic beauty and the economic benefits landscape tourism provides—as important as that is—but is a crucial action for the advancement of social justice. The Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition—a coalition of the Hopi, Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute, Diné and Ute tribes—note that these lands are staggeringly rich in archeological sites—over 100,000—and remain essential for ongoing cultural practices. Bears Ears lands, explain the coalition, are “a unique cultural place where we visit and practice our traditional religions for the purpose of attaining or resuming health for ourselves, our communities and our natural world.” If the lands are protected, they allow for traditional practices like the gathering of plants (such as pinon nuts), medicinal herbs, wood for ceremonial and heating purposes, and hunting. Learn MORE.
Regeneration International: Trails of Regeneration – A Brief History of Agroforestry
“Watch the latest episode in our “Trails of Regeneration” series features agroforestry, with expert Patrick Worms of the World Agroforestry. Here we explore the roots of agroforestry and how industrial agriculture has pushed aside ancient farming practices that produce healthy food while also caring for the environment. The old saying “nature knows best” rings true when it comes to agriculture. Working with nature instead of against it is a mindset that dates back early in human history when farmers relied on ancestral knowledge and traditions to grow food. The introduction of modern agriculture technology — think pesticides, synthetic fertilizers + farming equipment — has in many ways brought thousands of years of agricultural evolution using trees to a standstill.” Watch HERE.
Science Advances, Nov 11: Assembly of the algal CO2-fixing organelle, the pyrenoid, is guided by a Rubisco-binding motif
Brain exercise! First sentence is surprising. “Approximately one-third of the Earth’s photosynthetic CO2 assimilation occurs in (algae’s) pyrenoid, an organelle containing the CO2-fixing enzyme Rubisco. How constituent proteins are recruited to the pyrenoid and how the organelle’s subcompartments — membrane tubules, a surrounding phase-separated Rubisco matrix, and a peripheral starch sheath — are held together is unknown. Using the model alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, we found that pyrenoid proteins share a sequence motif. We show that the motif is necessary and sufficient to target proteins to the pyrenoid and that the motif binds to Rubisco, suggesting a mechanism for targeting. The presence of the Rubisco-binding motif on proteins that localize to the tubules and on proteins that localize to the matrix–starch sheath interface suggests that the motif holds the pyrenoid’s three subcompartments together. Our findings advance our understanding of pyrenoid biogenesis and illustrate how a single protein motif can underlie the architecture of a complex multilayered phase-separated organelle.” LINK
EcoMotion News: Offshore Wind “Floaters” for Deep Water Locations
Walter Musial, a principal engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) expects that offshore wind – using floating wind turbines known as “floaters” – will be cost-competitive with fixed-bottom models by 2024. This is thanks in part to the work being done to reduce the barriers to offshore wind production. One means to reduce costs and streamline development is through the development of a robust port infrastructure where the turbines can be assembled then towed out to sea. Once towed to their locations, the “floaters” are then be held in place by mooring lines attached to anchors in deep waters. Musial notes that 80% of the world’s offshore waters suitable for wind turbines near major population centers are in deep water. Thus floating turbines have huge application. Subscribe to monthly EcoMotion News.
Phys.org: Study of ancient climate suggests future warming could accelerate
The rate at which the planet warms in response to the ongoing buildup of heat-trapping carbon dioxide gas could increase in the future, according to new simulations of a comparable warm period more than 50 million years ago. Researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Arizona used a state-of-the-art climate model to successfully simulate—for the first time—the extreme warming of the Early Eocene Period, which is considered an analog for Earth’s future climate. They found that the rate of warming increased dramatically as carbon dioxide levels rose, a finding with far-reaching implications for Earth’s future climate. Learn MORE.
Museum of Natural History: Nature News – Updates on the Natural World Around You
Some plants depend on fire for their survival. The Santa Cruz cypress (Hesperocyparis abramsiana) is so limited in its range that there are only a few stands left in the Santa Cruz mountains, all of which are located in the fire zone of the CZU lightning complex. Though the trees themselves aren’t resilient to fire like the coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), they do depend on fire to reproduce. Heat causes the cones to open and drop their seeds, which require sunlight and bare mineral soil to germinate. Seed viability reduces as the trees age, meaning that if large disturbances occur too infrequently, the trees won’t reproduce often enough to maintain population size. After the 2008 Martin Fire burned and killed a large portion of the trees in the Bonny Doon population, regeneration was abundant. Time will tell how the Santa Cruz cypress will respond to this more recent fire event.
World Economic Forum, Oct 30: The best way to restore our forests is to let nature take its course
“Planting new forests is recognised as a powerful natural climate solution, but the best way to achieve this is still a matter for debate. New research suggests natural regrowth could be the most effective approach. Letting nature take its course promotes native species and biodiversity at a fraction of the cost of manual tree-planting. Trees are having a moment in the limelight as people increasingly recognize their ability to soak up CO2 from the atmosphere and store it for long periods of time. While new forests represent a powerful natural climate solution, there is a lot of confusion and controversy about how to best establish those new forests.” One of authors is Dr. Karen Holl, UCSC. Read more HERE.
Honor The Earth: LN3 FILM: SEVEN TEACHINGS OF THE ANISHINAABE IN RESISTANCE
A 38-minute frontline documentary on the effort to stop the dirty tar sands oil pipeline (Line 3) through Minnesota and encourage real energy security. Predatory industry hijacked the US regulatory system in 2019, placing ancient food systems and a fifth of the world’s freshwater in imminent danger. LN3 features indigenous firebrands Winona Laduke, Tara Houska, and poet-hip hop artist ThomasX, as they lead an alliance to take on Big Oil and their enablers at the institutional level, and on the frontlines. This is the battle for Earth. Watch for free HERE.
“David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet”
Celebrated British naturalist Sir David Attenborough has a broadcasting career spanning over six decades. He has visited every continent on the globe, exploring the wild places of our planet and bringing the wonders of the living world to audiences worldwide through ground-breaking natural history series. During his lifetime, Sir David Attenborough has seen first-hand the monumental scale of environmental change caused by human actions. Now for the first time, he reflects on the devastating changes he’s witnessed and reveals how together we can address the biggest challenges facing life on our planet. You will want everyone to see this film on Netflix and be inspired to act. See TRAILER.
New York Times: Trump Administration is Reversing 100 Environmental Rules
The Trump Administration in 4 years has completed 68 reversals of environmental rules. They have 32 more in progress. That’s exactly 100 rules stripped away that were made to protect the Earth. 27 of those rules have to do with air pollution and emissions — like weakening fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for cars. 19 of those rules have to do with drilling and oil extraction — like lifting the drilling ban in the Arctic. The other 54 rules range from protections of animal life to water pollution to infrastructure and so much more. Read More.
Audubon: Report details financial resources needed to preserve biodiversity.
There can be little doubt that biodiversity is in free fall. Here in North America there are now almost three billion fewer birds than there were in the 1970s. One million species worldwide are threatened with extinction. A recent World Wildlife Fund report found that there has been a nearly 70 percent average decline in wildlife populations around the globe since 1970. A new report, “Financing Nature: Closing the Global Biodiversity Financing Gap,” by the Paulson Institute, The Nature Conservancy, and Cornell University, now (provides) an authoritative analysis of the financial resources needed to stop and reverse the catastrophic biodiversity declines happening across the globe. This is a crisis the world can afford to address. Learn MORE.
Clean Energy States Alliance: Virtual Power Plants
Utilities across the country are beginning to tap into hundreds, sometimes thousands, of devices in homes and businesses to create virtual power plants (VPP). These VPPs can deliver many of the same services as traditional power plants but they’re powered by distributed resources, including water heaters, smart thermostats, and, increasingly, solar and battery storage (home and EV). This webinar covers the basics of what a virtual power plant is and how it can create value for both utilities and customers, with examples from real-world programs. Presenters include the software company Virtual Peaker and Portland General Electric Company (PGE). PGE recently launched a new VPP pilot program that will incentivize the installation of more than 500 residential battery storage systems, representing up to four megawatts of energy. Watch for free HERE.
Patagonia Film: Run the Red, 9 minutes
A trail running race in southwest Wyoming brings attention to the importance of protecting the largest unfenced area in the contiguous United States. The Red Desert is a place of harsh, wind-scoured beauty, a vast patchwork of public, state and private lands spread across the southwestern belly of Wyoming. The boundaries shift depending on who you’re talking to, but estimates put it around 6 million acres of mostly Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. It’s defined by both pristine wildness and sporadic human development—roughly a dozen federally designated wilderness study areas sit like islands of preservation amid lands leased for energy and scarred by a long history of human use. “Run the Red was really birthed from this idea: how can we build an activity or showcase this place in a way that allows people to experience it the way wilderness should be experienced,” said Shaleas Harrison. Watch film HERE.
Kiss The Ground Documentary
Kiss the Ground is a full-length documentary narrated by Woody Harrelson that sheds light on an alternative approach to farming called “regenerative agriculture” that has the potential to balance our climate, replenish our vast water supplies, and feed the world. TRAILER. It is now streaming on Netflix, and the exclusive Live Q&A with Gisele Bündchen, Woody Harrelson and Ian Somerhalder, plus the filmmakers, farmers and activists behind the regenerative movement, is right HERE.
Food Revolution Summit: Free Access To All 25 Programs for 2 Days
In these times it’s more important than ever to get informed, so you can take care of your health and the health of those you love. Now is the time to put the healing power of food to work for you, so you can be truly and deeply nourished, and have the resiliency to meet whatever challenges come your way. John Robbins, one of the food movements most beloved leaders and author of Diet For A New America, interviews 25 amazing food & health experts. Sign up HERE.
Nat Geo: Yellowstone Bacteria Provide Key Ingredient in Coronavirus Test
Microbiologist Thomas Brock was tramping through Yellowstone in the 1960s when he stumbled upon a species of bacteria that would transform medical science. Brock was investigating the tiny life-forms that manage to eke out a living in the superheated waters of the park’s thermal pools. There, he and a student found golden mats of stringy growth in Yellowstone’s Mushroom Spring containing a microbe that produces unusual heat-resistant enzymes.
Today, those enzymes are a key component in polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, a method used widely in labs around the world to study small samples of genetic material by making millions of copies. This technique, which would have been impossible without the discovery of heat-resistant bacteria more than half a century ago, is now being used to boost the signal of viruses in most of the available tests for COVID-19. Learn MORE.
My Octopus Teacher: Documentary Film
A filmmaker forges an unusual friendship with an octopus living in a South African kelp forest, learning as the animal shares the mysteries of her world. “One day, while exploring a deep blue pool whose waters were calmed by the density of the kelp surrounding it, Craig saw a strange shape on the ocean floor: an octopus balled up and covered with an armor of rocks and shells. In an eyeblink, it abandoned its quasi-shell and rocketed away. “There’s something to learn here,” he remembers thinking. He returned, found the female octopus’ den, and visited it daily as it huddled in its little cave. Eventually, the creature realized Craig wasn’t a threat. It reaches out a curious tentacle and touches his hand, its suckers exploring his skin. He enjoys the moment as long as his lungs will allow, gently detaches and heads up to the surface for air.” (The Decider.com) Watch trailer HERE.
“Infinite Potential: The Life and Ideas of David Bohm”, Documentary
This powerful and inspiring film is about the man Einstein called his “spiritual son” and the Dalai Lama his “science guru.” Infinite Potential explores the revolutionary theories of David Bohm, the maverick physicist who turned to Eastern wisdom to develop groundbreaking insights into the profound interconnectedness of the Universe and our place within it. This mystical and scientific journey into the nature of life and reality includes the final post-screening event in a series of interactive, virtual discussions inspired by the film and will include a very special group of panelists: Reverend Dr. Michael B. Beckwith, Spiritual Director Agape International Spiritual Center; Audrey Kitagawa, Board Chair Parliament of World Religions; Reverend Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr., Civil Rights Leader; Bob Roth, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation; Marianne Williamson, bestselling author, political activist and spiritual thought leader; and Dr. Dot Maver (moderator), Global Silent Minute. Watch HERE.
Lake Charles, LA. A woman lost consciousness in a parking lot after Hurricane Laura left her without electricity or air-conditioning for several days.
New York Times: HOW CLIMATE MIGRATION WILL RESHAPE AMERICA, Abrahm Lustgarten
“Millions will be displaced. Where will they go? For two years, I have been studying how climate change will influence global migration. My sense was that of all the devastating consequences of a warming planet — changing landscapes, pandemics, mass extinctions — the potential movement of hundreds of millions of climate refugees across the planet stands to be among the most important. I traveled across four countries to witness how rising temperatures were driving climate refugees away from some of the poorest and hottest parts of the world. I had also helped create an enormous computer simulation to analyze how global demographics might shift, and now I was working on a data-mapping project about migration here in the United States.” Learn MORE.
Amah Mutsun Ethnobotany: t’ott’oni
Mutsun Name: t’ott’oni, tyottyoni; English Name: toyon; Botanical Name: Heteromeles arbutifolia. Toyon is an evergreen shrub that grows in the foothills surrounding the Central Valley throughout California. Berries are ripe in the Fall but may be eaten by birds or start to have mold. Toyon responds to fire and resprouts vigorously following fire. It has been observed to sprout 4-5 feet tall 4.5 years after a wildfire. Berries are cooked, dried, or made into flour, eaten fresh, roasted, or boiled. Berries are sometimes baked in an earth oven for two or three days or stored in baskets for two months. Berries can also be used to make cider. Ohlone used a toyon leaf as a blood purifier and to regulate menses. Used by some for arrows, cooking instruments, and hairpins. Berries should be monitored to assess best times to gather before berries succumb to mold, disease, or are eaten by other animals. Learn more HERE.
Space.com, Sept 19: Tropical storms and billowing wildfire smoke rage in the same NASA satellite photo
A satellite spotted several tropical storms and dozens of wildfires ravaging the United States together in one image. NASA’s Aqua satellite captured six tropical storms and more than 100 different U.S. wildfires in a single photo snapped on Sept. 15. The wildfires, which have particularly scoured California, have now burned about 4 million acres (over 16,000 square kilometers) across 10 states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. When the photo was taken, there were six named storms total — Sally off the Gulf Coast, Paulette, Rene, Teddy and Vicky in the Atlantic Ocean and Karina in the Pacific. Learn MORE.
Science, Sep. 8: To survive frigid nights, hummingbirds cool themselves to record-low temperatures
High in the Andes, thousands of meters above sea level, speedy hummingbirds defy near-freezing temperatures. These tiny flyers endure the cold with a counterintuitive trick: They lower their body temperature—sometimes as much as 33°C—for hours at a time, new research suggests. Among vertebrates, hummingbirds have the highest metabolism for their size. With a metabolic rate roughly 77 times that of an average human, they need to feed nearly continuously. But when it gets too cold or dark to forage, maintaining a normal body temperature is energetically draining. Instead, the small animals can cool their internal temperature by 10°C to 30°C. This slows their metabolism by as much as 95% and protects them from starvation. In this state, called torpor, a bird is motionless and unresponsive. “You wouldn’t even know it was alive if you picked it up,” Wolf says. But when the morning comes and it’s time to feed, he says, the birds quickly warm themselves back up again. “It’s like hibernation but regulated on an even tighter schedule.” Read MORE.
Politico, Sept 8: Climate Change Major Risk to Financial System
“A massive, first-of-its-kind report, commissioned by Trump appointees and compiled by dozens of analysts from firms across the economy, says “climate change poses a major risk to the stability of the U.S. financial system and to its ability to sustain the American economy.” The findings themselves are not entirely new, but the fact that they were published by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the regulatory body charged with overseeing the complex financial instruments that set the prices of commodities like corn, wheat, and oil, carries significant importance. This is the first federal government report of its kind to focus on the effects of climate change on financial markets” Learn MORE.
NPR, Sept 11: How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled
The industry’s awareness that recycling wouldn’t keep plastic out of landfills and the environment dates to the program’s earliest days, we found. “There is serious doubt that [recycling plastic] can ever be made viable on an economic basis,” one industry insider wrote in a 1974 speech. Yet the industry spent millions telling people to recycle, because, as one former top industry insider told NPR, selling recycling sold plastic, even if it wasn’t true. “If the public thinks that recycling is working, then they are not going to be as concerned about the environment,” Larry Thomas, former president of the Society of the Plastics Industry, told NPR. Learn MORE.
EcoWatch: Aviation Accounts for 3.5% of Global Warming Caused by Humans
A new international study that used unprecedented calculations to pinpoint how much global air travel contributes to the heating of the atmosphere found that aviation makes up 3.5 percent of all the activities that contribute to the climate crisis, according to the University of Reading in the UK where some of the research was conducted. It turns out that in the last 20 years, air travel has doubled its contribution as a driver of the climate crisis. The study looked at the time frame from 2000 to 2018, so it did not account for the current slowdown in air travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. And yet, Lee said that the current slowdown will be just a blip compared to the long-term damage that has already been done by air travel. Learn MORE.
EcoWatch: Meet the ‘Women Warriors’ Protecting the Amazon Forest
On an early December morning last year in the state of Maranhão, Brazil, half a dozen members of the Indigenous Guajajara people packed their bags with food, maps and drone equipment to get ready for a patrol. They said goodbye to their children, uncertain when, or whether, they would see them again. Then, they hoisted their bags over their shoulders and set out to patrol a section of the 173,000 hectares (428,000 acres) of the primary rainforest they call home. This is the Caru Indigenous Territory, near the northeastern coast of Brazil, and it contains some of the last stretches of intact, contiguous forest in Maranhão. It is also under increasing threat: this part of Brazil has been ravaged by some of the country’s highest rates of deforestation and land conflicts over the past decade. Patrols led by Indigenous groups like theirs, known often by the moniker of “Forest Guardians,” have been instrumental in enforcing protections and preventing loggers from entering Indigenous territories. Learn more HERE.
The Guardian: Earth has lost 28 trillion tons of ice since 1994
That is stunning conclusion of UK scientists who have analyzed satellite surveys of the planet’s poles, mountains and glaciers to measure how much ice coverage lost because of global heating triggered by rising greenhouse gas emissions. The scientists – based at Leeds and Edinburgh universities and University College London – describe the level of ice loss as “staggering” and warn that their analysis indicates that sea level rises, triggered by melting glaciers and ice sheets, could reach a meter by the end of the century. “To put that in context, every centimeter of sea level rise means about a million people will be displaced from their low-lying homelands,” said Professor Andy Shepherd, director of Leeds University’s Centre for Polar Observation and Modeling. The level of ice loss revealed by the group matches the worst-case-scenario predictions outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he added.
The scientists also warn that the melting of ice in these quantities is now seriously reducing the planet’s ability to reflect solar radiation back into space. White ice is disappearing and the dark sea or soil exposed beneath it is absorbing more and more heat, further increasing the warming of the planet. RESEARCH THIS
Washington Post, July 22: Major new climate study rules out less severe global warming scenarios
An analysis finds the most likely range of warming from doubling (of atmospheric) carbon dioxide to be between 4.1 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit. The current pace of human-caused carbon emissions is increasingly likely to trigger irreversible damage to the planet, according to a comprehensive international study released Wednesday. Researchers studying one of the most important and vexing topics in climate science — how sensitive the Earth’s climate is to a doubling of the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — found that warming is extremely unlikely to be on the low end of estimates.
These scientists now say it is likely that if human activities — such as burning oil, gas and coal along with deforestation — push carbon dioxide to such levels, the Earth’s global average temperature will most likely increase between 4.1 and 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit (2.3 and 4.5 degrees Celsius). The previous and long-standing estimated range of climate sensitivity, as first laid out in a 1979 report, was 2.7 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 to 4.5 Celsius). Keep informed HERE.
Nat Geo: These people of color transformed U.S. national parks
“When I began exploring the outdoors, I had no idea that Black people had played a vital role in the creation of Yosemite, one of my favorite national parks,” reports
James Edward Mills. “I had never heard the story of the park’s connection with Charles Young and the Buffalo Soldiers (pictured above, at Yosemite), and when I finally did, at age 42, it came to me as a complete surprise. In the 10 years since, I’ve learned the stories of Stephen Bishop and Mammoth Caves, Lancelot Jones and Biscayne Bay, and many other people of color who have influenced national parks. Their narratives have long been obscured or ignored by history.” Read MORE.
LifeLab: Pollinator Observations Backyard Activity
Use a tally sheet to observe pollinators visiting a flower. If you want to be a “citizen scientist” upload your data to the Great Sunflower Project. Ages 6+, 15 min+
This activity is perfect for window-watching or outdoor quiet and reflective time. Find a place where pollinators such as bees or hummingbirds frequently visit and get a comfortable spot nearby so you can observe. You can use our pollinator tally sheet or if you don’t have access to a printer, copy down the data in a notebook or piece of paper on a clipboard. Learn more HERE.
Surfrider Releases Foodware Policy Toolkit
The Surfrider Foundation’s Plastic Pollution Initiative is excited to announce our newest policy toolkit, the Comprehensive Foodware Policy Toolkit. After over a decade of successfully advocating for and passing plastic policies such as bag, straw, and styrofoam bans, this toolkit focuses on the next generation of foodware bills that address plastic pollution in a more holistic and innovative manner. Foodware makes up a large proportion of solid waste and litter, and we see comprehensive foodware laws as the next step in making a larger impact. Foodware laws have evolved over the last decade from being simple bans on expanded polystyrene (EPS) foodware to comprehensive legislation. Access the Toolkit!
Optimist Daily: Indigenous People Play Key Role In Preserving Ecosystems
Environmentalists typically turn to rigorous scientific research to preserve ecosystems, but a recent study shows that grassroots knowledge from Indigenous people can play an equally important role in conservation efforts. The new study from Rutgers University collected more than 300 indicators developed by Indigenous people to monitor ecosystem change, and most revealed negative trends, such as the health of wild animals and increasing populations of invasive species that disrupt a healthy balance in the ecosystem. Such local knowledge influences decisions about where and how to hunt benefits ecosystem management and is important for scientific monitoring on a global scale. Learn more HERE.
EcoWatch: 90% Chance of Society Collapsing Within Decades
Deforestation coupled with the rampant destruction of natural resources will soon have devastating effects on the future of society as we know it, according to two theoretical physicists who study complex systems and have concluded that greed has put us on a path to irreversible collapse within the next two to four decades. The research by the two physicists, one from Chile and the other from the UK, was published last week in Nature Scientific Reports. The researchers used advance statistical modeling to look at how a growing human population can cope with the loss of resources, mainly due to deforestation. After crunching the numbers, the scientists came up with a fairly bleak assessment of society’s chance of surviving the climate crisis.
“Based on the current resource consumption rates and best estimate of technological rate growth our study shows that we have very low probability, less than 10 percent in most optimistic estimate, to survive without a catastrophic collapse,” the authors write. Learn more about the forecast for our future HERE.
Nat Geo: Formed by Megafloods, This Place Fooled Scientists for Decades
Defenders Of Wildlife: Doughnut economics: A visual framework for sustainable development
Oxford economist Kate Raworth shows us that it is far more practical though – both our environmental and human concerns create the literal boundaries within which we must proceed. Raworth’s Doughnut shows the upper and lower boundaries of the Safe and Just Space for Humanity. The Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries (2017) Raworth’s Doughnut shows the upper and lower boundaries of the Safe and Just Space for Humanity.
After decades of practical work with the United Nations, Oxfam and Oxford, Raworth developed her Doughnut Economics theory. It’s easiest to show it rather than explain it, but there are 17 criteria that need to be met to keep our society functioning at minimum, thriving if possible. Within the upper and lower limits is where she finds us our Safe and Just Space for Humanity. By addressing the 9 environmental concerns and the 17 critical human needs, we have empirical evidence for the limits of the Spaceship we’re all sharing.
The Hill: Latest Climate Study Indicates Worst-Case scenario more Likely
A new four-year study, published July 22 in the journal Review of Geophysics by an international team of 25 top experts, indicates average global temperatures are now very likely to increase 4.1 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s at the high end of the range consistently predicted by major climate studies going back to 1979. The study indicates a 95 percent certainty that a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations — which we’re on target to hit in the next 50 years or so — would exceed the 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees celsius) worst-case goal that most nations agreed to in the Paris climate accord. Beyond that threshold, climate scientists predict sea-level rise that will flood many coastal cities, intolerable heat waves and other extreme weather conditions and permanent damage to many ecosystems. Learn more about your future HERE.
Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance: Indigenous Seed Keeper Network
Indigenous Seed Keeper Network (ISKN) is an initiative of the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance (NAFSA), a non-profit organization aimed at leveraging resources to support tribal food sovereignty projects. The mission of the Network is to nourish and assist the growing seed sovereignty movement across Turtle Island (North America). ISKN provides educational resources, mentorship training, outreach, and advocacy support on seed policy issues, and organizes convenings to connect communities engaged in this work. Sierra Seeds, a nonprofit sister program to ISKN, also uses mentorship and education to create greater sustainability in food and seed systems by sharing essential practical skills and promoting seed literacy. Learn more HERE.
Seymour Center: Deep-Sea Coral digital mixed media project
This virtual exhibit is artistically designed to merge art and marine science. Locked within the skeleton of deep-sea corals are records of past environmental and climate variability. Because of the longevity of deep-sea coral, their organic skeletons recovered near Hawai’i clearly show climatic changes over the past 1,000 years. The mesopelagic, otherwise known as the ocean’s twilight zone, extends from 200 to 1,000 meters below the surface of the ocean. Linking all of the world’s oceans, it is the largest continuous ecosystem and biome on Earth. The mesopelagic is home to familiar-looking creatures such as seastars and urchins, as well as to unique and alien-looking life such as mid-water gelatinous creatures and deep-sea corals.
Many of the deep-sea corals and related biota have colonial lifespans of one hundred or more years. Colonies of some genera have continuously added growth from new individuals for thousands of years. Although this realm is out of sight of most humans, our actions and choices can have a dramatic impact on these delicate and important ecosystems. View HERE
Audubon: How To be A Bird-friendly Beachgoer
While many of us have strong connections to beaches, coastal areas also play a vital role for many species of birds. On many beaches in North America, it is not uncommon to come across terns, skimmers, oystercatchers, or plovers nesting and trying to raise their chicks. For other birds species, these coastal regions serve as rich sources of food for migratory stopovers. As we head into the summer season, keep in mind that birds need beaches too. Fortunately, there are some easy but key steps we can all take to be good shore stewards, ensuring that both birds and people will enjoy this vital resource for years to come. Learn more HERE.
Patagonia: The Refuge
Documentary film on the fight to save the Arctic Refuge. For hundreds of generations, the Gwich’in people of Alaska and northern Canada have depended on the caribou that migrate through the Arctic Refuge. With their traditional culture now threatened by oil extraction and climate change, two Gwich’in women continue a decades-long fight to protect their land and future. Go here to watch 15 minute FILM.
Arboretum Gardens are open!
The UCSC Arboretum & Botanic Garden is very happy to announce that our gardens have reopened. Our hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., every day. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for children, and free to our members and volunteers. Please follow social distancing protocols, wear a mask, and bring your own drinking water.
In addition to donations, the Arboretum relies heavily on memberships, plant sales, and admissions to fund our vital operations, including maintaining our collections, plant propagation, and conservation seed banking. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were unable to hold our Spring Plant Sale and have been closed to the public, resulting in a significant loss of income over the last three months.
We are in desperate need of your support! If you would like to become a member, or renew, you can do so HERE.
Press Banner: Discover A New Park!
If you’re feeling penned in these days, you should check out a new park! Discovery Park, located next to the new Felton Library, is now open! Nancy Gerdt, President of the Felton Library Friends and Friends of Santa Cruz County Parks’ board member, was eager to share more details with me. “When we began our whole library campaign in 2005, it went through many iterations. It wasn’t until 2015, when the county bought land on the other side of Bull Creek that we thought of a new park, which worked so well with our theme of environmental conservation.” Read more HERE.
Save The Redwoods League: Behold the Stag Tree
Take a minute to inhale Alder Creek’s Stagg Tree, the fifth largest known tree in the world. Strength and resilience in the face of many challenges. View 1 minute video HERE.
Coastal Watershed Council: San Lorenzo River Scavenger Hunts
Walking and bicycling along the Santa Cruz Riverwalk is really fun, but wouldn’t it be more fun with a scavenger hunt in hand? Notice things you haven’t seen before, stop and listen in new places, observe wildlife, and more! Each scavenger hunt is a loop about 1.5 miles and takes 30 minutes minimum, perfect for an evening walk or a stop-and-go bike ride. One can complete these two scavenger hunts separately, check a few items off the list whenever you visit the Riverwalk, or even go big and do them both in one long adventure!
Both of these kid friendly, interactive searches along the Santa Cruz Riverwalk can be viewed by clicking HERE.
BioScience: World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency
“Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to “tell it like it is.” On the basis of this obligation and the graphical indicators presented below, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.
Over 40 years ago, scientists from 50 nations met at the First World Climate Conference (in Geneva 1979) and agreed that alarming trends for climate change made it urgently necessary to act. Since then, similar alarms have been made through the 1992 Rio Summit, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and the 2015 Paris Agreement, as well as scores of other global assemblies and scientists’ explicit warnings of insufficient progress (Ripple et al. 2017). Yet greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are still rapidly rising, with increasingly damaging effects on the Earth’s climate. An immense increase of scale in endeavors to conserve our biosphere is needed to avoid untold suffering due to the climate crisis (IPCC 2018).” Learn more HERE.
Science: Pools in the Mexican desert are a window into Earth’s early life, Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, Jun. 30
Valeria Souza Saldívar never planned to devote her life to a remote and ancient oasis more than 1000 kilometers north of her laboratory in Mexico City. But a call in early 1999 changed that. “It’s one of the best cold calls I’ve ever made,” says James Elser, a limnologist at the University of Montana. He had picked up the phone to invite Souza Saldívar to join a NASA-funded astrobiology project in Cuatro Ciénegas—a butterfly-shaped basin with colorful pools, or pozas, in the middle of Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert.The landscape—more than 300 turquoise-blue pozas scattered across 800 square kilometers, among marshes and majestic mountains—wasn’t the only draw. The waters, whose chemistry resembled that of Earth’s ancient seas, teemed with microbes; unusual bacterial mats and formations called stromatolites carpeted the shallows. Read more HERE.
Citizen’s Climate Lobby, Paul Schaafsma, Climate Shock In Africa
To understand what climate change might bring for us, look at what has already happened in Africa. In Southern Africa, 5 years of severe drought have led to water supplies disappearing, massive levels of crop failure and 45 million human beings going hungry. Landslides and floods in East Africa impacted 3 million lives in just the last 3 months of 2019. The floods in turn helped spawn a plague of locusts, that are devouring the crops that survived previous shocks, threatening the food supply of tens of millions. Back to back cyclones ravaged Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi last Spring, leaving 2.5 million in dire need of humanitarian relief in Mozambique alone. Never in recorded history have cyclones struck there twice in one season.
Learn more HERE.
International Dark-Sky Association
The night sky, filled with stars, is celebrated and protected around the world as a shared heritage benefiting all living things. Our purpose is to protect the night from light pollution. We will realize our vision by guiding strategy, monitoring results, and supporting aligned actions among IDA chapters, volunteers, and other stakeholders. By providing leadership, tools and resources for individuals, policymakers, and industry, we will reduce light pollution and promote responsible outdoor lighting that is beautiful, healthy, and functional. Learn more HERE.
Indigenous Environmental Network: A People’s Orientation to a Regenerative Economy
“This … guides us collectively into a sustainable future, wherein Indigenous sovereignty and values are front and center. This is important because in order to visualize a better path forward, we must reconceptualize our framing away from the capitalistic systems that harm our Grandmother Earth, our Father Sky, our communities, our families, and our futures. We must recognize the way governmental infrastructure, jobs, the environment, and our communities are being negatively impacted by not only the climate crisis and demise of capitalism, but also the way these impacts are exacerbated by a global pandemic with Covid-19. It is our stance that the problems created and perpetuated by colonization and capitalism cannot find solutions in those same frames.” More HERE.
New York Times, Cara Giaimo, July 2: White-Throated Sparrow’s Song Changed
Even if you’re not a bird person, you probably know the jaunty song of the white-throated sparrow. It plays on loop in North America’s boreal forests, a classic as familiar as the chickadee’s trill and the mourning dove’s dirge. It even has its own mnemonic, “Old Sam Peabody-Peabody-Peabody.” But over the past half-century, the song’s hook — its triplet ending — has changed, replaced by a new, doublet-ended variant, according to a paper published Thursday in Current Biology. It seems the sparrows want to sing something new. Go HERE to listen.
Life Lab: BackPocket Activities for Home or Garden
“BackPocket” Activities are easy to do, minimal materials needed, no screen, engaging for kids. Activities are not screen-based (with exception of some instructional videos). They encourage outdoor exploration such as on your porch, yard, or garden. Most everything you need to do these activities you already have. Healthy, plant-based recipes with easily accessible ingredients. Plus tried and true recipes.
YES! Magazine: Learn What Kelp Forests Can Do for the Climate
The capacity to draw CO2 from the atmosphere has added “climate mitigation” to kelp’s list of benefits. When we talk about ways oceans can sequester carbon, the conversation typically revolves around mangroves, salt marshes, and seagrass meadows. But “the magnitude of carbon sequestered by algal forests is comparable to that of all those three habitats together,” says Carlos Duarte, a professor of marine science at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. “Algal forests should not be left behind. They have been hidden for much too long.” This story HERE.
MONTEREY BAY ALGAE GUIDE, FREE
Dip your toes into the world of algae with this illustrated guide to local species and foraging ethics. Download HERE.
National Geo: Murmation, Flight of the Starlings
We know a lot of factual information about the starling—its size and voice, where it lives, how it breeds and migrates—but what remains a mystery is how it flies in murmurations, or flocks, without colliding. This short film by Jan van IJken was shot in the Netherlands, and it captures the birds gathering at dusk, just about to start their “performance.” Listen well and you’ll be able to hear how this beautiful phenomenon got its name. On YouTube.
YES! Magazine: Robin Wall Kimmerer, “Nature Needs A New Pronoun” (Excerpts)
“To stop the age of extinction, let’s ditch the “it”.
Let me make here a modest proposal for the transformation of the English language, a kind of reverse linguistic imperialism, a shift in worldview through the humble work of the pronoun. Might the path to sustainability be marked by grammar?
Inspired by the grammar of animacy and with full recognition of its Anishinaabe roots, might we hear the new pronoun at the end of Bemaadiziiaaki, nestled in the part of the word that means land?
“Ki” to signify a being of the living Earth. Not “he” or “she,” but “ki.” So that when we speak of Sugar Maple, we say, ‘Oh that beautiful tree, ki is giving us sap again this spring.” And we’ll need a plural pronoun, too, for those Earth beings. Let’s make that new pronoun “kin.” So we can now refer to birds and trees not as things, but as our earthly relatives. On a crisp October morning we can look up at the geese and say, “Look, kin are flying south for the winter. Come back soon.”
Language can be a tool for cultural transformation. Make no mistake: “Ki” and “kin” are revolutionary pronouns. Words have power to shape our thoughts and our actions. On behalf of the living world, let us learn the grammar of animacy.”
Patagonia: Learn About Regenerative Organic Farming
Regenerative Organic (RO) is the highest organic standard; it goes beyond “doing less harm” to rehabilitate soil, protect animals and improve the lives of workers. Together, these results represent a more natural way of producing food, a way that’s worked for thousands of years in the past, and one that we need for our future. Instead of adding carbon to the atmosphere, as industrial agriculture does, regenerative organic farming draws carbon out of the air and stores it in the ground. Because healthy soil traps significantly more carbon, regenerative organic agriculture could be the key to helping stop climate change. Learn MORE.
Learn About the Environmental Justice Movement
The environmental justice movement emerged in the late 1980s when a blistering report exposed massive disparities in the burden of environmental degradation and pollution facing minority and low-income communities. These issues existed and had been recognized previously, most notably in 1982 in Warren County, North Carolina, where thousands of tons of PCB-ridden soil was intentionally dumped in a facility in an African American community despite the community’s protest (see photo above). This incident and others sparked research into the environmental and health burden born by these communities, culminating with the publishing of the study Toxic Wastes and Race in 1987. Championed primarily by African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and Pacific Islanders and Native Americans, the environmental justice movement addresses a statistical fact: people who live, work and play in America’s most polluted environments are commonly people of color and the poor. Environmental justice advocates have shown that this is no accident. Communities of color, which are often poor, are routinely targeted to host facilities that have negative environmental impacts — say, a landfill, dirty industrial plant or truck depot. The statistics provide clear evidence of what the movement rightly calls “environmental racism.” Communities of color have been battling this injustice for decades. Learn more HERE.
Image from Grist
Sierra Club: What is A Green New Deal?
“A Green New Deal is a big, bold transformation of the economy to tackle the twin crises of inequality and climate change. It would mobilize vast public resources to help us transition from an economy built on exploitation and fossil fuels to one driven by dignified work and clean energy.
The status quo economy leaves millions behind. While padding the pockets of corporate polluters and billionaires, it exposes working class families, communities of color, and others to stagnant wages, toxic pollution, and dead-end jobs. The climate crisis only magnifies these systemic injustices, as hard-hit communities are hit even harder by storms, droughts, and flooding. Entrenched inequality, meanwhile, exacerbates the climate crisis by depriving frontline communities of the resources needed to adapt and cope. Climate change and inequality are inextricably linked. We cannot tackle one without addressing the other. A Green New Deal would take on both.” More HERE.
Coastal Watershed Council: Action Projects Guide
There are several ways we can all help protect our San Lorenzo River, habitat for hundreds of incredible plant and animal species. This Guide provides opportunities to learn about, explore, and protect the San Lorenzo River from inside your home, around your neighborhood, and along the Santa Cruz Riverwalk! All-ages activities for youth, adults, and families. Some activities require adult supervision.
The guide includes opportunities to: learn about river protection and create a poster to share with your family and neighbors; and to research animals and plants of the San Lorenzo River and create an art project to share information with your community.
A Climate Of Hope, August 5, 3 – 5 pm
Cabrillo College Astro 7: Planetary Climate Science, Dr. Rick Nolthenius. Online beginning Aug 24
Applies scientific principles to explain planetary atmospheres, climate in general and Earth’s climate in particular, including current climate change causes and effects. $230 for 4.5 units of fully transferable college credit. Register.
Advanced Permaculture Design Course, Aug 29 – Sept 5
Do you want to gain more permaculture design experience? This 8-day Advanced Design Course is an excellent follow-up to a Permaculture Design Course. Join Dave Boehnlein of Terra Phoenix Design and the Bullock’s Permaculture Homestead and David Shaw of Santa Cruz Permaculture while we practice together and share what we’ve learned over the years. More INFO
NAACP‘s RESOURCE LIST
1. National Institutes for Environmental Health Sciences—Resources for Educators
2. Classroom Activities—Superfund
3. Taking it to the Class: Green Projects for the Classroom
4. Environmental Justice Teacher Resources
5. Center for Ecogenics and Environmental Health—Resources for Educators
6. And learn more at NAACP Santa Cruz County
The New Yorker: What Will It Take to Cool The Planet? By Bill McKibben
“This week’s newsletter is a little different, in that I mainly want to encourage you to watch a Video and then play with a Website. Both come from the remarkable people at Climate Interactive, a project that grew out of M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management. I’ve admired the group’s co-directors, Elizabeth Sawin and Andrew Jones, for many years, and watched their En-roads simulator grow from fairly crude beginnings into a truly sophisticated and useful model. It allows you to change different variables to see what it would take to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions enough to get us off our current impossible track (screeching toward a world something like four degrees Celsius hotter) and onto the merely miserable heading of 1.5 to two degrees Celsius envisioned in the Paris climate accords.”
Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History: “The Museum At Your Side”
A collection of dozens of hands-on activities, informative articles, and engaging videos to connect you with nature and science wherever you are! There are resources in 3 areas. Community Resources: Activities, guides, lectures, workshops, guided nature experiences, and other resources to support your nature explorations from home or while outside. Activities for Kids: Family-friendly and youth-focused activities, videos, articles, and more to aid in your nature exploration! And, Resources for Teachers: Activities, worksheets, videos, and more developed to support standards and formal learning. Check them out HERE!
NOAA’s “Species in the Spotlight Initiative”: Coho Salmon, 5 minute video
NOAA Fisheries launched the Species in the Spotlight Initiative in 2015 for the nine species at the greatest risk of extinction, and Central California Coast coho salmon is one of those species. NOAA Fisheries recently completed a video highlighting the initiative and some of the great work that is being done to recover this species. I hope you enjoy the video and share it widely. See Species in the Spotlight: CCC coho salmon
SC Natural History Museum: Sourgrass Natural Dye Video Tutorial
Sourgrass (Oxalis sp.) is a plant of extremes: children love its strong flavor, pollinators gorge on its abundant nectar, many adore its ability to overwhelm a field when in bloom, and many still detest the invasive qualities of some of its species. Oxalis pes-caprae, native to South Africa, has made itself comfortably at home in California, forming dense mats that outcompete native plant species for light and space.
Whether you love it or can’t stand it, sourgrass has an interesting hidden quality that is both useful and exciting: it dyes fabric a vibrant, neon, highlighter-yellow color.
Coastal Watershed Council: Become a Steelhead Trout Expert
Steelhead trout are one of the native fish species that calls the San Lorenzo River home. They have a very unique life cycle. Steelhead trout are born and grow up in the river. When they become adults, steelhead trout migrate to the ocean, where they spend up to three years feeding on rich ocean food and growing bigger. Steelhead trout eventually return to the San Lorenzo River to spawn (lay eggs), beginning the cycle anew. In this activity, you will: observe the unique life cycle of steelhead trout in YouTube videos; read text to become experts on one life stage; and create a poster sharing what you learned about your life stage with your class, friends or family. LINK
Elkhorn Slough Reserve Presents: Estuary Steward Challenge
Here are actions we can take in our lives to make everyday Earth Day. Each day, challenge yourself to try a different way to protect estuaries, even while sheltering in place. Snap a photo of yourself completing one of those tasks and add to #EstuaryStewards! Post your photos on our Facebook page!
Organic Farming Research Foundation: New Digital Toolkit for Climate Advocacy
At OFRF, we’ve been working on a virtual campaign to inspire, educate, and inform people on how best organic practices help mitigate climate change and build resilience—leading to healthy people, ecosystems, and economies. Our goal is to encourage more consumers to purchase organic food and increase demand so that together we can expand organic acres to: Capture and store more carbon in the soil for longer; Release fewer greenhouse gases; Help farmers and ranchers increase resilience to rising temperatures and intensified droughts and rain events that make it more challenging to grow crops and raise livestock.
The campaign, A Path to Resilience, launched with the hashtag #OrganicforClimate. It features a series of posts across social media presenting farmer stories, educational content, and compelling data points. Check out their new digital toolkit HERE
Bioneers Radio Series: Revolution From The Heart
The Bioneers Revolution from the Heart of Nature is an award-winning annual 13-part radio and audio series featuring breakthrough solutions for people and planet. The greatest social and scientific innovators of our time celebrate the genius of nature and human ingenuity. The kaleidoscopic scope covers biomimicry, ecological design, social and racial justice, women’s leadership, ecological medicine, indigenous knowledge, spirituality and psychology. It’s leading-edge, hopeful, charismatic, provocative, timely and timeless – like nothing you’ve heard before. Here’s one of them – Erosion & Evolution, Our Undoing is Our Becoming, by Terry Tempest Williams
Audubon Society: Take your birding to the next level.
Now that native plants are helping you attract more birds, do you need help identifying them? Audubon’s award-winning Bird Guide App puts more than 3,000 photos, audio clips of songs and calls, and general information about more than 800 bird species at your fingertips—and best of all, it’s free. Our app makes it easier than ever to identify a bird you just saw. Enter your observations—What color was it? How big?—and Bird ID will narrow down a list of possible matches for your location and date in real time. The Bird Guide App will also help you keep track of every bird you see visiting your native plants. It’s the best bird resources all in one app – download HERE and try it today!
Elkhorn Slough Reserve Presents: Estuary Steward Challenge
Here are actions we can take in our lives to make everyday Earth Day. Each day, challenge yourself to try a different way to protect estuaries, even while sheltering in place. Snap a photo of yourself completing one of those tasks and add to #EstuaryStewards! Post your photos on our Facebook page!
Drone Disguised as Hummingbird Captures Closeup of Monarch Butterfly Swarm
It’s not very often that I watch a video online and react by literally gasping and audibly saying “wow.” This video is simply incredible. In this video from Nature on PBS, you’ll be able to get super close to resting Monarch Butterflies. As they wait for the temperature to rise, they huddle together to keep warm. Without disturbing any of the butterflies, they’ve managed to take close-up footage of the butterflies. The way they’ve managed to do this is by disguising a drone to look like a Hummingbird. Hummingbirds are not a threat to the monarch butterflies, and for that reason they don’t react to it at all.
Satellite Reveals Antarctica’s Melting Like Never Before. New York Times, April 30
New data from space is providing the most precise picture yet of Antarctica’s ice, where it is accumulating most quickly and disappearing at the fastest rate, and how the changes could contribute to rising sea levels. See article HERE
Bioneers Presents Newly Released Edition of “Four Changes” by Gary Snyder
In July 2016, Jack Loeffler recorded Gary Snyder reading his updated version of ‘Four Changes’ in his home. This recorded version was prepared for and included in a major exhibition held at the History Museum of New Mexico at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe. The exhibition was entitled ‘Voices of Counterculture in the Southwest’, and Snyder’s rendering of ‘Four Changes’ aptly conveyed how deeply the counterculture movement helped nurture the emerging environmental movement. The impact of this manifesto is as powerful today as it was a half century ago and could not be more timely.
Elkhorn Slough Reserve Presents their Estuary Steward Challenge
Here are actions we can take in our lives to make everyday Earth Day. Each day, challenge yourself to try a different way to protect estuaries, even while sheltering in place. Snap a photo of yourself completing one of those tasks and add to #EstuaryStewards! Post your photos on our Facebook page!
Bioneers Provides Free Downloadable PDF of Their Book: Ecological Medicine
In light of the pandemic, we’re releasing a free downloadable pdf of our 2004 Bioneers book: Ecological Medicine: Healing the Earth, Healing Ourselves, which could hardly be more relevant right now. Ecological medicine is a unifying field that embodies the recognition that human and environmental health are one notion, indivisible. It’s also a metaphor for the healing process intrinsic to life that applies to both ecosystems and our bodies. Modern medicine’s separation from nature is at the root of many tragedies, both human and environmental, and the current pandemic is an object lesson in how disastrous that disconnection is to us as a society and civilization.
Save The Redwoods League: Spring Birds in the Redwood Forests
Spring migration brings many opportunities to spot some of the coolest birds of the coast redwood and giant sequoia forests. Keep an eye out for some of our favorites below—in your backyard, on your neighborhood walks, or in the forests if you’re lucky enough to have access to them. For a more in-depth guide, download our free Birdwatcher’s Guide to Redwood Forests.
View live (during daylight hours) webcams of:
Monterey Bay Aquarium Jellyfish (7 am – 6 pm)
Herping With Dave at Elkhorn Slough Reserve
Watch this cool video of Reserve Manager Dave Feliz finding and teaching us about our local snakes and lizards.
Audubon Society Free Guide to Finding Bird-Friendly Native Plants for Our Area
“Native plants are the foundation of a region’s biodiversity, providing essential food sources and shelter for birds, especially those threatened by the changing climate. In the US, a native plant is defined as one that was naturally found in a particular area before European settlement. Native plants are adapted to local precipitation and soil conditions, they generally require less upkeep, therefore helping the environment and saving you time, water, and money. The key to getting started is picking the right plants for your area.
The Best Results for your area (95060) have been hand-selected by Audubon experts in your region. They are important bird resources that are relatively easy to grow and are available at native plant nurseries.” Resource guide HERE.
Elkhorn Slough Reserve Presents their Estuary Steward Challenge
Subscribe to Carbon180 – Free!
Even if we stop emitting CO2 today it won’t be enough. Keep informed of the latest research in removing carbon from the atmosphere. Subscribe for free HERE.
You can also register for AirMiners Virtual Conference, May 13, 10:30 am – 3 pm, on Zoom. Building a foundation for a carbon negative future. Share recent developments, foster productive networking, provide media exposure, and take the opportunity presented by COVID-19 to bring a tangible, actionable climate narrative forward.
Oceana presents: Mantis Shrimp Mobile Eyes!
Grow your own veggies? Orin Martin offers tips for novice gardeners
Orin Martin is delighted that people are responding to the coronavirus pandemic with a desire to grow their own veggies, and he has lots of knowledge to share—as well as one plea: Be sure to plant some flowers, too. “I always say, vegetables are food for the body, and flowers are food for the spirit and soul,” said Martin, manager of the Alan Chadwick Garden at UCSC. Timing is good, with temperatures warming up, and local nurseries stocked with seeds and seedlings—and many offering curbside pickup, too. Access HERE
Fantastic Fungi, directed by Louie Schwartzberg
A consciousness-shifting 90 minute film that takes us on an immersive journey through time and scale into the magical earth beneath our feet, an underground network that can heal and save our planet. Through the eyes of renowned scientists and mycologists like Paul Stamets, best-selling authors Michael Pollan, Eugenia Bone, Andrew Weil and others, we become aware of the beauty, intelligence and solutions the fungi kingdom offers us in response to some of our most pressing medical, therapeutic, and environmental challenges. See TRAILER. View the film for $5 – info HERE
From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology : Feeder Setups For Great Bird Photos, Gerrit Vyn
“One of the best places to work on your photographic skills, capture lots of action, and build a nice portfolio of passerine subjects is right in your own backyard. There are many excellent books and online resources dedicated to bird feeding, so rather than replicate that here, I will focus on things you’ll want to pay attention to for photography.” Access HERE
Coastal Watershed Council: A Clean River Starts On Your Street
Your home is connected to the San Lorenzo River and the ocean. Rain or running water travels from your yard or driveway, down your street to the nearest storm drain. On the way, it picks up anything in its path, including trash and pollution. When it enters the storm drain, the water moves through underground pipes and empties into the river. You can keep your river clean by finding pollution and stopping it before it goes down your storm drain. See all of the Coastal Watershed Council’s activities HERE
UCSC Kraw Lecture Series: Where Did it All Come From, and Where is it All Going?
The physical universe, Anthony Aguirre will argue, is made of matter (or energy) and of order (or information). Aguirre will trace the 13.8 billion year history of this matter/energy told by modern cosmology, as it has developed into ever-more sophisticated order and structure: galaxies and their arrangement, stars, planets, life, and very recently and locally, civilization. The survival of civilization—and life itself—through the coming century is not assured, but if it continues, what could its future look like over thousands or millions of years? No one knows, but touring topics from fundamental physics to the nature of intelligence, Aguirre will lay out some of the possibilities. On YouTube
From Save the Redwoods: “The Redwoods have stood tall through histories of disaster and destruction and are still here to help us breathe. While schools are closed and shelter-in-place is in effect throughout California, the forests can remind us of our opportunity to connect.” From home you can:
Virtually explore the redwood forest through our redwood websearch;
Play a game! (Print out the cards, or get creative by drawing pictures and making your own version.)
Read about the redwoods and complete the activities in our coast redwood and giant sequoia education brochures.
Reserve your spot for free Home Learning Programs that highlight coast redwood, giant sequoia, and other amazing state parks via the PORTS distance-learning program from California State Parks.
How To Teach Nature Journaling, By John Muir Laws & Emilie Lygren
31 hands-on field activities to connect art, science, math, and critical thinking, while encouraging students and mentors alike to recognize and record the wonder and beauty in the natural world. Courtesy of John Muir Laws, “download this book for free! If you like the book, consider also buying the full version and making a donation to directly support Heyday, our amazing non-profit publisher”.
Global Warming I: The Science and Modeling of Climate Change
Brought to you free by Coursera, this class describes the science of global warming and the forecast for humans’ impact on Earth’s climate. Intended for an audience without much scientific background but a healthy sense of curiosity, the class brings together insights and perspectives from physics, chemistry, biology, earth and atmospheric sciences, and even some economics—all based on a foundation of simple mathematics (algebra).
Free Tips And Tricks Of The Photography Trade, Generously Compiled by Bay Photo Lab
So that you can take even better nature photos when the restrictions lift, “Here are 10 of our favorite leading education sources with a wealth of free education:
KelbyOne – Scott Kelby is releasing all KelbyOne Webcasts for free on his Facebook page
SLR Lounge – Weekly photography news and insights
CreativeLive – Select classes are free, including the mental and physical health track
Professional Photographers of America – In It Together – 1,100 classes for free
Fujifilm – 52 weeks of education for free
Nikon School Online – Stream every class for free for the month of April
Canon – Photography Tips & Tutorials
PetaPixel – A leading blog covering the wonderful world of photography
Phlearn – Free Lightroom and Photoshop tutorials
Advancing Your Photography – Over 400 videos exploring photography tips from professionals”
How to Be a Backyard Carbon Farmer, By Acadia Tucker
Planting a garden is a powerful act. It gives each of us with access to a little dirt the power to feed ourselves healthy food, as well as something we can do about the threat of climate change. Plants are the ultimate and cheapest way to suck excess carbon dioxide out of the air. Almost all atmospheric carbon passes through plants during photosynthesis, the process that turns carbon, sunlight, and water into sugars and carbohydrates. Plant roots release carbon-rich sugars that feed organisms in the soil. In exchange, these critters make nutrients in the soil available to the plant. As plants die back each winter, they drop leaves and branches and even the roots die off. Over time this debris decomposes, adding even more nutrients and carbon to the soil. From Sustainable America.
The Museum At Your Side: Activities for Kids
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, brings you home and outdoor family-friendly activities, videos, articles, and more to aid in your nature exploration!
On YouTube: BBC Short Video – Kung Fu Mantis Vs Jumping Spider
This is a great 4 minute drama (could be upsetting for young children)
Protect the Cumberland Plateau
Environment California: “Thousands of acres of wild forests, rolling hills and crashing mountain waterfalls may be under attack. The Trump administration is considering opening 75,000 acres of Tennessee’s protected Cumberland Plateau to strip mining for coal. For me, this issue is deeply personal. The strip mining site would tear apart the mountains mere miles from my hometown in Tennessee, and threaten the wild, beautiful places I explored as a child.” Take Action
Visit National Marine Sanctuaries Through Stunning Images and Videos – FREE
Ready to get excited about marine life? Dive into the abundance of photos in our Flickr account to view and download high resolution, public domain photos. Print out some of your favorite photos to create a collage of your ideal underwater ecosystem. You can even take yourself on a virtual dive tour of national marine sanctuaries through our gallery of 360° photos and our new 360° dive video. Need more general ocean and atmosphere photos? Check out the NOAA Photo Library.
Santa Cruz County Guidelines HERE
This is a long detailed list of what Greenwaste accepts for recycling.
Enlightening and Uplifting Films:
Voices For The Ocean, From Patagonia – How’s this for wholesome? Three women, united by their love of surfing, are inspired to help protect the planet together. The ocean plays a huge role in the lives of many Aussies. It’s a place of fun, freedom, and for Patagonia ambassadors Belinda Baggs, Liz Clarke and Moona Whyte, it’s what led them all to a life of committed environmental activism. This film takes a deep dive into the lives of these three incredible women, to discover how their love of a good wave motivated them to speak up for the sea.
Audubon Society Presents: Baby Waterbirds to Make You Squeal,
While March 22 was World Water Day, we can always celebrate this essential resource. Let’s take a moment to celebrate the birds it sustains. That’s a pleasure—especially when they’re so ridiculously cute. Check out this collection by photographer William Burt, whose images speak of the love he has for wetland birds and their young. 7 Photos. We share that love, so we’re happy to share his extraordinary work. We hope you enjoy it and share it, too, to mark World Water Day.