Save the Coffee! No, but seriously

You know that precious cup of coffee that gets you from “awake-ish” to functional in the morning?

Well the industry is suffering. From lack of genetic diversity due to bottle necks and no funding for conservation research.

And of course, my favorite: disease.

Read about it here!

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Susan B. Anchovy: the story of a whitefish

When you study fish in Alaska, you may find yourself covered in slime. During one slime-intensive day, Duncan Green and his field assistant were wading in knee-deep ocean 200 feet offshore. They looked back to see a polar bear perched on the bed of the truck, sniffing around for helpless terrestrial mammals covered in delicious fish goo. In reality, the bear was probably just checking out the truck, but Duncan had to call for someone to drive out and scare the bear away before they could head back in. Just another day in the life of Duncan Green, fish biologist!

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At the end of an exciting 2017 field season, 220 fish, including the illustrious Susan B. Anchovy and Edgar Allen Cod, were live-shipped on ice from the North Slope to the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. Duncan studies broad whitefish (Coregonus nasus), an Arctic Alaskan species that is an important subsistence food for coastal villages like Kaktovik, Nuiqsut, and Utqiaġvik. Although it is well known that the Arctic is warming faster than other parts of the planet, it is not well understood how ecosystems will respond to this change. To add one small piece to this big puzzle, Duncan is investigating how warming waters may influence whitefish growth rates. Will Susan and Edgar grow big and healthy in warmer waters? Or might they be stressed by an environment that’s just too hot, inhibiting growth? Time, and the data, will tell.

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Duncan is a well-rounded man. Beyond his identity as an aspiring fishy scientist, he is also a fat-tire biker (completed the White Mountains 100, a human-powered race through Alaska’s Interior), makes a mean pizza cake (fourteen layers of frozen pizza and pizza rolls, baked all together and topped with cream cheese frosting), and also ice fishes for fish for food. Itching to hear a classic cinematic monologue? Duncan delivers a moving recitation of Quint’s “Indianapolis” speech from the 1975 film Jaws. In short, Duncan is a most colorful person and adds a lot of life to any potluck, field expedition, or fish-naming production.

Speaking of winners: sea stars are rocking this climate change era

Most sea stars look like something that Dr. Seuss made dreamed up. This is especially true of the whimsical feather stars. And while corals and other sea creatures are suffering, feather stars are thriving.

This seems to be due in part to their ability to regenerate their arms. Feather stars have infinite potential to regenerate arms, and in warmer waters they are able to do so faster.

Want to know more about these infinitely limbed winners of the climate change debacle? Read about it here!

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Killer whales are winning on climate change

Change creates winners and losers, and that includes climate change, especially at the top of the world. On the losing side of the environmental ledger we find the polar bear, floating glumly on its ever-shrinking ice floe.

On the winning side, a new apex predator is cruising northern waters.

Which might be causing problems for other species of whales… read about it here!

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After thousands of years, the Giant African baobab trees are suddenly dying

Baobab trees, some of the oldest and biggest trees in Africa, are abruptly dying. 9 of the 13 oldest individuals, aged between 1,100 and 2,500 years have died in the last decade.

This is unprecedented, and scientist speculate that it’s due to climate change.

Want to know more about these trees, and what might be leading to their demise? Read about it here!

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The Synchronized Swimming of Sea Monkeys

Tiny crustaceans complete a massive daily vertical migration in the world’s oceans. New research suggests their commute may play an important role in the health of the planet.

Dr. Dabiri, an engineering professor at Stanford University, suspected there was more than could be seen by the naked eye in the movements of these small marine creatures. And in a paper published in Nature, he offered evidence that they are capable of playing a vital role in mixing up the many layers of the oceans and the minerals they contain.

Want to know more about this vital dance? Read about it here.

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Superheroes might save the world, but they’d totally wreck the environment

 

Miles Traer and two colleagues have calculated the carbon footprint for nine heroes from the comic book canon — and realized that Earth might be better off if they stopped trying to save it.

In a poster presentation, Traer attempted to get people to think about their own carbon footprints by analyzing nine super heros: Oracle, the Flash, Batman, Iron Man, Jessica Jones, Firebird, Spider-Man, Superman and Swamp Thing. Spider-Man needs to manufacture his carbon nanotube webbing. Firebird depends on combustion to conjure tornadoes of flame. The Flash must eat a ton of meat to maintain his super fast speeds.

“If I calculate my own carbon footprint, that’s a bummer,” Traer says. “But if I calculate it for Batman, things get interesting.”

To further make his point, Traer considers how his heroes might lessen their impact on the environment. By going vegetarian, the Flash could reduce his emissions from 90 million pounds of carbon dioxide to just 3 million. If Bruce Wayne stopped spending money on Batman gear, he could pay for carbon offsets for the entire population of downtown Chicago.

The implied message: If a masked vigilante with too much money and a shortage of good judgment can redeem himself, you can, too.

Want to know more? Read about it here!

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Scientists really aren’t the best champions of climate science

I spend a lot of time thinking about the best way to communicate science (you might have noticed) and a recent video by Vox makes a good point.

Communicating about climate change might not be up to the scientists… because people are tired of hearing us talk about it.

Let me know what you think, could you become a voice for climate change?

Tree-Eating Beetles March Northward, Lured by Milder Winters

For lovers of the stately pine forests of the Northeast, sightings of a destructive tree-eating beetle in recent years have been nothing short of alarming.

Now, new research from climatologists at Columbia University confirms what ecologists feared: Warmer winters mean the southern pine beetle is here to stay, and is set to march ever northward as temperatures rise.

Historically, the tiny beetles, which starve evergreens to death, were largely unheard-of north of Delaware. The Northeast’s cold winters killed off any intruders.

The winters are no longer cold enough.

Want to know more? Read about it here!

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