mfioretti: wilderness*

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  1. exposure to nature has specific effects on our executive attentional system, which can become worn down due to the demands made of it by urban life.

    Permanent background noise, compulsive and increasingly compulsory engagement with technology, the demands of multi-tasking and the necessity of constantly having to respond to sudden, disruptive stimuli place a severe strain on our cognitive functions. By contrast, natural environments are rich in the characteristics necessary for the brain to replenish itself.
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2018-01-10)
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  2. We must not let the northern whites die in vain. It is our duty to learn from them, and to prevent the future decimation of rhinos and other species on our planet. The future of rhinos is not doomed, it is in the balance, waiting for us to determine the outcome. Vigilance, commitment and determination can preserve the rhinos, and in the end, our own fates as well.
    Tags: , by M. Fioretti (2015-03-21)
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  3. So what’s the solution? Given the options, blasting fish over dams in air cannons doesn’t sound quite as outlandish as you might think. Waldman and Taurek advocate for nature-like fishways, meandering streams that go around dams and mimic the native ecosystem. They say they’re the best alternative for fish viability, but, because they need to be low angle, and require a lot of land, they don’t make sense in many situations, especially on high head hydro dams in the West. “I’m not totally anti fish ladder,” Waldman says, “there are some small rivers and streams where fish ladders work great for river herring, but I think all dams should have an existential crisis, to see if they’re really necessary.”
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2015-02-01)
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  4. The forests – and suburbs – of Europe are echoing with the growls, howls and silent padding of large predators according to a new study which shows that brown bears, wolves and lynx are thriving on a crowded continent.

    Despite fears that large carnivores are doomed to extinction because of rising human populations and overconsumption, a study published in Science has found that large predator populations are stable or rising in Europe.

    Brown bear, wolf, the Eurasian lynx and wolverine are found in nearly one-third of mainland Europe (excluding Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia), with most individuals living outside nature reserves, indicating that changing attitudes and landscape-scale conservation measures are successfully protecting species which have suffered massive persecution throughout human history.
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  5. "More than 100 years ago, timber was used for almost everything: as fuel wood, for metal production, furniture, house construction. Hence, at around 1900 there was hardly any forest areas left in Europe. Especially after World War II, many countries started massive afforestation programs which are still running today," Fuchs told The Washington Post.

    As a result, Europe's forests grew by a third over the last 100 years. At the same time, cropland decreased due to technological innovations such as motorization, better drainage and irrigation systems: Relatively fewer area was needed to produce the same amount of food. Furthermore, many people migrated from rural to urban areas, or overseas.

    Fuchs' fascinating conclusion: Forests and settlements grew at the same time and Europe is a much greener continent today than it was 100 years ago.
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  6. Wolf packs also have an important educational role, as the experienced wolves pass on their knowledge. Killing them impairs this social learning. If the rest of the pack hasn’t learnt the skills necessary to take on bison or elk they may instead turn towards easier pickings on the farm.

    This same behaviour has been seen in lions and cougars (although has not been documented in many other carnivore species).
    When culls go wrong

    It is interesting to note that this paradoxical finding is not just found in relation to wolves – lethal control of cougars (or mountain lions) also means the remainder kill more cows and sheep as younger, inexperienced cougars are more likely to attack livestock.
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  7. n modern life, man doesn’t have the freedom to do any of these things. Instead, he is forced into an existence that is not under his control.

    Max Weber’s "Iron Cage"

    For example, the American wilderness once purified its own water. Floating logs, beaver dams, and wetlands would filter the water to sustain life around it. More information

    But when the Europeans moved across the US, they began overhunting beaver, logging trees, and destroying wetlands. Then, industrial pollution made much of the water completely undrinkable.

    Now, many people don’t even have the choice to provide for themselves independently. They are forced to rely on large organizations to filter their water, which forces them to work for other large organizations so they can pay for the water, and so on.

    This trend of creating problems that only technological systems can solve will continue because it is integral to the whole techno-program.
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  8. Climate change is shrinking goats. And fast. A Durham University study of Alpine chamois mountain goats shows that the critters have downsized a startling 25 percent in 30 years. While that is great news for bridge trolls, for the rest of us, it’s rather alarming.

    Previous studies have fingered climate change as the culprit in shrinking other species, from fish to salamanders to polar bears. But in those cases, the shrinkage could be attributed to other factors such as a reduction in food supply, changes in prey behavior, or exceedingly cold pool water. (Seriously Marsha, it’s a thing.) But in the case of the goats, their food supply has been steady, while temperatures in their high-mountain habitat have risen between 3 and 4 degrees Celsius over the last three decades.

    As the temperatures rise, the researchers say, the goats get lazy. They spend more time resting and less time eating. This may be a good strategy in the short term, as larger animals in the same species don’t do as well when it’s hotter. And the goat population has actually increased in those 30 years.

    So what’s the problem, you ask? Lighter-weight animals do better when it’s hot, but struggle when it’s cold, so if the seasons don’t warm equally, or if freakishly harsh winters become more common, it could go badly for the goats.
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  9. why we have to consider more risky and intensive conservation options such as translocations: the intentional movement and release of endangered creatures for conservation benefit.

    There is a spectrum of conservation translocations. Reinforcing existing threatened populations by “topping up” with individuals taken from other areas where they thrive increases numbers and genetic diversity, which improves their ability to withstand change and disease. Reintroductions are attempts to restore populations after they have gone locally extinct.

    More risky and uncertain is the controversial technique of conservation introductions. The two techniques are assisted colonisation, in which species are moved from their native range where they are threatened to somewhere they have never naturally inhabited in order to preserve them, and ecological replacements, where a suitable substitute species is introduced to perform the ecological role of one that has become extinct.
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  10. We now know that, thanks to climate change, we’ve left no place unmolested and inadvertently put our fingerprints on even the most unpeopled corners of the planet. This reality has pushed respected scientists to advocate what many wilderness partisans past and present would consider blasphemy: We need to rethink the Wilderness Act. We need to toss out the “hands-off” philosophy that has guided our stewardship for 50 years. We must replace it with a more nuanced, flexible approach — including a willingness to put our hands on America’s wildest places more, not less, if we’re going to help them to adapt and thrive in the diminished future we’ve thrust upon them.

    Of course, this whole get-our-hands-dirty approach to ecosystem management draws the same (very valid) criticisms as geoengineering. Solomon paraphrases ecologist Peter Landres: “Isn’t it a fool’s errand to try to manage what we don’t fully understand, at a time when the context is changing and the precise future is uncertain?”
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