Environment

Bill Schlesinger's Blog

August 20- Soon college campuses will be bustling with activity for the new fall semester. We are sure to hear a call from students to sell endowment investments in the fossil fuel industry. Bill McKibben’s group 350.org believes it is immoral to own stock in companies that are contributing to global warming. Already, Stanford has eliminated its investments in the coal industry, and a small number of other universities have divested to varying degrees.

'The wonderfully raucous cries of the Northern Raven can once more be heard throughout the Northeast.'- Dianne 

Dianne Engleke is an artist, photographer and naturalist living in beautiful Dutchess County, NY.

This story originally ran May 21-June 4, 2014 and is being re-posted to link with a story on the future of the Hudson River by Antonia Shoumatoff:  http://themillbrookindependent.com/news/hudson-river%E2%80%99s-future

Among the results of fracking is a significant increase in the volume of crude oil produced in the United States, oil that must be transported to refineries.  We are finding that much of that oil travels by rail where regulations designed to protect the communities through which the trains travel are few. Train wrecks involving crude oil shipments are of concern to everyone in the Hudson region because much of this crude oil is travelling down the tracks that border the river.    Here Tom Parrett begins a multi-part exploration of the problem.    

Bill Schlesinger's Blog

August 14-

After carbon dioxide and methane, the third most important “greenhouse” gas in Earth’s atmosphere derived from human activities is nitrous oxide (N2O). It is odorless and colorless and most familiar to us as the laughing gas used as an anesthetic in the dentist’s office. Chemically it contains two nitrogen atoms and one oxygen atom in a linear molecule.   It is derived naturally from the action of microbes in soils and seawater, and the rising concentration of N2O in Earth’s atmosphere largely stems from the increasing use of nitrogen fertilizers, which are transformed by soil microbes producing a small amount of N2O as a byproduct. .

'Sleepy cows and young Brown-headed Cowbirds, a familiar sight on our still rural landscape.'- Dianne

Dianne Engleke is an artist, photographer and naturalist living in beautiful Dutchess County, NY.

Bill Schlesinger's Blog

July 10-There are lots of potential impacts associated with the ongoing changes in global climate, and changes in the distribution of vegetation are among them. Most plant species have adapted physiologically to the range of climate conditions, especially extremes, where we find them today. If the climate changes, their habitat is likely to shift as well. This is true for crop and forestry plants, as well as native species.

When I mention range shifts to those who are agnostic to climate change, I often get a shrug of the shoulders.   Or, at best, I hear some mention of how new varieties and cultivation of crops in new areas will compensate for the shifts in climate. When I mention that the shifts in climate will affect the production and quality of wine, then they listen up.

by Tonia Shoumatoff

Combining art and science may seem like a new idea, but the two are intrinsically interlinked and are complementary. Natural pigmentation can be a learning tool for studying science.  Extracting natural pigments from soils and rocks were familiar to indigenous and prehistoric peoples and provided the colors for such extraordinary cave paintings as those in the Lascaux caves in Dordogne, France.

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