Archive for November, 2009

Time for solutions

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009 | Environment Update | No Comments

Tired of researchers that just elaborate on problems but never dare to take sides or provide ideas on how to overcome them? In January 2010 the Solutions Journal launches  with a web site already available. Here you can find an ideas lab for growing innovations and for presenting your own vision together with leading environmentalists.

Check out Solutions Journal

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Winter preparations

Monday, November 16th, 2009 | Explore Everyday Nature | No Comments

Winter is here. Still, in many places without below freezing temperatures, ice and snow. One might think that there is almost nothing going on in brown-grayish colored nature. But even if slowed down, nature is not resting. While some organisms prepare for winter others are preparing for spring.

  • Help the birds that struggle for survival when it gets colder. Create a bird feeding place near where you live or on the way to school/work. This becomes a great spot for you to see many different species and also get a chance to observe their behaviour. Try to identify the birds and create a list of all species you have seen during the winter. Check out bird feeding practicalities.
  • What is the “green stuff” covering stones, tree trunks and even walls? November is “happy hour” for moss. When nothing else is growing they enjoy the wet conditions and grow fast. Taking a closer look, you will find a great diversity of form. Some look like palm trees and others like lettuce. Which one is your favorite?  Check out pictures of moss.

    moss, image courtesy: Sara Borgström

    moss, image courtesy: Sara Borgström

  • Become a phenologist. Many plants have already prepared for spring.  Before they slow down and their green parts wither, they make sure that everything is set when the temperature rise and the days become longer. Phenologists observe signs of seasonal changes like bird migrations and the start of flowering. Start right now by looking closer at the tree branches and under the leaves.
Hazel, image courtesy: Sara Borgström

Hazel, image courtesy: Sara Borgström

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Possibilities of the commons

Monday, November 16th, 2009 | Environment Update | No Comments

Ever heard of the tragedy of commons? This concept argues that a common resource, like a fish stock, fresh water or common piece of land, can’t be used sustainably. This is because all users will try to take as much as they can without regard for the effect on others and in the future. The usual solution to this problem is privatisation or governmental regulations. Elinor Ostrom, professor in political science and 2009 Nobel laureate in economic sciences, has shown that the tragedy of commons is not a law of nature. Ostrom’s research examines communities that have been successful in the long-term sustainable management of their resources. Due to mutual dependency and respect cattle farmers in Switzerland, crop farmers in Spain and fishermen in Turkey have found ways to avoid the tragedy of commons. It is a great achievement for a researcher with an environmental focus to receive a prize in economics.

Check out Elinor Ostrom seminar at Stockholm Resilience Center

Recommended reading: Governing the commons by Elinor Ostrom (1989)

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Biomimicry

Monday, November 16th, 2009 | Nature @ Your Service | No Comments

One ecosystem services is when nature is used for education. The best way of understanding ecology is to explore it outdoors. To have a personal relation to nature is essential to environment friendly behavior. Biomimicry is another angel of nature education, where nature is used as a source of solutions to human problems. The idea is to look how the same problem is solved in nature and try to mimic that by using technology. One classic example is how airplanes are designed similar to birds. More recently biomimicry has moved to a smaller scale, investigating molecules and microscopic surface structures that could be used to create water resistant paints.

Check out more examples at the Biomimicry Institute

Tropical butterfly

Tropical butterfly

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Green is the color of nature

Monday, November 16th, 2009 | Green Wonders | No Comments

Often nature is regarded as synonymous with green. The green color comes from the molecule called chlorophyll. This molecule is essential for photosynthesis – a process whereby carbon dioxide and water become oxygen and carbohydrates with the help of the sun. Each breath we take is dependent on this oxygen producing process in leaves, needles, herbs and grasses.
Falling temperature and fewer hours of daylight tell the trees that winter is coming. It is time to withdraw the chlorophyll from the leaves and store it for spring’s fresh foliage. When the green is gone the yellow background color of the leaves appears. The red color on the other hand is produced by the tree exclusively during the autumn and there is no clear understanding of why. Maybe the purpose is to scare damaging insects away. The brown leaves that fall to the ground seems to be dead but contain necessary nutrients for springtime greenery.

Oak leaves

Oak leaves

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Why care about a meeting in Copenhagen?

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009 | Environment Update | No Comments

The highest level of carbon dioxide ever in the atmosphere has just been recorded. Still, we do not know how this will affect us and our livelihoods. There are many signs of climate change such as melting glaciers, altered weather conditions and changed plant distributions. From individual to global level, our task is to decrease our emissions of green house gases and to find strategies to cope with the changes ahead.

In the beginning of December, the UN gathers the world community (15,000 delegates from 192 countries) to decide on reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and other green house gases. This discussion is a continuation of the Kyoto-protocol that ends 2012. The Kyoto-protocol is ratified by 187 countries in the world. One of the weaknesses of this protocol is that the world’s greatest emitter of carbon dioxide, the United States, has not ratified the agreement. One of the key issues in Copenhagen is therefore to create a truly global protocol. Key challenges are how to deal with the developed countries historical responsibility for today’s situation and how to support developing countries in their future transition into energy saving technology. The decisions reached in Copenhagen will determine the future of the planet as well as having an impact on almost all aspects of our daily life.

UN site on the Climate Convention

UN campaign for political will and public support for a comprehensive agreement

Recommended reading: High Tide by Mark Lynas (2004)

February sun over Istanbul, image courtesy Sara Borgström

February sun over Istanbul, image courtesy Sara Borgström

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