Archive for August, 2008

Protection for California’s Coastal Waters

Friday, August 29th, 2008

     A big chunk of central California’s coastal waters is permanently off-limits to fishing.  And more sections of California coastline will also be protected in the next few years. 

     This is very good news because overfishing in these waters had resulted in plummeting fish populations.   For example, in some areas, the catch of bocaccio, a rockfish, had fallen by more than 98 percent between the late 1970s and the late 1990s.  Most of the big fish were gone, with fishermen resorting to younger, smaller fish.  And catching the young fish means they will reproduce very few times or maybe not at all, resulting in far fewer fish overall.

     The fishing restriction is the result of California’s Marine Life Protection Act, the first law of its kind in the nation.  The Act mandates a comprehensive system of offshore protected areas and is supported by a full 75 percent of Californians, even including fishing groups.  The Act is widely viewed as a significant step in reviving fish populations and productive habitat all along the state’s coast. 

     The law will ultimately establish a comprehensive network of Marine Protected Area (MPA)s along California’s 1,100 mile coastline, and the first chunk  was set aside last year.  This area, between San Jose and Point Conception near Santa Barbara, totals about 200 square miles.  Kelp forests and other near-shore habitats have effectively been turned into “no-take” zones. 

     The next area slated for protection, a portion of the north central coast, should be under protection by late next year, according to Kaitilin Gaffney, Project Director at the Ocean Conservancy, an advocacy organization with offices in coastal locations around the country. 

     Research shows that even relatively small marine reserves, if chosen carefully, can help declining species, especially slower-moving fish and invertebrates that do not move far, Gaffney explains.    Some of the major beneficiaries of the law include Dungeness crabs, sea urchins, prawns, and rockfish, and of course their predators–sea birds and sea otters.      

     The Marine Life Protection Act is an excellent step in the right direction.  I hope the other coastal states in the U.S. will follow suit!

     For more detailed information from the Ocean Conservancy about the portion of the California coast now under protection, please click on the following:

 http://www.caloceans.org/central/

–April Moore   

More Iceberg Photos

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

I appreciated the enthusiastic response when I posted photos of icebergs before.  Here are more photos, compliments of Jim Zelenski.  It amazes me that ice can be so varied! 

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Recycling Made Easier

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

     Most people have a generally favorable attitude toward recycling.  Of course it’s a good thing to do, and most of us know how to recycle our bottles and cans.  But what do we do with outdated computer equipment, old car batteries, and unwanted furniture?  

     Well, unless you live in a rural area like I do, you can easily find out how to recycle many things you didn’t know you could recycle.  Just go to www.earth911.org.  Type in the item you want to get rid of responsibly and your city or zip code.  If there are places in your area that will accept the item, they will appear on your screen.

     I am enthusiastic about www.earth911.org.  Not only can you use it to find ways to rid yourself of unwanted stuff, but you can also find out how to get rid of toxic or hazardous household, automotive, and electronic items that should not be thrown in the trash.  Simply type in the item you want to dispose of safely, and your city or zip code.  You will find out where you can take the item for safe disposal.

     But www.earth911.org  is more than a great resource for responsibly ridding yourself of items you no longer need.  Visiting the site also allows you to educate yourself , in just a few minutes, about the impact of some of the products that might be sitting in your garage or bathroom closet.  Just consult the site’s primer on how to tell whether a particular household product is toxic to humans or animals or harmful to the environment, and if so, how to safely dispose of it.  

     WWW.earth911.org also focuses on product stewardship.  This means thinking about the products you buy, from their manufacture, through their use, and ultimately to their disposal and their impact on the environment. 

     After all, the products we use do have an impact on global warming and pollution.  And clearly, some products are more environmentally friendly than others.  Find out how to make your purchases more earth-friendly, how to use wisely the products you do buy, and how to get rid of  products in an earth-friendly way when you  finish with them.

     Please visit www.earth911.com.  I can’t think of a better recycling–and recycling education– resource.–April Moore 

  

Taking Time to Savor Nature

Monday, August 25th, 2008

     This short excerpt from Henry David Thoreau’s WALDEN is very apt for me and, I suspect, for many people.  Nature is all too often merely the background in which I live my busy life.  But taking the time to stop and enjoy the sound of a bird singing or the smell of a flower can be one of the real treats of my day.–April Moore 

     “There were times when I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of the head or hands.  I love a broad margin to my life.  Sometimes on a summer morning I sit in a sunny doorway from sunrise until noon.  I grow in these seasons, like corn in the night.”

The Resilience of Life

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

     The seeds of many plants can germinate, even after an amazingly long time.  According to SCIENCE magazine, scientists have grown a Judean date palm tree from a 2,000 year old seed!

     The seed is the oldest seed ever known to germinate, according to SCIENCE.  Previously, the oldest was a 1,300 year old Chinese lotus seed.  

     The good news is that life is so persistent.  A seed, lying dormant for so many years, may still have what it takes to produce a healthy plant.  The sad news is that this sapling is the only living Judean date palm.  It may be the last link to the forests that once shaded and nourished the Middle East. 

     Using carbon dating, scientists were able to place the date palm seed at Masada around the time of the Roman siege of 73 AD.  One thousand Jews committed suicide at Masada, rather than surrender to the Romans.  Scientists believe the Jews may have been eating dates up on the mountain and looking down at the Roman soldiers.–April Moore

A Prayer from Albert Schweitzer

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

     I know very little about Albert Schweitzer, the great humanitarian who spent many years working in Africa.  But this prayer embodies the great kindness and empathy I associate with him.  It is so important, I think, to extend compassion beyond humanity, to the other animals with whom we share the planet.  We humans are often too quick to assume that because animals are different from humans, they do not experience emotions.–April Moore

     Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends the animals, especially for animals who are suffering, for any that are hunted or lost, or deserted or frightened or hungry, for all that must be put to death.  We entreat for them all thy mercy and pity and for those who deal with them we ask a heart of compassion and gentle hands and kindly words.  Make us, ourselves, to be true friends to animals and so to share the blessings of the merciful.

Stay Fit–and Green

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

     Now that summer is in its final days, and it’s cooling off in many places, take a look out the window.  There are lots of fitness opportunities beckoning.  After all, when was the last time you heard anyone extol ’the great indoors?’ 

     Outdoor exercise can be fun, green, and certainly inexpensive.  You can save the cost of a gym membership and the gas required to drive to the gym.  Here are five easy, green, and cheap ways to stay fit, while also enjoying the outdoors:

1.  Walk.  Walking is one of the best forms of exercise there is.  A brisk walk is good for your mental health as well, studies show and many of us can affirm from experience.  No doubt there are many options for you.  Whether it’s a brisk walk around your neighborhood, a jaunt with your canine companion, or a power walk along a wooded trail or hiker-biker path, you can likely find a way to walk that  gives you both pleasure and some good aerobic exercise.  

2.  Run.  You don’t need to be a marathoner to enjoy jogging.  If you haven’t run in awhile, start slowly with a short, slow jog.  And add speed and distance over time.  Running is a great way to enjoy outdoor sights, sounds, and smells, whether you’re running through your neighborhood or through the woods.

3.  Ride your bike.  Going for a spin on the bike can be very pleasurable.  And biking has the advantage over walking that you can actually get some place without too much extra effort.  See how many of your errands you can do by bike.  There’s a good chance you can leave the car at home more than you might think if you’re able to devote a little more time to getting places.

4.  Make fitness a social occasion.  A regularly scheduled walk, hike, or bike ride with a friend is a good motivator and a good way to maintain regular contact with a friend.  And it’s cheaper and better for you than meeting for lunch or coffee.

5.  Take up an outdoor sport like tennis.  Whether you play well or not, it’s good exercise, especially if  engaging in a competition gets you outside more easily than just ‘exercising’ for its own sake  —April Moore

    

The Woodspurge

Monday, August 18th, 2008

I’m not sure I really understand this poem by Dante Gabriel Rosetti.  But I do feel that if I were in a similar situation, head bowed in grief, I would find comfort and distraction in the miracle of a single plant in my range of sight.

The wind flapped loose, the wind was still,
Shaken out dead from tree and hill;
I had walked on at the wind’s will,–
I sat now, for the wind was still.

Between my knees my forehead was,–
My lips, drawn in, said not Alas!
My hair was over in the grass,
My naked ears heard the day pass.

My eyes, wide open, had the run
Of some ten weeds to fix upon;
Among those few, out of the sun,
The woodspurge flowered, three cups in one

From perfect grief there need not be
Wisdom or even memory:
One thing then learnt remains to me,–
The woodspurge has a cup of three.


 

We Are More Connected with the Earth than We Know

Friday, August 15th, 2008

This short passage from GARDENING AT THE DRAGON’S GATE by Wendy Johnson blows me away.  It suggests something that feels deeply true, that we are connected to the earth through our ancestors and the places they inhabited.–April Moore

     “Chester Aaron, a writer and garlic grower gardening about 50 miles north of  Green Gulch in Sonoma County, grows garlic because he cannot live without it.  A Sonoma gardening friend told me that early in his garlic career Chester was given a variety of heritage garlic cloves by Seed Savers Exchange.  He grew them all, but to the delight of his gardening mentors he kept selecting the same garlic variety, time after time, as the absolute best.

     “The Seed Savers keyed out the garlic and found it was from the Republic of Georgia.  “It’s from Tochli–a–Tochlia–”  “Not Tochliavari?” interrupted Chester, suddenly full of life.  “Yeah, that’s it–Tochliavari,” they answered, surprised at Chester’s animation.  It turned out that although Chester was born and raised in New York City, all of his people, from his father to his grandfather and great-grandfather before him, hailed from the small, remote region of Tochliavari in the Republic of Georgia.

     “Red garlic from Tochliavari woke up Chester Aaron.  For each of us it will be a different taste or sound, distinct and particular to our own bloodlines.  Much depends on staying in one place long enough for the voice of the watershed where you live to claim you in its own tongue.”

I Pray to the Birds

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

My love for birds seems to be growing and deepening these days.  And so I resonate with this short passage from REFUGE by Terry Tempest Williams. 

     “I pray to the birds.

     “I pray to the birds because I believe they will carry the messages of my heart upward.  I pray to them because I believe in their existence, the way their songs begin and end each day–the invocations and benedictions of Earth.  I pray to the birds because they remind me of what I love rather than what I fear.  And at the end of my prayers, they teach me how to listen.”

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