Having worked in ecology and dealt with applied environmental problems for 45 years, I think about what are the leading environmental problems that face us today in the 21st century. Climate change has captured people’s attention, but there are other issues that we need to consider. Here’s my start of a list, which I discuss in the postscript to my most recent book, The Moon … [Read more...]
My Natural History Travels Following the Life of Henry David Thoreau: Concord, Walden, Maine Woods, and Cape Cod.
I have followed the travels of Henry David Thoreau as he tried to understand nature, wildness, wilderness, and civilization during his lifetime (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862). He lived most of his life in Concord, MA, traveling and writing books about: the woods of Maine including his hike up Mt. Katahdin, the state’s tallest mountain; his travels to Cape Cod; and his life at … [Read more...]
My Natural History Travels Following the Trail of Lewis and Clark
I have followed the trail of Lewis and Clark from the beginning near modern St. Louis, Missouri, up the Missouri River, across the Rocky Mountains, and down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. President Thomas Jefferson had instructed them to"record the mineral productions of every kind... Volcanic appearances ... Climate, as characterized by the thermometer, by the … [Read more...]
How Many Grizzly Bears Were There Before European Settlement of the West, and How Many Are There Now?
I tried to estimate how many grizzly bears there were at the beginning of the 19th century and how many there are today. I wrote about this in my book, Beyond the Stony Mountains: Nature in the American West from Lewis and Clark to Today (available 2012 as an ebook, New York, Croton River Publishers; Originally published in 2004 by Oxford University Press, N.Y. ) Here is … [Read more...]
Peanut Butter In Space: How to, and how not to, develop life support systems for long-term space travel.
(This article is based on a chapter in my book Strange Encounters: Adventures of a Renegade Naturalist) If we are going to Mars and hope to settle there, we need to develop reliable ecological life-support systems that provide food, oxygen and water, and recycle wastes. Such a system doesn’t exist, but I have tried to help develop one.Back one day in the early 1970s, I … [Read more...]
How To Live On Mars: The Ecology of Mars Colonization
A Dutch company has advertised a program to start a human colony on Mars, called the “Mars One project.” Seeking applications by those interested in becoming one of these Marsonauts, the company published an offer in which, for $34, a person could have his/her name listed as one of the applicants. By the summer of 2013, 100,000 people had applied, demonstrating that there is … [Read more...]
Solar Energy Where It’s COLD Outside
For most people, the very north of Michigan, the Keweenaw Peninsula, on the shore of Lake Superior, might seem an unlikely place to get electricity from solar energy. But Professor Rolf Peterson of Michigan Technical University, well-known for leading the long-term study of wolves of Isle Royale National Park, thought differently. He installed a photovoltaic system on his … [Read more...]
Woodsmanship and Naturecraftsmanship
On June 19, 2013, Bob Williams, a certified forester practicing in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, received New Jersey Audubon's Richard Kane Conservation Award--- their conservationist of the year award. He has successfully planned timber harvests for commercial and government forests for more than twenty years, converting little-remembered and poorly cared for forests into … [Read more...]