Category: Environment

Brazilian Researchers Find Possible Covid Treatment In Viper Venom

We have previously discussed how people often do not consider the real costs of pollution or the loss of rainforest in our debates over environmental protection. The destruction of these rainforests will contribute to global warming and accelerate the loss of species. Those species will not only reduce diversity in this world but many likely hold medical and scientific breakthroughs. We have found key treatments for diseases and illnesses in such rare species. We have another reminder of that potential this week after Brazilian researchers found that a molecule in the venom the jararacussu pit viper may combat COVID-19. The point is not that the viper is going extinct but it is another reminder that much of our “miracle” drugs still come from rare species.  It is still not clear that this is a treatment as claimed. Many such earlier research does not pan out. However, if proven, this would not be the first such discovery of a beneficial drug for humans in the animal kingdom.

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When Sharks “Interact”: Professors Call for Ending the Use of the “A-Word”

As many on this blog know, I am a huge advocate for animal rights and environmental protections. Indeed, I was recently thrilled to go to the Gulf Shores to watch sharks. However, I am afraid that I do not see the value of the call for researchers out of the University of Sydney to get people to stop calling human-shark biting incidents “attacks.” The University of Sydney’s Christopher Pepin-Neff has called for dropping the “A-word” in favor of shark “interactions” or “negative encounter.” It is not likely to take hold: I do not see people running down a beach screaming “shark negative encounter, shark negative encounter.” To paraphrase the movie “Jaws,” we are going to need a bigger [dictionary.]” Continue reading “When Sharks “Interact”: Professors Call for Ending the Use of the “A-Word””

The Gulf Shores: The Lodge and The Living With Hurricanes

In our final travel blog entry from the Gulf Shores, I wanted to discuss our hotel: The Lodge at Gulf Shores. There are a great variety of hotels and rental properties the area. However, the Lodge is one of the most interesting properties that you can choose. The $140 million, 350-room Hilton Hotel was built with money from the BP settlement after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which devastated the area. It was the first hotel to receive a “Cat 5” designation, built to withstand a direct hit from a Category 5 hurricane with winds of 160 mph and the accompanying storm surge. It is a unique design with restored dunes and other ecological elements right on the beach in the park area. Continue reading “The Gulf Shores: The Lodge and The Living With Hurricanes”

Father’s Day With Mother Nature On The Billy Goat Trail

I did my customary dawn hike this morning on Billy Goat Trail and it was like walking through a Monet with a heavy fog over the river and rocks.  It was truly enchanting.  I hope all of our fathers have a great time today.  We started our celebrations early last night (and watched the movie “Eddie the Eagle”) and will continue today.  Leslie is making me one of my favorite Pasta Carbonara (with pancetta) dishes with tonight. Continue reading “Father’s Day With Mother Nature On The Billy Goat Trail”

Weekend Photos: Random Forest Service Road

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

While traveling on business I thought I would take a short trek up a random forest service road and snap a few photos before sunset.

The air was completely still and serenely quiet. When the temperature is as hot as it was that day, you can truly experience the scent of wood and of the woods, something I find enduringly relaxing.

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Want Lower Car Insurance? Get Some Wolves, According to a Recent Study

I am admittedly a long advocate for protecting wolf populations as well as other wildlife severely displaced or reduced by development or hunting. However, there now appears a type of environmental dividend for those looking for a reason to support wolf reintroduction programs: lower accidents and insurance rates. A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that car accidents with deer decreased dramatically after the re-introduction of wolves. Continue reading “Want Lower Car Insurance? Get Some Wolves, According to a Recent Study”

Weekend Photos: Just Deserts

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Semi-arid lands do not often come to mind when one envisions beautiful countryside. One attribute it affords the beholder is its accentuation of geology and a sense of timelessness. Left undisturbed, change is often not of importance to nature as it seems decades later to not have evolved. Only what humanity leaves behind tends to show aging in what we consider time, mirroring more of us than the environment.

The landscape does justice to tranquility.

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Protesters Deface Billy Goat Trail With Anti-Police Graffiti

As many on this blog know, I am a lifelong hiker and backpacker.  I often do dawn hikes on the Billy Goat trail along the Potomac, one of the most cherished and beautiful areas in the Washington metropolitan area. This morning, I decided to celebrate my birthday with one of my dawn hikes and it was glorious. I had the trail to myself as the sun was coming up over the Potomac.  It was a perfect hike until I made it to the end of the trail (one the Angler’s end) where the beautiful rock face is now defaced with anti-police graffiti. Continue reading “Protesters Deface Billy Goat Trail With Anti-Police Graffiti”

Weekend Photos: The Fire And The Resurrection

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Having decided to go on a long road trip, I came across the remnants of a wildfire and the subsequent rebirth of rolling fields of grass. The fire burned through this rural neighborhood yet to my amazement I could find no lost homes or outbuildings in or around the path of destruction. I initially attributed this to a supremely adept firefighting operation. Yet in the end, according to a resident there who I spoke with, it was more nature that took care of its own.

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CA Governor Issues Exec. Order Banning by 2035 New Gasoline and Diesel Vehicles Sold In-State

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

California Governor Gavin Newsom last Wednesday issued Executive Order N-79-20 establishing a state goal that “100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks will be zero-emission by 2035”. The order also establishes extensive regulatory goals and practices mandating research and reporting standards extending to energy generation facilities such as petroleum extraction, public transit, and environmental protection. The proffered policy guidance does not mandate, at least in its current format, that existing non-zero-emission vehicles be forceably withdrawn from service by a hard date. There does seem to be an implication that constraints mandated against petroleum generally might as a consequence be unviable to the consumer and usher them into zero-emissions vehicle ownership.

California has over the last several decades established itself as a de facto policy maker nationally given the size of the state in terms of market share and the state’s jurisdication over such share. The Executive Order presents a very large reach given the current dependence on petroleum fueled Internal Combustion Engines for passenger vehicles. The goals could be achievable. Whether or not the implementation cost is something the public is willing to accept remains to be seen.

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Trump Moves To Approve Drilling In the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Before Election

PolarbearoniceThis morning President Donald Trump just told Fox & Friends that he should go down as the “greatest environmental president” in history for signing the Great American Outdoors Act but he then proudly listed an array of rollbacks and attacks on environmental protections. If anything the President was understated in his damaging policies to the environment, including his opposition to efforts to deal with greenhouse gases and climate change.  What made this statement the most glaring for many of us is that this morning the Wall Street Journal disclosed that Trump is likely to open up the pristine Arctic refuge area to drilling — an act of breathtaking loss to our natural park and wild refuge areas.

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Minnesota Dentist Walter Palmer Under Fire For Renewed Trophy Hunting

Walter Palmer (left), whose face was edited out of the picture, holding a rare ram in Mongolia

This week saw the unwelcomed return of dentist Walter Palmer, 60, to international media coverage.  Palmer was widely denounced over his shooting of “Cecil the Lion” for a trophy five years ago.  He is now back with a series of gruesome pictures with a dead ram from Mongolia. The argali ram is considered “near threatened” but are a favorite for trophy hunters including a similar hunting trip by Donald Trump Jr. Continue reading “Minnesota Dentist Walter Palmer Under Fire For Renewed Trophy Hunting”