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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Lapdog To Go With Your Laptop

Photo courtesy of D.C.Atty via Flickr

One commenter in an article at Grist about the advantages of lapdogs (which capitalizes on the tried-and-true technique of using cute dog pictures) describes how his pet cats and dogs help to create a biodiversity dead zone around his farm, which is what most dogs and cats were originally bred for--to help us obtain food and protect property (usually from other hominids). Today, one could argue that most of these breeds have become parasitic, serving only to induce endorphin releases for their owners.

If it is cruel to trap wild animals in zoos, then why isn't it equally cruel to trap dogs bred to hunt and herd in houses and yards (private zoos). That is not the environment they were human-evolved to thrive in. Lapdogs, on the other hand, were bred for that environment.

One of my neighbors has two purebred dogs that are so ugly I wish they would train them to walk backwards.

The smell wafting off their backyard on a sunny day is ah, not very pleasant, and they are the norm, not the exception. Where I live the streams contain so much fecal bacteria that the city sometimes has to close beaches for safety. The source is primarily the runoff from backyards like my neighbor's. Pets legally bypass the waste treatment facilities we humans created to protect our environment and health.

Reading the comments below this Grist article I am amazed at the alternative realities expressed. People who "adopt" rescue animals are called angels, placing themselves on pedestals for extending the lifespan of a domesticated animal.

There are now foster home programs for these animals to deal with the volume.

I am bombarded by millions of dollars worth of ads on television by animal welfare organizations, while human beings starve to death. Bottom line; starving people don't give us warm fuzzy feelings.

I was chatting with a homeless women not long ago about her pet dog. She told me that she preferred dogs to people and would rather see a person put down than a dog (after accepting my charity).

George Monbiot has two recent articles where he muses over our innate ability to self-deceive--build realities that suit us:

The idea that you can feed Manhattan with crops grown in a skyscraper is the craziest of my allies' many miracle solutions

For deniers, politics beats the science.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Saddles To Replace Seats In All Electric Cars

[UPDATE 9/12/2010]
Picture above from Gas 2.0. Beautiful example of good marketing. But to tell the truth, it would be more accurate to have a whale hug the Leaf owner.

As I write, I'm watching the above video of a test drive of the Nissan Leaf (you can right click on the video to watch the full sized version on YouTube). Also see this article about the Leaf by Todd Woody over on Grist, and this one by Sami Grover at Treehugger. Today, car dealerships make most of their money from car maintenance, which is why electric cars will spell the end of a lot of car dealerships and car repair shops. They will also shrink the car industry in general.

This will result in the loss of jobs--but only in the car manufacturing and repair industries because it will free consumer dollars up to invest in other things, like solar panels to charge their electric cars. Same thing happened to saddle makers and if they had a lobby as large and powerful as the oil and corn ethanol lobbies, we would probably have government mandated saddles instead of seats in our cars today.

On the other hand, an industry may spring up to convert used cars to electric if a standard motor, controller, and battery pack can be purchased by third parties.

And for all of you Luddites, the used batteries will be too valuable to throw away and they also don't require the mining and smelting of nickel.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A New Verb is Born -- Out-green

Crossposted to Grist

From Wiktionary:


to outgreen (third-person singular simple present outgreens, present participle outgreening, simple past and past participle outgreened)

1. (transitive) To surpass in environmental activism or consciousness

I submitted this word to Wictionary after writing a review of Tom Friedman's book Hot, Flat, and Crowded where he gave the credit for it to a friend of his during breakfast.

It took the Wiktionary police a while to decide that it meets their criteria for a new word.

Check out the 2007 citation(by Biodiversivist). Note that my use of the word predated Friedman's pal's use by a year.

I may have it carved on my tombstone.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Seattle Bicycle Commute

The Northwest Electric Bicycle Network in conjunction with Energy Transitions NW organized an electric bicycle rally last Saturday that started in Seattle's Golden Gardens park and ended at Gasworks park, where a beer and bike festival called the New Belgium Tour de Fat was in full progress.

The above footage isn't really of the daily Seattle bicycle commute, in case you have not figured that out. Riding this collection of eclectic bikes was part of the festivities. Right click on the image and select "watch on YouTube" for the full sized video.

More details at the NEBN blog.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Natural Enemies--People And Nature

The above photo is from Rhett Butler's (of Mongabay) latest trip to Bali. It inspired me to do a post. Beetle collecting was all the rage back in Darwin's day. Photos from today's high-quality, affordable, digital cameras, which allow anyone to snap cool pictures and video of wildlife, may be just the thing to end the collection of actual specimens to show off and to aid other conservation efforts, like saving the endangered stag beetle in Britain.

The above video of a hummingbird nest on a porch swing chain was taken by my neighbors. At first we all thought it was a dumb place to build a nest but after these hummingbird parents successfully raised two fledglings, we realized it was the ideal nest site. Crows had no place to land, and I've never seen a raccoon, possum, or cat climb a chain.

See my other video of two bald eagles eating a red tailed hawk in a tree in my other neighbor's yard.

It's an honor to host a hummingbird nest. Not so much a yellow jacket nest, which these same neighbors also have on their property. We humans tend to be very selective about the nature we will tolerate.

At a barbecue the other day one of my neighbors pointed to the woodpecker hole in the side of his house. My other neighbor has wrapped his blueberry bushes in netting to keep the robins at bay, his wife, Joy just emailed me this photo she took not long ago of a heron eyeballing that neighbor's goldfish pond:

Another neighbor has live-trapped seventeen squirrels out of her backyard bird sanctuary the last time I checked. I keep chasing raccoons out of my gold fish pond, and the starlings ate 95% of our cherries this year.

Moving to the country is not the wisest thing for a concerned environmentalist to do because that just takes the fight to nature. We can't help but to control our surroundings. We evolved to do so. We should live in cities, leave the rest of nature alone.

We have never lived in harmony with nature. We consume it. An Amazonian tribe will set up shop in an area until game becomes scarce and then will move on. The population density is low enough that they can find a spot not already controlled by a another vicious group of hominids.

Not so much in Papua New Guinea where population densities are much higher. In the television series called The Lost Tribes with Mark Anstice and Olly Steeds, they commented several times on the almost total lack of wildlife in the jungles around villages. That's because the villagers ate or just killed anything that moved, insects, birds, lizards, you name it.

Ah, the extremes people will go to for a little notoriety. In this case, running around in a mosquito infested jungle wearing nothing but an obligatory penis gourd.

[Update 8/4/2010] Rhett is "making my way back from a very rough trip in West Papua" and sent this photo via email of a weevil he just saw near near Manokwari:

What evolutionary pressures would create such a colorful insect? Biodiversity is amazing.

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