The California Floristic Province (byflora-file)
Being a California native myself I have a fascination with California’s native flora. There are about 6300 native taxa of plants found in California, and a third are found nowhere else but the limited area that comprises the California floristic province. It has the highest diversity of plant species in North America, north of tropical Mexico.
The plants of California are specially adapted for the Mediterranean climate here. Mediterranean climates have long, dry summers and cool, moist winters. In Mediterranean climates the majority of the precipitation occurs during the moist winter months, and summer months receive almost no rainfall, which often means 6-8 months of no rains. For this reason many plants here have switched around the normal seasonal growing patterns. Spring is triggered by the autumn rains, and during the dry summer months plants enter their dormancy.
Mediterranean climate zones comprise only 3% of the Earth’s landmass, but account for 10% of the known plant species. In addition to California, Mediterranean climates are found in only four other areas of the world: the Mediterranean Basin, the Cape region of South Africa, central Chile, and southwestern Australia. Many of the plants used in ornamental gardens and propagated by the nursery industry have ancestral orgins in the Mediterranean climes of the world. This climate has truly created an amazing diversity of flora.
(California Floristic Province Map and statistics from California Native Plants for the Garden, Bornstein, Fross, & O’Brien, Cochuma Press, 2005.)
(Mediterranean Climate Map via wikipedia.)
Japan and South Korea suspended some imports of American wheat, and the European Union urged its 27 nations to increase testing, after the United States government disclosed this week that a strain of genetically engineered wheat that was never approved for sale was found growing in an Oregon field.
Although none of the wheat, developed by Monsanto Company, was found in any grain shipments — and the Department of Agriculture said there would be no health risk if any was shipped — governments in Asia and Europe acted quickly to limit their risk.
South Korea, which last year purchased roughly half of its total wheat imports of five million tons from the United States, said Friday it would suspend purchases until tests were performed on arriving shipments. Results of the tests, by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, were expected in the first week of June, according to local media.
Seoul also raised quarantine measures on wheat for livestock feed, while Thailand put ports on alert.
The European Union, which has a “zero tolerance” approach to genetically modified crops, said through its consumer protection office Friday that if any shipments tested positive, they would not be sold.
It also said it was seeking “further information and reassurance” from Washington and had asked Monsanto for help in developing a reliable test for the genetically modified strain." -The New York Times, “Japan and South Korea Bar Imports of U.S. Wheat” (via inothernews)
Sequester guts wildfire prevention, sets up bigger blazes
The sequester took a 7.5 percent bite out of the Forest Service’s budget, nearly half of which is spent fighting wildfires.
A Sad Day for the Oceans & Marine Life as California's Marine Plastic Pollution Bill Held in Appropriations Committee | Leila Monroe's Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC
This afternoon, members of the California Assembly Appropriations Committee stopped Assembly Bill 521 — a groundbreaking proposal to create a statewide marine plastic pollution producer responsibility program from moving forward in the legislature.
This program would have encouraged industry to reduce the amount of plastic it produces (especially single-use packaging) and share the costs of cleaning up what remains. By doing so, it would protect California’s ocean, beaches and communities from plastic pollution and reduce costly waste management, litter cleanup and recycling. In its 2008 report, CalRecycle estimated that Californians dump 3.8 million tons of plastic into state landfills every year – plastic that could be recycled or avoided all together.
Interesting read from the NRDC staff blog. Strange that I hadn’t heard more about this legislation before the wheels effectively ground to a halt. Usually California’s environmental groups are a bit more vocal about the policies they support.
In the next week or so, billions of red-eyed, black-bodied, orange-legged cicadas will emerge from the ground. The latest generation of cicadas, known as Brood II, have spent 17 years in the dark. They have been down there since Derek Jeter’s rookie season, several feet beneath your feet, sucking on liquids from tree roots, waiting for their moment.
And when they do emerge – one night, likely between May 18 and 24, when the soil reaches the magic temperature of 64 degrees – they will attach to a vertical surface, split open their backs and clamber out of their exoskeleton. They will climb into the tops of trees, start to fly, make an ungodly racket in their search of a mate, lay eggs – and, within weeks, drop dead.
They will be gone before Jeter even gets off the disabled list.
“We should feel lucky and special to witness this – there’s nothing like this anywhere else in the world,” said Andrew Liebhold, a research entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service.
These bugs, known as periodical cicadas, are different from the annual cicadas, which have more of a green body and show up each summer. If you look around the base of trees, you might already be able to spot the holes that periodical cicada nymphs are digging to prepare for their emergence.
The suburbs are generally good habitat for cicadas since they like to lay eggs on young trees and they prefer the edge of forests. How many will emerge “depends on how much development has occurred and how many trees have been cut down since the last emergence,” said George Hamilton, an entomologist at Rutgers University. “They’re stuck in the ground for 17 years, and if they suddenly have no food source, they die.”
Are you ready, Mid-Atantic/Northeast?
Drop in U.S. underground water levels has accelerated - USGS
WASHINGTON, May 20 (Reuters) - Water levels in U.S.aquifers, the vast underground storage areas tapped foragriculture, energy and human consumption, between 2000 and 2008dropped at a rate that was almost three times as great as any time during the 20th century, U.S. officials said on Monday.
The accelerated decline in the subterranean reservoirs is due to a combination of factors, most of them linked to rising population in the United States, according to Leonard Konikow, a research hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey.
The big rise in water use started in 1950, at the time of an economic boom and the spread of U.S. suburbs. However, the steep increase in water use and the drop in groundwater levels that followed World War 2 were eclipsed by the changes during the first years of the 21st century, the study showed.
As consumers, farms and industry used more water starting in 2000, aquifers were also affected by climate changes, with less rain and snow filtering underground to replenish what was being pumped out, Konikow said in a telephone interview from Reston, Virginia.
Depletion of groundwater can cause land to subside, cut yields from existing wells, and diminish the flow of water from springs and streams.
Where is all the groundwater going?
I still love this photo
100% worth a second post
Dr. Mark Brandon, a Polar Oceanographer (@icey_mark), discusses how humans impact the Arctic. It’s a high-level talk, meaning it’s easy to follow and not very sciencey. He makes much use of the fact that fire retardants are routinely found in the fat of polar bears and other animals to show how our pollution travels north.
If Hoyoung Lee’s concept printer becomes reality, you’ll never throw away another pencil stub or buy another ink cartridge. The pencil printer separates the wood from pencils and uses the lead to print documents. There’s even a built-in eraser component that allows you to remove text from a page and reuse the paper, so you’ll be saving money and trees.
INNOVATIVE MINDS!!! Blooming and blossoming all around! This is brilliant!
Australia urged to formally recognise climate change refugee status
Refugee Council says new category would protect those fleeing the effects of global warming and warns Australian government to prepare for thousands forced from low-lying Pacific islands
more at link.
One of the biggest political consequences of climate change: environmental refugees.
From the Chasing Ice website:
In the spring of 2005, acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog headed to the Arctic on a tricky assignment for National Geographic: to capture images to help tell the story of the Earth’s changing climate. Even with a scientific upbringing, Balog had been a skeptic about climate change. But that first trip north opened his eyes to the biggest story in human history and sparked a challenge within him that would put his career and his very well-being at risk.
Chasing Ice is the story of one man’s mission to change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of our changing planet. Within months of that first trip to Iceland, the photographer conceived the boldest expedition of his life: The Extreme Ice Survey. With a band of young adventurers in tow, Balog began deploying revolutionary time-lapse cameras across the brutal Arctic to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers.
As the debate polarizes America and the intensity of natural disasters ramps up globally, Balog finds himself at the end of his tether. Battling untested technology in subzero conditions, he comes face to face with his own mortality. It takes years for Balog to see the fruits of his labor. His hauntingly beautiful videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate. Chasing Ice depicts a photographer trying to deliver evidence and hope to our carbon-powered planet.
This documentary looks incredible. Has anyone seen it?
It’s kind of terrifying how
a.) Deep this trench is
b.) How little we know about the ocean. We know more about the MOON than we do about the ocean.