Monday, November 16, 2009

GEE Moon Office?

In case you missed it -- NASA found "a significant amount" of water on the moon. The Lcross satellite crashed into the moon about a month ago, sending up a plume that, after later analysis, was determined to contain at least 26 gallons of water.

Sounds like a wetland impact to me.

(photo credit NYTimes)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Newtown Creek Nature Walk

This past weekend ZL and I took a stroll on the Newtown Creek Nature Walk. It's an unlikely place for a "nature walk" -- on the shore of a heavily polluted tidal inlet, above the largest underground oil spill in the US. And there's the sewer treatment plant (see photo). But it is surprisingly -- nice. Pleasant. Designed by George Trakas, it has some great views, and some "nature" -- at least in the form of native plants.

The "get-down" into the Newtown Creek is an optimistic design choice -- only crazy people touch that water -- and the intertidal vegetation there seems to feel the same way. Most of it is dead, though there are some grasses and stray goldenrods and asters. I'm curious -- does anyone know if that area was originally planted with salt marsh plants all the way down into the creek? Even the official flyer photo looks pretty sad (upper right).

But overall -- it's worth a visit. The contrast of fall foliage and careful paving patterns surrounded by the sharp industrial colors and textures is refreshing. And the dark polluted water of the creek makes for some nice reflections. More photos here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Defining the Line of Conservation vs. Preservation

Attending school at an exclusively environmental college in Maine was an informative experience for me. With students studying every hue in the spectrum of environmental studies, from conservation law enforcement and policy to horticulture and molecular biology, debates raged all over campus on any number of issues. My personal favorite was always between conservation and preservation.

You'll be hard pressed to find someone who openly hates national parks. But you might be surprised at just how many people clash with the parks system on a regular basis. The parks by definition protect large tracts of land, and more importantly, large amounts of natural resources. To the conservationist these resources should be used for the benefit of everyone and be maintained in a sustainable manner. While the preservationists prefers by definition a more hands off approach.

As a newly enrolled student at Unity College I was a preservationist to the bones. I grew up with Captain Planet, and the Rescuers Down Under and was devoted to stopping the rampant destruction of natural resources. But after only a few classes I realized this issue was almost never so cut and dry.

For instance most people agree that everyone should have the equal opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the parks. But what about people with limited mobility such as someone in a wheel chair? Will you deny the construction of roads and paved paths for the sake of preservation or deny handicapped individuals the opportunity to experience the park? Even oyster farmers who have been in operation since before the parks establishment are affected.

It's a debate that never really seems to have a definitive answer or ending, which is probably what makes it so interesting to talk about.

Relevant articles: