Monday, August 9, 2010

Patrick Dougherty Installation in Brooklyn

This month at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden artist Patrick Dougherty is installing a unique sculpture made natural material.  If you have seen the movie Where the Wild Things Are you may have recognized Dougherty's sculpture as the massive spheres of twigs made into their hideout (above image). For the Brooklyn Botanical Garden installation Dougherty has collected nonnative woody material, mainly Salix atrocinerea, from the Ocean Breeze Park on Staten Island.  This was part of a larger effort to remove invasive species as outlined in the PlaNYC Sustainability Initiative. Dougherty started his installation last week at the garden and is scheduled to be finished by August 21st.  Visit the BBG before August 21st to see the actual installation or the completed installation will remain up for the following year.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Art Goes Organic...*sellouts*

Salad for lunch? You got a little something on your lip there...I think it's the G train.

I'm not an art guy. But even my void of artistic appreciation was drawn in by the New York Times article about recent "organic art" trends. This stuff is fantastic. Mosaics of cockroach carapaces and sardines, a bicycle made out of cow bones, and some Dutch guy with moss glued to his face. I will be honest though, when the times article mentioned Levi van Veluw using his flesh as soil, I got really excited. But he isn't. It's just glue.

Probably better for his skin in all honesty.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pigweed for Everyone

The New York Times today has an article on the spread of Roundup-resistant weeds. Those who are familiar with the issue of the evolution of resistant pest species won't find too much additional information in the article, although it does point out some evidence that despite Monsanto's claims that the problem is manageable, they apparently are concerned enough to subsidize certain farmers' purchases of other herbicides to target resistant weeds.

On a whim, I looked up one spectacular-sounding weed highlighted in the article. According to the article, Pigweed (Amaranthus palmeri) "can grow three inches a day and reach seven feet or more, choking out crops; it is so sturdy that it can damage harvesting equipment. In an attempt to kill the pest before it becomes that big, Mr. Anderson and his neighbors are plowing their fields and mixing herbicides into the soil."

It turns out that this terrifying giant pigweed actually isn't so evil, and maybe even its resistance to glyphosate could be a benefit.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mapping Environmental Change - The Past 70 Years

I find it interesting how so many people in recent days have questioned the world's track record with handling oil drilling due to the recent disaster in the Gulf. I hate to break it to you people, but we have a terrible track record of existing...

70 Years of Environmental Change

Thursday, April 29, 2010

TD Bank Five Borough Bike Tour This Sunday!

Can you feel the excitement?! I can't, because it's only Thursday, but it's there, lurking just beneath the subconscious.

For all your bike tour needs make sure to check out the official website here. Everyone should make an effort and get out to experience it. Especially the festival at the end of the ride in Staten Island where I hear free beef jerky samples will be available.

Follow GEE's very own Sarah Welch and Zachary Lehmann while they bike from your smart phone! Text "where are zak and sarah" to 617-512-0145 and you will get a link to a google map showing their exact position along the ride!

Hope to see everyone there!

Digi-scoping: Glimpse of a Peregrine Falcon

Monday I took this shot of a female peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) on Long Island.  This was my first attempt at the technique called digi-scoping.  "Digi-scoping" generally refers to using a digital camera to take photos through the eyepiece of a telescope.  I used my inexpensive Sony Cyber-shot 7.2 mega pixels through the eyepiece of a Kowa scope.  My camera was set to auto adjustment which sometimes causes a delay in the shot.  As you can see it is a bit out of focus.  Next time I will try to adjust the settings to get a clearer shot.

Her feathers are ruffled from the wind and she is perched on her left foot.

Stay tuned for more digi-scoping photos and news on peregrine falcons.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Deodorant Guns

China is planning to install 100 deodorant guns. 

I found this interesting and disgusting info reading METRO this morning. They are going to shoot fresh air over dump sites. Machines will spray chemical fragrance and industrial fans will spread it up to 160 feet.

The amount of trash that Beijing produces is bigger than they can handle. Instead perfuming it, maybe they should clean it. Other cities have had this problem at some point too, but they did their homework and figured out how to motivate people to make less garbage. What if our government organized a little operation: "STINKY GONE." Can you imagine how awful and confusing that would be for our sense of smell?? Rotten food mixed with “clean linen” deodorant. It's similar to when you are too lazy to clean your house so you just spray some Febreze.

New York is not the cleanest city in the world, but it is trying hard to maximize recycling and minimize garbage production. Like every other city in the world, it is very important for citizens to be on the same page as the city government. Cities should develop marketing strategies to inform citizens of the importance of waste reduction and recycling on individual and community levels. This would allow city officials to create a good cleaning plan. So Beijing -- it is cleaning time!

Find out more here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


For those of you web jockeys that don't know, I have recently become an avid fly fisher. The sport brings together a number of my favorite things into an exciting and elitist format that I can really dig my teeth into. I get to be outside, which is always a good thing. I get to make intricate little flies which brings me back to my modelling days of old. It also lets me "hunt" with an option of not actually killing the animal. So as my new obsession began to take hold, I decided to do something very unlike me. I subscribed to a local chapter of a activist organization, Trout Unlimited.

Trout Unlimited (TU) is a national organization with more than 150,000 volunteers spread across approximately 400 chapters. Many of the members are dedicated conservation professionals including experts, scientist, and even lawyers. They are constantly working towards fishery restoration and widely known for their influences on policy around prominent fisheries across the country. It seems a little conceded though, saying you are saving the country's waterways when really you just want a nice place to fish. But that works for me, and more importantly they get the job done, in a big big way.

How big? Try the largest dam removal project currently being undertaken in the world at a cost of $450 million. Not bad for a grassroots fishing group.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

Beekeeping in New York City

Keeping bees in New York City is illegal due to concerns about public safety -- unfounded concerns, according to the many people who keep hives anyway. According to the New York Times, the city may amend the health code this week to permit beekeeping of Apis mellifera:

Bees in the City? New York May Make Hives Legal -

The New York City Beekeepers Association, brazen lawbreakers that they are, offer 12-hour beginner classes for $100 on their website, as well as a bunch of community information (and puns related to beekeeping).

(Image credit Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Blood-red Waterfall of Primordial Ooze

In Antarctica, there is a blood-red waterfall pouring down five stories from the Taylor Glacier.  The water comes from a lake in which an ecosystem of microbes was trapped by the glacier about 2 million years ago.  Since then, the organisms have evolved while sealed off from air, light, and most heat.  "Primordial ooze" as Atlas Obscura says.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Earthquake Shifts Earth's Axis, Speeds Up Rotation

According to NASA scientists, the Earth's axis likely moved by about 3 inches following the major earthquake in Chile on February 27th. Earthquakes can shift the distribution of mass on the planet, changing the way it rotates.

The change is very small -- the length of a day shortened by just a millionth of a second. The quake may have caused some more obvious changes, too, perhaps shifting islands and raising Santa Maria Island (off the coast of Chile) by approximately 6 feet, according to a researcher at Liverpool University.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bloomberg Commits to Water Quality Improvements In Jamaica Bay

It's about time.

The city put out a press release today with some vague details on the new Jamaica Bay water quality improvement plan. While this is a step in the right direction I know I personally would have liked to see more details in the plan. However there is a substantial amount of money being moved into Jamaica Bay wetland restoration which as an avid birder always gets a thumbs up.

The release ran with this opening statement:

"Today marks a new beginning for Jamaica Bay - an amazing recreational and economic resource for New Yorkers," said Lawrence Levine, staff attorney for the NRDC.  "The city has committed to address the biggest source of pollution that has plagued Jamaica Bay for decades. We look forward to continuing to work with Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Holloway to turn today's historic commitments into reality."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Welcome to the Jungle

ESRI is a big fan of hammering you with updates about their GIS products as well as updates about the GIS community around the globe. Luckily for me a lot of their publications have environmental undertones which make them less like spam and more like...something useful. In their most recent issue of ArcWatch, I came across a very interesting article about using Lidar technology to map forests; and I don't mean where the forests are, but actually where individual plants are and how big they are.

Lidar stands for Light Detection And Ranging. Without getting into anything too technical, it basically uses pulses of light in the form of lasers to determine the distance to something. This technology has been used a lot to perform remote surveys of large areas to determine elevations and slopes of a landscape. Researchers from Forestry Tasmania have adapted the technology to measure the height of trees and to some degree the amount of foliage that tree has.

Suffice it to say that it is pretty awesome. Especially when you start seeing images of more than 1 plant at a time, you can tell very quickly that this technology will be able to measure a forest's vegetative cover to some extent. Forest managers are already drooling over the prospects.

Check out more details at the ArcWatch article here.

Friday, February 12, 2010


The last few days, some of us have been discussing the consequences of plastic bags and waste in general. I'm reading The World Without Us by Alan Weisman right now, and was terrified by his text on the pervasiveness of plastics -- that as plastics break down, they become available for consumption by smaller and smaller organisms, and therefore will eventually find their way through the entire food chain.

The blog at GOOD offers this list of ways to reduce plastic waste:

I'm most interested by the London store Unpackaged (, which sells all (most?) products sans packaging -- customers bring their own reusable containers. (Image from GOOD's post on Unpackaged.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Turns Office Paper Into Toilet Paper?!

Came across this cool machine that takes paper in and gives you toilet paper. This is recycling in front of you eyes. I believe that one day( I hope soon) every house will have one of those, like water filter system...
Check out the link... Happy recycling!

Friday, January 22, 2010


Again the idea of co-evolution keeps entering my realm.  This time at my Brooklyn Botanical Garden Botany course Uli, my professor, introduced us to the ant plant.  Myrmecophyte plants, also commonly known as ant plants, native to south Asia are epiphytes.  Epiphytes may often be considered parasitic but they only use their host for physical support.  While the Myrmecophyte plant relies on trees for a home, the plant also is a host for a colony of ants. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Evolutionary Weaponry -- Venom

"If I spit, they will take my spit and frame it as great art." - Picasso

His modesty is commendable, but really humans are millions of years behind other animals in terms of the quality of their spit.

There are many animals in the world today that utilize a variety of venoms to incapacitate prey. Most notable of these are snakes, lizards, spiders, and jellyfish. Few people are aware of the venoms that some mammals have, such as moles and shrews. But if the evolution of venoms occurred in multiple kingdoms at different times, where did they all come from?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Living in the Future

In 1972, Geoffrey Hoyle wrote a book called 2010: Living in the Future. It is sometimes spot on -- "vision phones" -- and sometimes not so much -- "in the year 2010 everyone wears a jumpsuit and shoes."

I find it interesting that so many futuristic predictions include uniformity of things like clothing and food production (here, food arrives in tubes and is automatically cooked), yet these particular items have actually trended the other way (at least, that's what I see around me in Brooklyn).

And while simplicity and sustainability are recognized with small, efficient homes and public transportation galore,  electric gadgets are abundant too, and it always seems to be assumed that we will find a way to fuel all of this with clean energy.

Go compare reality with Mr. Hoyle's predictions...

From Boing Boing.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Moss Gardening

I have started growing moss -- George Schenk inspired me.  His wonderfully conversational book Moss Gardening: Including Lichens, Liverworts and Other Miniatures is full of quirky stories mixed with technical details and beautiful images.  My edition is printed on a heavy glossy paper which gives it an enticing density and a satisfying "thunk" when being closed.

Go buy it, everyone.

But anyway -- here I'm growing an unidentified moss with delicate greenery on a slice of wood, under a thrift-store glass bowl (not shown). We'll see how long it lasts...

Open Source and Why it is Important

"Open source" is a computer term that is getting thrown around more and more these days and it is important to understand excatly what this concept is and how it affects everyone on, very literally, a global scale. As the residing tech expert on the blog I am taking it upon myself to try to enlighten those of a less tech-savvy nature. So lets start with the basics. What does open source mean exactly?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mapping New York's Shoreline

I can't wait to check out the current exhibit at the New York Public Library.  Mapping New York's Shoreline, 1609-2009 is full of maps, books, atlases, journals, photographs and more that explore the original shoreline dating back 400 years ago and how it has evolved because of urbanization. Perhaps this can provide some inspirational thoughts to New Yorkers on how we can restore our intertidal zones.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Viral Ancestry

The title might not make sense immediately, please bear with me...

The Matrix series may not have been as religious an experience for most of you as it was for me. A futuristic, apocalyptic, video-game like nightmare world were computers have taken over the world and harvest heat from human beings for power. Not to mention having the ability to fly, stop bullets, and take on any martial artist the world has to through at you. It's freakin' awesome, but I digress.

One of my favorite scenes in the series comes from the original film where the evil Agent Smith (picture right) has captured Morpheus, our heroic leader, and is giving him the typical villain monologue about why he wants to destroy humanity. The line he uses is classic:

"I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus."

Well as it turns out, it might be true (see I told you I would bring it around eventually). An amazing new form of viral research has arisen recently in which DNA researchers search for ancient viral DNA structures in the genomes of organisms alive today, including humans.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Go, go (green) gadgets!

Here is another interesting story regarding ecology and green development I found in the METRO newspaper that I pick up on my way to work:

House that works like a living tree
A researcher invented a synthetic tree (shaped like a house) that also can get rid of CO2. Klaus Lackner, from Columbia University, answers our questions.

How does your invention work?
The “leaves” are made from a plastic material that absorbs CO2 when it is dry and releases it again when it is moist. Standing in the wind, the sorbent material loads up with CO2, it is then transferred into a chamber, from which the air can be removed and moisture is introduced. The plastic releases CO2 into the chamber, which is pumped out and compressed to liquid CO2.

Where exactly can we install them?
Anywhere, because the air mixes well and everywhere has the same CO2.

Also -- Self-erasable paper! Read more in the same article, here.

Ecoterrorism -- Whale Wars

I wonder if they were on former President Bush's axis of evil?

"If a whale is hit by an exploding harpoon near Antarctica and the world doesn’t have a way to witness that, does it make a sound?" - ANDREW C. REVKIN

I thought that was one of the more eloquent quotes I've heard in recent years. Mr. Revkin was talking to whale activists about the recent clash over Japanese whale hunting in the antarctic, which resulted in the sinking of a $1.5 million vessel owned by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS). A video of the ordeal can be found below, taken from the deck of the Japanese whaling vessel the Shonan Maru 2.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Urban Safari

The Urban Landscape Lab at Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, & Preservation (GSAPP) has developed a do-it-yourself tour complete with downloadable podcasts that introduces no. 7 subway riders to the diverse ecology along the urban transect.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Say Cheese

Wonderful. I love when nature poses for the camera.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Good Ole Days

I found it funny to run across this article at the NY Times website my first day in the office of 2010. Starting my fourth year at GEE it was interesting to read about Laura Francoeur, who has the exact same job that I was brought onto GEE for, albeit with more guns. I went to school for wildlife conservation, got my first job as an ornithologist, and still; nothing warms my heart more than knowing some portion of my tax money goes toward the killing of Canada geese every single day.