Posts Tagged ‘ecology’
Follow the journeys that various music genres took as one style developed into another: “How Music Travels – The Evolution of Western Dance Music.”
As we celebrate the interconnection of influence, we might send tightly-woven birthday greetings to Johannes Eugenius Bülow “Eugen” Warming; he was born on this date in 1841. A globe-trotting botanist, he wrote the first textbook (1895) on plant ecology, taught the first university course in ecology, and gave the concept its meaning and content. So, though the term “ecology” was coined by Ernst Haeckel in 1866, (the retrospectively-poignantly named) Warming can be considered the father of Ecology as a discipline.
The Rip van Winkle of the insect world, the “periodical cicada,” is awakening across the East Coast of North America after a 17 year hiatus. Since 1996, these “Brood Two” cicadas have lived as nymphs two feet underground, sustaining themselves on liquid they suck from tree roots. While biologists don’t know exactly how the cicadas set and keep their rigid schedule, they do know that these occasional visitors will crawl up to the surface, molt, swarm (sounding rather like a chorus of jackhammers), mate, lay eggs, and die– all within a month… at which point the cycle begins again.
One month isn’t a lot of time, and the cicadas will be busy… still, they’re bound to discover that, while they were sleeping these past 17 years, entomologists have made some pretty impressive advances. From figuring out how insects fly to discovering an entire new order of insect, check out “Leaproaches, Mutant Butterflies and Other Insect News That the 17-Year Cicadas Missed.”
As we remind ourselves that it could be worse, it could be locusts, we might send sustainable birthday greetings to Rachel Louise Carson; she was born on this date in 1907. Trained as a marine biologist, she began her career at the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. She turned to nature writing in 1950– and won the National Book Award for her first full-length effort, The Sea Around Us. Her next two books, also on the ocean and the life within it, were also best-sellers.
In the late 1950, she became concerned with threats to the environment, especially the advent of synthetic pesticides. The result was Silent Spring (1962)– a book that brought environmental awareness to an unprecedented number of Americans (even as it elicited vicious counter-attacks from the chemical industry) and spurred a grass-roots movement that led to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Back in 1972, your correspondent spent a summer working working as a utility infielder at WBTV, the Charlotte CBS affiliate. In those distant days, local stations did original public affairs programming of all sorts, including local documentaries (that weren’t simply “service” programs promoting tourism, shopping, or dining out); for instance, your correspondent recorded the audio for the first documentary made on the now-legendary Blue Grass conclave, The Union Grove Fiddlers Convention.
But the most memorable shoot of that summer was a documentary on Charles Keyes, The Parson of the Hills. Keyes, an itinerant preacher for 71 of the 76 years that he lived (he passed away in 1996), ministered to the poor of the North Carolina Appalachians. His flock was scattered in such out-of-the-way places that he was, for many, the only “outsider” they knew and trusted… and so, as we accompanied him, filming his “rounds,” we saw corners of America that were then effectively as remote and untouched as as the most hidden corners of the Brazilian rain forest.
Among the extraordinary things we saw, probably the most striking was the snake handling service to which Keyes led us– one he attended as an unofficial social worker, not an officiant. Since the early 20th Century, snake handling has been a feature of Pentecostal worship in a small number of Appalachian congregations which take the Bible literally…
And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:17-18)
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)
Snake handling survives, but it’s dwindling. So it’s a gift that Oregon-based photographer Hunter Barnes, who had spent time documenting “Rednecks,” turned his lens to create “A Testimony of Serpent Handling.”
Barnes posted his project on Kickstarter, where he successfully raised the funds he needed to finish– and where readers will find a fascinating video explaining and illustrating the project.
As we contemplate the manifold manifestations of faith, we might send the simplest of birthday greetings to writer, philosopher, and naturalist Henry David Thoreau; he was born on this date in 1817. From 1845 to 1847, Thoreau lived in a small cabin on the banks of Walden Pond, a small lake near Concord, Massachusetts. Striving to “simplify, simplify,” he strictly limited his expenditures, his possessions, and his contact with others, intending “to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach.”
Thoreau became a pillar of New England Transcendentalism, embracing and exemplifying the movement’s belief in the universality of creation and the primacy of personal insight and experience. Perhaps best remembered for his advocacy of simple, principled living, his writings on the relationship between humans and the environment also helped define the nature essay.
source: Library of Congress
… imitating life (readers will recall Thurber’s “cast-iron lawn dog”).
Your correspondent’s daughter, exercising caution
Officers in Independence [MO], a Kansas City suburb, responded to a call on a Saturday evening about a large alligator lurking on the embankment of a pond, police spokesman Tom Gentry said Thursday.
An officer called a state conservation agent, who advised him to shoot the alligator because there was little that conservation officials could do at that time, Gentry said.
As instructed an officer shot the alligator, not once but twice, but both times the bullets bounced off — because the alligator was made of cement.
[Reuters, June 3, 2011]
As we get in touch with our inner Pygmalion, we might light animal-shaped birthday candles for zoologist and ecologist Warder Clyde Allee; he was born on this date in 1885. Allee is best remembered for his research on animal behavior, protocooperation– he’s considered by many to be the “Father of Animal Ecology”– and for identifying what is now known as “the Allee effect”: a positive correlation between population density and the per capita population growth rate in very small populations… an effect that might well impact the seemingly-frozen alligator population in Missouri.