Posted on October 30th, 2009 2 comments
The second year IGERTeers are embarking on the first steps toward our second year project. Check out our application to the YPO-Prize Scripps Inovation Challenge:
Posted on October 30th, 2009 No comments
Good news, graduate-school-applying friends! You’ve found a great potential home for your awesome interdisciplinary self– The IGERT program in Global Change, Marine Ecosystems and Society is now accepting fellowship applications!
The main goal of the IGERT program is to get people talking with one another across disciplines to solve complex problems. And this is more than the occasional beer you might have with that guy in the anthropology department. Truly, the IGERT program aims to have students tackle issues from all sides through increasing each student’s knowledge-base, interdisciplinary training and experience, and collaborations. The faculty under the IGERT umbrella are an incredible bunch. It’s hard to not enjoy watching Dick Norris get the twinkle in his eye when discussing the strata lining Black’s Beach, listening to Naomi Oreskes on a roll about the misinformation campaign for global warming, or talking with Ted Groves about the economics of turtle conservation. Plus, one of the coolest parts of CMBC is the student body. I know I speak for others when I say that my fellow CMBCers and Scrippsonians have been essential to my growth as a student and scientist over the past year. To mention study groups, mentoring in the lab, international training underwater, and long discussions over coffee would not even begin to describe this support.
Check out the blog for profiles of past and present CMBCers to get a sense for this incredible student body and the work coming out of CMBC. But in the end, you just need to apply and join in!
Posted on October 29th, 2009 No comments
At CMBC we are celebrating the acknowledgement of the work of Professor Jeremy Jackson. He was awarded the Paleontological Society Medal on October 17 at the Geological Society of America meeting in Portland, Oregon. The Society noted that he has made an enormous contribution to paleontological research and that he represents the perfect alliance of paleontology and biology in the quest to answer important evolutionary and paleoecological questions.
Jeremy is also the director of our Center and one of the professors at Scripps that inspires us the most to continue with our efforts to help conserve the world’s ocean. Consequently, we are delighted to post such great news in our blog. Congratulations, Jeremy!
View Press Release
Posted on October 29th, 2009 No comments
(Photograph by Bruno Calendini, Biosphoto)
240 million years ago the ancestors of modern crocodilians appeared on Earth. Some of them managed to survive the cataclysm of the Triassic and diversified into the modern crocodilians. These made their appearance about 80 million years ago. Even though they managed to survive the Cretaceous-Tertiary massive extinction and that crocodilian conservation measures have managed to reduce illegal hunting for their skins, we are not sure that they will be able to survive the threat of habitat reduction imposed by us, humans. John Thorbjarnarson of the Wildlife Conservation Society declared to National Geographic Magazine, “whereas 20 years ago there may have been 15 or 20 species that were listed as endangered, now there are really only seven, all reflecting the loss of their habitat.”
Discover more about this story and view more impressive croc visuals in the November 2009 issue of the National Geographic Magazine!
Posted on October 28th, 2009 2 comments
Changing Seas is a new 12-part series produced by the local PBS affiliate in Miami that takes viewers to sea with scientists and explorers to look at the ocean issues we are all facing as we move forward into the 21st century. The episode that I’ve linked here is a success story that actually illustrates the political complexity facing any sort of marine management issue.
Goliath Groupers were almost fished into extinction in the later half of the 2oth century by fishermen who figured out that these huge animals were actually pretty predictable in terms of behavior. The fish was near extinction when finally protected in 1988 and has been showing signs of making a great comeback of late. As they’ve rebounded, questions about reopening the fishery have begun to be asked. While resistance has been stiff against this, fisherman have started to question whether the resurgence in these “super” groupers numbers haven’t had a detrimental effect on other fish populations. The contention that they’ve been responsible for sharp drops in snapper and other lesser grouper populations is fairly novel because Goliath Grouper primarily feed on crustaceans.
What this argument illustrates is both the complexity of protecting desirable marine species and the grasping for alternative answers to questions we’ve already answered. This episode of Changing Seas does a nice job of telling that story. Enjoy. Super Grouper on PBS[wp_geo_map]
Posted on October 26th, 2009 6 comments
Many of us over here at CMBC have talked for many hours about how amazing Carl Sagan was for so many reasons- hugely among these his ability to communicate science to the popular audience. Here’s a remix of his communications skills thanks to the ever amazing Auto-Tune microphone (ala T-Pain).
So when will this be available via iTunes? and who will ever be able to fill Carl Sagan’s shoes, with or without an Auto-Tune mic?
Posted on October 26th, 2009 No comments
“Right now we have a different lifestyle. We can’t go back to how it was, it is impossible to be like that now. We have to find a way to help our children and ourselves.”
This quote of Jeela Allurut (2001) heads the exhibit of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, on the lives of the Iglulingmiut today in Nunavut, Canada, and on how things have changed for them in the last century due to western influence. It made me think about the new challenges they are facing today and, in particular, about climate change and a new study I recently read in Science.
Darrell Kaufman and colleagues have published a time series of temperature records in the arctic region covering the past 2000 years. Combining records found in Arctic lakes’ sediment, tree rings and ice cores, they found a cooling trend that has been interrupted during five different decades, four of them between 1950 and 2000.
Darrell Kaufman told BBC News that “the 20th Century stands out in strong contrast to the cooling that should have continued. The last half-century was the warmest of the 2,000-year temperature record, and the last 10 years have been especially dramatic.”
This figure, taken from the publication (Figure 1), indicates the locations of the proxy climate records included in the synthesis (note that all records are terrestrial because marine records do not have the decadal-scale resolution the authors worked with). Large and small symbols indicate records that extend back to 2000 years ago (2 ka) and to at least 1000 years ago, respectively. The map’s colors indicate trends in summer temperature between 1958 and 2000.
So, how are we going to help native communities in the Arctic to adapt to this change in temperature? Part of the answer is in reaching a major agreement in Copenhagen in December. As UK’s PM Gordon Brown told the Major Economies Forum in London, there is “no plan B. (…) If we do not reach a deal at this time, let us be in no doubt: once the damage from unchecked emissions growth is done, no retrospective global agreement, in some future period, can undo that choice. (…) we should never allow ourselves to lose sight of the catastrophe we face if present warming trends continue.” He added that the costs of failing to tackle the issue would be greater than the impact of both world wars and the Great Depression combined.
For this reason, I am optimistic about COP15. It is in everyone’s interest to reach an agreement. A positive result in Copenhagen won’t take us back to how the arctic used to be, but it will help arctic native communities and every nation to adapt to the changing climate – which scientists are reporting about and are helping us to understand.
Posted on October 24th, 2009 No comments
Its two days after the final round of public comments on proposals for MPAs in Southern California and not a whole heck of a lot has changed. We know fishermen don’t like proposal 3 because the environmentalist groups backing it do and we are also sure that the environmentalists groups aren’t too fond of the fishermen-backed proposal 2. That being said, my reaction to it all is about the same as how I felt when told that the sun rose this morning…..shocking. It’s by and large the same posturing that has been taken by concerned parties since the actual process of figuring out where MPAs might go started 5 years ago and it borders on both the sublime and the theatrical. It makes for great streaming on the web as well. The only thing it lacks is a steel cage and “Mean Gene” Okerland( this is a reference to my 80’s love of professional wrestling. I’m old). My point is that the day was high in theatrics but low in substance and that meant that what was said was generally lost in hyperbole. Apparently there were exceptions however.
Now the reason why I’ve said nothing has changed is because a decision that was expected Thursday on a final proposal map to send the DF&G Commission isn’t going to be finished or even discussed again until November 10th. Even with months of effort by the working groups, the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force is going to take some more time and probably send a modified proposal to the Commission for approval and that’s frustrating for many of those who have been heavily involved.
I say good job however. Despite what every So Cal fishing bulletin board on the web is posting, it’s an example of how a representative process should work and how solutions should be developed. Forget the fisherman who said “fishing is a God given right” and the La Jolla woman who said protecting Scripps-adjacent was the right thing to do because the harbor seal poop in the children’s pool was “good” for the ocean (just FYI, defending scat is always bad debating tactic). The point is that decisions of the MLPA BRTF remain open to the arguments of the general public and that’s a good thing.
I know that anyone who followed the MLPA process didn’t think it was going to be a painless path. I just hope they can see that it has clearly been an inclusive one.
To take a look at the maps of the proposals being consdered for Southern California, click here.
Posted on October 23rd, 2009 2 comments
Prince Albert II of Monaco received the Roger Revelle Prize from Scripps today for “his efforts to support and communicate the crucial need to protect the environment on a global scale.” In case you missed his speech, he highlighted a few key points I’d like to pass on.
- First, “we must quench our insatiable apetite to consume.”
- Second, now that the science behind global warming is known, the issues we face are “now political and moral choices.”
- Third, “We must break with a model of growth that for two centuries has given us progress we thought would never end.”
- and looking ahead, fourth and finally: “Sincere dialogue. This is one of the challenges of Copenhagen.”
Prince Albert’s presentation was certainly sincere and I thought a wonderful and sobering summary of the challenges and reality that face us ahead. For example, we cannot- CANNOT- live the way we do now in the future. As he said, when there are 9 billion people to feed, we must have decided to radically alter our lifestyles. Share resources. “Invent a means of farming that doesn’t create needs you cannot satisfy.” Find a new meaning for “growth.”
And in the midst of these very serious issues that will define our generation and our planet’s future, Prince Albert maintained a personal atmosphere, peppering his speech with a strangely familiar-feeling “dear friends” address to us all. He closed with “I believe in the power of the human spirit.”
Posted on October 20th, 2009 3 comments
Today in Long Beach, one of the last opportunities for public comment on the MLPA process in Southern California will be had by a lot of interested stakeholders. No doubt there will be a large group of recreational fishermen in black shirts and also a throng of adamant MPA supporters, including a shuttle load from here at Scripps. For those of you familiar with the process to date, the public comment period will be filled, as always, with a lot of emotion. One side will say that their constitutional rights are being denied because they won’t be able to fish anymore while the other will say that we’ve destroyed the marine ecosystem and we need even more protection for our oceans. They’ve all got good points and they’re also spinning facts like a child’s dradle at Chanukah. The truth is we know reserves and protected areas work because they keep intact fragments of ecosystems. We also hope they provide the resources to restore surrounding damaged areas though that doesn’t always happen. What we are sure of is that these areas put aside will be protected. The process will be painful and contentious, like the birth of any idea.
The reason why I’m writing this is because I’ve been enjoying Ken Burn’s “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” on PBS recently. It depicts the development of the National Park System, which is in itself an amazing story. What it really speaks to however, is the idea that our nation’s natural resources are the property and domain of all its citizens and not just those who are using it. Because of that, we interested few have a greater responsibility to all who may never see a healthy kelp forest to make sure that it is always there. That will come at a cost and we must meet that challenge as well. Environmental decisions always involve human trade-offs. I just hope that 100 years from now people will look at MPA’s in California the way we look at Yosemite, Yellowstone, or Kings Canyon, and say that was a great idea.