Saturday, September 21, 2013

Can Nature Predict and Forecast the Weather ?

Well not in so many words as much as actions. For Many people, September 1st marks the end of Summer. I know here in Sweden, it's almost like someone flips a switch and turn on the cooler temperatures, increases the wind and starts rapidly turning down the lights from that time forward. It also marks the beginning of American football (NFL) season which I actually watch late night sometimes on the international sports channel. Retailers have clearance sales on all their summer wear, as they begin to transition into fall and the winter season scene. For me, it brings a sort of sadness to my face knowing the days are getting radically shorter and the days are getting colder. The end of summer, however, also marks the time when Nature begins to give off her signs of what our winter will be like. Although in Sweden, often times to the clues come very early.

Yesterday, my wife and I went out for a walk in Trädgårdsföreningen (The Garden Society of Gothenburg) which is a Park in Central Gothenburg. I’m not overly sensitive to this swedish natural environment, but my wife often tells me of old Swedish sayings about plants which people for ages say predicts either a cold or mild winter. So any changes in the Boreal forest are familiar to a native Swede. Well, those at least still connected to the nature of things outside. Well yesterday, the amazing thing I noticed was the incredible amount of Acorns in the Northern European Oak trees as opposed to the lack of any acorns last season. Suddenly that "Hey wait a minute !" factor kicked in. That could typically mean a harsh nasty cold winter here in Scandinavia and that would agree with an earlier report this past summer my wife was reading about a much colder winter this year 2013/2014. Last Autumn & Winter (2012/2013) prior to my coming to California for the Spring visit, I deliberately went to Göteborg Botanical Gardens to look for Acorns to take to my mum's place to plant next Spring. There is an area where the acorns on the ground beneath four massive Oak trees are normally so thick, the ground looks like it has fresh layer of of road gravel laid down. But all I found and collected was a mere handful of acorns. Probably 15 altogether and I had gone and combed the area thoroughly. All but five floated to the top of a bowl of water when I checked for viability. The others however never did germinate as I wanted. They were rotten inside. But it struck me as amazing, because our past winter was extremely mild, with little rain and almost no snowfall. What do the trees know ? Or rather what sensory mechanisms trigger such a response months in advance ?
Lorne Gill / Scottish Natural Heritage
Rowan Berries or Mountain Ash
Prior to realizing what this season's great abundance of acorns could mean, I recalled the two powerfully heavy snow winters and extreme cold the two previous years 2010 & 2011. Just prior to those winters three years ago on a summer afternoon walk in June 2010, my wife told me that the Rowan Berries were early and ripe and that meant a heavy snow with cold winter. Rowan Berries are everywhere here. They are often very weedy in the Boreal Forest understories. They are called Rowan Berries here and the native one in North America is referred to as Mountain Ash only because of it's leaf pattern which is ash-like. Now while I put up and fuss and told my wife, "Ah come on, that's an old wives tale or Norsk Folklore", never the less it all came true. BTW, Rowans were ripe early again this year. *sigh*

Farmer's Almanac
Earlier this year I remember watch CNN and a report they did on this coming Winter for the north hemisphere, but particularly North America. They mentioned that the Farmer's Almanac says so.  Knowing the new Farmer’s Almanac was just released for the 2013-2014 year. Caleb Weatherbee is the official forecaster for the Farmers' Almanac. His name is actually a pseudonym that has been passed down through generations of Almanac prognosticators and has been used to conceal the true identity of the men and women behind their weather forecasts and predictions. I quickly looked up the southwestern United States and yep they predict a very cold winter with more wet than normal. Actually the new normal is drought, so going back to historical would be unusual. So this coming season is interesting.
But not satisfied with that, I also checked another weather website location on the Net I had used in the past. I also cross referenced the Southern California area weather through this site, & Yes Sir, above average rain and cold. In fact they are predicting a little more than the Farmer's Almanac, but still pretty close. Man, we were going to visit in March. Below is their version of the map which also indicates a slight El Nino effect. Something about it being a moderate El Nino and allowing the southern Jet-Stream to pump in more moisture feeding into to those cold Pacific Northwest Storms which roll in off the Pacific Ocean from the north. So for Southern California, that means cold and extra wet.
Here is liveweatherblogs Forecast for the Southwest
Our thinking here at is a west based weak to moderate El Nino to develop in late fall or early winter. This will keep the southern jet active and allow for the areas from California to Texas to the Mid Atlantic to have above average winter precipitation. 
California will have above average rainfall and snowfall and even a few very big winter storms esp. along the coast. The Pacific Northwest will see near to slightly above average rainfall and snowfall."   
But once again, what does Nature have to say ? Of course it can't talk, but what are the visible signs again, if any ? Well, I guess we'll have to go back to look at some of the traditional folklore, since many of us have lost much of those older stories or are so disconnected from Nature and indoctrinated by the present enlightened age where such lore is generally made fun of, that we may need to go back and review what people use to actually look for in times past. One plant of old folklore note is the Scarlet Pimpernel, which has been called the “poor man’s weather glass”. This is because its flowers opens in sunny weather, but closes tightly when rain is expected. Here's what the "How Stuff Works" website explains it:
"The petals fold up when skies darken before storms or at twilight, not opening again until morning light triggers their rebloom -- hence its other common name, poor-man's weather glass. A native of Europe and Asia, it is sparingly naturalized in parts of the United States."
Scarlet Pimpernel
Hmmmmm, I doubt that flower would do well as a predictor of rain here in Sweden. Maybe if there were one that could work the opposite way  ? One other way I have heard of as being reliable in natural weather indicators are pine cones. This year here in Sweden has also shown an abundance of cones, at least in my area. But the Squirrels also have been going crazy all late summer chewing seeds from the still green cones and dropping them on my head as I walk to my Trolley stop. This also makes me wonder about the Parry Pinyon Cones which were not viable back in 2000 thru 2002 when I went collecting seed for Tree of Life Nursery. What a disappointment. But now I'm curious about the following winters and the lack of normal rainfall back then. Could something be learned there ? These cones have traditionally been used to forecast the weather as they change shape according to whether it is wet or dry. In dry weather, pine cones open out as the scales shrivel up and stand out stiffly. When it is damp, they absorb moisture and as the scales become flexible again, the cone returns to its normal shape. Although you can often see this even in sun and shade of opening and closing, but I think everyone has seen this, but never put two and two together before.

When Weather is Dry, Pine Cones will be opened

Pine Cones the day before it starts to rain heavily
Can Cows Really Predict the Weather ?
Cow Weather Gauge: University of Arizona
The idea of watching animal behavior has in the past been one of the most well known natural weather indicators. The old wives’ tale that cows lie down when it is about to rain may not be so far fetched after all, according to a new study earlier this year from the University of Arizona. The researchers discovered that cows stand up for longer periods when it is hot, proving there is a definite link between their behaviour and the weather. They also suggest that cows lie down when it is colder, which is often what happens to the weather just before it rains. This is explained by the fact that the cows sense the cooler temps and moisture in the air and are making sure they have somewhere dry to lie down. Next time you see cows out in a field, pay close attention to see if they are lying down or standing up. Then take note of the surrounding weather conditions or what soon transpires sometime after, just for fun. 

The British Columbia Folklore Society
There is no doubt that the early American farmers (and I'm sure many others) held some strange beliefs if judge by today's intellectual standards. Many of these folklore or old wives tales as they are labeled have still survived until well into the 20th century, and some may still be around today. Those people lived closer to the land and observed natural phenomena of Nature and put things together. In other words, they used the Scientific Method before it was labeled such. Sometimes I even wonder if the Scientific Method is even used anymore from reading some of the literature that has come out lately loaded with what appears to be nothing more than storytelling. A columnist writer for Farm Collector, Sam Moore quoting from a 1926 monthly "Farm Life" magazine article referencing an old farmer who said, "A lot of folks don't believe in signs, but a heap o' times the frost nips them folkses' taters."  This was funny, the old way of country speak was the way my Uncle Marshall back in Iowa use to talk. They were all intrigued by the Farmer's Almanac and planted by the dates suggested. They always did well. But Nature was not as dismantled then as it is now in our age of enlightenment. I wish I'd paid more attention and asked more questions of things back then. Now so much has been lost. I like research what many modern intellects dismiss as mere fables or myths, only to replace these with newer fables or myths and then fall back into denial. It hardly seems possible under the present system if Nature will ever heal back to what it once was or even better. Speaking of climate, the Climate of Human Leadership just question begs here. Clearly some sort of removal of their historical inept direction is in order soon, but in the mean time, we can all, especially Families, have fun in looking for ways to predict weather, that is if the change hasn't been made too drastic. Check out some of the fun references below.
What do you use and trust as a reliable Weather Predictor ?
Reading References:
Scarlet Pimpernel, Poor-Man's Weather Glass 
Pine Cone Weather Station
Cows really can predict the rain. Scientists prove they are more likely to lie down when the weather is cold
The Farmer's Almanac

Friday, September 20, 2013

"The Hygiene Hypothesis", We should all be like 'Pigpen'

"Just look at you; you've been outside only ten minutes
 and your clothes are a mess." 
So what are the historical foundations of good health and vitality before humans came along and created those major imbalances to the Natural World which have given us far more disease and illness than previously ? Seriously, we are now at that promised future time in history in the age of enlightenment where most of these past plagues of mankind are not only still with us, but in many cases have morphed into things often times more serious than previously experienced in the past. Historically where severe sickness plagued certain civilizations at one time or another, it was the result of unsanitary living conditions brought on by people moving to city centers where people practically lived on top of one another and proper hygiene wasn't exactly even an expression word or term used or even known back then. But traditionally, people in more rural settings were not necessarily plagued the same way if at all by the conditions experienced in the cities. Of course there will always be exceptions. Talking to African friends, they have said that some of the common allergy problems that exist in Industrial Lands are not present there in Africa. Why ? A lot has to do with them living a more outdoors lifestyle.   

"Peanuts Wiki"
Incredibly, getting ourselves outdoors and doing things like gardening and getting a little dirt and grit under our fingernails is actually a good thing. We are biologically a part of the Natural World with all of it's micobiological critters like bacteria and viruses the majority of which are friendly and good for us. Some like our own gut bacteria we have a symbiotic relationship with. Without them we'd starve without their ability to process what we enjoy eating. Plants have the same type of digestion symbiosis, but more of an external as opposed to our internal. Hence the often used term 'primitive' in describing such an amazing group of living organisms is really unfair. They are truly complex and in many ways a part of us. If we could illustrate through some type of an intense magnification and illumination device, we'd probably all look like the famous 'Peanuts' character "Pigpen" with that ever present cloud hovering around our bodies everywhere we went. Too bad the peanuts-wiki had this to say about that well known character.
"Charles M. Schulz admitted that he came to regret "Pig-Pen's" popularity, given the character's essentially one-joke nature; he utilized the character very rarely in the later years of the strip's run."
So everyone loved 'Pig-Pen' (actually me too). I think it is because I could identify with him, and his little cloud of swirling dust. I was always outdoors as a kid. Remember the little boy saying - "sticks and snails and puppy dog tails" ? Yeah, me, and proud of it! *smile* Children today for the most part in the Industrial Societies with all manner of electronic gadgetry, are sadly foreigners when it comes to Nature and the outdoors in general. That's why the phrase has been coined "Nature Deficit Disorder". They have been brought up in an Anti-Bacterial world advertised and sold to us by Industrial Science over many generations. Of course it was all for our own good and who would dare question the authority of the then known Science back then. How often did kids back in the 50s and 60s hear their mother say the above quote at the top of this page where the little boy got his brand new clean clothes soiled ? Funny, sometimes it's still like that today. Old traditional genomically imprinted paradigms given birth to decades ago are hard to cast off. 

But this is where researchers in recent years have come up with something called, "The Hygiene Hypothesis". Here are some quotes from the Wiki article on the subject:
" . . a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents, symbiotic microorganisms (e.g., gut flora or probiotics), and parasites increases susceptibility to allergic diseases by modulating immune system development." (source)
 Or in other words, we in the industrial lands have sanitized ourselves sick or to death. It is well known that the incidence of allergies in children has risen since we have become overly preoccupied with sanitation of our world around us. The education from the past was that all those little creepy germs were bad for us. Then another  Hygiene Hypothesis article has this to say:
"Viewed through the lens of the hygiene hypothesis the modern obsession or preoccupation with sterility, equating it with cleanliness and goodness, is revealed for what it is. An unhealthy cultural artifact that arose as a consequence of the more immediate and apparent benefits from adopting modern sanitary practices and technologies. Eliminating typhoid and cholera has saved millions of lives in the aggregate since sewers and clean drinking water was introduced in North American and Western Europe for instance. But in so doing we caused the rise of the modern diseases involving immune dysregulation."  (source)
image: John Kelly
Recently there was an article on the research work done around the Chicago Metro area where it was found that water from storms drains which also feed off industrial sewage overflows, can be contaminated with all manner of pharmaceuticals like, Triclosan, which is a synthetic antibacterial widely used in personal home care products. Unfortunately, it appears to be fueling the development of resistant bacteria in streams and rivers. So the journal Environmental Science and Technology, attempted to document Triclosan resistance out in the natural environment. They have found this antibacterial resistance out in the wild, but created an experiment with an artificial stream to prove how it happens.

image: John Kelly
Article's Abstract: 
Antibacterial Products Fuel Resistant Bacteria in Streams And Rivers
Triclosan (TCS) is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial compound that is incorporated into numerous consumer products. TCS has been detected in aquatic ecosystems across the U.S., raising concern about its potential ecological effects. We conducted a field survey and an artificial stream experiment to assess effects of TCS on benthic bacterial communities. Field sampling indicated that TCS concentrations in stream sediments increased with degree of urbanization. There was significant correlation between sediment TCS concentration and the proportion of cultivable benthic bacteria that were resistant to TCS, demonstrating that the levels of TCS present in these streams was affecting the native communities. An artificial stream experiment confirmed that TCS exposure could trigger increases in TCS resistance within cultivable benthic bacteria, and pyrosequencing analysis indicated that TCS resulted in decreased benthic bacterial diversity and shifts in bacterial community composition. One notable change was a 6-fold increase in the relative abundance of cyanobacterial sequences and a dramatic die-off of algae within the artificial streams. Selection of cyanobacteria over algae could have significant implications for higher trophic levels within streams. Finally, there were no observed effects of TCS on bacterial abundance or respiration rates, suggesting that bacterial density and function were highly resilient to TCS exposure. 
Incredible! This triggered my finishing this post which I had already thought about and started, but just left it sit around for some months. For all the knowledge that the enlightened gang on this planet have at their finger tips, why do we still have and live in this artificial world we have now ? Mostly it has to do with Corporate P&L Statements. That's Profit and Loss bottom-lines. Acquiring the Big Coin is a strong motivational driver. Yet, the resulting consequences which have resulted in allowing them control the foods industry  defies all logic. But remember that newer modern day version of the "Golden Rule" ? "The one with the Gold makes the Rules".

Daniela Maschek, Institute for Wood Biology
and Wood Products, Göttingen, Germany
That's really what defines our world, among other imperfections and flaws. There was also recently another great article about the microbial world in the American Journal of Botany Rhizosphere Interactions Special Section. This is an incredible world mostly unknown and overlooked by most humans. Yet it is a foundation for all other biological life. Without them, all much larger physical life would cease to function. Wonder what we'd find it we took a closer look at Nature's P&L Statement ? With Nature however, this is known as Nature's own checks and balances. It's a system where everyone and everything benefits for FREE. As the article noted in the beginning: "We often ignore what we cannot see, and yet organisms below the soil's surface play a vital role in plant functions and ecosystem well-being." But most people don't actually know this. They are never taught this in schools early on and they should. Not that this is a secret, it's not. But people have been so thoroughly trained by every manner of television, radio and/or journal advertising scheme that the Industrial Brand Name Corporate Science has now made gardening and landscaping easier, cleaner  and more convenient for you. Actually, that is a lie. It is not more convenient, time saving and cheaper and the horrible end results over decades which has created our planet's health condition as a whole now puts it in serious jeopardy. The once perfect planetary hygiene has been seriously compromised by those who have persuaded the Public that they know more than Nature does. That's why we have countless chemicals. That's why we have GMOs, because Nature evidently got it wrong and who would know better how to create and design better biological systems than a human scientist bought and paid for by the Industry in charge of change ? 

Image: Mycorrhizal Applications Inc.
Fortunately, not everybody believes in the industrial type of science. There are companies like "Mycorrhizal Applications Inc" who not only has developed microbial products for the garden and urban landscape use sector, but also is developing products to be used on large scale Agricultural situations which is an area in which the Industrial Chemical giants have traditionally avoided. As you can see in the above photo, such biomimicry of what nature actually does and making practical application of those components, also works on a large scale application with regards large scale Agriculture needs. Unfortunately, recent grant research funds have been awarded for to various groups in the research and development of genetically modifying mycorrhizae and bacteria for root colonization. This is not only is totally unnecessary, but also hints at more of the same product patenting business schemes which were the original driver behind most of the Bio-techs agendas today. Feeding the world was always nothing more than an advertising tool. It really never was about charity and caring for fellow man. It was always a business commodities trades decision for those that profit from  the massive monocropping on industrial levels. 

Photo: Chaparral Institute
Then there are also not-for-profit organizations like the California Chaparral Institute that are determined that people be educated about how nature actually works and correcting many of the ideologically driven misconceptions and traditional believes about Nature by individuals or corporations with a vested interest in development of wildland areas. There is also an ongoing educational program by the Institute's director, Richard Halsey and his staff in reaching out to younger generations and providing an accurate education and instilling a deeper appreciation for the chaparral ecosystem early on in life. Helping all types of people understand how these wild ecosystems really work and operate and how we can restore such damaged wildlife habitats by replication of what has been observed and learned in the field. This is actually a growing interest in a research called biomimicry or biomemetics. 

So where did this obsession with microbes as evil originate ? Mostly  from Louis Pasteur we got Germ Theory and all those microscopic organisms were all lumped together as evil pathogens that had to be eradicated. Much of Pasteur's life was dedicated to finding substances that would kill the infecting organisms. Not that a certain element of pasteurization has been beneficial, but things have gone fanatically way overboard. What an open door for abuse by industrial giants this has led to. Why, new business markets had now suddenly been discovered. The medical industry suddenly became obsessed with killing the infective organism rather than promoting defense against infection. Let's be honest here, it makes for better business sense by those with a vested interesting in keeping their livelihood intact. Servicing the symptoms as opposed to preventative medicine has always made better business sense. 

Louis Pasteur's nemesis, Claude Bernard had an entirely different take. He believed one's own internal terrain as he called it or the immune system was more important. So bizarre were some of his experiments that they created quite a controversy in the Germ Theory adherents. He and his research associates consumed cultures containing millions of cholera bacteria. Yet none of them developed cholera. The reason ? Their immune systems were not compromised. Still, while fascinating, I don't think I'd even go that far. But he made the point, building up the immune system is important and it starts early on in life. That's where the Hygiene Hypothesis kicks in. Allowing kids to be exposed early on to normal healthy outdoor activity is a good thing. Unfortunately in this day and age, forcing may be necessary as kids are addicted to their sterile life altering electronic gadgetry. You know how babies have that yucky habit of putting almost any thing in their mouths ? Maybe there's something natural to that in the immune system building game that continues on as they grow up. Hindering much of this outdoors exploration either intentionally or unintentionally may be the very thing that is compromising that immune system development in the youth. There was a great Canadian study a couple years ago on this very thing. It seems the well educated set have it worse than those from developing countries when it comes to allergies. I'll post it below, but in the mean time, I'd say leave most of those microbes alone and concentrate on spending more time outdoors with your family and/or friends. Once again, there is this incredible earth networking system that needs respecting. So what do you say ?
The downside of a good education: food allergies
Update April 15th 2014
 Exercising outdoors may help boost its positive health effects in children
 Coventry University: "Health benefits of 'green exercise' for kids shown in new study"

image: Coventry University
The research was conducted on a group of 9- to 10-year-olds who had to complete multiple 15-minute cycling sessions. During one session, the children were shown pictures of a forest path which was synced to their bike; in another session, they were given no visual enhancement at all. After the session in which they were given "green stimulus," the children experienced significantly lower blood pressure than when given no stimulus. The authors of the study noted that lower blood pressure can be attributed to a lower risk of healthy problems such as cardiovascular disease. The lead researcher of the study, Dr. Michael Duncan of Coventry University had this to say regarding the results: 
"Hypertension is a chronic health problem across the world, so given the results we've seen in our study it's crucial that we continue to try to understand the role physical activity and – in particular – green exercise plays in blood pressure."
"If there is indeed a correlation between viewing scenes of nature and a lower blood pressure post exercise, as indicated by our data, it could have very positive implications in encouraging public health practitioners to prescribe outdoor exercise to reduce health risk." 
image: Tech-Addiction
There has been so many scientific research findings are coming out lately which reveal the health benefit virtues of incorporating such  wholesome qualities which influence even the development of one's personality with such attributes as kindness which results in the right type of happiness which effects one's DNA. Human cells respond in healthy, unhealthy ways to different kinds of happiness Here are some great quotes from that article. Basically it's the Hedonistic type of happiness we get from pleasure of the senses, such as going on vacation, having a good meal, enjoying a hobby, sports, other types of personal indulgences or even the common modern day party animal pursuits on the weekends. Or the Eudaimonic type of happiness, which is a contented state of being happy that we get from a noble goal that brings us pleasure. This can be working to relieve the suffering of another living being, spiritual pursuits, or searching for and finding a greater purpose in our lives. But don't believe me, read from the link above what the Scientists are now saying.
"But if all happiness is created equal, and equally opposite to ill-being, then patterns of gene expression should be the same regardless of hedonic or eudaimonic well-being. Not so, found the researchers."
Or how about the recent virtue of showing "Gratitude" which goes and and hand with "Patience" and the health benefits received not only personally, but how it effects others within the community. In the past these types of subjects have been a turn off to the modern day intellectual crowd as something religious, and yet how does that modern day expression go ? "Follow the Science ?" 
"In a potentially landmark study, a team of researchers demonstrate that feelings of gratitude automatically reduce financial impatience. The human mind tends to devalue future rewards compared to immediate ones -- a phenomenon that often leads to favoring immediate gratification over long-term wellbeing. As a consequence, patience has long been recognized to be a virtue. And indeed, the inability to resist temptation underlies a host of problems ranging from credit card debt and inadequate savings to unhealthy eating and drug addiction."
Bottom line here is, if wholesome things in life are a matter of choice in which direction you choose can have a positive effect on one's genetic make up which can also be past on to future generations, then what do negative choices have in the form of entertainment have in the same long run and does this explain the increasing violent world born out to us through the News Media ? Hollywood is hardly an example of anything decent or virtuous as this video so beautifully illustrates, although a word of caution here: This video is of the Hollywood Celebs climbing the Gun Control bandwagon, which is fine, but they are the biggest hypocrites regarding this issue. 
Hollywood Hypocrites Demand Gun Control For Citizens As Their Movies Promote Gun Violence
Parent are directly responsible for what goes into their kids minds. You can allow Hollywood and the other entertainment Tech-Venues babysit and mold & shape your kids brains or you can get them outdoors and appreciate Nature which will have a longer lasting positive benefit on them later on in life. I know most won't agree or follow this, but again, if you don't like traditional values, then at least follow some of the interesting science which is backing up that there are benefits after all. Maybe all of us should stop and allow a hygienic over haul of who we are on the inside also.  
Further Related Reading:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mountain Beavers & Fish Flinging (it's not what you think)

(Photo from Mountain Beaver Journal.)
After my last Crappy Attempt at a Post , I realized there was so much more to reveal about all manner of Nature's use of nutrient (poop) recyclers that play a part in the environment, and I'm not just referring to those ancient Megafauna guys. As with any ecosystem, for all the larger animals that exist within, there are literally hundreds or thousands of smaller biological recycling machines which break down even further what the big guys leave behind. On the subject though of Mountain Beavers, I had never really known about them until I read a post by the guy who runs the Nature of Man blog with the article Boomer the Bulldozer where he posted a few great videos of the Mountain Beaver movements in it's natural habitat. The behavior looks very much like a large gopher from the video I watched, but clearly there are differences and their appearance does resemble that of a small beaver. But unlike mostly underground dwelling Gophers, these guys climbs trees and accomplish other interesting feats in what is mostly moist habitat. The best info on them I found was from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. On their website, they have a section, "Living with Wildlife". with a page dedicated to the Mountain Beaver story.
Living With Wildlife: "Mountain Beavers"

 (Photo from Mountain Beaver Journal)
Mountain beavers, also called 'boomers', are 12 to 14 inches long and resemble large, overgrown hamsters or tailless muskrats. They have small ears and eyes, short, rudimentary tails, and large curved front claws that are used for digging, grasping, and climbing.  Mountain beavers live in moist forests, on ferny slopes, and are occasionally found in damp ravines in urban areas. Their worldwide range is the coastal lowlands and coastal mountains of southern British Columbia (from the Fraser Valley to the Cascade mountains), western Washington, western Oregon, and south into California. Most people , which includes me, don't know mountain beavers exist. The Mountain beavers are herbivores and eat a wide variety of plants which includes all above and below-ground parts of ferns, salal, nettles, fireweed, bleeding heart, salmonberry, brambles, dogwoods, vine maples, willows, alders, and conifers. Mountain beavers also eat rhododendrons and other ornamental perennials, shrubs, and trees. They eat all of their food at the location found, temporarily stored outside burrow entrances, or placed in caches inside burrow systems like the one below in the illustration.
(Drawing by Jenifer Rees.)
A cross section of a portion of a mountain beaver's burrow. Over time, their old nests, partially filled food pantries, and toilets are buried well below the surface, where the vegetation and droppings become fertilizer. Their burrow systems are most evident during the late spring and summer months when most of the digging and repairing is done. Usually there is newly excavated soil (sometimes called a "kick out") or freshly cut vegetation next to or within the entrance of a 6- to 8-inch diameter hole. The pile of vegetation of sticks also has the appearance of a Beaver Lodge. The presence of a mountain beaver (or other mammals using its tunnel system) can be recognized by the worn appearance of the tunnel floor and a lack or scarcity of spiderwebs at tunnel entrances.
These Mountain beavers also serve an important function in nature owing to the amount of soil they move and the number of vacant burrows they leave behind for other wildlife. Over time, their old nests, partially filled food pantries and toilets, are buried well below the surface, where the vegetation and droppings become fertilizer. Now we come to the subject of Poop. Mountain beaver poop is  seldom seen because they are normally deposited inside the burrow's tunnel system. Looking back up at that illustration, you'll see they have a special room for dropping deposits. If you find droppings, they are probably from another animal using the burrow. This ultimately adds to the underground fertilization of the forests and a healthy balanced Mountain Beaver population provides a measure of forest floor maintenance by weeding out too many tree or shrub seedlings. They themselves are also eaten by bobcats, coyotes, large owls, fishers, and occasionally cougars and bears. Weasels and mink eat young mountain beavers. So they play other roles in the food chain.

Rue Forest Contracting Inc.
Unfortunately, not all is well in Mountain Beaver world. The commercial Timber Industry of the Pacific Northwest absolutely hates them because they tend to go after the young delicate seedlings they just planted after raping the landscape by clear cutting. The Mountain Beavers are considered one of the biggest pests reforestation contractors and land owners have to deal with them by use of poisons which are labeled for use with the mountain beaver. However where poisoning isn't used trapping is the main way they control them. Like any other creature in any ecosystem, Mountain Beavers just do what they do. The major land disruption or disturbance by humans for the Earth's raw materials will also come ahead of most conservation efforts anyway. The average home owner as well has issues with the Mountain Beaver and like the Mtn Beaver's much maligned cousin, the Gopher, their important roles are often overlooked when an imbalance in the system created by Human's who may have dealt a heavy blow to the predatory population. Snakes, Bobcats, Coyotes etc. Even still, what an amazing animal for a healthy forested system maintenance.
Shifting some gears to another subject within this same area
image: Sound Salmon Solutions

Flingin’ Fish in the Stilly
"Nine volunteers along with four Sound Salmon Solutions AmeriCorps Interns had fun chuckin’ chum in the Pilchuck Creek Basin! The Stillaguamish Tribe Hatchery provided the salmon after they were spawned out to be raised in the hatchery and released in Harvey Creek. Volunteers then got to do the fun and dirty work of flinging 120 chum salmon in the creek and surrounding forest.  These carcasses will provide nutrients to keep the forest and ecosystem healthy, where there is no longer a chum run. Studies have found that not only do trees take in the marine derived nutrients salmon bring back from the ocean, but they are also essential to keeping a healthy forest ecosystem. The event was a lot of fun, and Sound Salmon Solution’s was glad to spend time with volunteers flinging fish. Thank you to our brave volunteers! For more information on the importance of carcass distribution check out our previous post, Flingin’ Fish in the Stilly."
The article above came out from the Sound Salmon Solutions volunteers to fling dead rotted Salmon carcasses up mountainsides and hills on both sides of river banks. The idea was to bring back from the Pacific Oceans nutrients that at one time were hauled up into forests by large Bears who caught and ate the Salmon's choice parts, but left most of the carcasses deep within the forest to break down and provide nutrients for the trees. Of course, along comes that human interference and all such recycling comes to an abrupt halt. Hence the Salmon Flingers volunteers do what the Bears once did. Hauling dead fish carcasses up a hillside in large raincoats is the latest in weekend Eco-Activities. Well, good for them and I'm glad somebody is pointing these ecosystem nutrient deficiency problems out. But seriously, do people really want an artificial world where they are responsible for doing what numerous components of natural organisms once accomplished for maintaining a healthy Earth ? I know the Hollywood gang rolls out a lot of morbid entertainment sci-fi flicks which depict a bunch of post doomsday holocaust survivors in a bizarre environment trying to scratch out a living, but who really wants that ? I don't. But that's where things are heading. It's as crazy as some of the crackpot Climate Change schemes, which demand no real change in the Human behavioral issues that have messed things up in the first place. Rather, they provide a solution for counteracting the bad effects of flawed science-based human technology. 

There is a great documentary called, "The Magic Forest", and it hits hard on this nutrient recycling issue and how our Natural World is more mutualistically tied together as opposed to the old archaic ideologically driven belief of a "Survival of the Fittest" scenario. And yet, more and more findings are revealing otherwise. Especially is this evident as whole entire ecosystems are being gradually stripped down and dismantled of their necessary components one by one in a sort of perverted reverse engineering exercise. Suddenly, things which were held as of little value are found to be extremely important. The only survival of the fittest game I've ever witnessed is the way human beings treat each other. This video documentary is almost an hour long, but well worth the time to view if you can bookmark it for later. 

Here are some research paper references for those more inclined at reading and studying, though I realize this to is a dying trend as well. Nevertheless, here they are.
Preliminary Evaluation of the Use of Nitrogen Stable Isotope Ratios to Establish Escapement Levels for Pacific Salmon
Nutrients in Salmonid Ecosystems: Sustaining Production and Biodiversity
Adding Nutrients to Enhance Salmon Runs: Developing a Coherent Public Policy
Skokomish River Salmon Flinging with 4.H and U.S.F.S.
Just some concluding comments about where this system is headed 
Well, other than presenting time and again some interesting facts of what the real Science of wonder and discovery [Industrial Corporate Science not included] are revealing to us about our natural world and dismantling of old outdated paradigms, how do you reach the hearts of an otherwise disconnected and out of touch Public on the dire situation facing this planet's ability to continue to function for the benefit of all living things on it ? For me illustrations from familiar situations seem to always be the best method. Most ecosystems around the planet have seriously over time had their various mechanical components disrupted in one way or another. In some cases, major components have been completely obliterated. This has been exceptionally accelerated in the past one hundred years as we approach 2014. I use this date counting backwards as it was also used by Austrian Forester, Viktor Schauberger, who before his death and looking back, made an emphatic statement of how the Earth's environmental ruin beginning with World War I onward. He said it was a turning point in history and he was absolutely correct in more ways than he ever have possibly known back at that time.

So perhaps I can illustrate the extreme severity of the situation by comparing the Earth to a top of the line best engineered Automobile ever designed. At least most people in the Industrial Nations will relate to this. How far and how long would it take such a well put together automobile to come to an abrupt stop after being gradually dismantled bit by bit and piece by piece ? You could start out small with miscellaneous nuts and bolts here and there, nothing major and certainly no noticeable effect on the performance of the vehicle. Removing things that have mostly to do with comfort [seats, windows, etc] and decor [trim, ornamentation, hub caps, etc] would not necessarily hinder engine performance, but it would take away that aesthetic appeal it once originally had that made it so attractive. Gradually you could remove things like mirrors, bumpers, emergency hand parking brake, etc and even though the actual performance of the engine has in no way been hindered, there are now clearly some safety concerns for all occupants. And it's these safety features that are now missing in Nature that have really accelerated more so in the past 100 years. But now that the doors are completely missing, windshield is busted out, no hood nor trunk lids remain, we can now focus attention on the dismantling of the engine compartment itself. How much could you remove from this compartment before all function is compromised ? Well, you could start by removing altogether the climate control apparatus like the Air Conditioner and Heater components, but you've further compromised your comfort zone, especially is this serious since the destination is so long as far as travel goes. This clearing could endanger the health of the driver and passengers since at times the journey does travel through extreme weather events. No matter though, at least the engine still functions. I know, it sounds crazy, but that is where we are today. 

Unfortunately, the unscientific & illogical solutions being presented don't actually offer any reversal of the irresponsible behavior that has brought us thus far. The totally irresponsible incompetence of our automobile's maintenance record on this journey is now almost like us being out in a remote middle of nowhere scenario. We now find we have a few mechanical issues that need taking care of and we are unfortunately at the mercy of the mechanical expertise found only at Ralph's Garage. This fly by night pseudo-mechanic tells us we don't need that inline electrical fuel pump which feeds the engine the needed petrol for continued forwards motion. He bypasses the manufacturer's instruction manual which explains how things should actually function and how to replace those worn out parts with genuine Factory parts. He ignores the chapter on how to rebuild the system as the system was originally designed and tells us he can Jerry-rig a contraption from old bicycle parts and how the person in the passenger seat can run the new pump manually which will also feed fuel into the system and run the car's engine. I know this sounds ludicrous, but that's exactly where we are now with some of the idiocy being presented for reversing climate change and ecological ruin. Some of the solutions being fed to the public by the very leadership that is supposed to be the specialists in their respective fields are just as insane as my automobile scenario. Seriously, look at some of their Eco-Solutions  

Google the Video Clip on your own
One of the best movies scenes of all time that describes the thinking and reasoning of this world's leadership regarding how dire things really are here for the Earth is the movie scene where John Candy tries explaining the melted speedometer to the police officer and why the fact that the Car still moves and barely operates is no problem in the movie - "Plains, Trains and Automobiles" - Seriously, if nothing else, you need to watch just that one entire scene. It's hilarious, unlike the true life situation regarding our planet Earth. I can't find a good link here in Sweden for you as it won't play for me here, so you'll have to Google it for yourself. You'll know exactly what I'm talking about as you watch and compare it to the topic of climate change and  those who find no real sense of urgency as to where the Earth is headed. If you really want to live in a futuristic Sci-Fi world where artificial nutrient recycling like fish flopping in the Woods and genetically modifying organisms to eat CO2s get released into the environment to counteract irresponsible behavior, then follow the present world leadership. If you'd rather be educated through the instruction manual on how Nature actually works and how human behavior needs to change, then the change has to begin with you, then your family, then friends, neighbours, community and so forth. This is not an endorsement to angry violent activism, it's just some common sense wake up call advice. Again, just for added emphasis, the first thing you need to do is get yourself educated. Getting a great education also requires generous amounts of time spent in outdoor experience. Reading books by others and wearing a white coat in an otherwise disconnected Lab won't cut it here. Then from that education and personal hands on experience make the practical applications necessary from what you've learned in rebuilding Nature's various complex mechanical components within your own garden, landscape or Habitat Restoration Project. Help reboot the Earth's natural maintenance mechanisms as opposed to sitting back and accepting the science fictional proposals by Industrial Science and the world's inept though perhaps well meaning political leadership which offer nothing but keep the Earth on Artificial Life Support. How you personally proceed from this point forward of course is your business.
Great References:
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
LIVING WITH WILDLIFE: "Mountain Beavers"
Mountain Beaver Journal

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Biological Power Plants & Electrical Mechanisms ?
We all know and understand that we Humans and Animals respond quickly to being wounded via our  nervous system. There was a research  paper published in 1992 made the then the controversial suggestion that plants too use long-distance electrical signals in response to wounding. Of course we've all heard of people claim to be able to talk to plants and get either a positive or negative response. Such things bring up controversy and debate. But it has since become clear to many researchers that some plants use electrical signalling to control their movements [like a Sunflower following the Sun], although the genes underlying this are unknown. Now comes solid experimental and genetic evidence to support those earlier findings on such a signalling mechanism within plants. Edward Farmer and his colleagues demonstrated that wounding the leaf of a plant we know as the common thale cress or Arabidopsis which is a plant often used as a model organism for studying plant biology. The study resulted in the propagation of electrical activity that stimulates the production of plant hormones that confer resistance against herbivores and pathogens, at undamaged sites some distance from the wound. How exciting. Who knew plants actually used electricity ? Gives new meaning to the conventional human understanding term 'Power Plants'.

The paper may be found here, although most of it is behind a Paywall, but they did provide a video and some graphics illustrating the signaling process does indeed exist by means of electrodes which reveal on the graph that indeed some type of electrical signaling was going on. Who would have thought that caterpillar merely walking across a leaf offered no response, but actually cutting the leaf would send an electrical alarm signal spreading at 9 cm per minute when eaten. Someone has uploaded the video on YouTube, but I'll post a chart and link below of the video from Nature's site. It is helpful to full-screen the video (which may do so in the link automatically) to watch both the actual image of the caterpillar interacting with the leaf and the electrical graphs which show an actual electrical response simultaneously. 
Nature Video: Plant Biology: Electrical Defense Response

(click to enlarge image)
I do understand that for many, this subject may be a bit boring. But please, don't let it be so. In this electronics day and age, everyone should be fascinated by the intricate sophistication found out in Nature, especially with plants who unlike us have no brain or central nervous system as we know them. Let's hope that such information doesn't get shelved only to be conversed about by a select few intellectuals. Public appreciation is most important if the Earth's natural mechanisms are going to be respected by the public as a whole. While there have been many articles and research done on Plants producing specific chemical compounds to ward off insect attacks, the receipt of the signal messaging system seems to turn on or trigger a specific gene expression for these defense compounds. Such communication has not been understood previously and much remains a mystery, but we now have far more respect for our plants.

Such signaling may also help us to better explain and/or understand how and why plants release VOCs (aerosols) & electrical ions under  certain specific environmental conditions into our Earth's atmosphere which enhances cloud formation and rainfall. The question is, how or what does the trigger releasing for this signal ? Especially is this important with regards 'Climate Change' as many still do not find a connection between healthy old growth vegetation on Earth and it's influence in moderating Earth's climate driving machine which itself is created from physical mechanisms regarding our planet Earth. It is true, Storms develop and move from off the Earth's Oceans and move over the dry land, but what their eventual outcome potential will be over the landscape may well depend on how healthy and functional the healthy vegetation is on the surface. We know that desertification has resulted from vegetation removal in many areas of the Earth. I personally have seen summer monsoonal changes with respect cloud formation with the removal of chaparral plant communities from a specific area. A friend of mine originally from Kenya Africa told me yesterday that the common illiterate people of the rural countryside there completely cut down the forests for their fuel wood or the manufacture of Charcoal for European Bar-B-Q grill coals industry. They are not knowledgeable enough to understand that you need to replant. The horrific result has been more and more disruption in rainfall patterns. Well, how could that be ? After all, are not storms only clouds formed over oceans and moving over land masses dumping their contents - Right ? No, there is far more and people everywhere need to get this through their heads. The only way I can further explain the fine tuning influences vegetation plays in it's role of weather moderation is using a Car's Engine as a comparison. 

Anyone ever work on an early technology car or truck which had the old technology ignition system utilizing distributor points and condenser ? Many reading won't have a clue what I'm getting at, although I hope you do. Although the mechanical features of a vehicle's engine components are incredibly amazing and sophisticated, they would offer no mode of travel operation if they were not finely tuned. The old distributor system offered a timing solution which allowed for smooth driving operation. If the system was off in it's timing one point variation or another, the entire disruption would be very noticeable to the driver and perhaps any passengers. If the system's distributor were advanced by even a slight degree, then this off set  timing would create an over heating problem effect even though the automobile would still be quite capable of some functional movement. However, drive up a hill and you'll watch that  temperature gauge climb ever higher until the radiator wants to blow. I actually found this out by experience when someone gave me a dull olive green 1966 Dodge Bell Telephone Van with a Slant Six engine. Fun vehicle to drive, but I never understood the over heating I experienced till it was shown and explained to me by a mechanic. If the distributor timing is retarded, the engine shakes almost violently when the gas pedal is accelerated. The fascinating thing was, when you actually looked at the timing settings, the degree of change was not that much in order to create either a negative or positive response. The setting though had to be exact. As time went on however, this mechanical understanding for me has become clearer as an illustrative mirror to the living world's marvelous interactions between organisms and the Earth's environment.
Horizon: "Global Dimming"
To understand and appreciate how fractions of a degree can make a huge difference in climate, please watch the documentary on "Global Dimming" where a researcher, who after the no flight pattern was ordered after the 911 attacks on the World Trade Towers, proceeded to measure the temperature changes in the atmosphere which changed by a mere 1 degree after no flights were over North America for almost a week.
Meteo Systems International AG
Yes, the various components of physics on Earth's mechanical processes help to create and drive Earth's storm systems. The Coreolis Effect, Low & High Pressure, etc. But the weather hardware so to speak is like that cars engine. All the parts are important and will accomplish it's purposed outcome, but not properly functional without it's timing mechanisms. We can see what has happened as Earth's weather has made more abnormal destructive changes. In the case of climate and localized weather events, healthy vegetation is a must. Another easy way of illustrating the mechanism for weather moderation is what Meteo Systems of Switzerland claimed to have accomplished in 2011 in Dubai. They claimed at the time to have created 52 Thunderstorms which dropped rain in the desert on the Arabian Peninsula. While initially, they were vague in their explanation of what they accomplished and how they did it, if you did an actual research online of their Patents for their weather creation apparatus, the components revealed were vaguely familiar. In a nutshell they released electrical negative ions along with aerosols into the atmosphere. Now, they just didn't do this out of thin dry air. What they apparently did was they actually tapped into what is known as the Somalie Monsoonal Flow which travels up from the Horn of Africa east coast on it's way to Central Asia. This flow is merely heavily accumulated humid air for which they replicated an artificial industrial level forest system, for which real vegetation systems normally accomplish if it is in a health state within an ecosystem. There have also be News Reports and research studies which shed light on the destruction of the Amazon Basin's rain forests which are said to be effecting the weather of the entire South American continent. Well, how could this be if weather is nothing more than mere physics ?  

What's sad is that mankind has through their obsession with consumerism (among other disruptive motives or actions), has reverse engineered our planet's natural systems either knowingly or unknowingly in seeking the Earth's natural resources to drive their economic engines and it's only now after certain of these natural components are missing that we understand and feel their loss to the entire system. Whether or not people actually get this is irrelevant. The natural system has worked this way for countless thousands of years and it should be respected. It's a sort of, "If it's not broken why fix it" scenario. No amount of artificial weather modification is going to replace what is the reality. Unfortunately, the information on all of this is compartmentalized separately by Scientists working in various specialized fields. But they really need to dump their tunnel vision of focus or field of interest and come together with others of varying backgrounds in cooperation and sharing their research findings from their respective fields with one another if they truthfully want to get a handle on this phenomena known as 'Climate Change'. Of course we don't live in that type of cooperative world globally, although some may be open to the idea locally. But the Earth is going to reach a point of no return where all the reverse engineering itself may reach a point of not being able to being put back together again. Makes me think of my brother who dismantled my HO scale Diesel Electric locomotive to find out how it worked, only to be incapable of putting it back together again. But I have a feeling things will not be allowed to reach that point. What do you think ?        

Reading References:

"System Potentials, a Novel Electrical Long-Distance Apoplastic Signal in Plants, Induced by Wounding" (2009)

Wikipedia: "Mechanically Timed Ignition"

Horizon: 'Global Dimming'