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Quote of the Week
"In America, alas, beauty has become something you strive to, and nature
an either/or proposition -- either you ruthlessly subjugate it, as at
Tocks Dam and a million other places, or you deify it, treat it as
something holy and remote, a thing apart, as along the Appalachian
Trail. Seldom would it occur to anyone on either side that people and
nature could coexist to their mutual benefit"
--Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods
What a Difference 2½ Months Makes
A concise photo essay of Wasque, Chappaquiddick
by Dana Gaines
Click images to enlarge
Wednesday, March 7, 2:00 to 4:00 pm, Vineyard Haven
Free gently worn clothing at the Christ United Methodist Church (Stone
Church). Re-use beats recycling any day. (Also on Sat., 9:00 - 11:00).
For more info, call 508-693-4424.
Polly Hill Winter Walk
Saturday, March 10, 10:00 am at the Polly Hill Arboretum.
Observe back patterns, tree architecture, and winter flowers and fruits
in the ever-changing "off season." Walks begin at the visitor's center
and run about an hour. Free. For more info, see website
or call 508-693-9426.
Protecting Tisbury's Land and Water
Tuesday, March 13, 7:00 pm at the Vineyard Haven Library.
Join Tisbury officials for a panel discussion of how decisions are made
regarding conservation priorities. For more info, call 508-696-4211.
Winter Kids' Programs
Nature Program for Home Schoolers
Tuesdays, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, Sassafras, Aquinnah
Spend the day outside, doing activities and playing games that build a
connection to nature and each other. For ages K-8, $45 for walk-ins.
Bring a lunch and water bottle. See website
for more information.
Alpaca Junior Discovery
Sundays, 9:30 to 11:00 am, at Island Alpaca, OB
Feeding, barn chores, and more. For ages 8 and up, $25 ($20 for
accompanying adults). Pre-register at 508-693-5554. For directions and
more information see islandalpaca.com
Mondays, 3:30 to 5:00 pm, at the FARM Institute, Katama
Join Meredith every Monday to collect eggs, visit the sheep and make a
healthy snack. For ages 5 - 7, $15. Call 508-627-7007 x103 to register.
|Monday, February 27, 2012
A Walk in the Woods' Woods
Frances Newhall Woods Preserve with Fisher Pond visible in background
Join VCS for the finale of this year’s winter walks series, Sunday March
11 at the Frances Newhall Woods Preserve. The walk begins at 1:00 and
will last approximately 2 hours, with Liz Loucks from The Nature
Conservancy and Brendan O’Neill from VCS leading. From West Tisbury,
proceed up North Road approximately 1 mile and look for VCS signs on the
left. Call the VCS office for additional information, 508 693-9588, but
note that the office is closed on weekends. Please dress for the
The 512-acre Woods Preserve is private land protected through the gift
of a Conservation Restriction to The Nature Conservancy (TNC). VCS has
led annual supervised public walks on the property since its permanent
protection in 1991. The CR protects miles of scenic roadside views and
the imposing morainal ridge line visible from all over the Island, as
well as about one-half mile of the Mill Brook watershed. The Brook is
the major freshwater tributary to the Tisbury Great Pond and home to a
population of the rare American Brook Lamprey (Lampetra appendix),
recognized by conservation biologists as an indicator species of high
water quality. By helping to secure water quality, the CR also protects
drinking water supplies and the viability of the economically important
shellfish resource in the Pond.
Located at the margin where the Island's glacial terminal moraine gives
way to rich outwash plain soils, the Woods Preserve represents a large,
intact ecosystem that has offered managers a rare opportunity to
practice ecosystem-level analysis and biological study. At least eight
distinct natural communities, ten different soil types, more than 200
plant and animal species, and more than 60 bird species have been
documented to date. The size and diversity of the Preserve has allowed
TNC to conduct research and monitor the consequences of natural events
like the caterpillar devastation of recent years, as well as the impacts
of various management techniques on this macro-level.
For the story of the preservation of the property and the history of the new Agricultural Hall, see VCS website.
Big Oil Backing Off of Climate Denial?
Skepticism, invaluable to
scientific progress, can be overdone by the public (from the
"Understanding Science" series of U.C. Berkeley)
It takes a lot of cash to maintain that peculiar style of balance
portrayed in mainstream news coverage: that despite the fact that 97-98%
of climate scientists accept the basic climate change consensus, to be
fair we must give equal time to both sides to “debate the controversy.”
In recent years, the world’s largest oil companies and allied interest
groups, such as the American Petroleum Institute, have provided a lot of
the funding for groups devoted to “climate skepticism.” Those groups in
turn promote the ideas of the remaining 2-3% of climate scientists
(along with anyone else in the public eye, such as TV weather
forecasters), from funding their research programs to ensuring their
voices are heard frequently and loudly.
A recent leak of fundraising documents from the Heartland Institute, a
public policy nonprofit, provides an inside look at how one group works
to undermine the public’s understanding of the scientific consensus. One
example: providing $200,000 to create a new curriculum
for public schools, in hopes of combating the “alarmist perspective”
students have been receiving. (Sounds a lot like teaching the
controversy of evolution in biology class.) There’s more interesting
material than can even be touched on here, so please click over to the
NY Times article above, a good summary, and Brad Plumer’s blog at the
Washington Post, which breaks out five cogent observations
from the documents. (One example: he explains that these groups don’t
necessarily corrupt individual scientists, their mission is more to
amplify the voices of the few who already agree with them.)
Continued at VCS website, 2nd column
We Play by Different Rules: The Heartland Leak, Cont.
Media balance in the modern era (from the "Understanding Science" series of U.C. Berkeley)
An interesting and unfortunate subplot (which is threatening to become
the main plot) to the Heartland leaks is the authenticity of the
documents, and how they were acquired. By his own (belated) admission,
the leaker was well-known climate scientist Peter Gleick, who (according
to his statement)
sent deceptive emails to the Heartland Institute in an attempt to
determine the veracity of a document he had received from an anonymous
source. In return, he received the rest of the leaked materials, eight
documents related to budgets and fundraising strategy. What Gleick did
was unethical (although he has apologized, unlike the person or group
who stole emails in the “Climategate” scandal), but the information he
collected is no less valid because of how it was obtained.
What has legitimately confused the matter, though, is that one of the
documents that Gleick leaked – the original paper from the anonymous
source – is almost certainly a fake,
and a fairly obvious one at that, containing over-the-top language such
as “effort will focus on providing curriculum . . . effective at
dissuading teachers from teaching science.” All of the other documents
are almost surely authentic, as determined by follow-up press interviews
with Heartland officials and their donors; further, Heartland has
acknowledged that they sent the documents, though they have refused to
officially confirm or deny their accuracy (other than the fake one).
Continued at VCS website, 2nd column