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Quote of the Week
The last edition
of the Almanac contained an amusing error, practically reversing the
meaning of a passage by swapping in "defy" where "deify" should have
been. What a difference "I" can make! With the Woods' Walk still in
memory, let''s give Bill Bryson's book another chance, full of good
quotes as it is . . .
There is no point in hurrying because you are not going
anywhere. However far or long you plod, you are always in the same
place: in the woods. It's where you were yesterday, where you will be
tomorrow. The woods is one boundless singularity. Every bend in the path
presents a prospect indistinguishable from every other, every glimpse
into the trees the same tangled mass. For all you know, your route could
describe a very large, pointless circle. In a way, it would hardly
--Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods
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.
Wednesday, March 14, 3:00 pm, Edgartown.
Samantha Whitcraft discusses the importance of sharks, shark myths, and
ways to help protect sharks. Free. At the M.V. Museum, click here
Sustainable Book Club Visits Eaarth
Wednesday, March 21, 5:30 pm at the Vineyard Haven Library.
The Sustainable Book Club’s March selection is Eaarth
by environmental activist Bill McKibben. The book offers an in-depth,
sobering, yet ultimately optimistic approach to dealing with the
situation we're now facing. From Barbara Kingsolver -- "What I have to
say about this book is very simple: Read it, please. Straight through to
the end. Whatever else you were planning to do next, nothing could be
Copies of Eaarth
are available at the library or through CLAMS.
Climate Reality Project Presents:
The Climate Crisis is Real & We Know How to Solve It
Tuesday, March 27, 7:00 pm at the VH Library
Mary Jane Sorrentino, an experienced presenter from the Climate Reality Project
will make suggestions for what role citizens can play in addressing
what the Pentagon calls the greatest long-term threat to our nation. The
Project aims "to reveal the complete truth about the climate crisis in a
way that ignites the moral courage in each of us."
In Season Recipe
Stuffed Quahogs, Fresh from the Vineyard
"Stuffies" and kale: a very local pairing
This week we share Virgina Jones' recipe for stuffed quahogs
from her book, Fresh from the Vineyard
As in this recipe, it's the large chowder quahogs that are usually
stuffed, both for their large size (more, but tougher, meat) and lower
price. But for those who enjoy the occasional recreational hand-clamming
(or raking), this is a fun recipe that will also work for the
cherrystone size clams you'll pull up while looking for littlenecks and
scallops. Sure, it's more work to stuff cherrystones, but, as Ginny
Jones points out, if it was about the work you can just buy them already
stuffed at Larsen's -- those are plenty good.
Fresh from the Vineyard, by Virginia Jones, features recipes that take advantage of our bounty of local produce, meats, and seafood. Proceeds from sales of the book (see VCS website
for locations) will benefit both VCS and the Island Grown Initiative,
two organizations that – in very different ways – have helped promote
and sustain local agriculture.
|Monday, March 12, 2012
Winter Walk at the Woods Preserve: Ecological Change on Display
Mya O'Neill and Liz Loucks lead the way (Photo by Brendan O'Neill, click to enlarge)
Fifty people (and two dogs) came out to the Frances Newhall Woods
Preserve yesterday for the final outing of this year’s Winter Walks
series. Led by Liz Loucks of The Nature Conservancy and Brendan O’Neill
of VCS, walkers learned about the flora and fauna of the 512-acre
property, and it’s preservation via conservation restriction due to the
efforts of both organizations. The ecology of change – not only to the
flora and fauna, but also to the physical environment – was impossible
to overlook and a popular point of discussion. After several consecutive
years of heavy caterpillar defoliation, what was once thick oak forest
has become a transitional habitat. Shady and sometimes damp is becoming
sunny, drier, and suddenly nutrified, as the stored energy in
decades-old trees crashes down to the ground and returns to the soil.
David Foster, director of Harvard Forest, made the case that not only is
this not tragic, it’s not even particularly unusual – this is an
ecological cycle that has been going on for centuries. (Cont. at VCS website)
Help Keep Prescription Drugs Out of Vineyard Waters
After flushing or dumping down the drain, many drugs retain their biological activity once they reach the water supply. Photo by Carly Lesser and Art Drauglis.
By Dave Nash
As a follow-up to the successful prescription drug collection effort
held by the Dukes County Sheriff’s office, the Edgartown Police Dept.
have now implemented a collection box
of their own. Providing a safe disposal option for prescription drugs
not only helps keep them from misuse, but also lessens the chance that
these pharmaceuticals will cause adverse environmental impacts. The
absolute worst, but unfortunately common, disposal method is to pour or
flush these materials down the drain. Many pharmaceuticals, even
over-the-counter ones, can cause negative impacts on septic systems and
harm aquatic vegetation and wildlife. Even after processing at
wastewater treatment facilities, the potential for harm remains. The
other option available to us until now has been to put them in the
trash; however, unless pills are crushed and liquids mixed with sawdust
or kitty litter, the possibility of them being reused still exists. For
some of these materials, incineration still does not guarantee complete
destruction. A far better alternative is now available in the program
established by the Edgartown P.D.
Global Warming, Winter Cooling
Satellite imagery from NASA
depicts the extent of winter sea ice. The thick ice formed over many
years is shown in the central bright white; the lighter white areas
indicate thinner ice.
By Phil Henderson
As reported by the BBC,
a new study carried out by a joint US/China team links rapidly melting
Arctic ice to the dramatically more severe winter weather over recent
years across North America, Europe, and China. It says that the Arctic
has undergone rapid melting over recent decades, caused by global
temperature rise -- ice cover of Arctic waters has declined by roughly
two million square kilometers between 1979 and 2012. The trend line is
steadily downward, and this winter also appears to be tracking the
trend. Long range weather trends have multiple causes, such as El
Niño/La Niña cycles and natural changes in the sun's energy output, but
one of the study's authors says "We don't see a predictive relationship
with any of the other factors that have been proposed, such as El Niño;
but for sea ice, we do seea predictive relationship."
In a nutshell, the climate impacts are the result of weakening of the
jet stream due to reduced Arctic sea ice. When more of the ocean is free
of ice in the autumn, it releases more heat than usual. This warms the
atmosphere, reducing the air temperature difference between the Arctic
and the northern latitudes. This in turn reduces the strength of the jet
stream, which ordinarily moderates Europe's weather. The southward flow
of cold air from the Arctic, enabled by the weakening of these normal
"blocking" conditions, can combine with increased humidity in the
atmosphere (resulting from extra evaporation from the exposed Arctic
waters), and all of the ingredients are in place for more severe winter
At this point, you may be thinking “Oh really? So how come we've had a
non-winter on MV??” Well, the jet stream over the US for much of this
winter has dipped far to the south, letting the Arctic air bring
terribly bad storms and snow to most of the country – but the jet stream
swerved back to the north just before reaching the east coast, and in
fact had the beneficial effect for us of carrying warm air from Texas
and other southern states straight eastward, collecting more of it from
Florida, and bringing it nearly straight north up the coast to us.
That's my guess.
The original study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; see abstract here, subscription req’d for full articles.