Old Growth


Two thirds of British Columbia is forest, trees far as the eye can see in every direction. So why the fuss over old growth forest? Trees grow back, right? Plant another, heck plant five and call it progress. Never mind eradication of ancient ecosystems, extinction of plants and animal species unique to old growth habitats, soil erosion or contamination of fresh water. How can anyone look at this photo without regret? Within hours of Vancouver Island resident Lorna Beecroft posting this image on Facebook, B.C. Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resources announced it was looking into the tree’s history. Soon thereafter, a ministry spokesperson defended the cut as legal.

According to the Ministry of Forests the tree was cut down on northern Vancouver Island sometime between March and August 2020, a month before Special Tree Protection legislation became law on September 11, 2020. ( Linked below ) In a nutshell, vaguely worded legislation purported to protect approximately 1,500 behemoth old growth trees without stepping on “big timber” toes. Ministry of Forests spokesperson feigned regret, “today, a tree of this size might well be illegal to harvest under the regulation, and fines of up to $100,000 could be imposed if it was.”

qa_stpr.pdf (gov.bc.ca)

“Might” well be illegal to harvest, ought to read “large as this tree appears, it wouldn’t qualify for special protection”. According to Jens Weiting, Sierra Club BC’s senior forest and climate campaigner, Sitka Spruce less than 283 centimetres diameter at breast height don’t qualify for special protection. (283 centimetres = roughly 9.2 feet ). Maximum width of standard logging trucks is 260 Cm, Do the math. B.C. Ministry of Forests isn’t interested in saving old growth trees.

B.C.’s viral big tree on truck would still be logged today, conservationists say – Prince George Citizen

The Fairy Creek and Caycuse watersheds on Southern Vancouver Island fall under Tree Farm License 46, controlled by Teal Jones Forest Ltd. On April 1, 2021 provincial court granted Teal Jones a injunction to remove protesters obstructing access to old growth trees. As of yesterday RCMP report 137 arrests and counting. It’s going to take more than an injunction to diffuse old growth logging outrage.

Hundreds protest at B.C. premier’s office as arrests at old-growth logging blockades continue | CTV News

Lorna Beecroft took this photo on Tuesday morning on the Nanaimo Parkway on Vancouver Island.
© Lorna Beecroft Vancouver Island resident Lorna Beecroft could not believe her eyes when she saw this tree being driven down the Nanaimo Parkway on Tuesday morning.

Photographer TJ Watt at Photos reveal scope of old-growth forest logging in B.C. | The Narwhal lends visual perspective to the demise of old growth trees –

side by side comparisons of man standing by a large tree before and after it was cut down
Before and after images of Watt standing beside a large twinned old-growth cedar that he later photographed as a stump in a clearcut.  Photo: TJ Watt

Google Earth Timelapse


Google Earth recently added a timelapse feature, equal parts mesmerizing, sobering and incredible. Timelapse in Google Earth combines 24 million satellite photos captured between 1984 and 2020. That’s 37 years of deforestation, urban sprawl, shrinking glaciers, tar sands, agriculture, irrigation, mining and coastal erosion in high definition interactive timelapse. Choose a theme, play, pause on a given year, zoom in, scroll about – kudos Google, job well done. Google Earth introduced Timelapse as “longest video in the world”, 20 petabytes ( one petabyte equals a million gigabytes ), my head spins.

Click below to explore Google Earth Timelapse –

Timelapse – Google Earth Engine

Aurora Flirts With Lava at the Blue Lagoon


On March 19, 2021 Iceland’s Geldingadular volcano woke from a six thousand year slumber. A relatively minor eruption, more curiosity than threat by Icelandic standards despite being 20 kilometers from Reykjavik. Burping Geldingadular isn’t far from the Blue Lagoon, a man-made geothermal spa fed by water from a nearby power plant. Blue Lagoon (geothermal spa) – Wikipedia On March 31st, Wioleta Gorecka ran with a friend’s suggestion to capture the “big three” – volcanic eruption, aurora and the blue lagoon. Her whim took my breath away –

Aurora (spaceweathergallery.com)

Is It a UFO?


The mind’s eye likes to categorize images based on reference, circumstance and familiarity. Be it dark or daylight skies, we thrive on recognizable predictability. From contrails to crescent moon, ominous storm clouds to constellation Orion, familiar skyscapes fit like comfortable slippers. By virtue of our nature, everything we see is processed according to common knowledge. So what happens when perception defies instinctive categorization? When “I’ve never seen a cloud like that” or “that can’t possibly be an airplane” muddies reflexive comprehension? Void of immediate explanation some ask themselves, is it a UFO?

Ponder this image. How does your mind’s eye categorize eerie concentric circles punctuated with a tilted ascending beam of blue light? Extraterrestrial origin or definable illusion? In December 2009 a failed Russian ballistic missile test created this illusion in skies over Norway. Rings of light stem from spiraling trajectory following third stage missile failure.

Image: Spiral

Russia admits missile caused UFO lights (nbcnews.com)

How about this –

Gallery_Iridium_f.jpg (290×200)

UFO? No, it’s a Iridium flare. “Iridium” flare terminology stems from a constellation of communications satellites first launched in 1997 by Iridium Communications. Satellites generally appear as slow moving “stars” to the untrained eye. The original 66 Iridium satellites have been phased out, replaced by second generation SpaceX low orbit installations. That said, for the past 20 years momentary bright flashes occurred up to four times a day when reflective antenna caught sunlight.

Understanding Iridium Flares (thoughtco.com)

And this –

See the source image

Lenticular cloud over Mount Fuji.

Lenticular cloud forms above mountains when stable moist air rises, meets cold air which forces it to settle in oscillating rings. A phenomenon associated with storm fronts.

UFOs In The Clouds — Lenticular Clouds, That Is — Fire Our Imaginations Of Alien Visitors | HuffPost Canada (huffingtonpost.ca)

From weather balloons, drones, funky clouds, upper atmosphere ice crystals bending light, low orbit satellites to bright magnitude planet Venus, the mind’s eye demands explanation. Is it a UFO? Probably not. 99.9% of the time there’s a perfectly logical explanation.

Adrien Mauduit, Sept. 2020 Geomagnetic Storm Timelapse


From Senja, Norway Adrien Mauduit of Night Lights Films captured ethereal timelapse of geomagnetic storms between September 25 – 28, 2020.

As I write Earth orbit passes through a stream of gaseous plasma erupting from a “hole” in the Sun. Solar wind rages at 610 km per second. Predicted to spew well into tomorrow, fair skies could see auroras as far south as Montana and Michigan.

Treat yourself to mesmerizing respite courtesy Adrien Mauduit. Five minutes of bliss guaranteed to soften furrowed brows, smooth jagged nerves and gawk at majesty of the cosmos.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCC0CLzCpM6nuLSAi1JNBjkA

Global Air Quality Index – Vancouver B.C. Worst In the World


A closed Canada/U.S. border is no match for invasive plumes of wildfire smoke blanketing the West Coast. For days, stinging brown haze has beset Vancouver, obliterating sunlight, vying with Seattle and Portland for worst air quality in the world. This morning Vancouverites woke to a staggering reality – official ranking as most hazardous air to breathe in the world. Link to worldwide air quality – https://aqicn.org/here/

See the source image
See the source image

I’m not crying in my maple syrup or diminishing the plight of countless thousand American lives impacted by the inferno. What I am is alarmed by unprecedented voracity of this disaster. Wildfire season is a fact of life, periodic stretches of regional forest fire smoke settle over Vancouver every few years. What I can’t recall is Vancouver ever having the worst air quality in the world. Nor air so hazardous Canada Post suspends mail delivery, If this is the face of climate disruption, we need to take notice.

See the source image

https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/vancouver-worst-air-quality-world-september-14-2020

Extended Weather Forecasting in Pandemic Times


Seems pandemic times directly impact accuracy of extended weather forecasts. Who knew commercial air traffic accounted for 700,000 meteorological reports a day? Few realize commercial airliners collect and relay data on air pressure, humidity, air temperature and wind speed as the fly their route. 50-75% fewer commercial flights a day translates to a huge gap in weather data available to forecasters. One – three day predictions remain relatively accurate. Notable inaccuracy plagues four – fourteen day forecasts.

https://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/covid-19-air-travel-restrictions-have-reduced-accuracy-of-global-weather-forecasts-2020-07-17

Coronavirus-is-messing-with-the-weather-forecast-too.jpg (640×427)

Coronavirus is messing with the weather forecast too

Winning Dark Sky Images


In May of this year the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) held its first annual Capture the Dark photography competition. Tasked with capturing  “meaning of the night”, participants were invited to submit images in one of five categories – Connecting to the Dark, International Dark Sky Places, Impact of Light Pollution, Bright Side of Lighting and Youth.

Connecting to the Dark winner –

Child with butterfly net containing several stars, star in deep blue sky just above net.

View larger | Mihail Minkov captured this photo, which is titled Star Catcher. The photo is from the Black Sea Coast of Bulgaria. It’s the 1st-place winner in 2020’s IDA photo contest, in the Connecting to the Dark category.

International Dark Sky Places winner –

Milky Way above steep wooded valley with rocky stream in foreground.

iew larger. | Jean-Francois Graffand captured this image at the Pic du Midi International Dark Sky Reserve in France. It’s the winner in the International Dark Sky Places category. The photo is titled Dark Night in Pyrénées Mountains.

Impact of Light Pollution winner –

A few stars visible in brightly lit night sky above hills with square tower in distance.

View larger. | Petr Horálek captured this image at the Great Wall of China. It’s the winner in the Impact of Light Pollution category. The photo is titled Remembering the Old Times.

Bright Side of Lighting winner –

Milky Way arching over streaming waterfall in hills with nearby evergreen trees.

View larger. | Jean-Francois Graffand captured this photo at the Pyrénées National Parc in France. It’s the winner in the Bright Side of Lighting category. It’s titled The Celestial River.

Youth winner –

Milky Way over distant farm building past wide field of red paintbrush flowers and bluebonnet flowers.

View larger.| Nayana Rajesh, age 16, captured the winning entry in the Youth category. The photo is set in Ennis, Texas. It’s titled “The Barn.”

View all winning and finalist submissions – https://darksky.app.box.com/s/yzvnppjej02asjtwvjsxmyr4twxr3e8g

Read more at – https://earthsky.org/earth/ida-2020-photo-contest-winners-night-sky-images?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=868f0bb18e-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_02_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-868f0bb18e-393970565

Quarantine Playlist


Music is a powerful elixir, tonic capable of lifting spirits with inexplicable harmonic energy. Tonight’s quarantine playlist started with Casual Viewin’ by iconic Canadian band 54-40, a curious choice considering their vast catalogue and undeniable place on my top ten list of favorite bands. 54 40 could sing the phonebook and I’d be happy, Casual Viewin’ makes me smile, if that’s not quarantine tonic I don’t know what is.

Next played Over Everything by Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile. Two fav artists joining to produce a song that makes me feel good –

For no discernible reason I turned to old school hip hop. Beatie Boys and Salt N Pepa –

Currently I’m digging Who Will Save Your Soul by Jewel –

Quarantine playlists are fascinating. What we listen to speaks volumes about our mindset.

Cannibal Spiders


I doubt spiders come to mind when pondering impacts of global warming at northern latitudes. Climate change has had a profound effect on Arctic Wolf Spiders, nobody cares because spiders are easily dismissed. Fun fact – in terms of biomass, wolf spiders in the Arctic outweigh that of regional wolf populations by 80 – 1. That’s a lot of spiders – thanks to longer, warmer summers they’re getting bigger and producing more offspring.

Nature has a uncanny ability to adapt when challenged with brief periods of climatic change. In 2009 researchers predicted warmer Arctic seasons would boost wolf spider size and numbers. Springtails, their prey of choice are wingless fungi eating hexapods. “Science’s Michael Price explains that springtails subsist on a diet of fungi, which consume decomposing plants and release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. But when wolf spiders keep the springtail population in check, the insects consume less fungus, which triggers faster decomposition of the tundra’s dead plant matter—and more greenhouse gases.” – https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-wolf-spiders-evolving-diet-keeping-arctic-cool-180969735/

Science expected dense populations of wolf spiders to initially cannibalize their own, consume anything smaller than themselves while sorting out territory. They thought more wolf spiders meant fewer fungus nibbling springtails, but that hasn’t happened. Seems climate enhanced hoards of wolf spiders developed a taste for their own, ignoring springtails, favouring opportunistic ambushes of smaller spiders.

Science can’t explain why cannibal wolf spiders no longer fancy springtails. It can state as fact – higher springtail populations mean less fungus, slower decomposition of organic material, thus significantly less greenhouse gas released by the process of decomposition. Are cannibal wolf spiders Mother Nature’s way of mitigating the mess we’ve made?

Wolf spiders may turn to cannibalism in a warming Arctic

https://phys.org/news/2020-05-wolf-spiders-cannibalism-arctic.html