Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

Ship leaking oil near DaDaePo

February 17, 2014

From Busan Haps:

BUSAN, South Korea —  An accident involving an oil supplier and an 80,000 ton cargo ship has caused a huge quantity of oil to leak into waters about 2.8 miles northwest of Busan Saeng-do, with  237 kiloliters of Bunker C oil has leaked into the sea.

The amount of the leaked oil is one-and-a-half times more than that of the recent Yeosu accident. The oil has spread 4.5 kilometers south from the scene of the accident.

 

There is more at Yonhap. And Daum media.

I have learned elsewhere that the Coast Guard has more than 60 ships onsite.  The Korean Navy, Busan Fire Dept, private environment cleanup groups and other groups also have ships and boats onsite. When the recent Yeosu oil spill first occurred, it was deemed to be easily manageable and only a small fleet was sent to work on it. Then, it was found to be larger than previously reported and more ships and personnel were sent but the oil had had time to spread. This time, the response was much greater. Coast Guard vessels from as far away as Sokcho responded to this spill.

Late Fall at the Wye Marsh

November 19, 2013

The school groups aren’t doing much at the Wye Marsh this month.  We were incredibly busy in October but there are only occasional groups coming until, I guess, next year when cross country skiing starts up.  A coworker and I felt the need to canoe and see what the marsh looks like in mid-November.

First, I found this wonderful swan-foot print and needed to compare it to my own hand.  Sure, my foot is longer, but this is huge for a 12 kg animal.

DSC09976 b We were using a smaller canoe so we explored areas we couldn’t earlier in the giant ten person canoes.  Here, the edges of the channel were so narrow, we just pulled our boat through.DSC09971 b Did I say, November?  I meant Movember.  Squint or click on the image to increase the size if you cannot see my luxurious mustache!DSC09971 cWe had passed this beaver den almost every day for around five months.  After three weeks away, we arrived to find a cache of small trees and branches with delicious bark for the beavers to access through the winter in front of the den.
DSC09968 b This kestrel is the Marsh’s newest resident of the Birds of Prey program.DSC09966 c

I guess this back end of a cheetah needs a little explanation.  My son loves cheetahs and this is around half of a Christmas gift I am working on for him.  There is more, and another mustache shot at Creativiti Project.  Midland Wood Carvers is a group of carving hobbyists that I sometimes join to beg for assistance and wisdom.  Their workshop is at the Wye Marsh. DSC09981 b

Ethiopia is using the water flowing through it.

June 15, 2013

Four years ago, I wrote about trans-boundary water issues in Korea and about one flood that killed six in South Korea.  This slight familiarity with international treaties on the subject made this article in Scientific American about Ethiopia ending a decades-long agreement with Egypt over water use catch my attention.  Ethiopia is part of a new treaty involving five other Nile Basin countries that gives them greater autonomy over water use and leaving Egypt’s 84 million people in some jeopardy.

Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi said on Monday he did not want “war” but would keep “all options open”, prompting Ethiopia to say it was ready to defend its $4.7 billion Great Renaissance Dam near the border with Sudan.

Ethiopia and five other Nile basin countries – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda – have now signed a deal effectively stripping Cairo of its veto, based on colonial-era treaties, over dam projects on the Nile, source of nearly all of Egypt’s water.

Canada and the US continue to have good relations regarding water use.  If the subject interests you, here are reports on Great Lakes Water and the Columbia River treaty.

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Added a week later:

 

“Some pronouncements were made in the heat of the moment because of emotions. They are behind us,” Mohamed Kamel Amr, Egypt’s foreign minister, told a joint news conference with his Ethiopian counterpart Tedros Adhanom in Ethiopia’s capital.

Wye Marsh, April 29, 30

April 30, 2013

I have fairly big news: Surprises Aplenty is now employed!

 

Some time ago, I described my situation, moving back to Canada as leaving a job I love to find one that I can tolerate and earn enough to care for the family.  Well, I am lucky to have another job I expect to love but I don’t think it is one to keep the family in rice and kimchi.

 

My new employer, the Wye Marsh is an outdoor education centre that, well, have a look at the sorts of things I’ll be doing and working with.b DSC08352 This beaver was walking across a field near a canoe launch point.b DSC08358

These red wing black bird are everywhere.b DSC08362

For the first time in at least five years, an osprey is using the purpose-built platform for nesting.b DSC08365

These pitcher plants live on nutrition-poor ground and supplement their fertilizer with insects drowned in their pitchers.b DSC08370

This Canada Goose mother is guarding her nest.b DSC08371 I was told the names of both flowers – the yellow ones are not dandelions.b DSC08373

This snapping turtle was in such a hurry its legs blurred as it waddled.b DSC08374

As the ice leaves, so do the animals

April 10, 2013

The ice melted around my home first, and now perhaps half of Penetanguishene Bay is ice-free.  When the only open water was near my home, I was treated to a wide variety of birds and mammals who had no other place to be.  I’m ready for warmer weather, but it was pretty cool to see both a muskrat and an otter only ten metres from each other – and even closer to me.  Not shown are the huge number of Mergansers that were too shy to allow me close enough to take pictures.april 9 (3) b April 10 Otter And Muskrat (2) b April 10 Otter And Muskrat (3) b April 10 Otter And Muskrat (6) b April 10 Otter And Muskrat (7) b April 10 Otter And Muskrat (8) b spring is here (1)b





Domesticated, feral, and wild animals

March 21, 2013

2 updates at the end of the post

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Original:

Why do we have pets? I grew up constantly having an animal companion. We almost continuously had a dog and cat, but also for short periods, a turtle, a salamander, newts, a hamster, a guinea pig, and/or goldfish. The ideal home for me would be one like Farley Mowat’s.   I don’t know if I could properly or with-scientific-references defend the idea that pets are good for their owners. I definitely believe this is the case, though.
Is it good for the pets themselves? This time my affirmation is less confident. Michael Pollan offers the great success of chicken and other fowl as part of his support for eating meat. If we didn’t eat meat, chicken would likely be extinct.
Ted Kerasote might offer an opposing view in his book Merle’s Door, an account of his attempts to offer his dog as much freedom as possible and how pets thrive when they aren’t treated as modern-day pets. The life of a modern pet is long periods of boredom mixed with attempts to be stimulated by their owners.
As part of this long introduction, let me ask a different and more specific question, one that I cannot answer. Should we have pet cats?
I love cats; there is one sitting at ease just outside my doorway, and my son would need therapy if I got rid of it. The negative points are more important to my post today so let me focus on the positives first. They entertain and comfort us. Some kill pests. They are little burden and bring great joy.
This post is not about the sadness that comes with the inevitable death of a beloved pet. This is a serious concern and my son is already asking questions about lifespans and death.
No, this post is principly about feral cats and secondarily about wildlife mortality caused by pet and feral cats.

According to National Geographic News, last week,

” Ted Williams, then editor-at-large for Audubon Magazine, advocated for trapping and euthanizing feral cats due to their rampant hunting of birds and their reputation for carrying diseases like toxoplasmosis.”
More from the article:
Over 80 million pet cats reside in U.S. homes and as many as 80 million more free-roaming cats survive outside.

To David Ringer, director of media relations for the Audubon Society, the dust-up shows “that we all need to work together on effective strategies that will address the very serious harm cats inflict on birds and other wildlife and that are also truly humane toward cats,” he told National Geographic by email.

“Cats do a great deal of damage to birds and other wildlife, and it needs to be addressed, but Audubon absolutely rejects the idea of individuals harming or poisoning cats.”

From the comments, I find myself agreeing most with Pete McLean who argues against protection all cats at all costs. “The entire argument is a stupid juvenile argument from lovers of stuffed toys.”
The article discusses some methods of feral cat population control. Apparently, Tylenol is unusually toxic to cats and could be used as a relatively specific poison that wouldn’t do much harm to other animals. Another proposed method is neutering or spaying.
Before going into my opinions, let me quote articles from South Korea that I discussed three years ago.  There I quoted from a touchingly sensitive article in Yonhap News.

 “Controversy over treatment of cats often makes headlines. In 2006, residents of a Seoul apartment culled scores of stray cats by driving them into the basement of their building and cementing over all exit holes.

Last year, the local government of Geomun Island off the southwestern coast moved to cull hundreds of feral cats overpopulating the fishing region, a controversial decision that was changed at the last minute to neutering them.”

Alright, first, the problem is not merely feral cats; happily domesticated cats are mixed in too. Tylenol might specifically kill cats but it will not further specify only feral cats. Feral cats are not the only predators of urban wildlife either. In all the time we had a cat, it typically wanted out in the evening and in again in the morning, often trying to bring the night’s kill in with it. And these were well-fed cats who needed to kill only as much as most North American human hunters.
I guess neutering or spaying would work in the long term even though new feral cats and fully potent domesticated cats are often entering the equation. I wonder if proponents of spaying would insist on a human-sort of tubal ligation so that the cats could continue to enjoy the attempts to procreate? In this case, clearly neutering males would be seen as equally evil: vasectomies all round!
I gotta say, I am for a humane cull. I would prefer it if humans could adopt every last feral cat -which are unlikely to make good pets -but an entirely reasonable, though distant, second best option involves poison, live traps leading to identification and killing (feral cats) or releasing (actual wildlife) or return and fines (loose domestic cats). I would even go so far as to train the killers (I don’t want use the euphemism of harvester or collector) to kill onsite with cheap, scalable techniques. There is no more reason to have an expensively trained trained vet use (expensive?) injected poisons with cats than there is with chickens, pigs or cattle.
At the same time, cat owners, be responsible and care for and give away your pets properly. That last paragraph was hard to write and I don’t want my little friend to ever suffer like that.

 

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UPDATE 1:
Ted Williams lost his job for posting concern over the number of feral cats and how to reduce that number.  Well, he lost his job briefly.  I don’t know if this is an apology (or that he needed to apologize) or simply a better explanation than he included in his article.  Here is an excerpt:

 “In my recent op-ed I reported that a common over-the-counter drug, an effective and selective poison for feral cats, had not been registered for this use because of pressure from feral-cat advocacy groups.”

“While the statement was not inaccurate, it was unwise because readers might construe it as a suggestion to go out and start poisoning feral cats. What’s more, the statement could be, indeed was, manipulated by feral-cat advocates into something I didn’t write or intend.”

Update 2:

Scientific American has an article that relates more to my commentary than Mr Williams’ predicament.  3,000 feral cats have been culled to protect an endangered species of bilby.

Unfortunately, the sanctuary is located in a relatively remote region of Currawinya National Park. Flooding in the park not only makes the sanctuary occasionally unreachable by humans, it also apparently damaged the fence last June, allowing several cats to make their way into the enclosure, with devastating results. “We estimated we could have had around 150 newborn bilbies inside that fence, and [the cats have] cleared the lot out,” Frank Manthey, co-founder of the Save the Bilby Fund, told the Australian network news show 7.30.

The fence has since been repaired, but Manthey says the surrounding countryside is still besieged by feral cats and has appealed to the government for help in reducing their numbers. Feral cat populations have actually risen in the past two years, an unintended side effect of government efforts to control dingo populations. Dingoes, which compete with cats and other predators for food, have been poisoned to protect agricultural sheep, but Griffith University researcher Jean-Marc Hero told The Australian last September that this approach gave cats and foxes a chance to fill the ecological gap the dingoes left behind.

The closing of Springwater Park

March 19, 2013

On Saturday, my son and I visited Springwater Provincial Park. along with a few hundred others, to show support for the continued existence of the park which is slated to lose its status at the end of the month.  It is a great little park and everyone there had fun.

Springwater links:  Facebook, Barrie Examiner.

I will be sad to see the park go but I can’t claim to be heavily invested in it.  It is a great local park for Barrie but I have only visited it twice.  I guess I won’t be visiting it again as it will become a ‘non-operational’ park the beginning of April.  I think that means the cross country hiking or ski trails will continue to be open but the animal sanctuary, the unique part of the park, will be no more.

Animal sanctuaries are my thing.  I love seeing local wildlife close up and even as a young adult would call strangers walking down the street to see some raccoon or snake I had found.  The Robertcats (I convinced my son that it was too informal to call them ‘bobcats’) and lynx were the first I had seen ever. I even loved the “site vacant” signs with their explanation that the park did not buy or collect animals but only provide a home for those unable to return to the wild. This kind of viewing opportunity needs to be preserved.


The thing is, from a numbers standpoint, the park really should be shut down.  I said that several hundred people attended the Saturday gathering, but that is probably the same number as visited the park in two or three months last year.  This is a local secret that people only seem to learn about from word of mouth.

I hope Springwater stays open but I also hope other people and parks are taking a second look at marketing and public awareness.  I’ve been out of the country for thirteen years so perhaps my ability, or lack of, to name parks is no indicator of the average Ontarians’.  I looked at the Ontario Provincial Parks website and was happily surprised to see how many there are, and how many I didn’t know about in my neighbourhood.  Well, I might be a little upset, too.

Why aren’t these parks better known?  Springwater is a great park that I suspect no one knew about three months ago.  I only recently learned that Springwater has cross country ski trails.  Wish I’d known that in early February.

As I’ve repeatedly written, I’ve been away.  I am not sure what the responsibilities of a park are compared to the responsibilities of the “Friends of…”  Who is involved in marketing?  How professional are these groups.  Back in the nineties, I had thought “Friends of Algonquin Park” was a volunteer organization of enthusiasts.

The thing I want is for those responsible for Awenda Prov Park and Arrowhead Prov Park to be sure they are keeping their parks in the public’s eye.  These are two great places that I know about that don’t get much attention. I know nothing about Bass Lake, McCrae or Mara Provincial Parks even though I drive within 50kms of them twice or more a month.  Explorer’s Edge, are these parks are in your region of responsibility?

What advice can I give to the marketers?  Well, I have a few ideas.

First, when you make a website, Facebook page, Google+ or Twitter account, Keep Adding Content!  The Wye Marsh, a great place that also needs to be aware of its marketing, offers both a good and bad example.  The Facebook page Wye Marsh has four friends and five photos (all mine!).  It has been in operation for two years with no apparent support from Marsh management.  The Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre, another Facebook page, is full of what appears to be daily content.  Attention seems to attract attention.  Next to actual Wye Marsh generated content is more content made and prepared by the public.  Win-win.

Second, make sure you have accounts with the three media above (and more) and your own website.  Link between them.  Really, these two steps are all that is needed for basic Search Engine Optimization.

Third, plan some events and write about them now!  Don’t wait until news comes that your park will soon be shut down. Do it now.

I saw the completion of the 4-rivers project.

January 22, 2013

I’m leaving soon.  I depart on January 31 and don’t know if I will be back.  As I wrote on Facebook (names removed),

“My work these past three years -and also at Kwandong before that, has been great but I am returning to Canada next year. I can’t say for how long.

The Little Guy’s English is barely sufficient for day to day conversations with me and falling far behind his Canadian cohort so we (TLG and I; my wife will remain in Korea) are moving to my mother’s home in Penetang for at least one year. TLG will attend school and I will look for some kind of work. If I find useful and valuable work, my wife will emigrate and join us. If not, we will return to Korea to work I love and have shown an aptitude for but with the real concern about what high school will be for TLG- and any Korean child.”

I am not ready to talk about Canada, but that will come.

I am ready to talk about my long stay here and how connected I feel to Korea, even if only as a foreigner.   Case in point, my views on the Four Rivers Project.  I started blogging only a year before Presidential candidate Lee Myungbak proposed a crazy project, then withdrew it in favor of the Four Rivers Restoration Project.  I was here during his transition and throughout the Four Rivers work.  I also learned about flooding (one thing his project was designed to reduce) caused by North Korea.  Although I am not at all satisfied with the result of the project, I feel a strange satisfaction in my deep understanding of it.  I’ve been here long enough, and been aware long enough, to have real opinions on the subject.  I remain impressed with the bike trails built along the rivers and experience a thrill when I see the “Andong, 380km” sign near my home at the mouth of the Nakdong River.

For the record, I still have no opinion on who owns Dokdo.  I don’t know how long I would have to stay in the country for that to happen (Hans Island is, however, clearly Canadian).

I feel so connected to farming in Korea.  Even though I am unable to plan or schedule when or what crops should be planted, I have been involved in that work for several years.  I don’t love rice like my wife does, but I know it grows.  I don’t know how hot my in-laws’ peppers are but I know how productive the plants are and hot to recognize a pepper from a leaf at a metres’ distance.

I even sorta understand why Korean lifeguards are so cautious about letting people swim here.  Full understanding is beyond me, but I have seen so many non-swimmers launch themselves in tubes into deep water that I would be equally draconian in running a beach.  I now only grimace when I see a two-metre deep pool only filled to 1.4 metres so non-swimmers are safe.

Maybe I am leaving just in time.  Everytime I see a car or truck running a red light, I plot about bringing a realistic doll to the intersection and tossing it in front of a red-light-running vehicle.  I have held back because I can imagine the result of a car swerving wildly to avoid the ‘baby’ and because I don’t have such a doll handy.  I’ll leave it to you to guess which influence is greater.

I don’t know if I will write a ‘_-things I love in Korea” or a “__ things I hate in Korea”.  With my current blogging regimen it will be July before they finish. Still, I should take some time to review my time here and my future plans at such an obvious demarkation point. What better place to put my private thoughts then on a public blog?

Rice production plateauing and more from Marginal Revolution

September 29, 2012

I follow Korean rice farming with more than casual interest.  Because my in-laws are farmers and I have helped plant and harvest rice through a few seasons now, I have a natural concern for things that affect rice production here.  In the past, the Korean government placed tariffs on foreign rice, allowing Korean farmers to sell theirs at around eight-times international market value.

For more on my discussion of rice farming in Korea, look here.

Fro more on the future of rice production and farming, check out Marginal Revolution’s post on the subject of approaching maximal production.  It sounds very Malthusian.

If you have questions for the authors of Marginal Revolution, they are coming to Korea.

Tyler and I will both be in South Korea in early October for the Asian launch ofMarginal Revolution University. Tyler will be speaking at the World Knowledge Forum(Oct. 9-11). The WKF is known as the Asian Davos. In addition to Tyler, the speakers include Paul Krugman, Daron Acemoglu, Malcolm Gladwell, Cass Sunstein, Dani Rodrik, a number of other well known economists and social scientists and a host of political and business leaders.

I am worried about my motivation these days.  I look at the offerings from MRU and think about taking a course, but have not yet clicked on the link to begin doing so.

Aaron Mckenzie, what do you think about MRU?  Ah, not much is going on at that website, nor at Idiot’s Collective. Pity, he is the only blogging economist I know in Korea.

Meteor shower this weekend

July 25, 2012

Yesterday evening, I hiked up a hill looking for a location with a good view of sky and not too much light pollution.  I am tired of looking at the sky and exclaiming, “Look at the stars.  There must be dozens of them.”

I think the word ‘peak’ is too grandiose but at the top, I had a good view of the Nakdonggang and the west. Before it was dark, I took these pictures:

 

It’s interesting how the fortress-like cloud on the right remained over more than 20 minutes.

Anyway, just after 8:00, I saw my first star and over ten minutes, I discerned several more, but no falling stars.

Oh, a link for you: meteor showers this weekend and in two weeks. The link describes this weekend’s shower as being best viewed in the southern hemisphere which I don’t recall reading the first time I checked that page.

While up there, I was cooled by a gentle breeze but also visited by a few mosquitoes.  When I began my descent, I used a flashlight.  I heard some strange rustling in the woods and a lot of cicadas.  I jumped and flailed quite vigorously  when I discovered they were attracted to the headlight!

I completed my descent without the light and was able to recognize rocky dirt from trees and brush.

I hiked in the dark comfortably but I don’t think my son would be so relaxed.  In the woods, out of the breeze, I was sweating again and I am not eager to carry my son: I may have to consider other places.  Perhaps the cicada population will have decreased by then.


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