Posts Tagged ‘conservation’

Spawning season for snappers at Wye Marsh

June 14, 2013



Let me start with a painted turtle.  I found this one on the playing field at Wye Marsh Conservation Area and moved it so the school students playing a game modelling relations between historic trading blocs wouldn’t step on it.  Those claws are pretty sharp!lotsa turtles (1)

On June second, I found a snapper laying eggs and also saw holes dug by others.  It seemed like a lot of activity but the numbers kept picking up until yesterday, June 13, when I saw five turtles laying, including this location where three were laying at once. Should anyone care, this photo was taken on the berm at the far end of the big boardwalk.lotsa turtles (9 b)

One snapper had a hitchhiker.lotsa turtles (7 c) Not the same leech, but one a student had caught a few days earlier.DSC08756

This photo is from the twelfth and shows a snapper’s claws and dragged tail.  We were lucky to have a brief shower the previous night.snapper -loza (7) bAnd here is a raccoon print, from the same morning.snapper -loza (4) b

It is tough to explain to the visiting students that the turtles lay so many eggs but raccoons eat most of them.  (The ROM tells me that skunks also prey on turtle eggs although I have not yet seen any at the Marsh.  I have seen an otter and wonder if they could dig up the eggs.) I have resorted to acting the part of a hungry baby raccoon (“Chirrrrrrrp.  Feed me, mommy.”) to emphasize that the raccoons are not actually bad guys. Sometimes I believe it myself.


But not so much when I see a cutie like this.
snapper -loza (10) b

Both snapping turtles and Midland painted turtles are abundant at the Wye Marsh so I guess enough are getting through the gauntlet, even though snappers are rated as under ‘special concern’.  Painted turtles have no threat categorization at this time.

More on snappers at Ontario Nature and on turtles at The Toronto Zoo.

I want to agree with this guy, but…

March 22, 2011

Roar Sheppard (poor guy, his parents doomed him from the start) is a “New Humanity Culture leader” and director of the Overseas Seon Culture Life Museum.

In an article for the Korea Times, he writes about the earthquake in Japan and links it to other recent natural disasters.  Then:

I wanted to ask nature, what is the reason for abnormal conditions of the Earth to appear all of a sudden? This was the answer I received.

How can we say all of these are separate phenomena? The one organism, the Earth is showing the signs here and there. Human death and shortage of grains ― these are only the result. Take a look at the fundamentals that are giving rise to these.

What is the present condition of the Earth? When people and nature are uprooted from their homes like in Japan, swept away by extreme rains in Pakistan, how do you think the Earth feels which is the basis of all of these?


If you live on the Earth ― no ― if you are a being with a heart, when you stare at the Earth in this situation, you should wail. Are glaciers melting? Do you know what it will cause to the Earth? It means the immune system and basic circulation of the Earth is collapsing.

If your digestive system has a disorder even slightly, you can’t perform normal activity, can you? Even though the Earth has serious disorders in all of its organs, especially serious damage in essential organs, it is still circulating its blood here and there to send nutrition even now. That is nature.

I sorta agree that we need to take better care of the Earth, but even my so-common-it’s-cliched phrase bothers me.  Whatever happens to humans or living things, the Earth will be okay.  Well, as okay as any inanimate, non-responsive, non-thinking thing can be.  A big rock is okay, after all, even after you break it.  It is now in two pieces but the change doesn’t matters to the rock.

There are some useful lies out there.  Perhaps belief in Santa does make kids better behaved in December and the companies that make Christmas donations to charity might not if there were no Santa.

… I’ve decided to leave religion out of this argument as much as I can.  The author is director of a Buddhist organization so I have to bring it up but I guess I don’t need to connect it with useful lies.

Anyway, there are useful lies and metaphors can carry important ideas.  If we think of the Earth as a living thing that we need to better care for, perhaps we will behave better: we might, for example, work to reduce fossil-fuel use, fight acid rain and other forms of pollution, and be more careful of just how much we harvest out of the ocean.

So long as we keep in mind that we are only discussing a metaphor and not truly thinking of the Earth as sentient, I am satisfied.

However, Roar continues in the same vein and overworks the metaphor – if it is, indeed, a metaphor for him.  I do not believe it is.

However, it is not that the Earth will just watch humans do this forever, because the Earth also has to maintain its balance as a member of the universe.

The events happening now are nothing in fact. It’s already in the state where the balance has begun to crack, and the imbalance will only speed it up and the rate will get even faster.

Even though you know we are headed toward a cliff, we can say it’s a runaway car that cannot be stopped. Please understand the Earth’s situation where it has no choice but to take action.

I’ve questioned in the past whether I let Buddhism get away with such claims, as I do not offer such latitude in my consideration of Christian claims,  but this is far enough into the realm of science that reading it bugs me.  How much does it bug me?  Enough to break my nearly month-long silence on this blog, that’s how much!

Anyway, in addition to disliking Roar’s statements even as metaphor, I also dislike them if uncritically accepted.  I imagine an angry mob with pitchforks driving them into the ground while chanting, “Earthquake, huh?  Take that, jerk.”  After all, if we accept the Earth is actually deliberately quaking or that the previous quakes, and other entirely explainable-through-meteorology natural disasters were twitches of a waking beast and could deliberately quake again, we should obviously be ready to counter attack or try to blackmail the Earth into good behavior.

I am an environmentalist but I can only see improvement in our situation coming through better education, but nightmarish threats of the Earth itself fighting against us don’t help.

Feral Cats

October 7, 2010

A co-worker recently posted a notice in the office of a baby cat near his apartment and asked whether anyone would be interested in taking it home.

I love animals and grew up with there always being a dog or a cat and often both in the home.  Yet, I didn’t even bother to bring the subject up with my wife.

If we opened our apartment to cute little furry critter, we would do it again for the next and the next…

I honestly – and sadly and despairingly – wonder if poison or traps or other lethal tools should be used to clean out the feral cat populations in Korea.  I guess that in Busan they are doing no harm – I am sure I could think of some way they might be- but the constant sight of them just fills me with pity.

Yonhap News has an article describing feral cats and a man who has been photographing them for years.  Much of the article describes Korea’s changing relationship with it’s cats, but there is also discussion on what to do with them:

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.

Park Yong-choon, an animal management official at the Seoul Municipal Government, said there is a sharp divide in animal treatment between young and old.

From 2008 the city government adopted a new policy to control the number of stray cats in the long term by having them trapped, neutered and released instead of being culled. Nevertheless, some elderly residents have complained of their unwanted presence.

“Young people have a strong idea that street cats should be protected, but the elderly don’t want the cats roaming the streets. They ask us why we bother saving them,” Park said.

Man!  Some Seoulites trapped cats in the basement of their own apartment building, then cemented the windows closed?  That’s monstrous!  Those bastards.  And crazy bastards at that: it wouldn’t be any better, but slightly more sane, if they chased the cats into a distant building.  The basement of their own building; that’s messed up.

The officials at Geomun Island might be in the right, though.  Although Korea has it’s own small mammalian predators, the idea of an island being overrun by cats makes me think of The Poor Knights Islands in New Zealand:

our land reserves are still threatened: apart from some islands where pests like rats have been removed, our land reserves are still threatened by rats, cats, stoats, goats, deer, pigs and possums. Add to that the pest from wasps and other insects, and our wildlife is still threatened. Constant culling, hunting and trapping of introduced species is necessary inside our land reserves.

Neutering the cats may remove the problem as well.

So, culling cats in Busan may not be necessary or compassionate, but culls elsewhere may well be.

If you want to save a feral cat or two, Brian in Jeollanamdo has investigated the problem and has at least three (possibly dated) posts: 1, 2, 3.

The East Sea will get very salty

September 28, 2010

Or so claims the Donga Ilbo.

In an article titled “East Sea to Turn Into ‘Dead Sea’ in 100 Years: Report“, the writer seems to have mixed up “Dead Sea” with “The Dead Sea”.

From the article:

Japanese researchers say the East Sea will turn into an oxygen-less body of water like the Dead Sea in 100 years, the Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun said Tuesday.

“The Dead Sea”, of course, is in the Middle East and has a huge salt content that is lethal for any fish that wanders down the river into the Sea.  More here.

I found the wording funny, but the threat seems plausible – that is, that the East Sea will become anoxic and unable to support sea life.

Water on the sea surface, which cools off in winter, circulates and conveys oxygen to the deep sea, and surface water will not adequately cool off due to global warming, the study said. This in turn will block the seamless circulation of water.

rural rooftop solar energy collectors

September 23, 2010

My understanding is that the warmth of the building extends the growing season somewhat for these squashes.

Unification tax could be used to reforest North Korea

August 27, 2010

President Lee’s government recently tested the idea of a re-unifictation tax and many wondered what it was for and why it was being suggested now.

I suppose people are right to be suspicious, but I like the idea of a government planning for the future. The US (and probably my homeland, Canada) are infamous for reducing tax and increasing various programs that voters won’t have to pay for but their children will.  I can’t say that’s crazy, but I can say it’s a pretty cold thing to do to your descendants.

Anyway, in today’s Korea Times I see a discussion about reforesting North Korea after unification.  Again, a great idea, but why now?  What bad action has taken place domestically that they want to hide or what do they know about KJI’s health?

From the article:

Traditionally, the mountainous North had more forests than the South. But reckless logging denuded the mountains of the former, while the latter has put forth great efforts for forestation.

As a result, the South has become the world’s fourth most forested country among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of size compared to territory.

“Currently, mankind is facing the three major threats of climate change, reduced bio-diversity and fast desertification. Trees hold the solution to all three problems,” the 56-year-old said.

“The world is also well aware of the fact as demonstrated by the United Nations, which declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests.”

Chung said the so-called “Miracle of the Han River” was not only about the fast economic growth of South Korea but also about the successful forestation over the past few decades.

Air Conditioning and blackouts

July 7, 2010

The Joongnang Ilbo reports that blackouts are possible this summer due to air conditioner use or overuse.

If reserves fall below the 4 million kilowatt level, the government has the right to demand power cuts and control electricity usage.

Of course, the threat of power cuts has been raised in previous summers, and in some winters, but they’ve always been avoided.

One method was through conservation measures, and the ministry is planning to restrict the use of air-conditioning starting next month during the peak hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. for buildings that consume more than 2,000 ton-oil-equivalents (or TOEs) of energy.

The government will advise buildings to turn off the air-conditioners for 10 minutes every hour.

Regular readers (well, of Gangwon Notes, I guess I haven’t discussed it on this blog, yet.  Okay, look here, if you are interested) will know my solution:  close the freaking door to the rooms and buildings you are heating or cooling!  I admit this is only a partial solution, but it is an easy first step and one so unfathomably overlooked.  Do Korean moms not tell their kids they don’t want to heat (or cool) all of Muskoka (or, you know, wherever)?

Other solutions, also from the Jungang, include cooling to only 25 or 26 degrees, rather than the so-very-wonderful 20 degrees.

I do love cool air in the summer and recently started introducing the idea of air conditioning to the wife, hoping she would subliminally absorb it and even suggest it to me.  Then, I would be able to appear surprised and reluctantly agree.  I am getting by without AC but I shudder at what our water and water heating bill will look like.  Let’s see, a shower before bed, one in the morning, and one after some exercise.  Indeed, sometimes I exercise on my bike, finish at the pool -and have a shower- then ride home and feel sweaty enough to have another shower!

Anyway, let’s see what other problems AC is connected to.

From the American Lion:

Having spent the last few years in Central Maryland, the heat there is stifling and the air conditioning pervasive. The humidity was always a nightmare for me because I tend to sweat profusely whenever the temperature hits 80 degrees or more. We spent thousands of dollars each year keeping the house cool.

Compare that with Germany. The home where we live now has no air conditioning. No one has it. No one needs it. And we regularly hit 80 degrees in the summer. The weather and climate here are much cooler, granted, but even when there is warm weather, one opens up the house and uses a few fans to cool the house. We have skylights and large windows that can be tilted open or left open to let cool air in and hot air out through the roof.

This may not be scientific, but when we last lived in Maryland, our sinus issues, family-wide, were legendary. We were accused of being manufacturers of methamphetamine–that’s how much Sudafed we were using.

After a few months abroad, all of our issues are cleared up. Everyone feels better. Everyone sleeps better and there are no issues. We are inundated with fresh air and cool breezes and we spend a great deal more time outdoors. And don’t forget the walking. The walking keeps us fit and trim.

I don’t get the connection between AC and walking.  I think that is a Moving-to-Germany thing and not directly connected to the main point.  On the other hand, the connection to breathing problems also appears in this Salon article reviewing “Losing our Cool”, a book by Stan Cox:

In the last half century, air conditioning has joined fireworks, swimming pools and charred hamburgers as a ubiquitous ingredient of an American summer. It’s no exaggeration to say it has changed the way this country functions, shaping everything from where we’re willing to live (Las Vegas, anyone?) to the amount of sex we have (more: It’s never too hot to get it on when the A.C. is blasting). Nine out of 10 new homes in this country are built with central air conditioning, and Americans now use as much electricity to power our A.C. as the entire continent of Africa uses for, well, everything. It has so thoroughly scrambled our way of life that when the National Academy of Engineering chose its 20 greatest engineering accomplishments of the last century, A.C. not only made the list, it clocked in ahead of spacecraft, highways and even the Internet.

Yes, AC did make the list, but only as part of refrigeration technology.  Cooling ourselves is merely a luxury, cooling and freezing food is a little more then that.

…Air conditioning is one of those technologies that are very good at generating more demand for themselves. The most obvious way that it’s doing that now is in adding to greenhouse emissions, which will mean even hotter summers in the future and even greater demand for air conditioning….

…Plus, one thing that all commuters are familiar with is that it’s necessary now on city streets and freeways to run the air conditioning in even slightly warm weather to be able to keep the windows rolled up against the exhaust from other cars….

I think that would be true, with or without air conditioning.  Twenty years ago, many friends set their fans to re-circulate to avoid the products of incomplete combustion from still-cold engines.  I have to admit, I love the air conditioning in my car and that is at least partially because I can more easily hear the podcasts and music I listen to while driving.  Also, Busan can be a smelly place.

…If you look at how we use our air conditioning, it’s shocking. Take a 3,000-square-foot house on a summer day — only about 3 percent of the cooling power from the central air conditioning is going for people cooling. That is to say, 3 percent is being used to help remove heat from people’s bodies. The other 97 percent is going to cool the structure of the house, all the tens of thousands of cubic feet of air that aren’t even coming in contact with these people. …

On how to keep cool without air conditioning: …But they told me it’s actually pretty much just the old-fashioned advice that people used to follow. They will close windows to keep the cool air in and only open them when they need to. In the evening they have a house fan to draw the cooler air back in, but a lot of the time they don’t even use that. The day I visited them it was the second-hottest day of 2009. They go through a lot of ice water….

(Question from Salon) There have been some positive health consequences from air conditioning — making it safer for people during heat waves, for instance. How do you reconcile this with wanting to ratchet down our A.C. use?

Yeah, it does have a Jekyll-and-Hyde character in that respect. But I think we need to look at it is as a fail-safe mechanism and recognize that a lot of the health problems that we need A.C. to solve, it may have contributed to in the first place. We need to look at the conditions under which people die in heat waves, the harsh life conditions that they’re enduring more generally. That’s the real root of the problem.

Also, a lot of people run air conditioning because they’re concerned about their allergies or asthma, but we need to consider the hypotheses that say that the current epidemic of those conditions is partly caused by lack of outdoor exposure to soil and friendly organisms. Maybe if children were out in the yard making mud pies instead of in a cool, sterile environment all day long, they might have a lot more defense against those problems.

My mother felt the same way and she was also concerned that, in cooling the air, AC also dried it, irritating nose and throat linings and such.  I had always assumed she simply wanted to save money and was telling us stories.  Sorry, mom.

There is a lot more to the Salon article.  Oh, What the Book can order Losing Our Cool ( And is moving.  The new store looks to be on the main street in Itaewon; I guess they are doing well.  Congratulations to them).

Back to AC and Electricity consumption.  This is a big problem, especially since “[e]lectricity is a mystery…We cannot even say where electricity comes from.  Some scientists think that the sun may be the source of most electricity…”

comic from cartoonstock.

Korea Herald: visiting this site may damage your computer

July 2, 2010

Today, I visited a library near DaDaePo Beach.  It had a pretty good English section for children’s books – from the Jungle Book, the Secret Garden and White Fang on down to younger ages.

It also had the Korea Herald available.  I haven’t seen the herald in print in years and haven’t visited the site in a few months, since Safari recognizes it as a malware site.  Is it okay to visit? Anyway, I took a few photos of things that caught my interest. Click to embiggen if you want to read them.

Last year, at Gangwon Notes, I wrote about trans-boundary water and water recourses so this conference sounds interesting.  There was only the photo and caption, though.  No further details.

I also read about a ‘Green camp’ in Gangwondo.  I am busy – and they haven’t asked me- but I would love to be involved in a wilderness/conservation-themed camp here.

Since I cannot link directly to the articles, let me say they were in the July 2nd, 2010 edition.

Rules about trash – what happens

July 2, 2010

Freakonomics has a few articles about the unintended consequences of rules for trash (1, 2).

“The introduction of new pay-by-weight trash charges in Ireland seems to have produced a strange and troubling effect: an increase in burn victims at St. James Hospital in Dublin.


The theory is that people wanted to avoid having to pay for all their trash so instead they burned it in their backyards.”


“Now, a family in Sharon Township, Ohio (where residents are charged for their trash), left behind a big mess when they moved out of their home. “When I opened the garage door, there was a year’s worth of garbage stacked in the garage, and on top of that garbage was a rat that looked like a small cat to me,” said a neighbor.”

Canada has some restrictions on home garbage pickup (I think it is one or two free bags and once a week or once in two weeks).  There are also many public garbage bins in towns, cities and parks.  I don’t know where the garbage goes, but the towns, cities and parks do look clean.

Contractors – home builders and renovators- must pay for commercial garbage collection.  I think, in fact, that anyone doing home renovations must pay for special collection.  I recall that while working at the recreation centre in Bracebridge someone was dumping their renovation waste in our dumpster at night to avoid paying fees.  Good for them but annoying for us.

In Korea, there are almost no garbage bins in, well, anywhere.  Garbage bags in a variety of sizes are bought from stores and recycling is very well followed with great source separation -three or more kinds of plastics, at least two different kinds of glass…- so household waste is efficiently taken care of.  Still, the ditches of many backroads are filled with waste.  The lack of garbage bins in towns means that just dropping the trash on the street seems a reasonable option even for me and I am pretty careful in such matters.  Here in Korea, I have seen more rats than I ever did in Canada, but the trash seems mostly to feed the feral cat population.

Tragedy of the commons indeed.

“Green” cars? Maybe, with a good paint job.

June 22, 2010

I have always felt the Jaguar looked good in a dark green.  It’s a beautiful car – and by the total lack of mention of a specific model or year, you can accurately judge my knowledge of cars.

In the Joongang Ilbo, I learned about Korea’s first Electric bus.

The bus has an average speed of 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph) and can run 120 kilometers (75 miles) on a fully charged battery.

The 50-seat bus uses three 100-kilowatt driving motors that power a 402-horsepower internal combustion engine.

Hyundai said the bus satisfies all the requirements set by the Ministry of Land, Transport, and Maritime Affairs for a transportation vehicle with “zero” emission.

“Zero emission.”  I guess that is true, while the bus is in use.  Does the Ministry of L, T and M Affairs think the batteries are charged by magic, though?  Although I can’t be bothered to check on the facts (I’m a blogger, what do facts matter?), I suspect that most of Korea’s electricity comes from hydro-electric and nuclear, with few fossil-fuel powered generators.  Alright, lets investigate for one minute:

Hmm, mostly hydro and nuclear, with about a quarter from Oil and Gas.  Takes a bit of the wind out of my sails.

Still, the power does come partly from fossil fuels, and those fuels are charging a battery; we can expect loses of between a third and a half in charging a battery.  I am unconvinced that the bus will use significantly less fuel than a fuel  powered bus.

I am convinced that few people will see the fuel and CO2 being emitted as it is happening at a distant power plant and not on the street in front of them.  Maybe, this is a good thing in it’s own right.  Now we aren’t spreading poison in high population areas.  That’s good, but it isn’t ‘zero emission’.

Scientific American has an article about the Leaf, an electrically powered car.  I read it before seeing the Hyundae article, so I can’t claim the points above are my own.

In the months after Nissan’s announcement last year that it would soon introduce the Leaf, the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle, the company embarked on a 24-city “zero-emission tour” to show off the technology. The Leaf’s electric motor draws its energy from a battery pack that plugs into an outlet in your garage. It has no engine, no gas tank and no tailpipe. And during the time the car is on the road, it is truly a zero-emission machine. But at night, in your garage, that battery pack must refill the energy lost to the day’s driving with fresh electrons culled from a nearby power plant. And zero emission it ain’t.

You can see, for instance, that I used, “isn’t” instead of “ain’t”.  Still, if I link to the original, it can’t be plagiarism.