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Reese Halter's Blog

NATURE'S BLUEPRINT

Tag Archives: Muir Woods National Monument

Story ran on Malibu Times Blog April 26, 2013

Imagine the most perfect tree on Earth: one that outdoes all others in magnificence, size, height, productivity, habitat, architecture and ability to draw thousands of gallons of water. Imagine, too, it is marvelously resistant to drought, fire, insects, disease, mudslides, flooding and wind, with exquisite biodiversity in its crown. Then, and only then, as John Muir put it, “you’d know the coastal monarch of their race” — the immortal Sequoia sempervirens, otherwise known as the coastal redwood.

Redwoods’ direct lineage can be traced back 144 million years ago to the beginning of the Cretaceous Period. That’s when Tyrannosaurus Rex was beginning to rule for 40 million years as no reptile nor animal has ever done since.

Redwoods are unique for many reasons. They are able to reproduce from both seed and organs, called lignotubers, located at the base of the tree just beneath the soil. No other conifer possesses this dual reproduction mechanism. It’s a trait that is widespread among the more advanced race of trees, the broadleaves or angiosperms, some 80 million years after the redwoods were born.

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Snow gum, Victoria, Australia

Story ran in the Victoria Times Colonist January 22,2009

Seven western states and four Canadian provinces have joined forces in a plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions. An entire new source of long-term revenue is available to British Columbia’s (BCs) government, which will enable protection of massive tracks of old growth forests and fresh water supplies.

Under the Western Climate Initiative, Arizona, California, Oregon, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Washington, B.C., Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec have agreed to cut the region’s carbon emissions by 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

The backbone of their plan is a cap-and-trade system. A similar approach was used in the early 1990s to combat acid rain around the Great Lakes caused by the pollution from coal-burning power plants.

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California Lutheran University Climate Change student assessment of Earth Dr Reese Halter's class

Story ran in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution August 16, 2010

Each spring during my childhood I planted trees with my dad and my brother, and the bees always intrigued us. Last year in late June (2009), I finished “The Incomparable Honeybee.” I was cautiously optimistic that the overall death rate among honeybees was trending downward.

Just before the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, the overwinter and spring bee survey numbers from across our nation were released. The numbers were startling; our humble honeybees are sicker than ever.

The honeybee deaths from 2010 were much higher than those reported in 2009. In 2010 the death rate was 34 percent, up from last year’s rate of 29 percent.

On average beekeepers in the U.S. lost 42 percent of their operational bees in 2009-10 compared with 23 percent in 2008-09. This loss is more than three times greater than what is considered acceptable at about 14 percent.

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Story ran in Zester Daily April 21, 2010

This spring marks the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day (2012), a time when citizens around the globe celebrate the bountiful blue planet and the fruits of its earth. Yet, something this year just isn’t right. Worldwide we are entering into the sixth consecutive year of hundreds of billions of dead Italian honeybees.

Is the honeybee trying to tell us something?

Have we reached what professor and author Rachel Carson warned us about in 1962? “Man’s attitude toward nature is today critically important simply because we now have acquired a fateful power to alter and destroy Nature. But man is part of Nature, and his war is inevitably a war against himself.”

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Story ran Malibu Times December 30, 2012

When I was a young boy, biologist Farley Mowat’s book’Never Cry Wolf’ eloquently described nature and wolves – like the world had never known before. Wolves are exquisite predators; it’s time for humans to grant amnesty to this majestic animal, which plays a pivotal role in the wild.

Portrayed throughout history as a villainous critter that wastefully kills, the wolf’s reputation precedes it. The traditional image, however, is unwarranted and incorrect.

Wolves are highly intelligent social animals. They are a critically important predator in the western food chain. They keep populations of ungulates (or animals with hooves) healthy. In nature there is no room for unfit or diseased-ridden animals. When wolves eat, so too do a host of other animals including: wolverines, lynx, bobcats, mink, weasels, hares, porcupines, squirrels, mice, voles, shrews, ravens and crows.

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Story ran in Malibu Times January 13, 2013

Since 2006, seventy three million sharks, annually, have been slaughtered, that’s approximately a half a billion dead animals. That means as high as 90 percent of sharks around the globe have been decimated in the vast open oceans. Poachers are now even hunting sharks in reserves e.g. Columbia’s Malpelo Wildlife Sanctuary.

When top-predators are removed there’s a dreadful reverberation that results throughout entire ecosystems. Predators keep ecosystems in balance. They cull the old and weak – essentially ensuring a high level of fitness amongst their prey.

When humans brutally massacre sharks for their fins (fining them alive and throwing them back into the sea) food webs unravel. Currently, we are knowingly impoverishing all oceans. As a result, jellyfish populations are exploding and new diseases are emerging.

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White Sands, New Mexico

Children often ask: Why is history so important? For which I regularly answer – because the past is rich with information and lessons.

From about AD 800 to 1300 the Earth underwent a slight warming period so dubbed “The Medieval Warm Period.” Most places experienced milder winters and longer summers but temperature differences never amounted to more than one degree C or so. And everywhere was not necessarily warmer. For example, the eastern Pacific was cooler and drier.

Globally, the climate went through sudden and unpredictable swings. The most startling was the extent and duration of droughts.

The difference between 20 millimeters or eight-tenths of an inch of precipitation spells the difference between life and death.

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