Monday, December 31, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
The counterintuitive finding contradicts a prominent global climate model that predicts the Amazon forest would begin to "brown down" after just a month of drought and eventually collapse as the drought progressed.
"Instead of 'hunkering down' during a drought as you might expect, the forest responded positively to drought, at least in the short term," said study author Scott R. Saleska of The University of Arizona. "It's a very interesting and surprising response."
UA co-author Kamel Didan added, "The forest showed signs of being more productive. That's the big news."
The 2005 drought reached its peak at the start of the Amazon's annual dry season, from July through September. Although the double whammy of the parched conditions might be expected to slow growth of the forest's leafy canopy, for many of the areas hit by drought, the canopy of the undisturbed forest became significantly greener -- indicating increased photosynthetic activity.
Saleska, a UA assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and his colleagues at the UA and at the University of São Paulo in Brazil used data from two NASA satellites to figure out that undisturbed Amazon forest flourished as rainfall levels plummeted.
Observation 1: More fodder for skeptics. Observation 2: Adds to my own growing healthy skepticism about claims made by a certain UN Panel over the last year about the coming end of human civilization.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Tonight I'm going to bake cookies and read a book. Over the weekend I'll finish up whatever shopping is left and make some more gifts.
For next year: I would like people to just tell me what they want (within reason). I don't like the whole shopping thing.
Oh, and I don't want anything (although a big screen TV would be nice but I know it's not happening.). So don't buy me anything. Seriously. I mean it.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Sunday, December 2, 2007
It sparked something that was on the front page of the Harrisburg Patriot News four Saturdays ago. Does Bigfoot exist in Pennsylvania?
The deer hunt is big in Pennsylvania. Actually, most hunting is, as PA is likely the most conservative of all the "Blue States."
It is so big that pretty much all the school districts in the middle of the state close on the Monday after Thanksgiving as the opening of Buck Season is more or less a de-facto holiday. As a result of all these hunters stampeding on the woods at the end of November, every year, there are lots of stories about the Pennsylvania Game Commission lying about the number of deer and the size of the state's herd. Personally I think the deer have figured out where hunters are not allowed to go, as they're not exactly stupid creatures (except in headlights) and there's not a suburban area in the state that doesn't complain about being overrun with deer.
A guy, an average every day hunting Pennsylvanian decided he was going to get the upper hand this year. He scoped out a trail with a 24/7 trail camera in the deepest of Pennsylvania's forest: the Allegheny National Forest in Northwestern PA, which is also the location of one of the very few stands of old growth forest in the state (the logging industry stripped the state literally bare during the 19th and early 20th centuries). He wanted to find a good spot to put his tree stand to shoot some deer. He was not looking for unknown legendary humanoid creatures.
This is what his camera captured. (Note: the site linked asserts that cryptids such as Bigfoot are real. As the photos are copyrighted by the original hunter, you'll have to click the link to see them. FWIW, PA apparently has a lot of sightings, which is not surprising considering how much of the state is actually covered in forest, which is most of it.)
Bear? or no...
I think it's a bear. The pictures were taken in September, at the end of a dry and warm summer. It's possible that the bear has lots of mange, which is the image the Patriot News put up on its front page on November 2.
As to the overall question: I don't know. I seriously doubt that in a world of 6.5 billion humans, a creature like the Yeti, or Bigfoot could exist without being seriously detected. There are 12 million people in PA, and while most of the state is covered in mountains and forests and most of those people live near Philadelphia or near Pittsburgh, very little of it is actually remote. Indeed, the Allegheny National Forest is undergoing some serious and extensive gas and oil exploration these days thanks to the Bush Administration. Is it possible, perhaps, but not very likely. However I do wonder, as another creature alleged to not exist in Pennsylvania may exist indeed: the Mountain Lion, sightings of which have been reported for years, even in the Philadelphia inner ring suburbs in 1995 (an event I remember well, because the woods where this animal allegedly prowled for a week were directly across from where I lived), and by a sitting State Senator who I happen to do a lot of work with in my job.
Anything's possible, but I'm a skeptic.