Trump orders fleet of icebreakers and new bases in push for polar resources

Article via The Guardian

“The intensifying rivalry over sea routes and mineral resources in the Arctic, itself a consequence of the climate emergency, has caused alarm over its environmental impact. 

“Even during a pandemic and nationwide protests against state violence, the Trump administration is still finding new ways to exploit the climate crisis. He is truly the worst president for the planet we’ve ever had,” Charlie Cray, a senior researcher for Greenpeace USA, said.

“There are so many ways our tax dollars could be used to support Arctic communities. Helping out the oil industry and the military with a new fleet of icebreakers is definitely last on the list.”

Polar military experts are also sceptical over the urgency of the “icebreaker gap” with Russia. 

“Icebreakers – even if armed – don’t really address some of the most commonly cited challenges that China and Russia might pose for the United States in the Arctic,” Paul Avey, assistant professor for political science at Virginia Tech university, argued. “This isn’t to say icebreakers can play no role in competition. But in narrow defence terms, I think that the best way to address China and Russia in the Arctic – and Antarctic – is to focus on issues in eastern Europe and the western Pacific.” 

Read the full article here

“Your ‘Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted — It’s Why You Feel Awful”

Article by Tara Haelle

In those early months, I, along with most of the rest of the country, was using “surge capacity” to operate, as Ann Masten, PhD, a psychologist and professor of child development at the University of Minnesota, calls it. Surge capacity is a collection of adaptive systems — mental and physical — that humans draw on for short-term survival in acutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters. But natural disasters occur over a short period, even if recovery is long. Pandemics are different — the disaster itself stretches out indefinitely.

“The pandemic has demonstrated both what we can do with surge capacity and the limits of surge capacity,” says Masten. When it’s depleted, it has to be renewed. But what happens when you struggle to renew it because the emergency phase has now become chronic?

By my May 26 psychiatrist appointment, I wasn’t doing so hot. I couldn’t get any work done. I’d grown sick of Zoom meetups. It was exhausting and impossible to think with the kids around all day. I felt trapped in a home that felt as much a prison as a haven. I tried to conjure the motivation to check email, outline a story, or review interview notes, but I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t make myself do anything — work, housework, exercise, play with the kids — for that whole week.

Or the next.

Or the next.

Or the next.

I know depression, but this wasn’t quite that. It was, as I’d soon describe in an emotional post in a social media group of professional colleagues, an “anxiety-tainted depression mixed with ennui that I can’t kick,” along with a complete inability to concentrate. I spoke with my therapist, tweaked medication dosages, went outside daily for fresh air and sunlight, tried to force myself to do some physical activity, and even gave myself permission to mope for a few weeks. We were in a pandemic, after all, and I had already accepted in March that life would not be “normal” for at least a year or two. But I still couldn’t work, couldn’t focus, hadn’t adjusted. Shouldn’t I be used to this by now?

“Why do you think you should be used to this by now? We’re all beginners at this,” Masten told me. “This is a once in a lifetime experience. It’s expecting a lot to think we’d be managing this really well.”

It wasn’t until my social media post elicited similar responses from dozens of high-achieving, competent, impressive women I professionally admire that I realized I wasn’t in the minority. My experience was a universal and deeply human one.”

Read the full article here

The wonder women of ornithology

Writing by Dr Jo Wimpenny

“One of the most influential amateur ornithologists of all time, Margaret Morse Nice pioneered a new form of ornithology in the USA, uniting bird-banding techniques with new behavioural theories emerging from Europe, and her own background in child psychology.

Despite abandoning the prospect of a PhD to accompany her husband to Ohio and raise a family, Nice went on to publish three landmark monographs on the life history of the song sparrow, based on 14 years of data on the lives of ‘her’ backyard sparrows. The American Ornithologists’ Union recognised her work by awarding her the coveted Brewster Medal.

Nice corresponded with hundreds of people and played a central role in promoting the exchange of scientific information between US and European ornithologists. She published 250 research articles (seven of which were book length) and, as editor of Bird-Banding, a staggering 3,313 book and article reviews.”

“While others observed living birds, Annie Meinertzhagen was a skilled collector, who shot and skinned most of her birds herself. She was particularly interested in plumage and moulting of ducks and waders, and chick mouthpart colouration. For her expert knowledge, Henry Witherby invited her to author the relevant sections of his highly influential Handbook of British Birds, a work that became the standard authority on British birds for over a decade.

Indeed, to prevent publication delays, on marrying ornithologist Richard Meinertzhagen, she chose to spend part of her honeymoon studying birds at Lord Rothschild’s Museum in Tring. Her husband’s work was recently found to be largely fraudulent, and his role in her death – considered a tragic shooting accident at the time – remains suspicious.”

Read the full Discover Wildlife Article here

Why Love Matters to a Zebra Finch

sfw_emblematicpictureFemale (left) and male Zebra Finch pair. Photo: Wolfgang Forstmeier

“Love is complicated—ask anyone who’s ever been forced into an arranged marriage at the hands of mad scientists. That’s exactly what 160 Zebra Finches faced during a recent study conducted by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany—though to be fair, the scientists weren’t necessarily mad, just very curious about the role love (or “behavioral compatibility,” as they like to call it) plays in successful bird reproduction.

Zebra Finches make the perfect subjects for such an investigation, because they’re monogamous birds that often mate for life, sharing nesting and offspring rearing duties (though they’re also known to enjoy an occasional midnight rendezvous with a sultry neighboring finch). To find out how much love matters when it comes to reproduction, the researchers put single Zebra Finches in a sort of speed-dating chamber, and allowed them to select a partner at will.”

Article written by Erica Langston – Read the full article here.

Density and population viability of coastal marten: a rare and geographically isolated small carnivore

“Pacific martens (Martes caurina humboldtensis) in coastal forests of Oregon and northern California in the United States are rare and geographically isolated, prompting a petition for listing under the Endangered Species Act. If listed, regulations have the potential to influence land-use decisions on public and private lands, but no estimates of population size, density, or viability of remnant marten populations are available for evaluating their conservation status. We used GPS and VHF telemetry and spatial mark-resight to estimate home ranges, density, and population size of Pacific martens in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, central coast Oregon, USA. We then estimated population viability at differing levels of human-caused mortality (e.g., vehicle mortality). Marten home ranges were small on average (females = 0.8 km2, males 1.5 km2) and density (1.13 martens/1 km2) was the highest reported for North American populations (M. caurinaM. americana). We estimated 71 adult martens (95% CRI [41–87]) across two subpopulations separated by a large barrier (Umpqua River). Using population viability analysis, extinction risk for a subpopulation of 30 martens, approximately the size of the subpopulation south of the Umpqua River, ranged from 32% to 99% with two or three annual human-caused mortalities within 30 years. Absent population expansion, limiting human-caused mortalities will likely have the greatest conservation impact.”

Read the full research article here.

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