Thursday, October 10, 2013

You are the voice of conservation, are you silent, or are you singing, "POPVOX"?

Be heard by your government!

Busy, like me? Be heard by government through POPVOX.

We have added a POPVOX widget in the right column of this blog, use it.

POPVOX is really easy to set up and use, just create a login, screen name, and offer your views on diverse pending legislation. Everyone will see your selected screen name, only POPVOX and congressional staff, and hopefully, members of Congress will see your full identification.

POPVOX is a new (2009), innovative, non-partisan startup offering YOU a simple tool to participate in democracy--and you do not have to have a geek in your pocket to make it work! It's easy. I've used it. I have not detected so much as a hint of the smell of partisanship, so far. I can see my results right away. POPVOX gives me access to legislation and the legislative process. POPVOX makes it easy for me to communicate meaningfully with my representatives. You can do it, too.

Why POPVOX? Most people do not take the time to write to their representatives. Most people are not comfortable writing to their representatives. Few take the time to email their representatives and those who do so send emails into a morass of overwhelming communications sent to public office holders, much of it dubious. If you are a skilled and regular letter writer, please continue to send your letters to Congress.

How is communication through POPVOX different? CrunchBase summarizes POPVOX succinctly,
"POPVOX does the work of aggregating, verifying, sorting, and counting opinions and delivering input to lawmakers in a transparent, structured format. It’s the only website of its kind—and it’s nonpartisan. Serving individuals, Congress, and advocacy professionals, POPVOX is akin to a “Legislative LinkedIn” – bringing transparency, efficiency, and accountability to policymaking. POPVOX is a “civic startup” – a for-profit corporation with a dual mission to scale and return value to investors while empowering individuals and making government more accountable. CrunchBase Profile
Too good to be true? Well, it's not anonymous, it cannot be insofar as Congress is concerned. Undoubtedly, POPVOX, an intermediary, collects information about individual preferences. Under your screen name, your positions and comments are posted, so POPVOX must store them under your real identity. That's a double-edge sword. My "signed" verified communications are taken seriously by my representatives in so far as their offices certainly log my opinions among others for or against specific legislation. They can hear my "stories," too, when I choose to comment on legislation. Perhaps their staffers select some of my comments or pull quotes from my comments and from others when preparing summaries for legislators? If so, that's a good thing. The downside; my positions can be used to predict my likely voting patterns. This data is collected by the intermediary, POPVOX, and my preferences and opinions can be gleaned from my repeated input on legislation under consideration.

Are my preferences collected, collated, and stored? Are they sold individually or collectively for target advertising? Don't know, we'll see. Is that a bad thing? Don't know, we'll see. Do I care? Yes. Based on my read of the Privacy Policy, this will not happen, but I found their Privacy Policy lengthy and a bit confusing. I find all detailed Privacy Policy statements are lengthy and confusing. If YOU know how to read a Privacy Policy, please comment and explain what you see in their Policy Statement. This is a for profit business, so advertising is present, but it's not intrusive, yet. The upside, my voice is heard in a reliable way.

Visit POPVOX and decide if expedient communication with Congress is for you.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Birthday irony for NASA, our national archetype for effective teamwork and problem-solving

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, opened its doors October 1, 1958 following passage of founding legislation July 29, 1958. A successful Soviet launch had put a satellite, Sputnik, into low earth orbit. Our government leadership came together in bipartisan cooperation to say, NO, we will not be outdone. NASA's liftoff began a mission that carried all of us to the moon and beyond, where none had gone before. NASA changed the way we see the universe, the earth, our nation, and ourselves. NASA brought us essential paradigm shifts embodied in iconic images, Earthrise and Spaceship Earth. NASA produced great technological leaps. NASA continues to carry us all to new places and new insights, but not today and not for the immediate future, NASA is in limbo!

Earthrise, December 24, 1968, Apollo 8, 075:48:54 mission time. Image presented in correct mission orientation as seen by astronauts Jim Lovell, Bill Anders, and Frank Borman orbiting the moon.
Sadly, 93% of NASA employees are furloughed today due to the United States Federal Government shutdown, a result of the failure of congress to work together, a consequence of poor leadership and poor teamwork allowing a small fraction of one party in one House to run away with the national agenda, a malicious effort to gain division and to distract the news cycle at the very moment all Americans, for the first time, have access to affordable health care, an achievement far more important than reaching the Moon.

Happy 55th Birthday NASA. 

Ironically, NASA taught us teamwork. NASA is our symbolic and our actual instrument for teamwork success in our greatest technological efforts.

Teamwork trainers tell us, and NASA showed us, that effective teamwork comes together in stages, simplified: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. All of these stages have value and contribute to a team effort to close in on goals. Today, Congress is held hostage by children unwilling to move beyond the Storming phase because they get attention. Parents recognize the terrible two's!

Childish barbarians have taken over Congress, let's put NASA in charge!

Monday, September 30, 2013

A field of dreams...

A personal mission and a life-long public effort

Guy Denny's very own field of dreams, an 18 year effort, offers visiting friends and naturalists a peek at the Ohio habitat that was first to fall to the pioneer's iron plow and remains scarce today. Guy's 26 acre introduced tall grass prairie sustains Ohio prairie plant diversity in luxurious abundance for the future and to share with friends and prairie advocates throughout the Midwest. Guy's generous private activity and long public career suggest that his greater field of dreams, his demonstrated dedication, reaches far beyond his local prairie restoration to include all of the state of Ohio and beyond.

A primer on prairie collection by life-long naturalist-interpreter, Guy Denny, beside his 26 acre prairie.
I joined a small gathering of naturalists to gather seeds in Guy's prairie on Saturday, September 28, 2013, National Public Lands Day.

Private lands efforts are even more important than essential public lands efforts to sustain biological diversity through the growing pressures of destructive forces bottle-necking biodiversity in the 21st century. Edward O. Wilson detailed the bottleneck dilemma causing the current mass extinction of biological diversity in his 2002 book, The Future of Life. A convergence of pressures; habitat destruction, invasive species, population growth, over-harvest, and pollution whittle away at biological diversity. These on-the-ground (and in the water) pressures are exacerbated by the accelerating increase of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere causing anthropogenic climate change. We are reducing ecosystem resiliency while upping the pressure for rapid adaptation that is overwhelming ecosystems.

Guy is leader for both private and pubic involvement. Ohio's fledgling natural areas association, The Ohio Natural Areas and Preserves Association  is Guy's most recent public effort. Guy is one of three incorporators of the new organization. Several years ago, Ohio defunded one of the most successful public natural areas and preserves systems in the Midwest. Guy, with others, campaigned successfully to keep Natural Areas alive, though still struggling and no longer an entirely stand-alone system. The new non-profit will advocate for Ohio's natural areas and lend a hand to on-the-ground management, an ongoing challenge Guy and others have worked to reduce for decades. Dedicated conservationists sport calloused palms, not just figuative pencil-grip calluses. Denny sports both, he does the work and writes about the work. Guy and friends eradicate thistle, write outdoor pieces, and organize initiatives for habitats near and far. This is grass roots effort.

Please join ONAPA today, or make a generous donation. Consider lending a hand at one of the work days, the "Give Back" days detailed at the link above.

Sawtooth sunflower spreading toward open sun along prairie trails opened by mowing firebreaks. The only important ecosystem element missing, frequent disturbance by herds of bison!

Vanishing among towering big bluestem, a prairie dominant with indiangrass.

Last of abundant obedient plant flowers.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

And the duck stamp art winner is...

Wildlife artist Adam Gimm is now a two-time winner of the prestigious federal contest to illustrate the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, the "duck stamp." Grimm's Canvasback duo took first place and will be used to produce the 81st stamp for the 2014-2015 conservation season (waterfowl hunting season). Grimm's exquisite technical realism is stamp-friendly, a beautiful work illustrating an alert male Canvasback with resting female at water's edge.The image is standard stamp fare, but more, Grimm loaded the image with subtle tension, a premonition of motion to come. The male Canvasback is evocatively alert. One get's the feeling that Grimm has captured a living moment, that instant when the male is just aware, but the female has not yet joined the alert.

Art by Adam Grimm. Image by Paul Baicich

Inside the 2013 Federal Duck Stamp Contest

The 2013 Federal Duck Stamp contest brought together 201 qualifying entries, each illustrating one of five waterfowl species selected for the 2013 contest by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Judges raising "IN" and "OUT" cards to select images for the second round.
The judging process is serious business. Judges see each anonymous numbered work, one at a time, in isolation, on their monitor and, briefly, presented in front of them. They have just moments to decide and rule.

Viewers are respectfully quiet. A whisper here, the occasional sigh rising from a watching artist or an artists companion. Beside me, a spouse hugged and comforted an artist who's work scored three "OUTS" and so, did not move to the second round. This is serious business--a life-changing opportunity for one talented artist each year. All are hopeful.

A Mallard entry illustrating an uncommon posture.
The two-day, two-round competition prolongs tension for semi-finalists, 63 entries moved on to the second round, the next day.

Entries make it to the second round with three or more "IN" selections from the five judges.
This dignified competition was hosted by Ohio's Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service organizes each year's event using the entry fees paid by artists. Ohio's ODNR and nearby Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge presented hands-on outdoor activities for hundreds of school-age children. Early experience in the outdoors is essential for children and for the outdoors of tomorrow.

"IN" This display offers viewers another peek at some of the second round art. These are all excellent choices, the judges have a tough job to do!

Your blogger attended the first day only. I wore a name tag to advertise birder support and Ohio Ornithological Society support for our National Wildlife Refuge System and the all important Federal Duck Stamp.

IPCC: "Extremely likely" people are dominant cause for present climate change

More grist for the denier's mill

The new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released yesterday ups the likelihood of dominant anthropogenic influence on climate change to greater than 95%. You can be sure that the denier's message machine is gearing-up for a new round of milling out doubt-messaging--not surprising, an election is on the horizon.

This is the 5th assessment report (AR5). Tune your critical-thinking skills, each new assessment report results in the deep-pocket denier machine producing lots of thinly-cloaked, but very slick-looking and smart-sounding confusion--just enough to ensure a majority of folks are confused and hold onto doubt so they don't need to believe that we are facing three uncomfortable and unavoidable outcomes: mitigation, adaptation, suffering (LG Thompson, 2010). If we invest NOW in mitigation, we can reduce the challenge of future adaptation and ease future suffering.

Unfortunately, denial works really well and is very inexpensive. Get ready for new books purporting to reveal controversy or conspiracy. Watch for slick television ads employing Maslov's basic levels of need to reach inside YOU to convince you your immediate comfort, warmth, security, and well being depend on your doubting and resisting calls for change. Watch for the witchdoctors, too: the talking heads that tout PhD's and then talk about how scientists don't agree (that's called peer review, part of the the scientific method). Parse their arguments and you will be participating in consumer review, and you will conclude that their flatulence does not contribute to science. This is about real science--not just politics as usual. There is too much at stake.

The physical science basis for the climate change attribution is summarized in the new report, IPCC Report Summary for Policymakers. The report summarizes large quantities of new science, a meta-analysis.

A few highlights:
"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, greenhouse gases have increased"

"The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. CO2 concentrations have increased by 40% since pre-industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel emissions and secondarily from net land use change emissions. The ocean has absorbed about 30% of the emitted anthropogenic carbon dioxide, causing ocean acidification."

 "Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system,"

"Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes... This evidence for human influence has grown since AR4. It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century."
This report is worth your attention. LG Thompson's and other papers in the volume at the link above are worth you time, too. Be a smart consumer.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Environmental History Timeline, March 16, 1934

The "Duck Stamp Act of 1934" signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt March 16, 1934

The Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp, later renamed the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, popularly known as the "duck stamp", is a required purchase for those who would hunt waterfowl. Anyone age sixteen or older must posses the annual Federal Duck Stamp in order to legally pursue waterfowl anywhere in the United States and Territories. The duck stamp purchase requirement was made the law of the land in order to collect dedicated funds for wetland habitat protection.

The 2013-2014 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp.
Today, bird watchers and other conservationists, stamp collectors and, of course, hunters buy Federal Duck Stamps to grow our National Wildlife Refuge System. Stamps serve as entry passes into select federal wildlife refuges that require entry fees, too. Stamp income goes to the dedicated Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, held for the purchase and protection of habitat, not subject to appropriations politics. Duck stamp dollars protect habitat! The Federal Duck Stamp is a success story, an icon of conservation, a really big deal.

Duck Stamp money amounting to over 850 million dollars has purchased or leased over 6.5 million acres of habitat, wetlands and waterfowl production areas, during 80 years of sales.

Jay N. "Ding" Darling, celebrity cartoonist and leading conservationist, conceived of the stamp idea to raise funds for habitat protection. Ding illustrated the first stamp printed for the 1934-1935 waterfowl season. Conservationist, "Honest" Harold Ickes, FDR's legendary Secretary of Interior during the New Deal and Fair Deal years, said of Ding Darling's importance to conservation, "Darling is one of the greatest enthusiasts I have ever known."  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had named Ding the first Director of the newly configured Bureau of Biological Survey (1934), immediate predecessor of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (1940). Ding Darling may be credited with launching much of our continuing effort to preserve wildlife habitat.

More information:
The Federal Duck Stamp Office, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, details all things Duck Stamps.
See how Federal Duck Stamp money is spent in your state.
See the evolution of Federal Duck Stamp law.
See all 80 Duck Stamp images.