Earth analysis from data collected by the deep space probe, Xertox

The Xertox deep space probe from the planet Outlandia entered a polar Earth orbit and collected data from every surface area for a period of twelve months. These data included photos of the planet’s surface, along with atmospheric, oceanic, and continental compositions and temperatures (collected by deployed robotic labs).

Analysis (based on data received by Outlandia, 200 years later) reveals that the planet’s atmosphere contains high levels of greenhouse gases contributing to an average surface temperature of 65.4° F. The oceans appeared to have risen significantly over the past 150 years before major evaporation.  The planet has no glaciers, with very little ice during the winter at the southern pole. The northern pole has almost no ice during winter.

There is no life on the planet beyond the bacterial, algae, and fungi groups. Given soil analyses and the planet-wide remains of buildings and large structures, it appears the planet had a wide array of higher life forms, including intelligent. Further analysis shows a sudden release of methane from warming oceans over a hundred-year period, likely due to the extensive burning of fossil fuels. This is demonstrated by the unique fossil fuel signature contained in the planet’s CO2 molecules.

Conclusion: Since this advanced civilization would have had decades warning of rising temperatures and their implications, we conclude this species rapidly developed technologically, well ahead of the time necessary to evolve beyond the stage of focusing only on meeting its immediate needs. Famine, disease, mass migrations, and conflict would have drastically reduced the populations of most species. Eventually,    temperatures too high to support most life forms completed the extinction process.

This is a fictionalized account of a deep space probe mission conducted from the planet Outlandia located 200 years away in our Milky Way Galaxy. They launched Xertox in Earth’s year 1950 after spectrographic analysis indicated Earth was located in what we call, the Goldilocks zone (not too hot, not too cold . . .). Unfortunately, by the time it got here in 2150, we were toast.

Does our fate sound far-fetched? Maybe it is not. According to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, the average global surface temperature has increased about 1.53° F since 1880. Scientists warn of a threshold effect if the average surface temperature rises another 1° C (for a total of 3.6° F above the average 1880 temperature). Melting glaciers, rising sea levels, stronger storms, and the current (sixth) extinction of species all attest to the implications of these rising temperatures related to burning fossil fuels.

Perhaps it is time for us to evolve a lot faster.

A Better Technique for Photographing Deadwood

Up until now, I’ve been photographing deadwood, freehand. But after a more critical review of these photos, I’ve decided that using a tripod enables more consistent high quality photos. There are two reasons for this. First, using a tripod makes it easier to compose the scene. Looking at the live view on a tripod is much different than looking through the viewfinder while holding the camera. It’s really much easier to notice any flaws with the angle of view, or the distractions “hiding” in the periphery. Second, the technical quality of the image is better since I can use a remote shutter release, allowing me to set a low ISO, longer exposures, and higher f stops. Manual focusing is also easier since I can more precisely select the key focus point for best depth-of-field, and magnify  that portion 10x for critical focusing.

You can see my most recent work (appearing in descending order of date taken) at my on-line gallery.

Shrinking Bird Populations Book Release Celebration

Friends joined me this past Sunday to celebrate the release of a photo book started by Susan and me several years ago. Although the book is a remembrance, it also documents the declining populations of several bird species, something likely due to the lightning growth of our human, industrialized population. The highlights of the day can be found at: Shrinking Birds

You can preview the book at my bookstore.

“Shrinking Bird Populations,” now available from my bookstore

Available through PayPal
Available through PayPal

This book is a collection of photographs of birds, started by my late wife and me, whose populations have been declining over the past 30 years. Taken in western New York, the Everglades, and Greater Sacramento areas; the book was peer reviewed by an ornithologist for factual accuracy and interpretation. You can find it at my bookstore.

New Links to Other Social Media Sites

Over the past several days I adopted a new layout for this blog, which now feeds to Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook so I can reach a larger audience over time. I encourage you to “Like” me, “Friend” me, or just send a comment.

With respect to environmental news, the Diane Rehm Show on NPR discussed an interesting topic today on conservation and human population. You can listen to the podcast at NPR.

I have expressed my thoughts on the environment in this blog. Do let me know yours.

 

Upcoming Self-published Book Festival, featuring “Exploring Maine’s Coast”

I’m delighted to say that my book, Exploring Maine’s Coast, has been selected for the Monroe County Library’s Self-published Book Festival to be held at the main library in downtown Rochester on November 7 (11:30 – 4:30) and 8 (1:30 – 4:30). Only one out of three submissions were accepted into the festival so you should see some pretty good indie works. Stop by my table and I’ll answer any “behind the scenes” questions you might have. You can preview the book by clicking on the Blurb icon located on the left sidebar. I’ll have several copies with me that will be available at the festival price of $69.99 (regularly $81.53 though Blurb.com). For more information on this event Click here. Hope to see you, there!

Photo Expedition to Nunavik

This post highlights Rich’s and my travel to Kuujjuaq, in the Canadian region of Nunavik, starting on August 6, 2015. The next post will focus on our bush flight to Lake Diana where we camped on the Tundra. Tundra land begins north of the tree line. Though I’ll show some Tundra photos in my next post, and later at my on-line gallery, most of the Tundra photos will be withheld, pending the release of a photo book next year.

Nunavik comprises the northern third of Quebec. According to Wikipedia, it covers 171,307 square miles north of the 55th parallel, it is the homeland of the NunavikInuit of Quebec. The 2011 census shows about 12,000 inhabitants, of whom 90% are Inuit. There are fourteen villages strung along the coast of Nunavik. There are no roads linking the villages.

Nunavik means “great land” in the local dialect of Inuktitut and the Inuit inhabitants of the region call themselves Nunavimmiut. Until 1912, the region was part of the District of Ungava of the Northwest Territories.

Negotiations for regional autonomy and resolution of outstanding land claims took place in the 2000s. The seat of government is Kuujjuaq, where we stayed before and after our four days on the Tundra. Negotiations on better empowering Inuit political rights in their land are still ongoing.

After driving 5 1/2 hours to the Montreal airport we stayed at the Novotel before catching our next day flight to Kuujjuaq (clicking on each photograph will display it full screen). Our airline, First Air, is 65 years old, _DSF2586serving the far north; it also conducts world-wide charters. It is fully Inuit owned since 1990. As you can see in the photo, the forward section of our 737 is configured for cargo (the money maker), passengers are relegated aft of the bulkhead (all coach). The service, however, was excellent, including a full

Raptor 864 on the Ramp at Kuujjuaq
Raptor 864 on the Ramp at Kuujjuaq

meal. We left sunny Montréal at about 65º F and arrived at misty Kuujjuaq 2 1/2 hours later at about 40º F. The weather did clear later in the afternoon, with mostly good weather for the rest of the trip.

TOur Coordinating Hostundra Tom, of Great Wildlife Adventures, picked us up at the airport

and took us to our inn. We arrived two days before the Tundra

Kuujjuaq Inn
Kuujjuaq Inn

bush flight so we could photograph in the village. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel comfortable photographing people since I wasn’t there long enough for them to get to know me. The only exception was a photograph I took of an Inuit woman sewing sections for a tent since we were

Tent Making
Tent Making

granted entrée, facilitated by one of the community’s leaders, Allen Gordon.

After getting settled we walked through the village and its surrounds for context. Although the village lacks the aesthetics we would expect to find in the lower 48

Overlooking Kuujjuaq
Overlooking Kuujjuaq

states, the sub-arctic is not amenable to southern living. Kuujjuaq sits on permafrost, with only the top 18 inches or so melting during the warmer months. Consequently, all lines and tanks cannot be buried (there are no underground

Kuujjuaq
Kuujjuaq

culvers or sewer lines). Each building contains its own heating oil, water, and septic tanks (residents call for service when these tanks approach empty or full). Housing is highly insulated and designed to withstand high winds. On December 21 sunrise is 8:18 and the sun sets at 14:44. It gets cold, with the lowest temperatures approaching -35º F. Buildings are raised about a foot above ground to allow for up-welling each spring.

The cost of living is high because everything has to be flown in, or delivered by barge (there are no roads connecting to

Rocky Beach: Kuujjuaq
Rocky Beach on the Koksoak River

southern Quebec). Barges can only enter the Koksoak River at high tide and must depart with the next high tide since the river is not otherwise navigable, due to large rocks. Everything is shipped via Montréal. As a result, most people rent housing, built by the government, due to its high cost.

The next morning we walked up the rocky escarpment outside the village

Kuujjuaq
August Frost

shortly after dawn. Before we reached the escarpment we noticed that frost covered the plants, as the temperature had dipped below freezing overnight. We were joined by a young husky who escorted us most of the way.  The view was impressive as a morning mist still hung over the river._MG_7784

In my next post I’ll describe the bush flight to Lake

From the escarpment
From the escarpment

Diana on the Tundra, along with introducing the other members of our expedition.

In follow-up to the Peaks Island Community Discussion

My thanks to all who attended; you were a wonderful audience. It was a packed house!

My thanks also to Priscilla Webster, Kathryn Moxhay, and the Friends of the Peaks Island Branch Library who made this possible;

Cynthia Farr-Weinfeld of CFW Photography here in Portland who wrote a wonderful Foreword;

and my friends whom I’ve known forever, Debbie Jordan and Dave Stankowicz here on Peaks.

The following photos, courtesy of A.D. Stankowicz:

Debbie Jordan on keyboard
Debbie Jordan on keyboard
Kathryn Moxhay, of the Friends of the Peaks Island Library
Kathryn Moxhay, of the Friends of the Peaks Island Library

 

 

 

 

 

Global population Growth
Global Population Growth

 

 

Interactive Discussion
Interactive Discussion

 

 

 

 

 

Great Audience
Great Audience
Post-talk
Post-talk

 

 

 

 

 

With Cindy Farr-Weinfeld
With Cindy Farr-Weinfeld
With Cindy Farr-Weinfeld and branch library supervisor, Priscilla Webster
With Cindy Farr-Weinfeld and branch library supervisor, Priscilla Webster

 

 

 

 

 

Back at Black Dog Cottage
Back at Black Dog Cottage

Here are the references I referred to in my opening remarks:

The End of Plenty

Rachel Carson

Living Planet Report

National Academy of Sciences

The Sixth Extinction

Barnes & Noble Climate Change Titles (I have no financial or business relationships with Barnes & Noble)

Barnes & Noble Environmental Pollution Titles National Geographic: Global Warming

Perhaps the most eloquent speaker for helping us understand our universe was the Cornell University astronomer, Carl Sagan, who hosted the 1980 TV series, Cosmos. A decade later he showed us a humbling photo of Earth (the Blue Dot), taken from Voyager I, and made the point that Earth is the only home we’ll ever have so we better take care of it.

Carl Sagan’s Blue Dot The Blue Dot from 4 billion miles

In the 1980s Sagan encouraged a promising 17 year-old boy from New York to pursue astronomy. He invited Neil deGrasse Tyson to Ithaca to see what was going on at the forefront of astronomy. Today, Dr. Tyson is the Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. He hosts Nova Science Now (and others), and resurrected Cosmos in 2014, aired on Fox, and now available on Netflix. Like Sagan, he too emphasizes that we need to globally act to protect our environment, since we now now that the additional CO2  in the atmosphere started to climb since the beginning of the industrial revolution (this CO2 has a fossil fuel signature–meaning, we did it).

On to Rockland

I drove up to Rockland earlier this week to decide if it might be a good area to spend a few days during peak foliage. It is a “come back” town. Formerly a run-down fishing community, today it has a museum of American art, about a dozen art galleries, coffee houses; and upscale, independent stores. It has more windjammer cruises than its neighbor, Camden. Rockland also has a huge ferry terminal operated by the State of

Rockland Harbor
Rockland Harbor

Maine. From there you can make relatively long voyages to North Haven, Vinal Haven, Matinicus, and Ragged Islands.

After looking around Main Street, I walked to the harbor for a few shots. Gone were the large yachts such as those of Belfast, Camden, and Portland but this could be due to the season—some boats now being in dry dock, others sailing south.

Owls Head Light
Owls Head Light

I was anxious to go to Owls Head Light, as it overlooks Penobscot Bay and Rockland. Although the park was quite nice, the lighthouse was not impressive. It was small, and given the terrain, there was no way to get a really artistic shot. Unlike most other lighthouses, you literally had to stand next to it to shoot, as shown in the accompanying photograph.

There was a beach at Owl’s Head that provided a nice view toward the north end of Rockland where I caught a nice scene with two sailboats on outbound courses.

_DSF1132
Outbound from Rockland

From here I was off to Birch Point Beach where, like Portland Head Light, artists abounded. I figured this had to be a pretty good spot to photograph. Here are but a few shots, including some of the artists. Maine’s coast continues to inspire artists and attract tourists. As urbanized as most of us are, nature continues to be something we need.

_DSF1137
Artists (and dog) at Birch Point Beach
_DSF1142
Birch Point Beach, looking Southwest

All in all I decided Rockland would indeed be a good spot for photographing the northern part of the mid-coast so I reserved a room at a local motel. Not only will I be there to capture the fall colors at peak, but I’ll be able to get dawn and dusk shots when lighting is best since I won’t have to content with ferry schedules.

By the way, if you double-click on any of my blog images you will see far more detail.

-From Portland and the mid-coast