When Dawn Erupts with Sunshine (Earth Whispers – Part 3) by Janine Donoho

Earth from the space station

Earth from the space station

As a conservation biologist, it’s difficult to keep from running around screaming, “The sky is falling.” Not only does that abuse my throat, it’s not at all productive. Besides, there are success stories associated with projects that could be emulated worldwide. Let’s shift gears and tout those for a change.

Shidhulai fleet boat

Shidhulai fleet boat

Amid our earth’s manmade landscapes—a veritable crazy quilt of sprawling urban centers punctuated by degraded swathes of natural resources—we’re also under the constant influence of our radiant sun. For many of us, that means gallons of sunblock and fabrics woven to keep our skin from flipping out and punishing us. Then there’s solar energy and I break into a happy dance. As Elon Musk said, “We have this handy fusion reactor in the sky called the sun, you don’t have to do anything, it just works. It shows up every day.” So how’s that harnessing of the sun’s energy going?

In at risk Bangladesh, you’ll find Mohammed Rezwan’s nonprofit ‘Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha’, which means self-reliance. You see, inundated Bangladesh is drowning with over a third of its landmass underwater each year. Rezwan’s floating and solar-powered fleet of schools, libraries, sustainable farms, and health clinics work to offset this loss of actual land. Solar photovoltaics (PV) power this vision. Brilliant on so many levels.

SolarPACES Members

SolarPACES Members

Other projects worldwide include concentrating solar power (CSP), often by transferring energy into steam. At this time, nineteen countries are committed to these forms of solar energy. The issue at hand? Connecting generating sources of solar power into a grid that delivers to urban centers. The usual suspects of fossils—er, fossil fuel tycoons—continue to make this more difficult than it needs to be.

Solar Energy

Solar Energy

Not listed as a member nation? Sweden. One of their most successful solar projects is Ripasso Energy with 32% solar-to-grid energy so far. And the Swedes just get better. Since 1970, this country’s renewable geothermal, wind, and solar use, including collaborative infrastructure along with rigorous building codes, have led to 90% less oil dependency, nearly 10% decreased CO2 output, and markedly reduced sulfur pollution. Woo-hoo!

So yes, let the sun shine down. The star at the center of our solar system still belongs to all. The lower cost of residential solar power has also adjusted into a more doable realm. Now it’s up to us to block insatiable oil magnates and their legislative minions from further taxing that, too.

Are you using solar power to rock your world? If not, do you plan to do so?

Fusion for all

Fusion for all

Twitterpated with Wild Turkey by Janine Donoho

Flock of wild toms

Flock of wild toms

During our nearly 200 hikes yearly, we revel in seasonal birdlife, although twitterpated spring and wildcare summer offer choicest viewing times. As avian couples woo and mate, then raise their young, you glimpse variations on parenting themes. For wild turkeys, commitment shy toms have all the fun while hens band together to raise their broods.

Full plumage tom

Full plumage tom

Treed tom

Treed tom

A slow-mo hike along an old logging road in Okanogan National Forest with our fourteen pound predator, otherwise known as Mighty Italian Greyhound (MIGgy), prompts spontaneous flushing of a Meleagris gallopavo from the underbrush. As often happens, this wild tom exceeds cartoonish expectations by being quick on the wing, cunning, and beautifully feathered in iridescent bronzes and greens with the hallmark scaled legs and wattle reminiscent of its reptilian ancestors. Its verbal complaint while flying resembles gobbled outrage rather than the silly preschool sound human throats make. Once the tom alights on a ponderosa pine branch, MIGgy takes a victory lap. Wild turkeys protecting their territory can be aggressive. Who can blame them when so many end up on dinner tables? So give the hound a nod.

Why does the turkey cross the logging road? It’s all about food, water, and shelter. Like us, turkeys appreciate the finer things in life. For our local populations that means established ponderosa forests, where turkeys feast upon seeds and fruits along with occasional insects and a chaser of grit—yum! Hens hollow out ground nests in debris at bases of trees and shrubs, but roost on higher limbs due to rapacious coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, mountain lions, raptors, and—yes, us. They’re also one of this nation’s few conservation success stories, returning from populations of 30,000 birds in the early 1900s to over 7,000,000 today. Evidently the idea of facing an empty Thanksgiving platter roused our national fervor to deal with habitat degradation and poaching.

Wild thing, I think I love ya...

Wild thing, I think I love ya…

With their dense bone structure, turkey fossil records date back to over 5,000,000 years ago. Undomesticated birds are no more like their meal-on-the-talon version than cows are like fierce and extinct aurochs. Today we incapacitate domesticated turkeys by favoring massive breasts that overbalance the poor beasties—and no, we’re talking meaty breasts versus silicon here. This trend began five hundred years ago, spreading to a global phenomenon when Spaniards made off with turkeys domesticated by Aztecs. The bird’s eponymous name may originate from early transport through Turkey on their way to Europe.

Wily tom heading for deep cover

So today, up with turkeys. Yes, call me twitterpated.

Turkey hens & brood

Turkey hens & brood

What local birds raise your spirits? How do you enhance their habitat?

Soundings, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27th, 2015
The big day is here.

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