Save the Pupfish!

With just thirty-five Devils Hole pupfish left on the planet, the National Park Service refused to risk a single breeding pair. It was reluctant even to surrender any eggs. After months of argument and analysis, it finally allowed the Fish and Wildlife Service to gather eggs in the off-season, when the chances of their surviving in the cavern were, in any case, low. The first summer, a single egg was collected; it died. The following winter, forty-two eggs were gathered; twenty-nine of these were successfully reared to adulthood.

— Under a White Sky, p. 81

“This is a good sign,” Gumm said.

Love how phlegmatic the scientist is. In truth, “she tries to spend some part of every day by the edge of the tank, just looking at the fish.”

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

Life in Colour Challenge: July, BLUE

Jude at Travel Words hosts the Life in Colour Challenge.

Here’s something on this month’s colour:

  • This month we will be looking for Blue. A primary colour that we look upon almost every day. But don’t forget about the different hues which include indigo and ultramarine, cyan and the other blue-greens such as turquoise, teal, and aquamarine.

Here are some blues from self’s archives:

  • Two friends in Manila started a jewelry business to benefit the women of Marawi, Philippines. All the jewelry is handmade by women from the island. If you would like to order from them, one of them is coming to the States in August, and can ship when she gets here. Here’s her insta page: pagari_ph. And here’s the backstory of what happened in Marawi.
  • Self took the time to drive to the central coast last month. Some of her happiest memories were of driving to the central coast to visit son, who was a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She stopped at Avila Beach, spent a few nights at San Luis Obispo.
  • The parrots were in the Rain Forest exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences. She visited in April.

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

Prize for the Most Deadpan Sentence Ever

After days spent tramping around in a tropical rain forest, wielding a machete to force a path through impenetrable jungle, Wake Forest University Professor “Silman was eager to learn as much as possible about the tree, so that when a new taxonomist could be found to replace the one who had died, he’d be able to send him all the necessary material.”

That sentence is delivered with the same aplomb one would use in describing the activities of, say, Paddington Bear!

CO2 in the Anthropocene

Roughly one-third of the CO2 that humans have so far pumped into the air has been absorbed by the oceans. This comes to a stunning 150 million metric tons. As with most aspects of the Anthropocene, though, it’s not only the scale of the transfer but also the speed that’s significant. A useful (though admittedly imperfect comparison can be made to alcohol. Just as it makes a big difference to your blood chemistry whether you take a month to go through a six-pack or an hour, it makes a big difference to marine chemistry whether carbon dioxide is added over the course of a million years or a hundred. To the oceans, as to the human liver, rate matters.

— Chapter Six: The Sea Around Us, The Sixth Extinction

Finished Chapter I, The Sixth Extinction

Elizabeth Kolbert writes like a dream.

Last paragraph, Chapter I (Atelopus zetecki), The Sixth Extinction:

  • The frogs and the salamander were placed in plastic bags with some leaves to keep them moist. It occurred to me that the frogs and their progeny, if they had any, would never again touch the floor of the rainforest but would live out their days in disinfected glass tanks. That night it poured, and in my coffin-like hammock I had vivid, troubled dreams, the only scene from which I could later recall was of a bright yellow frog smoking a cigarette through a holder.

Sentence of the Day: David Raup

  • “The history of life consists of long periods of boredom interrupted occasionally by panic.” — paleontologist David Raup, quoted by Elizabeth Kolbert in The Sixth Extinction, Chapter I

Three So Far 2021

Finished reading Oak Flat: The Fight for Sacred Land in the American West, by Lauren Redniss, early this morning. Wow. Blown away by the polyphonic voices. And by the simple yet so-moving illustrations (by the author herself).

It joins two other books as self’s five-star reads of the 2021 reading year:

  • Ice Walker: A Polar Bear’s Journey Through the Frozen Arctic, by James Raffan (nonfiction)
  • The Relentless Moon, by Mary Robinette Kowal (science fiction)

Mary Robinette Kowal is one of the authors participating in this year’s SiliCon, which will be happening this August at the San Jose Convention Center. Self rushed out and got her tickets. She can’t waaaaait for August.

Have a great summer, dear blog readers.

The Dakota Pipeline and the Standing Rock Sioux

In 2016, protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline attracted worldwide attention. The oil pipeline was designed to run from North to South Dakota, across Iowa, and into Illinois. The Standing Rock Sioux objected to the pipeline’s path on the grounds that it violated treaty rights and threatened the tribe’s water supply, grave sites and sacred land. Thousands camped out at Standing Rock to try and stop the project . . . In December 2016, the Obama administration blocked construction of the pipeline’s most contested section.

A month later, newly inaugurated president Donald Trump reversed the decision. By June 2017, oil was flowing. In the tumultuous first year of the Trump administration, the media moved on. In September 2017, Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman David Archambault II, a hero while the spotlight was trained on the controversy, was voted out of office.

— Chapter 10, Oak Flat: the Fight for Sacred Land in the American West

This is a fascinating book, as self keeps saying. She hopes she can finish it tonight and return it to the library tomorrow, because it’s way overdue and someone’s put a hold on it.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Things Self Didn’t Know About Copper

Clean technologies generally require more copper than traditional technologies. Wind and solar use about four times more copper than conventional energy to generate one megawatt of power. The average conventional car requires up to 55 pounds of copper, an electric car uses triple that. Usage of copper has climbed dramatically in recent years . . . In the coming decades, we will need to dramatically increase usage of solar and wind power to keep global temperatures down. Mitigating planetary warming will almost certainly cause a further surge in demand for copper.

Worldwide, there is a vibrant trade in stolen copper. When commodity prices rise, so does the number of copper thefts.

— Chapter 5, Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West

Apache Gold Casino, Arizona

Summer is definitely the right season to be reading something like this:

The casino sits at the edge of the San Carlos Reservation. Inside, the air is smoky and dim. Barry White plays on the sound system. Then Weezer. Slot machines ding, buzz, and simulate the sound of smashing glass. The gift shop sells straw hats and rhinestoned flip flops, nail polish and soda. Enlarged black-and-white photos hang in the hallway.. There is a picture of an Apache woman, head bowed, face in shadow, holding a child in the cradleboard. There is a photo of Geronimo, whose hand reaches for the pistol tucked into his waistband. The roulette and blackjack tables are empty, draped in heavy drop cloths. Retired couples and scattered loners gaze intently at screens, pulling levers and punching buttons. According to casino promotional materials, “At the Apache Gold Casino Resort, the magic of the ‘Apache Gold Legend’ lives on. Untold riches lie in this desert oasis, awaiting discovery.”

— Chapter 4, Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West, by Lauren Redniss

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