Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Project 350: Wake up - The Climate is Changing!

Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to participate in a global climate workshop for educators and concerned citizens. The keynote speakers for our mini climate institute included polar explorer Will Steger (from the Will Steger foundation) and author/educator/environmental activist Bill McKibben. The focus, as you might surmise, was on the patterns and evidence for wide-scale climatic change. 

From my perspective and that of countless climatologist, ecologists, and geologists, this planet is undergoing anthropogenic induced climate change. The expansion of the human population and industrial development is now releasing CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) and CH4 (Methane) in concentrations that are having a real impact on climate stability and predictability. These greenhouse gasses re-radiate infrared radiation back to the earth’s surface. The redirection of these long IR rays, that would have otherwise escaped into space, are causing the climate instability that our planet is now experiencing. If you would like to “bone-up” on your understanding of climate science and climate change please visit the following links: The International Panel on Climate Change Change.

My point for this blog is to introduce you to Project 350. The number 350 is the critical threshold for atmospheric carbon dioxide. Current climate research now suggests that climate instability (aka: Global Warming) occurs when CO2concentrations exceed 350 ppm. Currently, the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide stands at 387 ppm. That’s right, we have crossed the critical threshold. By burning fossil fuels, humans liberate excess carbon dioxide that was once sequestered into the earth. The rate of combustion is greater than the planet’s capacity to deposit excess carbon into the ocean or plants to fix the carbon into new tissue through photosynthesis.

It’s not too late to impact a real change! Project 350 is an awareness thing. It’s about taking action, making changes, and influencing the future in a positive way. Visit the site (, tell a friend, get politically active, and make real changes in the way you consume.

What happens if we don’t change our behaviors?... we may lose more than you imagine...

©2000-2010 / Bruce & Tamy Leventhal. All rights reserved. No image on this site may be used without permission

Monday, August 17, 2009

Badlands National Park 2009: Wildlife Landscapes

My favorite genre of nature photography is the wildlife landscape. When I look at nature images by modern masters like Jim Brandenburg, Frans Lanting, John Shaw, and Art Wolfe, it is their wildlife landscapes that I find most compelling. Wildlife that is artistically framed by it’s surroundings conveys two essential messages to the viewer. The first message is about basic biology and the second is about conservation. 

In biology we use the term niche to describe an organism’s role in its environment. This role includes food, predators, spacial requisites, temporal characteristics, and reproductive needs. These five niche characteristics are a small subset of the thousands of traits that could be used to describe the needs for any organism’s survival. As such, the definition of a niche might best be framed as an “n-dimensional space.” Here “n” represents all of the variables that can influence the way a given organism lives in its environment. Life adapts to where it lives through countless generations. In each generation, those that are best adapted to their environment survive to reproduce, while poorly adapted individuals die or produce fewer offspring. Through this process, living organisms increase the way they “fit” into their environment.

In the current age of technological change and human expansion, the biology of non-human life is in conflict with our egocentric needs and desires. Here lies the importance of conservation. If we value non-human life, then we must also value the space where these plants and animals live. It is through the conservation of habitat that the complexity of each niche can be preserved.

Wildlife landscapes carry a message and tell a story. They expose the beauty of wild spaces, and reveal the key requisite to sustain the biodiversity. The best wildlife landscapes educate us about biology and communicate the need for conservation.

©2000-2010 / Bruce & Tamy Leventhal. All rights reserved. No image on this site may be used without permission