Grizzly bears once roamed much of North America and symbolized the continent’s untamed wilderness. But hunters and trappers nearly wiped them out across most of the Lower 48 states by the late 1800s.
Invasive species are a great concern for the health and stability of ecosystems. They are defined as plants, animals or pathogens that are non-native to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause harm. It is that latter consideration that isn’t always obvious.
Unprecedented things have been happening with the weather up in the Arctic in recent times. In fact, during the past year, the climate in the Arctic has at times bordered on the absurd.
We’ve all come to take for granted the ability of GPS systems to help us find our way around our cities, the countryside and, for that matter, the world in general. Software interacting with Global Positioning Satellites allows us to pinpoint our location on the Earth with remarkable accuracy. At least, as long as places on Earth stay put. But the problem is that they actually don’t.
Wilderness areas are strongholds for biodiversity. They buffer and regulate local climates, and they support many of the world’s most politically and economically marginalized communities. While there is a great deal of attention being paid to the loss of species around the world, there is relatively little focus on the loss of entire ecosystems. Simply put, wilderness is on the decline, and it has been ever since human civilization began its inexorable expansion.
The Northwest Passage is a sea route connecting the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Arctic Ocean, going along the northern coast of North America via waterways through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
For more than half a century, scientists have converged on Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire’s White Mountains to explore how forest ecosystems work. The site was established by the U.S. Forest Service to study the relationship between forests and New England’s water supply. In the 1960s, inquiry was expanded to include ecology, biogeochemistry, and studies of birds and other animals.
The luminous glow of the Milky Way, the galaxy that contains our Solar System, has inspired everything from stories and songs to paintings and poems for centuries. But now one third of the people on the planet – including 80% of Americans and 60% of Europeans – cannot see the Milky Way at night because of light pollution. Nighttime light pollution now covers nearly 80% of the globe.
The North American Bird Conservation Initiative recently released its annual “State of the Birds’ report, which is a comprehensive analysis of North American birds. And as with many other things these days, we’re not doing well.
As the climate warms, all sorts of things are happening in the environment. We know about shrinking ice caps, retreating glaciers, strange winter weather, and so forth. But there are other things that may happen that are unexpected and puzzling.