The Nature Conservancy

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Gates at two campgrounds near Grand Rapids in northern Minnesota were yanked from concrete footings and people found camping or picnicking said they were simply taking advantage of the open entrances.

State parks sustain vandalism after Minnesota shutdown | Reuters

Two quick things on this story, which is really quite sad, and you all should read the whole story:

1. It provides a glimpse into what cold happen to our state and national parks if tehy continue to be inadequately funded and are faced with increased funding cuts through the budgeting process. 

In the current House Appropriations process, natural resource and environmental programs are being singled out for deep and disproportionate cuts despite the fact that all of these programs together only amount to around 1% of the budget. In addition, spending on these programs has grown hardly at all over the last 30 years.

2. The quote above shows you just can’t stop people from enjoying nature.

This Reef May Save Your Life

(Via The Huffington Post)

A coral reef may save your life one day. Why have we done so little to return the favor?

The vast majority of medicines, from powerful narcotics to common headache pills, were derived originally from nature — that’s up to 70% of new drugs in the past couple of decades in the United States alone.

This is hardly surprising. Many animals, from chimpanzees to parrots, have been seen to search for favorite plants or mineral deposits during times of stress. Even our pet dog gets in the act, nibbling on grass perhaps to ward off tummy trouble. Perhaps our early ancestors watched and emulated.

Our earliest records of written history prescribe natural remedies for various ailments, and some have even made it into modern prescriptions. Best known is the common aspirin, a derivative of salicylic acid. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, knew this, and as far back as 400 BC. willow bark — which contains salicin — was prescribed for a host of aliments.

More recently, scientists have been turning their attention to a vast, relatively untapped storehouse of promising new drugs: tropical coral reefs.

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Climate Change: How Will It Affect Fruit and Nut Trees

What won’t climate change affect? Well, cross trail mix and cherry pie off that ever-shrinking list. It turns out that crisp apples, chewy almonds, ripe plums and a host of other nuts and stone fruits might become much more costly to grow — or not grown at all in some spots — because of rising winter temperatures, according to a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal PLoS One.

The problem, say researchers: The trees that produce these goodies need a certain number of hours at cold temperatures — or “winter chill” — in order to blossom and produce maximally. And the author’s extensive climate change modeling shows achieving adequate winter chill will become increasingly more difficult in growing zones across the world, from South Africa to southern Australia to California’s Central Valley. (The U.S. fruit and nut industry generates about $93 billion in income annually.)

That could mean lower crop yields unless growers either take either costly measures to adapt to warmer winters or move their stocks northward — a forced migration that might not work in many cases, according to Nature Conservancy climate scientist Evan Girvetz, a co-author on the study. I asked Girvetz to serve up the nutty details (look out, pistachio lovers!) and to talk about how he as a climate scientists deals with depressing studies like this coming out nearly every week.

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