Saving A Tree, One Drip At A Time.

IV treatment helps Pillalamarri live another day. Courtesy of District Administration, Mahabubnagar.

IV treatment helps Pillalamarri live another day. Courtesy of District Administration, Mahabubnagar.

An amazing story, this.

If the roughly 800-year-old banyan tree in Mahabubnagar, India, could talk, it would probably tell you the IV inserted in its branches is saving its life. Termites infested the tree, reportedly one of the oldest in India, and gradually chipped away at its wood until the poor banyan was near the brink of death. Last December, some of the tree’s branches fell down because of the infestation, resulting in officials closing the attraction to the public.

Known as Pillalamarri because of its many interweaving branches, the banyan tree measures 405 feet from east to west and 408 feet from north to south, according to Mahabubnagar District Forest Officer Chukka Ganga Reddy. The crown of Pillalamarri extends to 1,263 feet and the tree is spread across nearly four acres. Underneath the tree stands a small shrine that supposedly dates back to the year 1200, but the tree’s exact age is unclear. Nevertheless, calling the Ficus benghalensis a great banyan tree would be an understatement.

Pillalamarri’s branches bend close to the soil. Courtesy of District Administration, Mahabubnagar.

Pillalamarri’s branches bend close to the soil. Courtesy of District Administration, Mahabubnagar.

Such greatness attracts 12,000 tourists per year from every corner of the country to awe at its sheer vastness, but this tourism has also caused some troubles for the tree. According to Telangana Today, when Pillalamarri turned into a tourist attraction nearly a decade ago, the state government cut down branches and built concrete sitting areas around the tree for tourists. Tourists picked at the leaves, climbed on the branches, and carved names into the bark. Furthermore, to keep the area clean, the grounds team burned fallen leaves, which was bad for the soil. A recently installed dam on a neighboring stream restricted water flow to the tree.

I will never understand the pointless destructiveness humans indulge in. A 700 year old living being should, at the very least, garner some respect.

…Officials initially injected the trunk with the pesticide chlorpyrifos, but saw no improvement. So they tried another method to prevent decay: hundreds of saline bottles filled with chlorpyrifos, inserted into Pillalamarri’s branches.

“This process has been effective,” Reddy told the Times of India. “Secondly, we are watering the roots with the diluted solution to kill the termites. And in a physical method, we are building concrete structures to support the collapsing heavy branches.”

…Despite the tree’s stable prospects, the public won’t be seeing Pillalamarri any time soon. When they do visit in the future, “this time people have to see it from a distance away from the barricades,” said Reddy. For now, drip-by-drip, the banyan tree’s health is returning to its former glory.

What a shame that all those who would show proper respect won’t be able to do so anymore. I’m impressed and happy that a way to treat Pillalamarri has been found, and profoundly sad and disappointed by the people who were so damn destructive. It doesn’t speak well of humans at all.

Atlas Obscura has the full story, and lots of links.

Overlooking The Little Brown Birds.

A Mallee emuwren: it has the advantage of being objectively adorable. Photograph: Dean Ingwersen/BirdLife Australia.

A Mallee emuwren: it has the advantage of being objectively adorable. Photograph: Dean Ingwersen/BirdLife Australia.

People who get into dinosaur watching are always happy to see all birds, even all the hosts of the little brown ones. The Guardian has an interesting article up about endangered birds, and unfortunately, the little brown birds get overlooked in the race to preserve the more colourful ones.

In January 2016, a keen birdwatcher named Dion Hobcroft walked into the Pegarah state forest on Tasmania’s King Island with a recorded birdcall and took the first blurry photographs of the King Island brown thornbill.

The brown thornbill, Acanthiza pusilla archibaldi, is a subspecies of the Tasmanian thornbill, distinguished from its cousins on the big island by a slightly longer beak.

It is about 10cm long, coloured various shades of brown, and thoroughly unexciting to the untrained eye. Hobcroft’s was only the fourth confirmed sighting since 1974.

According to a forthcoming review of Australia’s avian threatened species programs, the King Island brown thornbill is most likely to be the next bird to be declared extinct.

It shares the podium with the King Island scrubtit, Acanthornis magnus greenianus, which, with a population of fewer than 50 adults spread across three isolated areas of ever-shrinking melaleuca swamp, is No 3 on the list.

The orange-bellied parrot, which stops off on King Island on its precarious annual flight from south-western Tasmania to the Victorian coast, and has a wild adult population of fewer than 20 individuals, is the second.

The difference is, you have probably heard of the orange-bellied parrot. As of Wednesday, it had garnered more than 1,700 votes in the Guardian’s bird of the year poll, and last year a crowdfunding campaign raised $140,000 to fund fieldwork during its breeding season. The thornbill didn’t make the list.

You can see and read more here.

Bible Logick.

Bryan Fischer has come up with a novel case for being pro-death penalty: hey, good for the environment!

While making what he claimed was a biblical case for the death penalty on his radio program yesterday, Bryan Fischer said that executing criminals is something that environmentalists should support because that is the only process through which the land can be cleansed of “pollution.”

Citing Numbers 35, Fischer declared that “the land is polluted and defiled by murder; when innocent blood is shed, the land is polluted.”

As per usual with christians, one verse is selected while ignoring the larger context. Numbers 35 is all about building cities, and how murderers can flee to said cities and find refuge, until they are properly judged for their act and the revenger (nearest kin to the murdered person) is allowed to kill them. There’s a whole lot about how only the revenger can be the one to administer capital punishment. Basically, this is a chapter detailing the rules and manners of being bloodthirsty, and where you are allowed to spill blood, and where you aren’t. Miss Manners for killers.

Also, Mr. Fischer doesn’t seem to be overly concerned by the difference between literal and figurative. One particular definition of pollution does not automatically apply to the other definitions. I’d urge you to look at a dictionary, could be right helpful.

“If you’re an environmentalist and you care about the pollution of the land of the United States of America, then you want to see murder stopped and you want to see murder avenged,” Fischer said. “You want to see justice done in the case of murder because Moses says in verse 33, ‘No atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it except by the blood of the one who shed it.’ So if we want to see our land cleansed from the pollution of the shedding of innocent blood, it’s not just enough to lock people up for the rest of their lives.”

Well, if all it takes to clean up the environment is to condemn all those who have spilled blood, that’s an outright condemnation of every human on the planet, given our constant wars and all; not one society has ever stood up and said “nope, we refuse. no war.” Going by biblical standards, just being unhappy with wars isn’t enough, so we all need to die. Granted, that would do wonders for the environment. Let’s agree that’s not a great solution though, especially as you wouldn’t be able to get everyone on board with that idea.

If you’re going to stick with Numbers, then only the closest kin of those murdered can carry out executions, and those executions must be done in specific cities, at specific times. Good luck with that one, Mr. Fischer. If you want to insist on this spilt blood is the worst pollution ever, and you believe in Jehovah, then your target is clear: kill that fucking god of yours, because as killers go, it would be one of the worst.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve recommended Drunk With Blood by Steve Wells, but if you haven’t read it, please do. If you’re a christian, don’t be afraid of it, nothing but bible in it (KJV too), with a bit of clarifying commentary. What it will do is drive home the sheer awfulness of this god, the absolute lack of consistency anywhere in the bible, and the sheer delight this fiendish creation of a god takes in being a bloodthirsty psychopath with all the restraint of sugar-loaded toddler.

Via RWW.

Medieval Shipwrecks in the Black Sea.

A shipwreck from the medieval period, of a type known from literature but never previously seen, was discovered during an underwater survey of the Black Sea this past summer. UConn researcher Kroum Batchvarov says seeing it for the first time was ‘a truly thrilling moment.’ (Courtesy of Kroum Batchvarov).

While conducting their mapping in late summer using the most advanced underwater survey equipment in the world, Batchvarov and his colleagues discovered a total of 43 shipwrecks. The team had expected to see sunken ships, but were surprised at just what they found.

An Ottoman period shipwreck with well preserved wood carvings. The images, which show the shipwrecks in three dimensions, were produced by a process known as photogrammetry. It combines photographs and videos taken by cameras mounted on remotely operated vehicles with distance measurements produced by sonars. (Courtesy of Kroum Batchvarov).

Batchvarov first spotted the well preserved medieval shipwreck on a screen in the control room of the expedition ship after nearly 48 hours of monitoring images from the high remote survey vehicle moving along the floor of the Black Sea.

“That was a truly thrilling moment. We spent the next six hours looking at the wreck. No one had ever seen anything like it,” he says. “We had known of it. There have been descriptions in Venetian manuscripts that survived from the 15th century describing earlier vessels. But this was the first time that we were seeing it.”

The ship was complete, according to Batchvarov: “The masts were still standing. You could see the spars [wooden poles], the yards on deck. Everything was there.”

[…]

The vessels the Black Sea MAP team discovered date over the course of a millennium, from the 9th to the 19th centuries. Many were merchant ships from the Ottoman Empire between the 15th and 19th centuries, mostly from the 18th century. But the medieval ship – dating from the 13th to the mid-14th century and probably of Mediterranean origin – provides the first view of a ship type known from historical sources but never before seen.

[…]

While analysis of the shipwrecks is ongoing, the team continues with its intended purpose, investigating the area for evidence of how humans reacted to changes in the environment in previous eras.

“We are answering an archaeological question: At what stage did the level of the Black Sea change and what once would have been marshy coastal land become inhabitable and then become inundated?” Batchvarov says, noting that the team’s findings could add to previous studies on catastrophic flooding in the Black Sea region.

You can read and see more here.

Coal Comforts.

A “Coal Comforts” cupcake by Spencer Merolla (courtesy the artist).

Spencer Merolla is doing some great work, this time around, having a pop up bakery which has decidedly non-edible goodies, as they are made from ash. Just a bit here, the article is in-depth, with many links well worth following.

As the banks of Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal continue to be developed, the legacy of pollution in its waters can be an uncomfortable narrative alongside gentrification. In conjunction with Gowanus Open Studios on October 21 and 22, artist Spencer Merolla is creating a pop-up bakery offering cupcakes, cookies, and other treats, all molded from coal ash. The inedible delicacies served from a mobile cart are meant to encourage conversation about the environment and climate change, especially on a weekend when many non-locals will be roaming the neighborhood.

“Gowanus is kind of a cautionary tale in terms of environmental degradation,” Merolla told Hyperallergic. “I love the work that is being done to clean up the canal and green the watershed, and it’s very exciting to think we can repair some of the damage we’ve inherited and be better stewards of this place in the future. But there is no putting the toothpaste back in the tube, here or anywhere. We have to do a better job of preventing these kinds of catastrophes in the first place. Because they are happening right now, all over.”

…Merolla’s work with molding ash emerged around that time, with a piece called “Ashes in Our Mouth (Baloney Sandwich Series)” that suggested the bad taste many were left with after Trump’s election, as well as his support for the coal industry over cleaner energy.

“I’d wanted to work with ash for some time, given its association with grief, but it was the presidential election of last year that turned me toward coal ash specifically,” she stated. “Trump’s campaign relied so heavily on nostalgia in general and for the coal industry in particular, and it got me thinking about the many ways in which that nostalgia is toxic. It persuades people that because something is old-fashioned and familiar, it’s also benign.”

[…]

It’s worth noting that among the developers of Gowanus is the Jared Kushner-led Kushner Companies. The Gowanus Canal was designated an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund Site in 2010, thanks to its toxic cocktail of arsenic, radioactive material, and other pollutants. Lining the canal’s bottom is “black mayonnaise,” a concoction of coal tar, heavy metals, and other sludge from decades of industrial run-off. With rising tides of climate change, it remains vulnerable to flooding, even now pouring raw sewage into the streets in heavy rains.

During Gowanus Open Studios, Merolla plans to set up the “Coal Comforts” bakery cart outside the Gowanus Souvenir Shop at 567 Union Street. The tagline of the bakery is: “Can’t have your cake and eat it too.” By shaping the coal ash into food-like forms, Merolla references how much of the world’s population consumes poisonous air due to coal pollution, and the impossible balance between continuing the industry as it is and improving human life.

As she said, “The connection between food justice and environmental justice is only going to become clearer in the future — you can’t have one without the other.”

You can see and read much more at Hyperallergic, and you can watch a video by Ms. Merolla at the Kickstarter page for this show.

With Christians Like These, Who Needs Enemies?

Screengrab.

There’s been no end of people blaming the people of Houston for the flood, all of them christians. Now, Joyner and Bakker have joined in, with Bakker hawking his horrible ‘food’ inna bucket.

Joyner asserted that the storm had nothing to do with climate change because “the real issue with the weather and everything else on the earth has to do with sin and wickedness.”

“The whole earth will cry out because of the shedding of innocent blood,” he said. “That’s what throws nature off more than dumping CO2 or anything.”

I’ll just assume Joyner is yakking about abortion here, and not the endless imperial wars Amerika starts, or all the brown peoples who get murdered by homicidal cops every day, or anything like that. The earth we walk on, every single day, is blood and bone of all those who have gone before, and that’s a bunch, to say the least. Some of us realize that, and it leads us to respect. Apparently, it leads christians to the conclusion that climate change is no thing, no. My idea of wickedness differs a great deal from theirs. I think they are wicked assholes. Not that it would affect climate change in any way.

“The whole earth” is all manner upsetty by what people in Houston are doing. Amazing. One of the very worst aspects of many Americans is that they think the world begins and ends with Amerika.

That prompted Bakker to declare that he felt that “this flood is from God, it’s a judgment on America,” and Joyner agreed, noting that “these kinds of things don’t happen by accident.”

Oh FFS. Yeah, uh, climate change, dipshit. And yes, these things do happen at random. Always have done, but we’re happily accelerating it all.

Joyner said that Key West, Florida, had been hit by a hurricane “on the day they’re supposed to have the Day of Decadence parade” and another hurricane hit New Orleans right before it hosted another Day of Decadence festival.

“Coincidence? I don’t think so,” he said. “We have to stand up against the perversion of our times and call it what it is.”

Once again, Amerika, it’s not the whole world. Other countries have such fun celebrations, and they aren’t being flooded (something that psychogod of yours promised to never do again. Of course, there was that qualifier about not wiping out everyone via flood. I guess spot flooding is still good) or otherwise wiped out. Gosh, I wonder why not. See if you can figure that one out.

Bakker agreed, saying that the former mayor of Houston “ordered all the preachers to turn in their sermons before they preached them.

That doesn’t sound right at all, and I’ll go with the assumption it’s a lie. Anyone know about that?

Just remember, God gets the last word. God gets the last word. Be not deceived, God is not mocked.”

I mock Jehovah all the damn time. Still here, still intact. People all over the place mock Jehovah. They’re okay, too. You can add sloth to the list of your god’s sins.

Via RWW.

Perfectly Preserved: 400 Year Old Sac of Fluke Eggs.

Jing Lee, a 17th-century Korean mummy. D. H. Shin, Y.-S. Kim, D. S. Yoo.

Jing Lee was born in 1580, during Korea’s long-lasting Joseon dynasty, and died in 1642, at the age of 63. At some point in his long life, he ate a raw, freshwater crustacean, in one form or another. Most likely, he was indulging in a fresh, seasonal treat—raw crabs with soy sauces—or was trying to rid himself of disease, with a dose of crayfish juice, thought to help treat the measles. (Joseon food culture was not to be trifled with.) However, as it happened, his crustacean meal left a lasting legacy in his body: a sac of liver fluke eggs growing happily in his liver, as Haaretz reports.

Four hundred years later, as part of a parasitology study of pre-modern Korean societies, a team of scientists found that egg sac mummified on Jing Lee’s liver. They report their findings in a new study in the Journal of Parasitology.

You can read all about this fascinating find at Atlas Obscura.

The Intertwining of Trees and Crime.

Screencapture.

There’s been some very interesting research happening in Chicago, and it turns out that trees reduce crime. I don’t find this surprising at all, but I’m a “must be attached to the land” person. When your environment is bleak and desolate, you end up with bleak, desolate, desperate people. We need to be aware of our earth, we need to be connected to our planet. In urban environments, the best way to restore that connection is with trees. Yes, they are a long-term investment, but that’s good, because it means people are thinking the right way, generations ahead of themselves.

In June, the Chicago Regional Tree Initiative and Morton Arboretum released what they say is the most comprehensive tree canopy data set of any region in the U.S., covering 284 municipalities in the Chicago area. Now, that data is helping neighborhoods improve their environments and assist their communities.

“When we go to talk to communities,” says Lydia Scott, director of the CRTI, “We say ‘trees reduce crime.’ And then they go, ‘Explain to me how that could possibly be, because that’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever heard.’”

In Chicago, where more than 2,000 people have been shot this year, scientists are looking at physical features of neighborhoods for solutions. “We started to look at where we have heavy crime, and whether there was a correlation with tree canopy, and often, there is,” says Scott. “Communities that have higher tree population have lower crime. Areas where trees are prevalent, people tend to be outside, mingling, enjoying their community.”

The map revealed that poorer neighborhoods are often “tree deserts,” areas with little or no tree canopy. Trees reduce flooding, improve property values, prevent heat islands, promote feelings of safety, reduce mortality, and provide other significant social and health benefits. This means that when you live in, for example, the South Side, where trees are scarcer, you lose more than just green leaves overhead.

Never before have researchers been able to look so widely and deeply at this sort of data. The map is huge—it covers seven counties—and extremely detailed. That has allowed Scott and her colleagues to notice some startling patterns. For example, in the North Shore community—an affluent, lakeside, suburban area—canopy cover tends to be 40 percent or higher. On the economically depressed South Side, canopy can be as low as 7 percent.

That last is no surprise, either. As it goes with people, the poorer you are, the less of everything you get, including trees. There’s much more to the article, all the research, how it was conducted, and information about Blacks in Green, who are doing stellar work. Click on over to Atlas Obscura for the full story. Then see if you could help plant a tree. Or just hug one.