Category Archives: Environmental Issues

Issues pertaining to the environment, the planet and landbase upon which we live – stuff like logging and clearcutting, oil drilling, global warming, energy concerns, rivers, forests and all those great thigns we seem to bent on destroying.

Polar bears on thin ice

Polar Bear on sea ice, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska

Standing on thin ice a polar bear curiously approaches. Polar Bear ice, in the Beaufort Sea, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Here’s a polar bear photo from my trip to the arctic last month. Given the predicament bears in the Beaufort Sea find themselves in (declines in accessible food due climate change), I thought the image a particularly relevant one.

Polar bears are classified as marine mammals, not, like their darker coated brethren to the south, mammals who earn their living on good old terra firma. Polar bears hunt, almost exclusively seals, and particularly 2 species of seals; primarily ringed seals (Phoca hispida) and less often, bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus). That alone makes polar bears particularly susceptible to population declines; any animal whose primary food source s merely one or 2 other species is somewhat vulnerable. This applies no less to herbivores who may exist on one or 2 types of plants. A crash (or boost) in the abundance of their food source will have an enormous impact on the population of their own species; a look at the lynx and the snowshoe hare cycles illustrates this.

So climate change has shifted the world for the polar bear; here’s a quick, and rough, summary of how.

The most productive waters in the arctic ocean are under sea ice, in the shallower areas over the continental shelf. Deeper water doesn’t hold light as well, and so tiny little critters like plankton and what not don’t do as well. They feed on the algae that grows and collects on the bottom of the sea ice. So where the plankton population is higher, so too is the population of the little critters that feed on plankton; shrimp and such. Fish eat shrimp, and bigger fish and regular size fish, and seals eat bigger fish. Where there’s no sea ice, there’s no algae growing. And if there’s no algae, no plankton, no shrimp, no regular size fish, no big fish, no seals and, you guessed it, skinny, hungry polar bears swimming around wondering why they can’t find any food. Continue reading

Polar Bears and Critical Habitat Designation

Polar bear (Ursus maritimus), Alaska.

Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) on a barrier island of the coast of arctic Alaska. Please click the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Recently, a federal judge in Alaska, handed the US Fish and Wildlife Service (F&WS)  some homework, when he decided that the agency had been a little overzealous in their designation of critical habitat for the polar bear. In 2010, the Obama administration set aside nearly 190 000 square miles of onshore and off-shore critical habitat for the polar bear. That’s an awful lot of land (larger than the state of California). But polar bears, it seems, are an awful lot of bear.

Last month a federal judge ruled that it’s apparently ‘too much’ land. Which is in itself noteworthy, as the judge isn’t really there to decide what’s too much and what isn’t too much land for a polar bear. The judge is supposed to simply review the decision and see whether it follows the law.

The judge also said the F&WS decision had some “procedural deficiencies”; much better. This means, they hadn’t quite followed the law. So what was one of those deficiencies? How about this one?  Section 1533(i) of the Endangered Species Act Continue reading

The Hubbard Glacier and Mt. Seattle

Hubbard Glacier and Gilbert Point, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Gilbert Point, the Hubbard Glacier and Mt Seattle, Disenchantment Bay, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Aerial photo. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Here’s an image from the first night of my most recent trip, a month long adventure down around the coastline of Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve. This photo was taken on the air taxi flight out to the coast; we departed a little from the scheduled route and I shot some images of the Hubbard Glacier and surrounding area. The points of interest here start with the Hubbard Glacier itself, generally regarded as the largest tidewater glacier in the world. At over 70 miles long, it’s quite a chunk of ice (given part of our trip was to look at the Malaspina Glacier and it caving into a tidal lagoon, the Hubbard’s claim to fame may be short-lived; the Malaspina is much bigger, and most definitely reaches the ocean).

You can also just see the edge of Valerie Glacier,  Continue reading

Erie Mine, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Erie Mine Bunkhouse, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Erie Mine Bunkhouse and the Wrangell Mountains, fall colors. Erie Mine is one of three mines that made up the famous Kennecott Copper Mines, Kennicott, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

From the aerial shoot we did in September; this one is of the old bunkhouse at Erie Mine, one of the 3 Kennecott Mines, in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park.

It’s interesting to me how much money, time and investment the National Park Service put into Kennecott, an old abandoned Copper Mine. The basic tenant of the Park Service is “don’t take stuff out of the place, and don’t leave your trash behind”.

It seems odd to effectively celebrate an organization that did quite the opposite of that. The mining company, like most mining companies, took what they wanted from the landscape, and left all their sh** behind when they were done. Now, what they did is revered.

But, such are the ways of the NPS; sometimes they’re hard to follow.



Happy Flat Earth Day

Flat Earth - Drying pond on coastal plain, ANWR, Alaska.

A dried up pond on what is normally a wetland. Effects of climate change, global warming.The coastal plain near the Canning River, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ANWR, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

For the less progressive of the folks who read this blog, Happy Flat Earth Day.



GoDaddy Hosting Service

Hey Folks,

Just spreading the word here: You’re all familiar with GoDaddy hosting service. The CEO, Bob Parsons has posted a video of himself on vacation to Zimbabwe, where he, gets this … shoots a bull elephant. The video is presented here.

The guise that this is “saving people’s crops” is simply ridiculous; I suppose next he’ll save by handing out free GoDaddy caps to villagers he not only fed, but clothed, the villagers.

If you host your site with GD, I hope you’ll take steps to move it elsewhere. I certainly would. There’s no way I’d want any of my money going to fund this idiot’s business.

Photographer Jim Goldstein has a blog on this topic, as well; and full props to him for getting the word out there on a subject like this. HIs blog is here.



Click This; April 2011

Brown bear backlit at dawn, Katmai National Park, Alaska.

A coastal brown bear, Ursus arctos, walks along Brooks River shoreline at dawn, backlit, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska.


Hey Folks

Next up in this series of news of the month pieces.

This month, I haven’t been spending as much time in the woods, and even less reading the news. Mostly, I’ve been grating sandpaper over my eyeballs … more commonly called “working on website updates”. I need to take about a  year off, and learn how to do this properly, then start over from scratch and rebuild everything (yeah, that’s gunna happen).

Below I’ve compiled various bits from around the web that held my failing attention long enough to actually read through the piece.  Feel free to add your own stuff of note, I’d love to see some things I’ve missed.

In a completely random order: Continue reading

Click This – March 2011

Backcountry Skiing trip, Kuskulana River, Mt. Blackburn, winter, Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Backcountry Skiing trip, Kuskulana River, Mt. Blackburn, winter, Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Hey Folks

The next of the monthly series for 2011. The biggest news, of course, in photography this month was the Oscars. I, of course,  missed them. Again. Ahh well – there goes pop culture, I spose.

The next biggest piece of news is that I’ve been spending quite a bit of time out of town, tooling around in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, enjoying the mountains. A few days here, a  few days there; beats the heck out of navigating the treacherous icy roads of Anchorage. And much more interesting than reading the news. 🙂

Below is what caught my eye this month. I’ve been in the mtns a bit, so might have missed some good stuff. Feel free to add your own stuff of note.

In no particular order: Continue reading

50th Anniversary of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Hey Folks,

December 6, 2010, marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, in Alaska. To commemorate this, and as a tribute to an amazing place, I’ve put together this slide show; 50 photos to mark the 50 years. These are all images from the Refuge, over 19 million acres of wild lands. The refuge is a treasure, home to thousands of creatures and features; the caribou herds, the Brooks Mountains, the broad coastal plain, migratory birds and countless other gifts to this world. A beautiful landscape that warrants our respect, not our exploitation.

I selected the images to present a the diversity of features and creatures that call the Refuge home, and composed and recorded the music to accompany it. I hope you enjoy it. Continue reading