Through education, monitoring, and hands-on stewardship assistance, NAPS brings together farmers, watermen, businesses, educators, and other concerned citizens to help protect and enhance our unique quality of life in Northumberland County. NAPS is a non-profit organization dedicated to:
Posted March 22, 2016
By Jay Walker
A group of Northumberland Middle School students and Shauna McCranie, Coordinator of Gifted Services, showed their completed robots for the SeaPerch Project at the NAPS Annual Meeting, “STEM in Northumberland,” Saturday, February 6, at the United Methodist Church in Heathsville. Almost half of the 20 sixth to ninth grade students were on hand to tell the audience of NAPS members and non-members, including their parents and grandparents, what their favorite tasks were. (Soldering skill was a leader.)
Shauna told the crowd of about 50+ that the group was ready to test their underwater robots at the YMCA in-door pool in Kilmarnock. The next step in April will be competition at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, she said. Everyone had a chance to examine the robots during the intermission.
The SeaPerch Project was part of the overall theme of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). The keynote speaker, John Wright from the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Dahlgren, described how important STEM education is to the Navy. He outlined the programs that Dahlgren supports at elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools, emphasizing that grants are available, such as the SeaPerch Project at the Northumberland Middle School. Dahlgren provided all the materials and tools needed to construct the robots. NAPS supplied the hand bags to carry the tools.
Turning to the Northumberland students, he said, “I love to see the SeaPerch smiles that illuminate the faces of STEM students when they put their creations in the water.” He added that robots are heavily involved in Dahlgren’s R&D.
NAPS Vice President Lee Allain opened the program with an overview of STEM and why it is vital for the future of the country. He stated that an engineering career offers many benefits including significant income, job satisfaction in participating on important projects, and service to the country. Lee emphasized one of the STEM slides, “Aiming for the Good Life.”
Prior to starting the proceedings, Lee paid special honor to Kenny Eades, retired County Administrator, and his replacement Luttrell Tadlock. Lee thanked them both for attending and said that NAPS has appreciated their help and encouragement.
At the NAPS Business Meeting following the STEM program, Greg Haugan reviewed his financial report and gave a brief summary of preparations for the 2016 Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 16, at the Heathsville Farmers Market.
In addition, three new board members were elected: Shauna McCranie, Pam Hagy, and Janice Mahoney.
Posted March 22, 2016
By Dr. Lynton Land
In a new book, Merchants of Doubt, historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway document how special interests, including a few high-level scientists, purposefully mislead the public and denied well-established scientific knowledge. “Big Tobacco,” knowing full well their product was addictive and could kill people, as could second-hand smoke, established the playbook on how to do everything possible to confuse the issue and delay any action that would decrease their profits – lie, shoot the messenger, trot out “experts,” fund “research,” and fund “think tanks” with benign-sounding names like the American Enterprise Institute or the Heritage Foundation.
The energy sector and power plants used the same playbook to deny the environmental effects of acid rain, pesticide manufacturers used it to promote the continued use of DDT and chemical manufacturers used it to deny their products were responsible for the ozone hole. And of course it is being used today to combat action to address global warming.
There are many similar examples not covered in this well-written and well-researched book. Close to home, here in Chesapeake Bay, “Big Ag” uses the playbook to do everything possible to compromise understanding that inefficient crop fertilization causes most of Chesapeake Bay nutrient pollution and to delay any possible action to meaningfully reduce the pollution. The writing and passage of the Clean Water Act was successfully manipulated so as to essentially exempt farm practices from regulation.
We know that the disposal of animal waste (poultry litter, sewage sludge and manure) by land application in the guise of “free fertilizer” causes at least one quarter of Bay nutrient pollution, and NAPS has been opposing the practice for decades. The January 21 Rappahannock Record reported that ”Oversight of biosolid applications is sufficient, say Virginia farmers.” Of course they say that. They get free fertilizer but bear no responsibility for the massive nutrient pollution that results. As long as land application is “Nitrogen-based” and assumes that only 30% of the disposed Nitrogen is available to the next crop, less Nitrogen and Phosphorus ends up in the crop than is released to the environment.
The word “biosolid” was dreamed up to purposefully mislead people about the source of the waste, which is the solids resulting from processing municipal sewage – sewage sludge. The most “solid” “bio” I can identify is an elephant tusk, so the word is just plain stupid. The land application of all forms of animal waste today (sewage sludge, poultry litter and manure) causes more pollution than was once caused by the point-source discharge from wastewater treatment plants. After spending billions of dollars and reducing Virginia’s point source nutrient discharge by about half, no improvement in Bay water quality is apparent. Why not? Because inefficient crop fertilization, especially by using animal waste, has always been the largest source of Bay nutrient pollution and nothing has changed.
“Big Ag” continues to blame other sources of pollution, like fertilized lawns, and claim that it is too expensive to do anything with the animal waste except dispose of it by land application in the guise of “free fertilizer.” They never tell the public that if the cost of pollution is accounted (pollution is an “externality” or a consequence of economic activity that is experienced by unrelated third parties), a landfill designed for methane recovery is cheaper. If Bay water quality is ever to improve (the ecosystem can never be restored) the “Merchants of Doubt” must be recognized by society, their role in politics eliminated and the conclusions of mature consensus science accepted and implemented.
Posted March 22, 2016
By Lee Allain
NAPS member Jane Towner has been working to set up an EcoTour for Northumberland Preservation Inc. (NPI). It will be an adult tour including several families and new people to the county. Since NAPS believes that we all need to be on “speaking terms” with our local ecosystem, we are hosting even ‘older students’ to expand Bay knowledge.
On Sat, June 11, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM, NAPS and NPI-Shiloh will offer a unique educational opportunity, an EcoTour led by waterman, Capt. Danny Crabbe. Participants will board his boat, “Kit II,” at his dock in Ophelia to tour the Little Wicomico River and the Bay to learn about the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay from a true waterman. This trip is designed for people of all ages, with families especially welcome. An EcoTour experience provides up-close and personal insight into the Chesapeake Bay Ecosystem.
The cruise will start with a tour of Purcells Oyster Aquaculture facility. Then it will move to pulling a couple of crab traps and becoming familiar with local blue crab ecology. (How do you hold a crab without getting pinched?) Tonging a few oysters and opening a few is next on the agenda. (Are you ready to eat one?) Then, if the weather cooperates, a short trip out to Smith Point Light and a close-by fish trap will complete the tour.
See herons, gulls, cormorants, and eagles in close proximity. Have fun while becoming familiar with how to be a steward of this natural resource – to return the Bay to productive health.
Are you and your group interested in a similar experience? Tours are available from both Captain Rowe on the Coan River and Captain Crabbe.
Posted March 22, 2016
By Bud Ward
It took fewer than four calendar days for the outlook for American climate change leadership to twice change dramatically. Just how it has changed likely won’t be known for months.
The first “bombshell” action came on February 9, when the U.S. Supreme Court took the highly unusual step of staying the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan EPA regulations pending review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Read on for a glance at a few of the terms used to describe that action.
And then, four days later, came the stunning February 13 death of Supreme Court conservative icon Antonin Scalia, who had been in the majority in the five-to-four “stay” action earlier that same week. Few Americans could have missed the deluge of claims and counter-claims Scalia’s death has precipitated.
Where it goes, nobody knows.
A sampling of how some – mostly those wanting more action to address risks they see from a warming climate – have characterized the Court’s February 9 action on the power plant rule, considered the backbone of the administration’s commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement signed in December 2015:
“Extraordinary.” “Surprise.” “A blow.” “Bad news.” “An enormous shadow.” “Serious damage . . . . far from a death knell.” “A wrench in the delicate diplomacy” surrounding the December 2015 Paris climate agreement. “A bump in the road, not a roadblock.” “Deeply disturbing.” “Slam the brakes . . . . sowing doubts internationally.” “Incalculable damage.” “Nakedly partisan, unprecedented type of action.”
The list goes on and on, with those states and their coal and fossil fuel advocates delighted with the Supreme Court action as effusive as many climate advocates were upset.
It was one of those no-details/no-explanation Supreme Court actions that sheds no light on the legal thinking behind it. Yet at the same time, the Supreme Court’s decision sent a very strong signal, at least as of that date, that things might not go well for the regulation once the full Court takes it on for real . . . some unknowable number of months into the future.
The five justices generally comprising the “conservative” majority sent the rule back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the same court that had earlier given it the go-ahead.
A panel of that court had green-lighted the landmark EPA rulemaking, but now the full appeals court will also have a chance to decide its fate, with the process beginning with an expedited hearing scheduled for June 2.
The timetable after that is unclear, but few expect a final judgment, almost certainly again involving an appeal to the Supreme Court, prior to the January 2017 end of the Obama administration.
Coal and fossil-fuel interests and the mostly Republican-governed two-dozen-plus states bringing the challenge against the EPA rules could not have asked for more. Those determined to limit combustion of coal and fossil fuels – and the mostly Democratic-governed states siding with them – tried to make the best of what clearly was, from their standpoint, a major setback.
While the White House and its climate change allies tried to put their best foot forward – the White House spokesperson, for instance, claiming confidence the ruling eventually would be upheld – others appeared perhaps less inclined to lipstick a pig.
“This arbitrary roadblock does incalculable damage and undermines America’s climate leadership,” California Governor Jerry Brown, a leading voice among governors wanting to combat climate change, said February 9 in a statement.
Politico quoted former Obama administration climate adviser Jody Freeman, now a Harvard professor, as saying “There’s no question this undermines U.S. leadership on climate change in the international arena” less than two months after the Paris Climate Agreement was reached in December.
If all that weren’t enough of a wrench in the works of Obama administration climate policy, word came within days of Justice Scalia’s death. The leader of what has become known as “originalism” – interpreting the Constitution by the original words of its framers – Justice Scalia was generally regarded (along with being brilliant, forceful, unbending, eloquent in his written dissents, and a stalwart defender of freedom of speech, in all forms) – as having had no fondness for EPA.
Coming as it did, the death of the Supreme Court’s leading conservative thinker raises doubts anew about the administration’s climate change initiatives, all in the context of a presidential primaries campaign season and a now, at least temporarily, evenly-split Supreme Court.
As they say, one just can’t make this stuff up. As a fictional story about the making, or unmaking, of climate change policy, it would seem too far-fetched to be credible.
But in the context of the reality-TV nature of climate change policy and policy-making in this zany presidential election season, it amounts to just one more bizarre chapter in a book that many feel cannot end soon enough, although no one now can know just how and when it will all end.
Posted March 22, 2016
The highlight of the last three months was a meeting January 11, where First District Congressman Rob Wittman discussed his work on a Readiness Subcommittee Hearing on Navy aviation and personnel support, the recent Paris Climate Conference, and his approach to climate issues in the coming year. This status report is based on the summary prepared by Mr. Jay Walker of NAPS and published in the Rappahannock Record and the Northumberland Echo.
The discussion was attended by Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) members Dr. Greg Haugan, Dr. Maureen Fairbrother, and Mike Harwood.
The visitors touched on how well Rep. Wittman (Rep. Virginia) ran the subcommittee hearing, which was broadcast on C-SPAN, January 8.
“Significantly, there was no political wrangling nor rancor, no ‘gotcha’ questions, and no grandstanding for the cameras,” said Haugan. “You could not tell the politics of the subcommittee members asking questions of the Navy officers testifying.”
According to the Armed Services Committee, Congressman Wittman’s subcommittee not only manages the largest account within the DOD budget, it oversees civilian personnel, energy security, and environmental issues that affect the Defense Department.
The CCL representatives reviewed the results of the Paris Climate Conference focusing on the important successes and the need for, not only putting a price on carbon, but the need for new technologies and renewable energy sources to meet the identified goals.
Regarding the issue of climate change actions in Congress, Rep. Wittman explained his approach in his subcommittee.
“Simply put, it was to find common ground on issues of clean energy, renewables, and the need for conservation,” Haugan reported. “He indicated he would continue to avoid divisive issues in his approach to the environment and energy, including work to develop new technologies such as alternative nuclear power generation and use of spent fuels. He described the role of the subcommittee in pushing new technologies since they will be needed by the military to replace fossil fuels. Also, Congressman Wittman indicated that the private sector could use these technologies once developed to provide stable power sources to complement the variable wind and solar sources.”
According to Haugan, there are plans to visit the congressman again at the Tappahannock office in March/April as part of a CCL Spring Lobby Day and then have a larger group from CCL to visit his office in DC in June, which Wittman said he would welcome.
Posted March 22, 2016
By Dr. Greg Haugan
The Paris Climate Conference, formally known as the 21st Conference of the Parties, or COP21 ended on December 12, 2015 with a 31 page signed agreement between 195 nations. Final agreement will occur in April after at least 55 countries have formally signed it.
There are several key aspects of the agreement: one is that it will be reviewed each 5 years and the commitments re-established at lower emissions levels than the original commitments made in October 2015 just before the conference. The agreement also has a financial side with promises of $100 billion per year in assistance to developing countries to adapt to climate change. There is also a strong emphasis on technology development as a key element to assist in meeting emissions goals.
The graph presents the key aspects of the emissions policies and pledges. The two scales are gigaton equivalent of CO2 annual emissions and the time scale.
The top set of lines reflects the current policies and actual emission projections under a business-as-usual scenario. The range simply reflects the amount of uncertainty in the estimates. Business-as-usual will result in a range of +3.3º to +3.8º C or approximately +6º F. This will result in very severe climate and weather consequences as well as significant ocean acidification and sea level rise. The Earth will become a very uncomfortable place to live for the majority of the inhabitants.
The middle set of lines on the graph represent the pledges made in October for the COP21 conference. They total approximately +2.6º C or nearly 5º F above the pre-industrial level. Remember, in 2009 the nations of the world indicated that +2º C was the danger level for civilization. This will be exceeded by a relatively wide margin. The result is a worsening climate that will make life much more difficult for our grandchildren.
The bottom curve is aspirational. The concept is that at each 5-year review period, countries will be able to take advantage of still unknown technology and policies to reduce further the world-wide emissions. This is the real hope of the island nations that are threatened by sea level rise.
So there is good news and bad news. The good news is that the current goals and promises, if achieved, will keep the Earth’s temperature to about +2.6º C increase, or another +1.5º C above today (we have already increased +1º C). While causing major problems for some, it will probably enable adaptation plans to work, especially in terms of resilience to violent storms and heat waves. Sea level rise will cause many problems as it will increase another 3-4 feet before the end of the century causing extensive displacement of persons.
The good/bad news is that to achieve these promises, significant changes need to be made in sources of energy. We have to stop burning coal, and have to leave most of the existing oil and gas reserves in the ground or develop technology to sequester CO2 emissions. There needs to be a significant increase in renewable power technologies including solar, wind, hydro and perhaps advanced nuclear and others to pick up he slack. The promises will not be easy to meet and there will be extensive push-back from the fossil fuel interests. But the basic message from Paris is that the fossil fuel industry is being “sunset.” This will occur sooner rather than later under the policy of tightening the emissions targets each 5 years – the process has begun.
The last aspect of the agreement is very interesting – the enforcement mechanism. Previous agreements were “top-down,” such as the Kyoto Treaty, with sanctions for missing targets. Delegates were very uneasy about signing on to such agreements for many reasons including the problems of getting agreement within their countries when the delegates went back home. The Paris agreement is “bottom-up.” Each country sets its own goals and polices to meet those goals. There is an agreed-upon transparency for each country. All countries have to submit regular inventories of their emissions. The reports will have to meet certain accounting standards and be subjected to “expert” review. There are no sanctions, only peer pressure and pressure from within each country. And of course the increasing pressure from the many adverse impacts of a warming climate and ocean.
All 195 countries acknowledge that the science is incontrovertible, climate change is caused by humans, it is bad and something must and can be done about it. The issues is how fast we can reduce our CO2 emissions, how fast we can replace fossil fuels, what adaptation plans are necessary and what mitigation schemes are practicable. The biggest impediment is the ability to provide renewable energy sources to replace fossil fuels at the rate necessary to meet emission reduction targets.
In the U.S. the President’s Clean Power Plan, CPP, is a key ingredient of us being able to meet our goals. It is a combination of “top-down” dictates from EPA of individual goals of the states and a “bottom-up” implementation philosophy. The states have the options of four different approaches to be used individually or in combination to achieve the goal. For example a conservation program plus closing of coal-fired power plants. With the Supreme Court stay in providing plans to EPA as required by the CPP the states have the option to comply or not. A large number of states, including Virginia and some that are parties to the lawsuit to stop the CPP, are continuing with their own plans to meet the goals that have been established. Regardless of any ruling that comes out of the Supreme Court this summer, it appears that the U.S. may continue on track to meet its pledge at COP21. A bipartisan group of governors from 17 states, including Virginia, has pledged to accelerate their efforts to create a green economy in the US by boosting renewables, building better electricity grids and cutting emissions from transport. Surveys show the bulk of the citizens of this country are aware that climate change is real and needs to be addressed. Bud Ward in another piece in this newsletter discusses the impact of current events in more detail.
Posted March 22, 2016
At the NAPS Annual Meeting , three new members of the Board were nominated and elected. We welcome Janice Mahoney, Shauna McCranie, and Pam Hagy.
Janice is a familiar name at NAPS since she took over organizing the highway clean-up which takes place twice a year. When she retired in April 2007, her main activities have centered around being a Northern Neck Master Gardener. She served as the Master Gardener’s Vice President and President from 2011 to 2014 and is currently chair of the Teaching Gardens program. Before retiring, Janice was Vice President of Human Resources at Burke & Herbert Bank in Alexandria.
Shauna is Coordinator of Gifted Services for Northumberland County Public Schools. Even before joining the Board, she was involved with the Middle School EcoTour and played a major part in the Navy’s SeaPerch Project that is a STEM program at the Middle School. A native of Reedville, Shauna has taught art for 23 years in Northumberland, Prince William, Lancaster, and Middlesex counties before returning to the school administration position here. She is an art major who now copes with science and math issues with ease.
Pam also became involved with NAPS before joining the Board when she organized a very ambitious EcoTour last fall for Middle School students. She is an independent producer, writer, and photographer who covers the Bay and rural life along its shores. Pam is also an educator and coach with Northumberland County Public Schools Community Problem Solving teams that placed second in Elementary and Middle School divisions last year in state competitions. She covered the environment and technology in DC, was a correspondent in East Africa, and a journalism trainer in Africa.
Posted March 22, 2016
Coordinator Janice Mahoney has announced that the spring highway pick-up will be on Earth Day, Friday, April 22, from 10 a.m. to noon. As usual, volunteers meet at the Wicomico Church parking lot and pick up trash along Route 200 to Tipers Bridge.
Says Janice, “There is no better way to serve your community and protect our fragile ecosystem than cleaning up after those who don’t care.”
If you are a NAPS member and want to join the team, please email Janice at email@example.com or call 804-580-3154.
Posted December 15, 2015
By Lee Allain
When my class and I graduated from High School in 1954, we certainly had NO IDEA what was in store for us. Buck Rogers, who first introduced the concept of space exploration in the movies and comics, was as close as our generation got to projecting the future. In 1954, could we have prepared to live and work in a world like the one we live in today? In ’54, the concepts of computers in every household and Internet communications certainly never dawned on any of us graduates. Facebook ? Twitter ? Huh?
With the launch of Sputnik by Russia in October of 1957, my peers and I launched a wave of technological development that boosted us from the ’60s through the 1990’s. In May of 1961 President Kennedy challenged the nation with “landing on the moon before the end of the century.” With the Moon landing in July of 1969, we were at the top of our game. Personal computers and the introduction of the Internet as a commercial entity in the mid-nineties Launched us into what is termed the “Information Age.” The confluent development of cellular smart phones has added the advantages of mobility and unbelievable connectivity to our personal communications. Where to from here?
Unfortunately, our national sense of urgency is lagging. In complacency, we have drifted from leader to #36 out of 65 world countries when comparing math, reading, and science skills. It is time to re-assess our situation and step again toward the future. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) initiatives across the country are designed to inspire student interest in assisting in the very evolution of mankind. The good news is that there is overwhelming opportunity. That is, there is plenty to do.
With the experience of the last 60 years, it is appropriate to think about today’s students’ possible futures, if only to stretch all of our minds a little. What will be commonplace in 2035, 2055, and 2075 as today’s students progress through their lives? Whatever we project now will definitely be wrong. Still, what follows is my bravely offered version of what students may encounter in their futures. I have highlighted a dozen major developments that have potential to significantly alter future human life. There is plenty of work (jobs) for the next millennia. A clear emerging trend is that technology must go hand-in-hand with sociology and environmental stewardship into the future.
At the bottom line, students can only prepare for the future by building a foundation of science augmented by math and communications skills. Applied science, through engineering, builds our various technologies in transportation, robotics, communications, food growth and manufacture, health care, even electronic money and more.
1. Self-driving Vehicles
Self-driving Vehicle technology is not an airy-fairy dream. Self-driving vehicles are today crossing the continent and driving themselves. In fact, Google is now building a first fleet of vehicles without steering wheels. Several possibilities come to mind as this technology moves toward fruition.
With proper vehicle and highway design, it should be possible to significantly reduce what are termed today “driver errors.” Travel should become less stressful and much safer as this technology moves forward. Integrated GPS will, of course, provide for automatic navigation. As fossil fuels are phased out, electric drive will be the norm.
Vehicle electric drive operation, rather than petroleum based combustion engines requiring frequent maintenance, will significantly increase the time between visits to the local mechanic. A fuel station on every corner will cease to be the norm.
Cross-country truck deliveries will become safer and more economic, but the sobriquet “truck-driver” may become a relic of the past.
At end-of-life, self-driving vehicles will automatically drive themselves to the appropriate recycling center.
Where will all the taxi drivers go?
2. Personal Robots, Siri with a Body
As anybody with an iPhone knows, Siri, even today, can assist with scheduling your life, answering questions, and even providing location information. An “embodiment” of Siri that provides physical help is not far behind. Robots unleashed to help will be the ultimate butler. Unfortunately, the three laws posed by Asimov are not real laws.
In reality, robots can be unleashed to cause mischief or even make war.
People using robots as personal assistants to improve productivity and comfort in their lives is good.
People forming “relationships” with their machines is probably not good.
People programming robots to initiate human destruction is clearly a negative application.
Our sons and daughters will see a future with independent robots, some indistinguishable from individuals, roaming our communities and the earth.
Will this evolve as a dictatorship, partnership or a form of robotic slavery?
3. Human/Machine Connectivity
In the beginning, humans communicated like other creatures with grunts, cries, gestures, and facial expressions. As language developed, communication became ever more subtle. As the written word developed, thoughts were able to leap both mountains and generations. Introduction of the telephone markedly enhanced human communication – and gossip. Newspapers have served us well as a daily communication media along with radio and then TV.
Today the Internet serves as a primary source of information that is available “on demand.” “Google it!” If we so desire, we can even turn on lights and computers in our homes remotely with our smart telephones. Even some refrigerators are “smart.” Human communications are seemingly enhanced by “smart phone texting” and “Social Media” like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. But is there an editor in the house? Is 140 characters enough for real communication? Is this all blather? Are people starting to “live” in self-generated virtual worlds? Is One-on-One” fading in importance? Is the trend toward physical anonymity rather than “pressing the flesh?” Are the handshake and hug disappearing as “Like” takes over? As technology allows broadband communications, we are swerving toward video as a primary media to express ourselves and listen to others. Virtual reality systems that immerse us in an alternative world, like Oculus Rift, open up new possibilities for, not only games, but serious on-the-job training. Gamification in education and work becomes a possible goal. Today we are nearing the point where thoughts can be communicated between anything or anybody in the world in an instant. Vagrant thoughts even go “viral.” Everything is becoming connected! Where are we going? It is hard to tell at this writing.
Is Technology pushing us into a sociological blind canyon? We need a visionary at the helm – steering.
4. Manufactured Food – Meat, Potatoes, etc.
Have you heard of the hamburgers grown in the lab? Dr. Post, of Maastricht University used cow stem cells to grow the burger introduced for taste test in August of 2013. Lab grown burgers do not take up acres of forage space and do not emit methane. Although the first burger cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, the process is intrinsically more efficient than cow grown burgers. Further, one can precisely control the fat and protein in your diet. We are told that the first versions taste OK – but they’ll be better when fat is also grown as part of the mix. The real issue is what happens to the Cowboys?
3-D Printers will also be used to supplement more conventional food manufacturing operations, but as cellular structures and DNA are better understood, it seems reasonable that in the future it will become possible to print organic food. In fact, beyond that, people are already talking about printing organs to contribute to the bionic man.
However – simple lab cellular growth, reconstruction or 3-D printing - industrial, and perhaps home manufactured food does seem to have some appeal, particularly for those on restricted diets.
MacDonald’s better get on it.
5. Most disease conquered, Cancer, Diabetes, etc. Age 100 common
Major efforts are underway to conquer most life ending disease. Even the concept of MUCH longer life is being talked about as we learn more regarding life limiting telomeres. Each creature has an intrinsic ability for cell division up to a limit determined by degeneration of DNA. Generally through life we are protected by telomeres buffering the ends of chromosome chains as they divide. Unfortunately, telomeres are cast off and frayed as we grow older and that limits the total divisions and thereby organism longevity.
Over the last 50 years, with improved health care we have seen longevity progress from about 60 to nearly 80 years of age. With the significant reduction in major disease, coupled with the science of longevity being pressed, I would expect the next 50 years to show another quantum jump from 80 to 100. Even today people are outliving their retirement funds and Social Security is in disarray.
Again, this is an area of heavy interaction between science and sociology. What will be the role of 90 year olds in our society? What age is retirement age? What is the appropriate government role regarding Sustainable Social Security?
Will the wisdom accrued over lifetimes be applied to improve governance, or will it just be discarded in old folks homes?
6. Electronic/Digital Money
Coins and paper money have been in vogue for as long as we can remember. Checks, Credit Cards, and now Debit Cards have entered the monetary stream. We are just starting to learn some of the implications of on-line money with a new electronic currency termed BitCoin. With the onset of account digital access, smart phones, and the cloud, paper and coins may soon become relics of the past. The recent introduction by apple of iPhone 6’s ability to pay bills at properly equipped cash registers is another example of the rush toward electronic money. Your phone, watch or shirt button will most probably become your purse or wallet.
This will take a while to settle out, but electronic money is certainly in our futures. Ultimately it should lower costs and improve mobility, speed and security of transactions.
With our money in the cloud, I wonder what this implies for banks?
7. Abundant Energy from Fusion Reactors (w/o CO2)
On October 15, Lockheed Skunk Works announced that they have a solid grip on a Compact Fusion Reactor (CFR) design concept that is capable of turning out 100 megawatts from a reactor that fits in the back of a pickup truck. That is sufficient to power a community of 20,000 homes (or an aircraft carrier). The conversion from fission to fusion is also expected to result in a factor of 10 less nuclear waste. Lockheed projects that they only need 5 years and investment dollars to confirm the approach with a series of prototypes.
Current “Conventional Wisdom” is that practical fusion is at least two decades away. If the Skunk Works CFL is feasible, this is probably the most significant announcement in our time!
Like many other major developments, it is expected that others within striking distance of success will also announce dramatic progress in the near future. Can Google be far behind?
Ultimately this could lead to almost unlimited, inexpensive power for all earth inhabitants. Today’s energy sources, like fossil fuel, hydro-electric, nuclear fission, wind and solar, will be but footnotes in the annals of history.
Imagine a self-driving truck outfitted at the factory with a CFR and ready to hit the road for a million miles. Oh, and like an elephant returning to the elephant graveyard, our truck would automatically return to a recycling site at end of life.
Aside from the near-magic ability to harvest immense amounts of power, fusion power dramatically impacts at least two other areas of major human concern.
With plenty of inexpensive power, seawater desalinization to provide potable fresh water will become economic. That is, the long-term quest for freshwater will be sated by desalinization technologies, like osmosis, that are today limited by energy cost.
With fusion power, our fossil fuel reserves can be conserved for its other non-fuel
uses like plastics, detergent, synthetic rubber, fertilizer, pesticides and synthetic fibers, and not be a direct contributor to atmospheric CO2 emission and global warming. Capping the use of fossil carbon as fuel allows control of greenhouse gases and reduces the future impact of climate change, unfortunately already in progress.
Plentiful, clean, inexpensive power is in our future.
8. DNA based Crops, Healthcare, Organ replacement, Species Reconstruction, - - -
DNA is not just a concept used on TV’s CSI to identify suspects. Genetic Modification (GMO) technology is coming into it’s own as a way to “design” agriculture crops to improve their nutrition value and reduce the use of insecticides and herbicides. For instance, the DNA enhanced “Golden Rice,” with its added benefits of vitamin A/beta-carotene, can be a lifesaver for pregnant women and children in populations subsisting primarily on rice. In fact, in November of 2013 Pope Francis gave his personal blessing to Golden Rice. Yet, with all its promises to better feed a world of 10 billion people, care must be taken to monitor and maintain control of genetically modified foods - what some term “Frankenfoods”. For instance, if corn’s newfound ability to withstand herbicides in some way jumps to weeds, we are in trouble. If DNA introduced pesticide kills butterflies in addition to corn earworms we have a serous problem. If we unknowingly introduce human toxins, we have a disaster.
Today’s scientific consensus is that current GMO food poses no greater threat than conventional food. In fact, to date NO reports of human illness from GMO food have been documented.
Health care is moving rapidly toward a new level of understanding of human biology. As we understand more about DNA, our personal “DNA blueprints” will allow both diagnosis and personalized treatment. Stem cell treatment holds promise for, not only remission, but complete cure of some diseases. This ability to characterize each of us by our DNA and do a better job of treatment is part of our future. In fact, organ replacement with perfectly matching “replacement parts” is probably within the foreseeable future.
In the area of genetic reproduction, like that described in movies like “Jurassic Park,” what seemed like a pipe-dream may become real. Researchers are already working to bring back the passenger pigeon that mankind wiped out in the 1800’s. Can resurrection of the wooly mammoth be far behind? Species retro-engineering is underway!
What that means for humankind is yet TBD and possibly scary.
9. Transparent Security – but loss of Privacy
What a pain! How many passwords do you presently have to access to work on your various accounts? Unfortunately, the bad guys are really out there. If you haven’t had your identity stolen on at least one account, you are very fortunate. Recent hacking of major retail establishments has much increased that probability. The “finger-print” passkey introduced by Apple in it’s iPhone 5 represents one of the first large scale biometric ID approaches. Ultimately, just being you with your unique biometric “fingerprint” will be sufficient ID to access your accounts and entry to restricted areas.
However, as the world around us knows more and more about us, our privacy and security is rapidly eroding. Physical thuggery is being replaced by the more insidious electronic thuggery. We won’t always know when we have been held up. Terrorism focused on groups, rather than individuals, has also diminished our privacy. The NSA, along with phone companies, has the ability to crack our encrypted messages and track us all – for our protection. Your office has a “dark alley” of its own. Even as you keystroke on the net, if you indicate interest in any product, it then shows up as advertising alongside the news or weather. As you travel, credit cards, cell phone towers, E-ZPass tolls, security cameras and even stoplight cameras with face recognition report where you are. They know! All this is being accepted as normal interaction associated with corporate and government “protection” and the “advantages” of focused advertising. Most of our younger generation seems to be inured to these intrusions. Even “sexting” is becoming commonplace and part of courting.
Perhaps privacy will also become an archaic concept. Oh, and the next war will probably be a Cyber Space war.
10. Increased Planet Stewardship Regarding Pollution and Resource Depletion
Although we are currently making feeble attempts to correct pollution and resource depletion issues, mankind has now killed off half the species on the planet, used half of the available petroleum, polluted and caused dead zones in rivers, bays, and ocean. Waste and sludge from human populations are major issues. Atmospheric fouling with CO2 resulting in climate change with its serious manifestations is rapidly diminishing human habitability of this earth.
As we move toward a population of 10 billion people, we need to start solving these problems and take a stewardship attitude toward spaceship earth. There is lots of work to be done. Fortunately, there seem to be technology possibilities opening up and recent concerns regarding sustainability are taking root.
How do we get human societies to measure up?
11. Sustainability – “Growth” No Longer an Attribute
As early as 1987, sustainable development was defined as “that which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Early on it was recognized that sustainability is a complex concept dependent on social, economic, and ecological systems with strong interaction.
In simplest terms, sustainable processes and products use renewable resources. Sustainable technologies work in harmony with nature to assure that our grandchildren can continue to live in balance with the earth’s social, economic and natural environment. That is to say, sustainable technologies don’t result in species extinction, contribute to future debt, or deplete or contaminate scarce natural resources for our grandchildren. Today’s truth is that we have killed off species like the passenger pigeon and the ivory-billed woodpecker and reduced to “endangered” many other ecologically important species. Passing on Social Security and Medicare systems that are projected to fail in the early 2030’s and a national debt of $17 trillion is not only unsustainable but unconscionable. Fossil fuels are clearly on a path toward oblivion with petroleum having an estimated global reserve to production ratio of less than 65 years and an estimated 10 years in the USA. In fact, our challenge is to leave our progeny in a better place than we found. That will take more than a hand-wave or salute.
Virtually all companies are trying to grow. Most re-invest a lot of their profit into increasing their product lines and market share. People engaged in corporate structures have often heard “profit and growth, profit and growth, profit and growth“ – the magpie’s song. The Growth Mantra seems a central thesis of capitalism. The cure prescribed for a sagging economy is always renewed growth. The word “growth” is embedded in both in our personal lives and our corporate work. How many times have you heard somebody say “grow up?” We have been inculcated in a social system that accepts “Grow or Die” as one of the truths of life. Yet, the personal and corporate push for growth very often is a root cause for environmental pollution, worker abuse and pillaging of natural resources. We are finally hearing another word – sustainability – become the mantra. We must encourage companies to invest their profits in sustainability.
Unfortunately there are several problems with growth. Companies that grow too large tend to devolve into bureaucracies where decisions are made by department rule rather than human intelligence. Politics between departments become more important than productive work. These are also the companies termed “Too big to fail.” A change here regarding growth mandate - say a limitation on corporate size and focus on “sustainability and profit” - would cause a mammoth refocusing of capitalism. Still, if we are to control social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainability, this sort of change must be considered among other alternatives.
A chart defining graphically the direct action and interaction between social, economic and environmental forces, the triple bottom line defining sustainability, is provided below.
Sustainability must be viewed as King
12. Renewed Space Exploration – Mars, Asteroid avoidance, - - -
Have you noticed that people and the media are again interested in trips to Mars or perhaps other more habitable planets that astronomers are finding? If we can ever contain our warring tendencies, find a way to work together, and focus on civilization and exploration, space travel is certainly a challenge for the future. At 10 Billion people on earth, the beach will get crowded.
With several Asteroid near misses attracting our attention, we are now searching the heavens for possible interlopers. The kinetic energy of just a football field sized Asteroid is enormous. We must be prepared!
I wonder what that means?
Posted December 4, 2015
In accepting the NAPS Distinguished Citizen Award (DCA), Lee Allain lauded the “volunteer army that makes Northumberland unique.” Speaking at the NAPS Annual Social, Saturday, October 17, at the Bay Quarter Shores Club House, he pointed out that there is plenty to do in the county and NAPS is an enabler.
“NAPS promotes stewardship of Bay water quality, stewardship of our rural environment, sound land use, smart economic growth and education,” he stated. “These areas are primarily roots of community quality of life for ourselves and future generations. Just by being part of NAPS, you in this room have demonstrated that you give a damn,” he said to applause, adding that members “are the lubrication that keeps the county. state, and country sane and on track.”
On a personal note, Lee said that NAPS has provided an organizational vehicle to initiate and complete projects that he wanted to do anyway. Some of his first work with NAPS involved winning grants three years in a row for renovating natural marsh areas in local waterways. Today he is heavily committed to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) within the school system with the goal of increasing student science and math participation. That participation has included constructing a solar array that powers a cell phone charging system at Northumberland High School, and LEGO building projects at the elementary and middle schools funded by grants that he won from River Counties Community Foundation. In addition, he has arranged Eco-Tours of area waterways with local certified watermen/captains for a number of Northumberland students and Boy Scouts.
Presenting the NAPS DCA plaque, President Bill Estell remarked that the list of Allain’s community accomplishments, including those outside of NAPS, would fill two plaques.
In his speech, Lee concluded, “For each of us there is a simple test for if your work on earth is complete: Are you still alive? Thanks to you, NAPS is very much alive. Again, thanks for your support.”
Posted December 4, 2015
By Jay Walker
Sponsored by NAPS, two Eco-Tours this fall took students to first-hand learning experiences of local waterways and local fish and water operations ashore.
The first tour, September 14th, was conducted by Captain David Rowe out of Lewisetta Marina. This Coan River tour was set up for a home school group and parent chaperones by Northumberland Children’s Librarian Jan Bates. The kids (and their parents) gained personal knowledge of oysters, crabs, and local fisheries from a true Chesapeake waterman. They learned how to hold a crab, how to tong, then open oysters, how to trawl for fish, and how to identify sea birds. Plus, it was fun.
The second tour was conducted by Captain Danny Crabbe for seventh and eighth grade students from the Northumberland Middle School. After weather conditions disrupted the schedule three times, the tour finally got underway on October 7. Pam Hagy, Coach, Community Problem Solving, Northumberland County Public Schools, set an ambitious agenda.
It started with a presentation on aquaculture at Purcell’s Seafood with Rich Harding, followed by a session on water quality by Dave Geeson of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and a trip to Omega Protein for a presentation on menhaden fishing by Andy Hall. Trips by a pound net and a view of the Smith Point light were on the return agenda.
In a thank-you note to all the “eco teachers,” Pam Hagy said, “Parents have been sending texts and emails saying their kids came home with great stories and a desire to do it all again. You are such an important part of our community and I am so glad students were able to see and experience why, first-hand.”
NAPS Vice-President Lee Allain, who arranged the tours, said, “We hope that our Eco-Tours have been successful in ‘infecting’ at least some local students with a love of our waterway environment. NAPS believes that improving the environment of the Bay and local rivers is crucial to sustaining the Northern Neck way of life.”
Posted December 4, 2015
NAPS volunteers collected litter on Route 200 between Wicomico Church and Tipers Bridge on Saturday, October 24th. The six NAPSters were joined by two Northumberland High School seniors, Korty Swift and Jessica Thomas, plus Jessica’s mom, Stacy. Korty and Jessica are amassing community service hours prior to graduation. All three said they had a good time.
We appreciated their participation which allowed us to pick up five sections of the highway. Sometime we have enough people to do all seven sections.
The contents of the 14 bags of litter contained the usual signs of un-civilization: beer bottles and cans, cardboard, cigarette butts, plastics, fast food wrappers, diapers, and several unmentionables. The only sour note for the morning was when someone threw out fast food lunch wrappers just after we had completed the pick up.
Well, as they say, “You can’t fix stupid.”
Posted December 4, 2015
By Lee Allain
When my class and I graduated from high school in 1954, we certainly had no idea what was in store for us. Buck Rogers, who first introduced the concept of space exploration in the movies and comics, was as close as our generation got to projecting the future. In 1954, could we have prepared to live and work in a world like the one we live in today? In ’54, the concepts of computers in every household and internet communications certainly never dawned on any of us graduates. Facebook ? Twitter ? Huh?
Oh, and here we are – telling our current high school students how to prepare for the future?
With the launch of Sputnik by Russia in October of 1957, my peers and I launched a wave of technological development that boosted us from the 1960s through the 1990’s. In May of 1961 President Kennedy challenged the nation with “landing on the moon before the end of the century.” With the moon landing in July of 1969, we were at the top of our game. Personal computers and the introduction of the internet as a commercial entity in the mid-nineties launched us into what is termed the “Information Age.” The confluent development of cellular smart phones has added the advantages of mobility and unbelievable connectivity to our personal communications. Where to go from here?
Unfortunately, our national sense of urgency is lagging. In complacency, we have drifted from leader to 36th out of 65 world countries when comparing math, reading, and science skills. It is time to re-assess our situation and step again toward the future. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) initiatives across the country are designed to inspire student interest in assisting in the very evolution of mankind. The only good news is that there is overwhelming opportunity.
That is, we are in crisis! There is plenty to do.
With the experience of the last 60 years, it is appropriate to think about today’s students’ possible futures, if only to stretch all of our minds a little. What will be commonplace in 2034, 2054, and 2074 as our students progress through their lives? Whatever we project now will definitely be wrong. Still, what follows is my bravely-offered version of what today’s students may encounter in their futures. I have highlighted a dozen major development trends that have potential to significantly alter future human life. There is plenty of work (jobs) for the next millennia.
Personal robots, Siri with a body
Manufactured food – meat, potatoes, etc.
Most disease conquered: cancer, diabetes, etc.... Age 100 common
Abundant energy from fusion reactors (w/o CO2)
DNA based crops, healthcare, organ replacement, species reconstruction...
Transparent security – but loss of privacy
Increased planet stewardship regarding pollution/resource depletion
Sustainability mandates – “Growth” no longer an attribute
Renewed space exploration – Mars, asteroid avoidance...
This Newsletter article only serves to introduce and list possible development areas. For those with an interest, an unabridged version with more detailed discussion of each trend area and possible implications is provided on our website at <www.napsva.org>
At the bottom line, students can only prepare for the future by building a foundation of science augmented by math, computer and communications skills. Applied science, through engineering, builds our various technologies in transportation, robotics, communications, food growth and manufacture, healthcare, electronic money and, yes, even space travel. A clear emerging trend is that technology must go hand-in-hand with sociology and environmental stewardship into the future.
Posted December 4, 2015
By Greg Haugan, PhD
The primary goal of the CCL/CCE is to achieve a stable climate for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The Earth Is Warming
The earth has already warmed 1º C (1.8º F) from fossil fuel and other greenhouse gas emissions, and the fingerprints of this warming are all around us. Fortunately, here in Northumberland County we have been not been the recipients of the more violent activities. We are hitting a trifecta this year: (1) the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere reached an annual average of 400 ppm (350 ppm is considered the safe level); (2) September has been the warmest September since records began; and (3) the entire 2015 is on track to be the warmest year since records began, and by a wide margin. 2014 has the current record.
It Is Bad
There have been changes in major weather patterns; rains come in downpours and storm surges like the floods in the South Carolina coast and down in Texas and in China; the rare typhoon that hit Yemen and the multiple typhoons that hit the Philippines; and the drought in California, Syria and New Guinea. The glaciers are melting in Greenland and Antarctica, the ocean is warming and gets more acidic, and sea levels are rising. All are due to global warming from human fossil fuel emissions. Think of it this way: for each 1º C increase in temperature there is a 7% increase in the amount of moisture the atmosphere can hold; this is the reason for the downpours and the heavy snows. We are now on our way to a 3º C rise if we keep business as usual.
It Is Caused By Us
The amount of emissions from fossil fuels continues to increase worldwide with China, India and the US at the top of the list. China and the US talk about the problem and have programs in place for reductions but India mostly just worries about the population supporting itself. Warming from CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions disturbs the normal meteorological cycles and phenomena and results in weather extremes.
We Can Do Something About It
Starting on November 30, the nations of the world has been meeting in Paris to try to work out a formula so that emissions of greenhouse gases can be significantly reduced in time to avert an increase in the earth’s temperature to 3º C. The goal had been 2º C, and that is still believed to be the real danger level, but the international conference in Copenhagen in 2009 failed and now the higher temperatures are most likely.
Your local CCL chapter has been doing its small piece. We have met with Congressman Wittman and discussed issues and our wishes for appropriate action from Congress. This is the carbon fee and dividend solution. We had a booth at the Boots and Barbeque event and also at the Urbanna Oyster Festival. The latter was special since we were part of the Education Day that preceded the public days. We had designed a special Climate Timeline Post and an Interactive Urbanna Climate Quiz exhibit and had 16 groups of 4th and 7th graders at 15 minute intervals between 9:00 am and 2:15 pm. Our main message was that climate change was real, it was caused by us and that we could do something about it. Dr. Maureen Fairbrother designed and painted a 10 foot high post and used it to explain climate change prior to the schoolkids taking our quiz and marking their answers with orange dots as shown in the picture (left). The questions were: How much higher is the river at Urbanna expected to be in 2050; how many days above 90 degrees are expected in 2050; and what year do you calculate the earth will pass the danger point of 2º C? The teachers were given the answers in their packets that also contained other reference materials.
Posted July 7, 2015
By Jay Walker
From the starting horn at 8 a.m. to the finish at 1 p.m. the NAPS Earth Day 5k Race/Walk and Earth Day exhibit at the Heathsville Farmers Market, Saturday, April 18 was a winning combination of community events. It was sponsored by the Northumberland Assn. for Progressive Stewardship (NAPS) in conjunction with the Northumberland Family YMCA, the Northumberland Public Library, and Rice’s Hotel/Hughlett’s Tavern. Lured by the Earth Day and Farmers Market events, as well as the annual Northern Neck Wine Fest, approximately 1,000 people attended.
After 5K Committee President Bill Kirby opened the proceeding and Channing Reynolds sang The National Anthem, some 72 race participants of all ages, including families pushing baby strollers, took off from the starting line in front of the Historical Society on a course that followed Back Street across Route 360 and on to Spring Street and back, under perfect weather conditions.
“We could not have asked for a better day. Everyone was having a good time,” said Kirby. As the runners began crossing the finish line, committee member Joe Thompson exclaimed, “It’s working!”
Next on the race schedule was the Tot Trot that included 10 trotters ages 4 and under, and the Healthy Kids 1K Run for Fun, ages 4 to 10, organized by the Y. These future Olympians proved to be a determined group. The tots needed some sideline encouragement from moms and dads, while the 12 1K runners showed how healthy they are. All the participants in both groups received prizes.
“The kids had a very good time,” said Cristian Shirilla, Branch Executive Director, adding that he was pleased that three of the runners who did the Y’s “Couch to the 5K” training program finished the race in good shape.
The exhibition organizations were unanimous in their appreciation, especially for the number of young people who spent time asking questions and learning about the environmental activities of such groups as the Native Plant Society, the Master Naturalists, and the Northern Neck Soil and Water Conservation District, to name a few.
Typical of the exhibition comments was Ann Graziano, President of the Rappahannock Wildlife Refuge Friends, who said, “We are happy that NAPS invited us to attend. I was surprised by the positive reception we got and will definitely be back next year.”
Omega Protein, which was a donor and occupied two booths, took the opportunity to describe the company’s waste water purification system and show some of its commercial products. Here too, young people were listening intently as Vice President Operations Monty Deihl described Omega’s environmental programs.
Citizens Climate Lobby representative Bob Lindsey said that CCL got more names of interested people than at any previous exhibits. He also pointed out that environmental writer Steve Nash will present a discussion of his book, “Virginia Climate Fever,” at the Northumberland High School, Monday, April 20, and again at the United Methodist Church in Heathsville at 7 p.m. At the NAPS stand, Vice-President Lee Allain demonstrated the solar energy project that NAPS provided the Northumberland High School.
Northumberland Library Director Alice Cooper said that the two authors who discussed their books at the library booth were “very satisfied” with the attention they got. In addition, Ye Olde Book Shoppe near-by had a special sale of gardening books. The store also celebrated its first birthday with a cake.
Awarding prize mugs wrapped up the 5K event at 9:30. The overall winners for the men were Donald Letizia, first; Bruce Hulse, second; and Matthew McLaughlin, third. Winners for the women were Amy Jones, first; Rain Eguiguren, second; and Emily Sprague, third. Prizes also went to age-group winners. (See panel for results.)
“It was an amazing day. The up-beat atmosphere was as wonderful as the weather and I think the Earth Day theme has hit a note that will endure,” said NAPS President Bill Estell, adding that a lot of volunteers made it all work. He gave special thanks to Omega Protein for its support, including its team of runners.
The only complaint from the exhibitors was the band was too loud.
Posted July 7, 2015
By Lee Allain
Hold the presses! The River Counties Community Foundation has just informed us that NAPS has again won a Grant to support Northumberland Schools in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) learning.
Our Grant Proposal recommended that LEGO kits (STEM Support Kits) be provided to Middle School ‘at risk’ students as well as teacher selected students with expressed interest in technology. Both groups will be engaged with LEGO kits purchased under the RCCF Grant during after school sessions. As an incentive, LEGO constructions will win various prizes. This effort follows our highly effective STEM Boost Project at the Elementary summer school last year.
If you haven’t noticed, NAPS has been active for the last several years with encouraging students to become involved with Science and Math as they pursue their dreams. From the construction of Solar Arrays, familiarization of flight dynamics of Drones, and simple robots in High School to the “Imagineering” and construction of buildings using LEGO at the Elementary level – NAPS has been actively involved with stimulating student interest.
And you can help. Many of our projects require Mentor support. If you have a background in Engineering that could support Robotics or any of the new technologies, please give us a call. If you would like to help with mentoring students during a 40 minute LEGO session, that also could be a great help. Further, if you have a closet storing LEGO kits from your children’s past, we could certainly use the ‘bricks’ as our repertoire of LEGO capability grows.
NAPS is fully aware that all of the other elements of education are also important. A balanced education for our students is what we all strive for. Still, where there is latent technology ability, we need to nurture that capability, and turn back the antipathy toward Science and Math that has developed across the country. Engineering and Scientific career paths are both stimulating and provide excellent economic rewards. NAPS goal is simply to assist students with natural interest gain an appreciation of ‘how spaceship earth works.’ It is only through an understanding of science and appreciation of our finite earth resources that mankind’s future can be sustained.
Posted July 7, 2015
Janice Mahoney led a band of 15 NAPS-ters for the spring highway pickup purposely scheduled for Earth Day, April 22. All hands wore the new NAPS Earth Day t-shirts, all size large.
Along Route 200 between Wicomico Church and Tipers Bridge, they came across six cans of Redi Whip – unopened – spread out. It was another litter mystery. The team welcomed new-comer David Hughes.
Pictured at the start were (left to right):
Kathey Brodtman, Lynton Land, Walter Brodtman, John Lunsford, Sandy Henbest, John Henbest, Bill Estell, Bryna Brennan, Janice Mahoney, Eve Jordan, Ray Hitch, and David Hughes, plus Skye and Sonny on leashes. Not pictured were Alice and Don Imbur, who pick up the road to the fishing pier.
Posted July 7, 2015
The Northern Neck Chapter of the Climate Change Lobby is drafting a list of “briefs” that are submitted to local newspapers. Editors are asked to use them as fillers when space is available
We are looking for more topics, so please help with your own text or suggestions. The current list follows, to give you an idea of what “Did you know…” is all about. Send your input to Mike Harwood, firstname.lastname@example.org; Greg Haugan, email@example.com;or Lynton Land, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The sentence “Keep this in mind as you read about climate change” can be added if worth the space.
Did you know…
…that “climate” and “weather” mean different things? Climate is the statistical description of the long-term and planet-wide condition of the atmosphere and oceans; weather is a short-term description of local conditions. (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that “climate change’ can only be documented from long-term weather data or natural records like tree rings or ice cores? (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that globally averaged near-surface air temperatures rose by 0.8 degrees Centigrade (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) between 1850 and 2012? The rate of warming increased in the mid-1970s, and each of the most recent three decades has been warmer since 1850, with the most recent decade being the warmest. (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that the number of record high temperature events in the United States since 1950 has increased, while the number of record low temperature events has decreased? The U. S. has also witnessed increasing numbers of intense rainfall events. (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that in Florida, 28 locally transmitted cases of Dengue Fever were reported in a 2009-2010 outbreak, the first there in more than 40 years? As global temperatures increase, rainfall patterns change, summers become longer and insects like mosquitoes can remain active for longer seasons, and in wider areas, greatly increasing the risk of diseases. (National Resources Defense Council) (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that in 2010 and 2011, plants in the eastern U.S. produced flowers earlier than at any other point in recorded history? (National Geographic Society) Have you noticed any change in the growth patterns of your plants? (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that more than 90% of the total heat accumulated in the climate system between 1971 and 2010 has been stored in the oceans? The upper 75 millimeters of the ocean has warmed by an average of 0.11 degrees Centigrade (0.2 degrees Fahrenheit) each decade between 1871 and 2010. (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that the salt content of the surface of the coastal ocean in rainy parts of the world is decreasing because of fresh water dilution from increased rainfall? (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that the small observed increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, from 280 parts per million (PPM) before 1800 to over 400 PPM today, is sufficient to quantifiably explain the observed ocean and atmospheric warming? (This takeaway is provided by the Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that a 2013 survey of thousands of peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals found that 97.1% agreed that climate change is caused by human activity? (The Guardian) (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that fossil fuel combustion accounts for nearly all of the measured global increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, from 280 ppm before 1800 to over 400 ppm today. Cement manufacture and deforestation contribute small additional amounts. Natural volcanic emissions are only about 1% of human-induced emissions. (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that by mid-century, when temperature increases and precipitation extremes are further intensified, yields of major U. S. crops are expected to decline, threatening both U. S. and international food security (NOAA). (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.
Did you know…
…that climate disruption may kill off 60 to 100 percent of all coral reefs before the end of this century. They, in turn, support between 9 and 12 percent of the world’s total fisheries (National Academy of Sciences). (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that over 900 of Virginia’s wildlife species are believed to be imperiled by ongoing loss or degradation of their habitats. During the coming decades climate change will exacerbate and intensify these impacts. (VA Dept. Game and Inland Fisheries.) (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that tree migration rates are now known to be below those required to keep up with climate change. That leads to the scenario we may already be witnessing in the West: a catastrophic die-off due to beetle infestation and fire, before warm-adapted trees can move in. (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that A 2005 survey of 442 glaciers found that 90% are shrinking as Earth warms. Melting accelerated significantly in the 1990’s. At the current rate of retreat, all of the glaciers in Glacier National Park will be gone by 2070. (World Glacier Monitoring Service.) (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that 314 bird species are at risk from global warming. 126 of them are classified as climate endangered and are projected to lose more than 50 percent of their current range by 2050 (Audubon Society). (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that as the climate continues to warm, we can expect sub-optimal conditions for tree growth and reduced tree vigor, leading to outbreaks of forest insects, particularly at the margins of tree ranges. Elevated temperatures at high elevations across western North America have allowed mountain pine beetle populations to develop in a single year in areas where two or more years were previously required. (USDA Forest Service.) (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that climate change’s impact on corn price volatility could outweigh the volatility caused by changing oil prices or government energy policies mandating biofuel production. The U.S. corn belt could be forced to move north to escape heat waves brought on by rising global temperatures. Corn (maize) is the most widely grown crop on Earth. (research at Stanford and Purdue Universities.) (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.
Did you know…
…that global warming is already reducing wheat yields at a majority of wheat-growing locations. Global wheat production is estimated to fall by 6% for each degree Centigrade of further temperature increase and become more variable over space and time. Wheat is the third most widely grown crop on Earth, after corn (maize) and rice. (Natural Resources Institute, Finland) (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that the overall impact of climate change on rice production is likely to be negative, causing 20% reduction in yields over Asia per degree Centigrade of temperature rise. Not included in this forecast is the loss of production in coastal areas due to rising sea level and increased flooding. Rice is the second most widely grown crop on Earth, after corn (maize). (International Rice Research Institute.) (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that if the Greenland ice sheet were to melt, sea level would rise about 20 feet. If all the ice above sea level on the continent of Antarctica were to melt, sea level would rise about 200 feet. (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that the physics of the “greenhouse effect” is extremely well understood. The small observed increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, from 280 parts per million (ppm) before 1800 to over 400 ppm today, is sufficient to quantitatively explain the observed ocean and atmosphere warming. (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that Earth has experienced ten cycles of glaciation and de-glaciation in the last million years. The cycles were caused by small variations in Earth’s orbit, causing small variations in the amount of heat received from the Sun. This proves that the climate is very sensitive to small perturbations, including small increases in the concentration of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that air in the atmosphere and water in the ocean are in motion because heat buildup in the tropics must be dissipated by physical transport toward the poles. More heat must be transported as the planet warms, causing more violent weather systems. (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that we have already burned about 300 Gt (Gigaton, or one billion tons) of oil, gas and coal, and Earth’s temperature has increased about one degree Centigrade. The known fossil fuel reserves are on the order of 3,000 Gt. The consequences of burning everything will obviously be disastrous. (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that German and Canadian researchers have found dead zones in the open Atlantic ocean off Africa? The dead zones were formed inside massive whirlpools called eddies hundreds of feet tall with rotating diameters of 60 to 94 miles. A 2014 report published in Global Change Biology found that 94 percent of the ocean’s dead zones are in areas expected to warm up by at least 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. The number of dead zones, now more than 400, has doubled every decade since 1960. (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Did you know…
…that, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California forests contain fewer large trees than was true in the 1920s? Water stress from higher temperatures and more frequent droughts are thought to be responsible. Additionally, pine is being replaced by oak, which is more tolerant of hotter and drier climates. (This takeaway is provided by the nation-wide Citizens Climate Lobby.)
Posted July 7, 2015
By Jay Walker
The Northumberland Assn. for Progressive Stewardship has announced it will sponsor a free Eco-Tour of the Bay area waters for the first organization that applies for a student group tour. The cost of a tour is $500. Churches, clubs, and other groups can enlist a group of school kids for an excursion to learn about the ecology and commerce of the rivers and creeks.
NAPS also announced that it will underwrite up to $300 of the $500 cost for any organized adult tour.
“Eco-Tours led by Chesapeake Watermen provide a great opportunity for students and adults to become familiar with our Bay and river environment. It’s a way to experience first-hand the wet lands, waterways and wild life, in and out of the water, that make up the Chesapeake,” said NAPS Vice President Lee Allain, who is heading the program.
Allain explains that Eco-Tours were born after the collapse of the crab population in 2008 when federal and state funds were directed to ease the plight of the watermen. Some 80 watermen were trained and certified to lead educational tours. During a typical tour, he added, participants get to meet more than 20 species of Bay life including varieties of crabs, oysters, finfish, otters, gulls, osprey and eagles in their natural environment.
Last year NAPS sponsored two eco-tours, one for local students and another for Boy Scouts conducted by Captain David Rowe. His Chesapeake dead-rise workboat carries about 20 passengers. Captain Danny Crabbe is also a certified Eco-Tour operator in the area.
For more information, call Lee Allain at (804) 529-5491.
Posted July 7, 2015
By Dr. Greg Haugan
In the last edition of the NAPS News, I explained the “Net Zero” concept in discussions of climate change mitigation as the point in time there is a net of no carbon emissions from human sources.
This means no more are fossil fuels being burned: coal, oil, natural gas. The result would be that the total CO2 in the atmosphere as measured in parts per million would tend to level out and establish a heat balance at some number that relates to a stable earth temperature. To keep the total impact within the 2º C target identified by the governments of the world as the safe limit, the maximum concentration needs to be approximately 450 ppm or below. The current concentration is 400 ppm and it is increasing at 2+ ppm per year. ( You can do the arithmetic to see when 450 ppm would be reached.)
In my bland discussion there was no emphasis on the importance or sense of urgency of achieving this goal. A recent UN report (4 May 2015 FCCC/SB/2015/INF) stated that: “…, to stay within the 2° C warming limit, global CO2 emissions need to decrease to net zero between 2055 and 2070, and all GHGs emissions need to decrease to net zero between 2080 and 2100. The longer we wait to bend the curve of currently increasing global emissions of GHGs, the steeper we will have to bend it down later. Even a 3° C limit requires a substantial reduction in global GHG emissions, a fundamental transformation of the energy system and global GHG emission levels towards zero by 2100.”
We are currently on the path of achieving 40º C (70º F) of warming before the end of the century.
Our climate is currently changing due to the high emissions of CO2 and the likelihood of the world taking the actions needed to stay within the recommended limit of 450 ppm is very low. (We have already increased the world temperature by 0.85º C since the Industrial Revolution, and we are at a concentration of 400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere.)
In a world 4° C warmer, many adverse ecosystem impacts would occur. Climate change velocity would be much too high for terrestrial and freshwater species to move sufficiently fast. Biodiversity losses would take place, including substantial species extinction and disruption of ecosystem services. The impacts of combined ocean warming and acidification would become very high. The catch potential of fisheries would be greatly reduced, and crop production would be at very high risk with no potential for adaptation. In many places it will become dangerous to work outside in parts the summer. Long-term sea level rise would far exceed the 1 meter expected with a 2º C increase in temperature and storm surges could be catastrophic. And Arctic summer sea ice would be lost. The risks from extreme weather events would become very high. (Like parts of India today where the temperature has been reaching 117º F and over 1,000 have died already.) This would put people who are socially, economically, culturally, politically, institutionally or otherwise marginalized at most risk.
World Bank experts underlined the serious risks and impacts as we move from 2º to 4° C of warming, in particular in relation to water availability, heat extremes or the bleaching of coral reefs. With close to double the impacts in a world 4° C warmer compared with one 2° C warmer than in pre-industrial times, very different adaptation needs are required.
Most of us here in Northumberland County will adapt readily to the longer heat waves and stronger and wetter storms. Remember, for each 1º increase in temperature, the atmosphere can hold up to 7% more water. This then comes down as downpours and causes flooding such as recently occurred in Texas/Oklahoma. We also can move back from the shore in areas threatened by rising and surging seas. We can forego clams and oysters as their numbers are reduced by increasing levels of acidification and we can change our fishing strategies as species shift to follow changing water temperatures. It also is expected that our grandchildren on the Northern Neck will be gardening in a climate shifting toward that currently experienced in the Carolinas. This is what is already occurring. Also, as indicated above, families at the lower end of the economic scale are most at risk to all climate change phenomena.
So, what do we do about mitigating climate change? Hopefully the meeting this coming December in Paris will bring positive answers. The Net-zero requirements requires governmental level actions since approximately two-thirds of current fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground. We can encourage Representative Wittman, and Senators Kaine and Warner to support putting a price on carbon emissions. You can join the Citizens Climate Lobby (go to citizensclimatelobby.org). You can reduce your use of fossil fuels and switch to solar panels on your home. It is time to get serious if you feel any responsibility for leaving a world for your descendants that is as nice as the one we have lived in.
Posted May 22, 2015
The Northumberland Association for Progressive Stewardship (NAPS) awarded four scholarships of $500 each at the Northumberland High School Senior Recognition ceremony in the school auditorium, Wednesday, May 20, 2015.
The winners, chosen from 13 applications, were Cassandra Collins, Rebecca Kues, Adam Parker, and Audrey Williams. In making the presentation, NAPS President Bill Estell noted that NAPS has sponsored other programs at the high school including a solar energy projects for seniors.
According to Myrtle Phillips, scholarship coordinator, there was excellent cooperation from the school during the selection process. “The kids came prepared for their interviews. They were ready to explain their goals, thanks to Melissa Hipple (Director of School Counseling).”
The NAPS selection committee consisted of Phillips, Joe Thomson, Sue Haugan, and Sandy Henbest.
Posted April 7, 2015
By Jay Walker
As part of the Earth Day Celebration, NAPS is sponsoring a review of Virginia Climate Fever by author Steve Nash (right). Reviews will be held on Monday, April 20, at Northumberland High School beginning at 11 a.m. and for adults at the United Methodist Church in Heathsville, starting at 7 p.m.
Climate disruption is often discussed on a global scale, affording many a degree of detachment from what is happening in their own backyards. In Virginia Climate Fever, environmental journalist Stephen Nash brings home the threat of climate change to the state of Virginia. Weaving together a mix of data and conversations with both respected scientists and Virginians most immediately at risk from global warming, the author details how Virginia’s climate has already begun to change.
In layman’s terms, Nash argues that alteration in the environment will effect not only the cities, but also hundreds of square miles of urban and natural coastal areas, the 60 percent of the state that is forested, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Atlantic coast. The narrative offers striking descriptions of the vulnerabilities of the state’s many beautiful natural areas, around which much of its tourism industry is built.
While remaining respectful of the controversy around global warming, Nash allows the research to speak for itself. In doing so, he offers a practical approach to and urgent warning about the impending impact of climate change in Virginia.
Posted April 7, 2015
By Jay Walker
Under the title, “Residential Solar Power in the Northern Neck,” NAPS presented a program geared to inform home-owners of the basic language, construction considerations, and benefits of going solar at the Annual Meeting, Saturday, February 7. Attendance was 61 members and non-members of NAPS.
To get an orientation, Vice-President Lee Allain began the program with a review of the “language of solar and some basics.” He pointed out that it costs 12 cents to light a 100 Watt light bulb for 10 hours, run a 1,000 Watt heater for an hour, or to travel three miles with an electric vehicle.
He said the sun works about the same number of hours that we do – 1,825 to 2,190 hours a year. Lee described the components of a typical solar system, using a demonstration configuration that NAPS acquired for the Northumberland High School. This system consists of photovoltaic solar cells, charge converter, inverter, and batteries (at an extra cost). A 5 KW array at $4/Watt costs $20,000 ($14,000 after the $6,000 tax break currently available) and has a life expectancy of 20 to 25 years. Payback, he estimated, is about 10 years with no increase in rates that utilities are certain to impose.
Two speakers made the solar experts presentations in a panel discussion chaired by Dr. Greg Haugan. It became clear that a solar energy industry is up and running in Virginia. At present, most of the construction is for commercial companies, they stated, but residential is a fast-growing slice of the pie. Both companies were created as solar divisions of established contractors. But the solar divisions had to hire an array of experts and a substantial work force in order to install a range of configurations to fit the needs and pocketbooks of their clients. Both speakers emphasized that home-owners should find out the level of expertise of the solar contractor, because the business requires sophisticated designers.
Nick Messar, representing Prospect Solar, reported that his company was formed in 2010 as a subsidiary of a roofing firm. The company now has a work force of about 400. He said that about 20 percent of the business is residential, but has been growing. Farms are particularly important potential solar energy customers, he added. As a result, Prospect Solar now has a residential specialist on board.
Sean Ingles, representing Integrated Power Sources of Virginia, reported that his company became of off-shoot of a crane manufacturer in 2009. He predicted that commercial installations will double this year. Ingles stressed the need to have multiple designs to accommodate challenging requirements. For example, he described an energy security system that includes battery backup for grid type solar installations. Power Sources has added roofing experts in order to deal with the various types of roofing materials. In another example, the company has installed solar panels on sun rooms. He predicted that in the future, solar panels will replace windows in houses.
A lively Q & A segment concluded the panel. Questions covered maintenance, wind damage resistance, cost of ground systems, post-installation up-grades, roofing considerations, and Virginia regulations regarding utility interface. Attendees continued discussions and picked up company literature after the formal meeting.
“I think this program demonstrated how much interest there is in solar energy here,” said Haugan, adding that it was good to meet young, energetic, and practical managers from a young and growing industry.
Posted April 7, 2015
By Lee Allain
One of the opportunities now open to our community has been provided at Northumberland High under the leadership of Dr. Burns, High School Principal.
Dr. Burns has set aside a room adjacent to the school library as the “NHS Gateway to STEM” complete with its own banner. This room has been dedicated as a resource to you and me – the Northumberland community – to foster conversations between students and local people with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers “who have been there.” Northumberland is blessed with a tremendous retired base of technical talent. The issue is, as usual, how do we connect this resource to our young people. Most experienced Scientists, Technologists, Engineers, and Mathematicians in our community are willing to help.
To help move this potential mentorship along, a brochure has been generated that is intended to stimulate all of us toward helping students as they search for their niche in life. The brochure addresses the difference between jobs and careers. It stresses the importance of “aiming” at what you want to do in life. It summarizes what STEM is all about, and describes some of the possibilities of a technically oriented career. Lastly, it opens the opportunity to schedule some one-on-one time to chat about what technical careers might exist in the future and how to prepare for them. Meetings between students and “real STEM veterans” will be coordinated through the High School Counseling Office. Copies of the brochure will soon be available from NAPS.
When NAPS calls you to spend some time with a student, or a student and his parents, we hope that you will enthusiastically join us in the NHS Gateway to STEM.
Posted April 7, 2015
By Lee Allain
After working with Northumberland schools on Solar Panels, LEGOs, and Quadcopter Drones, NAPS has moved forward another notch this spring into the realm of Robotics. Yeah – STEM again.
As anybody with an iPhone knows, Siri, even today, can assist with scheduling your life, answering questions, and even providing location information. An “embodiment” of Siri that provides physical help is not far behind. Robots unleashed to help will be the ultimate butler or - - - ? Unfortunately, the three laws posed by Asimov are not real laws.
The reality is that Robots can be unleashed to cause mischief or even make war.
Our sons and daughters will see a future with independent Robots, some indistinguishable from individuals, roaming our communities and the earth.
Our goal is to help students develop a strong Robotic knowledge base. That, coupled with a strong value system, will insure the intelligent evolution of Robotics technology as another step forward for mankind.
Under teacher guidance, NAPS has purchased a half dozen starter kit mini-robots for students to assemble and begin an understanding of their potential. Our intention, working with the school, is to move toward student involvement with more complex Robotics as soon as practical.
The physical embodiment of the Apple iPhone’s “Siri” is not far in our future.
Posted April 7, 2015
By Dr. Greg Haugan
The last newsletter focused on several current issues and we shall continue in this issue, focusing on just two, however.
Everyone loves to talk about the weather, and this winter Mother Nature has served up a feast to chew on. Few parts of the U.S. have been spared her wrath.
Severe drought and abnormally warm conditions continue in the West, with the first-ever rain-free January in San Francisco; bitter cold hangs tough over the upper Midwest and Northeast; and New England is being buried by a seemingly endless string of snowy nor’easters.
Yes, droughts, cold and snowstorms have happened before, but the persistence of this pattern over North America is starting to raise eyebrows. Is climate change at work here?
Wavier jet stream
One thing we do know is that the polar jet stream – a fast river of wind up where jets fly that circumnavigates the northern hemisphere – has been doing some odd things in recent years.
Rather than circling in a relatively straight path, the jet stream has meandered more in north-south waves. In the West, it’s been bulging northward, arguably since December 2013 – a pattern dubbed the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” by meteorologists. In the East, we’ve seen its southern-dipping counterpart, which is called the “Terribly Tenacious Trough.”
These long-lived shifts from the polar jet stream’s typical pattern have been responsible for some wicked weather this winter, with cold Arctic winds blasting everywhere from the Windy City to the Big Apple for weeks at a time.
We know that climate change is increasing the odds of extreme weather such as heat waves, droughts and unusually heavy precipitation events, but is it making these sticky jet-stream patterns more likely, too? Maybe.
Slowing, drunken path
The jet stream is a dastardly complex creature, and figuring out what makes it tick has challenged atmospheric scientists since it was discovered about 75 years ago. Even more elusive is figuring out how climate change will affect it.
et streams exist because of differences in air temperature. In the case of the polar jet stream, which is responsible for most of the weather we experience around the middle-latitudes of the northern hemisphere, it’s the cold Arctic butting against warmer areas to the south that drives it. Anything that affects that temperature difference will affect the jet stream.
This is where climate change comes in: the Arctic is warming much faster than elsewhere. That Arctic/mid-latitude temperature difference, consequently, is getting smaller. And the smaller differential in temperatures is causing the west-to-east winds in the jet to weaken.
Strong jets tend to blow straight west to east; weaker jets tend to wander more in a drunken north/south path, increasing the likelihood of wavy patterns like the one we’ve seen almost non-stop since last winter.
When the jet stream’s waves grow larger, they tend to move eastward more slowly, which means the weather they generate also moves more slowly, creating more persistent weather patterns.
At least, that’s the theory. Proving it is not easy because other changes are happening in the climate system simultaneously. Some are natural fluctuations, such as El Niño, and others are related to increasing greenhouse gases.
We do know, however, that the Arctic is changing in a wholesale way and at a pace that makes even Arctic scientists queasy. Take sea ice, for example. In only 30 years, its volume has declined by about 60%, which is causing ripple effects throughout the ocean, atmosphere, and ecosystem, both within the Arctic and beyond. Scientists never imagined they’d see the region change so much and so fast.
‘Stuck’ weather patterns
To study the effects of Arctic change on weather patterns, we have good measurements of atmospheric temperatures and winds going back to the late 1970s, when satellites started providing data, and pretty good measurements back to the late 1940s.
Scientists at Rutgers have been using this information to measure the waviness of the jet stream and whether it is behaving differently since the Arctic started its rapid warm-up about 20 years ago. Because the upper atmosphere is such a cacophony of swirling winds, however, measuring changes in the jet stream’s waviness is tricky, as it’s not a metric that scientists have traditionally used.
The challenge, then, was to find new methods to measure waviness and determine whether any changes found are related to rapid Arctic warming, to some other change in the climate system, or to just random chance. While the story is still in early days, the plot is thickening.
Several groups around the globe, including the Rutgers team, are trying to understand the linkages between rapid Arctic warming and changes in weather patterns.
A number of recent studies have found what appears to be a solid connection between sea-ice loss in an area north of western Russia during the fall and a rash of abnormally cold winters in central Asia. The loss of sea ice favors a northward bulge in the jet stream, which strengthens surface high pressure to the east. That shift pumps cold Arctic air southward into central Asia.
Other studies suggest that Arctic warming in summer leads to a split jet stream – or two separated rivers of wind – which tends to trap the waves. Those stationary waves cause weather conditions to remain “stuck” for long periods, increasing the likelihood of extreme heat waves, droughts and flooding events in Eurasia and North America.
The work of Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University published last month in Environmental Research Letters uses a variety of new metrics to show that the jet stream is becoming wavier and that rapid Arctic warming is playing a role. If these results are confirmed, then we’ll see our weather patterns become more persistent.
In other words, Ridiculously Resilient Ridges and Terribly Tenacious Troughs may become the norm, along with the weather woes they cause.
Extracted from an article by Dr. Jennifer Francis in The Conversation, Feb. 18, 2015, with permission, see http://theconversation.com/a-melting-arctic-and-weird-weather-the-plot-thickens-37314
The “Net-Zero” Concept
There is a growing consensus among the persons working on the draft of the new document to be reviewed at the Paris UN climate negotiations in December that within one generation the whole world will have to stop spewing CO2 into the air from fossil fuel use. In shorthand, the new goal is “net-zero.” Some say it should be met as early as 2050 and others think a few more decades is more realistic.
It becomes a game of probabilities, for example for a 66% likelihood of avoiding 2 degrees C of warming, considered the danger level, global greenhouse levels would have to be 40-70% below 2010 levels; CO2 emissions alone from energy and industry would have to drop 35-80%. Overall emissions of all greenhouse gases would need to reach zero sometime between 2080 and 2100 but energy and industry emissions would have to reach zero by 2060 to 2075.
BP, in its annual forecast this week, said that it expects emissions of carbon dioxide to rise another 25 percent by the year 2035. That would certainly make it all but impossible to reach zero by 2050 and probably less than likely to get there by the end of the century — unless something changes. The BP forecasts are the industry standard.
One particularly powerful change, the big oil companies often say, would be the worldwide use of carbon pricing schemes, either through taxes or cap-and-trade regimes. We, of course in CCL are pushing putting a price on carbon and rebating the revenues to households. This would enable us to achieve “Net-Zero” on a timeline that would keep the world under the 2 degree C danger line.
We are currently on a path toward an at least 4 degrees C rise by the end of the century.
To provide an indication of how difficult the Net-Zero goal will be was illustrated in a study presented in January 2015 that worked backwards from the 2 degree C goal or 450 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere. It stated that 82% of the world’s coal reserves, one third of the oil reserves and half of the natural gas reserves must be left untouched. The study analyzed country by country. Needless to say the fossil fuel companies are resisting this. They spent $670B in 2013 exploring for new oil and gas reserves.
Partly extracted from “Is ‘Net-Zero’ Carbon Goal to Rescue the Climate Plausible?” by John Cushman, Jr. See: http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20022015/net-zero-carbon-goal-rescue-climate-plausible. Feb. 20, 2015
Posted January 31, 2015
By Jay Walker
The Northumberland Assn. for Progressive Stewardship (NAPS) will present a program, “Residential Solar Power in the Northern Neck,” at its Annual Meeting, Saturday, February 7, at the Heathsville Methodist Church, from 10 a.m. to noon. The program is open to members and non-members interested is learning about the details, including cost factors, for installing solar energy systems.
The speakers are contractors experienced in solar installations in the region. They include Wil Caton, Sustainable Technology Institute; Nick Messar, Prospect Solar; and Sean Ingles, Integrated Power Sources of Virginia. Each speaker will have about 10 minutes to describe his company’s offerings. A Q&A period will follow the introductory presentations.
After the formal program, contractors will be available to answer additional, individual questions and make appointments for follow-up meetings.
“Here is an opportunity to find out what your residential solar power options are,” said NAPS Vice President Lee Allain, the program moderator, adding that he is planning solar energy for his work place in Lottsburg.
The Methodist Church is located at the intersection of Route 360 and VA 201 (Court House Road) in Heathsville. Parking is behind the church with overflow on Route 201 or at the Northumberland Library next door. Refreshments will be served.
After a break for refreshments and informal discussions, NAPS will hold a brief Business Meeting that will include details of the organization’s recent education endowment to provide long-term funds for scholarships to Northumberland High School graduates. There will also be an update of the NAPS Earth Day event scheduled for Saturday, April 18, during the Heathsville Farmers Market. The celebration includes a 5K Run/Walk, in addition to activities at the Tavern grounds.
Posted December 29, 2014
By Jay Walker
The citation reads: “...over time, as she’s consistently spoken out at public hearings and meetings regarding commercial fishing issues and worked to improve the industry, she’s become a respected voice for Virginia watermen.” That person is Ida Hall, named one of three 2014 “Highliners” by National Fisherman magazine, the nation’s largest trade publication for commercial fishing.
As an active member of NAPS, a board member, and our secretary, we know Ida as a voice speaking out against environmental destruction in the Bluff Point development plan. The magazine’s focus was on Ida’s first love – fishing on the waters of the Bay.
Among her achievements, National Fisherman Field Editor Larry Chowning reported, “In 2002, Hall was appointed to the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, which regulates Virginia and Maryland recreational and commercial fisheries on the river’s main stem. Her willingness to advocate for her beliefs led to her appointment as the first woman from Virginia to serve as an at-large representative to the commission. This year she was named its chairman.”
In Chowning’s summary of the award, Ida said, “Personally, I don’t think the majority of the people love our coast and our waterways enough. I believe it will be the passionate voices of the Chesapeake watermen and fishermen nationwide who love the water and working on it, who will demand that our workplace be productive, clean, profitable, and sustainable.”
The magazine pointed out that Ida has advocated a united front of watermen, rather than the traditional go-it-alone attitude. Over her years of working on Jarvis Creek in her 16-foot skiff, she has come to realize “that the Chesapeake Bay was not isolated and definitely not protected from the rest of the world.”
To send congratulations, you can email her at: email@example.com.
Posted December 29, 2014
By Jay Walker
In accepting the 2014 Distinguished Citizen Award (DCA) presented by NAPS, Susan Lindsey said that this award recognizes the small contributions to our community that add up. The presentation came at the annual NAPS Fall Social, Saturday, October 18, at the Bay Quarter Shores Club House.
Presiding at the ceremony, NAPS President Bill Estell said that the DCA is in recognition of Lindsey’s contributions in conservation and education, adding, “Over a decade before STEM became a program, she started SUMS – Students Using Math and Science. She is a teacher.” He presented Lindsey a dedication plaque enumerating her contributions.
“I’m not in the same league with the previous honorees you see here,” Lindsey said. “It just proves that if you stick around in Northumberland County for long enough, dabble in a sufficient number of activities, you too can be distinguished!”
To support her point that small can turn out to be big, Lindsey told a story which she called, “A bit of a saga of Northumberland County volunteer activity.” The story started some 12 years ago when she volunteered to teach English to seasonal Hispanic workers in the seafood industry. There were two memorable students, a mother and daughter. The daughter had left her little girl, Brenda, back in Mexico, but showed photos every week until Lindsey got to know Brenda’s face.
Jump some five years, she said. In a program started by a “nice lady” tutoring Hispanic third graders, Lindsey recognized Brenda, who turned out to be lively, bright, and energetic. Now fast forward seven to eight years to a NAPS scholarship interview. In comes a poised young lady, articulate, speaking faultless English, accent-free – it’s Brenda, who was now living in Northumberland County.
“She gave us a lecture on improving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and said she was planning a degree in environmental sciences. We gave her the scholarship,” Lindsey recalled.
Jump to 2014 when an article about her NAPS award appeared in the local press. She got a call from “the nice lady” who started the third grade tutoring class and had kept in contact with all the children. “She found me after 10 years to congratulate me. She told me Brenda will graduate next year, had a full tuition scholarship and will graduate with no debt,” said Lindsey. “Along the way we can all effect people’s lives, you make a difference.”
She concluded, “Having received more phone calls, emails, cards, people stopping me in the street – it’s been lovely. And whoever is the recipient of next year’s award, I’ll be the first in line to send congratulations. It made me feel good even if I don’t quite deserve it. Thank you.”
Posted December 29, 2014
By Lee Allain
As many of you know, our country has launched an initiative toward boosting student participation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) topics. Years ago our country was #1 in technology. Russia’s launch of Sputnik in 1957 ignited an unprecedented burst of “STEM” activity in our country. Students with an inclination toward science and math were quickly drafted to become engineers and scientists. Unfortunately, since that early time, we have dropped to #36 among world nations.
Recognizing STEM education as a linchpin of our country’s future, NAPS, over the past 5 years, has been participating with Northumberland schools toward increasing student interest in Science and Math.
On the 14th of October, NAPS presented a fully functional Parrot QuadCopter/Drone to the high school as part of a continuing program to inspire students toward STEM related careers. Instructors Sgt. Lemon and Javornda Ashton will work together to provide appropriate guidance to both ROTC and Math students. Students will learn to fly and operate the various features of the drone, along with learning about the science of flight in the real world.
This French-made machine has incredible capability. It is controllable using any smartphone out to a range of about 165 feet. It has a lithium ion rechargeable battery that will sustain flight for about 10 minutes, and is equipped with removable training bumpers so as to minimize crash impacts with walls and people. It features live HD video cameras pointing ahead and down with video presented on the phone controller. With its various gyro, accelerometer and magnetometer sensors, it will hover stationary in space in up to a 15-mph breeze. Yes, and all parts are replaceable/repairable. A plethora of information and contacts with other ‘pilots’ is available on the internet.
Not that anyone was excited, but by the afternoon of the 14th, school instructors had the drone in the air in the gym. You may have seen a photo in flight in a recent Rappahannock Record edition.
Again, this is part of a continuing collaboration of NAPS with Northumberland Public Schools to rev up student participation in the science behind technologies (and rewarding careers) of the future.
Recognizing that interest in Science and Math does not start in high school, NAPS also worked last summer to provide an opportunity for elementary-grade students in the Extended School Program to ‘play’ with LEGO blocks to develop their 3-D thought processes as they did some early ‘structural engineering.’ This spring it is planned that NAPS will continue its STEM outreach by funding a simple robot – perhaps the LEGO robot or equivalent. High school staff, Jessica Simmons and Rachel Hall, plan to spearhead this project.
Scientists and engineers are key to meeting the societal needs and challenges of our country’s future. Our goal is to launch students with STEM interests into careers where they can invent tomorrow’s technologies - to be part of a generational team bringing the USA back to #1.
Posted December 29, 2014
By Greg Haugan
NAPS is planning a special Earth Day Event on Saturday, April 18, 2015, in combination with the first Farmers Market next to Rice’s Hotel/Hughlett’s Tavern. Please mark it on your calendar.
The Event will start off with a 5K race at 8:00 a.m. followed by a kids race at 9:00 a.m. Enter the race now by going to the NAPS web site at www.napsva.org and follow the instructions. If you are not a runner, you can walk the course or simply be a sponsor by entering the race on-line.
The proceeds of the race will go to the NAPS Endowment, to the Library, and to the Rice’s Hotel/Hughlett’s Tavern Foundation. It is the 45th anniversary of the Earth Day celebration which promotes environmental awareness. It reinforces our commitment to protect the environment of the Northern Neck as well as our Earth.
We expect to have a large number of environmental organizations with booths and activities, and also it is the day for the annual Wine Fest sponsored by the Tavern at the Farmer’s Market. We need volunteers to help with the race and the other activities. Please contact Bill Kirby (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you can help with the race or Greg Haugan (email@example.com) for other Earth Day activities. We also need sponsors to help defray the costs and to increase the amount provided to the NAPS Endowment.
Posted December 29, 2014
By Greg Haugan
Since the last newsletter there has been a lot of action in the climate change arena. Our ranks are growing and we invite all NAPS members to attend our meetings in the evening of the first Tuesday of each month at the Northumberland Library starting at 7:00 p.m. Five items are of particular interest:
1. EPA Rule. The EPA has issued a proposed rule to limit the emissions from power plants. This is a good step in the right direction and what is unique is the fact that the states are given four different alternatives to be used individually or in combination to achieve the targets set for each state. They are also being given a long time period in which to reach the goals. While CCL supports this regulatory plan, we prefer the free market approach where a price is put on carbon emissions and the revenues are all returned to households. The carbon price increases annually and organizations and persons will change behaviors as fossil fuels become more expensive and alternative renewable sources become more cost-competitive. Studies have shown this creates jobs and increases GDP while lowering harmful emissions.
2. China. China agreed it would cap and start to reduce emissions no later than 2030, a remarkable commitment for a nation with more than four times the population of the U.S. and one that is undergoing the most explosive industrial growth in the history of civilization. China is trying to increase the standard of living of its citizens and that takes energy and coal is the cheapest source. China is already implementing emission mitigation plans and is expected to beat the 2030 target.
With the United States and China striking a deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Congress has finally run out of excuses for its failure to act on climate change. Whenever talk of solutions has surfaced on Capitol Hill, opponents trotted out the dubious talking point that it didn’t matter what America might do to cut emissions as long as China, the world’s largest emitter, remained on the sidelines. This significant action by the U.S. and China is important since it sets a standard for other nations at the UN session in 2015 intended to set worldwide targets to keep total temperature increase under 3.8 degrees F. A difficult goal to achieve.
3. Elections. The recent elections are likely to put several climate deniers in important positions in the House and Senate. The “climate” does not plan on being less disruptive but will still get warmer and more unsettled, the oceans will continue to get more acidic, Greenland and West Antarctica and glaciers will continue to melt, the seas will continue to rise, etc... All we can do in CCL is to keep pushing our message to the members of Congress and to educate the public. Emissions must be reduced and carbon fee and dividend legislation is currently the most promising route to make the world a pleasant place for our grandchildren.
4. Letters to Editors. Since our last newsletter, letters to editors have been published by several CCL members: Maureen Fairbrother, Doug Doyle, Judy Lang, Lynton Land, Mike Harwood, Don Phillips, Greg Haugan and Bob Lindsey. This is part of the overall CCL effort to communicate with the public and Congress. Copies of the letters as published are delivered regularly to Congressman Wittman.
5. Reports: Several significant reports have been published in the last 3 months: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, Synthesis of three earlier reports that identifies a hard ceiling on emissions that must be met to limit global temperature growth to less than 3.6 degrees F (2 Deg C); the Union of Concerned Scientists, Encroaching Tides, that describes in detail the problems of communities on the oceans including numbers of days expected to be flooded over the next 30 years. The Recurrent Flooding Subcommittee of the VA Senate provided an update of the 2013 VIMS Recurrent Flooding Study for Tidewater Virginia in September titled Recommendations to the Secure Commonwealth Panel on Sea Level Rise and Recurrent Flooding in Coastal Virginia that focuses on problems in the Tidewater Virginia area and indicates that communities should plan for an additional 1.5 feet of sea level rise and 3 feet of storm surge by 2040 and plan for higher values later in the century; the quadrennial report Climate Change Impacts in the United States from U.S. National Climate Assessment Committee that provides regional data on projected impacts of climate change addressing temperature increases, precipitation, storms, sea level rise and the like for Virginia; the Department of Defense published a 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap which outlines the actions being taken by DOD to adapt to expected climate changes.
All of these reports and CCL activities recognize that: the climate is changing, it is caused by us, it is bad, but we can do something about it if we act now.
Posted December 29, 2014
By Dr. Gregory T. Haugan
Virginia Climate Fever; How Global Warming Will Transform Our Cities, Shorelines and Forests. By Stephen Nash.
Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2014.
This book was brought to my attention via an email from Mr. Nash. I acquired it to see if it had more information that was state specific to Virginia than the sections of the National Climate Assessment or the UCS Encroaching Tides report or other recent documents. At first it appeared that it was a well written re-hash of data from other reports, but on closer reading it contains some excellent chapters on sea level rise and the problems and implications for Virginia, especially the Hampton Roads area.
His charts and discussion of sea level rise are totally consistent with data from other reports and he quotes and displays the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers work that basically shows the forecast of a two-foot sea level rise by 2050. He has some nice charts and discussion of forecast temperatures and sensitivity ranges and a description of modeling in an “Oracles” chapter. He includes much material from discussions with knowledgeable scientists in Virginia which adds to the readability.
Nash has a good chapter on recommendations for Virginia. On the negative side, he spends too much time discussing the comments of Patrick Michaels – a climate-change denier funded by the fossil fuel industry – in a chapter on “credibility.”
To the author’s credit, he has about three pages discussing the Bluff Point development of Thomas Dingledine – what he was trying to do and why he abandoned the project. According to Dingledine: “The world is different today and the knowledge is greater than it was. While I can influence and even control some items, I cannot control what Mother Nature may send our way in the decades to come and while such prospect has no impact on today, it may in the future and thus be a challenge to true long term generational success.”
It was indicated in the text that Dingledine was planning on a three-foot sea level rise between now and the end of the century but he could not accommodate any expected storm surge. Most of the estimates for sea level rise to the end of the century are over four feet, plus three or more feet of storm surge.
Stephen Nash has reported on science and the environment for the New York Times, The Washington Post and other specialized publications. He is visiting Senior Research Scholar at the University of Richmond and has taught there since 1980.
I think the book would be a good acquisition for our public library, where you could check it out, read it in a few hours and return it. Some may want to own it. The title it a good description the contents. You can borrow my copy.
Posted December 29, 2014
By Lee Allain
More and more people are talking about ‘Going Solar’ to meet their household needs for electrical energy. Across the country, people are considering rooftop arrays to take advantage of the power of the sun. There are several root causes driving this activity.
Reasons to ‘Go Solar:’ Long-term economic advantage is certainly number one. Over the last few years, photovoltaic solar panels as energy sources have become very competitive with energy from local power companies. Energy costs across the country average about 12 cents/kWh and range from 8 cents in Idaho to 18 cents/kWh in New York. Here in the Northern Neck, it is almost 13 cents per kWh at this writing. A residential solar installation in Virginia, over its lifetime, competes favorably with Idaho. And the average “going rate” across the country is going up. That is, with the cost of infrastructure to support ever-increasing energy needs, the paranoia regarding nuclear, and the EPA closing down coal-fired generation, the cost per kWh continuously climbs.
People who are in touch with needs of the planet, know that moving toward a sustainable, non-polluting source of energy is what all humans should be doing. Fossil fuels continue to add CO2 to the environment, risking severe climate change consequences. With approximately 1kW per square meter daily flooding our homes and rooftops with energy, (that we then use A/C to combat) it is time to capture that energy to run our households.
Closely related to use of fossil fuel as an energy resource, is the fact that we, according to most, have reached peak oil. That is, we have used half of the oil reserves of the earth. Oil is used for many purposes other than fuel. Its use in lubrication, plastics and fertilizer are less publicized, but equally important. Reserving what is left for our grandchildren is important.
Lastly, residential solar installation results in a society that is robust to power station storm and earthquake damage and even attacks of terrorism. That is, consumer independence is another strong reason to endorse the use of residential solar power. If you have solar power, you can still pump potable water from your deep well and charge your electric car.
Summarizing, there are several compelling reasons to consider the installation of photovoltaic solar in your home. Long-term economics is #1, but right after that come concerns about protecting our environment and fossil fuels for next generations, and building a more robust human community.
Deterrents to Solar: One of the major reasons that Solar has not proliferated is that start-up costs seem high and advantages are over the horizon. Financial instruments deferring up-front costs have not been advocated by our political representatives, marketed by alternative energy companies, or even encouraged by local power companies. Further, Virginia has not “regulated” electric energy suppliers toward alternative energy sources. With little state pressure toward larger percentages of alternative power in their portfolios, power companies are trying to “stay-the-course.” This contrasts with states like California that mandate ever-increasing use of alternative energy to power companies while providing homeowner rebates. Although federal subsidies and local “net metering” approaches are available here in Virginia, the front end cost for installation of an array can be considerable. For instance, to meet the 5kW needs of a typical home, the initial cost per watt will range from $2 to as high as $5 per Watt.
Solar Energy Cost: A recent article in the Richmond Times Dispatch quoted local cost at $3.35 per Watt. That is, the cost is about $17,000 for an initial 5kW installation, and about $12,000 after a 30% Federal tax break. However, after initial investment, that array will last for 20-30 years, providing “free” power to the residence. During that time, value of the residence is increased by about the $12,000 invested. Total hours of sunlight in this area average around 1,700 hours every year. If one goes through the fairly simple calculation of average cost per kWh over 20 years, you discover that you are way ahead of the game – better than Idaho:
As you can see, total energy costs to you from your solar array average well under 8 cents per kWh over array life. In fact, you break even in less than 12 years. What other investment of $12,000 can you make that pays you back more than $1,000 per year – better than 8%? If you can lump the $12,000 array cost into the initial mortgage for your residence, that is a heck of a deal – and the power company cannot raise your rate. Unfortunately, starting from scratch with an existing home, the initial $17K looks like an insurmountable wall. Several companies like SolarCity offer deals where they install their array on your roof and just charge you a monthly lease fee for providing energy to you – much like the power company, but with a stable cost per kWh. Most are not active yet in Virginia.
Moving on: If you want to “go solar,” there are several options open to you. Number one is to install solar collectors on your roof. If you are thinking of new home construction, now is the time to think about home roof styles and lot positioning so as to best capture sunlight. If you already have a large south-facing roof with no obstructions to the sun, you are in luck. Next time your roof needs replacement, simply install a solar collector. Although solar panels are reasonably tolerant to mis-pointing, they do best pointing south at an angle approximately equal to the latitude of the installation. In Northumberland, that is about 38º.
The most efficient collectors are still solar panels. Many of the top ten suppliers have Chinese names like Yingli, Trina, Jinko, and Hanwha. First Solar is a US company, but focuses primarily on large sales to mega-projects. Sharp and Sanyo (a subsidiary of Panasonic) are, of course familiar as Japanese panel suppliers. U.S. suppliers, Dow and Certainteed and several smaller companies, are now selling solar shingles that can be integrated with conventional shingles to improve appearance, albeit with reduced efficiency and slightly higher cost.
If your house roof faces east/west, or you are located in the shade of trees or other structures, you must think in terms of installing a separate array. Of course, if you are going to install a large roof-like structure, you should think in terms of adding a new two-car garage, shop, storage area or studio to your property. 400 square feet of roof will provide enough area for most 5kW arrays. I’m going for the new garage/shop.
A Custom Approach: Of course I would like to reduce my power bill, but I would also like to have my own power available in case of emergency. I also like the concept of being independent for water, lights, refrigeration, TV and transportation. That’s why I’m considering a more custom arrangement to meet my needs. Most of the energy used by our homes is for heating and cooling and hot water. If you have an electric car, that can use as much as 15-20 kWh per charge as well. After that, most needs for water pumps, fans, cook stoves, lights, and TV are fairly modest. To meet “comfort” needs like hot water, home heat and A/C, I am going to stick with Northern Neck Electric Coop and get those large blocks of energy from their grid. For my electric car, and to defray my bill with NNEC, I plan to install a 3kW Solar Array tied into the grid. That is, when not charging my vehicle, it will run my electric meter backward and so reduce my bill. I also plan to install a separate 1kW array with battery backup to provide everyday power for lights, water pump, and refrigeration in my home. When NNEC power goes out, I will still be humming along. That is, I will provide basic utility electricity for myself. If NNEC goes offline, my comfort will suffer with home heat and A/C issues, but I will have lights, refrigeration, fans, water, and TV. Oh, and my electric car will still provide me with transportation. If for some reason my utility solar power source kicks out, I’ll have to make a temporary switch to the grid. Solar panels will last for 20 to 50 years, but, unfortunately, batteries do not. I will have to purchase and install new batteries every 5 to 6 years. Three batteries – not a big deal!
Summary: Your wife will never notice that in the process of converting to solar power with its obvious advantages, that you have ended up with a 400 square foot shop. And just wait until she sees the new Chevy Volt.
Posted December 29, 2014
By Janice Mahoney
The fall highway clean up took place on October 29 along the usual route. The weather cooperated. The regular volunteers did the job. And, boy, are we all ready for some more people to help with the task. One section of Route 200 did not get picked up due to a lack of NAPS participation.
The regulars are: Sue Lindsey, John Lunsford, Jack Yunker, Andy Kauders, Charles Smith, Lynton Land, Hal White, Walter and Kathey Brodtman, and Bill Estell. The pick up revealed the usual detritus of people’s bad habits, from bottles and cans to Styrofoam galore.
The spring clean up will be coordinated around Earth Day in April. If there are members who want to participate in the highway clean up, please contact me at 580-3154 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s an easy task, if there are enough volunteers.
Posted December 29, 2014
By Greg Haugan
NAPS has established an Endowment to provide long-term funds for scholarships at the Northumberland High School. We are using funds that were sitting idle plus funds received from the Charlie Fears’s estate as seed money. In addition, we have $10,000 available for matching funds for new donations. For each dollar that is donated up to $10,000 it will be matched from another source.
Our goal is to reach $30,000 of principle in the account that will grow as additional donations are received. We plan on using only the interest from this investment for the scholarships. In this way a long term commitment is implemented separate from the NAPS annual scholarships that depend upon annual dues.
When we reach the $30,000 level we would expect to provide three $500 scholarships annually if our proceeds from the principle grew at 5%. So, before your Christmas spending eats up all your disposable income, please send a check to the NAPS Endowment at P.O. Box 567, Heathsville, VA 22473 to help needy high school seniors with college expenses. We will also be using profits from the 5K Race for the Endowment Fund.
Posted September 14, 2014
By Jay Walker
The Northumberland Association for Progressive Stewardship (NAPS) has selected Susan A. Lindsey to receive the 2014 Distinguished Citizen Award in recognition of her contributions in conservation and education.
A 17-year resident of Wicomico Church, Lindsey has been an active member of the Master Gardeners and is currently the Chair of the Integrated Shoreline Evaluation Assistance Program (ISEA). Since 2012 she has offered “Shoreline Evaluation Assistance” to area residents, emphasizing living shorelines that incorporate native plants.
As a member of the Northern Neck Native Plant Society, she helped implement the Native Plant Demonstration Garden at the Heathsville Courthouse and the Reedville Teaching Garden on Cockrell’s Creek next to the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum, as well as behind the Methodist Church.
Among education activities, Lindsey began the Students Using Math and Science (SUMS) program at the Lancaster Elementary School. She worked with Audrey Brainard, another NAPS award winner, on the ”Ground Water Festival” for sixth graders held at the Girl Scout camp. She also participated in the summer STEM Boost introduction program at the Northumberland Elementary School. (See separate story.)
Referring to her teaching activities, British-born Lindsey says, “I’m the lady who talks funny. But I tell the kids not to try imitating my accent, because it’s not funny and they only look dumb.”
She has served as Conservation Chair for the Garden Club of the Northern Neck and sought coordination with the Garden Club of the Middle Peninsula. She received the “Horticultural Award of Merit” from the Garden Club of the Northern Neck.
As an active volunteer for the Northern Neck Land Conservancy, Lindsey has worked on setting up the annual Boots & BBQ fundraiser. Working with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, she has led tours of Dameron Marsh. In April she conducted a tour of the marsh following a presentation on the subject at the Shiloh School.
She served on the NAPS Board of Directors from 2002 to 2008 and was vice president during that time. “I think the two most satisfying projects are the shoreline planting program and the teaching gardens,” Lindsey remarked.
Formal presentation of the Distinguished Citizen Award will take place at the NAPS Fall Social, Saturday, October 18, at the Bay Quarter Shores Club House.
Posted September 14, 2014
By Lee Allain
On Monday, June 30, a group of Boy Scouts from Troop 250 got aboard the Bay Quest with Capt. David Rowe and the second NAPS Eco-Tour, underwritten by Omega Protein, was under way. The weather was good and the oysters, crabs, and fish all cooperated.
The schedule was much the same as the first Eco-Tour in April. First on the agenda were the oysters, followed by the crabs, and finally, the fish. Capt. Rowe kept a log of each species sighted, along with some water and weather data. In all, some 23 species were sighted. A unique catch was a choker flounder, a small fish that attaches by suction to whatever it encounters, including in this case, boy scouts.
The boys learned about the Bay and its denizens – and had a good time as well. A pizza lunch provided at the marina also went over well with the troop.
In his letter thanking NAPS, Omega Protein, and Capt. Rowe, Troop 250 Scoutmaster Bob Parker wrote: “We accomplished some work on Fish and Wildlife Merit Badge, but more importantly the trip introduced the ecology of the Bay and its tributaries to these young men and I hope helped them understand the balance that we must strike between ecology and economy.”
Posted September 14, 2014
By Jay Walker
The NAPS Board has established an endowment of $20,000 to use the earnings primarily to support scholarships at the Northumberland High School and other educational projects consistent with the NAPS charter. The impetus was the receipt of $4,226.15 from the estate of the late Charles Fears, who wanted to continue support of the NAPS mission, according to NAPS President Bill Estell.
The initial deposit to an account with Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC of Kilmarnock also included $5,773.85 from a Certificate of Deposit held by NAPS. An additional $10,000 has been set aside to be used as a source of matching funds for further deposits to the endowment account as funds are donated. With the receipt of matching funds the endowment will grow to $30,000.
“The monies had been collected over NAPS’s 25-year existence and the Board wanted to put these funds to work in the community,” Estell said.
Guidelines for the future use of the money are spelled out in the NAPS Educational Endowment Statement of Investment Policies. The policies include Investment Objectives, Spending Policy, Investment Guidelines, Monitoring of Objectives and Results, and Communication and Decision Making.
The endowment policies were established with advice from Paul Sciacchitano, Wells Fargo Managing Director/Investment Officer. He has worked with the Board for several months to assist in the endowment project. “The objective is to provide a basis for our support of education into the future. It focuses on education so that donors know what they are supporting,” Estell explained.
Posted September 14, 2014
By Lee Allain
Northumberland is one of a minority of schools in Virginia that is fully accredited – one of only 36 out of Virginia’s 132. We have splendid new school facilities and dedicated teachers. Still, that is not good enough! The pursuit of excellence must be continuous. Recent information places us at 36 out of 65 nations when comparing math, reading, and science skills. We must boost STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) performance.
STEM education improves the interaction capability of graduates as they begin life in a highly technical world. Some will become scientists and engineers, some will become technicians and industrial technology users, and all will become future technology product owners and users like you and me. Who thought 20 years ago that we would rely on GPS in our automobiles, and work and be entertained daily on personal computers, iPhones, Google Search, Facebook, and 60-inch wall mount TVs? We each are challenged to live with and use these miracle technologies effectively. The technology wave moves on at tsunami speed.
In April of this year, NAPS, with Northumberland County Schools, submitted a proposal to the River Counties Community Foundation (RCCF) for a unique project. NAPS educational outreach includes helping students understand how our world works. One must understand basic science, if “progressive stewardship” is to be effective.
Our “STEM Boost” proposal to the RCCF was centered on improving elementary grade students’ early interest in science and math as they gained hands-on experience ‘Imagineering’ and then building 3-D structures. Our intention was to ‘infect’ young students with a zest for knowledge regarding the physics, chemistry, and biology of spaceship earth. We proposed purchasing as many as 75 “STEM Starter Kits,” or SSK’s, and providing one to each child in grades 3 through 5 enrolled in the planned summer Extended School program. In late May, the RCCF notified us that they would provide the requested grant. Teachers and NAPS Mentors quickly focused on LEGO as having appeal to a broad range of age as well as both genders, and 75 LEGO kits in buckets were ordered.
These LEGO buckets/SSK’s were introduced to students during the recent Extended School program. Students, with a little guidance from teachers and mentors returning to their childhoods, quickly grasped the basics of LEGO construction. On the carpeted Elementary School gym floor, they assembled their versions of various village buildings. After most students were satisfied with their creations, they assembled their buildings into a village (as shown in the photograph). As the “land grab” along the village roads progressed, the students really got excited. At the end of the LEGO period they were heard to say, “Do we have to leave now?” Of course, they were also competing for planned awards for good work.
In preparation for Awards Day, students in each class were provided with an evaluation sheet to help guide them as they judged another class’ work. That is, the judges for awards were the students themselves. On the last Wednesday of classes, all people in the project plus parents and the local papers were invited to the Elementary School to watch the Awards and view the villages. Winners of Awards were:
Best Structure – Nora Bowles for “Pet Store”
Most Creative – William Rose for “Funeral Home”
Most Creative – Javier Ramirez for “Apartments”
Most Creative – MiKayla Noel for “Pizza Place”
Best Structure – Travis Coleman for “Police Station”
Most Creative – Layton Saunders for “Zoo”
Most Creative – Brandon Coleman for “Hospital”
Most Creative – Christian Newton for “Restaurant”
Best Structure – Lawrence Green for his “Police Station”
Most Creative – Emani Davis for “Grocery Store”
Most Creative – Tanaya Seldon for “Church”
Most Creative – Nyzear Hawkins for “MacDonald’s”
We believe that students left this project with the feeling that school can be both fun and educational. We hope they also left with a stronger tendency to choose science and math courses in school as they progress.
People who worked as NAPS Mentors were Nannette Smith, Janice Mahoney, Joe Thompson, Sue Lindsey, Bill Estell, Garfield Parker, and Wonda Allain.
Participating Teachers were Nancy Jewell, Pam Woolard, Mary Kelly, Chris Barnes, Susan Bates, Martha Williams, and Amy Lamb.
Mentors and Teachers are now collecting “Lessons Learned” and working to make sure that STEM Boost is extended into the future. In fact, it is now time to move into Phase 2 of STEM activity. In the future you can expect to see more LEGO activity, as well as the introduction of more technology driven work in the High School. For instance, NAPS has already purchased an advanced Drone Quadcopter for introduction to students this fall. Stay tuned.
Posted September 14, 2014
By Jay Walker
Having identified and marked trees along a trail in the woods behind the Northumberland Elementary School last October, the final step of attaching name plates was completed in June. Forester Rich Steensma, who helped with the initial stage, returned to assist in placing the name plates for the NAPS team to do the job. (See photo.)
“By the time the plates and hardware were assembled, the leaves were gone and it was very difficult to be certain if we had the right trees. So we had to wait until the leaves bloomed and Rich was available to make sure we got it right,” said Lynton Land, who headed the project.
In all 34 signs were installed on 23 tree species. The objective was to mark the trees for the elementary school students when they are on the “Blue Trail” during outdoor classes.
Steensma, a forester for the Virginia Department of Forestry, noted that there is a lot of diversity along the trail. He also pointed out that the area was clear-cut more than once in the past.
Posted September 14, 2014
By Dr. Greg Haugan
The Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) is a grass-roots, volunteer organization that is a partner of NAPS. While NAPS is focusing on Northumberland County and helping it grow “with order and beauty,” the CCL mission is to achieve a stable climate so that the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the county population can continue to live and enjoy the waters, air and land in the same way as us. It is an international organization working on an international problem with several active Canadian groups and some new ones in Europe. Stability is not easy to achieve with a rapidly increasing population; demand for energy to raise standards of living increasing even faster; over-use of our finite planetary resources at an increasingly unsustainable rate and our dumping of carbon emissions into the air resulting in an enhanced greenhouse effect. It is easy to be pessimistic, but we believe there are solutions and the solutions are what we are advocating.
At present, the majority of our elected representatives and our business leaders are not concerned with impact on future generations. We want to change that. We must change that. We need your help. Since the last newsletter, CCL members have met with the Congressional staff of Senators Kaine and Warner and met with Congressman Wittman and his staff in DC. They were asked to support carbon fee and dividend legislation. In addition, CCL members wrote letters to editors, attended a major sea-level rise conference in Norfolk, displayed at the Farmers Market and similar events, and gave presentations to educate the population of the Northern Neck on the issues and solutions to climate changes and disruptions.
There is a solution: Put a price on greenhouse gas emissions and return the revenues to our households. We are not alone with this approach; in addition to several conservative economists, ExxonMobil has joined the parade. (See Climate Change Reports article.)
Members of CCL are available as speakers on all aspects of climate change, impacts and mitigation solutions. Remember our quatrain: “The climate is changing, it is caused by humans, it is bad, but we can do something about it if we act soon.”
We meet the first Tuesday of the month at the Northumberland Public Library at 7:00 pm. Call Greg Haugan at 804 580 2166 for information. All are welcome, we provide refreshments. It is free.
Posted September 14, 2014
By Dr. Lynton Land
Most people know that when Europeans first arrived, oysters could filter a Bay-sized volume of water in a few days. Today, given the few oysters that remain, it takes a year. Some people interpret this often-repeated mantra to mean that more oysters could improve Bay water quality. They can’t.
Filtering makes the water more transparent, allowing light to penetrate. But clearer water is not the most important measure of water quality. The particles, including algae, that the oysters filter from the water end up as sediment, just as would happen in the absence of oysters. Microbes decompose the organic material and release ammonia (NH3) and phosphate (PO4) back to the water to fertilize the growth of more algae. Oysters do not remove the nutrients nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) from the marine ecosystem unless they are harvested. It is the excess N and P in the water that cause the Bay’s abysmal water quality and its formal impairment by EPA.
The word “restoration” is purposefully being avoided. Given today’s acreage in heavily fertilized fields and lawns, extensive urbanization and an increasing population, we can never return to pre-Colonial nutrient discharge. It is impossible to restore the North American grassland prairies, just as it is impossible to restore the Bay ecosystem, or the Bay’s oyster population. Ecosystems that have been degraded for centuries can be improved, but he word “restore” should never be used.
The Bay’s nutrient pollution problem is immense and hard to grasp. Pollution must always be reduced at its source. A “sop up” strategy, while continuing to pollute, is never effective. EPA’s final TMDL requires that of the 250 million pounds of N delivered to the Bay each year, more than half of agricultural origin, 62 million pounds of N discharge must be stopped. That amount may or may not be sufficient to improve water quality satisfactorily because the remaining discharge is larger than it was in Colonial times.
A recent study proposed that oysters can significantly improve water quality in the Potomac River estuary (DOI 10.1007/s10498-014-9226-y). I disagreed (DOI 10.1007/s10498-014-9235-x). A paper published in 1946 states “...in the late 1800’s it [the oyster harvest from the Potomac River] averaged approximately 1,600,000 bushels.” Given 300 oysters per bushel, 480 million oysters were harvested annually for a few years. Then the harvest crashed and in recent years it has rarely exceeded 1.5 million oysters (5,000 bushels). Today, the Potomac River discharges about 30 million kilograms of N each year. One million market-sized (3 inch) oysters contain at most 150 kilograms of N, with sub-equal amounts in the shell and tissue. Today’s oyster harvest only removes 0.00075% (225 / 30,000,000) of the Potomac River’s N load. Even if we could harvest 480 million oysters annually again, an unrealistic hope, only 72,000 kg of N would be removed from the marine ecosystem (480 million oysters * 150 kg N per million oysters) amounting to only 0.2% of today’s N load (72,000 / 30,000,000). Oysters cannot improve Bay water quality in the face of the massive pollution load that exists.
How does N removal from the marine ecosystem by oysters compare to N pollution from crop fertilization practices? Given a chemical fertilization rate for grain of about 150 pounds of N per acre and a typical “N Use Efficiency” of about 65%, 100 pounds of applied N fertilizer are sequestered in the harvested grain. The remaining 50 pounds are released to the environment. Assuming that about half the 50 pounds of N not sequestered in the grain ends up in the Bay, and that the N removed from the ecosystem by harvesting oysters and by their normal feeding and deposition processes (sediment burial and denitrification) are about the same, growing twenty acres of grain causes about as much N pollution as the amount of N removed by a million oysters. Given the many millions of acres used to grow grain in the Bay watershed, the previous conclusion is confirmed. “Sopping up” N pollution by harvesting oysters cannot measurably improve Bay water quality.
All the money we have spent upgrading wastewater treatment to reduce point source nutrient pollution has not resulted in significant improvements in Bay water quality. The only way to improve Bay water quality is to seriously address the major source of pollution, inefficient crop fertilization. Two good places to start are: first, ban the disposal of animal waste (poultry litter, sewage sludge and manure) by land application, which causes about half of agricultural nutrient pollution because these materials are such inefficient “fertilizers.” And second, replace conventional chemical fertilizers with controlled- (timed-, slow-) release products in order to increase conventional fertilization efficiency from about 65% to at least 80% (it is 30% for sludge).
Oysters improve the Bay ecosystem because they create desirable habitat for other organisms. Fertile (diploid) oysters in close proximity in a float or cage can spawn simultaneously, increasing the likelihood of fertilization. Unfortunately, most people, including aquaculture, grow sterile (triploid) oysters because they are meatier. If you want to help the Bay, grow more fertile oysters – they have made great meals for centuries! TOGA (Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association – www.oystergardener.org) can help if you want learn more.
Posted September 14, 2014
Attention runners and walkers of all ages: NAPS is sponsoring a 5k race as part of the April 18, 2015 Earth Day celebration during the Tavern Farmers Market in Heathsville. In addition, special events are planned for kids and adults – all with an environmental theme.
There will be music, environmental exhibits, and vendors in addition to the Farmers Market vendors. The annual Northern Neck Wine Festival will also take place at the Tavern grounds.
Preliminary discussions with Northumberland County officials have been positive. County Administrator Kenny Eades (use of county property for staging) and Sheriff Chuck Wilkins (suggested race route) have been supportive. Bill Kirby has agreed to head the race committee.
Look for more details as planning goes forward.
Posted September 14, 2014
By Dr. Greg Haugan
Two recent reports on climate change are optimistic and one is somber. There are literally hundreds of documents to choose from each three months, but these three are the outstanding ones. First the somber news – a report titled “Risky Business” came out in June. It is a business-oriented climate risk assessment for the United States. It is somber news only if the U.S. and the world continue to do nothing about mitigation of global warming. I would say it is a “wake-up call” but that really occurred 26 years ago when Dr. Jim Hansen testified to the problems to Congress. They simply turned off the alarm. Didn’t even hit the “snooze” button.
The report contains the summary results of a comprehensive risk analysis of the regions and economic sectors of the U.S. The summary is easy to read and is available at www.riskybusiness.org. It is notable for its sponsors and committee members that include Henry Paulson, Robert Rubin and George P. Shultz – all former secretaries of the treasury; Henry Cisneros, Olympia Snowe, Dr. Alfred Sommer, Donna Shalala and other well-known persons, both conservatives and liberals. It is non-partisan and business-oriented. The report findings show: “…that, if we continue on our current path, many regions of the U.S. face the prospect of serious economic effects from climate change. However, if we choose a different path – if we act aggressively to both adapt to the changing climate and to mitigate future impacts by reducing carbon emissions – we can significantly reduce our exposure to the worse economic risks from climate change and also demonstrate global leadership on climate.”
The report contains data on each U.S. geographic region since they are all different. The section addressing risks to the Southeast states of course includes the risks of storm surges and sea level rise with which we are all familiar. However we also are likely to be hit hardest by heat impacts: “Over the past 30 years, the average resident of this region has experienced about 8 days per year at 95º F or above. Looking forward, if we continue on our current emissions path ,the average Southeast resident will likely experience an additional 17 to 52 extreme hot days per year by mid-century and an additional 48 to 130 days per year by the end of the century.” The risks to other sectors like agriculture and health are also high and scary. The report does not make any recommendations, only throws the ball into the court of business to start doing something to reduce emissions.
The second report is more optimistic, it shows that some businesses are at least thinking about the problem and making assumptions in their business plans regarding mitigation activities being implemented. On page 18 of their climate risk business plan, ExxonMobil states the following:
“When governments are considering policy options, ExxonMobil advocates an approach that ensures a uniform and predictable cost of carbon; allows market prices to drive solutions; maximizes transparency to stakeholders; reduces administrative complexity; promotes global participation; and is easily adjusted to future developments in climate science and policy impacts. We continue to believe a revenue-neutral carbon tax is better able to accommodate these key criteria than alternatives such as cap-and-trade.”
Reading the entire chapter in the ExxonMobil report, they assume a price of carbon of $80 per ton. This is price point the CCL proposal would be after 7 years. While a much higher price needs to be reached eventually, it is important that corporate thinking is going in this direction. You can find the report by simply entering ExxonMobil Risk Analysis in Google or entering the URL from the box above. It is also easy reading.
Finally, and maybe the most important is the REMI Report. It is titled The Economic, Fiscal, Demographic, and Climate Impact of a National Fee-and-Dividend Carbon Tax. It provides a comprehensive analysis of the proposed CCL carbon fee and dividend legislation. The analysis is unique from several perspectives. First it is national in scope and uses comprehensive and common methodologies to perform the analyses; second it breaks the results down by geographic sectors like the Risky Business Report but also identifies 38 individual sectors within each geographic region and shows the results for each year of an increasing carbon-neutral tax. Impacts on consumers, energy sectors, revenues etc... are all considered and presented. The table above presents the output. The message is clear: THE CARBON FEE AND DIVIDEND CONCEPT AS PROPOSED BY CCL WILL ADD JOBS AND INCREASE GDP AND REDUCE EMISSIONS.
So, Risky Business tells us what the risks are of remaining on our current emissions pathway; ExxonMobil shows that some businesses recognize that action is needed and will occur, and the CCL REMI analysis shows that there is a solution.
Posted April 28, 2014
By Lee Allain
Wow! A beautiful spring day on the water. Eighteen seventh grade students and Captain David Rowe of the Bayquest. Today we are going to tong some oysters, pull some crab traps, run a trawl and talk about both the ecology and the “good old days.”
And we did! Captain David Rowe, out of the Coan River Marina, and Middle School Teacher, Dr. Mathieu Sisk, kept up a line of patter describing both ecology of the Bay and history of Northumberland waters. As if they had rehearsed, their comments were neatly interspersed weaving a verbal fabric that students were captured by.
First stop was on a public oyster reef to tong a few oysters. Even the students had a chance at tonging. “Hey, this is hard work.” Then an oyster knife appeared from Captain Rowe’s storehouse and students were challenged. “Eat one.” A few were swallowed but most were mouthed and spat overboard. They tried!
Then it was time to pull a crab trap. First, what are these fish? Bait. Oh, Menhaden. And look, we got three crabs – two females and one male. How do you tell the difference? Something about the Capitol dome and the Washington monument. And this is how you hold them so as to not get bitten. What fun. “Ouch.”
After a fun morning, it was time to head back to the Marina for lunch and a rest-room that wasn’t rocking. Pizza showed up shortly and quickly disappeared – every slice. Then, back to work.
The afternoon session was occupied setting up, towing, and then, pulling in a trawl. Students did the “heavy lifting” with the yo-heave-ho bit to help Captain Rowe. There wasn’t much out there in the cold spring water, but we did catch a few small Bay anchovies.
After cruising past Cowart’s oyster operation, we headed back to the Marina and home. Great day on the water. A day to be remembered.
By Jay Walker
The special program at the February 22 NAPS Annual Meeting, “Oysters – Still a Heritage Industry,” focused on oyster farming in the last decade. The speakers told the audience of 50 to 60 people, many of them oyster gardeners, that there are still more questions than answers.
Representing local commercial oyster aquaculture, Rich Harding described techniques that he has been refining since 2004. From his experience, “The book on Do’s is short, but the book of Don’ts is many pages,” he said. Harding has had success with cage culture methods, but he had to figure out how to deal with crabs that get into the cages and “enjoy an oyster buffet.”
Oyster farming is labor intensive, so much of Harding’s efforts, as a commercial venture, are to increase oyster yields. That requires close attention to deploying on good bottom, using clean beds, and avoiding disease.
The result is a growing market. “We think of the Chesapeake Bay as the Napa Valley of oysters,” he remarked, adding that oyster-tasting raw bars are now popular, similar to the spread of microbrew bars.
Harding said that there are still questions about the future of aquaculture procedures and oyster markets. One of these issues is consumers getting sick on bad oysters. “We need to increase public awareness of how to handle oysters safely. One report of sickness and we all suffer,” he said.
Dr. Lynton Land raised more questions based on records collected by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and his own experience for the Tidewater Oyster Gardening Association (TOGA – www.oystergardener.org). VIMS has been monitoring oyster setting, or strike, at multiple stations on three rivers. The results show a few good years and a lot of bad years. If we can’t rely on wild oyster growth, how will we improve propagation and growth, he asked.
Oysterman Dudley Biddlecomb provided an answer, or at least a partial answer, as a result of procedures that he and Dr. Land have tried. Starting with clean shells and larvae from a hatchery, they used a hose to release the larvae on the bottom.
After two months, they found the amount of strikes on shells was not a clear path to success. “The more oysters the cleaner the water and the cleaner the water, the more oysters. So it’s a win-win situation,” said Biddlecomb. But, he added, “There are still more questions than answers.”
“By next year, I may be able to come back with some more information to share. Hopefully, we’ll have a method that works.” (In a later interview, he stated that TOGA and commercial gardeners need to share information on a regular basis.)
Dr. Land reviewed an experiment with four kinds of oysters placed in cages by volunteers at 40 different locations. They were spread over the western shores of Virginia, each variety in a different cage. He reported on two sites that yielded the biggest oysters in far different circumstances. It turned out that “where you grow oysters makes more difference than what you grow,” he stated.
“We were a little surprised. It makes a whale of a difference where you grow them. You wonder why.”
At one site the success seems to have been better circulation – lots of water flow. But the second biggest oysters were located on what is essentially a water cul-de-sac, with not much tidal circulation.
“I don’t know why they grew so big there. Damn oysters!” he exclaimed.
During the discussion period, both Land and Biddlecomb repeated Harding’s warning about oyster poisoning. They urged people who eat raw oysters to refrigerate them immediately and eat them the same day. They stated that one poisoning case can shut down the entire industry.
After the presentations Harding provided several varieties of shucked oysters, some for sampling.
By Dr. Lynton Land
The Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association (www.oystergardener.org) began a Growth/Longevity study on August 11, 2011, when four kinds of seed oysters were obtained from the VIMS hatchery. We wanted to determine which of the four kinds of oysters would be the best choice for gardeners. Two different strains were available, LoLa (low salinity Louisiana) and DeBy (Delaware Bay), and both fertile (diploid – two chromosomes) and sterile (triploid – three chromosomes) animals were provided for each strain. Colored cable ties were used to identify the four kinds of oysters to keep the study “blind” for the volunteers.
Animals about 5/8 inch in size were placed in ADPI mesh bags, which were placed in plastic “Australian” cages TOGA had purchased. Four loaded cages were given to each of 40 volunteers to hang from their piers. Volunteers were asked to report the number of live oysters and the average length of the oysters in each cage in March, July and November. Most volunteers found it necessary to reduce the numbers in the cages as the oysters grew.
Our major conclusion is that it makes more difference where oysters are grown than which kind of animal is grown. We were amazed that at some sites, in November, 2013, when the study ended, the average length of the oysters was 125 mm (4.9 inches). Many oysters reached market size (76 mm or 3 inches) by the fall of 2012, but oysters at some sites did not reach market size until the fall of 2013 (Figure 1). Some, but not all, sites with the largest oysters are characterized by excellent circulation. But the reasons oysters grew large at some sites near the head of tidal creeks still eludes us.
We found little difference in either the growth rate or mortality of the four kinds of animals. We were surprised that the fertile oysters grew nearly as fast as the sterile animals because “dogma” predicts that because sterile animals don’t produce gametes, they put all their energy into growth. Most mortality occurred during the first year, especially in the summer of 2012, when most growth occurred.
Meat weight was measured at 15 sites. Triploids were about 1/3 meatier than diploids, although a tremendous amount of overlap exists (Figure 2). The whole body weight of the triploids was about 10% larger than for the diploids, so the shells of triploids are slightly heavier than the shells of diploids. These conclusions apply to the animals we received from VIMS in 2011. We do not know if these conclusions will apply in the future as selective breeding continues to improve the lines.
The most important variable, uncontrollable for oyster gardeners, is where oysters are grown. Areas with high tidal flow grow larger oysters, although there exists other unidentified variables, including the kind of gear used to grow them. Most mortality occurs the first year when the oysters are small. To reduce mortality, keep the crabs out, move the oysters to the coarsest mesh possible as soon as possible, keep the mesh clean, spread the oysters out and keep them in the water, but not in the air or on the bottom, in winter.
Gardeners need to weigh the advantage of slightly higher meat weight for triploids, and better meat quality in the summer, against larval production by diploids. If one of your goals is for oysters to provide “ecological services” to the Bay, then grow diploids. The more larvae in the water, the more oysters there will be. After all, the Chesapeake Bay oyster industry did just fine for centuries using diploids.
Everybody knows that oysters filter the water, making it clearer. But fewer people understand that the algae and sediment filtered out of the water end up as sediment, where microbes decompose the organic material and return the nitrogen and phosphorus back into the water to foster the growth of more algae. Oysters speed up the recycling of organic material. They do not remove significant amounts of nutrients from the ecosystem. If we want to improve water quality in Chesapeake Bay then we must stop pollution, not just try to sop it up. That means meaningfully addressing the largest source of Bay pollution – crop fertilization. Changing the way crops are fertilized so that more nitrogen and phosphorus end up in the crops and less ends up in the Bay is the only way to improve Bay water quality.
But grow more oysters! If you want to start, begin at the TOGA web site (www.oystergardener.org), and I’m glad to give you a tour and answer any questions.
By Jay Walker
Before the start of the formal business meeting, Captain David Rowe previewed the Eco-Tour sponsored by NAPS and funded by Omega Protein for NHS students and teachers in April. His goal is to make the tour both educational and entertaining.
The tour begins with a brief history of the Coan River. First on the agenda is a discussion of oysters and a look at oyster habitat. Next comes crabs and the lifestyle of the river. Capt. Rowe also takes water samples to show the quality of the river water.
About 20 science and ecology students from the high school will attend the tour. Later in the spring NAPS will sponsor an Eco-Tour for Boy Scout Troop 250, also funded by Omega Protein.
Vice President Lee Allain, filling in for President Bill Estell, conducted the business meeting. In the vote for the 2017-term Directors, Lee Allain, Ida Hall, and Lynton Land were re-elected.
The meeting concluded with a review of NAPS projects by members of the Board. It was an impressive list:
Lee: School projects including STEM, solar grant, and eco-tours.
Monty: Creek clean-up, Omega Protein support.
Ida: Bluff Point conservation up-date.
Greg: CCL, NAPS ASMFC response.
Lynton: NHS greenhouse renovation, tree ID, creek clean-up, phragmites.
Myrtle: School liaison, scholarships.
Jay: Newsletter, NAPS Journal, Distinguished Citizen Award, Adopt-a-Highway date.
By Jay Walker
Monty Deihl, Senior Director of Fishing Plant Operations for Omega Protein, Inc. and NAPS Board member, has presented a donation of $1,000 to support NAPS Eco-Tours this spring.
“Omega’s donation will go directly to support Spring Eco-Tours for Northumberland High School ecology and biology students and local Boy Scout Troop 250,” said Lee Allain, NAPS Vice-president, who heads the project. “This is a great opportunity for students to become familiar, up-close and personal, with the ecology of the Bay and its tributaries.”
Upon receiving the donation, Allain pointed out that Omega has worked steadily to improve environmental conditions and has maintained consistent support of NAPS over the years for creek clean-ups and other local efforts benefitting the Bay. During project discussions at a recent NAPS Board meeting, the opportunity to provide Eco-Tourism to local students was enthusiastically supported with a vote to proceed.
“After listening to a description of the project, Board member Deihl said, ‘This is education Omega can support.’ His follow-up with this generous donation will fund at least two tours,” Allain explained.
“This is a worthy cause for Omega,” said Deihl. “It’s a partnership that NAPS and Omega need in order to raise awareness among students of the Bay’s ecosystem and its impact on our lives.”
NAPS has already arranged an Eco-Tour of the Bay area aboard a Bay Quest Charters boat on Saturday, April 26, 2014, for 20 Northumberland High School students and two teachers. Capt. David Rowe, a waterman and VCU graduate, will lead the tour on his 43-foot Chesapeake Bay deadrise.
Capt. Rowe outlined a typical Eco-Tour at the NAPS Annual meeting. It starts in the morning with tonging some oysters. He will then open a few oysters and talk about oyster life cycle, history of the industry, and today’s situation. After the oyster discussion, he will pull a few crab traps and talk about some general topics regarding crabs. On some occasions he may use a sample net to trawl the bottom and discuss whatever comes up in the net. “The day will be both educational and entertaining and participants will learn a lot about key species that inhabit the Bay and rivers,” he commented.
Eco-Tours were born after the collapse of the crab population in 2008; through Federal and State monies directed to ease the plight of about 5,000 licensed watermen. Some 80 watermen have been trained and certified to lead educational tours throughout the Bay. Locally, Capt. David Rowe, out of the Coan River (www.bayquestfishing.com), and Capt. Danny Crabbe, out of the Little Wicomico (www.crabbescharterfishing.com), are both certified to provide this educational tour to the public. See their web sites for more information on both fishing charters and Eco-Tours.
By Ida Hall
On December 27, 2013, Tom Dingledine placed 887 acres of his Bluff Point properties under a conservation easement with the North American Land Trust. The easement will forever protect the property from any large-scale development, such as the massive Planned Unit Development (PUD) that the Board of Supervisors approved in 2011. Mr. Dingledine also gave James Madison University (JMU) a 35+ acre parcel along Jarvis Pt. Rd. and Northumberland County a 6+ acre parcel for a possible sewage treatment plant. The 887-acre “Conservation Area” will be used primarily by JMU for educational purposes.
This is great news and NAPS commends and thanks Mr. Dingledine for his generosity and wise decision to terminate the PUD plan on Bluff Point’s environmentally sensitive and flood-prone property.
While the easement overall is a very positive outcome for Bluff Point, some questions and concerns still remain. The locations of any future buildings, other structures, utilities, and roads that can be allowed under the easement is unclear, since the “After Easement” document designed by Hart Howerton, that shows these possible building locations, is held solely by the Land Trust. Also, in the easement document under “Wetlands and Riparian Buffer Protection 3.11.1” there is a contradiction to the state and local Chesapeake Bay laws that would reduce the required 100-foot buffer to 50 feet. This is an environmental concern because the easement allows for building and clearing in some areas up to the buffer and the possibility of stables and grazing of horses up to the buffer, too. There is also concern pertaining to the language in the easement permitting a “transfer” of property. The wording seems to indicate that the owner can convey the property and the conveyed property would still be subject to the easement restrictions. This needs to be verified, because if property can be transferred outside of the easement restrictions, this would be a huge loophole.
Interested NAPS members look forward to meeting with Mr. Dingledine in the near future and learning more about this “new” plan for the “Conservation Area” and JMU properties; what is allowed and where, and what NAPS involvement might be.
The entire 51-page easement document is available at Northumberland County Clerk’s Office.
By Jay Walker
The NAPS Board welcomed School Superintendent Dr. Gates and Northumberland High School Principal Dr. Burns to the January meeting to discuss STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education. The objective was to outline how NAPS can support STEM at the schools.
Dr. Burns described the NHS Gateway to STEM room being set up at the time. He said that guidance counselor Lara Brown proposed the idea. She wanted to expose students to career planning and involve professionals in the community.
It is hoped that the Gateway to STEM room will create a long-lasting partnership with organizations, including NAPS and other volunteer organizations for STEM-based learning,” he said, adding that NAPS would be the “over-arching” body for STEM ideas. He also previewed samples of the banner that includes both NAPS and County School logos to go over the door.
Dr. Gates covered STEM related projects and provided a handout on the “Northern Neck Governor’s STEM Academy Career Clusters and Pathways.” She told the Board that Del. Margaret Ransone has requested funding for a Technical/Career Center.
One of the STEM related projects Dr. Gates emphasized was the need for a Children’s Engineering Curriculum at the elementary school level. She will attempt to locate school systems that have children’s engineering programs.
“To be in a STEM Program, students need to have the background by the sixth grade,” she stated.
Dr. Gates stressed the importance and effectiveness of “project-based” learning.
By Dr. Greg Haugan
The mission of CCL is to build a political will for a stable climate.
The Northern Neck Chapter of the CCL mantra follows that of the National Academy of Sciences and all the major scientific organizations of the world:
1. The earth is warming
2. The cause is us
3. It is bad
4. We can do something about it.
It is the fourth line that is the focus of CCL and the focus for our meetings is to mitigate climate change by supporting a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend, or rebate, program to reduce CO2 emissions. How and why this will work and the implementing mechanisms are discussed at the meetings.
The CCL is active in providing presentations discussing climate change and mitigation and other education activities such as letters to editors and opinion pieces. The important aspect is keeping our Congressional Representative and Senators appraised of the developments in the science behind the mantra and the necessity to take aggressive action now. I represented our group at the Regional CCL Meeting in Atlanta in January where six-term Republican Representative Bob Inglis of South Carolina was the featured speaker. He presented the conservative position and strong support for the free market operations of the CCL carbon fee and dividend approach.
We welcome new members at our meetings to join our discussions and to hear our speakers and presentations and to help provide a difference. Meetings are the first Tuesday evening of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Northumberland Library. We need your help in understanding and transmitting the urgency of action on this major problem that faces every person on this planet. Call Dr. Greg Haugan at 804 580 2166 for more information.
By Dr. Greg Haugan
In order to stabilize our climate and avoid the most serious impacts of the ongoing climate changes, it is necessary to significantly reduce CO2 emissions.
There are three basic alternatives available to reduce CO2 emissions and thereby mitigate climate change: (1) Individual conservation; (2) Government Regulation; and (3) putting a price on CO2 emissions. Individual conservation is important since approximately 40% of the current levels of emissions are related to individual decisions, but this alone will not solve the problem.
The second approach is currently being applied by President Obama in the form of emission regulations, fuel efficiency standards, subsidies and such and this can only be partly successful and is a brute force approach.
The third approach, putting a price on carbon emissions to at least partly compensate for the costs incurred by society has two variations: (a) A cap-and-trade scheme that is favored by environmentalists because it places a firm ceiling on emissions; and (b) A carbon fee and dividend or rebate scheme that puts a price on emissions and lets the free market make choices of responses. This is favored by conservative economists and CCL.
The CCL goes one step further and recommends a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend or rebate scheme. In a “revenue-neutral” system all of the revenues are returned directly to the American people, none stays with the government. The revenue-neutral carbon fee, (incorrectly sometimes called a tax), and dividend works like this:
A fee is placed on carbon-based fuels at the source (well, mine, port of entry). This fee starts at $15 per ton of fossil CO2 emitted, and increases steadily each year by $10 so that clean energy is cheaper than fossil fuels within a decade. Fossil fuel companies are finally paying for polluting our atmosphere.
All of the money collected is returned to American households on an equitable basis. Under this plan 66% percent of all households would break even or receive more in their dividend check than they would pay for the increased cost of energy, thereby protecting the poor and middle class including the people of the Northern Neck. A predictably increasing carbon price sends a clear market signal which will unleash conservative entrepreneurs and investors in the new clean-energy economy.
Conservative economists Art Laffer, former Reagan economic advisor; Greg Mankiw, economic advisor to George W. Bush and Mitt Romney; Andrew Moylan of the conservative R Street Institute; and Gary Becker, Nobel Laureate economist, have each supported it. George Shultz, former Secretary of State stated: “We have to have a system where all forms of energy bear their full costs…and to me the most appealing way is a revenue-neutral carbon tax.”
Economic analysis of this approach shows it to be net beneficial to GDP compared to doing nothing and applying the revenues to such items as debt reduction show fewer benefits. A similar carbon tax is currently being applied effectively in British Columbia where part of the revenue is used to reduce corporate income taxes and the rest rebated.
With a carbon fee and dividend or rebate approach, the need for carbon emissions controls on power plants is eliminated and free-market incentives will influence individual conservation decisions as well. It has been calculated that such a scheme as we advocate, implemented in 2015, would reduce emissions over time to a point where the increase in global temperature can be kept under the 2 degree Centigrade (3.6 degrees F) danger point.
The NAPS Journal 2013 is now available for online download, featuring the following articles:
Impacts of Climate Change on the Weather of the Northern Neck, Part 1
By Dr. Gregory T. Haugan: The current and future weather in the Northern Neck are impacted by the ongoing global warming and resulting changes in the climate. Part 1 of a three-part series focuses on weather and the jet stream.
Stewardship of Waterfront Property
By Dr. Lynton Land: The cardinal rule for waterfront property owners is “keep it out of the water.” This article provides helpful advice and explains why keeping it out of the water is vital for the health of our water ways.
Chesapeake Bay Ecology, Menhaden Fishery Management and Recommendations for NAPS Members
By Ida Hall: The many factors that impact the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay watershed are complex and dealing with them in- volves complex solutions. Menhaden fishery is a good example of the need to understand how all the marine life interact for sustainability. What can you do to help.
Contemporary Climate Mythology
Prepared by Dr. Gregory Haugan, here are five facts that dispel the myths and point to the need to recognize the impact of climate change. It’s a matter of science and common sense.
Click here for PDF version. Look for the 2014 issue available soon to active paid NAPS members.
What looked like “the Cockrell sea monster”, an unidentified sunken object (USO), and a battered boat were just three of the 3800 lbs. of trash hauled ashore at the NAPS annual creek clean-up, Saturday, September 28. A six-boat armada with crews of Northumberland High School students and Boy Scouts cleared the shores of Cockrell’s Creek in Reedville on the wind-swept morning.
Four of the 12 NHS students from the Beta Club were veterans of last year’s clean-up along the Great Wicomico. All of the five Scouts, led by Bob Monk, were return crewmen. They included Trent Newsome, Grayson Hughes, Matt Pitman, and Robert Stickler. Fourteen NAPS volunteers were on hand to set up the landing at The Stack, sort the recycles from the trash, and serve lunch.
Monty Deihl, Senior Director of Fishing Plant Operations for Omega Protein, was instrumental in organizing the boat captains and providing dumpsters, Port-a Potty, and lunch.
The Cockrell sea monster when towed ashore turned out to be an oil-spill float. It took six NHS girls to heft the “USO” into the boat and off-load it onto the quay at the Stack, but it remained unidentifiable. As for the boat, Monty Deihl got a fork lift from Omega to haul it out.
The boat captains included: Vincent Haynie, Warner Rice, Lynn Haynie, Tom and Zachery Moore, Andy Hall, and Monty and Parker Deihl.
“The weather was not as nice as predicted, but the ‘crews’ said it was fun,” said NAPS President Bill Estell. “The kids were involved in a cleaner environment and hopefully lessons were learned. A special thanks goes to Monty and Omega for hosting our project and providing everything needed to carry it out, even the fork lift.”
NAPS also thanks Omega for a very generous gift of $300 to support the clean-up.
By Ida Hall
NAPS presented its 2013 Distinguished Citizen Award (DCA) to Jane Towner during the annual Social on Saturday, October 12, at the Bay Quarter Shores Club House along the Potomac River in Northumberland County.
Speaking to nearly 60 NAPS members, neighbors, and guests who gathered to enjoy good food, fellowship, common interests, concerns, and celebrate the Distinguished Citizen Award recipient, NAPS President Bill Estell said it was “not surprising that so many people are here, knowing who we are honoring.” Bill added that “choosing the Distinguished Citizen Award recipient goes on all year” and thanked Ralph Millar for heading the search committee.
Representing the RCC Educational Foundation (EFI), Sharon Drotleff told the audience that RCC “applauds Jane Towner’s selection.” As a Board member for 10 years, Jane envisioned developing a Life-Long learning Center. In the fall of 2004, her dream became reality when the RCC/EFI offered the first courses through the Rappahannock Institute of Lifelong Learning (RILL), that Jane co-founded with Libby Singleton Wolf.
John Bott, who took over Jane’s position when she retired in 2009, said, “Jane never gives up on learning.” In recognition of her lifelong contributions to education, RILL awarded her a Citation and named a scholarship in her honor in 2011. With her foresight and focus on others, John added that “Jane has spoken to us in many ways that can’t be measured.”
On behalf of the NAPS Board and membership, Bill presented Jane with an engraved plaque recognizing her many accomplishments that “Define Distinguished Citizen.”
With Sibley, her husband of 57 years, and daughters Ann and Hope in the audience supporting her, along with friends and colleagues, Kitty and Jennifer Creeth, Judy and Dean McBride, Jack and Susan Moore, Mary Louisa Pollard (NNLC), and DCR’s Rebecca Wilson, Jane humbly and gratefully accepted the award. “I am deeply honored, because this award comes from NAPS,” she told listeners, including Shirley Smith, a founding member of NAPS and Supervisor Tommy Tomlin, who represents her district.
Jane pointed out that NAPS is a “small organization” focused on big issues such as conservation, preservation, and the economic benefits of being good stewards of the environment. Reflecting on her 28 years in the County, Jane remarked, “The best years of my life have been in this County.” With typical modesty and generosity, Jane concluded, “I have been educated and mentored by you. This award goes to all of you.”
By Jay Walker
Headed by Lynton Land, a project to identify and mark trees along a trail in the woods behind the Northumberland Elementary School moved ahead in October with the help of Rich Steensma, Forester for the Virginia Department of Forestry. The project entails putting signs on selected trees to identify them for students and others when they are on the “Blue” Trail.
In a little over an hour, Steensma identified over 30 trees, both hardwoods and pines, commenting, “There’s a lot of diversity here.” He noted that the woods were clear-cut more than once in the past and pointed out passages used by loggers to haul away the trees.
Both Lynton and Bill Estell took careful notes to establish the exact location of each tree. The next step will be to acquire and attach the signs. Steensma recommends 3 to 4 inch stainless screws set loosely so the name plate can slide away as the tree grows. “You need to loosen the screws annually so the tree doesn’t have to grow around the plate,” he added.
According to Lynton, if the school sees the value in the tree markers, other trails will be added.
By Jay Walker
NAPS Vice President Lee Allain has arranged an Eco-Tour of the Chesapeake Bay area aboard a Bay Quest Charters boat on Saturday, April 26, 2014, for 20 Northumberland High School students and two teachers. The tour will be offered to Ecology and Biology students first and fill in empty spots with others, according to Rebekah Jones, NHS Ecology and Biology teacher.
Capt. David Rowe, a waterman and VCU graduate, will lead the tour on his 43 foot Chesapeake Bay deadrise. The tour is definitely “show and tell” concerning the oysters, crabs, and other marine life of the Bay, rivers, and creeks.
“This is a great opportunity for students to become familiar – up close and personal – with the Bay environment, with a lot of information about key species,” said Lee.
Said Mrs. Jones, “We’d like to emphasize human impact on the environment, importance the Bay has on our ecosystem as far as relationships among the species, and the significance the Bay’s ecosystem plays for people living and working on it.”
NAPS will cover the $500 fee and, if all goes well, will offer the tour to Northumberland Boy Scouts later, Lee added. For more information, check the Bay Quest website: www.bayquestfishing.com.
By Janice Mahoney
Special thanks to the 11 volunteers who answered my call for help to do the Fall Adopt-a-Highway clean-up along Route 200 starting at the church in Wicomico Church, Tuesday, October 29. They included Alice Imbur, Kathy and Walter Brodtman, Bob Holley, Bill Estell, Andy Kauders, Jack Yunker, Susan Carter Hughes, Bryna Brennan, Charles Smith and Sue Lindsey.
It was a bright and sunny day which helped to make the clean-up more palatable. Like the creek clean-up, the highway clean-up is a nasty job. We wonder just what prompts people to throw their trash out the window for others to pick up. Well, why not, when a group of retired folks avail themselves to do the pick up twice a year.
Enough preaching to the choir. We filled 17 bags of garbage with nothing of note to equal what came out of Cockrell’s Creek in September. It was just the usual fast food wrappers, beer and soda cans, and many cigarette butts – the refuse of a “use it and toss it” society.
We will have another go at the Spring Adopt-a-Highway. Please look for my call for help.
Book Review - Posted 10/10/13
By Lynton S. Land, PhD
The title of the book Chesapeake Invader: Discovering America’s Giant Meteorite Crater by C. Wylie Poag (Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-00919-8, 183pp.) tells the reader what to expect. It is a documentation of how several geological puzzles were solved once the late Eocene impact of a bolide centered on Cape Charles was postulated and accepted.
The story starts when a peculiar breccia was identified from tiny rock chips or “cuttings” as wells were drilled in search of potable water. There were chips of rocks of many ages, from the igneous/metamorphic “basement” rocks to coastal plain sedimentary rocks of Cretaceous through Eocene age. Microfossils of many ages were also identified and the water in the well was anomalously saline. Rock cores provided better samples, but the origin of the breccia, overlain by unbrecciated late Eocene strata, remained puzzling.
The Deep Sea Drilling project provided the first clue to a meteorite impact by finding tektites, or glass from rocks melted by meteorite impact in late Eocene strata as they drilled off New Jersey. Once a meteorite impact was postulated, the theory could be tested by many different disciplines. Eventually, after much better subsurface imaging by seismic techniques, the discovery of abundant “shocked” quartz and more coring, the breccia was satisfactorily explained as the result of an impact event.
Well written for the non-scientist with many helpful illustrations, my only criticism is that Dr. Poag, a paleontologist specializing in microfossils, is too enamored of an extraterrestrial explanation for Earth’s mass extinctions. Of the five major mass extinctions, only one has been unequivocally shown to involve an extraterrestrial component, namely the Chicxulub event at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary that was partly responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs.
Most mass extinctions are probably caused by relatively rapid environmental changes that accompany redistribution of the continents by continental drift. Rapid environmental changes do not allow enough time for evolution and adaptation. We must take heed of that postulate, recognizing that since the industrial revolution the rapidly expanding human population has altered, and continues to alter Earth’s climate at a prodigious rate.
The Eocene impact certainly created local havoc, but no global mass extinction. The consequence of the large and growing human population rapidly burning Earth’s finite reserves of fossil fuels is another matter.
By Lee Allain
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) are getting priority nationally for students with natural talents in these fields. Locally, the Vo-Tech school in Warsaw is now incorporating a STEM curriculum and moving toward recognition as a STEM Academy.
Northumberland High School, under the auspices of the Warsaw school, now has a Stem Lab. To learn more about it, a group of NAPS Board members toured the NHS Lab with instructor Scott Syster. Here, about 15 students are learning to use CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing) systems.
We were particularly impressed with the number of gears and hinged boxes recently generated on the lab’s 3-D printer. In a STEM Lab, students design, test, and actually construct circuits and devices such as smart phones and tablets and work together on a capstone project. It’s STEM education and it’s the heart of today’s high-tech, high-skill global economy.
By Gregory Haugan, PhD
We had three very interesting meetings that were well attended. In September we saw the documentary Do the Math that featured Bill McKibben of 350.org. The math consists of three numbers: first – 2º Celsius, the temperature increase that is universally accepted as the critical danger point of global warming; second – 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide which is the additional amount of CO2 that we can pour into the atmosphere and stay below the 2º C level; and third – 2,795 gigatons of CO2 which is the amount contained in the proven coal, oil and gas reserves. So it is necessary to keep 80% of our fossil fuels locked in the ground. A daunting task.
At the October meeting we saw the award winning documentary Chasing Ice. Using time lapse photography the team documented the astonishingly rapid retreats and melting of major glaciers from around the world. The film provides undeniable evidence of our changing planet being threatened by climate change.
Please contact Greg Haugan if any of your other organizations would like to borrow either documentary. (See contact information at end of article.)
In November we focused on the new fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report titled Climate Change 2013, The Physical Science Basis (IPCC5). Dr. Lynton Land and Dr. Greg Haugan led the discussion and addressed what has changed since the last report in 2007 and what are the most important takeaways. The meeting included an audio description of IPCC5 by Dr. John Abraham, one of the reviewers of the report.
At this meeting we resumed our discussions of getting out opinion pieces and letters to the editor of the newspapers in the First Congressional District.
Plans for December include a workshop led by Gail Kenna on writing opinion pieces and letters.
For people unfamiliar with CCL you are invited to call in on Wednesday evenings at 8:00 p.m. (1-866-642-1665 and access code 440699#) to hear a presentation on the organization by the Executive Director of CCL. Alternatively contact Dr. Greg Haugan, NNK CCL Group Leader at 804-580-2166 or email@example.com.
By Lynton Land
Efforts to contain the invasive grass Phragmites australis continue. In 2013, 64 sites were sprayed with herbicide, 18 with the power sprayer on loan again from U.S. Fish and Wildlife. I have concluded that the herbicide, glyphosate, does not always kill the rhizomes (underground stems) when applied only once each year in September.
The first few treatments are usually very effective and after a few years only scattered plants or patches appear. Each year they are sprayed, and each year the process repeats. Once this stage is reached I can’t make any more progress so the property owner must choose among three strategies:
Ignore the Phragmites and watch it come roaring back,
Spray in September, to prevent it from spreading, or
Spray plants as soon as they can be identified. This strategy can eventually eradicate it and the property owner has the advantage of being able to spray whenever the marsh is dry enough to access the plants.
I’m asking more property owners to take over and will accept new sites only if I think elimination is likely.
The 23 years of NAPS history tells a story – a story of how a community works to preserve its unique features as it grows and changes. NAPS volunteers have worked hard by monitoring, educating, and getting their hands dirty. We work with many other organizations sharing the same spirit. Together we can continue to make a difference, not just for our county, but for our country and world. How would you like to spend a few fun hours this year helping NAPS help your community? Read more...