Ecophobia is a fear of ecological problems and the natural world. The concept is explained by David Sobel, a professor of education at Antioch New England College in Place-Based Education, Connecting Classrooms & Communities (2004). It can be brought on by fear of Lyme disease, global warming, oil spills and acid rain. “Fear of just being outside….What really happens when we lay the weight of the world's environmental problems on eight and nine year-olds already haunted with too many concerns and not enough real contact with nature?”asks Sobel.
When children are asked to consider ecological problems beyond their control, they become more cut-off from nature rather than more connected to the outdoors. Other educators are now writing about how to give children embedded educational experiences of nature in their immediate surroundings in their curriculum. This kind of learning is called ‘place-based education.’
A new state of the art environmental monitoring station was installed last week at the Marist College boathouse on the banks of the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie. The station was built in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the New York State Department of Conservation (NYS DEC), the Cary Institute or Ecosystem Studies, and Marist College. Funding for the new station was made possible through the Environmental Protection Agency.
The new station will continuously monitor water quality by collecting samples in order to detect the presence of toxics, pharmaceuticals and microbes. Dr. Stuart Findlay, freshwater ecologist at the Cary Institute, said the new station will make it possible “ to actually collect a water sample so we can look for things that the sensors at the other stations cannot detect. This is quite a big change in capability.”
Breaking News: Pathways Found from Deep Underground
Who else is writing New York State’s fracking regulations? Apparently, the gas industry they are supposed to regulate.
This implication is easily drawn from emails between an industry lobbyist and top officials of the Cuomo administration, prior to release of the latest proposed rules last September. The industry requested numerous changes in a 16-page document dated September 2—and the document reveals the industry had prior knowledge of the regulatory language before the public or environmental groups.
News of this potential collusion has emerged just as Governor Cuomo is getting ready to announce his state’s approach to fracking, perhaps before Labor Day.
“Colluded” is the word raised by Water Defense, a Brooklyn, NY-based environmental group, using freedom-of-information research and analysis done by the Environmental Working Group, in Washington, DC. It’s a strong word, but possibly warranted.
Jupp Von Kerckerink saw his first great white shark while diving with his daughter, Phillipa, near Isla Guadaloupe in the Pacific Ocean. That was almost ten years ago, and since then sharks have become his passion. “To stand in the cage and watch those massive white sharks swimming very close in front of us was breathtaking,” he said. Since then he has made over 200 dives with sharks, 17 of them in open water with great whites. Open water means no cages, which may be why they call diving with white sharks “the Everest of shark diving.”
Von Kerckerink read everything he could find about sharks, and “the more I learned the more I thought about working to protect them.” To that end he founded the Shark Research Institute, which lobbies on their behalf and works to educate people who have very little idea about these creatures that have been around for 430 million years making them 18-20 million years older than the dinosaurs.
In a Mozart symphony no matter how exuberant the music there is always a strong underlying structure that gives the piece coherence. Similarly, when creating a garden thought should always be given to the overall design that will hold the various plantings together. Larry Wente and Jack Hyland’s garden is an excellent example of this principle.
Twelve years ago as the two men were driving along a back road between Sharon and Millerton they passed a for sale sign at the edge of a cornfield. Because the corn was too high to see any of the surrounding country, they returned with a step ladder to discover rolling fields that seemed to stretch to the foothills of the Berkshires. In the other direction Indian Mountain rose majestically above Indian Lake. They decided it was the perfect place to build a house and garden.
Perhaps canoeing with my 68-year-old mother through an almost uninhabited part of South America was not the most responsible thing to do. However, she felt the trip would make a pleasant change from the misery of Zimbabwe and the gray dampness of England. Very well, but I hadn’t counted on her actually being in the boat. “You do realize that if you get hurt, you could be in pain for days?” She said she didn’t care, so I bought a 16-foot inflatable canoe we could paddle together.
Spondias mombin. The Latin sounds so much better than “Mope.” “When you are on the river, look for a big tree with little orange fruit. That’s Mope, and you’ll be able to smell it. You can watch Tapirs and other wildlife come to eat the fallen fruit.” I was also told that the river was so high it would be difficult to catch fish, find camping spots, or run some of the rapids we would encounter. But it was the season for Mope. Some consolation.
A hike in Buttercup Farm Audubon Sanctuary on Route 82 with an expert guide allows one to enter the world of the avian year-round residents and new spring arrivals. The warblers, the vanguard of migratory birds, have arrived as they do each year around the first week in May, to fill the woods with their high-pitched songs. Yellow Rumped Warbler - photo by Doug Koch
At the same time the almost invisible morel mushrooms are silently emerging. Hiking along the well-kept paths, across bogs and wooded areas with Tony Henneberg, local watercolor artist and bird and mushroom expert, and Buttercup warden and property manager, Richard Merritt, provided an introduction to over 18 species just in a few hours. However, it is easier to hear than to see birds. The morels are equally elusive perfectly camouflaged by last autumn’s brown leaves.
The elusive morel - photo by Tony Henneberg