100 Years of National Parks : Famous Yellowstone jumps in visitors equals concerns over wildlife and safety

When things go well – and people connect with Nature – the unforeseen consequences can be hard to handle…isn’t that ironic!? For starters: the park has hired Mandarin-speaking park rangers to communicate with the increasing number of Chinese visitors. Park rangers reassess how to manage tourist violations, staff burnout and ‘animal jam’ as number ofContinue reading “100 Years of National Parks : Famous Yellowstone jumps in visitors equals concerns over wildlife and safety”

Montessori, a bold life breaking boundaries

Today on Montessori’s birthday – we recall a force for good, where children can and do interact with their environment. Was this the birth of  environmental education – NAEEUK? Maria Montessori (August 31, 1870 – May 6, 1952) was an Italian physician and educator, a noted humanitarian and devout Catholic best known for the philosophy of education that bears her name. HerContinue reading “Montessori, a bold life breaking boundaries”

Darwin’s tree of life brought into the future

A new project aims to bring Charles Darwin’s masterclass on evolution into this century. Carl Zimmer of The New York Times reports  1       In 1837, Charles Darwin opened a notebook and drew a simple tree. Each branch represented aspecies. In that doodle, he captured his newfound realization that species were related, havingevolved from a common ancestor. Across the top of the page he wrote, “I think.” Two decades later Darwin presented a detailed account of the tree of life in “On the Origin ofSpecies.” And much of evolutionary biology since then has been dedicated to illuminating parts ofthe tree. Using DNA, fossils and other clues, scientists have worked out the relationships of manygroups of organisms, making rough sketches of the entire tree of life. “Animals and fungi are in one part of the tree, and plants are far away in another part,” said LauraA. Katz, an evolutionary biologist at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.     Scientists want to create a single tree of life out of thousands. An updated model, and Darwin’s effort. Cambridge University Library; Iplant Collaborative,top   Now Dr. Katz and her colleagues are doing somethingnew: they are drawing a tree of life that includes everyknown species – a tree with about two million branches. “I think it is an amazing step forward for our communityif it can be pulled off,” said Robert P. Guralnick, an expert on evolutionary trees at the University of Colorado who is not part of the project. Until recently, a complete tree of life would have beeninconceivable. To figure out how species are related,scientists inspect each possible way they could berelated. With each additional species, the total numberof possible trees explodes. There are more possible trees for just 25 species than there are stars. But scientists have developed computer programs thatfind the most likely relationship among species without considering every possible arrangement. Thosecomputers can now analyze tens of thousands ofspecies at a time. Yet these studies have thrown spotlights on only smallportions of the tree of life. “Nobody has tried to put all these results together,” saidthe leader of the new effort, Karen Cranston, a biologistat the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, North Carolina. Last year, Dr. Cranston and other experts came up witha plan for a single tree of life. The National Science Foundation has awarded the team a three-year grant of$5.7 million. The project, the Open Tree of Life, hopes to publish a draft by August 2013. The scientists willgrab tens of thousands of evolutionary trees archived online, then graft the smaller trees into a single big one. These trees represent just a tiny fraction of all known species. The rest are classified in the oldLinnaean system, in which they are assigned to a genus, a family, a kingdom, and so on. The teamwill use that data too. All the species in a genus, for example, will belong to branches descendingfrom the same common ancestor. The Linnaean system will give the tree only a rough picture ofthe true relationships among species. “Parts of it will be quite good, and parts will be quite bad,” Dr. Cranston said. The team will then set up an Internet portal where the entire community of evolutionary scientistscan upload new studies, which can then automatically revise the entire tree. And the tree will grow. Each year scientists publish descriptions of 17,000 new species. Last yeara team estimated the total number of species to be 8.7 million, although others think it could easilybe 10 times that.Continue reading “Darwin’s tree of life brought into the future”

Originally posted on Rethinking Childhood:
How can we build the movement to make neighbourhoods, towns and cities more child-friendly? I hereby propose that we steal a page from the playbook of Richard Louv. Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods was published just seven years ago. Its rallying cry has led to government programmes in…