Soil Erosion Rates Rose More Than 100-Fold In The US Following Colonization Via Deforestation & Industrial Agriculture, Research Finds (+American Indian Forest Management Practices Explained)

January 21, 2015 in Geology & Climate, Humans, Plants

Soil erosion rates increased more than a 100-fold in the southeastern US after European colonization via the large-scale deforestation and industrial agriculture that accompanied it, according to new research from the University of Vermont.

Previous to European colonization, the region had seen rates of hill-slope erosion of around an inch every 2500-years — after colonization these rates skyrocketed to an inch every 25-years (with a peak in the late-1800s/early-1900s).

Soil erosion deforestation
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The Triumph Of Death — Pieter Bruegel The Elder, The Black Death, Two Monkeys, & The Eighty Years War

January 19, 2015 in Humans

This is a bit of a detour from what we normally post about here, but it’s a worthwhile one — The Triumph of Death, painted by Pieter Bruegel the Elder back in c.1562. Given that “peasant Bruegel” was born in 1525, and died in 1569, the creation of this painting dates to only a few years before his death.

The painting dates to a very tumultuous period of time for the region where Brueghel lived — at the time part of the Habsburg Netherlands, now part of Belgium. The creation of the painting predates the start of the Eighty Years War (1568-1648) by only a couple of years — and really seems to capture something of the spirit of the times.
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Bili Apes — Giant Lion-Eating Chimp (Chimpanzee) Subspecies

January 11, 2015 in Animals & Insects, Humans

Off in one of the few remaining relatively primeval natural environments of the world — the Bili Forest of the far-northern portion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo — lives a band of very large chimpanzees that possess a number of very strange qualities and behaviors.

The local folk-stories of the surrounding region make note of massive ape-like creatures that kill and hunt lions, catch fish, and — the stories go — howl at the moon. With many local hunters mentioning an animal that looks something like a cross between a chimpanzee and a gorilla — an animal that apparently, according to the stories, is unaffected by poison darts, as the other apes are.

While you may be now making the assumption that such stories can’t possibly be true, you’d actually be wrong — a fair amount of research has gone into this subspecies of chimpanzee over the last few decades, and there is apparently quite a lot of truth to the stories.

Bili apes
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Desertification Effects, Causes, And Examples : Top 10 List

January 5, 2015 in Animals & Insects, Geology & Climate, Humans, Plants

Desertification is a process of land-degradation by which a region becomes progressively drier and drier — eventually becoming desert. Or, to put it another way — desertification is the process by which previously biologically productive land is transformed into wasteland.

There’s actually currently something of a debate over the use of the term though. As it stands, the most widely accepted definition is probably the one that’s now printed in the Princeton University Dictionary — which defines it thusly: “The process of fertile land transforming into desert typically as a result of deforestation, drought, or improper/inappropriate agriculture”

Desertification

There are a number of different causes/mechanisms behind the process, such as deflation (the loss of stabilizing vegetation, and of top soil); erosion; and soil-salinity-rise (via irrigation mostly). Read the rest of this entry →

What Is The Scientific Method? Definition, Criticisms, And Steps

May 21, 2014 in Humans

Isaac Newton William Blake

What is the scientific method? Why do people believe in the ideas that “science” puts forward?

The scientific method is a system that attempts to separate the bias of being an observer from the observation — letting ‘reality’ show itself in the simplest possible way. The primary steps of which are: systematic and repeatable observation, exact measurements, experiments, and the invention of and repeated (ideally, nearly endless) testing of theories.

It’s a method of investigation based on what’s termed empirical and measurable evidence. Empirical essentially meaning what can be observed with the senses; and measurable meaning what can be repeatedly quantified in a standardized way.

The essential purpose of science is the creation of theories or ‘hypotheses’ that can consistently and reliably explain or reproduce observed phenomena. The scientific method is the method of creating these reliable and reproducible theories.
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