Oysters & Fortunetellers


Where the gringa lives in the gulf coast of Texas, oyster farming is big business. The gringa’s farming experience is limited to my father’s cattle ranch and my own egg farming. Is that how oyster farming works? Do you just leave the little guys alone most of the time to do what oysters do? Toss them a bit of feed, protect them from predators, stuff like that? Well, actually oyster farming has gone hi-tech. For young people who are interested in a beach bum lifestyle with the edge of technology, oyster farming or working with the technology related to the industry may be your thing if you love science as much as beach bumming.

Oysters don’t need their human overseers to bring them a bale of hay or toss out some nutrient enriched scratch. They are living filters that live on the bottom of a bay. Oyster farmers really don’t have that much to do, it would seem, unless it is harvest time. Sounds like the perfect beach bum job.

However, there is one thing that can happen that can interrupt an oyster farmer’s hiatus between harvests. If storm clouds gather, oyster farmers have to get out of their hammocks, put away the surfboard and forego the margaritas and head out for some serious relocating work in the estuaries.

You see, as bottom feeding filters, rain in this polluted day and age can be deadly for oysters. And even if contaminants in run off don’t kill the slimy, little buggers they could, in turn, kill a human if eaten. A local thunderstorm with a heavy downpour means one of two things:

  • Completely relocate their stock, or,
  • Quarantine the area and delay harvest until it is safe.

Now, even if an oyster farmer was willing to relocate their oysters, often weather conditions can change rapidly and unexpectedly in coastal regions.  Usually an oyster farmer simply doesn’t have enough time to respond. So, the oysters bide the storm and everyone hopes for the best. But considering how heavily polluted most of the soil is in populated areas around the world, it’s usually not good news when it’s all over.

The gringa doesn’t have the numbers for industry loss or farm closures in the Gulf of Mexico area I call home. However, I can tell you about what’s been going on in Tasmania. Since 2013 industry research has recorded a loss of over $4.3 million (Australian currency!) for Tasmanian oyster farmers due to contamination related farm closures, caused by pollutants in rainfall water runoff that entered estuaries.  This sounds awful, right? Well, take heart, dear readers. There is good news for Tasmanians as well as oyster farmers everywhere thanks to an agriculture technology start-up company, The Yield.

The Yield has designed a system of sensors that were tested in 14 Tasmanian oyster farm estuaries. This comprised about 80% of the entire oyster industry for the state. The technology measured:

  • Water depth
  • Salinity
  • Temperature
  • Barometric pressure

Oyster farmers use their smartphone, or other device, to access the handy little app that is updated every five minutes with new data about their squishy, little, hard-shelled babies. Access is also available to food safety regulators so everybody that matters is in the loop.

But the gringa wants to know if this has made oyster farming better. I mean, it’s always fun to have new gadgets but where business is concerned, is there a point to the expense? Here are the benefits of this new technology:

  • Reduces paperwork between farmers & food service regulators.
  • Food quality and safety has improved.
  • Accurate measurements has resulted in fewer farm closures.
  • Fewer farm closures has resulted in higher production, yields and profits.

Well, it looks like this technology is worth the investment for oyster farmers. It also looks like the investment of time and effort of scientists and meteorologists for more than a century was also a worthy investment. That is the backbone of the information that went into designing this system. If you have a habit or hobby of recording weather related “stuff”, who knows, one day what you may consider a hobby or pre-occupation could change the world! More than a hundred years worth of weather and tidal related data helped developers understand weather and tidal patterns, how they changed with the seasons, and how this would affect the performance of the technology to predict weather events. So, basically, Tasmania’s oyster farmers are more successful because of digital fortunetellers.

Sources:

www.techrepublic.com

www.theyield.com

oysterstasmania.org

Image Credit: oysterstasmania.org

 

 

Read With The Gringa “Miami Beach-a-go-go”, Chapt. 1 Conclusion


Join the gringa as we finish chapter 1 of “The Meanest Doll In The World” by Ann M. Martin & Laura Godwin. Discover the mystery of Annabelle’s Auntie Sarah.

Read with the gringa here on WordPress or on Facebook!

Image Source: 3.bp.blogspot.com

 

How Climate Change Affects Vacation Priorities


So, when the climate change poop hits the fan, who is going to be in for the worst ride? What parts of the world should I vacation at now because they will be uninhabitable in the future? Exactly where will be the safest place for the gringa and the caveman to diddle away their golden years?

Well, we better get busy and visit all the beach hotspots that are alive and kicking right now. With sea levels rising, the coastal cabanas of today will be reef material tomorrow. And, considering that climate change creates erratic and extreme weather patterns such as: heavy rain here, drought there, devastating tornadoes everywhere; well, there is no uniform model of what’s going to change where or when. The only concrete expectation right now is what models predict about low elevation islands and coastal beachlands. They are pretty much going to be history, some maybe within my lifetime.

Other areas scientists expect to change dramatically are regions that have a delicate ecosystem balance and are already experiencing hyper-sensitivity to environmental stressors. These areas include:

  • Arctic, specifically the tundra region
  • Boreal forest belt – This is the conifer forest that stretches across North America, particularly dense in the Pacific Northwest
  • Tropical Rainforest
  • Alpine regions
  • Steppes of Asia and the Americas
  • Prairies of Asia and the Americas
  • Deciduous forests of South America and Australia

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the Earth. The permafrost layer is melting. Glaciers are getting smaller and sea ice is disintegrating. The wildlife of the Arctic will probably be a loss to the world. They depend on a habitat that is going to grow too warm to support their needs. The indigenous people of this region will experience a loss of their culture that is strongly dependent on the wildlife and natural geography. The humans will have the adaptation advantage that the wildlife and fauna do not have. But the loss of their culture is still something to mourn over.

The boreal forests of North America are important carbon sponges for the earth. What will a degree or two warmer mean? As temperatures warm the center of the United States, the boreal forest will shift northward. Predictive models sees the United States losing its boreal forest as it relocates to Canada and Alaska. So, we won’t lose them, they will relocate. That’s good news in the aspect that at least the Earth will retain a critical carbon filter.

Researchers in tropical rainforests mark trees and track them for years, measuring them to see how they are responding to climate change. A group in the Bolivian Andes are studying a swath of diverse trees and plants that thrive in a limited temperature range. As temperatures rise, so do the trees. New, baby trees are growing uphill. Just as the North American model predicted a forest migration, the same is expected of the tropical rainforests. They will abandon the lowland jungle regions and migrate up the mountainsides, seeking cooler temperatures.

Alpine regions are going to experience the same forest creeping phenomena. As glaciers continue to recede, alpine plants will continue to move upwards looking for cooler temperatures and water. However, eventually, when all the glacier water has melted and run off or evaporated, this critical component of the annual water budget will be gone forever. Plants and trees dependent upon it will eventually be extinct. So Alpine ecosystems will not only migrate, they will migrate to a slow death.

The upside of forest migration is that the Earth is trying to compensate and save herself. The downside is that the migration process is slower than the warming process. This means there will still be catastrophic loss of tropical rainforest and alpine habitat. This will affect the wildlife dependent on these ecosystems as well as their indigenous people.

Experts predict the possibility of losing over half of the steppe habitats due to the effects of climate change. They are not modeling a migration of fauna, but a loss. Steppes are critical grazing areas. As the steppes experience habitat loss, growing smaller, overgrazing occurs on the remaining areas. The effects then are coupled: climate change related drought and overgrazing. Things look dire for the future of the steppes and the animals and shepherds and ranchers who depend on them. The steppes could become the Earth’s future Sahara’s.

Unlike a conifer boreal forest or tropical rainforest that are green year round, a deciduous forest becomes barren in the winter season as the trees lose their leaves. Deciduous forests exist in tropical and temperate climates. Climate change models predict warmer winters affecting deciduous forests. This could lead to tree loss from pests and disease. In regions where devastating drought occurs, there will be higher tree loss. When a tree dies in the forest it also becomes fuel. In regions experiencing drought related tree loss, the dry conditions and increased fuel of more dead trees makes conditions ripe for voracious wildfires. So, if the drought or the bugs don’t wipe out the deciduous forests, the wildfires probably will.

The gringa thinks the list of vacation priorities should go something like this:

  • Arctic expedition
  • Steppe pack-mule trip
  • Deciduous and Alpine forest camp outs
  • Beach parties around the world
  • Tropical rainforest excursion
  • Bigfoot safari in the boreal forests of the Pacific Northwest

I don’t think climate change is going to sound the death knell for planet Earth and mankind. The gringa does believe it will be the end of many species of animals and plants that are with us today. It is also highly likely that entire cultures will be wiped out when they lose the habitats they rely upon. And usually species loss does not mean a gaping hole is left behind. Usually, another species fills the gap or a species evolves and adapts. So, the key word to focus on is “change”. It’s climate “change” not climate “loss”. But the change is as significant as the past disappearances of entire civilizations such as the Maya or entire animal classes like the dinosaurs.

At this point, I believe the consensus among scientists is that we have passed the tipping point. There is no going back and “fixing” things. We simply have to ride the lightning and deal with it. So, if a person is able and so inclined, they need to enjoy the world as we know it today and document it for the children of the future.

 

Source:  www.nasa.gov

Image Credit: http://www.notenoughgood.com

 

Peru: Miles and Miles of Beaches


Hiking the beaches of Supe Puerto in Peru with the caveman and our youngest son. That’s my little seizure-alert service dog, Abby, wrapped up from the cold. We started out with some general directions to an area where there were some old ruins. We never found them but, sometimes, a wrong turn is an adventure all its own.

We hiked all day and were the only three humans around. Vultures followed us. The gringa is certain they were waiting for us to drop dead. We discovered a lighthouse and rested in craggy inlets where the surf crashed into the rocks a few feet away from us and the spray would shoot way over our heads. The geography of this coastal area was that of a coastal desert. Although it was barren, it had its own rugged beauty and lonely, melancholy charm.

We hiked to a small island and stayed too long, The tide came in so quickly we almost got stranded. I got bootfuls of water slogging through the surf. Luckily my hand knitted wool leggings I had purchased from one of the local market stalls dried out pretty quickly.

We had a wonderful time and were absolutely exhausted by the time we got back to town.

Climate Change And Closet Space


As I spent a day roasting at the beach, I pondered climate change. I thought, well what could be some of the good points? How can I keep a positive perspective? Surely mankind will be able to adjust to changes. It may be a painful adjustment but, nevertheless, we should manage to survive as a species. If I am one of those survivors, what are some things I can look forward to? I only hear the doom and gloom about climate change. I only hear that Armageddon is imminent. Surely there’s at least one thing to look forward to?

Let’s see, closet space! I should be able to have more closet space! For a person living in a tiny apartment that is great news! My crafting tidbits that are packed here and there in unsightly containers doing their best to blend in with the décor of different rooms can finally have their own space. So, dear reader, you ask the gringa how climate change will give me more closet space. Isn’t it obvious? That one closet that contains coats, and ski bibs, and assorted insulated clothing and boots and gloves and hats can all get cleared out and donated! Goodbye Northface and London Fog! Hello craft supplies closet!

This idea leads to more closet space. As I tickle my toes with sand that feels like it must be three hundred degrees in the sun, I realize I can clear out all my shoes. Everything has rubber soles. They will all melt to the sidewalk on the walk out to my car. The only pair of shoes I will need will be a set of sturdy wooden clogs. If I get rid of all of my shoes, again, CLOSET SPACE! Plenty of space for “prepping” and stocking up on bottled water, canned goods and sunblock.

But, if my rubber sole shoes melt on the pavement that is probably cooking at about three hundred degrees or more, what about the tires on my car? What about recent reports that roads actually melted in India? I guess I won’t even need a car then. It will be too hot for the horses, so no horse and buggy either. I guess we’ll have to come up with a four wheel drive, metal wheeled chariot , solar powered Segway contraption that can drive on any surface.

As I bask in ocean breezes under my beach umbrella I take an imaginary stroll through my apartment. I suppose I can also get rid of my stove. Who needs one when it’s a hundred and fifty degrees outside? I could leave a grill out in the sun on my patio and toss dinner on that after it heats up to about three hundred and fifty degrees Fahrenheit. Oh my gosh! My apartment is getting roomier and roomier! Looks like climate change also means redecorating the house! But, no big furniture. Whatever I get will have to fit on the Segway chariot thing.

Also, when the sea levels rise my low rent apartment will become prime real estate and I’ll be locked into a long-term, low rent lease. Sweet! My one hour drive to the beach will probably end up becoming a ten minute stroll. However, the only time I will be able to enjoy the beach will be the dead of night when temperatures finally drop down to a cool and tolerable ninety-nine degrees Fahrenheit.

All kidding aside, however, the people of India truly have suffered a tremendous loss of life in an unprecedented heatwave. Experts who thought we humans may have at least another thirty years or so until life as we know it really starts to change may have gotten the timeline all wrong. The ball that started rolling a while back seems to be picking up speed.

Wars in the past may have been inspired by the control of oil, but, with climate change accelerating, the world may have to look forward to wars over food, water, and a shade tree. The gringa thinks no amount of “prepping” is going to help an individual survive such a disaster. The only thing to do is all come together and help one another. It may be too late to divert this environmental disaster, but it’s never too late to be decent human beings helping one another.

Sources:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/05/26/3662797/india-heat-wave-deaths/

http://ringoffireradio.com/2015/08/the-climate-change-disasters-are-already-here-time-is-running-out/?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=socialnetwork

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/14/us/politics/climate-change-deemed-growing-security-threat-by-military-researchers.html?_r=1

Photo credit: www.lwfyouth.org