You are browsing the archive for plants Archives - Mountain Beltway.
11 October 2022
The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, by Amitav Ghosh Marcia Bjornerud put me onto this one. An interesting book that explores the roots and results of our response to climate change. The author, an acclaimed Indian novelist, is particularly interested in the unwillingness of artists and novelists to grapple with climate change, citing this failure to engage as evidence of a great derangement in society: society’s awareness of …
12 November 2019
The Overstory, by Richard Powers
This is an interesting novel. The book came highly recommended to me from two friends who have literary and environmental sensibilities that I respect, and it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction this year, which is an accolade worth noting – a validation of its quality. It is a story about trees, and about “radical” environmental activists who try to save them. I suppose it could be viewed as a …
1 May 2019
The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben
Peter Wohlleben is a forester, managing a forest in Germany. Over decades among the trees, he has had major insights into the “inner lives” of the trees, and uses this book to collate them and share them with a wider audience. The book opens with an anecdote: he walks by some moss-covered lumps in the forest, and peels up the moss to see what he expects will be “stones” underneath. …
25 April 2019
How We Got To Now, by Steven Johnson
I was very impressed with Steven Johnson’s The Invention of Air when I read it last summer. So recently, I decided to sample another of his books, this one a six-part microhistory about innovations that altered the course of human history. The six are: 1) cleanliness/hygiene (specifically in medicine and drinking water), 2) measurement of time, 3) glass (think lenses!), 4) understanding of light, 5) refrigeration, and 6) the recording …
15 January 2019
Easing of selective pressure on Opuntia cacti in the Galapagos Islands
A cactus you can pet with your bare hand? Turns out it can tell you something about whether that island contains any land iguanas. A case study in the easing of natural selective pressure.
14 January 2019
A tale of three iguanas
As noted last week, I spent the week spanning New Year’s Eve in the enchanted isles of the Galapagos. The previous week (over Christmas) my family and I were in coastal Ecuador. I saw a total of three species of iguanas in the two locations, and they offer a neat little story of evolution. Let’s take a look. First, let’s introduce the key players: The green iguana, Iguana iguana (coastal Ecuador, …
25 April 2018
Natural Bridge State Resort Park, Kentucky
A visit to a natural sandstone arch (or “bridge” as the locals call it) in eastern Kentucky yields unexpected bonuses, like fossil wood, Liesegang banding, and the honeycomb-like weathering pattern called “tafoni.”
9 October 2017
Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Braiding Sweetgrass is a collection of thematically-linked essays by Robin Wall Kimmerer, an environmentalist, academic, and Native American. The themes that unite them are plants, the human relationship to the natural world, and love. I’ve read Kimmerer’s essays in Orion before, but there’s a sort of literary force multiplier when you get a whole book full of her thoughtful insights, story after story, back to back. Braiding Sweetgrass is a …
29 September 2017
Friday folds: soft sediment deformation in thin sections of MTD sandstone
The Friday folds are small soft-sediment deformational features within a dismembered, folded sandstone (a “ploudin”) from a mass transport deposit from the latest Devonian of West Virginia.
2 May 2017
Leafing out to bring down CO2
It’s getting green outside – what’s it mean for the planet? Find out in this blog post contemplating the relationship between spring leaves and atmospheric CO2.