Tag Archives: Modern science

Humans Contribute to the Greenhouse Effect

Humans Contribute to the Greenhouse Effect

Sunday March 25 2011

Greenhouse Gas

Many greenhouse gases occur naturally, such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. Others such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) result exclusively from human industrial processes.

What Causes the Greenhouse Effect?
Life on earth depends on energy from the sun. About 30 percent of the sunlight that beams toward Earth is deflected by the outer atmosphere and scattered back into space. The rest reaches the planet’s surface and is reflected upward again as a type of slow-moving energy called infrared radiation.

The heat caused by infrared radiation is absorbed by “greenhouse gases” such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, ozone and methane, which slows its escape from the atmosphere.

Although greenhouse gases make up only about 1 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere, they regulate our climate by trapping heat and holding it in a kind of warm-air blanket that surrounds the planet.

This phenomenon is what scientists call the “greenhouse effect.” Without it, scientists estimate that the average temperature on Earth would be colder by approximately 30 degrees Celsius (54 degrees Fahrenheit), far too cold to sustain our current ecosystem.


Greenhouse gasses

How Do Humans Contribute to the Greenhouse Effect?
While the greenhouse effect is an essential environmental prerequisite for life on Earth, there really can be too much of a good thing.

The problems begin when human activities distort and accelerate the natural process by creating more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than are necessary to warm the planet to an ideal temperature.

  • Burning natural gas, coal and oil -including gasoline for automobile engines-raises the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  • Some farming practices and land-use changes increase the levels of methane and nitrous oxide.
  • Many factories produce long-lasting industrial gases that do not occur naturally, yet contribute significantly to the enhanced greenhouse effect and “global warming” that is currently under way.
  • Deforestation also contributes to global warming. Trees use carbon dioxide and give off oxygen in its place, which helps to create the optimal balance of gases in the atmosphere. As more forests are logged for timber or cut down to make way for farming, however, there are fewer trees to perform this critical function.
  • Population growth is another factor in global warming, because as more people use fossil fuels for heat, transportation and manufacturing the level of greenhouse gases continues to increase. As more farming occurs to feed millions of new people, more greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere.

Ultimately, more greenhouse gases means more infrared radiation trapped and held, which gradually increases the temperature of the Earth’s surface and the air in the lower atmosphere.



A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into.  ~Ansel Adams


where should-it go

“I think a photography class should be a requirement in all educational programs because it makes you see the world rather than just look at it. ” Unknown author


Swirling smoke



There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs. ~Ansel Adams



Doug Worrall Photographer

Biome A Wetland Web of Life Hamilton

Biome A Wetland Web of Life Hamilton

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Climate area

Biome: A Wetland Web of Life
Globally, Wetland Ecosystems  cover around 6 % of the Eath’s Land  surface.  . A ” Biome is a Distinct  Ecological Community ” of plants, animals and soil organisms living together in a particular climate that are often referred to as   “Ecosystems ” .  Plants and animals don’t live in isolation, they live together with other plants and animals in an “Interdependent Group called an Ecological Community.”  Climates  in all countries on Earth do vary being either hot, cold, wet or dry  determining  what plants and animals can survive these distinct  weather conditions.   For instance, it makes sense that  cacti are found in the desert, polar bears are found in the Arctic, and elephants are found in central Africa and India  To accentuate the point of climate,  it  is the average weather conditions, such as, range of temperature and rainfall that typically  occur in a particular place on earth that is referred to as the climate of that location. That means, only the  plants and animals of that climate location “Adapted” to the weather  conditions because they have inherited certain  types of characteristics that enable them to live in one type of climate.  A good example is polar bears who have under their white fur coat, a layer of fat that insulates them to the Arctic cold, otherwise , without this layer of fat they would have a difficult time surviving the sub-zero temperatures and winds.  Anthropogenic Biome Maps are one way to view people’s impact on a wetland ecosystem or Biome, such as, Cootes Paradise Marsh in Hamilton.  Scientists have divided the broad spectrum of climates and Ecological Communities  found on Earth into Biomes in several ways.



Another way to improve  people’s impact on the delicate Biome Wetland Ecosystems is with  emerging Ecological Philosophies and Practices, such as, Ecological Restoration as in the BARC community for Cootes Paradise Marsh. This  includes  Permaculture explicitly involving people in a positive reshaping of the earth’s environment.  This Permaculture is a philosophy that encourages practitioners to increase biodiversity of an area through intensive gardening.  This does occur at Cootes Paradise twice a year, Spring and Fall, with the cattails planting by BARC.  The cattail plant is important as it  uses its stem to carry air (oxygen) down into its roots and waterfowl and birds use it for habitat.    Wetland plants, like sedges, make more plants without using seeds as their  special roots called rhizomes grow underground and then a new clump of the same plant can grow in another spot in the wetland.  Pickerelweed has deep blue-purple flowers and grows in the shallow waters of freshwater wetlands.  Water lilies have leaves that take in both air (oxygen) and sunlight as they float on top of the water and indicate good water quality.   The University of Toronto, Dept. of Anthropology addressed “Identifying Fossil Wild Rice (Zizania) Pollen from Cootes Paradise, Ontario.”  These researchers found scanning election microsopy however, indicates that Wild Rice Pollen is identifiable by its sculpturing and that Fossil Pollen has identical micromorphology. Likewise,  In 2,010 RBG announced after several attempts Wild Rice is growing in their portion of Cootes Paradise Wetland. The Canadian Journal of Earth Science documents that Cootes Paradise Marsh is considerably shallower than the adjacent Hamilton Harbour. Therefore it is a coastal wetland Biome or ecosystem,  a bird sanctuary,  and directly adjacent to Hamilton Harbour.  These facts accentuate the benefits of wetland  Biome ecosystems, like Cootes Paradise Marsh,  including  wildlife that inhabit for  food and habitat.  At this time of year, Mute Swans are returning with Cygnets to Cootes Paradise Marsh and Hamilton Harbourfront.  Due to a long cold winter, they are hungry and currently are defending their territory and vegetation required for their survival.  It is the type of vegetation that define Wetland  Biome Ecosystems, like Cootes Paradise Marsh.

busking for territory
Good conditions
Cootes paradise

Marshes, like Cootes Paradise Marsh, are one kind of Biome !  The reason the plants and animal life survives in this part of the earth  is because they are well suited to the  climate and environment –  the soil, water, rocks. temperature and rainfall.   Just look at the tiny mosquitoes who spent the early part of their lives in the water of wetlands  as  they hatch the larvae float just under the surface and they eat aquatic plants.   The water strider is neat to watch as it can walk on top of the water due to Surface Tension.   The snail moves slowly both in water and on land  finding  plenty of plants to eat in Cootes Paradise Marsh.  The beautiful Great Blue Heron and Night-Heron are carnivores  and hunt for fish and amphibians.  . Frogs and turtles lay their eggs in the water and in the sand at the wetland edge. Muskrats at the McMaster Landing fed on the growing vegetation that was meant for re-vegetating Cootes Paradise.  And who can forget the racoons who visit the Biome  in search of food.   In the waterfowl, watching the Mallard Ducks ‘dabble’ with their rear ends sticking out of the water, you know they are after submerged vegetation.  The Mute Swans enjoy eating lots of submerged and emergent vegetation, like arrowheads and cattails.   The Red-Wing Blackbird returns in “boys only” clubs to Cootes Paradise in the Spring and use the insects that live there to feed themselves as they sway back and forth on the reeds and cattails.   The female Red-Wing Blackbirds  arrive a few weeks later  Freshwater marshes, like Cootes Paradise are the most common type of Wetland Biome or Ecosystem,  globally.   So consider ourselves fortunate to have Cootes Paradise at our doorstep.  Now as Spring is in the air, take advantage of it as the Irish say Siochain agus Fairisinge (Peace and Plenty).  Enjoy its environment from Spring to Fall of 2,011.


Watching for intruders
Long Winters


Mallard ducks
Waiting to retake there territory


Sources : Journal of Archaeology; Marshes and Swamps. University of Toronto Dept. of Anthropology, The Canadian Journal of Earth Science

travelers from the north

By Jacqueline


Doug Worrall Photographer

Genetic Diversity Swans and Egg Clutch Size

Genetic Diversity of Mute Swans and Egg Clutch Size

Tuesday March 1 2011


Researcher Anne Charmontier, from England, has devoted most of her professional career investigating Genetic Diversity of Mute Swans as a wild and avian bird population. Along with other researchers Charmontier published in American Naturalist a 25-year study regarding Egg Clutch Size entitled “Mute Swan Population Helps Explain Evolutionary Question.” In this study the scientific question was – Why does a population’s average clutch size differ from the most productive clutch size ? Charmontier and the other researchers hypothesis was supported in this study results that (a) recent relaxation on food constraints, and, (b) an increase of protection from predators, both may have helped the Mute Swans to Evolve towards a Larger Clutch Size. In her work, Charmontier has studied and published data on (1) Evolutionary response to egg clutch size, (2) Individual variation in rates of Senescence: Natal Origin Effects in wild bird populations, (3) Seasonal Changes in Male/Female Mute Swans, (4) Climate Changes in wild bird population; (5) Genetic Models of Mate Choice in the wild; (6) Variations in Breeding Behaviour; and, her current work in 2,011 is entitled (7) “Age-Dependent Genetic Variations in the Life-History Traits of Mute Swans.” Other researchers measured the eggs and hatching mass in birds and reptiles. They found in birds the most important factor affecting hatching mass (HM) was the initial egg mass (IEM) at laying the egg. They also found a physiological link between (IEM) and (HM) which contrast the observed relationship between egg mass and the incubation period. The results of this study, for birds and reptiles, showed “significant implications for the interrelationships between (IEM) and Embryonic Growth (of the Cygnet within the egg in swans).” Another study of 1,525 bird species and 201 reptile species investigated initial egg mass (IEM) and incubation period (IP). Their statistical ANOVA tables demonstrated that for bird eggs incubation period is NOT determined in large part by egg mass. And this study’s results allowed for new scientific questions to be proved by researchers. Two of these questions include (1) Ecological and Physiological Factors affecting the Length of Incubation Period, and, (2) The Rates of Embryonic Growth for different taxa (animal kingdoms) and habitats. In light of these studies considering Embryonic Growth within the Mute Swan’s egg, how do you feel about some people spraying the eggs with corn oil so they won’t grow and the pen Mute Swan would sit on those eggs forever with no cygnets hatching ?

Egg thickness

Heterozygosis is dissimilar pairs of Genes or in a Cell the loss of normal function of one allele (different forms) of a Gene. Genetic variations from Genes are important in zoology and nature in general ! In Mute Swans and other animals body proportions can change depending where particular master Hox Genes are active. The same Hox Gene – Hox C6 – switches on at different points along the body. The Hox Gene marks the beginning of the Thorax, therefore, different species end up with necks of varying lengths…a long neck in the goose…and a much longer neck in Mute Swans, according to National Geographic’s “Fins to Wings.” In the Journal of Zoology March 2,011 issue includes a study on “Genetic Diversity in Birds associated with (1) Body Mass (BM), and (2) Habitat Type (HT) [aquatic or terrestrial] in 76 Avian Bird Species.” These variables were chosen because (BM) and (HT) are predictors of Genetic Variation which is very similar in birds. The results of this study show Terrestrial birds have a greater Genetic Diversity than Aquatic species. And, these results were interpreted from published data of other vertebrates that suggest the “Patterns of Genetic Diversity in Birds” depends on two relationships, namely (1) Bird Evolutionary effective POPULATION SIZE , determined in part by Ecological and Environmental features, and, (2) on the Rate of Molecular Evolution. J. L. Quinn stated in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology that “Evolutionary Biologists increasingly use pedigree-based quantitative Genetic Methods to address questions about the Evolutionary Dynamics of Traits in wild bird populations: data depth (number of years) and completeness (number of observations). The results of J.L. Quinn’s study showed by using long-term studies of the Great Tit and Mute Swan Estimated Breeding Values in the Great Tit were NOT influenced by data depth; but, Breeding Values WERE INFLUENCED by data depth (number of years) in the Mute Swans. This influence in Breeding Values by Data Depth was probably due to the differences in pedigree structure between the Mute Swan and Great Tit. At Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, Sushma Reddy published in Science “Genetic Sequence of 169 Birds.” In the study results Reddy indicated “Flamingoes and some other aquatic birds did not evolve from water birds, instead, they adapted to life on the water.” Along the same line of thinking, Evolution Diary states “New bird family tree reveals same odd ducks.” The Mute Swan (Cygrus olor) is a species of swan, and thus a member of the duck, goose and swan family Anatidae. E. Marjorie Northcote, Cambridge University, England study indicated “Limb bones of Mute Swans from Neolithic [the last part of the Stone Age – not a time frame, but state of the culture] to the Bronze Age in Cambridgeshire PEAT were larger than that of a recent sample when compared biometrically.” That means, a study of biological phenomena, such as, measuring physical characteristics, such as, Limb Bones of Mute Swans.

Signets 1 day old

Mute Swans 6,000 years old are found in post-glacial PEAT beds at East Anglia in England. Despite the Eurasian origin of Mute Swans, its closest relatives are the Black Swan of Australia and the Black-Necked Swan of South America. The Mute Swan is constantly criticized for stealing Trumpeter Swan, native to Canada, nesting sites. Conversely, in a List Of Animals Displaying Homosexual Behaviour it included Black Swans. This listing stated: “The Black Swan (Cygnus Atratus) is a large waterbird that breeds mainly in the southeast and southwest regions of Australia. An estimated 1/4 of all Black Swan pairings are homosexual and they STEAL NESTS, or form temporary threesomes with females to obtain eggs, driving away the female after she lays the egg.” The Stealing of Nests seems to be a family trait in both Mute and Black Swans. . For many years Black Swans have been on the River Thames in Stratford, Ontario and there were a pair at White Chapel Pond in Hamilton, Ontario. The International Union For Conservation Of Nature (IUCN) founded in 1963, Red |List or Threatened Species is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species. The (IUCN) is also the world’s main authority on the conservation status of species. A series of Regional Red Lists are produced by countries or organizations, which assess the risk of extinction to species within a political management unit. Joseph Travis, Presidential Address of the American Society of Naturalists stated: “Ecology and Evolutionary Biology are fundamental processes that unfold from a variety of histories. The task of our science is to match the question to organisms, or systems. For many scientist, the organism leads to the question when we observe (participant observation) some of nature’s striking phenomena.”

Signets 3 days old
Territorial Mute swans

Sources: Journal of Zoology, National Geographic, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Science, American Naturalist, Evolution Diary, American Society of Naturalists


By Jacqueline


Doug Worrall Photographer