Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sierra Chipmunks & Dirt Building

1) There may be many natural reasons for critters seeking higher ground—as reported by the Bee—since ancient times it has been a way to move farther away from danger or seek food, though the continuing narrative of global warming being caused by the progress of human civilization would have us conclude otherwise; it is good to remember that hundreds of scientists recently reported to the Senate that was not the case.

An excerpt from the Bee article.

“For years, climate change was a story told largely via melting snow and ice. Now, species and ecosystems are feeling the heat, too. Butterflies are expanding their ranges northward. Migratory birds are arriving earlier in the spring. And here in the Sierra and in other mountain ranges around the world, species not considered migratory at all – from stately conifers to diminutive chipmunks – are on the move, creeping upslope toward cooler, more hospitable abodes.

“Along with that movement comes stress and danger. Ultimately, national parks such as Yosemite could lose significant portions of their mammal species as habitats unravel due to climate warming from the buildup of greenhouse gases, according to a 2003 paper published by the National Academy of Sciences.

"Animals that can fly are in pretty good shape," said David Graber, chief scientist for the National Park Service in California. "Animals that are relatively static have a much more limited ability to move. If climate changes faster than they can find new habitat, they're out of business."

2) Sometimes the old ways are still the best ways as this exciting project shows with its dirt and straw benches…very cool, but if volunteers cannot continue to build these, one wonders what the cost will be for the project built with paid labor.

An excerpt from the article from today.

“Sometimes in order to be good to the earth, you have to become one with the earth.

“That explained all the muddy feet and hands at the new "Good Project" in West Sacramento, where development company LJ Urban is building 35 environmentally friendly homes.

“The vertical single-family units on the 1.62-acre plot are known for using sustainable products such as wood trim harvested from trees on the site and kitchen countertops made from recycled paper. The list goes on.

“So when it came time to build two benches in the public area of the property, it was a safe bet they wouldn't be normal benches.

“The stylish, curved benches came together Saturday with the most basic materials taken from the job site – dirt, sand and stone. It's similar to the cob-style earthen structures built in England and elsewhere that have stood against the elements for hundreds of years….

“Noting there are cob homes in England still standing after five centuries, Baker said, "This method has been used for 10,000 years. People all around the world have been building their houses like this."

“In addition to building benches, the outing Saturday served as a workshop for earthen structures and involving the community. About 25 eager people signed up for Saturday's dirty work.

"I think it's great," said Carla Dhillon as she mixed mud and straw by stomping and kneading with her bare feet. "It's labor-intensive, but that's not always a bad thing."