January 27, 2010

Endangered Strangers: The Silky Sifaka Lemur

What's Good?

I'm the Silky Sifaka Lemur

So maybe you've heard of me maybe you haven't. Either way listen up: I'm one of the rarest mammals on this planet and right now my forest is under attack! Please recognize. People are trying to kill and eat me!

My island's endangered natural resources are being sold to the highest bidder, there is no central human government, international conservation aid has been cut off,and it is time everyone knows about it. Yeah, you can call me the Polar Bear of Madagascar. Endangered Stranger on a mission.

You may have heard us mention the current crisis is Madagascar. You can read more about it in our piece "Snakes On a Plane, Lemurs On a Plate" on the Bad At Sports blog. Due to a political coup in Madagascar, there is no central government to enforce the law. Organized crime including the illegal loggers known as the "Rosewood Mafia", bushmeat hunters, and exotic pet traders poured into the forests, including Marojejy National Park. The park, a world heritage site, was closed for months due to the looting of natural resources.

From Marojejy National Park's website:
"...every type of lemur in the area—including indris and thehighly endangered Silky Sifaka—are hunted down by packs of trained dogsand killed. The meat is smoked on site and sold throughout theregion—even as far away as the nation’s capital city, Antananarivo.”

Silky Sifakas have luxurious white fur and as they leap from tree to tree they appear to fly. For this reason they are known as "The Angels of the Forest." Born with black faces, Silkys are the only type of sifaka who, with age, loose their pigmentation and exhibit varying amounts of pink skin on their face. This condition is known as leucism.

All sifakas are named after their call, a hiss-like eruption of "shee-faak". Lemurs have only two predators: the Fossa and Humans. The Silky Sifaka population was estimated at 100-1000 before the coup.

Silky Sifaka with her infant and a friend.
Photo by Jeff Gibbs.

Today the bushmeat trade continues to thrive. Despite international outcry last month Madagascar's president and coup leader legalized the export of illegally harvested rosewood logs. Some accuse them off selling out the forests to fund the upcoming election and permanently seize power.

Marojejy National Park however, has been reopened and according to the park's site is safe to visit. Tourism is a major source of support for the park and the lemurs. Marojejy officials encourage you to visit. Eco-tourism is arguably the only sustainable income for the people in the region around Marojejy. The revenue generated by eco-tourism also validates the conservation of natural resources at a time when their only worth seems to be what organized crime is paying.

I'm a real wild creature, OK? I have never survived in captivity. I need forests undisturbed by humans to thrive, my diet is too specialized, and well, I just can't be contained, you dig? So if you don't help to save me in the wild, I'm gone. Like the majority of the flora and fauna on Madagascar- I can't be found anywhere else on Earth. So get involved STAT!

Here are a few ways you can help:
  • Read all about the current crisis in an updated article published today on Mongabay.com , a constant source for news on the crisis.
  • Send this e-mail to protest the legalization of rosewood export from Madagascar.It worked in December to force French shipping company, Delmas, to leave port without any timber for fear of damaging their international reputation.
  • Watch what you buy! The majority of illegally logged timber is sold to China. Gibson guitars is under investigation for allegedly purchasing illegally harvested rosewood. Rosewood is most commonly used in luxury flooring, furniture,and musical instruments. And don't eat lemur meat duh!
  • Support on-going lemur conservation and education through the purchase of ESPP's Golden-crowned Sifaka print.
  • Fund the research of Erik Patel, a PhD candidate who is one of the only people to research the Silky Sifaka and is currently working to conserve the species in Madagascar. He is featured in the following video along with some fantastic Silky Sifaka footage.

January 26, 2010

ReadyMade Magazine and Orion Magazine feature ESPP!

Excitingly, ESPP is featured in not one, but TWO nation-wide magazines this month, the fabulous ReadyMade Magazine, which is about arts, crafts and the Do-It-Yourself spirit --- and the wondrous Orion Magazine, which focuses on nature, culture & place. Head to your local bookseller to find copies of these great mags, and thanks to the editors for featuring ESPP!

Orion features ESPP in their 'Sacred & Mundane' section. Click on the image above to be able to read the piece.
(You'll have to get the magazine to read the nearby piece on a lamp that is chemically lit with one's own blood!)

Above, ESPP appears in ReadyMade's 'Ready, Set, Go' section, as one of their 14 favorite things. ReadyMade just re-designed the look of the whole magazine, and I must say, it looks smashing. You can see our section (fave thing #2) in the upper left in the yellow rectangle. Peep the Panamanian Golden Frog, livin' large. (We are the biggest! Bing bong!)

Climate Change & Dullardism

Inspired by Jenny's most recent post, I thought I'd add a note about climate change. When the post below originally appeared on Hungry Hyaena, in June of 2005, polls suggested that the American public were increasingly aware of the fact that climate change (or "global warming") posed a serious threat to our environmental status quo. In fact, the number of Americans that favored legislative action to curb anthropogenic greenhouse emissions and to mitigate the negative effects of climate change continued to grow into 2008.

Recent studies, however, reveal a troubling trend: Americans' concern about climate change diminished in the last year, so much so, according to some polls, that a majority of United States citizens today doubt that climate change is a threat, and dismiss global warming as a fantasy. Whatever the actual numbers, the up-tick in skepticism is real, even in the face of overwhelming scientific consensus. The frightening anxiety of the burgeoning global village, our contemporary economic upheaval, and the requisite priorities of our elected legislators notwithstanding, action on climate change is no less a moral and ethical imperative today than it was five years ago.

"The problem of modern man isn't to escape from one ideology to another, nor to escape from one formulation to find another; our problem is to live in the presence and in the attributes of reality."

-Frederick Sommer, The Poetic Logic of Art and Aesthetics
Although surveys suggest that most of the American public still believes that climate change is a future threat, many thousands of species are already threatened by shrinking environmental ranges and changing precipitation patterns; some of these species are on the verge of extinction. The negative impact of climate change occurs now and later.

I encourage those readers curious about the subject, particularly those who believe that we will "solve" the problem via improved technologies, to read "Climate Change is Totally Awesome," a recent post at Organic Matter. The author dissects a Telegraph article by Robert Matthews, entitled, "Warmer, wetter and better (or the good news that the climate change lobby doesn't want you to hear)."

Interviewed for the Telegraph piece, Professor Philip Stott of the University of London argues that reducing emissions will not alleviate the threat, and that the steps required to significantly reduce emissions would render us technologically impotent.
"Even if we shut every fossil-fuel power station, crushed every car and grounded every aircraft, the Earth's climate would still continue to get warmer, according to Prof Stott. 'The trouble is, we would all be too impoverished to cope with the consequences.'"
I agree that the warming trend is natural and that, even were we to de-industrialize, the world would continue to warm. But anthropogenic action accelerates climate change to such a devastating degree that biodiversity and, ultimately, human stability are in peril.

Furthermore, Stott's concept of technological impoverishment is misguided. To be sure, if we First Worlders are to transition to sustainable development, we must give up many of the conveniences that we now take for granted. It remains to be seen whether we will make this sacrifice of our own volition or if we will do nothing until Nature demands it of us. In either case, the sacrifice will not make us incapable of coping with climate change.

It will, however, demand a significant restructuring of our cultural and technological priorities. Our taste for spectacle and distraction must be unlearned. Cultural critic and anthropologist Morris Berman, in his outstanding book Wandering God: A Study in Nomadic Spirituality, dubs the social spirit of contemporary, industrialized nations "dullardism."
"With dullardism, the goal is simply to go unconscious, by means of tranquilizers, alcohol, TV, spectator sports, organized religion, compulsive busyness and workaholism, and so on (even though many of these do provide a short-term 'high')."
Dullardism is not endemic to contemporary, industrialized societies. Equivalent symptoms were documented in the late years of the Roman and Mayan civilizations, and I suspect that they also existed in Sumer and other early civilizations.

The human animal is not evolutionarily equipped to flourish in society; our brains remain "wired" for the Pleistocene, and the rapid transition to an agrarian, sedentary, and "civil" existence has been rapid and fraught. We therefore exhibit displacement behavior, seeking escape via fundamentalism, sports, entertainment, and drug abuse.

Does this mean that advanced civilization makes us ill-equipped to deal with environmental catastrophe? Not necessarily (we have to hope not!), but we must reexamine our social mores in order to create something akin to a new social order, one that balances our primitive lusts for progress and power with pragmatism and stewardship. It's a tall order, to be sure, but one that we must fill.

Cap-and-Trade Video

Though it may not seem directly related to endangered species at first, dire predictions say that un-checked global warming could eventually case the extinction of 1/3 of the planet's species. In my humble opinion, Cap-and-Trade legislation passed in the US and then brought to the world stage (Copenhagen v2.0?) is our best chance --- as it unleashes the forces of entrepreneurial creativity to address the challenge and makes a structured and decreasing limit to emissions with real consequences.

If you're not familiar with Cap-and-Trade, or would like to learn more, this video from our buddies over at Environmental Defense does a great job of laying it all out.

Watch, and then pass it on...

January 25, 2010

Meet the ESPP Artist: Matt Adrian /The Mincing Mockingbird

For those who aren't familiar with Etsy super star Matt Adrian he paints rather lovely birds under the moniker The Mincing Mockingbird. Matt created the ESPP print of the Madagascar Fish Eagle to support The Peregrine Fund. ESPP wanted to learn more about the man behind the mockingbird. Here is what Molly found out:

So Matt, you are actually a human? Because I am imaging you as a yellow finch or something...

Did someone tell you about my finch-suit? Because it's not ready yet. Soon.

The Mincing Mockingbird
I Have Seen the Interiors of Cloud Formations that Make Your Cathedrals Look Like Wal-Marts

The birds in your work have a lot of personality- conveyed both through paint and text. You title your paintings to read as quotes from the bird depicted. It's a great hook and expands our pre-conceived ideas of what non-humans might be thinking about. Do you know any birds personally? As companion animals, etc? How did these characters develop?
The titles came about in a pretty boring way - when I was listing my paintings for sale online, the titles were pretty bland - "Blue Bird With Orange Background" for instance - and it just kind of came to me to start writing more interesting titles. Sometimes the bird might inspire the title, but other times it's just my kind of view of the world. Sometimes I'm drunk and the string of words makes me giggle.

I've never owned any birds, mostly because I don't like being bitten by things that I'm responsible for. Also, as far as animals go, they're quite insane, with those rictus grins and reptile eyes.

The Mincing Mockingbird
Sinister Acts to Which Only the Moon Bears Witness

In recent years science has uncovered evolutionary connections between dinosaurs and modern-day birds. Way back when I was interning at the Smithsonian this subject was debated with heated passion. I remember one ornithologist who was completely against the notion. Any strong opinions on this topic? Or observations?

It's funny you bring that up, because I think I made my way into birds through an interest in dinosaurs. I'm a dino-nut from way back, and was able to spell and pronounce "Parasaurolophus walkei" almost before "cat" and "dog."

I'm extremely interested in bird evolution and am wholeheartedly convinced birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs, and I think the exciting finds in China will continue to fill in the evolutionary backstory. There was a bird-like dinosaur called Oviraptor, which means "egg thief," named because it was found near a clutch of what were thought to be Protoceratops eggs. Turns out it was a nest of Oviraptor eggs - the animal wasn't stealing the eggs, it was brooding, like a chicken. Science is cool.

Do you love all birds equally? Or does any one animal, plant, or mineral hold a special place in your heart?

I think they're all pretty fantastic. Before I really noticed birds, I mean really noticed them, they were kind of in the background, almost biological static really. And I think that speaks to their amazing success in filling just about every niche across the globe. That being said, it's also important to realize the impact humans have on that success - like that of the passenger pigeon. Spectacularly successful bird - numbering in the billions - but by the middle of the 1800's we'd turned the forests of nut-bearing trees into farmland, and then systematically went about mopping them up until they were extinct. The passenger pigeon gets a lot of press because of the sheer numbers of animals that were killed, but humans are doing it to other species across the globe, either through deforestation or direct action, and that's pretty concerning.

The Mincing Mockingbird
He Thinks My Sudden and Terrifying Mood Swings are Kinda Cute

Any upcoming shows or projects you'd like our readers to know about?
I've got some new pieces in a show at Nahcotta gallery in Portsmouth, New Hampsire in February and currently I'm the featured artist in a bird art show at Cactus gallery in L.A.

The Mincing Mockingbird is an L.A. based artist. More of his work can be seen on his website.
To see the Mincing Mockingbird's print for ESPP go here.

January 24, 2010

Congratulations to The Marmot Recovery Foundation

In 2009 two litters of Vancouver Island Marmot pups were born in Strathcona Park for the first time in 20 years! The mothers of these litters were released in 2007 as part of the Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Strategy.

The Marmot Recovery Foundation's goal for 2010 is to release an ambitious 90 -120 marmots from their captive breeding program into the wild. Although it has taken years to build the captive breeding program the foundation is now 1/3 of the way to the recovery goal of 600 VIMs in the wild distributed throughout three distinct regions.

All proceed's from ESPP's Vancouver Island Marmot print support The Marmot Recovery Foundation.

January 22, 2010

Article must to be edited

Alright, so I did edit our Off-Topic article for Bad at Sports about 1000 times, but a typo still managed to slip by. Thankfully, our careful reader and friend Amy caught the mistake, and emailed us this:
Okay so now you know: I'm the typo mafia, I can't help it. It's genetic or something. Anyway, I'm telling you because if it was me I would want to know: "Seeds must to pass through" I think there's a stray "to" in there? Its about the 12th paragraph down about seeds needing to pass through bird poop to germinate, next to one of the bird photos."
So Molly made me this picture:

(click to see larger image)

Bird poop? Engrish? LOLTrees? Good times must to be had!

TGIF readers!

January 21, 2010

Snakes on a Plane, Lemurs on a Plate

We are very excited to share our guest post on the Bad at Sports blog as part of their "Off-Topic" Series.

The post, by ESPP's Jenny Kendler & Molly Schafer, is titled "Snakes on a Plane, Lemurs on a Plate: How Human Beings' Actions Can Have Unexpected Consequences for the Natural World". " Snakes on a Plane..."discusses how human beings’ actions can have vast and surprising repercussions for the environment and the species with which we share our planet. The post focuses on the current situation in Madagascar and the sad story of unexpected consequences on Guam.

Thanks to Bad at Sports and the charming & talented Meg Onli for the opportunity!

Take some time to read our post here.

January 20, 2010

Endangered Strangers: Lord Howe Island Stick Insect

Check me out...

You say, snap into Slim Jim! I say, NO, WAITS!
Me no extra beefy twig sausage --- no snap into me!

You used to tinks we be all deads, now you know mes alives, an me live on one crazee rock in ocean. Is true! You read what science lady sez below!

Lord Howe Island stick insects (Dryococelus australis) were thought to be completely extinct as of 1930, until they were rediscovered on one tiny, and amazing looking island (below), aptly entitled Ball's Pyramid. The Lord Howe Island stick insect is often known as the rarest insect in the world, though they are still a mystery to many.

FYI, when an endangered species is rediscovered, that phenomenon has it's own cool designation. It's known as the Lazarus Effect --- making the Lord Howe Island stick insect a 'Lazarus taxon'...even cooler name, right? (Oh, and another FYI, a 'taxon' is another way of referring to a species --- relating to taxonomy, the study of classification of organisms.)

Lord Howe Island stick insect have some very interesting traits. First off, they can be over 15cm in length, and secondly, they have a highly unusual pair bonding structure, where the males follow and emulate the behavior of their female mates.

Sticks insects were once extremely common on Lord Howe Island, where they were often used as fishing bait. But in 1918 when a ship ran aground, bringing Black rats to the island, their population began to dwindle rapidly. Apparently rats like Slim Jims, and by the 20-30's they were considered to be extinct.

From the 60's onwards, every once in a while, people would find dead Lord Howe Island stick insects on Ball's Pyramid, (which at 562 meters above the sea is the world's tallest sea stack), however no live insects were ever found. In 2001, a group of conservationists and entomologists traveled to Ball's Pyramid to charts it's plants and animals. To their great surprise (and one might imagine, delight) they discovered 20-30 Lord Howe Island stick insects, all living beneath a single shrub.

The unbelievably gorgeous and rugged Ball's Pyramid

In 2003, researchers from New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service came to Ball's Pyramid to collect two breeding pairs. Though it took time, they were eventually encouraged to breed, and as of 2008, there were about 450 Lord Howe Island stick insects, 20 of which were reintroduced to Ball's Pyramid.

The eventual goal is to reintroduce the population to Lord Howe Island, providing that a program to eradicate the invasive rats is successful. If all goes well, this will be one incredible sucess story for the survival of one incredible Lazarus taxon!

January 15, 2010

Animal Nerd Fest: Actual Nerd Edition

So just where does an animal nerd go to nerd-out? People ask me this all the time. In true nerd fashion, I like to keep my sources to myself and hoard knowledge, facts, and animal attack pics. You know just incase life really does end in an epic, Pokemon-style battle of who knows more crazy facts about unusual creatures. I don't want to call out the Cuban Solenodon for an unsuspected venomous attack by a mammal (right?) only to be countered with anaphylaxis by one of you, dear readers, who I've foolishly informed of the inner elbow secretions of the Slow Loris.

With the Cuban Solenodon I will destroy you!

So it is with some trepidation that I offer sources for animal nerding out...

Arkive: Images of Life on Earth has smartly identified wildlife films and photos as "vital weapons in the battle to savethe world's endangered plants and animals from the brink of extinction." Arkive seeks to build the ultimate endangered species multimedia collection as a way to raise awareness of and concern for biodiversity. Here you can easily search for pics and vids of endangered species without the wacky or incorrect stuff that may come up in a google search and you will find some glorious images. If I haven't convinced you to check out Arkive I bet Sir David Attenborough, every animal-nerd's hero, will.

A new initiative conceived of by Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, the Encyclopedia of Life, seeks to create a page for each of the 1.8 million documented species on planet Earth. No small task as you can imagine. To this end they are looking for help. If you have images, knowledge, or videos you'd like to contribute to their cause see here for ways you can help to build the Encyclopedia of Life including contributing images to their Flickr Pool. If you'd simply like to nerd out- both the EOL site and their Flickr page will provide you hours of learning.

Horsfield’s tarsier (clearly provides some type of mesmerize-you-with-my-giant-eyeballs attack)

My most favorite source of all? It would also be the most valuable in that epic battle I mentioned earlier. I hate to aid in the demystification of the unusual, but if I were someone looking for some faces only a mother could love I might head to EDGE of Existence. EDGE = Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered. (AKA weird guys) I love the concept behind this organization, their blogs, even their logo is fantastic. Can I please get that echidna on a t-shirt?

From EDGE's site:
Using a scientific framework to identify the world’s mostEvolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species, theEDGE of Existence programme highlights and protects some of theweirdest and most wonderful species on the planet. EDGE species havefew close relatives on the tree of life and are often extremely unusualin the way they look, live and behave, as well as in their geneticmake-up. They represent a unique and irreplaceable part of the world’snatural heritage, yet an alarming proportion are currently slidingsilently towards extinction unnoticed.

The EDGE blog has posts from EDGE fellows all over the globe, checking in with field updates on their specific species. For extra nerd credit you can even read more about the science behind indentifying EDGE species.

What are your favorite sources for animal pictures and info?

January 11, 2010

Endangered Strangers: The Mary River Turtle

Oy, who you lookin' at?

If you lookin' at me, I be de MARY RIVER TURTLE --- toughest bloke is dese here parts, if I say so meeself.

Wait??? Choo laughin'? Why choo say "iguana in wig"?

You tinks my algae hair is funny? You tinks my bum-breather is funny? You tinks my chin hornz is funny? You not tinks it so funny when I bites your face to eedle-beedy pieces! Den we sees who be lookin' funny.

Choo feel lucky, punk?

The Mary River Turtle is a watery denizen of the Mary River which runs through South-East Queensland, Australia. In the 60's and 70's this unusual turtle species was known as the "Pet Store Turtle," with 15,000 being sent to pet shops each year. This large turtle can be over 50cm in length and is a very fast swimmer.

Amazingly, this species also has the ability to 'breathe' by absorbing oxygen through it's tail/cloaca --- a feature known as bimodal respiration.
Studies show that the turtle can stay submerged for three days, or possibly even a week, in the right conditions! (I loves me bum-breather!)

The Mary River Turtle, which was once plentiful, is now in the top 25 endangered turtles in the world, due to their eggs being eaten by foxes, cats and dogs, and their nests being trampled by cows. What a sad and ridiculous way to have your eggs destroyed! Obviously, the collection of such an enormous amount of eggs for the pet industry made a huge impact as well, which has only compounded the detrimental effect of soil erosion, and soil and water pollution.

Thankfully, the planned Traveston Dam, which would have seriously increased the threat to the turtles and their habitat was just canceled in November 2009, after being contested by many individuals and environmental groups.

All in all, it's obvious that the Mary River Turtle is an incredible and unique beast, and a great example of how human concern and action can help to preserve a species. Still more work to do, though!

Tanks for say no to dat damn dam, Meester Environment Minister Peter Garrett! Yoose is savins me!

Bay-Area contest to spot National Parks' Endangered Species

A while back, I was privileged enough to spend a perfect afternoon hiking amongst the majestic redwoods of Marin County's Muir Woods. Turns out (though this could be seen as either a good or bad thing) that the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which Muir Woods is a part of, has more endangered species than any other chunk of National Park in the United States!

Because if this, a contest called The Endangered Species Big Year is being run to see who can lay eyes upon the most of these 36 rare species, and, in addition, take 36 conservation actions, helping to preserve these species and their habitats.

Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse

If you keep your eyes peeled, you might see
a Steller sea lion, humpback whale, California red-legged frog, salt marsh harvest mouse, western snowy plover, northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, brown pelican, California clapper rail, tidewater goby, coho salmon, steelhead trout, chinook salmon, mission blue butterfly, California freshwater shrimp, Tiburon paintbrush or the Marin dwarf-flax!

Tidewater Goby

If you live in the Bay Area and want to participate, check out the link here, for more details. There is a cash prize, but the pleasure of seeing these species and spending time in some of our country's most beautiful National Parks, will undoubtedly be a reward in and of itself!

California Red-legged Frog

January 6, 2010

Endangered Strangers: The Purple Frog

Top O' the Morning to You

I am the Purple Frog

I bet you thought all the Endangered Strangers were going to be cute, huh? Well I might be an odd looking fellow but I need conserving just as much as the next guy. I was described, rather unkindly if you ask me, as a "blackish-purple living fossil looks like a bloated doughnut with stubby legs and a pointy snout" by National Geographic. The nerve! I've never even heard of a doughnut, I daresay. I prefer to think of myself as a tubby amphibious mole. Everyone thinks moles are charming, right? I can be charming.

The Purple Frog was an astounding discovery in 2003, not only was it an unknown species, but it represented an entirely new frog family. There are only 29 known families of frogs, represening 4,800 species so the Purple Frog is quite special. Oh yes and charming, rather charming indeed.

Living underground the Purple Frog is only found in Southern India. His tropical forest-covered mountain range home is considered a biodiversity hotspot.

The inaccessibility of this remote area is one of the reasons this frog was officially undiscovered by humans for so long. Another being that the Purple Frog only surfaces for about 2 weeks out of the year, during the monsoon season, to breed. How's a monsoon season romance for charm?

The Purple Frog is described as a "living fossil" evolving independently for about 130 million years, outlasting the dinosaurs. It's closest living relatives can be found in the Seychelles Islands (hey we know somebody there). An interesting fact pointing to back to the super continent Gondwana. 120 million years ago Gondwana split apart into India, Australia, Antarctica, Madagascar and Seychelles.

I can has ants and small worms but if you hascoffee, cardamon, and ginger watch out! Some of those agricultures bestealin' my habitatz.

January 5, 2010

Picturing Post-Paradise

"Trouble in Paradise"

Alan Weisman's The World Without Us is an imaginative and engaging consideration of what a "post-human" Earth might look like. The popular success of Weisman's book suggests that a great many readers are willing to entertain an End Times quite unlike that forecast by eschatological messianism. Still, in the United States, a significant percentage of the populace (maybe even a slim majority!) insist that dinosaurs coexisted with early man and that Judgment Day will involve supernatural intervention. For the rest of us, however, Weisman's predictions are more tenable than messianic adjudication and, because we're living through what scientists now dub the Sixth Great Extinction, his vision of mass extinction is also more pertinent.

"Trouble in Paradise"

I thought of The World Without Us when viewing photographic documentation of Steinbrener/Dempf's intervention at Vienna's Schonbrunn Zoo, an institution celebrated as "the oldest zoo in the world." Not all of the installation images impress me, but a few are coolly beautiful. The best of them serve as both a celebration of life's ambivalent persistence and a critique of our romantic notions of wilderness.

"Trouble in Paradise"

Note: This post originally appeared in a different form on Hungry Hyaena (July 10, 2009).