Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Epigynes and male palps; views from the spiders

My interest of the order Araneae have been cut low since environmental issues took more space- but now, this weekend a friend called me in as a professional "spider expert" to identify spiders from trap samples they got. I do not want to boast that I am an "expert", because with a magnification of 10 to 200 times, spiders are small anyway and they are tricky to get in the right position, even doe they are in 96% alcohol and so stone-dead. With around 713 species to choose from, it was a full time job me, the "expert", to even put them into their right family, which are only around 30 in Sweden, and less in north. After 4 days in the lab in front of a stereo microscope, staring at the genitals at spiders, I can say that I know some more about the characteristics, and even got some of the more easy ones into species level. How ever, identify spiders are just one part, another is the ecology of spiders, alive spiders are more fun! Here, again, biology and ecology follows hand in hand, if we want to talk about them, we need to identify them to species. So searching for things around spiders and I realized that I've totally missed the "vegetarian spider", an interesting news from last year; The species "Bagheera kiplingi, which is found in Central America and Mexico, bucks the meat-eating trend by feasting on acacia plants". See the little film, when the jumping spider "hunts" leaves, and how it have to dodge the defending ants to go there. Read also the article, because spiders continues to fascinate.

Pictures were not from this study;
Left, Cicurina cicur, male palp. found at this page
Right, Zoropsis spinimana, epigyne. Jørgen Lissner


One day, I really wish, that we integrate more interest from biology and the living world around us. But of course, right now, we all got other more important thing do do. When my friend's fiancée went to the first lesson for this year at Med School, I can tell you that I felt like a kid in the playground, playing around with my spiders and microscope. So before we have time to have fun with the small creatures, we need a safe place to live. Environmental issues goes first until I have my own ecocity to live in, even if spider genitals can be the Sunday hobby.

Over and out

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Theme: streets in greenery

The opposite to green streets should be streets in green. What is what and were is the boundary? A wild nature with a self maintaned path, or a contructed park with a contructed path? The first we might not count, but the other we amaze. 19 pictures from latest ecotrip to see what is different with a street in green from a street with green, small difference in one word..

A little paving in an "wild"courtyard, greenery here is climbing from the ground to the balcones, at the walls. All over the place. Vauban neighborhood, Freiburg.

Vauban. Between the houses- a place close for children to play and parents to calm down. Rocks, old threes and trees on the ground. Not a playground in plastics and steel. And so, a self maintained path.

From one of the apartments one floor up, down to ground level. Greenery climbes at the stairs, at the walls, at the roof. It is more a stair in green than green in a stair. Französischer Viertel, Tübingen.

A grasslaw and some trees in a typically residental area, Geneva. Sign says, It is strictly forbidden to walk and play on the lawns. No dogs. So when nothing else is allowed, you can always take a walk at the path to see the lawns closer.

Stadspark Schothorst, Amerfoort. The path led to three black cattle, a little mideval farm and a very sweet girl who told us about the place and how things are runned in the Netherlands. A good walk in nature.

Same courtyard as first picture. 8 floor high building, facing the yard. Wild nature at the walls and balcony, and ground. A stair in greenery is a more beautiful one.

Amerfoort; green laws with paths. Horses and old men. Kids playing. Dogs running. Laws with no paths and paths around its sides.

Nieuwland, Amerfoort; canals, green, path and a heron (at the path, farthest). This city really likes canals and especially this neigborhood is famous for its structures with round streets. Tourists comes here to take picutes. A lot of dead ends. Looks better from google maps. But this part was green.

Zermatt. Gornergorge canyon. A path, been here since 120 years ago. Cost 4 CHF to walk and took about 15 minutes. River, cliffs and very close. Totally worth it.

No path to walk from one road to another. Something has to be done. This is one of many; a self maintained path, at junk land in nowhere, Amerfoort.

Vathorts, Amerfoort, a new neigborhood of 11000 residents. Here is what some trees can do for the feeling. Nothing you can contruct by hands.

At the slops just above Zermatt.

Tübingen, a small path along the river, along a bigger path at the platanallee with Neckar in both sides.

Three, stones, canals, green and a bridge. In Amersfoort.

Heidelberg. Right at this spot there was a little free space from the traffic. In one direction, a mountain, with a tunnel to trains covered with ivy, another the river, Neckar, another a triumphal arch, called Karlstor and in one the old town. Well, traffic goes around this spot. Around, around. Around.

Along Neckar in Heidelsberg, at the other side from the old town. No traffic, but a path in nature.

Way up to the castle in Heidelsberg is through gardens.

How Much Is Left?

The Limits of Earth's Resources, Made Interactive

"This Web-only article is a special rich-media presentation of the feature, "How Much Is Left?," which appears in the September 2010 issue of Scientific American. The presentation was created by Zemi media." Other interactive offerings here from same homepage.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

What is an ecocity? part 2

In an earlier post, I explained what kind of features I think an Ecocity should have briefly. To give a supplement to that and to explain the ecology of the city, a new longer list has to be discussed. This is because it seems as every project fail in some parts; either the project focus on the energy issue, or the green space issue, and forgets the rest of what an city or what ecology means. When ecology means relations or connections between parts, and not environmentally friendly, the Ecocity is much more than just structural "green stuff".

This is an attempt, a first draft, from the latest ecotrip together with a very good friend of mine, to explain what an ecocity should contain because time is up, we need to build them.

The town surrounding the man instead of man encloses the city in its motion

The city is in the Ecocity;
  • The proximity between home work and other activities
  • Private Car replaced by walking, cycling and public transport as a priority in that order
  • Goods, some transportation and some maintenance must be continued with "car"
  • Mixed use of housing, business
  • Mixed socio-economic
  • Mixed density housing and open spaces
  • Diversity in architecture, solutions, height, color, age; to create locality
  • Children will find playgrounds in the area!
  • Livable three-dimensional
  • Proximity to "real" nature
  • Linking the history, importance of issues and future plans
  • Participation in continuous democratic processes for both development, evaluation and feedback
  • The individual are always at the center of the neighborhood- people are all experts and have knowledge of their part of town, and should therefore be the ones who should decide and have opinions on how it should be designed
  • Shared responsibility is built up by responsibilities and experience of responsibility/ ownership
The word ecology, ie interactions between different biotic and abiotic factors, in an Ecocity is used to explain that;
  • People are connected, no one is alone
  • The buildings are connected by streets, nature and human creativity
  • People interact with the open spaces through different processes and projects
  • The city must be seen largely as a closed ecosystem; self-sufficient and recirculated
  • Biodiversity re-created and promoted by coherent green structure and the free water
  • Ecosystem Services have to work and should priorities, ie be used to the greatest extent possible and does it work badly, a larger area is needed for the purpose
  • Bioclimatic building construction of natural light, heat consumption, available for multiple surfaces
  • Construction materials from local produce and "natural" sources, adapted to local climate
  • Old tree and existing important habitats should be considered before rebuilding
  • Green roofs and walls for a stabilized indoor, outdoor climate and runoff

List made by two environmentalists at the train
2010-08-23, ICE 237 Hamburg- København

Theme; greening the streets

A good way to use the corners. In Heidelsberg.

Same thing but with lavender. Heidelsberg.

Also in Heidelsberg. A little roof can be a more than just a green roof. This is a new dimension.

Brussel forgot to take away the grass on the ground.

Also in Brussel, a green wall near the ground lightens up the grey street.

Amersfoort, not so fun picture, but you can see a young oak there- they think a little bit longer.

Also in Brussel, a green wall in the background and a small plant in front.


One of two good things with Neuf Brisach, the other was a green roof.

Green middle branch, Tübingen.

Französischer Viertel, Tübingen.

Französischer Viertel, Tübingen.

Französischer Viertel, Tübingen.

Rieselfeld, a square at the street.

Heidelberg. Guerrilla (gardening) placing.

Theme; garbage solutions

Amersfoort; it has to be fun!

Tape; "Deposit of waste prohibited"

Containers for metal, white glass, brown glass and green glass in Luzern.

A poster with garbage in nature "Scandaleux? A Paris aussi!"

Full container in Neuf Brisach. But the flowers was nice.

For cans; press it to a smaller size by your own! At the sunbathplace next to central Geneva.

Brussel; recycling at the station where you can see the garbage. Those simple garbage bins was also popular in Lausanne. "Waste never disapeare.."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The day the resources were used

21st of Augusti this year (25th September last year) was the day when we started to take of the savings instead of take from the production.

From pressrelease, 16th of Augusti, Earth Overshoot Day; "It has taken humanity less than nine months to exhaust its ecological budget for the year, according to data from Global Footprint Network, a California-based environmental research organization.

Global Footprint Network calculates nature's supply in the form of biocapacity, the amount of resources the planet regenerates each year, and compares that to human demand: the amount it takes to produce all the living resources we consume and absorb our carbon dioxide emissions. Its data reveal that, as of August 21, humanity will have demanded all the ecological services – from filtering CO2 to producing the raw materials for food – that nature can provide this year.

If you spent your entire annual income in nine months, you would probably be extremely concerned," said Global Footprint Network President Mathis Wackernagel. "The situation is no less dire when it comes to our ecological budget. Climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, water and food shortages -- these are all clear signs that we can no longer finance our consumption on credit. Nature is foreclosing."

Ready for more? Check the homepage at Global Footprint Network.

These cars

Not enought that they disturb when you walk in different cities, they also disturb in the pictures. Look at Geneva! Heidelsberg! Brussells! They got cars! (of course they have, why shouldn't they?!...)

Arc de Triomphe, world's most beautiful traffic circle?

Heidelberg has them, Tübingen has them, Freiburg, yes a lot, the little town of Breisach, oh yes, Neuf Brisach have extra wide roads, in Geneva it's terrible, Lausanne can't be without, Lucerne, yes and by the way- why not?!, Paris is full of them and in Brussels they got a better view than the pedestrians to see the green wall.

Well, you got it. Our trip to towns with ecological projects and other caracteristics close to ecocity element, have the cars anyway- can't be without them.

But I have to tell you that cities without cars exists (!) and we found at least one completly carfree; Zermatt, and saw parts of Freiburg, Tübingen which was car limited and the city center of Amersfoort which was carfree, other carfree cities can be seen at the list in Wikipedia. List was initially developed by J.H. Crawford, author to the book Carfree Cities, 2000, more info about at Carfree.com.

Small electric vehicles, cable cars and train is the thing in Zermatt.

Bikes, horse carriages and a huge kite met us in this green space in Amersfoort- a place to have fun.