Rapa Expedition: An Ancient Secret for Protecting the Future

Rapa rises above the waves but captures atmospheric moisture in its mountainous embrace, creating a cloudy cap that hides its highest peaks from view. (Photo by Manu San Felix)

After days of foul weather, the clouds have parted and the Hanse Explorer has arrived at Rapa Iti, the site of the latest National Geographic Pristine Seas expedition. As the science team prepares for their first dives to survey the biodiversity hidden under the waves surrounding this remote southern island, our Pew partner, Jerome Petit, shares some thoughts about Rapa’s approach to marine conservation.

Jerome has extensive experience working in the Austral Islands of French Polynesia, and is our main lead into the Rapa community. He also survived the great cross-island hike adventure (which I wrote about in yesterday’s post). Here he discusses what he’s learned about rahui, the ancient Polynesian concept being used to protect wild places today.

By Jerome Petit, Pew Global Ocean Legacy

Rapa is a little world by itself. The island has very limited exchanges with the exterior, with only one boat coming every second month.

People in Rapa sing Rapa music, listen to Rapa radio, and eat almost only Rapa meat, fish, and organic vegetables. After a few days in Rapa, we have almost forgotten that there is a wider planet around us.

This sensation of finitude and the clear boundaries of Rapa’s system have encouraged —> Read More Here

Deciphering Monsoons in a Time of Drastic Changes

As summer settles onto the landmass once ruled by Genghis Khan, a string of events across the globe begins. Temperatures increase, glaciers shrink, and the annual monsoon cycle commences. The annual creation and eventual melt of the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau birth the monsoon winds. In the summer the Tibetan Plateau heats quickly, drawing in the warm, moist ocean air, beginning the monsoon. In the winter the land of the plateau cools quickly, pushing cool air out into the warmer ocean air, ending the monsoon. Created by the convergence of two continental tectonic plates, the Tibetan Plateau is the highest and largest flat, open space on the globe. No other place on Earth is as large with such seasonal changes in temperature as is the Tibetan Plateau.

Nor does any place influence the global climate as much: The drastic temperature shifts influence most of the world’s monsoons. Researchers have studied monsoons since the 16th century, when geographer Richard Hakluyt first coined the term in reference to the seasonal global shift in wind and rain patterns. Yet researchers still do not fully understand what defines and causes a monsoon. This unknowing has direct impact on the daily lives of billions —> Read More Here

WTF Evolution?: My Favorite Tumblr Is a Book Now

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Truth be told, I don’t spend a whole lot of time on Tumblr, but there are a few masterpieces that are worth keeping an eye on. One of my favorites is Mara Grunbaum’s WTF Evolution?, which takes a regular look at some of evolution’s strangest and most perplexing creations. Now, in plenty of time for Xmas, Gunbaum’s evolutionary freak show is a book.

In one of Robin Williams’ best-known stand-up routines, he says, “If you look at a platypus, you think that God might get stoned: ‘OK, let’s take a beaver and put on a duck’s bill. It’s a mammal, but it lays eggs. Hey, Darwin, kiss my ass!'” If you get that, chances are you’re going to want to take a look at WTF Evolution.

In addition to photographs of the creatures in questions, the blog and book feature conversations with Evolution about how and why the animals came to be and WTF Evolution was thinking.

In addition to being entertaining, the combined photos and commentary are extremely educational. They are also a constant reminder of what evolution is and how it really works.

We tend to think of evolution as a linear process, a straight line that improves the species —> Read More Here

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