Happy Holidays!

AlaskaNightNasaThe composite photos released by NASA of “earth at night” offer a portrait of how we have electrified much of the world when the sun goes down. Judging by the lights in Alaska, you might . . . .

Via a Fairbanks Daily News-Miner article, Dec 15, 2012. NASA photos show Alaska at night, highlighted by lights of Prudhoe Bay, demonstrating the big picture of man’s global energy use patterns. One can readily see that cities and other areas of dense urban occupation require intensive energy and materials use. Odum described the pattern of pulsing/resting pattern of land use over the aeons as a pattern similar to a Christmas tree, where cities appearing as tree lights wink on and off over time. As resources in one area are used up, the area is abandoned, and the land goes back to fallow rest. New areas of civilization spring up elsewhere, where resources are more readily available, as organisms seek better advantage in taking in more energy. Everything pulses, even the cosmos. Peak on earth, good will to men. 

We’re getting snow for Christmas. Finally! May your holidays be joyous! ¡Feliz Navidad! Joyeux Noël! 聖誕快樂!God Jul! Feliz Natal! Glædelig jul! Buon Natale! Frohe Weihnachten!

  • Tom Abel

    I was struck by how old that reindeer is, living into her 60s! Wondering how long other big herbivores live I did some simple searching. The results (without looking too hard) were cows (mid-20s), horses (25-35, but one known horse lived to 65), bison (15-25), Asian water buffalo (25), moose (15-25). Surprisingly, wiki.answers says reindeer live to 13, but the average is 4.5 years! So it would appear that Star is a real outlier. Big herbivores have important roles in ecosystems, and it would appear that nature has selected them to stick around for a while. Why not longer? Bowhead whales, some tortoises make it over a hundred. Interesting question, would be interested in a good answer. I suspect the best answer is not with the individual species, but with the ecosystems they inhabit?

  • Happy Holidays, Tom! The story about Star the reindeer is very misleading. I think the reporter didn’t want to make the kiddies sad on Christmas Eve; no deaths allowed. Star #1 was still an outlier at 22 years. Domestication and longevity, at least sometimes–here is the backstory:

    “There’s one reindeer here now, she’s called Star, but she’s the 6th reindeer named Star – which is another long story, if you have time,” Whitehead said. Whitehead is full of stories. He has helped take care of many of Star’s predecessors. “Star 1 lived to be 22 years old. Star 2 was stolen and killed. Star 3 inadvertently ate plastic bags. Star 4 lived to be 18. Start 5 was a young one who had a short experience and died the same week Mrs. Stuart died,” Whitehead said.