Using 360-degree cameras to document the landscape and polar bears of Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, teams at Google Maps, Earth Outreach, and Polar Bears International have made it possible for us to explore life on the tundra. This is behind the scenes of the Polar Bear Capital of the World:
This quiet town, set on the shores of western Hudson Bay, is a place where polar bears and humans coexist until the sea ice forms and the polar bears can travel on to the bay to hunt seals, their main prey.
During the warmer months, the polar bears are forced ashore by melting ice. While climate change may seem like a gradual process, often difficult to discern, the impact is real and evident in the polar bear capital. In Churchill, climate change has shortened the time that the bay remains frozen, reducing the polar bears’ hunting season by approximately four weeks…
In addition to this documentation, the team aims to educate about the polar bears’ quickly-changing habitat, and to inspire our reduction of carbon emissions, the largest man-made contributor to warming the planet.
To learn more, check out these ways to reduce your carbon footprint. And then search for polar bears in Churchill.
In the archives: watch more polar bear stories, more conservation, and another video about how technology helps us understand our changing world: the Catlin Seaview Survey of the Great Barrier Reef.
This NASA Earth Science video, NASA Sees Photosynthesis From Space, is not only a lesson in how plants use light to make food for themselves, but also demonstrates how changing your perspective — in this case, looking at plants at a cellular level from hundreds of miles above the Earth — can change your understanding of the information.
Plants are often unable to absorb all the light that hits their leaves and chloroplasts. A small portion is re-emitted as fluorescence, it’s just that we can’t see the faint signal in broad daylight.
But satellites can. NASA shows you what plant fluorescence looks like from orbit. This kind of data is key to understanding the health of global vegetation.
More videos about plants, Earth, satellites, and different orbits await.
Two billion people in cultures around the world include insects as a part of their diet, and there are lots of stories about it in the news right now. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has recently recommended that we eat more insects, National Geographic recommends 8 bugs to try, this Washington Post video profiles a D.C. resident that cooks and eats cicadas, BBC News has a video about how insect-farming can combat hunger, and The Guardian has reported on what a healthy and sustainable food source they are:
The cost of meat is rising, not just in terms of hard cash but also in terms of the amount of rainforest that is destroyed for grazing or to grow feedstuff for cattle. There is also the issue of methane excreted by cows. The livestock farming contribution in terms of greenhouse gas emissions is enormous – 35% of the planet’s methane, 65% of its nitrous oxide and 9% of the carbon dioxide.
Edible insects emit fewer gases, contain high-quality protein, vitamins and amino acids, and have a high food conversion rate, needing a quarter of the food intake of sheep, and half of pigs and chickens, to produce the same amount of protein. They emit less greenhouse gases and ammonia than cows and can be grown on organic waste.
In the KQED Quest video above, meet Monica Martinez, a San Francisco artist and proprietor of Don Bugito, the nation’s first edible insect food cart.
If you could mix your bicycle with your car, you might get something like the Firefly by Geospace Studio. With a protective shell that illuminates with LEDs for
knight night riding, could the Firefly become a fun, environmentally-friendly alternative to a car, and a warmer, more visible, all-weather option to a bike?
File under: inventions and things that glow.