Why Is Death Valley Littered With Fried Eggs?

Death Valley Fried Egg Video Leads to Copycats Making a Mess

Plants, wildlife and waterways – these are the things that you can routinely expect to see when you head out to one of the country’s many national parks. But trek out to Death Valley National Park and you’ll spot something else entirely: fried eggs. Lots and lots of fried eggs.

Death Valley is one of the hottest places on the planet and holds the record for the highest air temperature ever recorded. The scorching temps mean visitors to the park regularly crack eggs on the ground in an attempt to fry them.Over the past few weeks, a heat wave has kept temperatures hovering above 120 F, leading increasing numbers of park visitors to attempt the egg science experiment.

This was made worse after a BBC correspondent and National Park employee shared a video of their attempt to fry an egg by cracking it into a frying pan. Unfortunately other park visitors repeating the experiment have been cracking the eggs directly onto the ground, keeping clean up crews on their toes.

A spokesperson for the National Park urged visitors not to litter, adding that, “an employee’s posting of frying an egg in a pan in Death Valley was intended to demonstrate how hot it can get here, with the recommendation that if you do this, use a pan or tin foil and properly dispose of the contents.”

Interactive Website Shows Cleanest, Dirtiest European Beaches

beaches, Cyprus
Wikimedia Commons

It’s getting to be that time of year again. People are heading to the beaches, especially around the Mediterranean.

Now choosing one has been made easier by a new interactive website by the European Environment Agency. The agency has released its 2012 figures for water quality of 23,511 “bathing waters.” The website has them broken down by country and region. While most are beaches, popular inland swimming areas such as lakes are also included.

Some countries do better than others. Cyprus may be in economic doldrums, but 100% of their beaches have clean water. Slovenia, the subject of an upcoming series here on Gadling, gets equally high praise for its narrow strip of shoreline.

Scientists examined samples of water over several months in 2012, looking for evidence of pollution. It turns out 93 percent of sites had at least the minimum standard set by the European Union. The worst countries were Belgium, with 12 percent substandard swimming areas, and The Netherlands, with 7 percent.

How Did China Misplace 27000 Rivers?

China's rivers are disappearing at an alarming rate. When China set out to conduct its First National Census of Water, government officials expected to get a better understanding of the country’s rivers and other aquatic resources. But the results of that census have left some environmentalists wondering what happened to all of China’s waterways and if there is a looming water crisis for the world’s most populous nation.

Prior to conducting the water census, China estimated that it had upwards of 50,000 rivers inside of its borders. But the findings of the three-year study indicate that that number is actually 22,909. That’s a loss of more than 27,000 rivers with a combined total water volume that would be about the equivalent of the Mississippi River. That is a significant amount of water to have completely vanished.

So what exactly happened to all of those rivers? China blames their disappearance on two factors – outdated mapping techniques and global climate change. In an interview with the South China Morning Post, China’s Deputy Director of the Ministry of Water Resources, Huang He, indicated that the original estimate was probably too high due to inaccurate topographic maps that trace their origin back to the 1950s. He also acknowledged that climate change has led to the loss of both water and soil throughout China.
Environmental activists aren’t convinced, however. While many acknowledge that better mapping technology has no doubt led to a more accurate river count, there is a widely held belief that China’s booming economy and terrible record on protecting the environment both had a big impact on the loss of these waterways. This is evident in the slow, but steady, drop in water levels on the country’s two longest rivers, the Yangtze and Yellow.

Considering how quickly China’s population continues to grow and its towns and cities are modernizing, there is great fear that the nearly 23,000 rivers that do exist there will not be adequate to meet the demands placed on them in the 21st century and beyond. To make matters worse, many of those rivers are already greatly polluted, which will likely lead to a host of other health problems in the future.

China won’t be the only nation dealing with water shortages in the future if climatologists are to be believed. Climate change is drying up rivers all over the world, not to mention shifting weather patterns and causing droughts. The difference is that most other countries don’t have a population anywhere close to the size of China’s and most aren’t inflicting as much damage on their waterways as the Asian country.

Predicting what the future holds is a difficult proposition. But lets hope that when China takes its Second National Census of Water it doesn’t lose more than half of its waterways once again.

[Photo Credit: Luo Shaoyang via WikiMedia]

Leatherback Turtle Nesting Ground Protected In Puerto Rico

leatherback turtle
Puerto Rico has just declared 5.4 square miles of coastline as protected land in order to preserve a leatherback turtle nesting ground, BBC reports.

The Northeast Ecological Corridor has been a battleground between conservation groups and big business for 15 years. The choice was basically between two ideas: “Hey, look at this beautiful natural wonder; let’s preserve it for low-impact ecotourism!” and “Hey, look at this beautiful natural wonder; let’s put up a bunch of luxury homes, hotels and golf courses. We’ll wreck the place but make a ton of cash!”

Luckily, the government of Puerto Rico chose correctly.

Leatherback turtles are a critically endangered species and this stretch of coastline is one of their largest remaining nesting grounds. In addition to the turtles, the Northeast Ecological Corridor is home to 866 species of plants and animals, including 54 rare, threatened, endangered and endemic species.

The area was declared a nature reserve in 2008, but that protection was taken away the next year under pressure from “developers.” In 2012 two-thirds of the area were once again named as a reserve. Now all of the area will be protected, although considering how the government has flip-flopped on this issue before, this may not be the last time we report on this issue.

[Photo courtesy Coalición Pro CEN]

Climate Change May Fuel Future Travel Options

climate changeClimate change is a topic that many of us think is something that will affect future generations, perhaps hundreds of years from now. But what if we look at it from a different viewpoint?

What if we could travel back in time 17 million years to when the Grand Canyon was just forming? Would we have believed that the national monument, now nearly a mile deep in places, would some day be a major tourist attraction? Probably not. But time and the forces of nature that come with it, along with the effect of humans on the planet, have a way of changing what we see – sometimes dramatically.

We don’t have to go back millions of years to see such changes either. A recent study indicates that the Arctic will become drastically greener in just a matter of decades. “So what?” one might say. “Who goes there anyway?” Significant to this study on climate change is that it was done in the Arctic where not much can grow or live due to the harsh environment. To see change of any kind is unusual.

The research team included scientists from AT&T Labs-Research, Woods Hole Research Center, Colgate University, Cornell University and the University of York. These are organizations that have a very global view on things that will affect our future.

My father-in-law worked for AT&T during the early days of microwave communications and sometimes told a story of how researchers in his lab used the then-new technology to cook hot dogs. That technology would later also be used for the microwave ovens we all know so well. This story has much of the same, believable flavor.”Such widespread redistribution of Arctic vegetation would have impacts that reverberate through the global ecosystem,” said Richard Pearson of the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation in an RDMag article.

climate changeIt will begin with something as simple as some species of birds being unable to seasonally migrate to particular polar habitats, such as open space for ground-nesting, suggests the study. But things turn worse very quickly as the sun’s radiation, normally reflected back into space when it hits snow, will have less of it to hit and will stick around, accelerating global warming.

Just one commonly accepted effect of global warming is flooding in some coastal areas and more powerful storms.

To the world of travel, that means popular beach destinations could be under water in a few hundred years. More immediate, some of today’s iconic travel destinations, already struggling with sea level issues like Venice, Italy, or the Netherlands, could be doomed much quicker.

Right now, for example, Venice, Italy, is being protected against rising tides in the Adriatic Sea by rows of mobile gates, intended to isolate the Venetian Lagoon when the tide rises above a certain level. The Netherlands, a geographically low-lying country, has a great amount of its land and people at or below sea level and will also be affected by rising ocean levels.

climate changeThis new study, while not talked about much in the press, is a clear indicator of what the future holds and good food for thought.

Of even more immediate concern, and visually a clear indicator of a problem we can do something about, is today’s reality of the “floating island of plastic” in the Pacific Ocean.

Brought to the area by ocean currents that move around the planet like a slow-motion whirlpool, opposing the wind and earth’s rotational forces, tens of thousands of pounds of garbage wash ashore here every year.

“These ecosystems are very connected. If the oceans are in trouble, we humans are in trouble. We don’t realize that we are threatening our own existence,” says Dr. Gregor Hodgson, founder and executive director of Reef Check Organization in this video.



[Image credit - Flickr user Kris Krug]