On the eve of its New York City debut on April 17, the Antarctic Edge: 70o South film team of Rutgers marine scientist Oscar Schofield, Rutgers Center for Digital Filmmaking director Dena Seidel and film student Gabriela Elise talk with Leonard Lopate about their collaboration on this award-winning film. Schofield reveals the changes he’s observed in the Antarctic, signs of a rapidly changing climate. Listen to the interview on NPR’s Leonard Lopate Show.
While it’s typical for animals to be coming out of hibernation at this time of the year, certain critters may be catching the eyes of passersby in West Milford this week. A wander around the township will reveal eight critters that have been distributed, each with a sign hand-painted on both sides, asking the public to "Stop Litter!" and "Keep West Milford Beautiful," as well as other Earth Day-related slogans aimed to raise awareness of the impact of litter… The eight critters were selected by 4-H Velveteens to represent both local wildlife and local farm animals with which the club members have actually worked. One is a bear that reminds residents: "Your trash attracts me!" The other painted animals include a chicken, a rabbit, a goat, a pig, a fox, a baby goose, and a fawn… 4-H, which is part of the land grant university system, is the youth division of Rutgers University in NJ, Cornell in N.Y., and Penn State in Pa. and exists in every county in America and in many countries around the world. It employs informal educational programs and promotes "learn-by-doing" to enable youth to develop the knowledge, attitudes and skills they need to become competent, caring and contributing citizens of the world.
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A century ago, oysters were so plentiful in New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay that visitors would clamber off trains, wade into the water and pluck handfuls to roast for dinner. But decades of pollution, accelerated by rampant development along the bay’s shores, have reduced the oyster population to a small fraction of what it once was… The Berkeley Township project is but one of many such efforts underway in waterways around New Jersey. A group led by Rutgers University researchers successfully raised oyster seedlings in cages suspended from the sides of the Earle Naval Weapons Station in Middletown in the waters of the even more-polluted Raritan Bay, and is looking for ways to expand the project. The Littoral Society is doing a similar project, primarily aimed at storm protection, in Delaware Bay.
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"Antarctic Edge: 70 South," opening April 17, is an extraordinarily beautiful and important documentary about the dedicated scientists who’ve clocked the deterioration of the Antarctic ice sheet and tracked consequential climate change around the globe for the past 20 years. Filmmaker Dena Seidel had unlimited access to scientific data and personnel, both in Antarctica, where she filmed extensively and exquisitely, and at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where she heads the school’s Center for Digital Filmmaking. Seidel taps scientists’ unquenchable quest for knowledge and there’s a lot of information to absorb. More poetic than polemical, the film combines a thrilling presentation of natural wonders with amusing glimpses into the lives of the scientists. It’s a convincing call for action to save the planet; if that is still possible. "Antarctic Edge" is this week’s edgy must-see.
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Carry out a bit of jiggery-pokery involving chaos theory and Jeff Goldblum. Insert the dino DNA into the yolk of a crocodile’s egg and leave to incubate. Soon you’ll have a thriving menagerie of once-extinct beasts roaming the jungles of someone’s private theme park. The 1993 Hollywood blockbuster and Michael Crichton novel of the same name may not have invented the idea of "de-extinction" but they certainly put it out there as a concept… De-extinction, or the idea of bringing extinct species back from the dead, has come a long way over the quarter century since Jurassic Park was first published. It has now matured into a quasi-serious science and has even been the subject of its own TEDx conference… "If it works, de-extinction will only target a few species and it’s very expensive. Will it divert conservation dollars from true conservation measures that already work, which are already short of funds?" asks David Ehrenfeld, professor of biology at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. "At this moment brave conservationists are already risking their lives to protect dwindling groups of African forest elephants from heavily-armed poachers, and here we are talking about bringing back the woolly mammoth. Think about it."
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