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Green Christmas Tips for an Earth-Friendly Holiday Season

No matter what holiday traditions we enjoy, we can all find room for some green in our celebrations. Making your Christmas more eco-friendly doesn’t require serving organic granola and tofurkey cooked with solar power–many of the tips below are not only green, but also money-saving and creative. Trees – Artificial trees last longer, but when … Continue reading

Islands in the Air: The Spruce-Fir Forests of the Great Smoky Mountains

The spruce-fir forest of the southern Appalachians is one of the rarest ecosystems in North America, occurring only at elevations above 4500 feet. Over 70 percent of this ecosystem’s worldwide range exists within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Ten thousand years ago, North America was frozen in an ice age. Mile-thick ice sheets stretched … Continue reading

The Monarch of Butterflies

If gardeners held a contest to determine the most popular backyard visitor, there might be a tie between hummingbirds and monarch butterflies. Although they are totally different creatures, both brighten our summers with colorful displays, and both are known to sip nectar from favorite flowers. And their similarity extends even further. Monarch butterflies, like ruby … Continue reading

Hummingbirds: Nature’s Amazing Aerialists

You can’t miss him when he speeds through the neighborhood.  His green tailored suit and flashy red necktie put my tee shirt and cargo shorts to shame.  He hovers briefly near a pineapple sage bloom, beating his wings fifty-three times per second and giving me his high-pitched laugh (I’d call it a twitter, but that … Continue reading

Plastiki Update: A Plastic Bottle Ship Crosses the Pacific

On March 20, 2010, a catamaran made from 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles set sail from San Francisco.  The crew, headed by environmentalist David de Rothschild, included adventurers, photographers, scientists, and filmmakers.  Their destination: Sydney Australia, 8,000 nautical miles away.  Their mission: to document the Pacific garbage patch and raise awareness about ocean pollution. Plastiki carried … Continue reading

Manatees aren’t the mermaids of legend, but they may soon be just as rare.

I saw it as I got off the ferry.  A shadow, a few ripples, a gray snout just above the water.  It was just a glimpse, barely visible from the dock on Cumberland Island.  But it was my first sight of a manatee — one of the most odd and beautiful mammals in the ocean. … Continue reading

Sea Turtles in the Gulf of Mexico

Sea turtles seem to hold a permanent place in our culture, and rightly so.  They have been swimming the seas since the time of the dinosaurs, so the first humans saw essentially the same species that exist today.  A visit to the Georgia coast reminded me how fascinating—and threatened—sea turtles are. Types of sea turtles … Continue reading

Bees: Their Importance, Their Problems, and How You Can Help

Think about the animals that we try to protect.  Polar bears, seals, whales, elephants, and wolves are some of the creatures that conservation groups promote.  They are all integral members of the ecosystem, and we can’t help but appreciate their aesthetic value. But is there a lower-profile, less charismatic creature that is just as important? … Continue reading

Getting Started in Organic Gardening

At its most basic, organic gardening is simply a set of practices designed to nurture a garden’s ecosystem while meeting goals for production.  The idea is to cooperate with nature, rather than working against it.  Almost anyone can understand the concept and enjoy the benefits. Why garden organically?  Here are a few reasons: Don’t eat … Continue reading

Spirit Bear of the Canadian Rainforest

When most people hear the word “rainforest” they imagine a steamy jungle filled with exotic plants and animals.  But rainforests can also be found in temperate climates with warm weather and plenty of rainfall. One such place, the Great Bear Rainforest, is located in British Columbia, Canada, not far from Vancouver.  The Great Bear Rainforest … Continue reading