Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'environment'

Sympathy for the Predator

March 13th, 2013 · 1 Comment

Here at Microkhan world headquarters, there are few things we admire more than passionate attention to detail, especially when it’s in the service of chronicling the arcane. And so you can imagine our joy upon encountering this awesomely comprehensive list of bygone mountain lion attacks, which does an excellent job of illustrating North America’s century-long […]

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The Pangolin’s Curse

January 4th, 2013 · 4 Comments

There are few environmental tragedies I find more puzzling than the decimation of the pangolin, a phenomenon recently covered by notable Microkhan ally Dan Morrison. Like rhino horns, pangolin scales are in high demand in Asian markets, primarily for medicinal and epicurean purposes. Yet there is little evidence that the scales work better than placebos, […]

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Bad Reputation

May 2nd, 2012 · No Comments

As you may have noticed, I have a soft spot for walruses, who I like to think of as Nature’s couch potatoes. I was thus amused to learn that the self-styled scientists of the sixteenth century believed that these sedentary sacks of blubber were, in fact, agents of the Devil. Check out this 1539 description […]

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Leopard, Leopard, Burning Bright

March 6th, 2012 · No Comments

The recent kidnapping of two Assamese forestry officials may have been peacefully resolved, but the caper hints at a deepening problem in India’s long troubled North-East. No, not the continued prevalence of insurgent groups that double as organized-crime outfits, but rather the bulldozing of woodlands that are the region’s foremost natural resource. The forestry officials […]

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The Art of Catching Lampreys

March 25th, 2011 · 4 Comments

Following up on an earlier post about the decline of England’s enthusiasm for eels, I spent (wasted?) a fair bit of time this morning digging into America’s long-standing hatred for lampreys. These parasitic fish, widely held responsible for the death of King Henry I, were once on the verge of conquering the Great Lakes; they […]

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Quicksilver’s Last Stand

March 3rd, 2011 · 5 Comments

News of the mercury thermometer’s imminent demise got me wondering about where, exactly, our quicksilver comes from these days. Much to my surprise, I discovered that there is but a single mine in the world dedicated solely to the production of mercury. It is in Khaidarkan, a village in southwestern Kyrgyzstan, where the poor soil […]

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Rodent Ops in the South Pacific

July 29th, 2010 · 7 Comments

Ever since reading Robert Sullivan’s Rats, I’ve become convinced that the furry little banes of urban sanitation will someday rule the world. They are like land-dwelling versions of the dreaded zebra mussel, adept at turning a minor incursion into a full-blown invasion before any Homo sapiens are the wiser. And once they’ve conquered a piece […]

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Choke on This

February 16th, 2010 · 2 Comments

There’s an old chestnut (of dubious veracity) about how more rock climbers perish in auto accidents to-and-from the cliffs than from accidental falls. We thought of that contrarian info-nugget this morning upon stumbling across some surprising morbidity news from Britain: Last week, the House of Commons’s Environmental Audit Committee heard evidence that about 35,000 people […]

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Burgoo Back in Vogue

September 14th, 2009 · No Comments

About a dozen years ago, there was a minor to-do in Kentucky over the health hazards of burgoo—specifically the possibility that the consumption of squirrel brains could lead to some variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. The state’s government thus engaged in a pointed campaign to discourage the consumption of roadkilled squirrels, the brains of which are […]

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An Iron Horse for the Ages

June 17th, 2009 · 4 Comments

The most gargantuan machines on Earth usually operate far outside the public eye, in remote corners of the globe where the substances that make modern life possible are extracted from the ground. We’ve previously posted about one such device, an abandoned component of a German coal-mining operation. Today we’d like to focus on another plus-sized […]

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Cold Ironing at Port Everglades

June 16th, 2009 · 1 Comment

A major East Coast port finally wakes up to the environmental benefits of cold ironing. Granted, running an idle ship off shore-side electricity is pretty energy intensive. But it pails in comparison to letting the ship’s diesel engines keep on humming: Broward County Commissioner Kristin D. Jacobs said that by shutting down the engines and […]

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Send in the Microbes?

May 14th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Though it’s still siphoning money from Uncle Sam’s coffers, the general consensus is that Yucca Mountain will never emerge from its bureaucratic coma. So what’s next? Microkhan is glad you asked: For the moment, the only real option is to leave the waste where it was created, encased in metal cylinders and stowed in concrete […]

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What’s Killing Our Bats?

May 12th, 2009 · No Comments

A veteran caver has a theory about the scourge of White Nose Syndrome. Meanwhile, farmers are starting to fret. Nature’s bug zappers are a lot cheaper than pesticides.

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The Ghost Fleet

April 10th, 2009 · No Comments

The ultimate fate of the National Defense Reserve Fleet has become a hotly contested matter in recent years, as environmentalists claim the aged ships are leaking nasty toxins into California’s Suisun Bay. That certainly seems logical, since these rusting hulks were built in the age of asbestos, lead paint, and other environmental bogeymen. But a […]

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Iced Out

April 6th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Speaking of Frozen Hades as we do in the post below, Microkhan couldn’t help but notice the recent grim news from the planet’s roof. Seems that if things keep going as they are, Santa’s workshop will be bereft of ice before 2040. When climate-change skeptics hear news of this magnitude, their stock response is to […]

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The Greening of Shipbreaking?

March 25th, 2009 · 3 Comments

A surprise court decision in Bangladesh may shutter the nation’s vast shipbreaking industry, at least temporarily. The judges were swayed by arguments made by the Bandladesh Environmental Lawyers Association, who have long contended that the industry is among the planet’s dirtiest. Indeed, you probably don’t want to know what happens to the guts of a […]

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Dinosauring the Sandbag

March 24th, 2009 · 4 Comments

The humble sandbag remains mankind’s main line of defense against floods. Take the current situation in Fargo, N.D., where upwards of 10,000 Good Samaritans are furiously filling bags in order to combat the rising Red River. Working around the clock, the volunteers have so far managed to deploy about 70 percent of the requisite sandbags—seemingly […]

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When Tigers Grow Desperate

March 4th, 2009 · No Comments

There are less than 500 wild tigers left in Indonesia. But they’ve been mighty busy in 2009, mauling nine Sumatrans to death over the past five weeks alone. The victims were all either illegal loggers, or poachers, or possibly both. As with the tanking global economy, things are bound to get a lot worse before […]

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