Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Botswana Goes Hi-Tech Green For Cellphones

Enoch Lekgoa set up this system in Leshibitse working as a senior technician for cellphone provider Mascom.
In the vastness of Botswana's Kalahari Desert, the sun is powering a communications revolution. Huge distances separate electrical utilities in this desert country of two million people, and there are very few fixed phone lines.

In the past Botswana relied on expensive diesel generators to run hundreds of remote cellphone towers but that is changing rapidly as the costs of solar systems drop.

Enoch Lekgoa works in the main city Gabarone as cellphone provider Mascom's Senior Technician. "The system works very well and its better than the diesel systems because diesel is expensive to run, but with these we just harness the energy from the sun and it runs more or less maintenance free".

A self-contained solar cellphone tower in Leshibitse Botswana.

According to the World Bank, Botswana has 143 cellphone subscriptions per one hundred people. That’s more than the UK, Germany, the United States and Japan. Cellphones here are as ubiquitous as donkey carts, wild animals and gorgeous sunsets.

Now affordable solar cellphone towers offer a better, cleaner way to connect. The old diesel systems each consumed 3,200 gallons of fuel every year. And that didn’t include the fuel used to drive trucks across the country to maintain and refuel the generators and in a country chronically short on power users say solar towers have been remarkably dependable.

Tumagole explains the problem and the solution very clearly. "Even the national grid is not that reliable, we have a lot of power out-ages and all that, while we have enough energy from the sun".

The night sky over our camp near Leshibitse, Botswana while researching this story.

Botswana has one of the highest solar energy indices in the world, according to the UN.

To take advantage of it, the system uses solar photovoltaic panels to run the cellphone microwave equipment and charge a bank of deep cycle batteries. At night, batteries power the system until morning in the remote town of Leshibitse.

It has changed lives for people like 19 yr old Oteng Mooketsi, who uses his phone to keep in touch with his far-flung family, organize school work, and speak to his girlfriend two towns away. Standing in the sand holding his phone he says, "We can make calls easily because the Mascom tower is always working".

19 yr old Oteng Mooketsi, who uses his phone to keep in touch with his far-flung family, organize school work and chat to his girlfriend, in Leshibitse Botswana.

At Mascom headquarters in Gabarone, the country’s capital, there is more to come. Soon they plan to roll out a fourth generation data system to deliver broadband internet to most subscribers.

Mascom's Tumagole, sitting in an office building that is becoming linked wirelessly to the remote villages of the Khalahari Desert explains the hunger here for more internet. "Data Utilization is the main call for everybody to access internet, downloads, and we are making that possible of course".

Jeffrey Barbee
Leshibitse Botswana

After working in Leshibiste on this Cellphone story, a long drive towards Windhoek through the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, where we saw this Kudu stooping down for a late morning sip.

A Spotted Eagle Owl in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, which the team passed after leaving Leshibitse.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Compilation

Blog edited November 14 to reflect a new 14 minute long footage compilation of the power of hurricane Sandy.

Point Pleasant, N.J.

This live storm cam, courtesy of NOAA, shows huge waves smacking the New Jersey beach. In the stream, power lines and a flag pole shake back and forth in the strong winds and massive waves crash on the beach.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Quiet Like A Lion Sneaking Up On Prey

This model was given to the premier reserve Londolozi to test.  It came through with flying colours.

Quiet like a lion sneaking up on prey, Landrover’s new electric 4x4 concept vehicle is made for the African Bush. The company saw a place for a vehicle that’s both better for the environment and better on safari. Designed from the ground-up as a safari vehicle, it is quieter, more sustainable and more powerful than the normal diesel-driven landrover.  Using no smelly fuel or dripping dirty engines, the 4x4 resembles its legendary namesake in form only. Under the hood this is a vehicle of the future.

Sitting next to the front of the car in the last light of day, the Direct Sales Manager for Jaguar-Land Rover South Africa Jean-Pierre Joubert explains how the vehicle works. “It has a lithium phosphate battery, a sealed electric motor, and an inverter that basically is the brain between the motor and the battery.”

The concept has been well received in South Africa, where its range, economy, power and, most of all, silence has attracted the interest of high-end safari companies. 

“why is it so in demand?” asks Joubert,  “because It gets you a lot closer to the animals and basically gives you an incredible game viewing experience which you would not experience with the likes of a diesel or a petrol engine because of the sound.”

59 kilowatts of power suffice to get tourists out of the way if an elephant charges.  It whispers driving up hills, and its sixty mile range allows long game drives at low speeds.
It gives safari companies the ability to creep along slowly and silently over obstacles, which a normal vehicle struggles to do.

The truck charges on a regular power outlet in about six hours. In Africa fuel costs are more than triple the US, so the vehicle’s purchase price can be recouped in three years of daily safari driving. And its battery is fully recyclable, making it even more earth friendly.

Joubert and his team are excited by the surge of interest.  “The reception we have had, and the call to get this type of product into production very very quickly has been quite overwhelming and very encouraging”.

Landrover expects to finish testing the prototype and start full production in 2013. Already the long list of eager customers seems to ensure it’s future success. Game drives may never be the same again.

Jeffrey Barbee, Johannesburg South Africa.

The vehicles are assembled in the UK and tested in South Africa.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Around The World With Solar

The Turanor in Valletta Harbour, Malta.

For those who worry that fighting climate change means sacrificing comfort, the luxurious Turanor might be a revelation.  The world's biggest solar-powered vessel, run by Planet Solar from Switzerland, returned to the Mediterranean in May, after completing the first-ever round-the-world fueled solely by solar energy.

Captain Eric Dumont, standing on the deck of the ship on top of the panels explains,
"Its time to realize it is a lot of pollution everywhere, and this boat is a messenger and maybe an alarm to say stop pollution on this planet."

The name Turanor comes from JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings saga, and means "the power of the sun".  And that power is precisely what the 32 meter ship is intended to showcase. This summer, it’s traveling to cities in the Mediterranean like Valletta, Malta. Each stop attracts a crowd of reporters and government ministers eager to see how it works. Captain Dumont, sitting up in the futuristic ship’s cockpit explains the local reaction: “They are looking at us like a hero from the new modern times, just because we decided to respect and use this solar energy"

The ship's systems are simple at first glance.  Sunshine falls on 537 square meters of solar panels, made by the company Sunpower.  They’re the world’s most efficient -- converting about 18% of the energy into electricity, which charges two huge 6 ton lithium ion batteries in each of the hulls.  When captain Eric Dumont pushes the throttle forward, power is transferred to the two electric motors, which turn special low-speed propellers.  The 91-ton boat can travel for three days on the batteries without getting any charge from the sun, but there is a surprising problem with the power system.

"It's not complicated to understand,” He says with a smile, “we have too much sun.  Because for sure these batteries are full all the time, so we have to cut, we have to stop the charge, you know, sometimes.  So the problem is too much energy."

The ship is a traveling experiment. Technicians in Switzerland monitor the boat via satellite around the clock. Data from its round-the-world trip will be used to improve the technology, increasing its speed, for example. Right now it travels at a stately four knots.

It might not be fast, but it’s very quiet. The Turanor is practically silent as it moves past ancient walls, around the breakwater and out to sea. Leaving Valletta harbor through the gates of the city built by the knights of St John, the ship’s captain says it’s easy to forget you’re traveling on a state of the art machine.

Looking out onto the ocean, Captain Dumont waxes philosophical, "It is my dream to be on the sea.  I have been on the sea since I was two years old. It's nice to be silent on the sea, we can see dolphins, we can see whales, very close, every day.  So this boat is very perfect to be in harmony, you can think you can dream.  For me, it is the best job in the world".

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sexy, Fit and Happy To Run

The Turanor solar sailing vessel in Valletta, Malta. 

The crew gets the vessel ready to get under way in Malta.

Capitan Eric Dumont (holding the plaque) together with the Sunpower team.

From the water the ship looms high in the air.  Built of carbon fiber and powered by four electric engines, the ship is a high-tech example of what humanity can achieve by using the latest clean-energy solutions in transport and fabrication.  It looks cool too.
I caught up the Planet Solar team in the Valletta harbor, where she was parked beneath the bastions of the old castle of the Knights of St John.  This unique ship holds the world records for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by solar boat and the longest distance ever covered by a solar electric vehicle.  It was built by Immo Stroher, a German investor who partnered with Swiss adventurer Raphael Domjan.  It is meant to show what solar power can already do, and is an ambassador for solar energy on a "victory lap" through the Mediterranean sea during the summer of 2012, carrying the banner for renewable energy to places like Malta, which currently generates most of its power by burning fuel oil.  In the next week I will explain more about this remarkable achievement, but in the meantime I wanted to share these images from the deck of the Turanor. 

The boat is an ambassador for solar power, a proof-of concept designed to showcase to the world what renewable energy can accomplish.  Wherever it goes people talk about, photograph it, and it helps create a dialogue about what can be done with today's technologies when they are implemented in new ways.

537 square meters of solar panels power the ship.  It has no back-up diesel power of any kind.  The lights of Valletta at night are reflected in the coating of the panels.  The ship can operate for days without sunlight on just the batteries alone.

The cockpit shines red at night, lit by navigation-grade LED lighting systems.  When Captain Eric Dumont arrived at the wharf, the attendant asked him what kind of shore power the boat takes, Eric offered to give the island power from his own batteries.

The Turanor just after sunset.  The boat is heavy, about 82 metric tons, and made to slice through the water using it's sharp pontoons.  Inside the pontoons are six and half tons of lithium ion batteries, each.

Sunpower manufactures the solar panels on the ship, and maintains that the panels can still generate power even when the sun is low in the sky like this. 

The ship navigating out of Valletta harbor.  The ship runs slowly, using a minimum of power.  It can go about 14 knots, but usually navigates at about 4-7, carefully structuring it's use of power. 

Leaving Valletta, the capital of Malta.  The ship needs only a crew of four, but can travel with as many as forty people on board.

All Images Copyright Jeffrey Barbee/

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Colorado's High Country In Pictures

The past few months I have had a chance to spend some time in Colorado where I was born.  I have been hiking, biking, even driving around this amazing state.  Most people know about the wildfires that struck the eastern part of the state this year, driving hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.  But the Western Slope, across the Continental Divide, managed to dodge that bullet, and got some much-needed rainfall by July.  Still, Climate Change has hit Colorado with a vengeance.  Longer and hotter summers not only make the forest susceptible to forest fires, but provide for an extra generation of Pine Beetles to thrive.  These beetles attack water and pollution-stressed forests all the time, but now that the summer season is at least a month longer due to warmer summers, they have a chance to spawn further generations.

According to a new study by scientists from the University of Colorado, what this means is if you have twenty pine beetles born in May, they would normally die before spawning, but now they are being born in April, then grow, make Pine Beetle love, and manage to spawn another generation, so each of those twenty beetles spawn twenty of their own, so instead of 20, you have 400 of the pine-munching little ones.  So Colorado's forests are dying, and it is tough to watch them go.  In the Vail valley, according to this report in Ski magazine, they will lose 80% of all their pine trees.  But there are some interesting points.  One is that the beetles won't kill all the trees, only about 4/5s of the old ones.  Young ones can resist the attack.  Less pine trees often mean more of the gorgeous Aspen trees, which create more open woodlands that in turn support many more species of plants and animals.  According to other reports, like this one from the High Country News, all those dead trees also open up forests, create diverse habitats, and surprisingly don't add fuel to future fire threats.

Colorado's vast forests of pine trees, like this one above Leadville, are beginning to disappear.

A Pine Tree in the Frying Pan River Valley ravaged by Pine Beetles.

As the pine trees pass away, eventually they will be replaced by Aspen trees like these ones, or so it is hoped.

The snow covered mountains of Lamborn, left, and Landsend, right stand proud in the spring air above the North Fork Valley where I grew up.

Maroon Bells lake reflects the top of Highlands Ski area in the far distance above Aspen, Colorado.

Maroon Bells Lake with the top of the 14,000 ft tall Pyramid Peak.  It is possible that this rock came all the down from near the summit of this high mountain.

The lower of the three main Frying Pan Lakes in the Frying Pan wilderness.  The Continental Divide is at the top of the ridge on the far right of the image.

The highest of the Frying Pan Lakes.  Lakes like these are Tarn lakes, formed when the Glaciers pushed up a damn-wall in this huge valley.

The mily Way Galaxy framed by a rank of pine trees in Colorado's high Rocky Mountains, more than six hours hike from the nearest road of any kind.

The Carbondale Rodeo, int he Roaring For Valley.  Colorado ranchers love their rodeo.

Independence Pass in Colorado, to left of the picture water flows to the Mississippi River, to the right it flows down into the Colorado River.  This is the Continental Divide.
Whatever the long-term Climate Change threat is to our high-country in Colorado, there are still some stunning places, and I put together a selection of some of my favorite ones here in pictures.  I send out a special thank you to everyone who hosted me and supported the launch of Alliance Earth, and a very special thank you to my parents who helped instil in me a love of nature, wild places and environmental stewardship.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Key To Coral Recovery

Latticework that supports growing coral at the Foundation's nursery near Key Largo.  It is the biggest coral nursery in the world.
When Ken Nedimyer collected fish for a living he learned a few things about keeping sea life alive and healthy.  He would go out and sustainably harvest fish for people's aquariums around the world from the reefs around the Florida Keys.  He would keep the fish safe and alive, even growing some species larger to fetch a higher price.  But over the decades, he realized that the fish were disappearing, even species that used to be plentiful.  He suspected that it was not the few collectors operating, but the degradation of the thousands of square kilometers of coral reefs where the fish lived and bred.

Ken Nedimyer photographs a group of corals to be transplanted from the nursery to the reef.  By cataloging what genotypes of coral he and his team plant and using digital photography to reference them, he is able to keep track of the thousands of corals they are planting in Florida's Keys.

Ken Nedimyer, left, talks in hand signs with Biologist Stephanie Roach, the Science and Education Director at the Coral Restoration Foundation.

Mira Dutschke snorkels onto a dead coral reef head on Molasses Reef.  According to researchers only 7% of the coral reefs in the Florida Keys are still alive and healthy.

A partially healthy head of coral on Molasses reef, with fish.
Where ever the reef is alive, fish crowd into it. 

He was witness to a catastrophic drop in reef ecology.

The Keys drip down off the tip of Florida in a broad arc and are the third largest tropical barrier reef in the world.  According to specialists like Dr. Brian Lapointe from Florida Atlantic University, only 7% of reefs in the Keys are still healthy.  There is a large argument about whether the reef die off is a result of a bacteria that killed the sea urchins that were sort of custodians of the reef, or if it is a result of what scientists like Dr. Lapointe call "non-point water pollution".  Essentially he and many others blame fertilizers from big, government supported agribusinesses like the sugar industry, as well as regular people using fertilizer on their lawns.  These effluents often flow from the islands and mainland Florida strait out into the sea and cause algae blooms that then use up all the available oxygen in the water, leaving none for the corals and the fish that depend upon them.

As Nedimyer watched the reef die, not only did his way of life come under threat, but he felt a pang of loss for what he watched these islands lose.  Unlike many people who use the reefs from outside  the water he has been diving here for years and as he says "I kept wondering what who was going to do something to stop this decline?  Then I realized no one was going to do anything".  He stares out across the water to the slipway where he puts his project boat into the water, pausing in his own slow island drawl. "After a while I thought, well…why don't I do something?".

Ken Nedimyer believes that there is a host of reasons for reef die off, and many of the arguments are right, probably a combination of them.  He feels that if everyone could stop arguing about the particular causes and fixed all the possible ways this tragedy could have happened, then it would be easier to get on with rebuilding the reef.  This is incredible considering that many people believe there is no way to rebuild a reef.  Conventional wisdom once said that when it is broken it is gone forever.

So this independent man started using his skills in catching and growing fish to create a Foundation who's sole aim is to breathe the life back into the reefs around Key Largo.  Today the Coral Restoration Foundation has a huge coral nursery, the largest in the world, and is working across the Caribbean to help save and restore coral reef systems.

"We have quite a few species that exist only in our nursery, they are extinct in the wild as far as we know".  Nedimyer has corals growing in the largest coral nursery in the world that may hold the key to creating climate change resistant coral, oil resistant coral, even people-resistant coral.  "We often find a large dead area with one small coral head, and this represents the only survivor of what was a huge die-off…how did it survive, why was it not affected like the other corals?  I am convinced that the answers to the future of coral reef survival are tied up in the these survivors".

He grows small coral pieces a few centimeters across on large wooden latices.  After a year they are branched out coral, healthy and strong enough to be transplanted onto the reef.  He and his tiny team have special permission through the Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission to go out day after day, "replanting" these coral seedlings into like Molasses Reef that have seen huge die-offs.

We had a chance to join him on an average day, when he and his small  crew went out to the huge nursery to collect dozens of mature coral seedlings and followed them as they took them to a badly degraded reef and stuck the seedlings back onto it.

In a world without sound they worked together using hand signals with the efficiency of a quiet military unit.  Biologist Stephanie Roach worked at choosing which corals would be replanted, moving up and down the lattice system, cutting them off and letting them float to the clean sandy floor of the sea, while volunteer biologist Ben Rakov and Ori Galili went along and collected them and got them ready in small bunches to replant, their bubbles bouncing off the tall stacks of corals growing above them.

Biologist Stephanie Roach, the science and education director at the Coral Restoration Foundation, places coral pieces to be "reseeded" into the reef. The ferns in the background are signs of an unhealthy ecosystem.

Ken Nedimyer "replants" coral on a degraded wall at Molasses Reef.

Nedimyer and his team replant the corals in these little bunches with as much genetic diversity as possible, making a rough circle on the rocks that contains all the different genotypes he has been able to collect.  This ensures that there is no inbreeding, and these geographically fixed species can enjoy a mixed genome that hopefully makes them more resistant to attack from many different threats. The corals take to their new homes with gusto, growing rapidly enough that in just a few years a real change is obvious. 

Beneath the waves, the damaged reef looks all right at first glance, but only when healthy staghorn coral looms does the real tragedy of the reef collapse become clear.  These tiny little islands of biodiversity stand like small monuments to what this area once looked like.  Like devotees, the fish crowd around these isolated outcrops, refusing to even enter water that hangs above the dead coral outcrops.  "They do not want to be around the dead coral, they simply will not live near it". 

By contrast the bare sand of the seabed never hosted reef fish, but above it in the nearby nursery corals are growing and a host of fish trail in the current behind these newly growing "trees" created by Nedimyer and his team.  Here is the hope for the future.   These islands are dependent upon fishermen and visitors who are here to see the reef or to catch a memory-giving fish that calls these places home.  The whole economy of this little line of barrier islands is completely reliant on the coral reefs.  Ken Nedimyer and his team may have discovered how to give this whole area's economy a new lease on life. 

This is not a touchy-feely story above how we should embrace coral, but a wake up call that we can all be part of the solution to its disastrous loss. The Coral Restoration Foundation needs everyone's help.  Concerned people can adopt a coral for a small fee, watching it grow throughout the year and then tracking it as it is transplanted onto a reef.  People around the world can volunteer their time, the project needs lawyers, accountants and marketing people, and yes even hands-on folks can come down here and help rebuild reefs.  Everyone can be part of this solution, just contact them. The Foundation is happy to share knowledge and help others set up their own reef restoration projects.  Already they have another project in the southern Caribbean in Bonaire, but the main purpose is help people everywhere reverse coral reef destruction before we have lost our ocean economies, people's ways of life, and the ecology that supports our very existence. 

Stephanie Roach, the science and education director at the Coral Restoration Foundation chisels into the dead reef to create an area of hardness to anchor a new living reef piece.

A Healthy piece of reef with fish, amongst a larger area with no living reef.

Biologist Stephanie Roach, the science and education director at the Coral Restoration Foundation working in the coral nursery.  Nedimyer believes that some corals are capable of withstanding temperature and water quality problems much better than others, and hopes to help corals adapt to these changes.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

An Island Working For Everyone

Sargasso Grass on Cumberland Island's Atlantic Beach.  The grass provides the building blocks of a coastal ecosystem, giving small animals that become food for coastal seabirds a place to live.

Biking down the center of Cumberland Island through the Oak Forests festooned with Spanish Moss

Probably the most amazing thing Cumberland Island National Seashore is that it works.  It is an island, serviced by a ferry, across a long stretch of water that takes forty five minutes to cover.  It does not welcome cars in any way, and insists on foot and bicycle travel for everyone but the rare long-term resident.  But it works, and people, like the birds that call it home, flock here with enthusiasm. 

Dungenesse was designed by Lucy Carnegie as a 50 room Scottish castle on the south of the island.

The Atlantic coast of Cumberland Island from 20 meters up in our camera Kite.

According to the National Park Service website, "Cumberland Island is one of the largest undeveloped barrier islands in along the Atlantic coast. The island has one of the largest maritime forests remaining in the United States and one of the largest wilderness areas in a National Seashore on the east coast of the USA."

One family we met hiked the length of the island with their children, reveling in the wilderness, camping out every night at the convenient park campsites.  Much of the park is booked out most of the time, even though there is only one main campsite with clean drinking water and no other places to stay except one extremely expensive bed and breakfast spot.  Most people come for a day and travel around the south part of the island by foot or rental bicycle then leave in the afternoon.

The wild horses in front of the ruins of Dungeness have been around since as early as the 1500s and were thought to have been abandoned by the Spanish.

One of the other most amazing things about this island is the wildlife.  Most places in the world wild animals are just that... wild and prone to hiding out when people are around.  Not the case with Cumberland.  The animals will walk right up to a human, even deer and armadillos.  Under the dense forest canopy most furry critters have such little fear of humans that a local raccoon walked right up to a fellow camper and stole the scrubby he was using to do his dishes.  One deer even stood right in the path and refused to budge out of the way for a mother of two. 

Cumberland Island is protected through a special partnership between the National Park Service and the Cumberland Island Conservancy.  The conservancy is proud to be a co-steward of the island, and helps raise money for the protection of the park.  They also help with the research and protection of the Loggerhead and Leatherback turtle species that come to nest on the island.  One night we went out after the moon had set and walked kilometers up the beach from Sea Camp with our red headlamps, trying to find one of these gentle marine giants digging a nest for her young.  We did not see one, but this year has been a huge year for returning turtles on this barrier island and already more than 95 nests have been logged, a marked increase from last year.

The Atlantic Beach of Cumberland Island under starlight and the light of far-away savannah Georgia on the left.  It is here that Green, Leatherback, and Loggerhead Turtles drag themselves up on the beach to lay their eggs.

A Loggerhead turtle nest on Cumberland Island.  The nest is covered by a mesh laid down by conservation workers to protect it from feral pigs and racoons.

According to the website Wild Cumberland more than 50,000 people visit this island every year, but the website alleges that the owners of the expensive Greyfield Inn lobbied congress to remove the north end of the island from official wilderness designation.  Alarmingly, it alleges that:  "The commercial hotel lobbied Representative Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) for the removal of Wilderness designation. In late 2004, Kingston managed to slip a rider on the Omnibus Spending Bill taking the route of the Greyfield Inn motorized tours out of Wilderness designation, as well as the entire north end of the island and the beach. It was the first time in U.S. history that Wilderness has been removed and fragmented."  If these allegations are true, it is a sad testament to Conde Nasts' ratings that they do not include a caveat that staying at this establishment may endanger the very wildlife people have come here to appreciate.

Despite these challenges, the island remains a very special place, and one that carries an important lesson: For every wilderness area, people have fought for it to be named and remain protected.  Every National or local park enjoys national and local champions.  These people are real heroes, directly responsible for giving us these amazing wilderness areas we enjoy today and we all owe them a deep debt of gratitude.

For our little team on the Lily Rose, Cumberland Island is our last stop on our way north through the barrier islands of Florida and Georgia.  The boat has been taken out of the water at Rocky's marina in St Marys, and we were "evacuated" (along with the rest of the public) off of Cumberland Island two days ago.  Tropical storm Beryl was barreling down on the area and the Park Service was taking no chances in leaving campers on the island.  Fortunately, the island is resilient in its natural state and the storm caused little damage, but according to local residents we spoke with they are already seeing some beach-front property disappear due to rising sea levels.  Whatever the future of this grand island, for now it's present is a gift that everyone can cherish.

The journey up from Miami has been an amazing adventure.  We would like to particularly thank the researchers and most importantly the crew of the Sailing Vessel Lily Rose for making this such a special trip.

Raising the sailing vessel Lily Rose out of the water for the hurricane season.

We will be heading down the coast through the far south of Florida to the Keys, the third largest barrier reef in the world, and the front line of the battle over the future of Florida.  There we will find out how researchers are battling to save the less then 10% of the healthy coral still remaining, and hopefully bring some of it back.  There also we will see how tiny islands are being affected by the global changes still to come. 

A lady and her young son are evacuated off of Cumberland Island before tropical storm Beryl hit the Island. The Island lays in the background.

These islands in the ocean and the long thin barrier islands of the eastern US coastline are the "canaries in the coal mine" of Climate Change, and we will be listening very carefully to the lessons that they tell us. 

SPECIAL GUEST BLOG:  Mira Dutschke's Images from the Islands

Storm on the Atlantic - photo by Mira Dutschke

Tall man in little window - photo by Mira Dutschke

Flying the Camera Kite at Nettle's Island - proof that good things can happen at spoils photo by Mira Dutschke

Yellow eye and foot color coordinated snowy Egret feasting in the shore photo by Mira Dutschke

St Augustine Fort - was attacked by the Brits but never taken photo by Mira Dutschke

Armond the Dillo coming to visit at Seacamp on Cumberland Island photo by Mira Dutschke

Punk Bird "Male Cardinal" aka the Anarchist photo by Mira Dutschke

Wild horses at Cumberland Island Do not feed, do not attempt to ride photo by Mira Dutschke