From my new favorite blog: Letters of Note:
Published in 1962, Silent Spring was a pioneering book that alerted the public to the devastating harm being caused by fertilisers and pesticides [esp. DDT] — a hugely important exposé which, according to many, triggered the modern environmental movement. In 1960, as she worked on the book, its author, marine biologist Rachel Carson, was diagnosed with the cancer that would eventually take her life. Seven months before she died, with her health failing, Carson spent a morning at the coast with her dear friend, Dorothy Freeman, watching the migration of monarch butterflies; that afternoon, she wrote her friend a letter.
(Source: Always, Rachel: The Letters of Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman; Image: Rachel Carson, via Post Gazette.)
September 10, 1963
This is a postscript to our morning at Newagen, something I think I can write better than say. For me it was one of the loveliest of the summer’s hours, and all the details will remain in my memory: that blue September sky, the sounds of the wind in the spruces and surf on the rocks, the gulls busy with their foraging, alighting with deliberate grace, the distant views of Griffiths Head and Todd Point, today so clearly etched, though once half seen in swirling fog. But most of all I shall remember the monarchs, that unhurried westward drift of one small winged form after another, each drawn by some invisible force. We talked a little about their migration, their life history. Did they return? We thought not; for most, at least, this was the closing journey of their lives.
But it occurred to me this afternoon, remembering, that it had been a happy spectacle, that we had felt no sadness when we spoke of the fact that there would be no return. And rightly—for when any living thing has come to the end of its life cycle we accept that end as natural.
For the Monarch, that cycle is measured in a known span of months. For ourselves, the measure is something else, the span of which we cannot know. But the thought is the same: when that intangible cycle has run its course it is a natural and not unhappy thing that a life comes to an end.
That is what those brightly fluttering bits of life taught me this morning. I found a deep happiness in it—so I hope, may you. Thank you for this morning.
Metal body parts from the dead are being recycled into road signs, lamp posts, car parts and aircraft engines. Steel hips, plates and screws from legs and skulls are collected after cremation and sent off for recycling. Even metal plates from false teeth and tiny fragments from fillings can be recovered and re-used, together with metal fittings on coffins. High value metals which survive the 1000-degree cremation are then sold for use in the automobile and aeronautical industries.
Money made is donated to charity and almost £1million has been raised for good causes since the project began in Britain in 2004.
"A web of intrigue surrounds a gruesome discovery in a 19th century attic – where a large tarantula skin, potentially contaminated with asbestos, has been found. The shock find was made during a routine survey by Cardiff asbestos specialists Kusten Vorland.
...Although it had been assumed Katie had stumbled on a dead tarantula, when we showed the evidence to Cardiff Reptile Centre, they said the bagged exhibit was just a shed skin - meaning the spider, thought to be a Chilean Rose Tarantula, could still be at large."
"In Alaska’s North Slope, the population of bowhead whales seems to be recovering. But that’s really not the coolest part of this Alaska Dispatch story. Instead, it’s this, noticed by Geoffry Gagnon"
"Bowheads seem to be recovering from the harvest of Yankee commercial whaling from 1848 to 1915, which wiped out all but 1,000 or so animals. Because the creatures can live longer than 200 years — a fact [Craig] George discovered when he found an old stone harpoon point in a whale — some of the bowheads alive today may have themselves dodged the barbed steel points of the Yankee whalers."
Read the rest at blogs.smithsonianmag.com
Note the caveat that this is "for general education only. If you're basing radiation safety procedures on an internet PNG image and things go wrong, you have no one but yourself to blame."