## New Meetup: Massachusetts Mosses and Lichens

I have started a new Meetup group: Massachusetts Mosses and Lichens.

I am inviting anyone with an interest in mosses and lichens to join in, particularly if you live in the “greater Massachusetts area”. Because of pandemic, there’ll be no in-person meetups for a while, but I’d like to schedule an organizational meeting hosted on my Zoom channel.

The notion is that we get together and talk mosses and lichens and promote interest in them. Each meeting would feature a member — or someone from outside the Meetup — talking about their experience, teaching us, talking about a project, their art, their photography, or books about mosses they’ve read (*). And this would be followed by a Q&A.

After pandemic, we’ll move back outdoors, doing guided tours.

Disclosure: I am not any kind of authority on mosses and lichens. I’m very much an amateur, although my scientific and engineering background makes it easier for me to set up and follow through on scientific experiments than some. I’m still learning common New England mosses. You can see a project I’m doing and some of the equipment and references I use here.

Hopefully, this Meetup will begin to remedy the dearth of organized interest about mosses. There’s also a dearth of professional bryologists and lichenologists. I hope that amateur organizations like this, in association with state parks, national parks, and local communities, can generate more interest, particularly among students.

(*) I am finishing a Kindle version of the book Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The book tells of mosses from an indigenous people’s perspective, and also contains much solid science, and beautiful hand sketched illustrations. It also makes great physical science connections, like Kimmerer’s discussion of the importance of living in a boundary layer for mosses. This is something seen in aquatic life, as documented in the book Life in Moving Fluids by the late Professor Steven Vogel. Vogel didn’t mention mosses at all. That’s understandable, but it’s great to see Professor Kimmerer remedying the oversight. Given the kinds of research Vogel did, I can see all kinds of projects exploring this possible with respect to mosses.

## Texas. Wonderment.

`Cohen, Judah, Xiangdong Zhang, J. Francis, T. Jung, R. Kwok, J. Overland, T. J. Ballinger et al. "Divergent consensuses on Arctic amplification influence on midlatitude severe winter weather." Nature Climate Change, 10(1), 2020: 20-29.`

`Ayarzagüena, Blanca, Lorenzo M. Polvani, Ulrike Langematz, Hideharu Akiyoshi, Slimane Bekki, Neal Butchart, Martin Dameris et al. "No robust evidence of future changes in major stratospheric sudden warmings: a multi-model assessment from CCMI." Atmospheric chemistry and physics 18, no. 15 (2018): 11277-11287.`

## Field survey update for 2021-02-24: Bryophytes, lichens, and Lycopodia in winter (LoSoMaaCoF)

Online data from principally bryological the longitudinal field survey described here has been updated in its:

with the photos and remarks from 2021-02-24.

The photos are in time order from earliest to latest, top to bottom, left to right. Timestamp and geographic location are stamped in the lower right on the images. The survey began in earnest about 9th-13th December 2020. Images earlier than than were documenting site selection.

On 24 Feb 2021, snow obscured all but instances 4D, 3A, 3B, and 3D. Site 2 had all instances obscured, but a small portion of an adjacent similar patch was visible and photographed. Much of the work at Site 3 was only possible by approaching the instances from the stream rather than the shore.

Hopefully there will be enough melt next week to get many more instances photographed. As of late on 25 February, instances 4C and 4E are also visible.

## Why I care about and study mosses

For a guy who has spent most of his professional career developing, studying, and improving engineered systems, software, and applying mathematics to them, the idea of devoting a substantial part of the rest of his life to the study of bryophytes and, more specifically, the subdivision Bryophytina may seem an oddity. After all, I’ve launched a multiyear longitudinal field study of four sites with mosses the main act. Why?

It might begin that Bryophytina as a phylogenetic group originated during the Ordovician period, about 450 million years ago. They are suspected of having changed the Earth’s climate at the time. Nevertheless, as a botanical subdivision, they have seen everything, and have amazing adaptive capabilities, to extreme moisture, to dessication, to heat, to cold. They are both simple in their biological plans, yet innovative, and prudent if not wise.

There is also evidence mosses changed everything, weathering rocks during the Ordovician, when they are believed to have emerged, and that rock drew down atmospheric CO2 which, at the time was around 3000 ppm, about 8 times what it is today:
`P. Porada, T. M. Lenton, A. Pohl, B. Weber, L. Mander, Y. Donnadieu, C. Beer, U. Pöschl, A. Kleidon. High potential for weathering and climate effects of non-vascular vegetation in the Late Ordovician. Nature Communications, 2016; 7: 12113 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms12113.`

And when I say they’ve seen everything, I mean everything. Mosses arose before the evolution of lignin-formation, so before vascular plants and especially trees. And, to quote Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson, “Earth was a different planet” for much of the time:

These are all taken from:

`Bender, Michael L. Paleoclimate. Vol. 8. Princeton University Press, 2013.`

And the above is from:

`Parrish, Judith Totman, and Gerilyn S. Soreghan. "Sedimentary geology and the future of paleoclimate studies." Sedimentary Record 11 (2013): 4-10.`

Present day mosses obtain many of their nutrients and water from the air, and raindrops, having basic or absent vascularization, some with rhizoids and relying upon cation exchange to obtain nutrients. They have amazing abilities to withstand both drowning and floods as well as desiccation. The moss Polytrichum, for example, rolls its laminae (leaves) up and together to retain water when it is drying out. Note: Laminae are generally but one cell thick!

Mosses come in amazing varieties, and have conquered every land habitat imaginable. In the Arctic they can be the dominant flora (Pope, 2016). They coexist with many creatures, yet are rarely grazed. They are for the most part, heartily communal plants, also coexisting with lichens and each other.

To me, I think the most intriguing aspect is as subjects for quantitative inquiry, counting, and measurement. Mosses are sessile, unless disturbed by water or fauna, such as squirrels scampering up trees. They make interesting photographic subjects, not only by themselves, but as part of a microhabitat. There is the opportunity to try to understand an ecology more completely than is possible in bigger niches, and perhaps to model.

Finally, it turns out we need to more carefully documenting their life cycles, and especially their phenology. On the latter, despite the urgings of Tuba, Slack, and Stark (2011) and others, it hasn’t been studied in depth. Longitudinal studies of the kind I’ve launched aren’t common. They don’t fit well within undergraduate or graduate timelines: They made need a decade or more of dedication, and that means dealing with transitions between students and problems with requiring originality in research, something which afflicts many fields. It seems to me that bringing the phenology of Bryophytina within the scope of the USA National Phenology Network is a reasonable way to proceed.

## Moss of the Week, 2021-02-19

Actually, mosses of the week. This pair of communities are part of my longitudinal study of mosses, some Cladonia chlorophaea lichens, and a few Lycopodium obscurum individuals. This is Site 3, community instances A and B.

Sphagnum fimbriatum
and Platylomella lescurii.

Instance A is Platylomella lescurii (Pope, 2016, p 199, bottom, key only; Jenkins, 2021, p 141, habitat depicted on p 20, “Moss Map 8”). Instance B is Sphagnum fimbriatum (Pope, 2016, p 40, from the key on p 37; Jenkins, 2020, p 152). Instance A is interesting because the Platylomella suffered a good deal of erosion from flowing water even in the short time after I began observations, as can be seen below:

Platylomella tenax showing water erosion

I captured an MP4 showing the oscillations in lescurii created by the flowing waters:

Jenkins (2020, p 141) says “found on rocks in streams, usually submerged a high water”. Platylomella is partly submerged here. A question is why does it erode since the habitat is suitable? Perhaps this is typical for Platylomella and permits it to propagate vegetatively? The other question is that the growth of this Platylomella community looks like it took more than a year. Why did it get eroded now? Or does it often get eroded and just grows back?

This kind of erosion at this stream isn’t limited to Platylomella. There is a Bryhnia novae-angliae at Site 3, instance D, which originally looked stable yet I reported it moved a meter on 13th January 2021. Emeritus Professor Janice Glime discusses the stream environment in Chapter 2 of Volume 4 of her mulivolume treatment of bryophyte ecology.

Platylomella lescurii

Platylomella lescurii, close-up, showing thicker margins of leaves, with different colors

## Wind turbines in winter

Drone footage in first from Peter Sinclair of Climate Denial Crock of the Week.

##### (Skip to time step 80 in the next if you just want to see wind turbines.)

Photo by Dennis Schroeder / NREL, 2016.

##### Five GE Halide 6MW turbines, near Block Island, RI.

Anholt offshore wind farm, Ørsted.

## Field survey update for 2021-02-17: Bryophytes, lichens, and Lycopodia in winter (LoSoMaaCoF)

##### (Updated, 2021-02-23)

Online data from principally bryological the longitudinal field survey described here has been updated in its:

This post is simply a matter of record, as are the additional rows in the spreadsheet.  There were no observations on these days and no photos taken.  This is due to appreciable snowfall which is masking visual access to the sites.

When observations resume, a new weekly report will be posted here.

I am expecting to do a field survey to check on the sites on Wednesday, 24th February 2021, no matter what the local conditions appear to be.

## unsustainable

Bitcoin needs its own dedicated four dozen nuclear reactors with dedicated water supply. It doesn’t have that at present. Whatever its financial benefits, surely this is unsustainable: The current greenhouse gas emissions to support this rival that of many small countries, combined. Running at the intensity shown above for a single hour produces 6100 (metric) tonnes of CO2 at the electrical generating efficiencies the United States had in 2019, as reported by the U.S. EIA. That’s 54 million metric tonnes (“MMTs”) of CO2 per year. That works out to about 0.3% of a single ppm (*) of CO2 in atmosphere every year, just for Bitcoin mining!

## You want to know where we really are?

This is Professor William Moomaw, Tufts, really telling you like it is. Professor Moomaw also spoke on “Food & Climate” on 11th January 2021 at the Dedham-Walpole-Westwood League of Women Voters meeting of that day.

## GM owes (us)

To quote,
Are we supposed to congratulate GM for embracing the electric car literally two months after they were suing California so they could make worse gas-powered cars?

## Field survey update for 2021-02-03 and 2021-02-10: Bryophytes, lichens, and Lycopodia in winter (LoSoMaaCoF)

##### (Updated, 2021-02-23)

Online data from principally bryological the longitudinal field survey described here has been updated in its:

This post is simply a matter of record, as are the additional rows in the spreadsheet.  There were no observations on these days and no photos taken.  This is due to appreciable snowfall which is masking visual access to the sites.

When observations resume, a new weekly report will be posted here.

## It’s all because we didn’t listen to Ted Nelson

Back in 2018 I wrote about people lamenting the state of the Web and Internet. A major visionary and luminary in that was Theodor Holm Nelson, a name which, while some might know, not enough people know.

Given all we’ve experienced in the last five years, from exploitation of the Internet to spread misinformation to abuse via cybercrime, some of it endorsed as if by letters of marque by governments, how Internet and Web have evolved is less than most might have wished.

And now, when I have little to fear from either reprisals or compressions of my financial situation, I can freely say that popular society’s proclivity to put down the insights and genius of people like Ted Nelson is incredibly detrimental to their own interests and chills and dampens the cultural imagination which is the initiative behind all economic enterprise and success. We see it in Elon Musk. Except that Elon Musk is no Ted Nelson. Ted Nelson is much, much bigger, no matter what Mr Musk is worth.

I hope that the formative years of the Internet will be remembered, and that its lessons, from early to present will be examined by something and someone more than the crass, exploitative, monetary interests of those who mediate its present networks.

Whatever the state of the Internet and Web, while these forces and influences had a role, the ultimate failure lies in the hands of the consumer, who was happy to get product at no apparent cost, and was so incurious they did not ask questions.

In a modern age, a public which is incurious is a public which has no economic future.

## “Trump supporters go to Washington”

People don’t only have to worry about a government tracking them by their smartphones. In this case, the social effects of this capability were beneficial, because “some very bad dudes” were able to be found and identified. But most people still act as if they don’t know about these capabilities. It isn’t enough to shut down location tracking.

Excellent journalism and reporting by The New York Times.

## Posidonia oceanica

Reportedly, Posidonia oceanica has a tremendous capability $m^{-2}$ to produce Oxygen by photosynthesis. Confirmed.

Someone ought to have a look at it. Some references:

## Professor Saul Griffith, MIT

I think our failure on fixing climate change is just a rhetorical failure of imagination. We haven’t been able to convince ourselves that it’s going to be great. It’s going to be great.

## Another reason air source heat pumps are a win

We have had air source heat pumps for house heating and cooling since 2014. For the most part, they’ve performed well, or, at least, there’s nothing inherent in the technology which has made the experience sound and enjoyable. If you hear hesitancy in that, you are correct.

We did this relatively early through an independent prime contractor, then called Next Step Living who sized and recommended the units, and subcontracted the installation, both physical and electric. Essentially, we were on the bleeding edge. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but at least it was true in Massachusetts at the time.

It’s not quite clear what was the root cause of our problems. It’s possible that the design and the contractor ran a line at the extreme limit of capability of the Fujitsu ASU12RLF/AUU12RLF combination, or perhaps the installation or subsequent maintenance was done poorly. We actually have another ASU12RLF/AUU12RLF combination for elsewhere in the home, and its performance has been rock steady. The problematic ASU12RLF/AUU12RLF combination shut down in Winter several times, having lost all its refrigerant (which is really bad from a greenhouse gas perspective), and the contractor we had for maintenance basically kept refilling it, blaming the problems on essentially ghosts. They charged us a few thousand dollars in fees through the services. We eventually fired them and went instead with GassCo.

In the end even though Fujitsu worked with them to diagnose, essentially replacing the entire compressor with another ASU12RLF at no cost to us, in consultation we called it a loss, and decided to switch to Mitsubishi on GassCo’s recommendation. This was 3 years ago. It’s interesting that in the time between 2014 and then, and Fujitsu to Mitsubishi, we got a more powerful unit for less cost than the original ASU12RLF/AUU12RLF.

So, I’d recommend Mitsubishi to anyone considering this path. But that’s not what I wanted to talk about.

Air source heat pumps have limits. If it got to -22°C the Fujitsu heat pumps shut down, because they are working too hard. We’ve not had a cold spell like that, so I don’t know where the Mitsubishi’s limits are. We have an oil furnace backup in case of power outages that we’d rely upon in case this happened, with the idea that this is a really infrequent event. In fact, on average, we probably use more oil testing the furnace monthly to make sure it is sound than actually using it. (We get our hot water through an electric water heater that uses an air source heat pump in warm months.) But here’s the point.

It’s a safe bet that Winter temperatures will, on average be getting warmer. Accordingly, going into the future, air source heat pumps should be bigger wins economically than they are now.

So, consider that when you are looking at upgrading your heating system.

Also, the original reason we looked at heat pumps was because our electricity consumption for the previous central A/C we had was outrageously high, typically peaking in July. Jettisoning that and replacing with heat pumps was a huge win. Energy required and cost per unit time is roughly proportional to the difference between outside temperature and set point inside. It’s a lot easier to cool from 35°C to 21°C than it is to heat from -30°C to 21°C.

## Where We Be

From David E Rovella, Managing Editor, Bloomberg News:

The past year has witnessed millions die in a pandemic, a global economic downturn and political ferment fueled by extremists. But none of those things mean the biggest antagonist of the planet’s inhabitants slowed its pace. In fact, human-induced warming of the earth (and its catastrophic consequences) has quickened its step. The climate crisis is causing oceans to rise more quickly than even the most pessimistic forecasts, resulting in earlier flood risks to coastal populations already struggling to adapt. Insured property worth trillions of dollars could face even greater danger from superstorms and tidal surges. But the biggest economies are failing to meet climate goals that are already outdated. New research suggests they must now set the bar still higher if humanity is to avoid the very worst.

## no words

Whatever you think of AOC, this kind of attempted intimidation is unacceptable.

And, while I support AOC’s views more than I don’t, to those who oppose them wholeheartedly, you are fools. This will simply underscore and accentuate her hold over you. You are stupid.

Who is “they”? They are the guy I overheard speaking loudly in a restaurant in Concord, Massachusetts, who said “That c___ ought to be dead”, and said that shortly after her first election. Such proud, honorable people these are.

## Field survey update for 2021-01-26: Bryophytes, lichens, and Lycopodia in winter (LoSoMaaCoF)

##### (Updated, 2021-02-23)

Online data from principally bryological the longitudinal field survey described here has been updated in its:

with the photos and remarks from 2021-01-26.

The photos are in time order from earliest to latest, top to bottom, left to right. Timestamp and geographic location are stamped in the lower right on the images. The survey began in earnest about 9th-13th December 2020. Images earlier than than were documenting site selection.

Adding candidate Site 1, B4 today, image below (IMG_20210126_142109-01.jpeg):

coded as individual 115c3095. Looks like a Thuidium but image isn’t close enough or clear enough to see leaf margins and such. Could be a lot of things, e.g., Hylocomium splendens.

Did not observe Site 1, individuals B2 and B3. It’s possible their Atrichum leaves are contorted against the cold.

## On storing and logging moss specimens

##### (Updated 2021-02-21)

The standard way of storing moss specimens — at least that’s taught — is to press them, like most botanical specimens, or to store them, dessicated, in folders like these:

That’s from Ralph Pope’s (2016) Guide,

`Pope, Ralph. Mosses, Liverworts, and Hornworts: A Field Guide to Common Bryophytes of the Northeast. Comstock Publishing Associates, a division of Cornell University Press, 2016.`

I can understand if people want to make a permanent collection that does not take up a lot of space, or even send them by post to colleagues.

I’ve found it better to take a specimen from each locale and store them in containers like these:

or these:

and of course logging them in a sturdy (not spiral bound!) notebook:

I prefer Leuchtturm1917 hardcover notebooks that are ruled and medium-sized:

In fact, I use these Leuchtturm1917s for all my notes. No, I don’t rely exclusively upon digitized notes. For one thing, it’s difficult to sketch there. And it’s difficult to do things like this:

although if I was being completely thorough, I would log the Google photos identifiers into the paper notebook.

I now have set up an EpiCollect 5 form on my Google Pixel 2 for logging individual photos so I have a record of all the observations.

I rely upon an outbound spreadsheet in .ods format for that, with a copy stored on my Parzen Dell Precision workstation and in my Google Drive.

I don’t intend to keep these specimens for decades. If I did, I might opt for the Pope-style folders.

My technique seems to do fine for months. I put a drop or two of water in each after a while. Occasioanlly on sunny days, I set them out on our dining room table, after first opening each briefly to let them breathe. I close them again so they don’t dry out.

Then they go back into their tea boxes, where I group them by banding with elastics.

Mosses tend to be tough, so this treatment doesn’t bother them. It hasn’t happened to any specimen yet, but I imagine if a fungus grew in the vials, that might do them in and spoil them. I don’t put a lot of water in.

## Rebekah Jones, update: epitome of courage

Data scientist Rebekah Jones gave the keynote address at the annual Data Science Conference on COVID-19 and represents through her choices and consistent practice, in my personal opinion, the thorough realization of the Ethical Guidelines for Statistical Practice of the American Statistical Association.

This criminal pursuit of her on the part of Florida government is egregious.

## The recipe for success of green energy in the Massachusetts suburbs

This is Dr Saul Griffith entrepreneur and inventor at Otherlab, addressing impediments to putting solar on rooftops in the United States.

Eventually, it will be ridiculous to people not to put solar on their roofs. And any bylaws or other impediments will either be argued away at town meetings, or will be circumvented by technology.

For example, take Town of Westwood, Massachusetts, they have a number of bylaws which directly or indirectly restrict placement of ground mounted solar. Do they extend to self-powered and self-sufficient, not connected car ports which essentially sit in a spot? If these are placed beyond the setbacks and observe height limits, what are the possible restrictions? Suppose the power units are connected to the home using some means other than trenched wires, like magnetic coupling?

Do the bylaws restrict wind turbines placed on flag poles?

These are dark corners which are very tempting for those with the interest and the means to challenge in court, and with lots of publicity.

Dr Griffiths:

## What is to be done? Personal ideological purity not only doesn’t help, it can be counterproductive

From “Warmer, Warmer” by John Lanchester in the London Review of Books, 2007:

What is to be done? The first thing to do is to admit that Dick Cheney is right. ‘Conservation may be a personal virtue,’ he said in 2001, ‘but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.’ Rephrase that sentence to state that conservation is indeed a personal virtue, and both halves of it are, it seems to me, true. But there is also a problem with the notion of conservation as a personal virtue. The risk is that awareness of global warming and of the need to act to counter it can be reduced to a form of personal good conduct; to membership of the tribe of the virtuous. It is a good thing to choose to pollute less, to ride a bicycle and take the train and turn down the thermostat, and to fit low-energy lightbulbs, but there is a serious risk that these activities will come to seem an end in themselves, a meaningful contribution to the fight against climate change. They aren’t. The changes that are needed are global and structural, and anything which distracts attention from that is potentially damaging. There is a parallel of sorts between militant conservationism and driving an SUV. The SUV driver is consciously choosing to worsen the environment, and to harm the planet, and is trying at the same time to send a signal – a signal to herself – that even if climate change comes she will be able to protect herself from it. Look, the huge car says: I can protect myself and my family, whatever happens. That is a falsehood, and it is a falsehood related to the idea that our individual choices are of any consequence. I’ve just switched my electricity supply to a green company. I did it to give myself the feeling that I’m doing what little I can. But this, too, is a kind of category mistake – the SUV driver isn’t protecting anyone, and neither am I.

## Construction of Solar Arrays, Oxford, MA, by BlueWave Solar

Built on 100 acres of a 300 acre farm, this site was once home to the largest commercial piggery in the Northeast. Located in Oxford, MA this solar project consists of 9 individual arrays adding to a total size 16.5 MW. Over 125 residents, small businesses and educational institutions will benefit from the solar net metering credits.

BlueWave Solar developed and managed the construction of this 1.446 MW DC solar array. Historically, the site was utilized as agricultural land associated with livestock since the 1940s. The solar array occupies only a portion of the property and will provide a source of clean and reliable energy to the Town of Oxford and surrounding Massachusetts communities.

## Simple: Stop burning things

And, to go with that, stop burning things down.

## The next time you hear someone sayin’ how dirty wind turbines and solar panels are to manufacture …

Bloomberg reports that the cancelled Keystone XL pipeline may yield 48,000 tons of scrap metal. That’s for its 107 mile length. That’s not all the pipeline in the world. And that doesn’t count the drilling equipment, the pumps, the compressors, or the countless machines that burn the fossil fuels these carry.

So the next time you hear or read about someone complaining about how dirty producing the components of wind turbines and photovoltaic panels is for the environment, you might want to remind them of this small fact.